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Feature: Classic Sequels - Tricks or Treats?

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Better than monkey nuts

The night is finally here: Halloween is upon us. At the time of writing the world isn’t being taken over by zombies, werewolves or ghosts. Instead, the main horrors are the legions of children in cheap masks ringing the doorbell and demanding treats. Many can look forward to bags full of toffee apples, loose sweets and a pile of monkey nuts from less generous victims.

We’ve already covered a lot of scary series and games, and by now our nerves and capacity for scares are at breaking point. To calm ourselves down in the face of invading costume-wearing children, we’ve decided to think about the question posed repeatedly at Halloween: trick or treat? As luck would have it, it's the main issue we address when reviewing games: is this game a treat to play, or a trick that steals valuable hours with its wretched gameplay?

We tackle this question head on with some well-known, classic video game sequels. Major franchises often get a reboot or re-imagining that takes the series in a new direction, but in doing this developers risk the wrath of dedicated fans. Let’s look at some major sequels and whether their evolution was sugary sweet, a mixed bag or a bit of a horror.

This sequel to The Legend of Zelda was a major departure, spurning the original’s top-down perspective in favour of side-scrolling gameplay. By introducing a levelling-up system, this title encouraged the player to seek out enemy encounters and boost their ranking, not to mention the various side-quests on offer. The gameplay itself was competent, but it's the difficulty of this title that enraged a generation of gamers: not to mention the fact that if you die, you go all the way back to the beginning. It’s a cruel game, but challenge is relative, depending on how well you’ve developed your ninja-gaming skills.

Verdict – Treat

Super Mario Sunshine

Super Mario 64 is rightly praised as a genre-defining masterpiece, bringing the concept of a 3D platforming adventure to modern gaming. Gamers had to wait years to enjoy the next 3D Mario title, and Super Mario Sunshine came as a surprise. First impressions were poor, with a bizarre opening cut-scene and appalling voice acting: it seemed pertinent to ask what exactly Nintendo was thinking. It’s gameplay that defines the experience, however, and this title delivered enjoyable platforming, a new mechanic with the FLUDD system and a welcome return for Yoshi. It may not be the greatest Mario title, but it's still a fun experience.

Verdict – Treat

Nintendo also bucked the trend with a fully cinematic storyline, with some lengthy cut-scenes telling a story that could be termed a ‘space-opera'.

Metroid: Other M

The Metroid series has legions of loyal fans, all with their own perspectives on Samus as a character, and generally with a preference for the classic 2D NES and SNES titles or the 3D first-person adventures of the Metroid Prime Trilogy. Metroid: Other M, meanwhile, attempted to incorporate gameplay mechanics from both styles. Nintendo also bucked the trend with a fully cinematic storyline and some lengthy cut-scenes telling a story that could be termed a ‘space-opera’. It would be an understatement to say that this title polarised opinion, with some defending it while others vehemently criticise its style and execution.

Verdict – Trick and Treat

Star Fox Adventures

The next in the Star Fox series after Star Fox 64, this was certainly a departure in style: while the Nintendo 64 title was an arcade on-rails shooter, this was a 3D adventure. This title was originally under development as Dinosaur Planet, but was re-purposed by developer Rare at the behest of Nintendo. Most of the game was on foot, with occasional flying sections, so it felt like a strange sequel. When assessed on its own merits this is an excellent title, though as a follow-up in the Star Fox series it seems terribly out of place.

Verdict – Trick and Treat

Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures

Pac-Man is classic gaming, an iconic arcade title that lives on as a pillar of gaming history. Unfortunately, we then have Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures on the Super Nintendo. Gone is the simple gameplay, replaced by an interactive story-adventure. The player has no direct control over Pac-Man, but drags a cross hair around the screen to direct the hero’s attention to objects, or in some cases fire a slingshot. It’s a memory game, where the player must learn what event to trigger and when, all while watching the animations unfold. To some it's humorous and entertaining, but we think it’s better left ignored and isn’t worthy of the Pac-Man name.

Verdict – Trick

So there you have it — five sequels that represented fairly major departures in their respective series. Two were worthy successors, two have caused debate and one was an horrific mistake. We’d love to hear your opinions on these titles, or any other famous games that took a series in a bold new direction.

From everyone at Nintendo Life, happy Halloween!

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User Comments (41)



zezhyrule said:

Lots of 'Adventure' in the titles

Sunshine and Zelda II are definitely treats, I agree :3



Stuffgamer1 said:

I like Pac-Man 2, but yeah, it's DEFINITELY not for everybody. It's also a poor title, as it's really closer to a sequel to Pac-Land than Pac-Man in the first place.



LittleIrves said:

Noo! I actually have a soft spot for Pac-Man 2. It's just such an odd game.... I find the surprising mechanics quite endearing, somehow. Although this is all based on a rental back in the day, so I'm not sure how I'd feel with it given my full attention. But it's definitely stuck in my memory, which is more than I can say for a bunch of other rented games (which I would recall for you but, alas, that's the whole point....).
Anyway. Fun feature.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I was going to post a sarcastic comment about liking Pac-Man 2, but now I see it actually has some fans and I almost feel bad.



pixelman said:

What the hell. Pac-Man 2 was one of my favorite games as a kid. I don't think I like NintendoLife anymore.

Also: "[Metroid: Other M] could be termed a ‘space-soap-opera'." fix'd.



NintyMan said:

I could see Kirby's Epic Yarn as a Trick or Treat game. While it's definitely a treat with its beautiful yarn graphics and music, it's not seen so favorably by people who dislike the easy difficulty and the complete inability to die.

But to respond to the list here, I liked Super Mario Sunshine and Star Fox Adventures. Sunshine was definitely different than the usual Mario experience, but I don't think the voice acting was that bad and I like all the island exploring, not to mention those platforming sub-levels without F.L.U.D.D.



ThomasBW84 said:

@pixelman - Nope, space-opera is the term we were going for, it's been used before when referring to Other M style storylines so, not fixed

I guess Pac-Man 2 has more fans than I thought, as it's not very fondly remembered by some members of our team.



bezerker99 said:

I clicked this link not knowing Other M would be lurking here......the horror........ D: D: D:



MasterGraveheart said:

Metroid Other M was a fine risk for the series. While characterization didn't work sometimes, or rather it may have been just too jarring for being a first attempt at it, it really found a good game control setup and brought Metroid back to a third person view, which I liked. Now, I wished two things most importantly in the end. First, that it wasn't liniar, and second, that it offered more exploration in terms of acquiring power-ups. So what if she lost them again for some bizarre reason? I liked the exploration.

Yes, I've come to terms with the story which, really, while not great, isn't that bad. But seriously, they shoudln't have dropped Jeniffer Hale as Samus... SHE WAS FREAKIN' SHEENA FUJIBAYASHI FOR CRYIN' OUT LOUD!




Sunshine and Other M are very good games that would scrape a 9/10 for me, but aren't Nintendo all time greats for me. Galaxy 2 is the best sequel I've played closely followed by Pikmin 2 and Resi Evil 2



OptometristLime said:

Now there's hate for Yoshi's Story? A fun game to rent back in the day, and a definite treat for me when I picked it up on the Virtual Console. While I can understand those who find the gameplay to be a mixed bag, the graphics and unique level design deserve recognition.



Rapadash6 said:

@thelastlemming I'll give kudo's to the games' graphic and level design but the fruit collecting gameplay was an insult to those who cut their teeth on the excellent SNES predecessor, Yoshi's Island.



Luffymcduck said:

Sunshine is one of my favourite Mario games, the last one that had huge levels to explore and a great hub world. The next Mario should be what 64 and Sunshine were.



OptometristLime said:

I didn't realize how much I valued those elements, until I replayed Mario Galaxy. The sequel emphasized instant action, and Mario's head as a token hub, but I found my motivation to continue tackling new levels diminished without the characters and light story.



Thwiidscube said:

Meh... Zelda II's okay, but nothing like any of the other Zelda games, as it's a sidescroller. That's the only thing I hate about it though.



Tryken said:

Other M and Sunshine are both treats, 100%. Samus was finally developed into a tangible character, thick and complex, showing us her fears, her disappointments, and even a person who inspired her (which is always awesome to see, because she's someone who inspires us).

And with Sunshine, what do you do when technology is not ready for the leap to Galaxies, yet? You add a fresh element in. Does it work out completely? Maybe not always. But, regardless, we're on a new island, we're Mario, and, most importantly, on another solid adventure. Mario was on a vacation, and so was our adventure with him. So it's unique in its own little way.



Splat said:

The only game listed I have ever played was Zelda II and while I didn't hate it I didn't ever feel like I was playing a Zelda game.



Bubbab5 said:

Yoshi story s main theme song i loved but it gets stuck in my head randomly all the time GREAT NOW ITS STUCK IN MY HEAD NOW



FonistofCruxis said:

Poor Samus must feel insulted knowing that Zelda II is a better regarded black sheep game than Other m.

Super Mario sunshine easily had the best hub world of Mario game and I hope to see Nintendo at least attempt to better the hub worlld in SMS in a future 3D Mario platformer but while it had some good level design I don't think the level design stands up to that of the other three 3D Mario platformers so overall I don't think its as good as the other 3D Mario platformers but its still a great game. Also, while the voice acting could've been better, I think its harsh calling it appalling. Its nowhere near as bad as the likes of the first Resident evil, Mega man x4 and x7, Arc rise fantasia, House of the dead 2 etc.



Token_Girl said:

I remember really enjoying Pac Man 2 on Genesis as well as a kid. I never beat the last level. This sort of makes me want to go back and finish the game. I wonder if I'll still like it as an adult though...



TKOWL said:

Sunshine is still a great game, I actually prefer it to Galaxy and 64.

Zelda II on the other hand... that's a different story.



Corbs said:

I just never liked Super Mario Sunshine. I've tried, on multiple occasions, to go back to it, but it's just not there for me. But Zelda II I still love. I remember getting it when it was first released when I was a senior in high school. Good times!



warioswoods said:

Be forewarned, fellow readers, I'll be scanning this page periodically to see if anyone bashes Sunshine.

Sunshine defense force, GO!



C-Olimar said:

You spelt Hallowe'en wrong.

I loved Mario Sunshine. It may not be as good as 64 or the Galaxies, but it still a fantastic game. God forbid should Nintendo try to do something new with Mario...



pikku said:

I won't even get started on Other M again, and I suggest you all do the same. Also, @warioswoods please allow me on that Sunshine Defense team I'm replaying it in anticipation of SM3DL, and I had forgotten how much I love everything about it. From its gorgeous visuals--amazing water etc, to its grand and open ended yet expert level design to its wonderfully tight controls, it is definitely my favorite 3D Mario game, right below the first Galaxy. ~and followed closely by SMG2



BenAV said:

I feel like playing Sunshine now.
I never got to finish it because my memory card broke.



Noire said:

Star Fox Adventures might have been a treat if it didn't have one of the lamest, laughably awful endings of any game ever. The way it played out is dumbfounding in its idiocy.



James said:

I'm joining forces with @warioswoods in the Sunshine Defence Force. Started playing Mario Sunshine again lately and it's a huge amount of fun, except the Secret levels which make me wish my thumbs were bitten off by raccoons.



Bass_X0 said:

To be fair to Zelda II, it was the second Zelda game and what actually made a "Zelda" game had yet to be established at the point of its release. Its not its fault if later games were more like the first game. You could say the same for Super Mario Bros. 2 (U.S.) too.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Started playing Mario Sunshine again lately and it's a huge amount of fun, except the Secret levels which make me wish my thumbs were bitten off by raccoons.




nintendogamerftw said:

Tight controls? Expert level design?
Are you sure we played the same game? The only levels worth playing in that game were the secret levels where the gimmicks and poor level design were replaced with something that was actually playable. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in some levels because the objectives were poorly designed with no efficient path to reach them without luck. Also, they seemed to have managed what I thought was impossible and made the camera worse than it had been in 64.
Definitely a trick for me.
EDIT: Come at me Sunshine Defense Force.



theblackdragon said:

@14: sorry, but after SMW2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story was a huuuuuuge letdown. You're right in that it looked great, but looking for all the hidden eggs and going for melons only was straight-up boring, and the level design was pretty hit-or-miss IMO — for the most part it was way too easy. It was a definite Trick as far as I'm concerned, especially in comparison to the amazingness that had come before.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Nice to see a feature of what's been in my head for quite some time now.
I guess you just can't help to get the impression that there are a lot of "seconds" that are quite odd compared to the rest of the series.

Aside from the ones already mentioned here are those that come to my mind

  • Super Adventure Island II
  • Castlevania II
  • Super Mario Bros. 2 (US)
  • Majora's Mask - the second 3D Zelda, reason: time-limit
  • Metroid Prime 2 - the second 3D Metroid, reason: dark world mechanics
  • Metroid II - more or less there's only one gradually evolving boss character.


Bass_X0 said:

after SMW2: Yoshi's Island, Yoshi's Story was a huuuuuuge letdown.

Well, Yoshi's Story wasn't intended to be a Yoshi's Island beater. Yoshi's Island had a lot of work put into it and was a major game so its more comparable to to Super Mario 64. Yoshi's Story was just a regular platformer, created just to give the N64 more games.

Are people unjustified for comparing Yoshi's Story to Yoshi's Island and finding it wanting? A little. Yoshi's Story is a stand alone game that just so happened to feature Yoshi as its main character. If Yoshi's Island didn't exist, Yoshi's Story wouldn't be considered that bad of a game.



TheAmazingRaccoon said:

Loved everything in sunshine except the fact you had to beat evil mario in every level to get to the end, such a pain.

Also Other M's portrayal of Samus was spot on considering her portrayal in zero mission and fusion

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