The Top 7… Sequels that changed everything

5. Resident Evil 4

What it was before: An initially revolutionary, but increasingly stale, survival-horror series about the evil Umbrella corporation, a handful of vigilante survivors and hundreds of moaning zombies and mutants with a nasty habit of jumping through windows for cheap scares.

Above: Been there, done that 

What it became: A badass, ultraviolent shooter that reinvented not just Resident Evil, but also the horror genre and third-person action games in general. Ditching the cheap scares and awkward, plodding survival-horror gameplay, RE4 instead made its bones with the desperation that comes from facing down hordes of shuffling monsters hell-bent on your messy destruction. To help players get through this in the most awesome way possible, it introduced seamless environments that Leon Kennedy could run through and barricade as needed, as well as a unique over-the-shoulder perspective and aiming function that went on to be copied by most of the third-person shooters that followed.

More strikingly, it also ditched zombies in favor of the more intelligent Ganados, once-innocent Spanish villagers who’d been possessed and turned maniacal by the ancient, alien Las Plagas parasites. They could move quickly, use weapons and group tactics, and sometimes even survive headshots, making them a more terrifying threat than RE’s cliché zombies.

Above: Yeah, yeah, ‘un forastero.’ We’ll see how much Spanish you can speak with bullets where your teeth used to be

They were also far from the most terrifying thing in the game, and trying to survive some of the beasts that show up later in the game – like the Regenerators, for example – made for some of the most memorably frightening moments in what was already a pretty consistently scary game.

Where it went from there: Racism.

OK, OK, not really. If Resident Evil 5 is anything to go by, though, RE4 has set the tone for the franchise for the foreseeable future. Sadly, RE5 felt like something of a disappointment; it wasn’t bad, but after the bold flash of innovation that was Resident Evil 4, we kind of expected some more sweeping improvements, instead of just a similar game with an AI partner, a few more cool set-pieces and big amorphous blobs instead of scares.

4. Donkey Kong 3

What it was before: To be fair, Donkey Kong was from an era when sequels didn’t really have to have a consistent play style, but at least the first two games made a sort of sense when put next to each other. Donkey Kong, the first platformer, was about jumping over barrels and other threats in order to defeat a giant ape and save a girl, while Donkey Kong Jr. focused on climbing enemy-infested vines to defeat Mario and rescue Donkey Kong. One naturally follows the other.

Donkey Kong 3, on the other hand…

What it became: A bizarre, Galaga-like shooter in which obscure non-Mario hero Stanley the Bugman has to jump between parallel platforms and use a spray can to keep Donkey Kong and a swarm of bugs from stealing his flowers. This involved annihilating a lot of flies, but they were really a distraction from your main goal: squirting bug spray up Donkey Kong’s ass to force him up a pair of chains and into the next level.

Above: Yes, really

This weird departure was made far more creepy by what happened if Stanley should ever absorb a hit, either from the bugs or from anything Kong threw down. Not satisfied with Stanley merely falling over dead, the game would swarm his body with bugs, which left nothing behind but his spray can. Or, if you’re an easily traumatized, six-year-old me, a gruesome object that resembles a big-nosed, bloody-faced skeleton. Hell, it’s not like the game outright told us what it was.

Where it went from there: In all sorts of different directions, none of them quite as weird as this. After showing up in 1992’s Mario Kart, Donkey Kong got a 1994 Game Boy revival that expanded on the original game’s example, and soon after Donkey Kong was reinvented as a hero in the Donkey Kong Country series. He still occasionally shows up as an antagonist in the Mario vs Donkey Kong games, but he’s never squared off against Stanley since. Probably because Stanley’s dead.

Above: It could also be a silk-wrapped mummy, like a spider might leave behind


Top 7

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  • pintofbeer786 - November 19, 2010 12:37 p.m.

    wa'bout just cause 2
  • pintofbeer786 - November 19, 2010 12:32 p.m.

    i think just ause 2 was a massive improvement
  • Kezmer - October 15, 2010 3:18 a.m.

    Actraiser 2... ruined it !!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • RazielArcanum - October 13, 2010 11:04 a.m.

    I don't seem to recall any "memorable" bosses in Zelda II. ... ...okay, I could never finish it. I'm sorry.
  • philipshaw - October 13, 2010 10:59 a.m.

    Great article, I'm playing through Jak 2 again and even though it's radically different to the first game, I still think Jak 2 is the best in the series. I was surprised to not see Resi4 higher up the list
  • BAbaracus1983 - October 13, 2010 9:10 a.m.

    Pretty good list. Too bad that the list isn't for the top 8; then you could add Metal Gear Solid
  • eyeKARUMBA - October 13, 2010 4:25 a.m.

    Couple things; first, shouldn't RE4 be higher than 5? I mean, it revolutionized not only the RE series but the entire survival horror genre, and is one of the highest-reviewed games of all time. Second, and perhaps more importantly: where is Fallout 3? It turned the series from a top-down, turn-based RPG into a 1st-person, open world action-RPG, and did it beautifully (ignoring the glitches).
  • ScrEAMaPiLLar - October 13, 2010 1:34 a.m.

    I'd have to agree with each one. Can't wait to hear the discussion about these on Tdar.
  • AlpineGuy - October 13, 2010 12:39 a.m.

    This ended up being a pretty good list. Nice jorb there, Homesta-I mean, Mikel. Glad to see Prince of Persia: Warrior Within got a mention. Godsmack, anyone?
  • oreopizza47 - October 12, 2010 11:13 p.m.

    I happened to like RE5 alot. RE4 was good, but I stopped caring when it said "escort mission" and haven't yet gone back, although it was beautiful until then. RE5 on the other hand, is amazing in my opinion, because of it's co-op. Single player can feel like one big escort mission, but when you've got a friend sitting next to you helping you rock the zombie world, you know shit just got real. Personally, I prefer local co-op to online, but as long as a game has both I'm good. Can't stand games with only online though.
  • ViolentLee - October 12, 2010 10:41 p.m.

    Way to mention Dynasty Warriors. So few people realize/remember that the original was a 3D one-on-one fighter.
  • TheBoz - October 12, 2010 9:15 p.m.

    Creatures 2 on the C64, the original was a platformer with violent, and I mean violent and bloody torture rooms. The sequel went away from the linear play of the platform levels and concentrated on the torture rooms with bonus levels of bouncing the creatures from one end of the screen to the other. Also FIFA Football, the original game on the Megadrive was a 2d affair but with the illusion of a forced 3d perspective and what that has grown into. Very similar comparison to Duke Nukem as mentioned.
  • soccerclownking - October 12, 2010 8:53 p.m.

    What about Call of Duty Multiplayer? With CoD4 everyone was like Z0MFG CoD4 FTW OMGWTFBBQ!!!1!one!1! Soon after MW2 came out, most people including me called it a stupid campfest for 12 year old n00bz.
  • Cleanser247 - October 12, 2010 4:56 p.m.

    Great Top 7 Mikel! I enjoyed it : D
  • Clovin64 - October 12, 2010 2:56 p.m.

    Dynasty Warriors 3 was the first DW game I played after the first PS1 game. I had no idea it had turned into a battlefield brawler. Oh God, I had so much fun with DW3. Killing swarms of troops in 2 player co op is some of my favourite gamng memories.
  • TheWizard92 - October 12, 2010 2:30 p.m.

    I loved playing Dynasty Warriors 2 when I was younger! And, I am glad to see that Resident Evil was in this because I always hated having to used the d-pad controls for the first one, I died practicaly every 30 seconds. Not my best effort. Lol.
  • Bitchslapthehomeless - October 12, 2010 2:24 p.m.

    and Street Fighter 2! There, I've said my peace... Still a great read, Mikel.
  • Bitchslapthehomeless - October 12, 2010 2:19 p.m.

    Jak II was terrible, and a complete reaction to the Grand Theft Auto craze that was going on... And with that, I think Grand Theft Auto 3 should have REALLY been mentioned along with Metal Gear Solid, Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, Burnout: Takedown and Warcraft II deserve mentions over these games, as they all introduced stuff that really changed games.

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