How do you feel about sequels? Are you of the school that can’t wait to scarf down another slice of FIFA? Or do you prefer a one-and-done approach more like Grim Fandango? I personally quite like sequels, so long as they do something a little braver than their predecessor by altering the game whilst remaining true to their origins. Bioshock Infinite is a good example of this. It advanced the overall story in interesting ways, kept its core gameplay but developed how it went about the experience. I feel it’s a much better sequel than Bioshock 2, which played a little too close to home.
Whatever your thoughts, a good sequel can be an excellent thing. A bad one though, can cause serious damage to a game series. Occasionally they can be so bad that the series is abandoned altogether. Here are 5 games sequels that did more hard than good!
Resident Evil 6
I could have gone with either this or Resident Evil 5 to be honest, I went with Resident Evil 6 in the end though as it was just so tedious I gave up before I finished. Whilst games need to evolve with their sequels, they shouldn’t lose sight of what they are. A horror series, known for its slow but tense pace that becomes a flat out action game is probably guilty of losing its identity. Going from exploring a mansion desperately fending off a handful of zombies in previous games to running through streets mowing down hundreds with a machine gun made me feel like this was a completely different series.
Not even Leon’s campaign could save this mess of a ‘horror’ game.
It’s clear that Capcom have listened to people’s criticisms of this game, as if the demo of Resident Evil 7 is anything to go by, the series may well be returning to its roots. Maybe this game hasn’t caused too much harm, but was a wake up call to the development team.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity
Assassin’s Creed 3 was pretty dull, but not broken. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was a pirate adventure through the Caribbean. Assassin’s Creed: Unity was a mess. The first game in the series to be ‘truly next-gen’ was pretty much a disaster. We had a boring plot, an unlikable protagonist and bugs. Oh the bugs! Falling through the ground, characters disappearing, and the infamous invisible face bug. It felt like it was utterly untested at times. The co-op only missions locked out content in a series known for its single player campaign unless you were willing to play online. The map was a clutter of collectable items that was hard to navigate. I could go on and on about the flaws in this.
You cannot unsee this.
The gameplay was about the same as ever, which whilst getting a little dull by this point was perfectly serviceable. The graphics were fairly nice too, but there was just so much to dislike here. It seems that Syndicate, Unity’s sequel, suffered as a result of this as early sales of the newer game were much lower. They have since evened out thanks to the fairly positive critical reception of Syndicate. That initial dip in sales would certainly have been a knock though. Ubisoft could be working a bit harder on ensuring their games in this series are fit for sale now as they won’t be releasing a new game in the franchise this year. Here’s hoping the play testing is a little better with this additional time.
Duke Nukem Forever
By the time Duke Nukem Forever came out, I wouldn’t be sure you could say it was still a franchise. It had been so long since the announcement, let alone a Duke Nukem FPS, that the series had been all but laid to rest. Still, it eventually made it to release and what a disappointment it was. The huge length of time it had taken to make was evident in all the wrong ways. It was a relic of the past that poked fun at new gaming conventions whilst simultaneously attempting to ape them. The shooting was floaty, the weapons ordinary (which is something of a crime for this series) and the jokes horribly outdated.
This could be any ordinary game, which is a failure when you’ve had 13 years to perfect it.
You could argue that this game was released in the wrong era, and had it come out when it was originally meant to it would have been received better. That may be true, but gaming had evolved a lot between DNF’s announcement and release. The Duke Nukem license is still held by 3D Realms after a legal fight from last year, so it’s possible they may attempt to resurrect the franchise. I think it may be best to leave this series to rest in peace though.
Legend of Zelda 2: The Adventures of Link
This is a bit of a contentious one as the game wasn’t exactly bad. In fact it does have its fans. It was just very, very different from the previous game in the series (one of my all time favourite games as it happens). The overworld became little more than a way of getting from A to B whilst combat and speaking to NPCs moved to a side scrolling perspective. This change in particular was pretty jarring as a fan of the original.
In spite of its age, the game doesn’t look too bad during the side scrolling sections.
There was also the odd decision to add a levelling system. It actually fit the game rather well, but vanished for future games. But most who played this will remember it for its punishing difficulty. From the start you could die quite quickly, even with a good sized health pool. Iron Knuckles became synonymous with death for me as they defended so well and attacked relentlessly. It felt like a much darker, more brutal game than the lighthearted tone of the original. It alienated fans of the first game, but the franchise persisted and went from strength to strength. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what Breath of the Wild brings.
Sonic the Hedgehog (2006)
I don’t think you can have a list on this topic without bringing up this crime against gaming. I liked Sonic Adventure and its follow up. I know they’ve not aged well, but I have fond memories of them. This reboot tried to use a similar style as them, but got utterly everything wrong. The story was…bizarre to say the least, mixing realistic style human characters with cartoon characters in a horribly jarring way. Roger Rabbit managed to do it right, this did not. Sonic gets a little kiss in with a human lady, which is not in any way weird. The enemies were unbalanced, especially the bosses (the fight with Silver could be considered a form of torture). The stages were chaotic and hard to navigate, as was the hub area which made it difficult to get to the next messy stage.
No Sonic. You have nothing to smile about. Bad hedgehog!
Then we have the bugs. Oh, the bugs! Graphical glitches, falling through the stage, level geometry stopping you in your tracks, broken physics allowing you to stand upside down. I could very easily go on. It also has the problem of being too fast, which sounds like an odd thing to say for a Sonic game. There’s a fine line between having a fast character go fast, and having a fast character be too fast to control. Developers should really remember that the character is fast, but human reactions are only so quick. A messy, messy game. The series really started to lose steam after this, with entries being more miss than hit. There were a couple of good releases: Sonic Colours was alright, and I actually quite enjoyed Sonic Generations but there were so many other bad games, culminating in Sonic Boom. It might be time for Sega to let sleeping (hedge)hogs lie.
Some (dis)honourable mentions. Devil May Cry 2 was less than stellar after the brilliant original, but its combat was alright and kept it fairly interesting. Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts was an alright game in itself, but was a huge departure from previous games in the series. Metroid: Other M was again, an alright game that lost sight of what made its predecessors great. There’s also Super Mario Bros. 2 (the weird one, not The Lost Levels) which was just a damn weird sequel. I decided to discount this one as its a reskin of another game.
That’s my list! What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think something should be added that was utterly horrible? Let me know.