Who doesn't love a good sequel? Since you awesome readers responded so well to my last post on sequels, I proudly present a sequel to my sequel post! (The irony is thick with this one.)
As with the last one, the sequels here made improvements over the originals, and in some cases, blow the original completely out of the water. I have also tried to limit the games to direct sequels or else this would go on forever. So shall we begin the sequel to the sequel? (Seriously, I’m making my head hurt with this).
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect was an ambitious and terrific game which really showed what the 360 and PS3 could do with its massive scope and gorgeous landscapes. However, the game had issues. Performance issues, technical hiccups, awful inventory management, and clunky combat weighed on the experience, but not enough to ruin it. Mass Effect 2 rectified those issues and then some.
By streamlining and redesigning the game, the final product played smoother and was a more enjoyable experience. Add in a gripping tale where death is a real possibility and a great cast of characters, and you could forgive BioWare for eliminating a lot of the RPG mechanics from the first game. Mass Effect 2 is a terrific game with one of the best narratives in gaming. And the MAKO no longer handles like a drunken gnome riding a wild boar! A win for all!
Heroes of Might and Magic 2
While Heroes of Might and Magic 3 is considered the crowning achievement of the series, you can’t overlook the second entry in the series. The first Heroes of Might and Magic was met with a fairly middling upon response back in 1995. The sequel is what the thrust the series into the limelight and into gamer’s memories and long, long nights of “Just one more turn” syndrome.
By refining the gameplay, fleshing out the story, and creating the video game equivalent of cocaine, New World Computing ensured players would not be forgetting about this series anytime soon. You can purchase these classics for only $10 apiece; so you get the addictive nature of narcotics without the terrible effects on your health for a bargain!
The first Rayman is a challenging and legendary platformer and just so happens to be the top selling game for the original Playstation in the United Kingdom. The game was by no means a slouch.
Rayman 2 took the limbless hero into the realms of 3D and the results were one of the best platformers one can play. The transition to the third dimension allowed for more imaginative worlds and levels for our hero to explore. Add great level design, fun abilities, and a hopping soundtrack, and you have a recipe for success!
Assassin’s Creed 2
As much as I have my issues with the series, I cannot deny the impact Assassin’s Creed 2 has had on the series and gaming as a whole. The first Assassin’s Creed was a love-it or hate-it affair. While some gamers loved exploring the world and assassinating targets, many players were annoyed by the lack of mission diversity and wonky controls and combat. Assassin’s Creed 2 changed the naysayer’s tune.
With improved controls and combat, more mission diversity, and a better-designed world to explore, Assassin’s Creed 2 was everything the first game should have been. However, Assassin’s Creed 2 also started the yearly release cycle Ubisoft continues to foolishly follow. Opposite and equal reactions indeed.
Note: Awesome fanart by Elemental79.
I am cheating a little bit here. Technically, Metroid’s sequel was Metroid II: The Return of Samus for the original Gameboy, which was by no means a bad game. However, Super Metroid is a more worthy and fitting sequel. Released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo eight years after the original Metroid, Super Metroid showed the time away did wonders for Samus.
Despite releasing at the same time at the PlayStation and Sega Saturn, Super Metroid showed what the SNES could do. With great art design, a terrific soundtrack, tons of new weapons, and a vast world to explore, players were eager to once again step into the power suit of the badass bounty hunter. Who can forget the awesome fight with Mother Brain at the end? Super Metroid is the stuff legends are made of. Now how about an HD remake or a new entry in the series, Nintendo?
Mega Man 2
While it may come as a surprise, the original Mega Man was not a huge hit with players or critics. Nevertheless, Capcom trudged on with a sequel and released Mega Man 2 in 1988. The gaming world has never been the same since.
With Mega Man 2, Capcom unknowingly unleashed a classic onto an unsuspecting populace. Critics and players worldwide were enamored with the Blue Bomber and made the game a critical and commercial success. To this day, the game is regarded as the best in the series, as well as one of the best games ever made, as well as having one of the best soundtracks in gaming! Not too shabby, eh?
Advance Wars: Dual Strike
Again, I am cheating here, but Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising was more of a map pack than a true sequel; not so with Dual Strike. By releasing on the then-new Nintendo DS, Dual Strike was able to utilize two screens and advanced hardware for the series. Boy did it!
The addition of a second screen allowed players to absorb tactical info on the fly without having to open any menus. The battles were also massive, with most stretching far beyond your screen. The addition of a tag team mechanic with your commanders (who had powerful abilities that change the tide of battle) allowed for tactics to change on the fly. The addition of multiplayer and some other modes ensured pocket generals had many reasons to return to glorious turn-based warfare.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast
Before anyone objects to this not being a direct sequel, allow me to explain. The first game in the series was Star Wars: Dark Forces followed by Star Wars Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II while Jedi Outcast was the third one in the series. However, since it is named Jedi Knight II, I am considering it a sequel to 1997’s Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II. It absolutely makes sense!
Jedi Outcast undoubtedly had a slow start and some strange puzzles, but the payoff was worth it. Once you received your lightsaber and Force powers, the game became an entirely different beast. The combat made players feel like a Jedi slashing through hapless Stormtroopers (don’t forget that dismemberment code!) and using Force powers at will. The duels with Dark Jedi and members of the Sith were among the highlights of this gem. Add in a multiplayer where you could reenact Highlander with your friends, and you have one of the best Star Wars game ever made. The Force is strong with this one.
Street Fighter II
When the original Street Fighter was released in 1987, no one could have anticipated what the sequel would do to the gaming world. With the release of Street Fighter II four years later, Capcom cemented the series’ legacy and ushered in an era of popularity for the fighting genre.
Street Fighter II improved upon the original in every way: better graphics and sound, a larger, more varied cast, depth of combat and mechanics, stages. Everything was better. The game was immensely popular and led to many kids losing their lunch money for a chance to play one more time. Capcom is not foolish, and has ported the game to over fifteen systems and consoles. The game has also seen an HD re-release and inclusion in several compilations. If you haven’t played this game by now, please share your secrets with me!
Wait, what? Am I crazy? (Yes.) Have I lost my mind? (Most assuredly). Don’t run away! Hear me out on this one.
Yes, Bioshock is a landmark game and by all means a classic which showed what narratives in gaming could accomplish. However, the gameplay and design had some issues. Bioshock 2 added some welcome improvements over its predecessor. The silly pipe matching minigame you had to do when hacking? Gone and replaced with a real-time mechanic that made sense! Dual wielding plasmids and weapons? You betcha! More weapons? Why not?
Sure, the game was not perfect. The role of the Big Daddy could have been fleshed out more, and there were obvious content cuts for whatever reason: it is still a remarkable game. The multiplayer is not too shabby either! It’s high time we looked back on this game and gave it a fair shake.
Well that was not too painful right? So which sequels did I miss or make the mistake of including? Let me know in the comments!