Sequels to what have come before are a dime a dozen – these days more than ever. Just look at hot releases this year that have either already happened or will be happening in the next nine to twelve months: Uncharted 3, Portal 2, The Witcher 2, Mass Effect 3, Modern Warfare 3, The Elder Scrolls V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2, Gears of War 3, Dark Souls (basically Demon’s Souls 2). That list goes on and on…and on and on.
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these games, because many of them are some of my favorite franchises. Nor am I saying there are anything wrong with sequels. The problem is, when you get so far into sequel territory, it’s almost like the franchise is just being milked for all its worth and, when this happens, it seems, to me, to cheapen the franchise as a whole. Hit the break to check out which franchises I think have gone too far, and which games I hope never get a sequel.
Let’s start off our discussion with a franchise almost synonymous with “milking”: Guitar Hero. Thank the Lord that Activision finally cut this one off at the head, because it was just getting ridiculous. Even the Call of Duty franchise hasn’t reached this point – at least, not yet. It was so bad that in 2009 over half a dozen Guitar Hero games were released across various different platforms. Over-saturation much? For crying out loud Activision, this makes you look as desperate as a hooker in the Vatican.
What does this cause, in turn? It causes people to not even care about this franchise. Look how quickly Rock Band overcame it in just three years by releasing one game per year instead of half a dozen or more. Rock Band became more solid, had more staying power and made significant changes to each iteration, while Guitar Hero just remained stagnant and even had to start copying off Rock Band to remain remotely relevant.
On the other end of the spectrum – and actually, these are the games I specifically want to talk about – are the “one hit wonders” of the gaming world, which in nearly all cases are critically acclaimed, yet don’t sell very well because of the uncertainty of a new franchise. I’m talking about games like Okami, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, The World Ends with You, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Heavy Rain, Heavenly Sword, Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom and others like them. These are the titles that I really hope don’t get a sequel.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Enslaved was so great that it deserves a sequel and Namco Bandai isn’t really sure if they want to make one because of the lackluster sales (although 700,000 is rather respectable). You know what? If it’s such a problem for Namco Bandai, then just DON’T MAKE A SEQUEL! Why? Because when it is developed, then released and sells 200,000 copies in the first six months, the company will once again whine and moan that it didn’t sell up to expectations. This just taints the name of a great original game and makes people care even less. How many people, after the second game comes out, do you think will go back and play the first if they haven’t already? Not many. The solution? Just don’t even bother. Let the original game stand on its own as a great title, and it will be remembered as such by the gaming world.
In a bit of beautiful irony, I find it rather funny how people – you know, those who actually played the game – are clamoring for a sequel to Enslaved while the gaming public, at the same time, is complaining that there’s a new Call of Duty every frakking year. (What’s even more hilarious is half the people complaining about a new Call of Duty every year will also buy it on day one every year, but let’s not even go there.)
Another reason I don’t want to see sequels to some of these great games is something I alluded to earlier – it seems to cheapen the experience. Games like Heavy Rain and Shadow of the Colossus are games with self-contained stories. They start great, get the player involved and wrap up nicely. Why do we need to continue this? What is the point? Instead, if the game’s mechanics work so well, why not create a new IP using those mechanics and building upon them instead of cheapening the original experience by just creating sequel after sequel? (Yes, I know, sequels are actually NOT in development for those two titles – so let’s keep it that way!)
So, let’s summarize. Here are the two main reasons why I don’t want sequels to some of the best, most unique games.
- If a great game doesn’t sell enough to the point that a publisher has to be pulled kicking and screaming to make a sequel – THEN DON’T MAKE IT. The original game is better than that.
- If multiple sequels are made it holds the possibility of cheapening the original experience, and original experiences and those nostalgic feelings are truly what gaming is all about.
I don’t want to see a sequel to Enslaved, I don’t want to see a sequel to The World Ends With You and I certainly don’t want to see sequels to Ico, Shadow of the Colossus and Heavy Rain. Save those for the Call of Duties, the Gears of Wars and the Mass Effects, the games that people will blindly purchase no matter how many iterations of it you throw at their faces.