Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Most Disappointing Video Game Sequels - Part Seven

There's little that hurts a gamer more than hearing that a sequel to one of their favorite games is coming out, it releases, and it turns out to be a dud. It's happened to the best of us. It's like having the rug pulled out from under you when a sequel you've been hyping based off of love for its predecessor does less than satisfy when it finally launches. Sometimes it's due to the formula being changed too much and not for the better. Other times it's because the game is missing what made the original so good.

Whatever the reasons may be, SPC is back with a look at six more disappointing video game sequels that failed to deliver or failed to satisfy for one reason or another.

If you're a glutton for punishment and want to think some more about what might have been, take a look at SuperPhillip Central's past installments for even MORE disappointing video game sequels with these convenient links:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six

Dynasty Warriors 9 (PS4, XB1, PC)

We begin this edition of disappointing video game sequels with a series that already wasn't viewed in the brightest of lights by most in the gaming industry. Really, the Musou-style of game is a repetitive one, having players hack and slash through enormous waves of enemies. While repetitive and hardly generating and amassing critical acclaim, the genre and games are quite addicting and there's something intrinsically satisfying to be found within them. It's the very definition of comfort food gaming for some.

I have to give Koei Tecmo credit for wanting to change up its somewhat stagnant Dynasty Warriors series. It's quite commendable to have an established formula that works well for its fanbase and risk alienating said fanbase by doing something new. Unfortunately, Dynasty Warriors 9 was a case of poor execution. Instead of smaller battlefields, Dynasty Warriors 9's encounters took place in wide open, empty fields that mimicked and were clearly inspired by open world games. Furthermore, as a means to maybe welcome new players into the franchise with the new installment, Dynasty Warriors 9 featured much more basic combat, and the combat in past games wasn't exactly the deepest to begin with. In aiming to please newcomers, Koei Tecmo essentially made a Dynasty Warriors game for no one, as veterans didn't have much to enjoy with this latest installment of the long-running series.

Dead Space 3 (PS3, X360, PC)

Some games are disappointing not just because they aren't of a quality to one's liking, but more because of the after effects that come of a game's release. Electronic Arts and Visceral Games' Dead Space 3 is an example of this. Focusing less on the survival horrors aspects of the first two games and laser-aiming more on the action side of things, Dead Space 3 changed things up no doubt to make the game more entertaining for online co-op, a new mode added to this installment of the game.

While the game was still entertaining (very much so, might I add), Dead Space 3 offered a rather bloated adventure that went on for far too long, and was a disappointment because it failed to stick to its survival horror roots. But, more importantly, Dead Space 3 served as the end for not just the Dead Space series but the end for the developer of the series itself: Visceral Games. Soon after, the team would get dissolved among two EA studios. Another studio slain by the game publisher.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2 (NSW, PS4, XB1, PC)

This disappointing game hurts deeply, as I had the original Curse of the Moon as one of my top ten games of 2018. The game managed to mix its old school difficulty on modern gaming systems wonderfully. So, then, what makes its sequel, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon 2, so disappointing?

The answer is that Inti Creates went way too far with the difficulty this time around. The game has three runs you do, each changing a different element of the story and the characters you have to work with. The first run of the game is simple enough, offering a leisurely enough experience, though the challenge does spike upward at the end. But, by the second run, bosses deal massive amount of damage, especially their final gambit attacks which usually are hard to predict and dodge, and the game just is a much more frustrating experience. You have one less character to play as, and many times in the game you'll discover that checkpoints are few and far in between, unlike the original Curse of the Moon. It all adds up to a game that's the definition of "NES Hard", but in this case it's 2020, and my patience is much thinner than when I was a kid.

Paper Mario: Sticker Star (3DS)

With the relatively recent release of Paper Mario: The Origami King, and my rather glowing review of the game fresh in my mind, it seems like a good opportunity to look back on a less than stellar installment in the Paper Mario series, Paper Mario: Sticker Star. What Sticker Star marked was a drastic departure from the traditional Mario RPG formula: No partners, no experience points earned in battle, and a pale imitation of what made the previous Paper Mario games so great.

Now, that wouldn't be an issue if the game was great on its own merits like The Origami King was, but in Paper Mario: Sticker Star's case, it wasn't. Between battles basically being meaningless if not downright bothersome was that you used one-time use stickers to do battle and only earned coins and other stickers for your effort. Furthermore, the game's boss battles required certain items called "Things" that needed to be used at very specific times or the battle would be unwinnable. Once you used a "Thing", it was gone and would need to be collected again, making for a great annoyance.
What Paper Mario: Sticker Star represented was the growing pains of the Paper Mario series into something more enjoyable today, as seen with The Origami King. Still, for fans of the old style of Paper Mario games, Sticker Star was the beginning of the end, and for them, that's the biggest disappointment of them all.

Sonic Free Riders (X360)

Moving on from a bad Mario game to one of many bad games featuring his former rival Sonic, we turn to an atypical racing game for an atypical gaming platform. The Sonic Riders series began on the PlayStation 2, GameCube and Xbox, and it featured Sonic and friends (and foes) racing on air-powered hoverboards on winding tracks in fantastical locations, all the while performing stunts and tricks. The series has since seen two other games: Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and the game that probably killed the sub-series of Sonic games, Sonic Free Riders.

Sonic Free Riders was an Xbox 360 Kinect launch exclusive, using the peripheral to read players' movements. However, the consistency that it did so varied from player to player, working adequately for some and terribly to the point of being game-breaking for others. Despite a generous amount of content and modes in the game, this meant nothing if players couldn't access and enjoy all of it due to the poor controls. The fact that Sonic Free Riders has essentially retired the otherwise entertaining Sonic Riders sub-series only makes the game even more disappointing in retrospect.

Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly (PS2, GCN)

Our final look at disappointing video games this edition gives us Spyro the Dragon, who recently received an excellent remake of his first three adventures with Spyro Reignited Trilogy. While that game was a breath of fresh air for the series, things weren't always looking up for Activision's purple dragon.

I submit to the court Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly. The game's crimes? How about atrocious levels that grate and annoy, myriad bugs and glitches, and a short adventure that is both a pro and a con--a pro because it's mercifully short, but a con because it was a full price release back when it released?  Like Crash Bandicoot, Spryo the Dragon was an example of a PlayStation fan-favorite that changed hands and developers and came out worse in the end with a parade of poorly made sequels in the PS2 era. Fortunately, though, also like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro has since seen renewed success and spotlight with both the aforementioned Reignited Trilogy and his cameo appearance as a racer in Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. Welcome back to the land of the living, Spyro!

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