Sick with sequelitis
Making sequels is like mining for gold. You could strike it lucky and find rich veins of sparkly gaming gems, or you could bust a sewer pipe and get covered in turd. For every Uncharted 2 theres a Duke Nukem Forever, and for every Resident Evil 4 theres a Resident Evil 6. But what about those games that never produced any follow ups?
Ive decided to take a look at some of the finest examples of gamings only-children, and answer why it may be that this league of excellence remains franchise-less. Was it better that these one-off wonders never got the green light for a sequel, or is it best to move onto something new? With these examples we will, for the time being at least, never know.
Heavy Rain (2010)
How could you make a sequel to Heavy Rain? David Cage has already said that he COULD make a sequel to one of the most unique console games ever, but hes not in video games to make money (Im sure Quantic Dreams investors feel exactly the same way). The creative Frenchman has mentioned that he wants to look at other options when it comes to games, even saying that he wants to shake up the shooter genre (context sensitive headshots? Tap X to teabag?); but as for a Heavy Rain 2? Not going to happen.
How would you plan to further Heavy Rains story? Cage has said that, despite the branching narrative pathways, he wanted players to only play through it once and then sell it, meaning we all get a slightly different experience. These are not the words of a man who plans to make four sequels, two prequels and an off-shoot karting game. My advice is, if you want more, go play Indigo Prophecy--its got internet monsters and weird zombie sex in it.
The Last of Us (2013)
The Last of Us came off the back of Naughty Dogs long-ish running Uncharted series and, for those who havent played it... It. Is. Awesome! Many, including myself, will argue that Joel and Ellies adventure through fungus-ravaged America is the best game of the current-generation, and part of its appeal comes from its heart-breaking, yet ultimately satisfying, conclusion.
Far from being well placed to tell the good people at Naughty Dog what to do next, Id be fairly disappointed if they chose to continue our grizzly heroes story, partly because I want them to work on something equally new and equally brilliant; and partly because I like where The Last of Us sits in my memory. DLC has just been announced for the game, which appears to be a prequel featuring Ellie before she met Joel (so that covers the biggest remaining 'mystery' of the game), but I imagine well not see a true sequel for some time yet--if ever.
When Bully was announced, it garnered the same expectation as nearly everything else Rockstar had made since Grand Theft Auto III; be it GTA with cowboys or GTA with trilbys--the company cannot seem to shake the stigma of its most successful franchise. Luckily, GTA: High School, or Bully as it's better known, is a showcase of intelligent design, brilliant character crafting and a master class in how to unite multiple genres in one package. It also leaves little room for a sequel.
The power of Rockstars games is always in their setting, and Bullworth Academy is a joy to attend. Its classrooms and playing fields reminiscent to anyone who went to school, and its bullies and teachers familiar to anyone who has scoffed at those toothy, perfect children in the High School Musical films. A sequel may well be on the cards but the setting and themes explored, not to mention the activities rendered, feel sufficiently mined and any possible follow up would be simply re-treading old (play) ground.
Shadow of the Colossus (2005)
Since its release in 2005, Shadow of the Colossus has become legendary. Its been touted as a spiritual prequel to Ico, but for those who played it, SOTC was a magical, once in a lifetime, all the stars aligning, Hallmark moment about a traveller and his love for a horse named Agro. And some girl. There are a few boss fights thrown in for good measure, but it's mainly about the horse. That beautiful, beautiful horse. [editor's note: get a room you two].
Shadow of the Colossus, like many one-off games on this list, came complete with a full narrative that left little room for continuation, and it would seem hugely unfair to the legacy of Team Icos masterpiece, which had loss and death as its main themes, to staple a mish-mash follow-up onto its coat tails. With The Last Guardian mired in the quicksand of development hell, it looks as though Shadow of the Colossus will remain a semi-one-off. A film has been touted, but given the fact that Sony doesn't even seem to know what it's doing with Last Guardian, I'd suggest there's zero chance of this happening.
Beyond Good & Evil (2003)
Ok, before you say it, I know there is a Beyond Good & Evil 2 in development, but it was announced five years ago and weve seen very little of it since then. I'd argue that we don't need a sequel at all. Jades original adventure was a curious affair that blended a number of different genres into one complete package; it was odd, interesting, and lots of fun--but trying to recapture the magic of the first game would require too many steps backwards to justify the fan service.
Reimagining the game with more realistic graphics would instantly eliminate 90% of the charm--and if those early promo videos are anything to go by, this is exactly what has happened. Is animal photography and hovercraft combat enough to excite the modern gamer? Probably not. We've grown more demanding, and as such, Ubisoft shouldn't be asked to bend Beyond Good & Evil to fit modern console tastes. Or maybe I'm just being selfish and I don't want my gaming memories spoiled if Ubi get it wrong...
Oh how much I wanted to write about Bayonetta here. Platinum Games created one of, if not THE finest brawler of all time, but the sequel is out next year on Wii U--so it doesn't count. Still, Platinum brought (almost) the same level of narrative madness and clarity of gameplay with Vanquish, except with robots and guns instead of angels and huge-ass hammers made from hair.
Vanquish is an interesting experiment that turned into a great game. Platinum Games had already earned its stripes in the brawler genre and a move into the, already crowded, cover shooter genre looked like a bit of a dumb move. Even so, the decision proved to be the right one. Its trump cards are in its tight controls, well-crafted level design, intense action sequences and, ultimately, a sequel would just be more of the same. A Vanquish/Bayonetta crossover, however, would be incredible. Make it so.
Black wasnt particularly well received, but it did become a bit of a fan favourite and, I must confess, I still find occasion to blow the dust off Trixie (my PS2 is called Trixie) and spend the afternoon blasting through wave after wave of henchmen with the speakers pumped up to the are my ears supposed to bleed this much? level. It sounds a bit clichd to say, but Black doesnt need a sequel because its as good now as it was in 2006.
Rogue Galaxy (2005 / 2007)
The PS2 had a number of surprisingly good, if not slightly repetitive, Japanese RPGs during its tenure, and some of the more memorable entries came from Level-5. Rogue Galaxy, with its Star Wars-style plot, beautiful cell shaded graphics, and endless mini games was my pick of the bunch and, although Id have loved a sequel, one never materialised. Sad faces all round.
Rogue Galaxy fits quite nicely into Level-5s canon of RPGs, and, instead of a sequel on the more powerful PS3, we were blessed with the unfeasibly dull grind-a-thon White Knight Chronicles, which made me miss Jaster and co even more. Those who have played any number of Level-5 games will come to realise that each one learns from the previous entry and adds its own touches, which keeps things nice and fresh; so, while Im sure many of us would love to clamber aboard the Dorgenark and button mash their way through more adventures, its best to let Level-5 get on with developing new IP, its what theyre good at (most of the time). Rogue Galaxy doesn't need a sequel because Level-5 need--for the sake of games--to keep making beautiful, original games.
Vagrant Story (2000)
I have no idea why SquareSoft didnt make a sequel to Vagrant Story. Its plot could be continued, mainly because it was unfathomably complex, and its unique combat system could be improved, again, because it was unfathomably complex, but oddly a follow-up never materialised. On a personal note, I believe it was because of the assless leather chaps the main character wore--no man would want to render that in HD.
Like the majority of games on this list Im fairly happy to let Vagrant Story slip into the rosy hues of memory lane (there are so many Thundercats episodes down there), mainly because it was so bloody good and I dont want it ruined, but also because I like reminiscing about old games like a crinkly grandfather sat by a fire telling tales of an age without analogue sticks. If you want to give Vagrant Story a crack it was released on the PSN a few years ago and was as puzzling now as it was back then. Perfect for those who thought Final Fantasy Tactics didnt have enough ass in it.
Burning Rangers (1998)
Time to get the tissues out as the chances of getting a sequel to this game is exactly zero. Burning Rangers came along as the undertaker was measuring the Sega Saturns body, so it was pretty much ignored in the west, despite garnering favourable reviews. Plus, it was made by Sonic Team, so it was a quality--if garishly bright product.
Again, many feel Burning Rangers deserves another shot in the lime light, but what would be the point? Sega is a shell of its former self, theres probably not enough demand for it. Who wants to put out fires when you can shoot the stumps off Nazi zombies? Burning Rangers was a product of its time; its sugary visuals, and simplistic gameplay would need to be modernised to appeal to mass audiences to the point where it would be like Gears of War with Super Soakers. Besides, there are plenty of real world fires that need putting out.
Leave it alone
There you have it--a list of games that never need sequels, and in most cases, never actually got one. One game that definitely DID need a sequel, but never got one, is Haven: Call of the King. It leaves our hero tied to a rock, awaiting a follow-up adventure that never came. Poor Haven.
Want more off-the-chain features about games and stuff. Here are 10 Games That Troll Their Own Players (opens in new tab). Oh look! Here's one about Games That Are Called Ultimate, But Are Nothing Of The Sort (opens in new tab).