It’s often said that the sequel never holds up to the original. I tend to think that video games have a better track record than movies, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some major let downs. What helps is the difference in understanding of what a series of games are and what a series of films are. A sequel will not only be compared to its predecessors, but be inextricably bound to them. Games, on the other hand, have a little more leniency when it comes to comparisons. Sure, the vitriol for gameplay changes and stylistic evolution is intense, but usually a game that follows will be allowed to stand on its own.
Many movie franchises are sunk, or at least drastically scaled back when something fails badly. We likely (thankfully) will never see The Last Airbender 2, but we still have Metroid games after the atrocity that was Other M.
However different the mediums may be, the argument for original vs. sequel is still largely the same. “They changed it, now it sucks.” Even if gamers are willing to come back to a series that promises its learned its lesson, there are still games that get ignored or unfairly derided because they can’t shake the stigma.
One example of this is the Paper Mario series. Now, I love those games. Paper Mario was great fun, and The Thousand Year Door continues to be one of my all time favorite games. This opinion is shared by a large group of fans. The next two games, however, tend to rank pretty low on people’s lists, with Super Paper Mario gaining a small following after being met with a tepid response, and Sticker Star continuing to be derided. The reason? People were mad that they moved away from the turn-based, partner-aided battle system. The fact that they haven’t returned to what fans felt made the original formula so great seems to have alienated some.
When it was first revealed that Color Splash would move forward with Sticker Star-like mechanics, people were frustrated. So much so, someone actually started a petition to get the game cancelled. Although it seems that the tide has turned a little, since it turns out since it turns out the game is actually pretty good, thus proving further that a game sequel can survive fan disappointment and thrive, the fact still remains that people out there feel something is missing.
At this point, I typically draw some sort of conclusion about gaming culture or wrap up my thoughts (at times unceremoniously.) Today, however, I’m interested in leaving the conversation open. I will say that I would love to see one more Paper Mario/Thousand Year Door style movie, but I don’t hate Super Paper Mario or Sticker Star. I’m actually really excited to try out Color Splash. I sort of feel like hating the changes made to the series is unfair. I also think that what people really want would be a remaster of the original games. But what do you think?
Do you think that being so averse to change is a futile act of stubbornness? Or maybe that developers should consider fans more when designing things? Is there compromise in a scenario like this? Also, can you think of any game series you like that had games that divided fans and sparked outrage? Share your thoughts if you would like. If you don’t, my comment section will be… a little thin.
Other M image also from Wikipedia.
The Last Airbender image from RogerEbert.com.