Sequels...some are praised as better than the original, others are regarded as failures to the franchise, or just gaming in general; but there is one thing sequels always bring us, that in which cannot deny, a new game. Throughout the years, games have either direct sequels, entirely new games in the franchise, or the biggest hit-or-miss spinoffs. Sequels are released yearly, or in the Nintendo case, once or twice every decade. The anticipation and reading of sequels to series you love, is just as exciting as getting the new game and playing it for the first few hours (presuming it is good). Regarding attitudes to sequels, let's just say fanboys cheer, haters of the series boo, and the middle ground goes "eh" and shrugs their shoulder.
While countless sequels have been made over time, I don't have the time to write the encyclopedia on freaking video game sequels, so let's start off with direct sequels. In fact, looking at this blog I can write an entire post based off the Mario Bros. series for Nintendo since he qualifies for all three, but I will throw in some well-known franchises as well.
Everyone's favorite type of sequel, a continuation from that amazing game they just finished; only to be hit with the cold hard fact that the game is over. Today, developers try to keep these types of games alive with multiplayer or extra mission/DLC packs, but as we all know it is never the same. Direct sequels span from games (the good direct sequels): Halo, Uncharted, Legend of Zelda Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, Mass Effect or the bad like: Devil May Cry 2, Chrono Cross, Mario and Luigi Partners in Time, and Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword or Majora's Mask.
(Side note: I didn't know where to classify Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, so I used LoZ for the direct sequel section (due to a few games actually being direct sequels, compared to FF which is always and Alternate Universe in the next section).
A problem though is sometimes the sequel isn't bad, like say Super Mario Bros 2, but that its original/predecessor is actually superior to the game. This is the case for a few games today, like Metroid Prime 2/3 or Uncharted 3, which are actually very fun and fantastic games, but the problem was the first Metroid Prime (and the second Uncharted) was so good, that it never lived up to its expectations. Another example is that of games, just not performing as well due to name's sake. Look at the New Super Mario Bros franchise or even a few Resident Evil games. Because of the recognizable names and history of having very good games, when the games don't live up to the media and/or gamer's set image for them, they fail.
All in all, though a guilty pleasure for all gamers is we want direct sequels and we usually want them right away, but at the same time better than the next. Looking from a developer perspective it is like, how can we top this game, but at the same time not stray away from what made it great? We as gamers are a greedy bunch, we want a new game, but at the same time we hate changes to a game that 90% of the times, in our eyes, ruin the game. In addition, some games aren't made to have sequels but developers get avaricious and the gaming societies becomes “bitchy” and boom we get a muddled over-hyped, very bad game, like Skyward Sword.
Franchise new games:
Alright so we all know Final Fantasy is a game that comes with new franchise games as well as Mario, but sometimes we look at games like Crash Bandicoot to Jak and Daxter or Spyro into Ratchet and Clank. These are the true gems and treasures of being a gamer. Sometimes developers decide to can a project, or sell the rights to characters and start an entirely new franchise. Other times, they keep the name and just make a whole new "type" (i.e. action, RPG, adventure, etc.) of game using the characters we have fallen dearly in love with. This is the biggest risk in gaming society, due to the fact of gamers, developers, and media reaching into an "unknown" area. Most of the time, developers also develop a new game type, rather than sticking to their old usual formulas. Take Super Mario 64 for instance, a complete overhaul of what he had come to know and love of Mario (i.e. Super Mario Bros 3 and Super Mario World), but it was a change for the better. Final Fantasy takes a different approach, as the game is still a JRPG, but it brings along all new characters, new locations, and either a new way to fight altogether (see: kingdom hearts) or alterations to its previous systems (take Final Fantasy 1-9 with the ATB). All in all changes again display a risk of reward, the only difference is the greatness that developers are now able to achieve. Mario succeeded beyond belief with Super Mario 64 and later with Super Mario Galaxy, while Final Fantasy continues to disappoint with trash now known as Final Fantasy XIII. One question has always bothered me, is Halo Reach a franchise "new game" due to not having the Chief and changing some elements or is it a prequel/sequel?
Spinoffs, who doesn't know about them? From Mario Party, to Mario Kart, to Mario Golf, to Mario EVERYTHING. Spinoffs are somewhat of a dreaded thing to many gamers. While waiting for a new franchise game, we get stuck with Crash Team Racing or Donkey Konga's instead of Donkey Kong Country 4? Spinoffs are, about 95% of the time, usually those party or racing games, which get a horrible review on many game sites. I don't know if this is due to reviewers being butt hurt about their favorite character being in some game which limits their abilities, *cough Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games [which I may add is quite fun with friends] or that just wanted a new game, with their favorite character. But let's not forget the rare occasion spinoffs lead to something good, something like SUPER SMASH BROS. I know spinoffs sometimes include games like Mega Man X or Super Mario RPG, but I feel those go under the area of franchise new games section; but we'll give some due love here. When a spinoff is a hit, wow, it really hits the you and the world by storm. Heck, if it is that good it may spawn a new series on its own; in thus benefiting companies as well as gamers (take Paper Mario). Including favorite characters of different series, crossovers, mixes of gameplay or entire new gameplay, leaves a good impression on many gamers, as there are more ways to discover fun in a game with familiar icons than an entire new game. Although I think the only downfalls of spinoffs, have to be screenshots, because they really give us no clue on what to expect for this new game.
I probably could further categorize these sequels and games over time, but these are three main ‘classes’. Sequels are something that can be looked at in many lights, they are the yin and yang of everything, not just games! From franchises giving us new games with new gameplay, to new characters, to our favorite characters being featured in horrible games, a sequel is a sequel. I think one thing I always enjoyed was when characters would be featured in game as a special bonus like Mario in NBA Street or Link in Soul Caliber 2. Those kind of inclusions really are just plain out awesome and are one of those never can go wrong moments. Well, as of now we have Halo 4 to look forward to and Rayman Legends so more sequels right now means more fun.
Michael Troina writes features and reviews Nintendo games for Analog Addiciton. When he’s not writing or playing games or sports, he’s out at his job at the Daily Bugle taking pictures as the web-slinger we all have come to love…either that or he’s getting sandwich saving one world at a time. Find him anywhere with this flavors.me/michaeltroina