Every series has one game in it that just doesn’t compare to the rest. This can happen for a number of reasons; limited budget, trying to fix what isn’t broken, or a game is handed off to a completely different team that doesn’t understand what makes the series so special. Here are nine cases of sequels gone wrong.
Metroid: Other M
The previous entries in the series nailed that feeling of isolation so well. This one kills that wonderful atmosphere with long unskippable cutscenes. To make matters worse, these cutscenes make Samus look downright childish. Every time someone mentions this game to me, I get flashbacks of that terrible scene where she gives the thumbs-down. The gameplay and controls worked pretty well, but the reliance on unnecessary story prevented this from becoming a classic.
Final Fantasy X-2
The ending of Final Fantasy X is one of my favorites in the series. Sure, it’s somewhat sad and leaves some questions unanswered, but that’s what makes it so great. What wasn’t great is when this odd girl-power sequel came out and spat in the face of everything that the previous game was. The plot ranges from cringe worthy to just plain dumb. Combat was pretty enjoyable though.
Phantasy Star III: Generations Of Doom
For some reason, Sega decided to hand off development of this title to someone else, and it shows. It feels completely out of place after the first 2 games. There are some interesting ideas with the whole generational aspect of the story, but the rest of the game is dull and tedious. Then there’s the poison status. You can be poisoned in about 50% of your encounters, and the status prevents you from healing. Every town looks exactly the same, and it takes forever to travel anywhere. Yawn…
Donkey Kong Country Returns
The title would imply that it is a return of our beloved SNES series, but that is not what we got. This platformer felt like it was supposed to be something else originally, and they just slapped a Donkey Kong Country skin on it at the last minute. DK doesn’t move with the same grace as the originals, and the forced motion controls are irritating. You can’t even control Diddy Kong, he is merely a power-up.
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Many people that loved the original Final Fantasy Tactics were really excited when a portable sequel was announced. To be able to play such a great series anywhere sounded like a dream come true. That is until you played the game, and realized how ridiculously simple the story was. It did still have the great job system and battles from the previous game, with a few changes. Most notable was the law system that would penalize you for using certain actions in combat. Punishing players for using the skills they just learned does not add to the challenge or fun factor, it just makes the game annoying.
Perhaps the most controversial pick on this list, Chrono Cross is a good game that gets a lot of hate. The main issue for most people is that it actually has very little to do with Chrono Trigger. Another gripe people have is the overwhelming amount of filler characters available. Only a handful of party members have any sort of depth, the rest are just kind of there. Certainly not a bad game, but one that left many Chrono fans disappointed.
Gran Turismo (PSP)
“Hey! I’ve got a great idea! People really enjoy purchasing upgrades, tuning cars, and slowly progressing through a simulation mode, so let’s make a portable version where you don’t get to do any of that!” Yeah, great idea, guys. All they had to do was take what made Gran Turismo 2 so enjoyable and slap it on a UMD, but Polyphony opted for a very watered down experience instead. Plus there’s this weird thing where you can only buy from 4 car manufacturers per day. The driving still feels great, but without any kind of goals its rather pointless.
If you only played this one for 10 hours, you would probably question why it made this list. However, after a certain point, the story completely falls apart. This wouldn’t be a problem if the remaining characters were likeable or interesting, but they are far from it. The villains were weak as well. At least it still had the amazing combat the series is known for.
Xenosaga: Episode II
By far the worst offender on this list. The first game had a wonderful story and some solid gameplay. It may not have had amazing sales, but decent enough to warrant a Greatest Hits release. So what do you do for the sequel? Change everything of course! Monolith Soft brought in different voice actors, different composers, and drastically altered the character models. They also implemented one of the most tedious battle systems in any RPG I’ve ever played. There’s nothing even remotely fun about character combat. Random encounters quickly become a chore, as there is really only one effective way to defeat each enemy. Well, you do get access to a super-attack eventually, AFTER you defeat the game. Ugh.