games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Unconventional Video Game Sequels – Mario 64, Street Fighter, 2, More

April 9, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Super Mario 64

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! After a scheduled break two weeks ago, and an unscheduled break last week, I have returned to grace you all with my presence. This week I’m here to talk about game sequels, specifically ones that really changed the formula from the past games, or games. The one extra game I would put on here is GTA 3. While it’s as important as other games on this list, or more important in some cases, I just didn’t play enough of it at the time to have an opinion. I was more of a Vice City player. Still, enjoy:

#8: Risk of Rain 2

I’ll be honest, I haven’t played a ton of this game so far, only about 15 hours or so. Compare that to the 50+ hours I put into the first game and I’m only at about a third of my time playing it. I was pretty skeptical that a 3D Risk of Rain could work but they pulled it off well. The art is still in some primitive form but the gameplay of the first game perfectly translates to the new dimension. Also, playing online with other people is a lot of fun and is damn near required the deeper you go, so the game is a lot of fun so far.

#7: Sonic Adventure

This is why I don’t have “Unconventionally Good Sequels” for the title. Sonic Adventure is definitely an unconventional sequel but not a good one. They took a franchise that was known for exploration and made one of the most linear games around. Except for the Casino level, which takes place essentially in a few pinball machines, I don’t think there is a single level where you can freely explore. The second you step off the path you die in a pool of water, from a sky fall, or in a pit of lava. Also, splitting the game into 6 characters, where only one and a half (Sonic and Gamma) are even remotely playable doesn’t help. This game is a mess but it is at least different from the previous Sonic games, in the worse direction, that Sonic still can’t seem to leave, for the most part.

#6: Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty seems like old hat now, but this wasn’t always the case. Travel back to around 2005/2006 when Call of Duty was mired in World War 2. CoD 3 was a mess (not done by Infinity Ward) but CoD 2 was a perfectly serviceable WW2 shooter, of its era, that didn’t re-invent the wheel too much. Well, CoD 4 is a different beast, fulfilling the “Modern Warfare” moniker well by taking place in the then near-future year of 2011, where you play as multiple characters amidst a Middle East crisis. More than the story, Modern Warfare basically started the online perk/level up system that is still in use today and that almost every multiplayer shooter uses as well. It’s easy to forget how pivotal Modern Warfare was and how drastically different it is compared to the other games.

#5: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: SOTN is an interesting mash of Castlevania 2 and 3 that pays homage but wildly differentiates itself from those earlier games. Like with Castlevania 2 there is a level-up system for Alucard to follow. And like with Castlevania 3 the game is non-linear, to a point anyway, in where you want to go or bosses you want to tackle. Aside from that, you aren’t playing as a Belmont again, so there is no whip for you to use to attack foes. Instead, there are dozens of weapons from the incredibly useful to the stupid (Red Rust) for you to find and use against the evil foes you come across. Also, jumping down stairs into the next screen doesn’t kill you, which was the most drastic thing this game did.

#4: Street Fighter 2

For anyone reading, go out and try finding an original Street Fighter arcade cabinet. Particularly the version with the pressure-sensitive pads and joystick. How hard you hit the pads dictated the strength of your attack which was uh…crazy? Even if you played the traditional six-button version, the input was laggy and the game was barely playable. Considering that Capcom transitioned from that beast to Street Fighter 2, which is still one of the most important fight games ever made, is a miracle. If you compare the games side-by-side, you can see a few elements that they are the same franchise but a lay-person would probably say they are from completely different franchises.

#3: Fallout 3

What better way to continue the Interplay isometric RPG than to turn it into a FPS game with RPG elements? Good work, Bethesda! Actually, Fallout 3 was moderately criticized, before it came out, for the shift in perspective and the idea that because Interplay/certain key people weren’t involved the game would be a train wreck. While Fallout 3 isn’t a perfect game, it’s more than a worthy successor to the earlier Fallout games, in terms of tone, story and just overall setting. The gameplay changes were different but brought in a slew of new fans, myself included, into the franchise. Too bad Bethesda’s later works (Fallout 4/Fallout 76) helped drive me off from it again. Ah well, at least I still got New Vegas done by Obsidian.

#2: Resident Evil 4

By around Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the RE formula was getting a tad stale. The game was still good but it was showing its age. Code Veronica reinforced this by having much of the same game formula, just now with prettier graphics. Well, it took 5 years between CV and RE4 and it showed how Capcom was willing to change the formula up. Gone are the pre-rendered backgrounds and fixed camera angles. Instead, the perspective is behind the back with a lot less horror and a lot more shooting to deal with. This is good since the shooting in the earlier RE games was abysmal and the shooting in RE4 was one of the best parts about it. Ironically, RE4 did break Resident Evil for a bit, particularly RE6, but with RE7 and the remake of RE2, the franchise is back on track.

#1: Super Mario 64

Think about how different Super Mario World is, or the earlier Super Mario games are, to Super Mario 64. Even aside from the 2D to 3D change like Risk of Rain 2 or Sonic Adventure, the gulf between Super Mario World to Super Mario 64 is enormous. The prior games just had you running from left to right, finding occasional secrets, collecting coins, beating up baddies, but just to get to the goal post/flag. Super Mario 64 is way more open, with there being puzzle solving, racing, delicate jumping and more to being able to collect the stars you need to progress. Unlike with Sonic, the jump from 2D to 3D helped hugely for Mario and has kept the franchise feeling fresh and unique, be they new 2D or 3D games.

For comments, list your favorite unconventional sequels and why.

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Top 8 Worst Game Sequels

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison