Extra Punctuation: Building Sequels Badly

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Toy Story 2 was better than Toy Story and there was no sequel hook at the end of the original.

Portal 2 is an interesting character piece that only gets better with added scrutiny. Valve have shown that they know there stuff and they don't need me or anyone else defending them.

JaymesFogarty:
Well, sequels can work if they work planned from the beginning, ie. Metal Gear Solid, or Assassin's Creed. But even they can be terrible; so Yahtzee, I agree with you once more!

Lets face it except for MGS4 they were not really sequals at all. MGS2 is all about jack and MGS3 is all about Big Boss. Sure there are plenty of spin offs but I dont think any of them are superior to the core games in any way.

If you are a fan, all your ideas of what you want in a sequel are wrong so you should just shut your stupid mouths and let the creators create. Why not click on the comments for this article and watch my point being proven.

Way to shut somebody up!

Honestly, I don't really mind the sequels that wallow in the original. The problem is that now every developer is turning their new IP into a trilogy or franchise, even before the first game is released. It's like they're more interested in establishing a valuable property then they are in making a solid, memorable game.

I support the point made about Final Fantasy. That genre tends to be one of the few where you see the "new setting/characters" theme while keeping the basic concepts. That was until this past decade, but we all know that Square-Enix was suffering from complications of terrible acid trips and irritable bowel syndrome. Still, it's held in high regard because the utter refusal to ape previous games was the series strong suit. That said, Dragon Quest, Atelier, Mana, Chrono, Persona (barring the Answer), and Star Ocean all had sequels with different settings, characters, and motivations. Looking outside that genre, Castlevania (to a lesser degree) seems willing to create, rather than pile on itself. Then again, that timeline is so screwed up at this point, having direct sequels (like Dawn of Sorrow) might be seen as novel.

Adam Sessler shares this viewpoint, calling it "sequel fatigue." Think about Assassin's Creed. It was a novel experience, but going through the motions every year (even with a different descendant) would seem ridiculous.

Although I haven't played portal 1 i've got to disagree about the co-op glados being better than the single player glados. I much preferred the story to the co-op. I loved the story elements and liked that you went outside of Glados' control at times. It just seemed more fulfilling than just doing puzzles to get to the next one as in co-op. It sounds to me like Yahtzee has the same nostalgia for old ways that he was saying would have made silent hill 2 bad.

Woodsey:
The "surprise!" argument that's supposed to go in Portal's favour (fuck you Chrome, there is a U in there) doesn't really make sense to me - it seems to work on about the same logic as a game being deemed bad because of the unbearable amounts of hype. And as well all know, that's stupid.

As for Glados not being the same in Portal 2, its implied throughout Portal that she did murder everyone in the facility, whilst her methods to psychologically 'undermine' Chell remain about the same.

I can see the argument about story taking over, but I felt they were simply better balanced, and that the moments where the story 'interrupts' are actually moments used to pace the game and ease your puzzle-induced migraine.

And most people and fans are saying its better than the first.

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

*reading, nodding head*

Biosho... what? You get back here, damn it! *angrily chasing*

I definitely agree that fans (and people in general) don't know what they want.

But I think they should be listened, what kinds of thing they liked, what were received badly. Just don't give them what they ask for. Just think of any TV-shows with characters with sexual tension and the possibility they'll end up together.
Fans want to see them together. But if that happened they'd be disappointed, and the dynamic would be gone, if the writers didn't take it to a totally new direction, which wouldn't be what those fans wanted.

Portal was one of those games I never thought would get a sequel (which shows how much I understand about bussiness, I just thought it was fine on it's own), but I'm fine with Portal 2. It's not what I would have wanted to see, but enjoyable enough.

One example of a character/game having a sequel that didn't hint at it would have to be (rather strangely)... Mario.

Start with the original NES Mario game. It ended with no suggestion of a sequel. The first sequel... well Mario Brothers 2 doesn't count, so mario 3, significant improvement. and things have just been continuing on from there. Sure there's been a lot of stagnation with him every so often but the jumps from Mario Brothers, Mario Brothers 3 and then Super Mario World were all pretty good.

Then, another one which is a better example: Samus.
the first game ended with no hint of a sequel or even a possibility of it, just "you finished the game. Congrats" Then Metroid 2 (gameboy) came out. That one ended again without a potential for a sequel (from memory) and then, step 3: Super Metroid. One of the top rated games that still looks awesome. I don't know what peoples opinion on the Prime trilogy was, I thought it was good but I don't really know how others received it so meh.

Command and conquer never had the most amazing stories, but they mostly ended pretty definitively and the next one that came out would tend to be better.

Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any.

Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion

Hilariously on-point as ever. I think I'm genuinely starting to like Extra Punctuation moreso than Zero Punctuation.

Another example I come across I think is Mass Effect 1 and Mass Effect 2. Now...though it doesn't quite fit what you describe here as a pre-requisite for a good sequel, I remember always running across comments like "Oh, but the RPG elements and the equipment bollocking around is what MAKES it a *proper* RPG" and "Yeh, but the music was shittier in ME2 whereas ME1 was that old-skool 80s stuff I like to regurgitate all the time."

And unsurprisingly regardless of these vocal fans, Mass Effect 2 was even MORESO liked than Mass Effect 1, not just in terms of sold units but also by critical acclaim. Because guess what...RPG mechanics dissapearing doesn't have to be as sad as you oldschool numpties make it out to be. And this is me speaking as a big-ass fan of the uncompromising nature of killing off your characters in games like Baldur's Gate 1! Also, if you genuinely think min/maxing stats is what people in general find enjoyable about RPGs...you are wrong. You're just one of *those* people and while it might be going opposite of your own personal fetish, a lot of people also disagree with you.

Finally, the music was utterly ace. Oh, it might not have been quite the 'classic type' from the 80s you claim you love so much. But what it *was* was reminiscent of all the electronic music coming out in videogames during the 90s, some of which I still have very fond memories of. And you know what? A lot of us love those things to death even MORE than the 80s shtick.

Meh. Already wrote way too much here as it is. Probably going to have a ton of comments 'proving me wrong' and getting into it all again. That said, keep on writing by all means! For the past few months or so I can't recall a time when I clicked Extra Punctuation and found myself dissapointed or worse 'sorta half-way pleased'. It always provoked me and that is good.

"Baa Baa four legs good two legs bad"
Awesome, an Animal Farm reference. :D

OT:
I do agree that most sequels are not as good as the original, but as long as they come close then it will still give me a little more enjoyment out of the franchise. However, there is always a point when a franchise needs to die *cough* Halo *cough*

I get using Portal as an example, but if you wanted to really bring the point home, there is a 800 pound gorilla in the room, and he stabs you from across the map and screams obscenities into a mic.

I think the best example of a game where the devopers listend too much is sonic 4.
Fans always complain about how they want sonic how he was in the Mega drive days, sega took this too far and what we ended up with wasnt really a sequal, but a rehash of old sonic levels, with 0 new enemys or bosses.

A good sequal would be like what sonic 3 was to sonic 2.

Carbo:
I didn't ask anything from Portal 2 apart from it being a good game and preserving what made the original special. I ask this literally from any sequel to a game I love.

And y'know what? I agree with what you're trying to prove in the article, however I still believe you're placing your precious Portal on a bit too high of a pedestal here. I realize that Portal 1 had literally all it needed to be great but honestly, if you think they didn't need an incentive to slap that big fat 2 on the box of this game with the intents of making this more than just an expansion pack, you might have been approaching this game the wrong way. I don't think there was any doubt that this would stretch beyond the mold and apply the Portal mechanic to more irregular situations and wider scales. In that regard I'd have to say Portal 2 shines. It's narrative was unparalleled, it had me on the edge and the writing was hilarious, witty and captivating. It couldn't rely anymore on game play innovation only and I think everyone knew that when entering the game.

In my eyes it did exactly what a sequel should have done. Expand on everything and improve to the brim without alienating its concept. The game is far easier of course, but setting apart the fact that more levels were about hiding the portal surfaces, I'd almost call it safer to say that we're just far more used to thinking with portals at this point.

Thank you, for saying everything that I wanted to for me. I was saying just the other week on his Portal 2 review that I thought he was seriously over-idolizing the original, good to know I'm not the only one who thinks that.

"Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first"

Wing commander 2

2xDouble:
Case in point: Final Fantasy. Look at what happened when they stopped creating and started polling: Final Fantasy 12, 13, and 14... None of which deserve numerals. (XI doesn't either, but for different reasons. It's pretty good I guess, so I'll let it slide).

EDIT One thing though:

Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any.

MegaMan 2 and 3.

Megaman 2 and 3 had better stories than Megaman 1? Marginally, maybe, in that there were actual cinematics (using the term loosely here) at the end of both. And I don't think it's fair to say that Megaman 1 wasn't intended to have a sequel. Though Keije Inafune (forgive the misspelling) was just getting off the ground and didn't know for sure that there would be a sequel, much of Megaman 2 was made up of things that he has stated in interviews that he had hoped to include in the first game.

Though I don't think you'll find very many who would argue 1's overall superiority over 2 and 3, as they remain to this day two of my favorite games.

Holding up Portal 2 as an example of a developer's creativity being stifled and the direction of their sequels being driven by overly demanding fans is fucking stupid. If we fans are so all powerful in our determination to force Valve to cater to our whims then where the fuck is Half Life 3?

This is why I think developers/publishers need to ignore the fans at all costs.

The problem is that fans (the Internet in general) is that it is one big gelatinous mass as Yahtzee would say. It has differing opinions from different people, but you usually can't distinguish them. A lot of people want some underrated aspect given precendence over a tried and true formula, just for the sake of something different. What they fail to realize is that the same feeling may only be shared by one or two, not one or two million.

Take WWE for instance. People who make it as main event talent do so because they are marketed correctly and people by their merchandise. For all the nerds on the internet saying, "so-and-so can't wrestle" or "this guy's a tool," it falls on deaf ears because that person is making WWE money. If you gave people on the internet control, you'd see a bunch of unknown and unproven talent thrust into the spotlight on a daily basis with no continuity. Yes, the person you want might get notoriety, but that risk may prove disasterous if the audience fails to share the opinion.

You can't please everyone. You can hardly even predict that what sells today will work tomorrow. Sadly, the marketplace is such that proven titles sell because of the "brand," not the content. I stopped buying videogames because games like Final Fantasy XII and Devil Summoner failed to live up to expectations I had for the company. I don't see the "brand" anymore, because I'm not shelling out $60 per title. I can let the game dissapoint or surprise me (in FFXIII's case make me scream fury over the sheer boredom I wasted 30 hours experiencing) without risking more money.

Long story short, the internet is only a small part of life. Taking what some doofus says too seriously (unless it is a prevailing opinion backed up by hundreds/thousands of people elsewhere) could get you in trouble.

A game whose story was lightyears better than its predecessor? Halo 2. I win.

Portal 2 is great, and if you don't think so, you must be... HIGHLY OPINIONATED!
Forget simplicity. I loved the single-player campaign AND GLaDOS AND the backstory! GLaDOS was given more character ("*lights go on* I made it all up. *confetti spray* Surprise! Oh, come on..."), and Wheatley ("I'm going to go on the assumption that you're NOT dead...") and Cave Johnson ("I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down, with the lemons!") not only made the story more funny but also made the story more realistic (Aperture's Potato Science award from Illinois, for instance).

Soveru:
Too bad fans are the people holding the money

Yeah, and they're gonna spend it just based on the title. Fuck em.

I've seen all the outrage at Dragon Age 2, and I tell you now, despite my trepidation, my money will be inevitably spent on it. Bioware would not somehow get more money out of me by doing what I want them to, they guaranteed my purchase of the sequel with their excellence in the original.

It almost always works that way. Fans don't need to be satisfied to be exploited. Therefore, why listen to them?

I'm in England and I can see Yahtzee's ego from here.

Good article, especially about fans and closed sequels. I keep hearing people harping on about games they want sequels to that absolutely don't need one. For example, I hear people saying they want a sequel to Shadow of the Colossus made. No, no you don't. It would destroy the complete arc that the game has, and would only function to shed too much light on a world which was intriguing in large part because we knew so little about it.

I can think of one good example of a sequel staring the same main character, Shadow Hearts and Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

The first game canonically ends without any hint of a sequel by killing off two major characters for good and concluding in a way that's both heartwarming and offers quite a bit of closure. The second game uses the same protagonist, but takes place a few years in the future and introduces a brand new cast with a plot that ties into the events of the original. The sequel is superior to the original in every way, and tells a far more compelling and involved story than it's predecessor.

Although, it's doubtful that Yahtzee has even heard of the series since it's a niche JRPG that's not very well known even among JRPG fans...

"Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any."

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Dark Knight

Owned. Two great examples. Sorry, but as much as I understand the things you're saying, Yahtzee, your stance on it is far, far too extreme. You simply can't paint with that broad a brush on topics like this. It's not that simple.

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Same characters, same universe, sequel to a self-contained game, better than the original. In my opinion anyway.

So Yahtzee's dumb-- he's said before he's a Silent Hill fan and he was obviously a fan of the first Portal (and I could go on).

Sixcess:
Holding up Portal 2 as an example of a developer's creativity being stifled and the direction of their sequels being driven by overly demanding fans is fucking stupid. If we fans are so all powerful in our determination to force Valve to cater to our whims then where the fuck is Half Life 3?

Yahtzee would probably say it's busy having story shoved into it and its physics puzzles rehashed for the second or third time.

BoredDragon:
"Baa Baa four legs good two legs bad"
Awesome, an Animal Farm reference. :D

yes, but

BonsaiK:
Yeah go on Yathzee, ruin the co-op story before I've even gotten a chance to play it, you asshole. Grrrr.

I second this massively, WTF.

Did silent hill 1 leave any opening for a sequel?

Just sayin'

Woodsey:
The "surprise!" argument that's supposed to go in Portal's favour (fuck you Chrome, there is a U in there) doesn't really make sense to me - it seems to work on about the same logic as a game being deemed bad because of the unbearable amounts of hype. And as well all know, that's stupid.

As for Glados not being the same in Portal 2, its implied throughout Portal that she did murder everyone in the facility, whilst her methods to psychologically 'undermine' Chell remain about the same.

I can see the argument about story taking over, but I felt they were simply better balanced, and that the moments where the story 'interrupts' are actually moments used to pace the game and ease your puzzle-induced migraine.

And most people and fans are saying its better than the first.

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

Being a gamer that focuses more on gameplay than story, I would have to agree with you on that one.

"Why not click on the comments for this article and watch my point being proved?"

It is true.
The more popular an Escapist series ; this one being one of the most ; the stupider the comments are.

It is just being wanting to get on as soon as possible so other people will read what they say, even if they have nothing interesting to say to begin with. It is really strange how forum society works. Fans are dumb.

beema:
3-pager!
I must agree with Yahtzee. Although I think there are a lot of people out there touting Portal 2 as better than the first.
The first game was elegant in its simplicity and uniqueness. It had great subtle dark comedy that made it more endearing. Then the waves of fans took hold of it and turned it in to the worst never-ending internet gaming joke/quote monstrosity in recent history.
Portal 2 wasn't bad by any means, but it completely lost its subtlety and hit almost every check mark in the Hollywood sequel checklist. You liked one sarcastic computer with an inferiority complex? Then how about TWO sarcastic computers with inferiority complexes! More explosions? Guy with British accent for comic relief? Constant nods to things from the first movie that only wind up making them less special?
You got it!
It doesn't matter if the stupid "cake" references finally died, because now we have space potatoes!

I wouldn't hold up Portal 2 as an example of how NOT to do sequels (if most sequels were as good as it, that would be great), but it is a good example of how to completely overdo everything that made the first game so charming and unique.

Everyone loves uniqueness and simplicity in their gameplay. But if you'd call a game's experience complete when the end credits roll, that's it for the uniqueness. Replay value is based from your favored memories of the game, but it goes without saying, the trick is done, the magic has lost the luster that caught your eye in the first place.

Above applies to sequels too (I guess it could be said that fans will carry "replay value" from original titles to sequels). You can argue all day that sequels should be as unique and faraway different from their predecessors, but I can't say that's the best of moves. If you're going to share titles, fans will most likely share expectations too, whether they realize it or not.

I also think, as fans, when engaging games come along, do well, and get sequels, we pick them apart so well and so quickly that when the new one comes along, the contrasts between the original and sequel are all too stark.

Well, case and point, and some advice, don't look for uniqueness in the same spots for games in the same vein.

Now, excuse me...

Woodsey:

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

*Gives chase with bat in hand*

A Curious Fellow:
A game whose story was lightyears better than its predecessor? Halo 2. I win.

That certainly is an opinion.

Yahtzee someone has to tell you this, so it might as well be me:
"INSERT SPOILER HERE, spoiler warning" speech wasn't funny first time.
It wasn't funny second time.
It wasn't funny third time.
And it won't be funny gazillion time either!!!
Stop doing it, dam it*

*- Like in: stop spoiling at all.

Thaius:
"Name me one sequel to a game that wasn't left open for sequels, with the same main characters as before, whose story was regarded as better than the first. Let me help you out: there aren't any."

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
The Dark Knight

Owned. Two great examples. Sorry, but as much as I understand the things you're saying, Yahtzee, your stance on it is far, far too extreme. You simply can't paint with that broad a brush on topics like this. It's not that simple.

You owned yourself. He saids games, but movies are games right? derp derp


Heathrow:
Toy Story 2 was better than Toy Story and there was no sequel hook at the end of the original.

Portal 2 is an interesting character piece that only gets better with added scrutiny. Valve have shown that they know there stuff and they don't need me or anyone else defending them.

Wow, you can't read either.

HE SAID GAMES


CopperBoom:

A Curious Fellow:
A game whose story was lightyears better than its predecessor? Halo 2. I win.

That certainly is an opinion.

and not one I share either. Halo:CE ftw.


Woodsey:

And BioShock 2 is better than BioShock.

*runs away*

image

I guess we'll just have to

COMPLETELY DISAGREE

on this one.

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