"Imagine a world where sequels are banned. Would this not be a beautiful place?"
A subculture, arising primarily in game journalism, that is so jaded by Sequelitis
and Capcom Sequel Stagnation
that its members are predisposed to dislike any
product that is a sequel
, regardless of its actual value.
This group seems to have a grudge against any release that doesn't revolutionize and revitalize its genre, while overlooking that people like
sequels and that if they didn't, sequels wouldn't sell. Never mind that, for example, cars aren't dinged for having four wheels, a steering column, and an internal-combustion engine, just like every other car out there. This group and their reviews seem to grow louder and louder in direct proportion to the uptick of sequels in general
This is the group of fans that is upset that expansion packs
don't create an entirely new game, or that sequels use similar user interface features, even if the original engine was just fine.
As with most extremists, they have a legitimate point underneath all the bluster: Series and genres must innovate at some point, or they become stagnant. And of course, some series do
get worse over time despite their sales holding steady
. Where this group gets it wrong is assuming that every single game
has to innovate. As long as it's still fun
, it doesn't need to be mind-blowingly revolutionary. (There is also a legitimate counter-point; as Brad Wardell points out here
, a sequel game ought
to resemble its predecessor to some extent, or it has no business being sold under the same name
as the original.)
See also Mission Pack Sequel
, Franchise Zombie
- This is quite an unusual situation for anime, because much of the time they're essentially ads for the manga, and unsatisfyingly feature No Ending or a Gecko Ending. It's hard to find a popular one-shot show that doesn't have fans clamoring for sequels or remakes, as you can see by the lack of examples (only one at time of writing).
- Certain members of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica fandom freaked out when it was announced that the last part of an upcoming movie trilogy will be a continuation of the anime's events. An oft-used argument is that the original ending was perfect and adding a sequel will ruin it forever.
- A given, since the series has a reputation for having a Wham Line every 15 minutes or so. And the movie DID radically change the status quo, as expected.
- Video game review site GameSpot is a major offender, as "too much like the original" is one of their most common complaints. Particularly bad was giving Metroid Prime a 9.7, and then giving Prime 3 an 8.5.
- More reasonably, IGN's review rated Prime 3 a 9.5, only .3 points lower than the first game, and openly stated it would have gotten those extra three tenths if Prime hadn't done it first, as innovation counts for something.
- They even do it with Expansions. Check Heroes of Might and Magic V and watch the score decline despite the new features and overall increase in quality.
- IGN's worst offense: The original Backyard Basketball on the PC got a 6.5. It deserved the score because the game crashed a lot and the controls were weak. The follow-up on the PS2 improved on everything the original game did, adding nine more playable characters and making the controls like other NBA games; it got the exact same score. This has been a problem with other games in the series too.
- The founding Real-Time Strategy series, Command & Conquer, has legions of anti-fans who hate them for being more of the same, time after time, despite "the same" being just fine. Until recently, when it was revealed that that the fourth installment would completely change the game mechanics to not be dependent on base-building and tank rushes.
- Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation leveled this accusation at Nintendo, citing it as a problem he had with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, despite the fact that there hadn't been a new Super Smash Bros. game for more than six years, long enough for some entire game series to come out. It's also his main beef with all Nintendo franchises and Super Mario Bros. in particular (though he complains more about setting and character than gameplay with regards to Sequelitis).
- It's worth noting that Yahtzee was being very hypocritical here: four of Yahtzee's works have ended up being part of a series (Rob Blanc, Arthur Yahtzee, the Chzo Mythos and 1213), and while only five of his Top Games of the Year (out of 22) were standalone games (Dishonored, Bastion, Limbo, Red Dead Redemption, and Papers, Please, with Amnesia: The Dark Descent being a standalone at the time of release and The Walking Dead being episodic, now with a sequel), none of them were games of the year, and six standalone games have received Bottom (Dead Island, Mindjack, Never Dead, AMY, Beyond: Two Souls, and Ride to Hell: Retribution, the last of which received a Lifetime Award for Total Abhorrence). To clarify, he hates sequels made just to make money (Bioshock 2) or that do not evolve the concept at all (Super Mario Galaxy), but likes sequels that go in a new direction (Silent Hill 2) or keeps the good elements and removes the bad elements (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Far Cry 3).
- Despite being in a genre that desperately needs games this gen and being the sequel to what is considered one of the best games of all time, Super Mario Galaxy 2 has attracted sequelphobes based on a 90 second trailer, mainly due to apparently being a Mission Pack Sequel.
- Punch-Out!! for Wii caught some flak for not being different enough from the preceding games... the last one of which came out fifteen years previous.
- If a new Fire Emblem game is coming out, you can be sure that reviews are being written which either accuse it of being too difficult and its graphics as not being up to par, the combat systems not adapting the mechanics from the previous games and the graphics not being up to par... or the gameplay not being completely different from the previous installment, and the graphics (despite improvements) still not being up to par.
- MacUser rated the old arcade-style platformer Dark Castle 5 out of 5. Beyond Dark Castle had many more levels than the original, new types of levels including side-scrolling flying sequences and vast labyrinths, the transition from a One-Hit-Point Wonder to a health meter, and new items to use such as bombs — yet MacUser gave it only a 3.5, citing disappointment at it being "more of the same".
- Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4 completely changed the layout of story mode and more than tripled the content of the third game, but many gamers refused to give it a chance due to it being the fourth game in a yearly series. In a similar fashion, Proving Ground, which takes place in a whole state (well, three cities and the areas linking them), was not given a chance by many people because of the popularity of Skate.
- Some game series seem to get this even from quarters that aren't usually Sequelphobic. Dynasty Warriors and any other game in the Warriors series are recurrent offenders, usually on the grounds of It's the Same, so It Sucks, despite significant changes in game mechanics, play modes, and various other improvements. An infamous review for Bladestorm The Hundred Years War dismissed it as 'yet another DW buttonmasher by Koei'... despite the fact that Bladestorm was a squad based RTS, not a buttonmasher. On the other hand, Dynasty Warriors Strikeforce suffered from the criticism of They Changed It, Now It Sucks.
- Averted in the case of Thief II: The Metal Age. While most reviewers couldn't help pointing out the fact that the game looked and played exactly like the original, including the same user interface and end-mission mini-movies, the game was so incredibly good that they generally said this wasn't a problem, as the game improved upon its predecessor in several non-superficial ways. In this case, most reviewers were simply expressing dismay at the fact that the game didn't have graphics that could compete with other modern first-person games and would thus likely be overlooked by the public. And to a large extent, they were right.
- This article comments on the phenomenon, noting that Basketball 2009 is basically the same game as Basketball 2008 and nobody cares.
- Sequelphobia is the reason Masahiro Sakurai stepped down as president of HAL Labs. He was tired of people demanding Kirby sequels (even if the game was a sequel). He was even hesitant to work on Brawl, but decided to continue making Super Smash Bros. games once Iwata convinced him to.
- Master of Orion III shows what happens when the Sequelphobes get what they ask for. The designers said repeatedly that they were making "Master of Orion 3, not Master of Orion 2.5." And they did; they built a totally new game with a new interface, new mechanics, and so on. The result was a bloated monstrosity that ran far over schedule and over budget, and bombed on release. In retrospect, Master of Orion 2.5 would probably have been much better.
- Bioshock has this in spades; as soon as the sequel was announced, hardcore fans of the original were saying that the first game was now ruined, and that a sequel was both unnecessary and would somehow cheapen the original. It went From Bad to Worse when it was announced that the sequel was to be developed by 2K Marin rather than Irrational Games, and that it would have multiplayer. Ultimately the game was mostly well-received by critics and fans alike, though to notably less praise than the original thanks to sometimes seeming too similar. It wasn't until BioShock Infinite that the franchise received a sequel universally considered as good or even better than the original.
- There was a variation of this when Left 4 Dead 2 was announced, released one day short of a full year after the first's debut. Fans of Left 4 Dead were furious that the sequel was being worked on before their supposedly promised downloadable content for the original was released. So much so, in fact, that a boycott of several thousand players arose. It didn't play out, though: Valve invited the leaders of the movement to try out L4D2. The two left the HQ speaking very highly of the game, causing their own followers to break into those who changed their minds and those who called their former leaders idiots and wanted to go through with the boycott anyway.
- That being said, the developers did throw the die-hard L4D1 players a bone, as the second DLC The Passing was released both for the original and the sequel. Coupled with semi-frequent free giveaways of Left 4 Dead 2 and the eventual importation of all the original's content into the sequel, almost all of the fandom sticks with the second.
- Similar to the Left 4 Dead scenario, when Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was officially announced, only after the release of a fraction of a minute of gameplay footage, perhaps out of habit from the lackluster games before it, fans wanted to boycott Sonic 4. By buying Sonic 1.
- The Call of Duty franchise has been getting this reaction from both fans and non fans since the one year development cycle began with World At War. Considering the franchise is now popularly considered the exemplar of videogame Sequelitis, this fear was probably justified.
- The backlash was significant when details of Call of Duty 2013 (now known as Call of Duty: Ghosts) were leaked days after Black Ops II was released.
- Madden NFL also gets this, given that their games come out every year.
- This applies to video game hardware as well as software. Nintendo gets a lot of criticism for giving Product Facelifts to its handheld systems (to the point where some people claim that the early relatively poor performance of the Nintendo 3DS is due to people mistaking it for another redesign of the DS). Even entirely new video game systems get complaints from people who don't want to have to spend money on a new system to play new games if the older console doesn't get enough support as a Daddy System.