It’s disheartening, but for every solid follow-up entry in a series, it seems that sometimes developers really manage to screw the pooch with some video game sequels.
Whether or not its down to drawn out development, or simply the fact that the developer failed to understand how to improve on the elements that made the original great, here’s 11 of the stinkiest number twos (heh) in gaming.
Super Mario Bros 2
Fun fact: The Western version of Super Mario Bros 2 isn’t the ‘real’ version. The Japanese follow up to the NES classic was the kind of Mario game you’d expect, but it was dubbed too hard for Western gamers.
What we got instead was a bizarre hybrid of Mario and a game called Doki Doki Panic. It’s not a bad game by any stretch, but it’s also absolutely nothing like a Mario game.
Mushrooms, coins, goombas and Bowser were all replaced by turnips, shy guys, and a cross dressing dinosaur (yes, really). It’s a weird game, that’s for sure.
Thankfully, Super Mario Bros 3 came along eventually and cemented the plumber’s place in history.
Pac Man 2: The New Adventures
I’m not entirely sure how one would go about making a sequel to Pac Man, which is essentially a basic arcade romp. No, I’ve no idea how, but I do know that Pac Man 2: The New Adventures was not the way to go.
There’s nothing wrong with taking the yellow pill muncher out of that ghost riddled maze for an unconventional puzzle/point ‘n click adventure, but the problem here was that the adventure in question just wasn’t very good at all.
Frustrating controls and often illogical puzzle solutions led to a game that wasn’t exactly awful, but couldn’t hold a candle to the simplicity, class, and playability of the original Pac Man.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts
If you showed someone the N64 classic Banjo Kazooie from a long distance on a particularly foggy day, then asked that person to make another game in the franchise, the result wouldn’t be dissimilar to Nuts and Bolts.
Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bults is a perfectly competent game, but the problem is that it’s so utterly lacking any of the charm or fun that made the original such a blast to play. At the same time, doing pretty much nothing to update the ’90’s platformer’ formula in 2008 is poor.
Hopefully one day Rare can return our boy Banjo to former glory – till then though, we’ll just have to hope that Yooka-Laylee isn’t shit.
Bomberman Act Zero
Here’s a solid idea: Let’s take Bomberman – a franchise known for its charm and cartoonish characters – and give the world a gritty re-imagining. What could go wrong?
The answer, of course, is that the popular multiplayer series relies on its breezy charm, and Bomberman Act Zero does away with all of that to give us a dull slog through a series of uninspired levels that share the same bland colour pallet as most early 00’s nu metal music videos.
Who could forget the poor loading times and horrendous collision detection too? This game was released on Xbox 360 mind, so the fact it looks like a low-budget GameCube game is unforgivable.
Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
As with Super Mario Bros 2, The Adventure of Link is the black sheep of this particular franchise, with the third game once again being the one to get things back on track.
The top down open world that we all loved from the original game is gone, replaced with more a ‘map’ in which we find dungeons and random encounters that transport us to sidescrolling sections with a focus on platforming and combat. It just isn’t Zelda.
Poorly implicated RPG elements that lead to annoying grinding, and a needlessly ridiculous level of difficulty make the second Zelda game a frustrating experience, with moments of fun few and far between. The music was great, though.
Resident Evil 6
There’s not a lot I can say about Resident Evil 6 that hasn’t been said before. Someone at Capcom was presumably in the midst of a nervous breakdown when they decreed that it was time to take a franchise known for being a survival horror and turn it into an interactive Michael Bay movie.
That’s an insult, by the way. Michael Bay movies are objectively shit, and so is Resident Evil 6 – a game that swaps rewarding puzzles and unbearable suspense for wanky setpieces in which you have firefights with zombies that can use guns because plot.
Oh the plot, by the way, is fucking poor. If you asked an edgy twelve year old who writes Resident Evil fan fiction on Tumblr while listening to Linkin Park to produce a story, this is what you’d get. Thank christ Resident Evil 7 redeemed the franchise.
Alright… the Leon levels are pretty decent, to be fair.
Duke Nukem Forever
There are many reasons that playing the infamous Duke Nukem Forever is like dipping your hands in a warm bag of someone else’s piss.
The project spent years in development being passed around numerous developers like a bag of kettle chips in a room full of stoners, before finally being released into the wild bleary eyed and riddled with glitches.
The case of Duke Nukem Forever’s development is a tragic one, and bashing on it too hard is a little too easy. Still, there’s no excuse for the puerile outdated humour that can only be considered funny by those hee-larious guys who wear novelty shirts that say stuff like ‘boob inspector’.
In every conceivable way, Duke Nukem Forever was years behind, and it should never have seen the light of day.
The Force Unleashed 2
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was an incredible video game set in a galaxy far, far way. Tight controls, beautiful visuals, and a brilliant story that took place between episodes III and IV made for an unforgettable experience.
The sequel reeks of a game that was rushed out to capitalise on the success of the first game. Improvements to the formula are few and far between. In many cases Force Unleashed 2 actually took huge steps backwards, offering an eye-wateringly dull and repetitive game when compared to the original.
Let’s never forgive or forget the horrendous way in which Force Unleashed 2 pissed all over the first game’s excellent ending. Inexcusable.
Devil May Cry 2
Another sequel to an otherwise promising franchise that does absolutely nothing to try and improve on the elements that made its predecessor great.
Devil May Cry 2 does nothing to fix the awkward camera, nor does it make much of an attempt to improve on the hack n’ slash combat – in fact, I’d argue that DMC 2’s combat is actually worse than the originals, taking us out of the tense claustrophobic settings and putting us in massive open spaces where we, as the player, almost always have the advantage.
Far too bland, and way too easy, Devil May Cry 2 was – and still is – a real disappointment.
Medal of Honour: Warfighter
Remember how Medal of Honor was pretty much everyone’s favourite shooty shooty franchise back in the days of the original PlayStation? Well, meet the entry that killed the series stone dead.
It seems the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty were always going to overtake Medal of Honor eventually, but the hilariously titled Warfighter gave the franchise a send off imbued with all the class of a hurried crap in a service station toilet.
Poor enemy AI and constant bugs and glitches suggested that this was one game that was more concerned with getting out of the door on time than actually being a decent experience – the whole thing smacked of COD lite, which is no way to treat a franchise that could stand on its own merits.
Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest
Castlevania 2 is a long fucking game. I don’t mean long as in lengthy I either, I mean long as in L O N G.
The whole thing is just a slog to play through, quite at odds with the original, which was immensely challenging but still relatively streamlined, and fun as a result. I don’t know about you guys, but I like my games fun, not drawn out to create the illusion of length.
You’ll dread night falling in Castlevania 2, not because the enemies become more fearsome, but because the text box reading ‘WHAT A HORRIBLE NIGHT TO HAVE A CURSE’ that plays every damn time takes roughly ten years to end.
So there we are then. You’ve joined me on a journey of mediocrity and disappointment and come out the other side relatively unscathed. If you need to detox with some of the best sequels ever, then head on over here.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.