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7 ways to spot an impending crap sequel

Sequels, eh? Gaming is an industry which thrives on them. But despite the proliferation of numbers at the end of the titles on our shelves, the world's publishers and studios still haven't cracked how to do a follow-up right.

Sometimes things turn out perfectly of course (Gears 2, please stay brilliant), but all too often a myriad of stunningly stupid ideas screw things right up during the development process. So to protect you from buying any more of these bad games, deceitfully masquerading as they do, under the good names of their predecessors, we've compiled a list of warning signs to look out for.

Like it or not, a good proportion of gamers are, and always have been, adolescent boys. And as the music industry has proven over countless years of turgid, corporate nu-metal and identikit emo, making money off teenagers with angsty material is like shooting fish in a barrel. Using that huge great satellite laser from Akira.

Thus it should come as no surprise that this cynical marketing to cynical consumers has become rife in the field of videogames. It's bad enough that the majority of today's new game "heroes" are sociopathic miseryshits with the smiling ability of headless crayfish, but even worse is when an existing franchise takes a turn for the mopey in the name of easy sales.

The core gameplay may remain the same, but a vital part of the overall experience is lost whenever personality and flair are replaced with generic misery and anger. Of course the combat engine in Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within is far more rewarding than that of its predecessor, and yes, the platforming was just as good, but the game on the whole just wasn't as much fun to play. The reason for that? Fresh and original style was papered over with borderline offensive cliche, making the whole game feel far more generic than it actually was.

Worst offenders
Prince Of Persia: Warrior Within, Bomberman: Act Zero, Shadow The Hedgehog

Notable exceptions
Erm...

Potential future offenders
Bionic Commando

Would you hire Nora Ephron to direct a new Rambo film? Would the Sistine Chapel ceiling have been just as good if Michelangelo had knocked off early and let a local painter and decorator finish the job? Would it in fact, be a sterling idea for a pizza restaurant to draft in a Chinese chef if there was a lack of available Italians? The answer to all of these questions is of course "No", and coincidentally that's a word we've screamed countless times in anguish when a good videogame franchise has been passed on to a less suitable developer.

As much as they're big budget, mass market entertainment these days, the best videogames are still the product of a dedicated, personal design vision, whether that comes from a single director or an entire studio. To assume that designers are interchangable as long as the brand name remains the same is the kind of thinking that brought us Batman Forever. Take heed of that lesson, friends.

Worst offenders
Twisted Metal 3, Call Of Duty 3, Soldier Of Fortune: Payback, Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, both FEAR expansions, Street Fighter EX

Notable exceptions
Sonic Rush, Tomb Raider: Legend, Guitar Hero III

Potential future offenders
Silent Hill: Homecoming, Bionic Commando

This phenomenon might seem a somewhat anachronistic entry in this day and age, but as anyone who lived through the transition between 16 and 32 bit gaming will tell you, the scars inflicted by its horrors never truly heal.

During that period, we witnessed things that should never be seen by human eyes. 2D game design and graphical artistry were at their peak, but almost overnight were replaced wholesale with the scrappy, glitchy polygons and cat-vomit textures of a then-immature third dimension. Of course, triumphs like Super Mario 64 and Virtua Fighter paved the way for the glorious present-day of gaming, but a lot of good friends were lost along the way; either hideously mutated by the clunky new technology or killed stone dead after being forced inappropriately into a messy 3D format which just didn't suit them.

And despite 3D's current dominance, that second problem still occurs to this very day. At the end of the day, 2D is a perfectly legitimate game design choice, and certain games are just not natural friends with the third dimension.

Worst offenders
Castlevania 64, Earthworm Jim 3D, Street Fighter EX, Sonic Adventure, Final Fight Streetwise

Notable exceptions
Super Mario 64, Grand Theft Auto III, Metal Gear Solid

Potential future offenders
He is a Commando. He is Bionic.

52 comments

  • Ricard0 - November 19, 2010 2:45 a.m.

    Sonic Adventure 2 was epic!
  • FauxFurry - October 14, 2010 4:25 p.m.

    If GamesRadar ever gets around to updating this list, they can toss Sonic 4 into the exceptions along with the likes of FallOut 3,Tekken 6 and Resident Evil 5. Maybe the guys at Sega paid attention to all of the helpful suggestions (converted to Japanese for their convenience through the miracle of browser instant translation apps) doled out dolefully over the years? The fact that it's in 2.5-D and goes back to basics would just be a coincidence otherwise. Who doesn't abhor coincidences when there's a more contrived explanation to be given?
  • mrpibb - October 12, 2010 7:41 a.m.

    Bionic Commando isn't that bad. reading the reviews, its apparent that it was expected to somehow be exactly the same as the original, and mashed with Grand Theft Auto. it wasn't the best game ever, but after reading the reviews and playing the game, it was almost like they were talking about two different games.
  • pleep123 - February 1, 2010 10:07 p.m.

    grand theft kirby would be a great game a little pink cute thing running around drug dealing and shooting sh#t whats not to love
  • tomutwit - January 23, 2010 3:56 p.m.

    Just give Sonic a loving burial.
  • robotechandnarutosucks - January 19, 2010 11:27 p.m.

    Personally, I believe 3D ruined the Sonic series. That, and those lame ass spinoffs. and Bionic Commando really did turn out as bad as you predicted. :D
  • Krazy1112 - January 10, 2010 11:24 p.m.

    Sorry, I meant Minigames, Like Tekkenbowl and Tekkenball
  • Krazy1112 - January 10, 2010 11:21 p.m.

    Fallout 3 did the Exact right thing to Change its gameplay. That game was amazing. I think The Tekken Franchise is doing OK so far, But they should fix that juggling system and Bring back its old videogames.
  • venomman01 - January 9, 2010 5:48 p.m.

    Noooooo more WW2 games. I think every call of duty game got it right.
  • Mirako - January 9, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    I think that the sonic games got bad AFTER the Dreamcast I loved sonic adventure 1 and 2 and it saddens me to see people endlessly criticise it. I do admit that sonic is dying out on the current generation consoles.
  • teke367 - January 8, 2010 9:04 p.m.

    While its hit or miss, I think games have a better success rate with sequels than other forms of entertainment, it just takes more sequels for them to screw it up. Does anybody think Super Mario Bros. 1 is the best in that series? Or Metriod. Uncharted 2 was superior to the original. New consoles allow for more in terms of graphics, physics, story, length etc. But except for special effects, what is new in film that couldn't have been done 30 years ago?
  • crazytar - January 1, 2010 8:20 a.m.

    some of the "potential offenders" actually turned out to be good games
  • FanofSaiyan - December 7, 2009 3:13 a.m.

    Too bad, Sonics gotten so bad he's featured in a radar forum basically slapping him in the face. Poor, poor Sonic.
  • 50Dashes - December 4, 2009 7:19 p.m.

    @JacoDaMaster: I will say just one word. Overrated. Enough said.
  • luigifan13 - November 26, 2009 8:55 p.m.

    boy were they wrong about fallout 3
  • IIIIIACEIIIII - November 25, 2009 11:56 p.m.

    Sonic and Bionic Commando at the Olympic Games...made me laugh.
  • jackthemenace - October 26, 2009 8:34 p.m.

    loving the article, and especially "sonic and bionic commando at the olympic games" PMSL XD
  • Metroidhunter32 - October 22, 2009 10:49 p.m.

    And a good exception for the games going dark. Majora's Mask. So dark, and yet so amazing.
  • ShadowWave - October 17, 2009 2:51 a.m.

    Notable exception for the first - Advance Wars Days of Ruin. Am i right?
  • Metroidhunter32 - October 16, 2009 8:37 p.m.

    Did you just call DOOM 3 a crap sequel when you yourselves gave it a 10?

Showing 1-20 of 52 comments

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