Great Video Games That Were Simply Too Short

How short is too short for a video game? When you drop fifty or sixty bucks on one, how long should it take to get to the end? And how about those side quests, do they count towards the total hours of gameplay? "Bang for their buck" is a hot topic among gamers who often feel that games are too short, too long, or otherwise not exactly how they imagined them. Still, if you measure a game by the distance between the opening titles and the final boss, some just aren't worth your cash, no matter how great they may be. Here are a few of the worst offenders.

Mirror's Edge (2008)

Parkour never looked so good. When Mirror's Edge came out in 2008, the free-running, climbing, jumping game made movement exciting again, instead of just something you have to do between battles. It even worked the whole "travelling by foot in a futuristic city" thing into the game's narrative. Alas, critics were quick to point out that the game was just way too short, with some calling it the "first chapter" in a new franchise, which would at least have made the quick intro forgivable. What nobody knew was that the next chapter wouldn't be out for at least another eight years, and it would be a reboot. Even time trial modes didn't really rescue the Edge universe from being a four-hour, one-playthrough experience.

The Order: 1886 (2015)

Even before The Order: 1886's release, Destructoid was already reporting that the full game ran shorter than the average workday. On the one hand, eager players would only have to call in sick for one day. But on the other .... damn, that thing was sixty bucks. Generally, overly brief games are accompanied by an online multiplayer mode to kill the time, but The Order is a self-contained story. There's a lot of be said for a coherent, conclusive narrative ... except developers Ready At Dawn kinda bristled at the implication that their game was too short. Vampires are forever, but this vampire game is so short, you won't even have to take a bathroom break.

Marble Madness (1984)

If ever there was a game built for speed runs, it's Marble Madness. After all, the game rewards you with extra time for completing levels quickly. Impressing people in the arcade in 1984 was certainly worth all of the quarters plugged into the machine, but not so much at home. For roughly $50, skilled home players had about three minutes of solid marble maze enjoyment, and players who sucked had all the joys of repetition and practice ... until they reduced Marble Madness to a three-minute game. That's time better spent learning the clarinet or eating half a sandwich, but certainly not worth everything in your piggy bank.

Trine 3 (2015)

The beautiful Trine series wouldn't have made it to a third game if the series sucked, but it might just be the threequel that drove the nail into its coffin. After developer Frozenbyte spent over $5 million developing the game, they were still unable to realize all of the ambitious ideas they'd started with. The result was a game that was immediately panned for being too short, according to PC Gamer. Frozenbyte went on to say that in order to make the game any longer than it already was, they'd have needed triple the budget. Further DLC hasn't been planned, and despite otherwise positive reviews, the studio remains unsure about the future of the franchise after Trine 3's weak reception.

Brutal Legend (2009)

A unique theme, innovative and unusual gameplay, multiple awards, a top-notch cast of voice actors and musicians ... and about six hours of actual gameplay. Brutal Legend presents an interesting mix of action and strategy, plus a pretty awesome, heavy metal-themed story. Soon after release, however, word spread about the game's length. Fans quickly realized that the game was a weekend rental, rather than an all-out purchase, and sales numbers suffered. Also, casual game buyers couldn't figure out what the game was actually about, aside from Jack Black and metal music.

Ico (2001)

As one of the more highly-rated games of this century, Ico innovated game design on just about every front, from lighting techniques to the way game narratives are laid out. The game is often called the "spiritual successor" to Shadow of the Colossus—one of the more epic games of modern times—and critics couldn't get enough. Even though the awful US box art and weird title spelled poor sales in America, the game has become an unquestionable cult favorite ... which is why its eight-hour run time is often forgiven. After four years of development, Ico provided a hugely memorable experience. It's just that players wanted more to remember.

Armikrog (2015)

Decades after Neverhood gave us an amazing claymation world to explore, artist Doug TenNapel showed up on Kickstarter looking for funds to build the semi-sequel, Armikrog. The two games would use the same stop motion techniques, the same puzzle-driven point-and-click adventure type, and a remarkably similar character. Neverhood felt like a deep, immersive experience, so players were eager to return to that world, and dropped large chunks of cash to see the next chapter. When the digital download of the game finally game out after endless delays, players were disappointed to find that the whole world could be explored in just a few hours... many of which were spent walking around the same areas repeatedly. Armikrog is a stellar concept that was brought only about a quarter way to a satisfying completion.

Pokemon Snap (1999)

Maybe gamers shouldn't have expected too much from a game based around the dual themes of nature photography and Pokemon, but two hours is just way too short for a Nintendo 64 game. Our introduction to the world of Pokemon was so robust, and all of those hours of gameplay were packed into the lowly Game Boy, so the disappointment of Pokemon Snap was very real. No catching and training monsters, no travels across the world to prove your worth ... just a weird monorail and a camera. While players could go back through the game and try to get perfect photos of every Pokemon, replay value was extremely limited. Regardless, the idea of photographing stuff in a virtual world was pretty cool, and critics (and kids) gave the game a pretty solid score.

Star Fox 64 (1997)

It may be unfair to compare a 3D rail-shooter to something as huge and exploratory as Super Mario 64, but the two games existed in tandem, and at the same price. Even though Star Fox 64 offered multiple paths through the galaxy, and every single path offered new challenges and bosses, the whole game could still be beaten in one 2-hour playthrough. Compare that to the twenty-plus hours that Super Mario 64 or Ocarina of Time offered. Star Fox is a pretty amazing game, but if it only took two hours to save the universe, more people would be doing it.