When video game titles are successful both the publisher and fans want more. It is almost guaranteed that a game that sold well will receive a sequel in today’s market. This could be a good or a bad thing. Some of the best games of all time are sequels. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves is known as a big step up from the original Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune and a tremendous game. Fallout 3 won numerous Game of the Year awards and is vastly different from its predecessor. Some sequels, though, try too hard to innovate and change what made them special in the first place; in-turn tarnishing the reputation of amazing characters and developers.
This list will focus on five video game franchises that changed too much and were tarnished by sequels. It is based on sequels that tried to change so much that they forgot what made them great in the first place. There had to be a change in gameplay or story that led to its downfall for it to be included. While many would argue that sequels have ruined franchises like Call of Duty and Assassins Creed these types of games will not be included in this list. Those games have lost momentum because of their yearly sequels not changes, as the games stayed relatively the same.
- Resident Evil
The first franchise we are going to be talking about is Resident Evil. Once known as one of the scariest and horrifying games around, Resident Evil, reached its peak with Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 was originally released on the Gamecube in 2005 and won many awards for its frightening and anxiety-inducing gameplay.
In 2009, Resident Evil 5 was released with impressive graphics for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC. The series started taking a turn for the worst at this point, though. Gone were the tight corridors and dark ambience. Co-op was introduced and horror had taken a back seat to shooting. It became a regular third-person shooter with less than optimal controls. When Resident Evil 6 was released three years later it was even more apparent. A franchise that was known for its horror elements and unique gameplay became just another shooter.
- Crash Bandicoot
Crash Bandicoot was the face of the original Playstation. Nintendo had Mario and Sony tried to counter with Crash. It is one of the most recognized games on the Playstation and the franchise that started Naughty Dog’s road to stardom. After three games and a racing spin-off featuring Crash, Naughty Dog decided to start a new franchise, Jak and Daxtar. Fans still wanted more Crash and there was still a lot of money to be made.
The next two Crash games where developed by Traveller’s Tale and then the last two Crash games were developed by Radical Games. The first sequel without Naughty Dog or Sony, Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex, was still very similar to previous games of the series. It was not thought to be of the quality of previous installments and led to a desire of innovation. The following game Crash Twinsanity changed gameplay completely. The game was now based largely in a free-roaming style and Crash’s nemesis, Doctor Neo Cortex, is used as a weapon (hammer), rather than a villain.
The last two games, Crash of the Titans and Crash: Mind over Mutant, really put an end to a once prominent franchise. The game now featured health, no longer had the famous collectable apples, and the main gameplay component featured controlling and riding enemies. The game was completely different from what made it such a great franchise and received very low reviews from fans and critics a-like.
- Tony Hawk Pro Skater
Back in the early 2000s skateboarding had been rejuvenated, in large part thanks to the video game franchise, Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Everyone wanted to know how far they could push their combo and high score. You had two-minute runs to pull off a variety of objectives including: collecting S-K-A-T-E, beating high scores, collecting the secret tape, and more.
Tony Hawk featured a couple good sequels including Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, which is known by many as the best in the series. When Tony Hawk Pro Skater 4 was released things started going in a different direction. The game completely removed the time runs and the game became open-world. While the game was fun and different, it was the start of the series’ downfall. The next game changed its title from Pro skater to Tony Hawk Underground. This time featuring a story mode and forcing you to create a character rather than selecting a pro like previous installments. The series continued making sequels and sacrificed everything that made it special to go with what was in at the time.
Eventually in 2007, after Tony Hawk: Proving Grounds and some competition from EA’s Skate, the franchise decided to go on an hiatus. They made some spin-offs with motion control like Tony Hawk: Ride, but they were mostly unsuccessful. Recently, Tony Hawk announced that a new game, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5 would go back to its roots and what made the series special in the first place. While there is hope, after seeing gameplay and trailers the game is not looking too promising. The graphics are nowhere close where they should be and the gameplay still seems to be trying to do too much. We will know for sure on November 10th.
Rare was known for making some great games for the Nintendo 64. Banjo-Kazooie is one of them. It was a collector’s dream. It had many items to collect in great and diverse open environments. The characters and platforming were memorable. The first sequel, Banjo-Tooie was also a very special game and led many to believe that this was the next great franchise. By 2008 Microsoft had bought Rare and the Banjo-Kazooie license. Banjoo-Tooie was finally going to receive a sequel eight years later called Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts.
Few franchises take such a drastic turn in gameplay as Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts revolved around vehicles rather than the platforming that made it famous. Game director Greg Mayles stated that 20 percent of the game retained the traditional platforming of previous games while the remaining 80 percent revolved around vehicles. The game revolved around customization of vehicles for Banjo and Kazooie to use with over 1,600 components. While some people enjoyed the games it was such a drastic change that it felt like a spin-off and for many tarnished the franchise’s name.
The first two Fable games were known as great games for the Xbox. The third entry upset fans with the lack of innovation and story. It was no longer the great role-playing game fans loved and Lionhead decided they needed a serious change. Fable went on to create a family-friendly arcade spin-off Fable Heroes and then a Kinect-only game, Fable: The Journey. Neither game was met with good reviews and the franchise has not recovered since.
Later this year a new addition to the franchise is set to release, Fable: Legends. It is not a reboot or a return to the originals gameplay and story-telling, but rather a whole new direction. It focuses around four heroes and a villain, each which must be controlled by a human via online multiplayer or an AI. While it may be a great game it is clear the Fable gameplay that was originally created in 2004 is no more.
There are many sequels that tried to ambitiously change up the franchise formula and ended up ruining what made the it special to begin with. If you have other franchises that come to mind, let us know in the comments!