Back By Unpopular Demand
It’s no secret that the gaming industry can be like a cruel, cynical overlord looming over all of our tiny virtual worlds, implementing different tactics and “features” to squeeze every last dollar out of the gaming community and bolster some executive’s bottom line. From the recent spotlighting of crunch culture to the ongoing trend of exploitative gambling mechanics baked into a game’s very structure, it seems like the industry is always coming up with something new to worm their way into our wallets. Some attempts, sufficient to say, are more blatant than others, giving a small glimpse into the industry’s own form of capitalist desperation, and from such a standpoint, certain choices can “make sense” provided your goal is to increase capital no matter the cost. One of the most popular blatant forms of cashgrabbery is the “unnecessary sequel.”
Now, of course, some sequels come as a result of the artists behind it truly believing an IP deserves a second chance, could be improved with just a few small tweaks, or is indeed good enough to warrant a sequel, and my heart really goes out to those artists. Art is hard, and when you involve the influence of competing for society’s hard earned and ever-dwindling cash, it becomes that much more challenging, with more ideas and input than means to implement them, and some of that input coming from people who observe large numbers made of people’s often binary input. It doesn’t exactly make for a happy or productive workplace, and often makes for an unimpressive product.
So I’ve gone ahead and arranged a list of the top 10 worst offenders of the “unnecessary sequel” cashgrabbery tactic, prime examples of executives with more money than brains creating something nobody asked for in a desperate attempt to generate capital despite a preceding, nearly identical product bearing the same title usually falling flat on its face as it slides out of the industry’s birth canal. Like a trip down a dilapidated memory lane, here are the top 10 sequels nobody asked for.
Top Ten Sequels Nobody Asked For
10 – Knack 2
Mark Cerny has lead a pretty phenomenal career dating all the way back to the mid-80’s, having a hand in a ton of titles across the Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, Jak and Daxter, and Ratchet and Clank series. He was the man of the hour during PlayStation’s PS4 reveal event back in 2013, and understandably so as he was the soon-to-be-a-hit console’s lead architect. During the announcement, he got to show off a passion project he’d been working on called Knack, which was to be a launch title for the new console. It looked cute and promising, and people looked forward to giving it a shot.
The game was moderately well received upon release – a decent tech demo that somewhat succeeded in engaging younger crowds, but was mostly regarded as an “okay” action-platformer with little gameplay diversity and shallow gameplay. So when a sequel was announced back in 2016, nobody really had any strong feelings about it at all. Nobody was mad, a few people were like “Yay!” but for the most part it was “Uh, okay I guess.” When it dropped in September of last year it was met with mostly similar reviews, with fans taking note of the improved visuals and stronger storytelling. If a Knack 3 is in our future, I mean, sure, go for it, but is anyone really asking for it?
9 – Rage 2
Admittedly, Rage 2 does look pretty awesome in my opinion, but it’s still the inspiration for this entire list. When the original Rage was released, it was considered a mediocre disappointment for the most part but seems to have kept a core fanbase interested enough to warrant a sequel. When I lived in Fort McMurray, Alberta a few years ago, I worked with a man who was still playing it regularly three years after its release (Hi Alan!). Plus, id Software had originally intended for RAGE to be an ongoing series after launch, and the studio’s revered tenacity should have prepared us for this. But it didn’t, and now we’re all waiting to see how they’ll turn it around and win people over with a more colorful and over-the-top sequel. Sure, nobody asked for it, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need, or whatever.
8 – 50 Cent: Blood On The Sand
Every now and then when I really want to remind myself of the absurdist nature of the universe, I remember that there’s not one, but two games based on rapper 50 Cent in existence. The first game, 50 Cent: Bulletproof, released in what feels like the height of his career back in 2005, the same year he dropped his sophomore album, The Massacre. It received mixed reviews and it wasn’t too long before people mostly forgot about it. Then in 2008, the sequel, Blood on the Sound was announced to a resounding “wat?” The game almost didn’t see the light of day on account of publisher Vivendi merging with Activision leading up to its release, before THQ swooped in and, er….saved the day? Blood on the Sand released to a more positive reception than Bulletproof, despite being notoriously repetitious thanks to 50’s son literally demanding more helicopters be included in the game.
7 – Ninety-Nine Nights 2
For a game made in 6 months, the original Ninety-Nine Nights ended up being competent enough to score some decent reviews upon its release, but as far as I could tell it didn’t exactly have a dedicated fanbase. A sequel was announced at TGS back in 2008 to which the general reaction was “but nobody asked for that,” and the game’s showing at Konami’s notoriously painful E3 showing that same year did not help. Watch as Tak Fujii tries to rile up an audience that is so apathetic towards the existence of this game it borders on contempt:
Unsurprisingly, Ninety Nine Nights 2 was received nowhere near as well as its already mediocre predecessor, currently sitting at 45 on Metacritic including a review from Planet Xbox 360 in which the reviewer “implores you to avoid N3II.”
6 – Naughty Bear: Panic In Paradise
It’s hard to figure out who Naughty Bear was even made for in the first place, and downright unsolvable to figure out who the hell asked for a sequel. The first game was pretty poorly received, and publisher 505 Games still had the balls to put out a “gold edition” less than a year after its release with extra content that nobody wanted, having already clearly expressed they did not want the initial content in their lives. After re-branding to Behavior Interactive, the game’s developer decided to make Naughty Bear: Panic In Paradise which was even more maligned than its predecessor and had even more content somehow. To this day, nobody really knows why it was made, and I’m pretty confident nobody cares to ask.