Wednesday, March 8, 2017

One & Done: Games Without Sequels - Part One

In an industry full of sequels (though that isn't exclusive to the video game industry, of course), it's nice to see new franchises come about. However, not all of these wind up being successful. No, some end up having the best of intentions and end up either getting ripped to shreds by critics or sell horribly on the market. Other times, the publisher just moves on and doesn't give a game a chance to blossom into a series by giving it a sequel. Whichever the case, One & Done is a new series on SuperPhillip Central that delves into the games that saw but one entry, not including remastered versions or enhanced ports.

After checking out SuperPhillip Central's initial six picks, which games that never got a sequel are your favorites?

The Legend of Dragoon (PS1)

The original PlayStation took over the mantle as the JRPG machine from the Super Nintendo, and with it, a plethora of engaging and enjoyable games in the genre were made. Of course, many are familiar with the big guns like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX, as well as games like Chrono Cross and Xenogears, but Sony also had their own JRPGs to add to the PS1's impressive library, such as Wild Arms, which would become a series, and The Legend of Dragoon, which sadly did not. The Legend of Dragoon used a combat mechanic called "additions" which were timing based button presses that either dealt more damage in an offensive move or helped to lessen damage from an enemy's attack. Despite lacking much in the way of originality, there is a sizable chunk of the PlayStation userbase that would love to see The Legend of Dragoon return. Even Sony hasn't completely turned its back on the game, as there were rumors of Dart, the hero of the game, appearing in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, before sales of that game didn't meet expectations.

Lost Odyssey (360)

We go from one JRPG to another, though two generations later. A joint effort between Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker studio and Feelplus, Lost Odyssey was a game made for the Xbox 360 when Microsoft was seriously desiring to be a contender in Japan. Thus, several 360 exclusive games were made with Japan in mind. Lost Odyssey is somewhat of a relic of old school JRPGs, including things like turn-based combat and random battles, which some reviewers and players found to be unappealing. However, the game's battle system wasn't your run of the mill one-- it featured the use of rings and skills, as well as timing-based button attacks as seen in the previously mentioned Legend of Dragoon, to liven the otherwise hum-ho and typical combat much more exciting.

Skies of Arcadia (DC, GCN)

Generally, JRPGs take place in either a futuristic or medieval world of sorts. However, Skies of Arcadia bucks the traditional trend by not having a typical medieval or futuristic world to explore. Rather than walk and run on a land-based world map, Skies of Arcadia's world took place in the sky with protagonist Vyse and company piloting airships to various destinations elevated high in the clouds, separated by air rifts to ensure that players don't have the full world map to explore right from the beginning. Skies of Arcadia has seen cult classic status for being a tremendous JRPG unlike any other, featuring both character combat and epic ship battles, creatively designed dungeons, and a setting rarely seen in the genre. Skies of Arcadia did so many things so well that it was media and fan darling. It's just a shame that the critical success of the Dreamcast original and then GameCube port didn't equate into commercial success.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem (GCN)

Nintendo worked with Silicon Knights on two projects on the GameCube. The first was a horror game unlike any other at the time and even to date with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. The game took place in a third-person perspective across multiple time periods, through four unique locations. The major gameplay component that made Eternal Darkness infamous was the Sanity Meter, something so great that Nintendo patented it. As the player's character took damage and encountered things in the game that stressed them out, the game would do various sanity effects. The more the Sanity Meter was depleted, the greater the effect. Some were innocuous enough like sound effects haunting the area, while others broke the fourth wall, such as the game controlling the volume or even displaying a blue screen of death error to mess with the player. Silicon Knights has since filed for bankruptcy with one of the lead directors of the game trying to get funding for a spiritual successor. Meanwhile, Nintendo still holds the Eternal Darkness IP, which will hopefully see the light of day again.

Killer7 (PS2, GCN)

From one game that messes with the player's mind to another, while Killer7 didn't receive the same critical acclaim that Eternal Darkness did, the game did receive a cult following nonetheless. Directed and written by Suda51 (who would later go on to create No More Heroes on Wii), Killer7 told the tale of a group of assassins known as Killer7 who took on jobs to take out targets on the behest of the United States government. What followed is a deep and somewhat convoluted plot that adds in a healthy dose of government conspiracy and some very disturbing story elements. What made Killer7 so polarizing with critics was the gameplay that featured players moving in a first-person perspective, confined to predetermined paths that they can move back and forth on. Through solving environmental puzzles and vanquishing initially invisible Heaven Smiles enemies, progress was made. Killer7 was an ingenuous and deep game cultivated from the insane (and I mean that in a good way) mind of Suda51. The type of a game that I would like to see him return to one day.

P.N.03 (GCN)

I didn't mention this in the Killer7 blurb of this article, but it and this final game on part one's list, P.N.03 (standing for Project Number 03) were initially declared to be a part of a series of games known as the Capcom Five. These were supposedly to be exclusive to the GameCube, including three others titles: Resident Evil 4, Viewtiful Joe, and Dead Phoenix. Only P.N.03 remained exclusive with the others arriving on the PlayStation 2 and Dead Phoenix being cancelled mid-development. P.N.03's developers wanted to distinguish the game from other action titles. Thus, an emphasis on defense as well as offense was made. Despite having good intentions, the game received a majority of negative reviews and even worse sales. However, it wasn't a total bust. Famed director Shinji Mikami would use the foundation of P.N.03 for a much better title for the next generation of home consoles. That game would be Vanquish.

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