So you’ve made it, you’re a rockstar. You’ve done your first world tour, your first album, Banana Rock, has gone platinum and The Bananarama Rockers are the biggest band in the world. How do you write that second album? Do the punters want more of the same or do they want to see you go to India, take a load of Hallucinogens and come back with a sitar? This is a problem that rock stars and game devs share alike. When you’ve had a massively successful game and the sequel inevitably comes knocking, do you give the gamers out there more of the same or do you you try and mix it up to keep it fresh? We all know we’ve seen people get angry at both, so let’s rap for a second.
There’s great sequels that have done both. There’s sequels that know what you like better than you do and when releasing a new game, there’s only a need to tweak and improve the formula rather than re-write it. Take Half-Life 2, take Super Smash Bros. Melee, take Assassins Creed 2; all fantastic games than have taken their predecessor, added a few bells and whistles and given us a new improved version that we loved every second of.
But then the same results can be gained from mixing it up just the same, take Red Dead Redemption, child of Red Dead Revolver. No doubt a great game but take its feel slap it into an open world setting and you’ve got the best of both. Or Majora’s Mask, there’s no doubt it shares factors with it’s Ocarina predecessor, but they completely changed how the world around you worked, with everything you’d ever do in three days being lost forever, never to be revisited in a Zelda game.
Yet in the same way both can work, both can fail, never forget. Take Duke Nukem Forever, a game that has decided to change almost nothing over it’s almost 20 year development and fell behind to our noughtie sensibilities. Or Rare’s beloved Banjo & Kazooie chucking in their platforming antics to build cars in Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts (not saying this one is the worst but it definitely disappointed). It’s a tricky call to make as I’m sure you can see.
So what's your preference when looking forward to a sequel? Do you like innovation and accept the risk of it falling flat? Or are you a King Curtis kinda guy and know what you want and when you want it? Does it depend entirely on the game? And can you think of any sequels that have done either way for the better or for the worse? Let us know!