Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Most Improved Video Game Sequels - Part One

A new SuperPhillip Central segment approaches! We've looked at the best levels in gaming, we've looked at the best bosses in gaming, and now SuperPhillip Central looks at the most improved video game sequels. These sequels greatly surpassed their predecessors, added features that are now mainstays for their respective franchises, or even made the originals look like student projects by comparison.

Once you've checked out the inaugural class of six entries to Most Improved Video Game Sequels, what games do you think should be on future installments?

Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN)

The original Super Smash Bros. was such a creative premise and dream scenario for Nintendo fans--pitting their favorite characters against one another to determine who would win in a fight. The Nintendo 64 game laid a successful foundation for the Super Smash Bros. franchise, but it wasn't until the GameCube's Super Smash Bros. Melee that the series really kicked into high gear. Adding more characters (such as Bowser, Peach, Zelda, Ice Climbers, Marth, Roy, Mewtwo, and more), more stages, more items, and just an abundance of content and improved combat, Super Smash Bros. Melee for some is still uncontested as the best game in the series. The additions of Adventure Mode, All-Star Mode, character and series-specific trophies, and other goodies took an already fantastic foundation from the N64 original and made a truly special game that wouldn't be dethroned for  almost two decades.

Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)

Regardless of whether or not you consider the tough-as-nails Lost Levels or the Doki Doki Panic retooled Super Mario Bros. 2 to the be sequel to the nowadays rather basic Super Mario Bros., there's no denying that Super Mario Bros. 3 took the Mario to extremely high new heights. Taking Mario and Luigi on a lengthy adventure though eight themed worlds complete with world maps, bestowing them with new suits such as the Tanooki and Hammer Suits, giving them the power of flight with the Super Leaf power-up, having an onslaught of new enemy types, inspired and creative levels, and the first appearance of the Koopalings, Super Mario Bros. 3 did arguably more for the Super Mario series than any other 2D platformer bar the original. 

Super Metroid (SNES)

The third installment of the Metroid series and the last Metroid game to be released until the one-two punch of Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion (on the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance respectively), Super Metroid brought so much to the franchise and games of this platformer style in general. For Metroid as a series, Super Metroid brought a godsend to players who found themselves lost and stumbling through the similar corridors and chambers of the original Metroid and its Game Boy sequel. That godsend was a helpful map. Super Metroid also introduced many items and power-ups that are now common for the series, such as the Charge Beam, Grappling Beam, Gravity Suit, Power Bombs, and Super Missiles, to name a handful. There's a reason that Super Metroid is held as the standard that all current Metroidvania games strive to be and are measured against. It's just that darn good.

Street Fighter II (ARC)

Perhaps the most substantial marked improvement from an original game to its sequel, the original Street Fighter was less than a stellar fighting game--to put it charitably. The stiff and unresponsive controls, the frustrating AI opponents, and the general quality were not up to snuff. Street Fighter II, on the other hand, introduced and established so many new features to the fighting game franchise formula that it's no wonder that so many fell in love with Capcom's fantastic fighter. From the addition of new playable characters, varying and distinguishable characteristics for each, combo-based gameplay, and controller commands that were easily more accessible to players. Street Fighter II managed to not only improve on its predecessor, but it managed to influence (and continues to influence) essentially all future fighting games worth their muster in quarters.

Mega Man 2 (NES)

"If at first you don't succeed" started the story of both Capcom's retro gambles. We've seen it already with Street Fighter, and now Mega Man is the second instance of this. The original Mega Man, for the most part, did not reach sales success. It was a pure risk to give the Blue Bomber a second chance, but the development team of Mega Man 2 did just that. The game was a tale of having both quality and quantity, with its addition of eight new Robot Masters instead of the original Mega Man's six. Though the inclusion of now series standbys like a save system (via password in this case) and health and weapon energy-restoring items like E-Tanks and W-Tanks, Mega Man 2 was still quite the challenging game even with these improvements to the formula. Despite dozens upon dozens of Mega Man games release since, to this day, fans of the Blue Bomber find Mega Man 2 to be the pinnacle of the long-running series.

Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando (PS2)

The original Ratchet & Clank brought an unlikely lombax and robot pair together in one intergalactic adventure. The sequel, Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, upped the ante and the arsenal quite a bit, including introducing several mainstays to the series that would appear in most of the games in the franchise. For one, the ability to strafe more easily was extremely helpful, and the addition of being able to level up weapons through dealing damage with them made it so Ratchet's collection of firepower could become one devastating repertoire of destruction. Added gameplay types like racing and gladiator battles rounded out this excellent package, making Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando one of the best entries in the series and one of the PlayStation 2's best games in general.

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