If memory serves, it was the Fear 2 review where I dreamed of a world in which sequels are banned. And I still believe such a thing would be a veritable utopia, as long as we're not bothered about things like agriculture or medicine or any of that crap. But hypothetical utopias are virtually characterized by their impracticality. There will always be sequels because there will always be people willing to spend money on sequels. So with that in mind, I have created a new revision to the law:
Sequels should only be made by people who didn't like the original.
I can't decide if this should apply to situations when the sequel is scheduled, planned out and factored into the story from the very beginning, as with, say, the Lord of the Rings movies. That's not really a 'sequel,' is it? It's more of a 'serial.' I'm thinking more in terms of new stories after the first one has been resolved. But then again, a good serial generally has an understandable, self-contained story within each episode (as with pre-ruined Star Wars). And when it comes to videogames, if you can't tell a complete story within 10 hours of gameplay then maybe you should consider simplifying it a tad.
So here's the scenario: You own some intellectual property. Let's pick an example completely out of the air - Monkey Island. The last game was Monkey Island 2, which ended the story about as thoroughly as it could, without sawing its own legs off. But the cocaine trough is running low and you want to make a sequel. Two people want the job. One didn't really like Monkey Island 2 much because it got a bit too morbid at times and Guybrush looked like a member of Spinal Tap, so he wants to set the new one in space. The other is a die-hard fan of the series who swears he will pay proper respect and bring back all his favorite characters and running gags and give it great big cuddles and make sure no nasty men do it any harm for ever and ever and ever. Who do you give the project to?
I think it's the fans you need to be most wary of. The ones who talk about 'paying respect.' Respect? It's a funny pirate game, it's not the fucking House of Hanover. Fans are virtually defined by their habit of placing the works they like on unfathomable pedestals, and if you let them continue the series, they'll be making games for themselves, no-one else.
I look at Tales of Monkey Island and I see a game that follows a lot of the same cues as the originals but misses a lot of points. The action is set on various islands with vaguely pirate-themed names, but in the originals (and in 3 and 4 to a lesser extent) the islands each had a unique feel and a vibrant community, while the islands in Tales are interchangeable blocks of three to four puzzle-important buildings populated by as many shipwreck victims. And there's usually a forest maze, forgetting that the forest maze was one of the worst parts of Monkey Island 1 (second only to gathering sword fighting insults, a grindfest predating even World of Warcraft).