It’s safe to assume that most profitable video games today will receive a sequel. After all, the cost of making interactive entertainment has dramatically increased since the 8-bit era. It’s safer to invest in projects that will probably have a higher guarantee of success over new properties that may not make it big on the market. With all of this being said, the video game sequels below still arrived out of left field for many of us, either because developers changed a franchise’s formula too drastically or because prior entries were met with poor reception from fans. Be warned that light spoilers for each franchise may be found below.
Video game sequels no one asked for – Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
Square Enix spent a lot of time and money making Final Fantasy XIII. The company opted to make two sequels to the game using recycled assets so as to reduce development costs and recoup some of its investment into the property. Both Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII were entries that many franchise fans were not anticipating, especially given the original title’s linearity and emotionless main character. Each sequel winded up convoluting an already complicated narrative, too.
Video game sequels no one asked for – Red Steel 2
The original Red Steel served as a launch title for Nintendo’s Wii when it debuted in 2006. It had players waggle their remotes in an attempt to slice opponents with samurai swords and reload guns in time for the next onslaught of enemies. Though it’s not terrible, the game does little to leave a lasting impression. Rather, Red Steel feels like a plea for other third-party developers to make mature titles for the platform. That call went largely unanswered throughout the console’s lifespan, and many had forgotten about Red Steel as a result.
When Red Steel 2 was announced by Ubisoft four years later, many fans were a bit surprised to learn that the company still saw potential in Nintendo’s motion-controlled sensation. The sequel didn’t turn out too shabby either, as it adopted a Wild West setting and relied on the Wii’s MotionPlus functionality for improved, more accurate gameplay.
Video game sequels no one asked for – Bionic Commando (2009)
The 2009 sequel to NES classic Bionic Commando, also called Bionic Commando, is a gritty follow-up that has protagonist Nathan “RAD” Spencer go on a quest to redeem his name after Ascension City’s government falsely accuses him of treason. The subsequent narrative is hard to follow, as the game intermittently jumps back in time and has key characters betray Spencer all over again.
Bionic Commando also reveals that the protagonist’s deceased wife is residing within his robotic arm, for some reason. This 2009 re-imagining of a beloved classic should have stuck with the franchise’s simple narrative and 2D environments. Or better yet, it shouldn’t exist in the first place.
Video game sequels no one asked for – God of War: Ascension
Though God of War: Ascension is pretty to look at, it didn’t help revitalize the franchise in the same way that 2018’s entry did. On the contrary, this sequel offered more of the series’ repetitive hack and slash gameplay and added very little in the way of innovation. It did include a competitive multiplayer mode, but it wasn’t supported well enough after release to justify that players keep coming back. There’s a story to be found surrounding Kratos’ daughter Calliope, but it’s forgettable and fails to make audiences feel sympathy for the mad Olympic demigod.
Video game sequels no one asked for – The Goonies 2
The Goonies 2 for the NES isn’t a bad game. It is a title that no one asked for, however, as the movie franchise of the same name never received a second installment. The sequel, which serves as a continuation of the original Japanese-exclusive NES game, tasks players with solving intricate environmental puzzles in order to rescue every member of the Goonies squad and a mermaid from an Italian mob family called the Fratellis. The Goonies 2 may not have a reason to exist given it has no film counterpart, but fans of the ’80s sensation probably aren’t complaining.
Video game sequels no one asked for – Fallout 76
Fallout 76 was officially announced during Bethesda’s E3 presentation last year and was met with a lot of backlash from fans online shortly afterword. It’s not too hard to see why, as this sequel focuses entirely on multiplayer and has no human NPCs to interact with. Instead, other players are expected to fill in the gap. Bethesda clearly wanted to expand the franchise’s range of features with Fallout 76. Unfortunately, this was not the direction that veterans wanted the series to go even after the Fallout 4‘s lackluster single-player narrative. Here’s hoping Fallout 5 sticks to the series’ roots and that Starfield doesn’t follow in 76‘s footsteps.
Video game sequels no one asked for – Bomberman Act Zero
It’s still hard to believe that Bomberman Act Zero exists. Released for the Xbox 360 in 2006, this sequel completely alters the look of Konami’s bouncy mascot to that of a muscly, generic robot. The game is also set entirely in a dystopian future where automatons are forced to fight to the death in explosive arenas. As it that wasn’t edgy enough, Bomberman Act Zero includes a first-person mode just because that was the most popular genre at the time. Bomberman Act Zero is the equivalent of Nintendo making a Mario game where the titular plumber has access to automatic assault rifles and missile launchers. It represents a sequel that’s clearly out of touch with its audience.
The video game industry has always done a good job of subverting expectations throughout its history. The Xbox One, for instance, is now able to play Xbox 360 games despite it not having backwards compatibility when it launched. Nintendo was able to rebound from the lackluster sales of its Wii U console with the Switch, and the PlayStation 3 ended up being profitable for Sony despite its rocky launch.
Upcoming sequels like Rage 2 or Dead Island 2 may not necessarily be what we expect (or demand) right now, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll turn out to be critical and commercial failures. Most elements in this industry are best approached with an open mind lest we miss out on entertainment that’s definitely worth our attention.