the Mouth of Madness:
By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman
So okay, blame the increasing hardware. One reason why so many people went nuts over the concept of Doom 2000 is that they’re dying to see what the game would look like if it were developed using today’s technology. I have to admit, cynical as I am, the idea is pretty cool. Just take a look at the popularity of GLDoom and the other projects since the game’s release for proof that people are still crazy about the game. Who wouldn’t go nuts over a polygonal Cyberdemon, anyway?
What seems to be a current trend, however, are sequels that bare no resemblance whatsoever to their predecessors. I don’t care what Monolith says…Blood II has nothing to do with the original Blood (which I consider a good thing). Obviously Quake is a perfect example of the sequel sharing only a title to its original. The various Zork sequels were all great, but none of them was nearly as good as the original…and no matter what the title is, Zork: Nemesis should have been called just plain "Nemesis" since it has pretty much nothing to do with any of the other games (for better or worse).
You have to wonder just how much clout sequels actually have in the gaming industry. Does carrying a franchise’s name guarantee sales? Did Half-Life suffer because it wasn’t a sequel? It seems to be selling just fine. What about sequels to games that weren’t even a success? Battlezone currently has a sequel in the works, and that title didn’t sell especially well at all.
Now there are quite a few advantages to developing a sequel. First off, anyone who liked the original is bound to like the sequel, whether it’s a similar game or not. Second, a sequel just sounds impressive. If there’s a "II" or "III" on it, then it just has to be good, right? Nobody would make a sequel to a lousy game! (Hey, we’re talking marketing here, not reality.)
My concern, however, is that people are jumping on the sequel bandwagon instead of pursuing new ideas. Like I mentioned above, Half-Life isn’t a sequel, and yet it’s a great game. But does that mean I’m dying for Half-Life 2? No, actually. Half-Life stands on its own. I’d much rather have a completely new game than an attempt to extend the story that already came to a conclusion. But, I should point out, that I don’t feel that way about every game. Half-Life stands on its own, and there really isn’t a need for a sequel…but Duke Nukem, on the other hand, simply screams for one. Duke is just such a dynamic character, that a sequel is necessary. I’d even say that Sin would do well with a sequel. Hey, I like J.C. and Blade…I’d like to see more of them.
But there’s a world of a difference between wanting to see more of those characters, and say…Civilization III, a game that’s needlessly in development. Civilization II managed to surpass the original…but does anyone expect to top that? I don’t think so. I wish them the best of luck…but I wouldn’t count on it.
My bottom line is this: sequels only really work when the story demands it. Sequels based on franchises, and the need to cash in on them (however baffling that may seem in some cases) just aren’t necessary. So to any developers out there…instead of trying to score the license to make a sequel to Pirates!, why not make an original game? Please? :)
- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief for loonygames. He digs cartoons.
Credits: From the Mouth of Madness logo illustrated by and is © 1999 Dan Zalkus. From the Mouth of Madness is © 1999 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, you naughty boy, you.