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The Top 7... sequels that improved nothing

5. Devil May Cry 2

Attempted improvements: A new playable character, bigger environments

But it’s on this list because: The first Devil May Cry didn’t so much break ground as invoke a global-killer asteroid to strike the Earth’s crust with enough force to give long-dead dinosaurs some seriously  troubling flashbacks. It was fast, it was tight, it was deep, it was beyond stylish, and it was a hell of a challenge. In short, it gave action games a kick up the arse hard enough to leave permanent bruising.

And then DMC2 arrived, with worrying speed. Worrying speed and a different development team. That combination is often the ear-splitting klaxon horn that heralds a disappointing sequel, and rarely has there been a better worked example of that particularly tragic rule than Devil May Cry 2.

It didn’t look as good as the first game (thanks to plainer urban environments that couldn’t hold an over-sized black candle to DMC’s gothic splendour), it didn’t play as well as the first game (thanks to simplified combat and weapons, and a new emphasis on bland, open environments over frenzied, close-range combat), it wasn’t as challenging as the first game (thanks to every monster – even bosses – being as hard as microwaved ice cream) and Dante was nowhere near as cool as in the first game (thanks to piss-weak scripting).

And that second character, with her own campaign on the second disc? Not too bad, but her game was nigh identical to Dante’s. Which, as we’ve subtly hinted above, wasn’t that great.

4. Mario Kart: Double Dash!!

Attempted improvements: Putting two characters in each car (seriously, someone though it was a selling point), 16-player LAN play, dumbed-down gameplay (seriously, someone though it was a selling point)

But it’s on this list because: As fun as it was at times, the Gamecube’s Mario Kart: Double Dash!! was a sequel that didn’t seem to know where to go next. And with no clear evolutionary direction for the kart racing hijinx that Nintendo had pioneered eleven years earlier, it settled for more needless noodling and unnecessary bloat than an over-eating sumo.

Although briefly gigglesome in co-op multiplayer, putting two characters in each car was an unwanted gimmick that really amounted to little more than an elaborate reskin of a simple weapon-switching system. And worse, it heralded an unfortunate emphasis shift in the series’ gameplay. One of Nintendo’s earlier attempts at increased accessibility, Double Dash (we’re going to drop the exclamation marks now, because they demean us all) was much more about the weapons than the driving, making for silly, knockabout fun, but a game with a much-decreased care for player skill.

To that end, even Mario Kart’s iconic bunny hop was dropped in order to make banana skins harder to evade, and, possibly to make course navigation less intimidating, the tracks became wider and less challenging, which also killed the sense of speed. Want to know where Mario Kart Wii’s irritating weapon-spam nonsense came from? It all started here. Which was doubly frustrating given that Mario Kart DS managed to get things so right in between the release of the two home console versions.

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67 comments

  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - May 24, 2010 12:16 p.m.

    ahh RE5 improved on on-line co-op, that's something i guess
  • EnragedTortoise1 - May 24, 2010 12:20 p.m.

    Ahh.. Here we have the paradox known as the "sequel dilemma". Keep things the same... People will say BOO-RING! Totally change things up... People might hate it! "Improve" the gameplay? You might lose half toyr fanbase! So, where would you go as a game developer?
  • TURbo - May 24, 2010 12:24 p.m.

    It's simple if the demand is inelastic, drill that shit, and keep pumping out sequels.
  • reverandglass - May 24, 2010 12:53 p.m.

    I gotta take issue with resistance 2 being on the list. Compared to the first game everything was improved except, one could argue, the shooting. Fans of the first game aren't going to mind that though and it's a bit like saying burnout it no good because it doesn't handle like forza! Other than that I lol'd at dynasty warriors, well done.
  • lozarian - May 24, 2010 1:01 p.m.

    Pedantry: no-one remembers that Considerably fewer options. anyway. I agree, IV was severely disappointing, I've owned II,III and IV, and whilst imo III was a definite step up from II, IV added absolutely nothing. Though I would have thought that every single madden/fifa/champ manager game ever made deserved a mention.
  • tdarlistner100 - May 24, 2010 1:20 p.m.

    This a very nice "Top 7" and one that surely needed to be written eventually. My only gripe with this list of sequels that fell short of their expectations is that "Kill Zone 2" was not present on this list. I was able to play about 5 minutes of the game before the shooting mechanics got to m. Perhaps it is my own personal gripe with "Kill Zone 2" but I think it would have been a worthy addition to the list.
  • OnyxOblivion - May 24, 2010 1:34 p.m.

    I hate Mariokart...All the damn games are exactly the game. Not just Double Dash. All of 'em.
  • nadrewod999 - May 24, 2010 1:38 p.m.

    I just hope ACIII, SW:TFU, and inFamous 2 don't eventually end up on a list like this one. Ezio FTW!!! XD (just realized that, if you take out the W and the : from the acronym for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, it reads STFU! Take that, n00bs!)
  • spencerisgod1990 - May 24, 2010 2:02 p.m.

    i felt like Red Dead Redemption is a sequal to GTA4, its the exact same game in the west, with regenerating health, horses mixed with a few more minigames that you think is brillient till you remember darts and bowling from gta got old quick. you only do them for the achievements/trophies. ReCAPTCHA: the claims
  • gilgamesh310 - May 24, 2010 2:39 p.m.

    Why exactly isn't Halo 2 or 3 on this list. Surely if Resi 5 is there than at least one of the Halo sequels should be. The only improvement that Halo 2 had over the original was duel weilding and absolutely nothing else besides. The story developed into a convoluted mess. I long for the day when the halo sequels are shown up for what they really are.
  • sgloomy - May 24, 2010 2:47 p.m.

    I think there shouldn't be any major improvement if the game is working (i.e. God of War III, SSF4) but if there are flaws with the first game, they HAVE to be addressed in the sequel (Assassin Creed 2).
  • allthegoodnameswheretaken - May 24, 2010 3:34 p.m.

    >It's simple if the demand is inelastic, drill that shit, and keep pumping out sequels. Lol economics I have several dynasty warrior games you cannot tell the difference between them And in some cases the get worse
  • CARDYKEV - May 24, 2010 3:37 p.m.

    Wish Splinter cell conviction was on this list
  • TyeTheCzar - May 24, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    I seriously hope Sengoku Basara will be a true Dynasty Warriors-killer when it finally comes out over here.
  • johngrybos - May 24, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    Typo @ RE5: 'falir' rather than 'flair'
  • Eaxis - May 24, 2010 3:41 p.m.

    This is a great top 7.
  • Chewrocka - May 24, 2010 3:50 p.m.

    I think you could argue that all though the options for Soulcal IV's character creations were less the actual depth was much greater. Different gear granted different attributes and abilities, I have like 6 of the same character because each does something different. And I think MarioKart Wii might have been a better choice, they tried to ad TONS of stuff to it and it just ended up a disappointing mess that shames MarioKart64.
  • dslayer99 - May 24, 2010 4:08 p.m.

    lol i have every dynasty warriors game and the only difference is the graphics!
  • Spacegrass - May 24, 2010 4:18 p.m.

    I thought the clothes changing in Soul Calibur IV was the worst thing about it; I bought the game to fight, not to play dress-up.
  • garnsr - May 24, 2010 4:24 p.m.

    I liked Samurai Warriors, it had some additions that as far as I know never made it into Dynasty Warriors, like having several different missions you could choose, or miss. Dynasty seems even simpler than that pretty simple game, I don't know how they've produced so many.

Showing 1-20 of 67 comments

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