When developers create a new IP that rakes in wads of cash, the first thing on their mind is how they can do it again. When it comes to producing sequels, they should be easy. The core of the previous game remains and all the developer has to do is take the positive, remove the negatives and creates an optimum version. It sounds easy but it doesn’t always work out that way.
Many factors that can cause a sequel to crumble under the weight of it’s own hype often get overlooked. Things like the raised expectations of the fans after being treated to a fantastic initial title; or perhaps publishers influencing how the game is made with the added incentive of almost guaranteed revenue through getting more involved than they need to. Sometimes it can even be the optimism and grand ideas of the developers that can send the game to it’s demise.
In theory, sequels should be straightforward. Unlike the initial release, fans aren’t skeptical of the franchises success. They are actively rooting for the title. Yet despite this unwavering loyalty of the fan bases they have grown, sequels can create hype that they just can’t live up to.
With this in mind, we have compiled the top five most disappointing sequels of all time. These are not nescessarilly bad games, just games that didn’t achieve their full potential and do their franchise proud. Take a look!
Honorable mentions go to Dead space 3, Sonic the hedgehog 2006, Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness, WWE 2K20, Assassins Creed Unity, Dark souls 2 and Fable 3
5. Final Fantasy XIII
Final fantasy as a franchise in the PS2 era had been churning out astonishing entries like clockwork. Entries nine through to twelve were all fantastic games in their own right and as gaming entered it’s seventh generation. It would only have been logical to believe that more of the same was on the way. How naive we were.
What was released would be an admittedly fantastic looking game. Something that we have come to expect from Square Enix. However the pretty appearance was a cover for a hollow shell of a game. The characters were plain and unlikable, the tutorial was laughably long. There was little to no consequence for dying in battle, there was no towns, airships or even a world map. It just felt like a lifeless entry in a series known for it’s whimsy, flair and intriguing narratives. This entry would hurt the series, with Final Fantasy XIV being initially unfinished at launch and Final Fantasy XV being a decent outing but again, lacking that wow factor of previous entries.
4. Mass Effect 3
Now, if you’re screaming obscenities at the screen right now that we dare even consider any title of the original Bio-ware trilogy to be disappointing. Whilst simultaneously waving your copy of Mass Effect: Andromeda aloft in a fit of rage. First of all, go have a big lie down. Second, this title was by no means horrible. In fact it was very similar to the second entry and continued in the same vain to deliver a complex space based narrative that tugs on the players heart strings. We didn’t expect much of Andromeda and it delivered an underwhelming title to match. What we expected from Mass Effect 3 however, was a perfect end to a thrilling journey.
For the most part it did this rather well. It gave players more of what they had grown to love. So why was it disappointing? The ending of course. Imagine going through the intense dogfights for survival, hours upon hours of missions, losing some if not all of your most beloved companions you met along the way. Only for the game to round off the whole trilogy with an arbitrary choice that essentially asks the player to pick a color. The ending event will remain the same no matter the choice with only the overarching color scheme changing. It was a sour end to an otherwise untouchable epic space opera. Such a shame that it had to end the way it did. Maybe it was karma for all those renegade playthroughs.
Spyro: Enter The dragonfly
This may be a little bit bias. This list is being compiled by someone that grew up in adoration of the little purple dragon on the PS1. So when news broke that a Spyro sequel was making their way to the PS2, it was amazing news. There would be up scaled graphics, more mechanics, characters, mini games and super speedways to get stuck into. However, in my naive childhood brain I failed to notice the new developers, the difficult development process and chose to live in a world of ignorance.
The game sadly would release as a disastrously buggy mess. The levels were straightforward without the usual gimmicks, mini games and charm that made the previous outings great. There would also be a plethora of game breaking glitches including one that would give the player the opportunity to finish the game in under two minutes. Here’s a video of that if you want to check it out. Overall, it was a bland showing for Spyro and would only continue with releases such as A hero’s Tail or the unspeakable abomination he would become through the Skylanders series. Thankfully Toys for Bob did a masterful job of remastering the original trilogy and hope for future impressive Spyro sequels seems to have been restored.
2. Silent hill series (Anything Post Silent Hill II)
It would be very easy to pick anything after the iconic first and second entries in the Silent hill series to represent it’s descent into mediocrity. Silent hill 3 admittedly was the best of the worst with some compelling design, characters and graphical enhancements. However the wheels showed signs of wear and tear through the lack of cohesiveness with the plot line. The fourth installment had it’s pros but the cons outweighed them with uninspired mechanic additions, the survival horror aspect being a chore and the sound design being poorly constructed.
However, many still see the first four titles as a golden age of Silent Hill horror. What would follow was the true fall from grace for the series as the wheels truly fell off. Origins, Shattered Memories, Homecoming and Downpour would signal a new era of Silent hill games and not for the better. The fear factor was gone with players feeling overpowered and never in true danger. This was most prevalent in homecoming through former soldier Alex Sheppard’s Adept fighting ability. Also narrative within these titles would offer fan fare with little context or substance and references to canon events seem wedged in to an already weak plot.
Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro’s iconic Playable teaser or P.T. Released in 2014 teasing the release of Silent Hills, a reboot of the series starring The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. This game re-established the series as a big hitter in the horror genre and hype was high. Sadly Kojima’s relationship with Konami would break down and Silent Hills would be cancelled. With Kojima and Reedus turning their efforts towards Death Stranding. However, there may be hope yet as news has came out that new Silent hill games may be in production. So with P.T. offering a return to form for the series, might the newer proposed titles follow in it’s footsteps.
1. Kingdom Hearts III
This is a controversial one, but let me try and rationalize the choice. Kingdom hearts II, final mix specifically, was the pinnacle of the series. Many will argue that Birth By Sleep was the best of the sequels and it makes a strong case. However as a sum of all their parts, Kingdom hearts II had it all. It had the fantastic, if a little convoluted narrative which to that point was still easy to follow. The combat was refined with a low entry level but was hard to master. Mini games were plentiful, gummi missions were drastically improved and the Organisation XIII boss fights were genuinely fantastic . Overall, it was an immense game that pushed the platform it was on to it’s fullest.
The sequels that would follow with BBS exempt were at best mediocre, across various platforms and introduced twist after twist in a plot line to a point that they would release re:coded. A mobile game canon to the plot that would offer nothing new other than tie up one loose end in the story. Showcasing the ever increasing complexity of the plot getting away from even the developers themselves.
Crushed Under It’s Own Hype
So fourteen years on from KH2, the third installment comes. It offers a unique combat style, an enhanced art style, more open areas, a new gummi system, advances the plot and finishes the Xehanort saga. So what is so disappointing? Well, this is a prime example of title crushed under it’s own hype. With new titles building and building to a new release for so many years, the expectation was huge.
So when the game rolled out and the difficulty was laughable, the story was almost unintelligible after years of countless spin offs, the boss battles were limp and lifeless and the new DLC offered very little to fix the situation. It left many with a deflated feeling. Kingdom hearts III is a wonderful game but in terms of not living up to the hype, I can think of no other title that symbolizes a disappointing return to a franchise more than this.
So that’s our top five sequels that didn’t live up to the hype. What games do you feel should have made it into this list. Do you hate me for including KH3? Are there any sequels you are excited for? Tell us in the comments. Also, if you love content like this then why not check out lists like our top five solo dev games or our top ten crowdfunded games. As always, thanks for reading COG!