7 ways to spot an impending crap sequel

Let our foolproof guide help you cut through the crap before it's even released

The invention of apple pie must have been a staggering moment in human history. Fruit, sugar and pastry, together for the first time in a brand new, era defining experience. Minds would have been justifiably blown, history was certainly made, and the influence of that inspired quantum leap in food design is rightfully still felt today.

So you know what would be really cool? Apple pie 2.0! We'll take everything that was great about the original design and bring it right up to date for a modern audience. We'll replace the pastry with chrome, upgrade the sugar to shiny metal ball-bearings and switch out those old, outdated apples for miniature disco balls with robots inside. It'll be everything everyone loved about the original apple pie, but newer and cooler! It absolutely cannot fail!

Worst offenders
Alone In The Dark, Perfect Dark Zero, Turok

Notable exceptions
Ninja Gaiden, New Super Mario Bros.

Potential future offenders
Golden Axe: Beast Rider, Fallout 3, Bionic Commando

Nothing proves Darwin wrong like videogames (well, apart from peanut butter, anyway). While we're taught that things must grow and adapt in order to survive in a changing world, some franchises stubbornly sit on the throne of yesterday's glories year after year, claws dug into the arm rests with an indignant disregard for personal development. And as they sit there, pumping out unevolved clone after unevolved clone, they somehow manage to make enough money to continue.

We need to stop giving these games a free ride. We know that the best games leave the player wanting more, but every time we buy a sequel which is just more, without any improvement, we're encouraging the kind of innovation dearth which we as gamers rally against every day. Be strong people. Break the chain. It's tough love, but it's necessary.

Worst offenders
The Zelda series, the Dynasty Warriors series, Resident Evil (pre-Resi 4), Doom 3, Super The Empire Strikes Back, Super Return Of The Jedi, most of the Mega Man series, Rampage: World Tour, Tekken 4 & 5

Notable exceptions
The Pokemon series, the Super Smash Bros. series

Potential future offenders
The next Dynasty Warriors, the next Zelda, Resident Evil 5, Doom 4, Tekken 6

Yes, we know this point probably directly contradicts the one before it, but we're on a roll with this barrage of negativity, so we're going to make it anyway. An overly-similar sequel might be a bad thing, but an overly different one can be a spectacular disaster. Sometimes, we wonder why certain games are made as sequels at all, such is the departure they make from their original source material.

When sequels work, it's because they expand upon a basis that people loved in the first place. While the word "expand" is of course key to that sentence, a follow-up has to maintain the same basic hook that pulled in players in the first place, otherwise it's just a new game with a familiar title. To ignore the whole "Give them more of what they want" philosophy central to a sequel is to risk alienating the audience, and when a change in genre is involved, you're putting the developer in unfamiliar territory to boot. And that can be very, very dangerous indeed.

We ask you, would it have been in any way sensible for Warner Bros. to follow up Batman Begins with a Busby Berkeley-style musical western? Or for the first season of Heroes to have been succeeded by a range of character-themed cheesecakes instead of a TV show?

Worst offenders
Mortal Kombat Mythologies, Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness, Deus Ex: Invisible War, Resident Evil: Survivor, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, Driver 2, Bomberman: Act Zero

Notable exceptions
Resident Evil 4, Alien Breed 3D, Quake 3 Arena, World of Warcraft

Potential future offenders
Guilty Gear 2, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Bionic Commando again, the poor bastard.

Do we really need to explain this one? Probably not, but we will anyway, in the hope that Sonic Team is reading this and finally gets the message.

It's bizarre to think that a new Sonic game used to rightfully generate the same excitement as a core Mario title. But whereas the plumber has been looked after by people who understand how to make the most of his qualities on modern hardware, Sonic's devs have been floundering ever since the first 3D misfire of Sonic Adventure. The modern Sonic games never feel like they understand how to get the best out of the format (Tip: 2.5D and nothing else) and that uncertainty of design leads to flailing new direction after flailing new direction. All of them crap.

Worst offenders
Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Heroes, Sonic and the Secret Rings, Sonic The Hedgehog 2006

Notable exceptions
Sonic Rush

Potential future offenders
Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood, Sonic and Bionic Commando at the Olympic Games

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Long-time GR+ writer Dave has been gaming with immense dedication ever since he failed dismally at some '80s arcade racer on a childhood day at the seaside (due to being too small to reach the controls without help). These days he's an enigmatic blend of beard-stroking narrative discussion and hard-hitting Psycho Crushers.
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