You have three scenarios when coming up and releasing a sequel as a dev:
- Your sequel captures what made the first one good and manages to better the experience. (Kingdom Hearts 2)
- Your sequel better captures what you tried to do the first time around and therefore is a better game. (Assassin’s Creed 2)
- Your sequel does not capture what you did the first time around and hurts the series. (Devil May Cry 2)
Unfortunately, the third scenario happens a lot. While we’d love to see more success in the sequel department there are just too many risks you face as a dev when trying to continue something that was liked, loved, or looked up to.
Then you have to deal with hype. When continuing something like what I just mentioned there is an uncontrollable variable that haunts you: the hype machine. You can’t control how big, small, or crazy this gets and sometimes it gets so huge that it swallows your game whole and makes it impossible to live up to the false standard set by fans (Too Human).
So when thinking about sequels that have ended up with scenario #3, what are the worst offenders? We’ve compiled a list of the 15 worst sequels ever made in video games.
This list is not in a number order but is instead presented in an alphabetical order. After all, just showing up in a list like this is bad, no need to exaggerate it by giving out a gold medal.
Bomberman: Act Zero
While I struggled a bit calling this a sequel instead of an attempt at a reboot, it’s kind of hard to make this list and not have Act Zero here. This is, by far, the worst reimagining of a series ever. This is downright a bastardization of Bomberman and every single second of fun ever spent dropping bombs and trapping your friends while hearing them scream at the inevitability of an explosion and their demise.
Bomberman is supposed to be fun. That’s it. It’s all about traverse a dangerous stage while dropping ever more dangerous things on the ground. Then you factor in the power-ups and how things get even more dangerous and there you go! You got a game! There was no need to turn Bomberman into some Unreal Engine hulk of a cyber soldier just for a cool factor. It didn’t work and single-handedly ruined this franchise.
Deus Ex: The Invisible War
You know what made Deus Ex such a classic hit? The way the game mixed cyberpunk and RPG in an interactive way. Before Deus Ex you just had to imagine what a good sci-fi cyberpunk game would be like. After it came out, you couldn’t help but be immersed in the corporate war fueled by the wanting to turn mankind into more an unstoppable killing machine with a trained mind.
You know waht made Deus Ex: The Invisible War a bad game? By throwing out the RPG and becoming a soulless action game. How can you take such a beloved game (oh, by the way, I mentioned Deus Ex and I know you’re searching for your install discs) and turn it into a Halo knockoff? The petty attempt at cashing in with a cult name like Deus Ex did not work and nearly ruined the series.
Devil May Cry 2
I mentioned this up above so you knew it was coming. Devil May Cry 2 was the sequel to an unexpected hit from Capcom. To be honest, I thought Devil May Cry was going to sink but instead it was a big seller. Dante is a total badass and leaning on that while being able to improve him and his skills as you go through the game made it so fun. Plus, when you factor in the demons and hellish story it made for a sweet mix of combo-tastic badassery.
Devil May Cry 2 sold very well thanks to the first game. However, all those who bought the game were treated to a terrible B-movie version of Devil May Cry. This game was all about trying to make Dante look like a supreme badass but just makes him seem stupid, careless, and akin to a character from God Hand, ridiculous. Dante, throughout the game, uses a coin to determine fate which seems to always be on his side. Turns out the damned coin is the same on both sides. Ingenious, I know.
While combat stayed the same in the sequel, there were little to no changes making it feel stale. The only good thing Devil May Cry 2 has was how it handled the Devil Trigger mode. Other than that, you sat there a horrifyingly bad story involving a less badass Dante, a forgettable female character, an island under siege by a demonic buisnessman, and an ending you wanted to forget immediately.
Duke Nukem Forever
With 15 years of constant development under its belt, the only thing I really liked about Forever was that Gearbox basically said “screw this!” and made sure it released. Good on them, too! That was a really cool thing for them to do.
However, I can’t blame Gearbox for how Duke Nukem Forever turned out. It is a mess of an experience that takes Duke’s classic raunchy attitude and turns it into an eye-rolling interactive smut film not worth the disc it was printed on.
The aliens this time around were serious. They invaded the planet and were going to kill everything on it. Duke, on the other hand, squanders this chance to keep up with his “badass with a gun and a dirty mouth” and also become a new age action hero in gaming. Instead, he becomes a big kid who says stupid and nasty things all the time just for the sake of it. There is no rhyme or reason to this game. It’s a string of stages with bad design, poor enemy AI, and gives you absolutely no wanting to actually beat it.
Talk about 15 years down the drain.
Mega Man 6
Mega Man 6 had the unfortunately fate of being that game stuck between generations and a new breed of gamers. By this time, Mega Man has ran its course on the NES. The fifth game wasn’t all that great and the sixth one just buried the hatchet. It also came out around the same time as Mega Man X on the SNES which was lauded for finally taking the franchise in a new direction.
So we had Mega Man 6 for those who didn’t upgrade consoles yet and it was a very uninspired sequel. Many of the weapons felt like things we used in the previous 5 games and while there were some cool power-ups introduced in Mega Man 6, the overall feeling of staleness, forgettable enemies, and recycled weaponry made the game feel like there was no need to continue playing this series on the NES.
That’s about the time that Mega Man X on the SNES became super popular. Go figure.
Metroid: Other M
It’s hard to think of a title with more hype on it than Team Ninja’s Other M. Or was it Nintendo’s Other M? Or maybe D-Rockets’? This game was plagued from the start due to the split in dev teams. Instead of being the action-adventure game to take Metroid in a new direction after Prime, it turned out to be a mess with gameplay clearly not completely thought-out and a product of three thought processes thanks to the way the team was built up.
If Team Ninja were able to tackle Other M alone with some input from Nintendo and their Samus-loving executives, perhaps Other M would have been the game to take Metroid in the right direction after Prime. However, we’ll just have to remember this game as a by-product of dev team misfortune mixed with a so-so story that did nothing for Samus as a character.
Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures
I brought this game up in a post I did about the weirdest games ever made. Simply put, Pac-Man 2 was not your ordinary Pac-Man game. Instead it was a side-scrolling adventure game were Pac-Man has to help his family (Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Baby). As he goes about these tasks, he can venture around the town interacting with objects and other people as well as use a slingshot and basically walk into strangers’ houses.
Honestly, Pac-Man 2 is a really off-putting game at times making you feel uneasy about the things you do and how Pac-Man reacts to the things around him. Depending on how Pac-Man feels at the time, you might feel a bit depressed at the tone of the game. Also, going into people’s houses and doing things with a stranger’s kid while they aren’t home just feels insanely wrong.
Why is this a Pac-Man game!?
Phantasy Star Universe
I really wanted to put Phantasy Star Online Ep. 3: C.A.R.D. Revolution on this list because it was nothing what the fans were hoping for. However, it turned out to be a pretty great game on its own. Still, fans wanted more PSO and PSO they did not get.
Phantasy Star Universe was an attempt as “evolving” the PSO formula which was a terrible idea. PSO just works. PSO2 also works because it captures that feeling that PSO had. Phantasy Star Universe doesn’t capture jack. In fact, it feels lifeless, stiff, and mashed in with a very sub-par story featuring some of the most cliche voice acting and animations in a game. I felt like I was watching an anime starring some dumb kid who couldn’t see his own two feet.
The online was much better but thanks to the uninspired gameplay attached it the only thing you could be happy about was that you weren’t playing more of the campaign story. The only things that kept Phantasy Star Universe from ruining this series were the portable games for the DS and PSP. Thankfully it’s about to get back on its feet fully with Phantasy Star Online 2.
Shadow The Hedgehog
You put a gun… in the hands… of a character… that is a hedgehog… and tried to give him… a serious storyline.
Just repeat that over in your head and tell me, just try and tell me any way that is going to actually work. Shadow The Hedgehog is a terrible game that sold well because kids wanted more Shadow after Adventure 2 and hell, so did I. However, I didn’t want to spend money on a game where Shadow was riding a motorcycle, shooting a gun, and crying about a human.
The only cool thing about Shadow The Hedgehog was that you could do either Hero or Dark missions and bring Shadow closer to a good guy or an evil puppet being used by Eggman or… get this name, Black Doom.
Silent Hill: Homecoming
The main aspect of Silent Hill has always been survival horror. Even in the new Book of Memories, which plays more like Diablo than a Silent Hill game, has plenty of survival horror in it. You’re normally always at whit’s end with your equipment and weapons. You either have barely any ammo or you can’t find any. You either have a near broken weapon or you are defenseless. Silent Hill always pits you in terrible situations with limited means of survival. It’s up to the player to try and get through the horrors and survive.
Enter: Homecoming, a Silent Hill game where you play as a returning soldier who has access to a bunch of weapons, ammo, and other means to combat the baddies here. So tell me, where in that description that anything ring “Silent Hill” to you? It doesn’t. This, other than the fog and occasional spook, feels more like Resident Evil 5 or 6 than a Silent Hill game. While I’m fans of those two games, they had their reasons for being more action-oriented. Homecooming gave no reason other than to disrupt the Silent Hill formula.
Thankfully Downpour did a good job of getting this series back on track.
Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
Although billed as a reboot, you can’t reboot something as simple as Sonic. Just like you can’t reboot Mario, you can only introduce more gameplay options, mechanics, and surprises. So I look at Sonic ’06 as an attempt to make Sonic a serious and more humanized game that utterly failed in terms of story, characterization, gameplay, and control.
You want a great representation of how bad this game really is? Go on YouTube and look up the Game Grumps playing through this. I love the Game Grumps but what really sold me on how terrible Sonic ’06 was (besides actually playing through it myself) is when Arin just gets up, leaves, comes back, and freaks the hell out on the TV for the — excuse me– bullshit that Sega threw up on a disc and released to the world.
This is not a Sonic game that should be remembered. This is not a Sonic game that should have been released. This is, by far, the worst game in the franchise and possibly the worst game Sega has ever made.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
What made The Force Unleashed so attractive to gamers was 1) the way you could control the force, 2) introducing a canon explanation of how the Rebellion was created, and 3) introducing a canon character who was stronger than Vader and, uncontrolled, was feared by him. It made The Force Unleashed THE game a Star Wars fan needed to play to not only flesh out an important faction in the franchise but also show that Vader and Luke weren’t the only powerful Jedi to ever exist.
While Lucas doesn’t exactly care for the Extended Universe, many, many others do and the inclusion of Starkiller in the canon of Star Wars meant something. He was stronger than Vader and Luke (at least Luke during the movies, maybe not New Jedi Order or Dark Empire Luke) and for those who never looked at or read the Expanded Universe they were given a small glimpse as how powerful a force user can really be.
So why is Force Unleashed 2 a bad sequel? Because it meant nothing. It wasn’t canon. It was a cheap release to capitalize on how well the first game did but without having what made the first time so popular and good. The nod from Lucas was gone, the story was forgettable, and all it tried to do was show how much more ridiculous they could make Starkiller instead of just letting the story be and moving on to a different, Expanded Universe character.
The Force Unleashed does not need to be the title for Starkiller’s stories. It can be a subtitle for a series of games that take character and show how awesome it is to play with the full force at your fingertips. Why not just show some Dark Empire Luke, Darth Maul, or even one of the Solo children in a game like this? Hell, I’d love to see a game like Force Unleashed star Cade Skywalker. No, instead we got a lifeless sequel that meant nothing and only succeeded in making Starkiller a hated character to Star Wars fans. Nice.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Fun fact: Super Mario Bros. 2 is a game that Nintendo copied almost to the ‘T” from a Japanese game called Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic. The only difference is that Nintendo brightened up the colors and added Mario characters in lieu of that game’s actual characters.
So take that fact in hand and couple it with that this sequel just didn’t feel like the super addictive and popular Super Mario Bros. and you have yourself a pretty crappy sequel. Sure, the gameplay wasn’t too bad but it was such a departure from what made the initial game so great. You never hear people talk about Super Mario Bros. 2 over the first game. That’s because it isn’t worth talking about. It’s there. That’s all that needs to be said.
When you look at the first game’s style and gameplay, compare it to the copied style and gameplay of the second game, and then look at Nintendo actually giving a crap and making the third game themselves, you can see a huge difference.
Super Mario Bros. started a gaming revolution. Super Mario Bros. 3 mastered that gameplay. Super Mario Bros. 2 was an abomination that should be locked away from sight and memory.
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2
The fact that this game was chosen to be in the Smithsonian’s Art of Video Games PS2 section is a crime. Underground 2 failed to capture what made Underground 1 so amazing. In fact, it single-handedly made me give up on Tony Hawk games.
Think about it this way: Underground was an evolution of the series, correct? It introduced a story that made you want to play it, get better, and succeed. It helped train you how to be good at the game (something Tony Hawk games before that point failed at doing) and put everything you learned to test in difficult events. The last stage of Underground 1 where you have to out-skate and out-perform your rival all around your neighborhood is still fresh in my mind.
So enter Underground 2, which basically pisses all over everything you did in the first game. You play as your skater from the first game and your rival is also in the game. You get kidnapped by Tony Hawk and Bam Margera who want to get you to join a world skateboarding tour. Why they had to kidnap everyone is beyond me. Then factor in that there are two teams: Hawk and Bam. You don’t even get picked. You join Team Hawk last and after Bam picks a kid in a bodycast over you. You know, the guy who did everything to come up in the world of skateboarding in the first game and become a world reknown skater. Nah, the bodycast kid is better..
Underground 2 defecates all over your hard work from the first game just so you can go around the world in a very forgettable competition with zero upgrades to the gameplay.
Screw you, Tony Hawk’s Underground 2. Not only are you a terrible sequel but you threw my experience from the first game on the ground, dumped on it, and then threw my face on it. I hate you.
Alright, so we can’t have this list without games like Devil May Cry 2, Bomberman: Act Zero, and Turok: Evolution, right? Those are staples!
Turok is a sweet series. You’re a time traveling dinosaur hunter. That’s just awesome. Turok actually started out as a comic book hero and made the leap to video games on the N64 in a highly acclaimed first-person shooter. It was often called the “next Doom”. Fast forward in time and Turok has seven game under its belt. To be honest, I actually liked the 2008 reboot. It was tough, violent, and had some epic weapons.
However, before 2008 rolled around, the last thing Turok fans had to remember was 2002′s Evolution. Let me get this said right off the bat, Turok: Evolution is a bad game. The story made absolutely no sense and it may very well include the worst villain to ever be in a video game, Tobias Bruckner.
Amid god-awful controls, bad framerate, N64-like graphics (at least on the PS2), completely forgettable story, Turok: Evolution also got rid of the awesome weapons that were mainstays for the series. This is just not a Turok game, it’s a failure.