Sunday, November 14, 2010

8 Bits: Eight Sequels that never could live up to the Originals

Every time a game gets a 10/10 at popular review sites you know it's time for a sequel soon enough, most often that sequel won't get the same score, whether it's because the game actually is worse than the original or if it's because everyone is looking at the original with those rose-tinted glasses, there's no denying that it's a constant phenomenon in the video game world. So let's take a look at eight sequels that never could live up to the originals.

In 1998 Nintendo released the first 3D Zelda title Ocarina of Time, considered the best critically acclaimed video game of all time by most websites and magazines. Two years later they released a direct sequel called Majora's Mask. The game was a departure from the usual atmosphere featured in Zelda titles using a darker more scary tone to convey the feeling of a world ending. Upon release it got good reviews and a group of people consider it to be a improvement upon the original in many ways. However, it got a lot of complaints from the big Ocarina fans concerning the fact that a new time system was introduced to the game only letting players play three in-game days before the world would end, before that happened you had to travel back in time and relive the three days.

In defence to Majora people usually refer to the feeling of a more "alive" town in comparison to the original due to the three days all residents were programmed to have a schedule around. When Majora was re-released on the Wii's Virtual Console it got a brand new fan-base. Majora is however only the tip of the iceberg as is with most of this cases, as every Zelda title released since is constantly compared to Ocarina in every way possible. Will the upcoming Skyward Sword break the trend or will everyone simply look to the 3D remake of Ocarina coming out the very same year? Only time will tell.

Silent Hill 2 is considered by many to be the perfect horror game due its great mixture of human psychology and great plot twists. While the opinions on the later game varies a lot from person to person it's often considered that the series never reached the same ground ever again. Silent Hill 3 was naturally the first game out after Silent Hill 2 and was basically a direct sequel to the first Silent Hill. The psychology and plot twists were still there and the game played pretty much exactly like Silent Hill 2, but there's rarely any doubt that the Silent Hill 3 had nothing on Silent Hill 2 in terms of popularity.

For better or for worse Silent Hill 3 is often overlooked for being too similar and too close to Silent Hill 2. It's probably this that caused Silent Hill 4: The Room to go a very different path and every game since to keep straying off path or trying to forcefully connect it to Silent Hill 2 in every way possible. Surprisingly, the upcoming sequel to the 2005 Silent Hill feature film will be based on Silent Hill 3, why they decided to skip the most popular game in the franchise is something we may never know.

BioShock was a big surprise to a lot of people, a lot of people consider it the best FPS of our time but for some reason the sequel divided the fan base in two large but different groups. BioShock 2 was announced on the PS3 release of the original BioShock and not long after it was revealed that a different team was developing it with the original team moving on to another project. The game was released to good reviews but as predicted the larger half of the fan-base considered it a violation of the original and resulted in a boycott of the game while the other half loved every second of it. The game told a story about a Big Daddy prototype known simply as Subject Delta who searches for his Little Sister called Eleanor.

Another complaint to game got, which will be a running thing throughout this list, is that it played far too similar to the original game. The only major differences in gameplay between BioShock and BioShock 2 was a new hacking system and the ability to shoot with weapons while using plasmids at the same time. The dark gritty horror elements were toned down a bit to fit a little more psychological tone of horror. Whatever side of the underwater fence you are on you can't disagree that BioShock 2 delivered what it promised, one last trip to the city of Rapture.

Final Fantasy is one of the few franchises that completely reinvents itself with each new installment. Final Fantasy VII is up there with Ocarina of Time when it comes to loved games and since the franchise has doubled since then there's no denying that it still is popular. But what about the game released after FF7? Final Fantasy VIII was released in 1999 on the Sony Playstation and got amazing reviews, as all Final Fantasy titles tend to do, and great sales. But how did the fan base take in FF8? Well, as with every game on this list there's a large divide between people.

FF8 had a very different atmosphere from FF7 and various new gameplay tweaks. A lot of inspiration was taken from school life mangas of the time to get this new vision through and that's largely what put a lot of people off. The storyline was also a bit less dramatic and more personality driven than the one featured in FF7. There's been outright hate towards the game by people like The Spoony One but most people these days tend to look fondly at the game, like Majora's Mask it gathers more fans as it ages. Who knows, one day we might get a feature-film sequel similliar to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

Unlike the previous games on the list, this one was certainly not a direct sequel. Between Sonic 3 and Sonic 4 there was a gap of 16 years and during those years we got over 15 games in the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise. Sonic 4 (Episode 1) was released this fall to either very high reviews or incredibly low reviews. A lot of people felt it played nothing like the original Sonic trilogy and that the game was a complete abomination. A lot of these opinions was heard even long before release and might be because of the 15 years between, a lot of the Sonic games released between was considered failures among the fans, whether it was because of the wrong focus or because they were in 3D varies but one can't deny that the Sonic fans tend to be one of the biggest group of fans who never seem to get what they want.

The most common complaints is a difference in physics that some people say they notice between the games. Sonic doesn't jump the same way, doesn't run the same speed or accelerates slower. The ongoing theme of rehashing old level designs is criticized as well as a whole lot of the stages look a whole lot similar to stages from the first Sonic game on the Sega MegaDrive/Genesis. Sega said Sonic 4 was meant for an older generation of Sonic fans, yet it seems that those fans are the ones that really didn't enjoy the game.

Mega Man 9 was released as a throw-back to the old Nintendo Entertainment System Mega Man titles, when Mega Man 10 was announced it seemed as if the throw-back suddenly lost its impact, at least to some. Mega Man 10 was another 8-bit Mega Man game in the style of its predecessor, but a lot of people though Capcom was silly to do this again so shortly after Mega Man 9. The use of more goofy Robot Masters also lended itself nice to the idea that Capcom was running out of ideas which caused even more pre-release hate against the title. A lot of people even decided to boycott the title because it featured a new Easy Mode for people who thought the old titles were too hard for them. There was no forcing anyone to play Easy Mode before playing it on Normal or Hard, still it caused outrage.

Another thing that fans thought about the game was that the level design had gone lazy and resulted in a very dull design overall. Some people compared it to when the Mega Man titles were milked on the original NES. The reaction to Mega Man 10 might be what made Capcom decide to take a whole new concept with the upcoming Mega Man Universe which plays like the classic 2D Mega Man games but in a 2.5D user-content filled world. Will it be successful? Only time will tell.

Sure, Tomorrow Never Dies for the Sony Playstation was the first console title released after the amazingly popular GoldenEye for the Nintendo 64, but it was not until The World is not Enough that people actually got a some what "sequel" to GoldenEye. TWINE was released in 2000 on the Nintendo 64 and Sony Playstation. It was a FPS title that played a lot like GoldenEye but with a few new features. There were stealth stages included in the package with more advanced A.I. than the previous title and you also got to play around much more with Bonds various gadgets. Just like GoldenEye you was given various objectives that you had to complete before you finished a stage and other similarities ranged from the level select screen to the standard control scheme.

Where TWINE managed to fall flat on its face however, was the multiplayer. Multiplayer was a big part of what made GoldenEye so popular, with TWINE most people would agree that the stages were not as fun and the game just wasn't as beginner friendly as GoldenEye had been. The story mode was praised but still critizised for playing too much like GoldenEye did and not standing enough on its own. What's funny is that the developer behind TWINE is Eurocom who just developed the GoldenEye remake for the Wii.

Resident Evil 4 was a genious move. Mixing horror and action in a way we havn't seen with the QTE concept introduced in Shenmue and reinventing the tank controls for a new camera angle. So how did Capcom decide to top that? By removing the entire concept of horror and replacing it with even more action. Yeah, people were bound to be upset when a main series entry in a horror franchise didn't even try to be a horror title. Although a solid and fun game, it was really not what people expected. Capcom stated that the reason for the lack of horror was because they wanted to reach a bigger audience than they previously had done.

So far I have yet to see any reviewer or fan claiming to enjoy Resident Evil 5 more than Resident Evil 4, which is probably why Capcom has decided to return to horror with Resident Evil: Revelations coming to the Nintendo 3DS. Resident Evil 5 claimed to be "A Fear You Can't Forget" but it seems most fans have forgotten it by now.


I hope you enjoyed the list, I'm hoping to continue with these "Eight Bit" lists assuming things go well. ^^

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