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- Advance Wars was a pretty fun strategy game, with a cool campaign mode to go through. Then came Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, which added onto the already fun gameplay, with more characters, a new unit, and a longer, more in-depth campaign mode with more unique missions. It also provided much-needed Characterization Marches On for some characters.
- The Adventures of Lolo was a classic NES game, but as the series went along, the games got better and better, expanding upon the concept and adding more puzzles, bosses, and such. In the third game, you can even play as Lala!
- Age of Empires was a decent real-time strategy game. However, Age of Empires II upped the population limit, improved the balance, and was generally considered one of the seminal games of the genre.
- Air Combat was a pretty cool game, Ace Combat 2 was even better, but it was Ace Combat 3: Electrosphere that really got the Ace Combat series going (too bad nobody outside Japan saw the original product). Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies is the best-rated AC game to date, while Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War easily tops it in the story, characterization, and gameplay variety departments. Ace Combat Zero: The Belkan War is generally agreed to equal its predecessor in these areas (the actual fan debate is over which of the three PS2 titles is the better offering), but the trend unfortunately stopped there. Ace Combat 6: Fires of Liberation, while a decent game on its own merits, is viewed as having taken a step back in everything barring the dogfighting mechanics and the sheer scale of combat ops (which has yet to be matched since); most of the other installments were sidestories and spin-offs relegated to handheld consoles and mobile devices; semi-Continuity Reboot Ace Combat: Assault Horizon was divisively experimental and featured a more generic "USA vs. Russia" narrative (sort of); and Ace Combat Infinity is a multiplayer-focused F2P game that pays homage to the entire series (the fourth game in particular). It remains to be seen whether the upcoming Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown will be a "return to form."
- Area Flat was a pretty neat Java Shoot 'em Up with polygonal graphics but otherwise didn't stand out too much. Area Flat 2 improved on the first by adding in more interesting bosses. Area Flat 3 topped both of them by adding in a background, more new mechanics like a Charged Attack and Smart Bombs, much better (but still polygonal) graphics, and multiple boss fights that were better than the previous two games.
- While the original Assassin's Creed I was generally liked by the gaming community, it was notorious for the somewhat repetitive nature of the missions (even the bonus ones) and its long, simplistic combat. The sequel, however, blew it out of the water by having improved dramatically in nearly every way from the original with a much wider mission variety, an improved combat system with more options, a more compelling main character and deeper story, more ways to get to your targets (and take care of them), and lots of fun extras for the completionists out there.
- Azure Striker Gunvolt, while considered a solid title, is also criticized for some of its shortcomings, such as the stage design, lack of weapon variety, It's Easy, So It Sucks!, and initial Bad Export for You, which made several among the Mega Man fanbase consider it an inferior Spiritual Successor. The sequel 2 addresses nearly all of these complaints with a complete translation from the start, Sequel Difficulty Spike with more complex levels and more difficult boss battles, and additions and streamlines to several of the game's systems, including equipment upgrades and the Challenges, not to mention the addition of a new playable character (Copen) who offers a very different game altogether. Combined with the train wreck that was Mighty No. 9, the other Spiritual Successor to Mega Man only months prior, 2 has received much praise.
- Baldur's Gate was a great and incredibly fun game that sold huge numbers and almost singlehandedly saved CRPGs, but was also a flawed game in many ways. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn gave its far more sympathetic characters greater depth (even with such simple characters as Minsc (and Boo!), and the development between the first and second), had more complex and varied maps, pitted players against much better designed and less repetitive combat encounters, topped it all off with stunning graphics accompanied by the most epic soundtrack ever, and removed many of the flaws. It also features Jon Irenicus, easily one of the most memorable Chessmater villains in any game, voiced masterfully by David Warner.
- Banjo-Kazooie was a good Super Mario 64 clone, with the player characters learning various moves to travel through nine separate levels that are accessible via teleportation from Gruntilda's lair. However, the game had little extras, an unnecessary life count and many events and collectibles reset if the player died or left the level. Banjo-Tooie gives even more depth to the gameplay, with even more moves, massive levels that interconnected together (and were all part of the overworld) with a few cross-level puzzles and a wider variety of characters to meet. There's even multiplayer modes and the option to replay mini-games and boss fights, infinite lives, and all events and collectibles stayed gone for good when finished.
- Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was a cult hit for the Gamecube, and a great RPG for a system sorely lacking in that category, but it suffered from several flaws: bad, bad, bad voice acting, a battle system that was overly complicated and relied heavily on luck, an irritating level up system, and several infuriating Guide Dang It! moments. Baten Kaitos Origins revamped the battle system to be quicker and simpler while still maintaining the strategic elements that made it fun, replaced the Fake Difficulty with real difficulty, got competent voice actors, and had an even better soundtrack.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum has been called by many the best superhero game of all time, and a good all around game in general. Its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, took everything that was awesome about the original Up to Eleven and added Catwoman as a playable character.
- Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a much better game than the 1st, and the second was released on PC whereas the first was not.
- Battlefield 1 is considered a superior sequel to the previous main entry Battlefield 4. While BF4 did gain a respectable fan base for its scenery destruction and epic 64 player battles, it suffered from a buggy launch state, the same modern conflict setting as in Battlefield 3, and a forgettable single-player campaign. BF1 significantly improved on its predecessor by keeping keeping the scenery destruction and 64 player battles, while at the same time having a much smoother launch, a refreshing WWI setting, and a single-player campaign that was actually good. Many fans have praised the game as the best installment in the franchise since Bad Company 2.
- Battletoads in Battlemaniacs, a sequel to the NES game, is a big improvement over the first title. Featuring a more balanced difficulty curve, better controls and graphics, an amazing soundtrack and, best of all, the option to turn friendly fire off. Sadly, it's just not as remembered as the first game (or as infamous).
- Bayonetta was widely considered to be a great action game, giving a large variety of weaponry, some beautiful scenery, incredible music and fast, frantic gameplay. However, it came with some problems of its own, including split-second Press X to Not Die sequences in unexpected places and an absolutely terrible Playstation 3 port with long loading screens and inopportune framerate drops. Bayonetta 2 came along and did away with all of these negative features, keeping a mostly consistent framerate and removing the maligned QTEs. Adding on to this, the weapon selection was diversified even further and the HSQ that the first game brought is cranked Up to Eleven. Many reviewers seemed to agree, with IGN giving a 9.5 and the likes of Edge and Gamespot giving perfect 10s.note
- While each beatmania IIDX game is, for the most part, better than the last in terms of features and making the songlist bigger, beatmania IIDX 20 tricoro is seen as a major turning point for the series in terms of quality-of-life features, with crystal-clear 720p video, heavily-revamped options menus, a standardized 4:3 aspect ratio for new videos rather than the oddly-shaped video window of past versions, and improved Hi-Speed functionality (making the Hi-Speed setting a direct multiplier and allowing it to be fine-tuned to up to two decimal places) that lets you play at pretty much any combination of scroll speed and lane coverage that you want. beatmania IIDX 21 SPADA would one-up this by allowing the player to change between Single Play and Double Play between stages in Standard and Free modes, rather than locking the player into either for the duration of their credit.
- Blinx the Time Sweeper was an overall average game with somewhat innovative gameplay and a rather generic storyline. Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space completely revamps the franchise, adding extremely well-designed (but long) levels, better controls, a better storyline, the ability to play a two-sided story as both the heroes and villains and an amazingly-detailed character customization system (highly unusual for a platformer). It's unfortunate the series ended when the developer, Artoon, went defunct.
- Borderlands was little more than an Indecisive Parody with an Excuse Plot. It was Gun Porn the Game. Borderlands 2 is a full blown parody, retains the Gun Porn, and has a legitimate plot that takes what little elements the first game gave it and makes it work. The story is much more involved with a Big Bad in Handsome Jack, even frequently being flat-out (darkly) humorous at times. The gun manufacturers all have their own distinct gimmicks that apply to weapons making their own sub-classes that can totally change how guns operate for better or worse. Revolvers, high accuracy shotguns, and machineguns for anyone but the Bandit-manufacturer have been removed or altered, unfortunately. Fights in general, particularly boss fights, are exciting and sometimes frantic. Lastly, the environments are vastly varied; in the first game, you start in a dusty desert-like area and stay there for much of the game. In the second, you start on an iceberg, and go through urban environments, caves, fire-pits, ultra-high-tech areas, etc.
- BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires had a certain simple charm, but its sequel, BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, is generally seen as a much better and more polished game in pretty much every way. (Their development times may have had a lot to do with this Spires was made in nine months, while Storm took nearly six years).
- Burnout and Burnout 2: Point of Impact were fun racers with an emphasis on dangerous driving and spectacular crashes. Burnout 3: Takedown put the driving and crashes together with the Takedown mechanic and made it even faster than its predecessors. It's regarded by many as the best racing game of its generation.
- Call of Duty:
- Say what you will about its balance, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is generally seen as better than its three awesome predecessors, enough to still have a tournament scene. If you're counting sequels in gameplay only, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is also sometimes seen as even better than that.
- For most people, Capcom vs. SNK 2 is the best game of the SNK vs. Capcom series.
- Cars 2: The Video Game is much more popular than Cars: The Video Game. In fact, its so popular, that not only did it get one of the most popular Let's Play videos ever, but dozens of entire channels have been created just for the sole purpose of playing the game!
- Opinion on which is the best Castlevania game mostly depends on whether you prefer the Classicvania or Metroidvania style of gameplay. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse featured improved graphics and the inovations of selecting different routes through the game and other playable characters, although it was much harder than the already extremely challenging original and was more frustrating to play. Not only did Super Castlevania IV feature improved graphics and sound, but featured better and more fluent controls. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is considered a big highlight of the series, as it codified the Metroidvania style that was first attempted in Simon's Quest. After a few attempts at recapturing the magic of Symphony of the Night on the Gameboy Advance, Konami finally succeeded with Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, considered by some to be the true perfection of the formula that Symphony had laid out.
- Cave shooters tend to follow this trope.
- DonPachi: A fairly simple Vertical Scrolling Shooter with few enemies and bullets, and few opportunities to combo things. DoDonPachi: One of the pioneers of Bullet Hell, and provides more in the way of Stuff Blowing Up.
- Mushihime Sama: An insect-themed shooter; fun but plagued by oddball scoring systems.
- Mushihime-sama Futari: Revamped shot types, a new character, much better (and more original) scoring systems, and a top-notch Xbox 360 port.
- City of Heroes is a successful recreation of the superhero genre in MMO form, featuring exciting combat, an amazing array of choices when it comes to powers and abilities, and a character creation engine that other MMOs wish they had. Nevertheless, it had problems (repetitive missions, long travel times, unpopulated zones, etc.). The sequel/companion game City of Villains uses fewer zones (thus avoiding underpopulation), has tighter content, and the storylines are much less repetitive. And best of all, it uses the same amazing character creation software. And yet, on many servers, Villains still has problems with underpopulation, because most people play Heroes. There's also Going Rogue, which sets the bar even higher in terms of zone design and plot, allowing you to actually seem like you're influencing the world. At least until level 20, at which point you go back to the worlds of CoH/CoV with only a few slight differences.
- Command & Conquer, specifically Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 and it's expansion, Yuri's Revenge. Red Alert grows beyond being an expy of the Tiberium Saga with this installment and many interesting gameplay additions are introduced. The Lighter and Softer camp elements add charm without completely derailing the game. The invasion of mainland USA scenario is as good as it gets. Stalin is hard to replace as a villain, however.
- Command & Conquer: Generals could be considered here, as its Zero Hour expansion may as well be a sequel in its own right. It provided a full set of new missions for each of the three major factions, and for multiplayer each faction received a set of three alternative factions, lead by a different general which focused unit attention on a particular thing. USA got a Superweapons, a Laser, and an Air Force general, China got Tank, Infantry and Nuclear generals, and GLA got Demolitions, Toxic and Camoflauge focused generals. Each have some unique units and general changes to the progression of their armies compared with the original three. This includes a new gamemode where you take on each of the new Generals in various, very lopsided 1v1 matches. All this on top of bug fixes, balance tweaks and a wider unit set.
- The original Cool Boarders was essentially a glorified demo released right near the beginning of the original Playstation's life cycle, and featured a minuscule three courses, two player characters and very little replay value. (Notably, it is the only installment of the series to not sell a million-plus copies and receive a Greatest Hits version.) However, UEP Systems looked at how the original game was received and overhauled everything for Cool Boarders 2 — many more courses, several skill-based trick modes, training courses, more unlockable characters (with stats that varied wildly)and a glorified tournament mode, along with two-person multiplayer. It became the first installment of the series to crack the million-copy milestone, and led the way for further snowboarding games (and installments of the series) to be released on the PlayStation.
- Croc for Game Boy. Quite emphatically so.
- DCII is this for the Da Capo franchise. The original was a generic cuteness Eroge. The second one had some surprising twists and turns and a plot that was actually moving.
- The first entry in the Dark Parables series, Curse of Briar Rose, is good but a completely straightforward puzzle game, with very little in the way of plot and almost no cutscenes. The second entry, The Exiled Prince, is nearly twice as long and much more in-depth with regards to plot, variety of puzzles, and detail. Subsequent entries in the series have been variably received, but the fandom is united at least in believing the second game is far superior to the first.
- The original Dead Rising mixed Survival Horror with a Wide Open Sandbox, giving players a large zombie-infested mall a la Dawn of the Dead (1978) to play in, items to play with, and amusing ways to dispatch the undead. It was regarded as being fun, if flawed: the controls tended to be awkward, the survivors had virtually no survival instinct, the time limit for story missions was very strict, the save system was prohibitive, and the game was too hard for some. Dead Rising 2 took the strengths of the previous game and improved upon its flaws: controls were more intuitive, survivors were easier to escort, the time limit for story missions was more relaxed, more save files, and the game was challenging but forgiving. Online co-op made the package all the sweeter.
- The first sequel to Devil May Cry didn't leave fans with this impression but certainly the second sequel, Dante's Awakening, set the world on fire with a substantially more complex combat system involving both a "Style" system and Real-Time Weapon Change for all arms for the first time in the series, the original game's notorious Nintendo Hard difficulty (possibly even moreso, prompting a reorganization of the difficulty levels for the Updated Re-release), and Dante's ice-cold stoic personality swapped back for the cocky, fun-loving devil hunter everyone remembered from the first game but Up to Eleven.
- Devil Survivor was a pretty good game, with a simple, but strategic battle system, interesting characters and Multiple Endings. Then came Devil Survivor 2. The second game has a lighter story, a slightly larger cast of characters, who are just as interesting as the previous game and improved the mechanics, as well as added more demons and races than the previous game.
- Diablo was a fun, quirky game that is still an excellent play, but its sequel Diablo II and its expansion Lord Of Destruction was so huge that many people are still playing it today, nevermind the number of clones it spawned.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy was widely considered a good, if at times unpolished, fighting game. The prequel, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, received universal praise for its refinement of the original game's mechanics, including an overworld in its campaign mode and assist characters. The inclusion of fan-favorite characters, such as Tifa and Kain, did much to make this game more beloved.
- Divinity: Original Sin was already the most polished and most critically acclaimed game that Larian Studios ever released. Then Divinity: Original Sin II came along and smashed every single record set by the previous game, from Kickstarter all the way to Metacritic.
- The first DJMAX Technika is a great and innovative Rhythm Game, breathing new life into the arcade rhythm game scene. Its sequel, DJMAX Technika 2, boasts a streamlined user interface, an unlock system that no longer requires you to complete missions (you simply go onto the Platinum Crew website and make your purchases there), and a less annoying way of unlocking alternate boss songs in Club Mixing sets.
- Donkey Kong:
- The original Donkey Kong Country was a technical marvel at the time, and considered a great platformer. Its sequel, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is considered far superior even to DKC1, with tighter controls, better graphics, and more varied gameplay. The third game is often labeled as a Contested Sequel, and even it got generally above-average scores after it was released. It says something about a series when even the "worst" title is still considered a good game.
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is widely considered to be better than his predecessor Donkey Kong Country Returns for a number of reasons: the return of Dixie and Funky, Cranky becoming a playable character, David Wise producing the soundtrack, more expansive levels, the difficulty being more manageable while still being quite challenging, and villains with more personality, to name a few.
- Doom defined the First-Person Shooter genre even more than its predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D, to the point that, for several years, FPS games were called "Doom clones." Doom II improved on every aspect of the game, with superior level design, more and deadlier monsters, and removing the episode system that was a relic of the first game's shareware origins.
- The original DonPachi is a pretty solid Shoot 'em Up, if a little sparse-looking by the series' standards. Then its sequel DoDonPachi was released and became a hit with its high bullet counts, changing the shmup genre forever.
- Dragon Ball Xenoverse was a well-received fighting game, combining gameplay that is like an improved and streamlined version of Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi with the ability to play as your own custom-made character. Dragonball Xenoverse 2 improves upon the original game with several tweaks to the game's engine that make fights faster-paced, a faster and smoother framerate, and expanded character customization options (including a unique Super Mode for each custom character race).
- Dragon Ball Z: The Legacy of Goku II was a Surprisingly Improved Sequel to the first game (you can move diagonally, the Kamehameha extends a reasonable distance, and there are multiple characters so you don't completely skip the parts of the plot that Goku was absent from in canon). The sequel, Buu's Fury, was built on the same engine and polished it even further (you can block, more than three of the special moves are actually viable, the transformation system is significantly improved, and there's equipment and shops).
- Dragon Quest Builders was already a fun story-based Minecraft clone with a Dragon Quest skin, but Dragon Quest Builders 2 improves on it in just about every way. The worlds are bigger, the plot is deeper, there's more items to work with, it's loaded with Anti-Frustration Features, and it even throws in multiplayer. Pretty much the only thing that didn't improve was the combat, which remains mindlessly repetitive.
- EarthBound Beginnings was well-received when it first came out in Japan and sold pretty well, but has attracted some criticism over its flaws, like an insane amount of grinding, unbalanced level design and a battle system ripped straight from Dragon Quest. EarthBound received better graphics and sound capabilities due to the upgrade from the NES to the SNES, cut down on the grinding by implementing an "instant win" maneuver for weaker enemies, polished the design noticeably, and revamped its characters somewhat (truly establishing Giygas as the horror fans know and fear). MOTHER 3 then expanded on this, making several gameplay improvements over EarthBound that vastly improved the battle system and greatly separated it from the Dragon Quest clone it once was. Its story and characters are more well-written overall, with more allegorical plot points, a better mix of comedy & drama, and a more emotionally-driven story, and has received high reverence outside of Japan to the point where it's widely regarded as one of the greatest video games ever made; some even think of it as a work of art! However, since it takes place hundreds of years after EarthBound, it has its own theme and setting rather than the Eagleland that the first two games were famous for, making it more of a Contested Sequel. In Japan, the majority opinion is that it diverged too much from the previous games, but the international fanbase loves them both in their own ways without really having a strong opinion on which of the two is better.
- The Elder Scrolls
- Arena was good, Daggerfall was considered even better, and many agree that Morrowind topped that, in terms of graphics, gameplay, and story. Oblivion's combat system is widely considered to be better, and it received a 94% from both Metacritic and Game Rankings, compared to Morrowind's 89%, although many Morrowind fans believe that the latter was still the best game overall. Also, there are quite a few people who think the the Shivering Isles expansion is better than the actual game.
- Based on the reactions from the public, Skyrim could be seen as this to Oblivion, having practically taken over every aspect of the gamer community, casual, hardcore, or professional alike, for months after its release, due to the expansive nature of the game. Fans of the series may feel otherwise though, as many consider the older games better for various reasons. On the other hand, the same fans will make the concession that the visuals are a major improvement over what they called "potato faces" in Oblivion.
- Endless Ocean: Blue World takes the basic gameplay (such as it is) of the original game and expands upon it greatly while streamlining several of the more tedious aspects and applying more structure to the previously random chaos. Judging by reviews it's been a major success in doing so, although the game is still quite niche in nature.
- Epic Battle Fantasy 1 was nothing special. 2 added save points, some basic customization, and an Excuse Plot. Then along came EBF 3, which quickly became one of the top-rated RPGs on Kongregate, thanks to a challenging, interesting combat system, excellent graphics, and even better music. EBF 4, released two and a half years later, then proceeded to unabashedly top all of its predecessors with a bunch of balance refinements, more customizability, a new player character, and more pretty graphics and music. Plus it nerfed Monoliths.
- The first Fable game had an infamous amount of hype during development. When it was finally released in 2004, it received mostly positive reviews, but it ultimately failed to live up to it's hype, as others were disappointed by the lack of many promised features, a somewhat small, restrictive game world and other flaws. Along comes Fable II in 2008, with more refined gameplay, a larger, more detailed world with more quests, and deeper sandbox gameplay that implemented many promised features from Fable. It received better reviews from all.
- Fallout was a landmark in the CRPG genre, with more freedom of action than any before it. Though you were given a broad goal, you were free to choose where you wanted to go and when, could interact with almost anything, and had numerous means of dealing with challenges based on your skills, abilities, prior knowledge, and personal morality, including defeating the final bosses with dialogue. Fallout 2, despite the bugs and cut content thanks to its rushed deadline, is an Even Better Sequel once the cut content is restored (via downloading an easy-to-find patch) and widely considered superior due to the removal of 1's time limit and more open-ended world.
- When it was released, Fallout: New Vegas was a Contested Sequel mostly due to the wide array of game breaking bugs, but also the change in setting and lack of graphical improvements. On the positive side it featured a lot more guns, new weapon mods, new ammo types, a more balanced skill system, an improved repair system, and more recorded dialog than not only its predecessors but any single player game ever at that point. Its crowning feature would be the four story DLCs in the game which were praised for their unique settings and interconnected story and themes. Still there was a hot debate over if it was truly better than Fallout 3 until, ironically, Fallout 4 came out and became another contested sequel. After that and the comparisons people started making between the Bethesda era games, suddenly glitches that had been patched years ago and slightly outdated graphics didn't seem like such a big deal. Fallout 4 is considered better in terms of gameplay and graphics, but New Vegas is considered far superior in terms of writing and actual RPG elements.
- Fancy Pants Adventures was a solid platformer, with smooth animations, and a few neat extras. It was a bit short, but that wasn't that much of a problem. Enter The Fancy Pants Adventures: World 2, with even better animations, smooth platforming that had solid controls, with tons of bonus levels, trophies, and pants. Then Fancy Pants Adventures was released on consoles (alternately called World 3), which upped the quality even more with achievements, headwear and pants, many, many minigames, and multiplayer.
- Final Fantasy was a landmark RPG, marred by certain technical limitations and poor balancing. The first sequel changed the system completely and wasn't widely liked and also wasn't released outside of Japan until much later, but it did swap out the personality-less player avatar's for actual characters. Final Fantasy IV (released as "II" in the US), however, marked the real Growing the Beard moment for the whole franchise. One could argue that there are even better games after that in the series, but considering Final Fantasy's fanbase... that wouldn't be a wise thing to do here.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the sequel to the already well-received Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The graphics are better, the story is darker and more mature, the characters (especially the protagonist) are better-defined and more likeable, the gameplay has been polished and refined, the class system has been expanded, and there's enough content to easily last you over 150 hours.
- The first Gears of War game was a knockout hit with some relatively minor problems. Such as how the story never felt like a complete whole but just a series of things that happens, and it isn't until act four (of five) that anything important gets done. And while that doesn't affect the gameplay much, there were some issues with weapon balance and variety. Gears of Wars 2 openly addresses the concerns and creates a game with a stunning level of scope, a much wider weapon variety (including a supposed shotgun nerf), and a true sense of a major war going on. While leaps and bounds greater than the first game, it is still with its own problems; the final boss is a joke, although the lead up to it is a lot of fun...
- God of War
- God of War II was received even better than the already very much loved first game, using the PlayStation 2 to even greater effect. (Although that doesn't excuse the Phoenix puzzle.)
- God of War III was even bigger, and is widely considered a Killer App for the PS3. Pity that Kratos went from a revenge-crazed but sympathetic Byronic Hero to a puppy-kicking, Ax-Crazy Villain Protagonist who's almost as bad as Ares in that one, though.
- Golden Sun was considered a great game, if a little bland in terms of characters (we have The Hero, the funny best friend, the kid Squishy Wizard, and the White Magician Girl) and plot (bad guys stole the MacGuffin! Let's go kill them before they use it to unleash the forbidden power!). Golden Sun: The Lost Age gave us a fresh perspective, more interesting characters/Character Development, a massive plot twist, multi-elemental Summon Magic, a more developed Class and Level System, even more Awesome Music..., it improved everything.
- Guild Wars made for a popular and well-received MMORPG that didn't have a monthly fee whatsoever, in part thanks to dividing the world up into instanced zones. However, this had the effect of making the game feel sparsely populated, as each map could only support a limited number of players. Guild Wars 2 upped the ante in every conceivable way. It played more akin to a traditional MMORPG, with a seamless and persistent world that could support thousands of players at once, five races to play as, and multiple crafts to take up. It replaced the traditional quest system with cyclical dynamic events that would unfold in real time and could result in small changes on the world depending on if they succeeded or failed. World vs World PvP was added to allow for hundreds of players to duke it out. And it was also released without the need to pay a monthly fee.
- While the original Guitar Hero was a success, the hammer-ons and pull-offs had a hopelessly tight timing window, forcing most folks to ignore them entirely and strum every note. Guitar Hero II fixed this, giving the gameplay a much more natural and fluid feeling. Add to this the second game's co-operative game mode (where one player plays lead guitar and the other can play either bass or rhythm guitar) and practice mode (where players could play any individual part of a song as slowly as they wanted until they got it right), and you're set. And now that the same team has made Rock Band, it's doubly true for them.
- Grand Theft Auto
- While Grand Theft Auto III was certainly the breakout hit for the GTA series and pioneered the Wide Open Sandbox genre, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City improved upon III in almost every way, with more refined gameplay, more elaborate and fun missions, a wider variety of weapons and vehicles to play around with, a deeper plot reminiscent of Scarface (1983) with more interesting and varied characters, and all of it doused in the glory of The '80s.
- However, that was nothing compared to the huge innovations that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas brought to the table. The game boasted a map nearly three times the size of Vice City, loaded it with a ton of extra stuff to do, improved upon virtually all of the previously-flaky gameplay aspects (especially the aiming and the plane controls), added some light RPG elements, gave us one of the most diverse casts of characters to date, and did for The '90s what Vice City did for The '80s. It's telling that, to this day, it remains many players' favorite GTA to date.
- While Grand Theft Auto IV was a largely successful next-gen transition for the franchise, a significant amount of players consider it to be largely a step backwards in all but the graphics department, as it did away with a lot of the defining elements that made San Andreas so beloved and was easily the darkest entry in the series to date. Then along came Grand Theft Auto V, which not only boasted the largest map in the series to date (Rockstart claims it's bigger than all of the previous GTA maps plus Red Dead Redemption's combined) but, for the first time in the console games' historynote , made it entirely accessible from the start. It also introduced the ability to switch between three different player characters on the fly, added in almost everything that went missing between San Andreas and IV plus much, much more, offered a deep multiplayer experience that rivals the single-player mode in terms of content, marked a return to the light-hearted fun that earlier games in the series were famous for... and that's without touching on the Updated Re-release. For those who don't consider San Andreas their favorite game in the series, it's usually this one.
- Half-Life 2 expanded on its predecessor in every way. The original was revolutionary in its use of storytelling techniques in a first-person shooter game, with superb level-design and gameplay insuring it would become regarded as a classic for years to come. The sequel featured a better graphics engine, with realistic physics and lighting granting a whole new level of immersion, and the same attention to polished level-design and fun, intuitive and balanced gameplay made Half-Life 2 live up to the legacy of Valve's debut title.
- Halo: Halo: Combat Evolved was the Xbox's killer app. Halo 2 was it on awesome, rock, more Elites, and a hotter Cortana. Halo 3 has a bit of a Broken Base on this subject, but the side that thinks this way normally sites the MP as being better. Halo 3: ODST was a return to the Halo 1 awesomeness mixed with the Halo 2 awesomeness. And it had the Halo 1 Pistol. And Halo: Reach, the last Halo game Bungie made before they handed the franchise off to 343 Industries, was praised by many as exemplifying the phrase "saving the best for last".
- Harvest Moon was a cult classic Super Nintendo game. It was full of awesome and Heartwarming Moments, excellent characterization for its system, and bright graphics; it was well-received though released too late in the systems lifespan to get any proper love. Harvest Moon 64 is considered one of the best video games the Nintendo 64 had to offer and upped everything that made the first game to eleven. It's also one of the few direct sequels to a previous game in the series.
- Heroes of Might and Magic: A Strategic Quest was regarded as having good gameplay, but lacking in the story department (IE, it didn't have much of one in the actual game). Heroes II corrected that (it might not have been the world's most original story, but it was well presented), enhanced the graphics but kept the same style, added two more towns, more creatures, the creature upgrading concept, skills learned as the hero gained levels...
- Heroes III would be a clear example, but there is a fraction of the fanbase that disagree with some of the decisions made for that game (mostly the graphical style — the first two games had a colourful style carried over from the Might and Magic series, while Heroes III went for a more Real Is Brown palette).
- Hexagon is a great game in and of itself, but Super Hexagon makes it even better with the addition of more stages and more music.
- Hitman series fits this trope quite nicely:
- Codename 47 was a nice stealth shooter with a great basic premise of kill target, get out quietly.
- Silent Assassin greatly improved the controls and allowed the player to play as an actual assassin in every single mission by including new options and assessment of performance (and allowed the player to save in mid-mission).
- Contracts is basically Codename 47, but with Silent Assassins mechanics. Half of its contents is a pack of refurbished missions from Codename 47., serving as a semi-remake of that game.
- Blood Money introduced "accidents", the notoriety meter and a more captivating, all-encompassing story.
- And then we have Absolution, considered to be the furthest thing a Hitman game should be. It's a decent game in it's own right, and even has stealth and disguising in Hitman-style, and it did bring in some nice features, such as the ability to throw weapons at people's heads, getting disguises from bodies hidden in containers, Crowd / Grass blending, and also a graphics overhaul.
- Hitman (2016) improved upon Absolution massively by reverting back to the roots of Blood Money and brought back the Wide Open Sandbox that Blood money was known for, as well as retaining some of the above features from Absolution.
- Hitman 2 goes one step further ands brings back working mirrors, improves the AI, brings back more Absolution features, and also bundles in the previous game (for free if you own the first game!)
- Hotel Dusk: Room 215 was a fun adventure game with some neat character interaction, animations and puzzles with a compelling storyline. Last Window improved on all of that, as well as providing more insight and development into the returning characters.
- Hulk was more well-received than the film by Ang Lee because it showed a more intricate story that takes place after the film.
- inFAMOUS was considered a solid, fun sandbox game for the PS3 with an interesting premise. inFAMOUS 2 upped the ante with more and varied powers, a more versatile city to run around in, bigger differences between the good and evil paths (as well as two separate endings), improved graphics (now utilizing facial mocap), improved physical combat, and had a more emotional and dramatic story.
- Injustice: Gods Among Us proved that Netherrealm Studios (of Mortal Kombat fame) could do comic book-themed fighting games just as well as their competitors, featuring both a gameplay engine based on Mortal Kombat 9 with tweaks that allow for environmental interaction, and a Darker and Edgier story in the DC universe that was enjoyable to play through. Injustice 2 further improves upon the gameplay while taking advantage of new technology on the PS4 and Xbox One to make the game look even better, in addition to expanding the roster with fan favorites such as Supergirl, Atrocitus, and Brainiac. The graphics were also improved.
- Jagged Alliance 2 surpassed its predecessor in every aspect of gameplay, music, writing, and humour. The game is longer, has more tactical features and weaponry, more mercenaries with a myriad of responses and interactions between each other.
- Sega's cel-shaded skating/platforming/"tagging" hybrid Jet Set Radio was, and still is, unlike anything gamers were playing at the time. This Dreamcast gem, while having some flaws, is regarded as one of the system's stand-out titles. JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future blew everyone's mind (and the bar set by the first game) when it was released on the Xbox. Impressive (if a bit flashy) visuals, refined gameplay removing the tagging commands while re-vamping the trick system, an improved story (even if it was a re-telling of the original's), improved character designs (making Gum and Cube Hotter and Sexier, and Yoyo a favorite amongst the female gamers), and a huge world to explore put it leagues ahead of its predecessor. One thing it didn't improve was its music. Then again, not like they needed to anyway. The music just turns me on indeed...
- Just Cause was an entertaining yet heavily flawed sandbox game and relatively obscure. However, Just Cause 2 was an unlikely sequel with breathtaking graphics, incredible gameplay, and adrenaline-rushing stunts. It enjoyed far more popularity and received far better reviews than its older brother.
- Kingdom Hearts II is considered an improvement over the original Kingdom Hearts at least in terms of gameplay, due to streamlining the combat and trimming other bits of fat and making for a faster-paced and more enjoyable and accessible game overall. The Final Mix rerelease is widely considered the best game in the franchise, and the story (while still highly debated compared to the first game) became more well-regarded over time as the series' Kudzu Plot became increasingly confusing with further sequels.
- Kirby's Dream Land was a good game but it was kind of short (only 5 levels plus an unlockable Hard difficulty with new enemies). Kirby's Adventure and Kirby's Dream Land 2 (for the NES and Game Boy respectively) addressed this complaint and also gave Kirby his iconic Power Copying abilities. Kirby Super Star took it a step further by adding multiplayer co-op, and more than one move per copy ability giving Kirby a completely different power set and appearance for each; it also had a greater emphasis on combat and would go on to serve partly as an inspiration for Super Smash Bros.'s gameplay.
- Klonoa: Door to Phantomile was a decent platformer, but Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil made it even better. Better story, better level design, better soundtrack, better graphics, etc.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- The Legend of Zelda was considered a masterpiece of its time. The second game (The Adventure of Link) was something of a divisive deal. Then on Super Nintendo, A Link to the Past, returned to the style of the first game, improved the graphics, gameplay and story, as well as making it a lot easier to work out where to go next.
- Then in 1998, Nintendo put out The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game that takes the best aspects of the prior installments and manages to make it even better, while averting the Polygon Ceiling even harder than Super Mario 64. Years after its release, it's still referred to as one of the best games (if not the best) ever made, even after years that included most of Metal Gear Solid, the real "blossoming" of Grand Theft Auto, the entry of Microsoft into the video game business, and the creation of an untold number of new intellectual properties in gaming. A Moment of Awesome for Nintendo indeed.
- Following Ocarina of Time, most of the Zelda games released after it were largely considered great, but not quite exactly being able to live up to it in terms of establishing a similar legacy of acclaim. That changed with the release of the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which stripped the formula of the Zelda series back to its fundamentals, and then adapted it into an open-world sandbox setting. The result has been universal praise far and wide from critics and consumers, with Breath of the Wild widely cited as not only a new standard set for open-world videogames, but also as one of the games of its generation.
- Lunar: The Silver Star was a charming if somewhat derivative JRPG with memorable characters and a fun story. The sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue, improves upon the game in almost every way with a more mature storyline, better developed characters, a better soundtrack, and an improved menu system that does away with the more cumbersome aspects of Silver Star Story's system.
- Lufia & The Fortress of Doom was considered a pretty decent, if unspectacular, JRPG, held back by some outdated gameplay decisions, average graphics and a rather cliché story. The prequel, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals, massively improved on all the original's flaws, featuring vastly improved graphics, a deeply emotive story, tons of new and improved gameplay mechanics (IP techniques based on equipment, Capsule Monsters, enemies who appeared on the map and would move with you), some of the best puzzles ever seen in a JRPG, and the insanely addictive Ancient Cave, which was practically a whole game unto itself, making Lufia II a Cult Classic still held in high regard today among JRPG aficionados (it was the installment of the Lufia series selected to be remade on the Nintendo DS as Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals). If you say "Lufia" to an old-school JRPG fan, it's almost guaranteed that this will be the game they immediately think of, outstripping even the sequels and its own remake.
- Macross Ace Frontier was a pretty good game, though it sorely lacked many things (like ubiquitous Mecha Expansion Packs and missing a lot of songs). Macross Ultimate Frontier picked up the slack, kept most of the things that was in Ace and added tons of new stuff. For example: giving Macross Zero a full scenario, split the original Macross between series and movie, the various packs were added, more characters and mecha, and added a shop which allowed people to buy some of the harder-to-get items (like some of the titles).
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes was a well-received fighting game, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes has become a hallmark of the entire fighting game genre. Gameplay was streamlined and faster-paced, the roster was expanded to well over fifty characters, and players could assemble teams of three characters at a time. Since its release, it has become one of the most popular and competitive fighters in the entire genre.
- Mass Effect is seen as a landmark RPG, reconstructing eighties-style space operas and combining epic storytelling with Third-Person-Shooter combat and a fluid choice system that allowed players to tell their story any way they want. The game wasn't without its share of problems, mostly in the combat department. It was hampered with such things as an ineffectual cover system, a dice-roll damage calculator, and tedious exploration segments, making it was a gem with a few noticeable flaws. Mass Effect 2 came along and embraced its Shooter side, creating a far better cover system, an aim-and-shoot damage system, and an even deeper choice system (in fact, all of the choices in the FIRST game count in this one). The story is darker and more mature, and the soundtrack got an epic makeover. Of course, some fans dislike the changes for good reason, but most enjoy the game, anyway.
- Master of Orion was considered an excellent strategy game for its time. Its sequel, however, is considered one of the quintessential 4X games.
- The first MechWarrior could be described as 'all right,' even for its time. It had a good Space Opera type plot (which was only fitting), but gameplay and art were both rather primitive, due to the game geometry being a rough collection of unshaded polygons. However, with the advent of Mechwarrior 2, the series exploded into the massive popularity that made it the defining mech-sim for a decade. Everything was improved—controls were tighter and more intuitive, graphics considerably improved to the point that 'Mech models could be discerned immediately, the popular customization function was included, and the game finally had some good music. It was somewhat lacking in story (being very linear and unfocused as opposed to the original's open ended setup with an overarching plot) but the sequels, Ghost Bear's Legacy and Mercenaries quickly remedied this with, respectively, a story arc which genuinely centers around the player and more freedom in choosing one's path through the game.
- Mega Man was a revolutionary combination of solid graphics, gameplay and soundtrack, widely regarded as a great game. Mega Man 2 improves on every aspect of the original, removes the unnecessary point system, garnering it universal praise typically referring to it as at the very least "better than the original." 2, 20+ years and four generations of console gaming after its release, remains securely entrenched as the best-selling installment of the Classic series. And then, of course, you have Mega Man X, which is another good example of Darker and Edgier done right.
- Metal Gear
- Say what you will about the bisexual knife-throwing Romanian vampire and the protagonist bait-and-switch and said protagonist's relationship with his girlfriend and that ENDING, but from a purely Tactical Espionage Action standpoint, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty absolutely trumped its predecessor in every single category. It had ridiculously upgraded graphics, tons of new weapons including the nonlethal M9 tranquilizer gun for those who wanted a hardcore Stealth Run, a much more realistic damage system, first-person aiming for more precise gunplay, the ability to hold up enemy soldiers for items, vastly improved A.I., and much-needed variety in the game's escort and sniping missions. While MGS3 and 4 later proved to be superior titles, they were really just perfecting the huge number of beneficial changes that MGS2 made to the series.
- Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake was an improvement over the original, but was never released in the US for fifteen years and was far from perfect. Metal Gear Solid followed it up with a grand epic story, becoming a Killer App for the PlayStation and was really the first game that felt like playing a movie, as well as showing that stories in action games could be far more than just an Excuse Plot.
- Citing Lucas Thomas from IGN: "The original Metroid established the setting and feel. Metroid II, from the Game Boy, elaborated on the story. But it was this game, Super Metroid, that pulled together all of the series' previously established elements, embellished them, and polished the experience of exploration, retraversal and power-up acquisition into a true masterpiece of game design." There's also the first Metroid Prime, which not only was considered a worthy follow-up to Super, but also became the highest-rated game of The Sixth Generation of Console Video Games.
- The fate of the Mortal Kombat series was called into question following a slew of games with lukewarm receptions that had hit the Polygon Ceiling and the subsequent closure of Midway. The series still found a way to live on with Mortal Kombat 9, a reboot that brought the game back to its 2D roots and helped bring the series back into relevance. Mortal Kombat X took the improvements its predecessor made and incorporated gameplay elements from Injustice: Gods Among Us, combined with a roster of characters old and new (including Crossover DLC with the Alien, Predator, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface) and a compelling continuation to the rebooted story started in 9.
- The original Motor Storm was a great game, but plagued with Loads and Loads of Loading, punishing Rubber Band A.I. and a general lack of content. Pacific Rift improves on everything that was problematic with the first while enhancing what was already good.
- Myst was an interesting game that, at the time, looked great, and helped bring point and click adventure games further into the mainstream. However, the game itself can seem a bit dated—the plot can be confusing at times, the world feels very empty and dead, the puzzles can be needlessly obtuse, and the visuals don't hold up as well. On the other hand, Riven is essentially an improvement over everything that made Myst good at release—the plot is much more engaging, with the player having a more personal role in it, the world feels alive and interesting, the puzzles (while still fiendishly difficult) are at least somewhat sensible, and most importantly the visuals (even at such low resolutions) still look pretty damn impressive. Many fans wondered how Riven would be topped—then, along came Myst III: Exile, with fascinating and sympathetic characters, much more logical approaches to puzzles, breathtaking environments, a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, and visual design that still looks incredible to this day.
- Naughty Dog is known for always seeking this type of achievement with their games:
- The original Crash Bandicoot game started the whole style of gameplay for the games and is widely considered a PS1 classic, but the game was too difficult, the controls were too touchy, and collecting the gems was a chore. Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back refined the gameplay a lot, and sported better graphics and music. Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped added relics, improved the presentation even further, and is widely considered the game where Naughty Dog perfected the gameplay.
- Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy was a fairly respectable and appealing collect-a-thon that could have been the PS2's answer to Super Mario 64—but like that game, it also suffered from very low difficulty and short length, and a pretty thin story. But Jak II: Renegade took the series in a completely new direction after that, and it turned out all for the better—the story became a million times better, the overworld system of the original was altered to be suited around mission based gameplay rather than just grabbing as many objects as possible, the difficulty was considerably beefed up (for better or for worse), you had a new power-up where you could turn into a raging killer monster if you collected enough Dark Eco that only gets stronger as it gets more powers, you got to use cool gun weapons, you could hijack vehicles ala Grand Theft Auto, you could compete in races, you got a hoverboard, the levels and bosses were much more elaborate and fun, and the whole game is an example of a Darker and Edgier turn done right. And Jak actually became a real character, and learned how to talk, too.
- Naughty Dog repeated the same feat again with Uncharted in a way that even trumped their past sequels. Put it this way: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was considered a great action-platformer-shooter, a compelling-but-not-perfectly-persuasive reason to get a PS3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves? Currently ranked as the ninth-best game of all time on Gamerankings.com.
- Need for Speed:
- Need for Speed: Underground was a huge success (80's to 90's across the board) and introduced the entire idea of tuning and customization as one of the main components to the games. Admittedly, it had its flaws (lots of Rubber Band A.I., a sudden spike in difficulty, most cars handled the same, there were some glitches where you dropped through the floor and so on), but it was loved by fans and critics alike - which was also helped by the fact that it (in)directly was promoted by The Fast And The Furious and vice-versa. It's not universally agreed with, though, considering that there were six installments before it, and they are nothing like this game.
- While Underground was a success, it got stomped by its younger sibling, Underground 2 in 2004. Underground 2 took everything from Underground and made it better (though, admittedly, it still had many of the bugs and iffy things the first one had). The races were still quite tough. The cars were mostly the same, some were dropped but in the end there were ten more rides available (including three SUVs). It had vastly extended options for visual tuning. Hell, you could even take your ride to the dynamo and fine-tune the ECU, turbochargers, gear ratios, etc. to be perfect for you. But the best thing about it, aside from the epic soundtrack was the possibility to roam a decently-sized city. Actually, you had to roam the city to find all the stores to shop, events to enter, and racers to outrun. Not for nothing is Underground 2 in constant battle with its successor of the title of "best NFS" or sometimes even "best racing game ever".
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted in 2005. Showered with praise from critics and fans alike and can be well considered a killer app for both the then-launched Xbox 360 and the older sixth generation consoles (PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Nintendo GameCube). It combined the roots of Need for Speed (luxury cars with a huge price tag starting once you were in the top 10), added in some Hot Pursuit (police chases were re-introduced) and some Underground 2 (a large free roam map and [though in comparison to its predecessor, limited] customization). The graphics were very nice and scenic to look at as well and the music, tastes and preferences alike, was especially awesome, considered by many to be the best NFS soundtrack to date. It also is one of EA's most successful games at six million sold copies worldwide. As mentioned above, it is in constant battle for the fan-voted throne of the best game in the Need for Speed franchise and sometimes even voted the greatest racing game of all time.
- Need for Speed: Shift was considered a good-but-not-great semi-sim racer in 2009, and helped the franchise recover from the disasters that were ProStreet and Undercover. Shift 2: Unleashed managed to fix many of its flaws while refining gameplay and is considered better than its predecessor. It helped that EA Black Box, who assisted Slightly Mad Studios in the first Shift's development but had fallen from grace at the time, did not work on the sequel.
- Need for Speed itself didn't get much attention until the third game dropped the simulation aspects of the first two games for arcade action and focused on the police pursuits that the first game had.
- Neverwinter Nights, was generally well received, with a lot of variety in character options and was highly praised for its. However, it's story was seen as unmemorable by some. Then came the Shadows of Undrentide expansion, which was markedly better, and finally Hordes of the Underdark, which completely blew the previous two away.
- Mask of the Betrayer was an Even Better Sequel for Neverwinter Nights 2, containing a smaller band of more developed characters, a much better overarching story, and such complicated literary devices as symbolism and foreshadowing, as well as focusing on a less cliched mission.
- Rare Fan Sequel example: Nexus War took everything good about Urban Dead and made it better.
- Ninja Kiwi's games often fall under this (notably, Bloons Tower Defense and SAS: Zombie Assault): For Bloons Tower Defense, the first game had a common tactic to complete the game with Dart Monkeys only. The second game changed that by adding difficulty levels, more towers, lead and rainbow bloons, monkey glue, and road spikes. The third added some more tracks, with difficulty selections on each track, a bit more towers alongside more upgrades, a M.O.A.B., removing the frustration of only placing one set of road spikes at a time, and freeplay mode. The fourth is given music, redesigned art for towers, a title screen, a login system, more towers, premium upgrades, more tracks, and different game modes. The fifth topped it all off with highly detailed art, the return of the upgrade paths, keeping the login system, more music, sounds, and towers (plus upgrades), stronger mooks, a daily reward system, daily challenges, special missions, and much more.
- NieR was a brilliant tragedy game. However, it fraked over the players too much, the gameplay itself was ultimately boring, it wasn't well balanced, and the game doesn't really get good until you've already beaten it once, and have to replay the exact same levels again. NieR: Automata? Is by Platinum Games, giving their skilled gameplay a combination with Yoko Taro's brilliant storytelling. The end result? Pure perfection.
- No More Heroes helped the Wii stand apart from its competitors with its unique art style, violent action, thrilling boss battles, and Suda51's signature quirkiness. No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle improves upon this base by focusing on the action. While the decision to remove the original's Wide Open Sandbox proved divisive, the tweaks and improvements to the gameplay, the new bosses, the Character Development, and side-jobs being retooled into Retraux NES-style minigames were met with nigh-unanimous praise.
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was an excellent game, but its sequel Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus is generally agreed to be better, with more interesting maps and areas, new features that only served to improve the gameplay (such as flying Sligs and being able to have multiple Mudokons follow you), more challenging puzzles, and a quick save feature that addressed the Checkpoint Starvation that made Oddysee so difficult.
- One Finger Death Punch: The original game was a White Sheep for its developer, Silver Dollar Games, who up until then had only produced cheap throwaway games (usually about farting or cats). The sequel takes everything the original did Up to Eleven, making an incredibly fun, easy to play rhythm/brawler. Has everything from greatly improved graphics and music, to new skills to learn, lots of new more interesting maps and levels, while keeping the Stylistic Suck stick figure aesthetic. It even has options to texture the characters and put faces on them for those so inclined (the stick figure aesthetic is the default).
- Overlord introduced novel gameplay features and a likable cast of extras, but never really developed the third-person slasher beyond a few puzzles to be solved by those novel features. Overlord II shipped with the mandatory visual and audio upgrades. It also expanded the cast of personalities and the personality of the cast, upgraded the previous features seamlessly with new, presented maps that put them to ingenious use, and most ballsy and brilliant of all, let the minions (the fan favorite) take the spotlight in gameplay and story without taking away control or credit from the player.
- Pac-Man: Championship Edition received positive reviews, praising the successful reimagination of the franchise. Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX received even more positive reviews. Eating a train of 30 ghosts for a massive score jump, anyone?
- How could the original Pac-Man get even more addictive? How about randomized mazes, ghosts with unique movement patterns, and more power-ups? Slap a bow on it and you've got Ms. Pac-Man.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has everything you could hope for in a sequel a more interesting and much more complex story, it expanded on the originals combat, has all the humor of the first one with extra, its got all the style of the original with better graphics and overall it's a direct upgrade over the original which was already pretty good
- Persona 3 was an excellent, intelligent game combining tried and true RPG devices with an intriguing social simulation system. Persona 4 greatly improved the battle system, provided even better artwork, smoothed out the pacing and writing, and generally provided a more cohesive gaming experience. However, there are people who think Persona 4 was vastly inferior to the third.
- Persona 5 cherry-picks many of the best aspects from past Persona games (including the first two). In tone, it's much closer to Persona 2 and 3, but keeps from being as depressing. Battles are much faster with many animations and menus streamlined, and all sorts of new features such as two new elements, the return of negotiations and guns for all party members, and commands such as passing extra turns to other party members or switching out party members mid-battle. Social Links (called Confidants in this installment) have also been improved gameplay-wise, which each one now providing additional benefits beyond the fusion EXP boost and additional Personas.
- And there are also people who think all the newer games are inferior to Persona and Persona 2. Looking at them all, however, most agree that the original was the worst, so many argue over which of the later four games are the best and give all four of those games this status compared to the first.
- The first 2 Phantasy Star games were important as some of the earliest examples of JRPG's, however, they also have a lot of grinding, punishing difficultly and are quite light on story, making them difficult to get into. 3 was rushed and a Contested Sequel. Phantasy Star 4 is styled much more after modern JRPG's with plenty of story and character interaction, a lighter difficulty curve and faster pacing, such that it is still cited by many as one of the best JRPG's ever.
- Phantasy Star Online is a fondly-remembered MMORPG that took the series in a bold new direction, being one of the first MMOs on a console and being a solid hit on the Dreamcast. After the flawed Phantasy Star Universe and the niche Phantasy Star Zero, fans got the true successor they were clammoring for in Phantasy Star Online 2. Gameplay was streamlined, faster-paced, and more action-oriented; and the game's Character Customization options put others to shame. The decision to make this game Free-to-Play (as opposed to subscription-based like the original Online and Universe) was initially met with skepticism and worries about the game becoming Pay To Win, but (Southeast Asian version notwithstanding) those fears have been put to rest.
- Pikmin was a good game, but too simple, and the time limit could be a bit suffocating. Pikmin 2 added far more depth to the gameplay and replaced the scramble to collect all the ship parts with a long adventure to find all the artifacts you could find that much better suited the gameplay and overall mood of the game; it also has a much bigger selection of Challenge Mode stages, and introduces multiplayer. Pikmin 3 is shorter than Pikmin 2 (as it removed underground caves), but otherwise a vastly enhanced experience with bigger overworld areas, a more intrincate story, clever and unique bosses, and impressive music and visuals.
- Pokémon Red and Blue were already popular and still are, but Pokémon Gold and Silver are still claimed by fans as the best Pokémon games ever, chiefly due to the staggering amount of cool new features it introduced. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were even criticized for getting rid of several of those features.
- Pokémon Black and White (and its sequel) have also been getting a lot of praise, finally changing the formula a bit by having only new Pokémon until you beat the game, a much more fleshed out plot, and a very expansive postgame. It can be said that HeartGold / SoulSilver, the Black / White games, and X / Y form a trio of modern-era Pokémon games released in the same timespan that are regarded as some of the best games in the series, receiving less flak and far more unanimous praise from reviewers and fans than previous games after Generation II.
- Despite praise for the mechanics of Black and White, and their respective sequels, some of the Pokemon◊ designs◊ were◊ met with incredulity from long term fans in particular. However, Pokémon X and Y has seemed to enchanted both old and new fans alike, particularly due to its inclusion of all generations of Pokemon from the beginning, as well as improving on everything fans liked from previous series (even if the graphics have been criticised).
- Pokémon Mystery Dungeon made its impact with the Red/Blue Rescue Team series, with fun gameplay and an answer to the age-old question: What if you were a Pokemon? However, it's most noted for its surprisingly powerful story, which seems to be subtly aimed at an older demographic than that of the main series, and its excellent soundtrack. Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky took everything that was praised about the first series and made it even better, and its story is considered perhaps the best of all Pokemon games.
- Portal 2 is considered by many to be even more awesome than Portal, as the second game vastly expanded upong the first, giving us new characters, a new story, and more gameplay features. It all adds up to about 6 or 7 hours of gameplay as opposed to the first game's 3 to 4 (or around 30 minutes if you've already beaten it), plus a co-op mode that's about the same length and filled with all-new puzzles.
- The original Power Stone was a delightfully chaotic 3D fighting game. Power Stone 2 took the chaos and cranked it Up to Eleven: more characters, four players fighting at once, danger-filled stages that changed over time, and in the home console versions, a veritable armory of weapons to craft and brandish, from such classics as lead pipes and pistols to the bizarre and outlandish like lightsabers, pet dragons, and the Mega Buster.
- Prehistorik was a nice but very short and easy So Okay, It's Average Euro-platformer starring a caveman who attacks dinosaurs and animals with his club. The sequel Prehistorik 2 expands the levels adding lots of hidden areas and hundreds of bonuses scattered around, and gives the protagonist new weapons. Then came Prehistorik Man that became bigger than ever, with more than 20 levels packed with secrets, faster and more challenging gameplay, better music and graphics, added vehicles and even more weapons, plus had new helper characters and an actual plot. The only reasons it was ignored were that it came out in a period (1995) when 2D gaming was thought to be obsolete, plus it was a Super Nintendo game, a console already overloaded with platformers. The 2013 Prehistorik remake was hot garbage, though.
- Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a critical success with excellent atmosphere, storytelling and platforming, but with rather simplistic combat (especially once you learned you could vault over almost everyone.) Prince of Persia: Warrior Within took one step forward and another step back with improved combat and a more open world, but a very jarring and divisive Darker and Edgier tone. Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones is widely considered to have combined the best of both worlds, with the second game's combat and a Prince that's back to his Deadpan Snarker ways from the first game, while his smouldering with generic rage self from the second game metamorphosizes a darker Split Personality that he has to wrestle with throughout the game.
- The first installment of the Professor Layton series, Curious Village was a revolution in gaming, opening up a whole new genre. The sequel, Diabolical Box, built on top of it, with better, more elaborate mini games, a very interesting plot and a wider variety of backdrops, making the game's world seem bigger. It also introduced the Memo function, which was a big help when it came to puzzle solving.
- Quest Of Yipe. The first game is very simplistic, has a ridiculous amount of Level Grinding, and has only two tasks to complete. The next game has slightly better graphics and further advances the gameplay. With the third game, the graphics improve massively (by late-90s Macintosh standards at least), and the game introduces a much, much larger world with far more side quests.
- Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army was a Cult Classic action-RPG, well liked for its real time combat, classic Shin Megami Tensei demon designs, likable characters, and fun setting. However, gameplay was rather clunky and a bit repetitive and the designers made some truly baffling choices in development. The sequel, Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon went out of its way to fix and streamline the game. Combat was much faster pace, classic demon negotiation replaced a button mashing minigame for recruiting demons, healing was now a reasonable price (the healing NPC even mentions that she's lowered her prices, as if to tell fans of the first game that she's actually viable now), and players can fuse demons at any save point rather than waiting between missions. It led to players having a very hard time going back to the original after playing the sequel.
- Insomniac Games did this with Ratchet & Clank. The first game was a fun platformer with cool weapons, but had a few complaints about Ratchet being an unlikeable Jerkass. Going Commando was a fun platformer with cool weapons that upgraded with use and were modifiable, Ratchet's health increased with enemies defeated, the incredible Charge Boots were added, there was fun space combat, there were all new gladiator-esque arenas, the "Quick Select" menu paused the game while it was up, and the New Game+ (instead of just letting you restart with all your gear as it was in the first game) turned into "Challenge Mode" wherein there were new weapons and upgrades to be purchased, with a Money Multiplier, and tougher enemies. Plus, Ratchet was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap and became a Deadpan Snarker. Up Your Arsenal cranked up the weapon upgrading features from one upgrade to four in the main game (and two upgrades to three in the New Game+), added the "Lock-Strafe" control mechanism, added a new and improved weapon-switching mechanic, allowed two rings on the Quick Select rather than just one, and best of all, added a very good online (and offline) multiplayer mode, while retaining all the pluses from the previous game. Then, the Future trilogy made things even better with a more in depth story and some of the best graphics on the PS3.
- Rayman, considered good already, underwent a massive upgrade for Rayman 2: The Great Escape, adding a better plot, many interesting or funny characters, extra action, a ton of Scenery Porn, a neat soundtrack, and more well-designed levels.
- Red Dead Revolver was a mid-console-life Western-themed shooter that was, while fun and incredibly stylish, seemingly incomplete. This is because Capcom started the production, cancelled it, and sold it off to Rockstar, who finished it and polished it as best they could. The end product is fondly remembered but still only a Pretty Good Game, at best. Its pros outweigh its cons, but it still feels like it's missing something. Then, Rockstar made Red Dead Redemption, which has been hailed by no less than the New York Times as one of the finest games ever made, and a strong contender for the case for Videogames As Art.
- The pinnacle of the Resident Evil franchise is almost universally thought to be Resident Evil 4. The second game in the series was considered the franchise's high mark before 4, since 2 did away with a lot of the Narm Charm voice acting while expanding on what made the first one work. The fourth game, however, totally reworked the series to perfection. More Third-Person Shooter than Survival Horror, it set the standard for third-person action games in its console generation and the next, inspiring such works as Dead Space and the Batman: Arkham Series. And every RE game since 4 has tried to emulate it.
- Saints Row was a fairly standard GTA clone. However, when GTA 4 decided to get all serious about things, Saints Row 2 decided to have fun, gave the player much more to do, and as a result is much better than the first one. Saints Row: The Third was a Contested Sequel, although it was generally regarded to be a good game in its own right. Then came in Saints Row IV which totally blew The Third out of the water by adding in super powers, a more intricate story mode, coupled up with a story line which does not take itself very seriously, and generally making everything from The Third better in some way or another. Even detractors of The Third's Denser and Wackier turn on the franchise liked it.
- Secret of Mana for the SNES was a great game, but was sorely lacking in replay value. Its sequel, Trials of Mana, improved tremendously on this aspect with three different potential final bosses, each with their own set of endgame dungeons and Dragons, as well as six unique characters to build a team of 3 out of. The addition of the class change system (4 final classes per character) meant that there were hundreds of different party combinations to try out. (This does make the fact that it was never formally released outside of Japan until 2019 an enormous sore spot for Mana fans.)
- Shadow Hearts was altogether an excellent game. The sequel removed every flaw from the original, doubled the gameplay length (a two-disc game on the PS2 was a rare thing), and improved every aspect of the game. Reviews will tell the same story.
- The first campaign for Shadowrun Returns, Dead Man's Switch was decent enough, but it was short, linear, didn't give the player much flexibility to solving their runs outside combat. Meanwhile, Dragonfall offered a longer campaign that allowed for more branching, had side quests to tackle, more varied missions, moral quandaries to face, and gave the player a crew of well-rounded characters to fight alongside from beginning to end. And then Harebrained Schemes made the Director's Cut of Dragonfall, which added even more content, cleaned up the interface, and tweaked the base mechanics to make combat even more tactical.
- Shenmue was well-received and gained a large cult following. The follow-up Shenmue II treated fans to a much bigger and far more interesting array of locations, more diversionary and moneymaking activities, and a better-paced story packed with much more action.
- Silent Hill 2 is widely considered superior to its predecessor due to its more original and complex narrative, which to this day is regarded as a great achievement in video game horror stories, and one of the greatest for video game storytelling in general. It also has an excellent soundtrack.
- The original game, albeit suffering from "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny, started off rather exceptional for its day, being the father of the Sim, Wide Open Sandbox, and strategy genres of games to follow, but was even more improved with its first sequel Sim City 2000, which introduced new transportation options, zoning options, and a whole new isometric view, as well as several other perks.
- It was then somewhat topped by Sim City 3000, which kept the same isometric view (but a little more realistic than previously) and added more realistic features such as waste management, aging infrastructure, and neighbor deals. The Unlimited version of 3000 also added an Asian and European tile sets.
- However, despite what some say about 2000, all fans agree that Sim City 4 (and its Rush Hour expansion pack which then led to Sim City 4 Deluxe) is by far the greatest game to be made of the SimCity franchise for its deeply challenging gameplay and the boosted shelf life thanks to countless GameMods, despite being possibly one of the earlier users of the Real Is Brown trope.
- After suffering some Sequelitis with the contested sequels SimCity Societies and Sim City 2013, the series has seen something of a return to its former glory with the fan Spiritual Successor Cities Skylines, which, thanks to its vibrant modding community, many say is probably as good as, if not better than, Sim City 4.
- While The Sims may have been the best-selling PC game of all time, The Sims 2 delivered everything the fans loved about the original while adding a bunch of features that had been on players' wish-lists for years: greatly improved graphics, more attractive neighbourhood backgrounds that can also be customised to an extent, fully 3D animation as opposed to isometric, the ability to zoom right in to the room with the characters, an in-depth character creator as opposed to a choice of pre-created skins, days of the week and weekends/days off work, more realistic life stages, ageing, family relationships, a proto same-sex marriage option... and that was just the base game. Over ten years after its release, it's still generally agreed to be the best game in the series: many players have long since uninstalled The Sims (with even those who can forgive the clunky graphics and relatively simplistic game-play are put off by its ever-increasing list of compatibility issues with newer operating systems), and The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 are both Contested Sequels by large parts of the fandom (though both, particularly 3, do have their fans) - while The Sims 2 comes out as the overall winner for still being compatible with newer systems, being the easiest in the series to mod, being light on the issues caused by micro-transactions and support server losses, and the game-play and graphics standing the test of time.
- Sin and Punishment is a great rail shooter, only marred by the analog stick controls (although the game is designed around it). Sin and Punishment: Star Successor takes full advantage of the Wii's pointer functionality for more refined controls, succeeds in being significantly longer and more epic without resorting to Fake Longevity (an impressive feat considering the genre of the game), cranks up the intensity of enemy combat and boss battles, and boasts smoother visuals and framerate.
- Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus was a well-liked game, albeit very linear, straightforward, and simplistic. Then Sly 2: Band of Thieves comes along and completely nukes the original with its "job-based" game play and much more emphasis on the Grey and Gray Morality of a game where both the heroes and villains are thieves.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Sonic the Hedgehog was a fun platformer for the Genesis that featured the novel concept of rolling into a ball and smashing into enemies at high speeds. Unfortunately, the game required you to accelerate for lengthy periods before you were allowed to do this, and many of the levels were standard platforming affairs, with few of the rollercoaster-esque slope and loop designs the series later became known for. The sequel added Sonic's best friend Tails, more varied bosses and enemies, better music, multiplayer, streamlined level design, Sonic's trademark Spin Dash ability and Super Sonic; which critics and the general public have not only praised as the best Sonic game in the franchise, but is also what some critics consider one of the best games ever.
- Sonic 3 & Knuckles is widely considered by many as an even better game than Sonic 2, namely for its large expansion of the formula that is comparable to that of Super Mario Bros. 3 (mentioned below). Three playable characters (Sonic, Tails, and new foe-turned-rival Knuckles), each with their own gameplay abilities; levels that were absolutely giant in size and filled with secret paths and character-exclusive routes, new shields with special powers and protections, "bonus stage" minigames, a save mode, and another set of emeralds that unlocked Hyper forms even more overpowered than the preceding Super forms. The presentation was essentially superb as well, with richly detailed graphics and excellent musicnote , zones that changed in appearance and sound between acts (or in some cases, during the act itself), and a story that emphasized Show, Don't Tell, with cutscenes that conveyed the narrative without any use of dialog. The only reason it's not indisputably considered a better game than Sonic 2 is because didn't get as much exposure, due to the game being split into the following Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles respectively. Thankfully, the latter game's "lock-on technology" —which allows the two games, when connected together, to be played as the intended singular title— has helped Sonic 3 & Knuckles grow in stature in the years following its release.
- After a string of controversial games with varying degrees of quality and value, along came Sonic Colors, a game that surprisingly received critical acclaim. note The following game, Sonic Generations, took the gameplay from Colors and improved upon it while adding gameplay reminiscent of the classic Genesis games and taking players on a trip through Sonic's history.
- Soulcalibur was quite an improvement on Soul Edge/Soul Blade, to the point that most younger people think the series began with Soulcalibur. In turn, Soulcalibur II would fine-tune the gameplay formula of the first Calibur; it is widely seen as not only the pinnacle of the Soul series but a masterpiece among the fighting game genre. Soulcalibur III and IV, while by no means bad, had a very Tough Act to Follow and don't quite measure up to the high standards of II. This is also the point in the series where Sequelitis began to seep in, culminating with the extremely polarizing Soulcalibur V. With all of that said, there are fans who believe that Edge did certain things better than its sequels (Edge Master Mode, the more Asian feel of the story and setting) and see the original game's Breakable Weapons as a good tactic that was unfortunately shafted in later games.
- Space Channel 5 was an awesome game. Then Part 2 came out, and took everything in the game and made it even better. Some people consider it to be "The near perfect sequel." The main improvements were larger variety of songs and better control response.
- The original Spyro the Dragon was a creative, if underwhelming, platformer, with a unique premise and decent challenge. The sequel, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, however, managed to take everything good about the first and build on it. Spyro could swim now, instead of dying on repeated contact with water. New moves were available, power-ups were invented, levels were expanded and made less linear, and the controls got tightened up considerably. Mini-games became important, there were secrets scattered all over the world, and the game rewarded exploration and innovation. There was also introduced a cast of memorable NPCs, when the original game was mostly only Spyro. The third in the series, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, managed to make it even better.
- SSX was widely regarded as the best launch game on the PlayStation 2, with incredible graphics for its time, easy to learn but surprisingly deep gameplay, and awesome music. SSX Tricky added smoother, faster gameplay, much improved load times, a boatload of new characters, tweaked tracks, and more awesome music.
- Star Control was a fairly good Turn-Based Strategy/Shoot 'em Up game based on Space War. Star Control II took the combat mechanics and the All There in the Manual backstory and added an extremely well-written Action-Adventure story mode, and quickly became a beloved Cult Classic.
- Star Fox 64 took a fun SNES shooter (Star Fox) and increased the variety of missions, balanced out the weapon power ups, actually made your teammates useful for something other than anthropomorphic shields, and just seems to run better. Notably, it was intended as Sequel Displacement, since the designers considered it the definitive remake of the first game.
- The original Star Wars: Battlefront was a excellent mix of strategy combat and shooter game, blessed with complex but recognisible maps and splendid sound effects. The sequel took all that, and added an achivement system that actively rewarded players, as well as a much wider collection of maps, units and game modes. And playable Jedi.
- Taken even further in the PSP games where they let you customize your unit's load-out and stats, before joining battle, and while the battlefields aren't quite as expansive and complex as the PS2 games, (at least in Elite Squadron) they combined both planet-side and space combat into one battle rather than making them be separate battlefields like Battlefront 2 had done while greatly improving the fighter controls in the process.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Jedi Alliance, an Action-Adventure for the Nintendo DS, was fun but had various issues such as a lack of content, lack of variety and lack of checkpoints. The sequel, Republic Heroes (not to be confused with the eponymous but completely distinct game on other platforms), improved upon (or did away with) pretty much everything that was wrong; it did have some issues of its own, but these were relatively insignificant.
- Star Wars: Dark Forces was an innovative, successful shooter on its own merits. But the sequel was markedly better, with the apex in terms of story quality coming with Jedi Outcast. The most recent game, Jedi Academy, suffers from a somewhat lackluster story in comparison with its immediate predecessor, but Academy's gameplay and mechanics are best in the series.
- Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat both have this. The original Street Fighter was a somewhat popular, if RIDICULOUSLY hard fighter that was a nice change from Karate Champ. Street Fighter II came out, and launched the fighting game craze of the 90's and has been the inspiration for every fighter made since. For MK, the first one was popular (for obvious reasons) but the second game introduced the series' signature dark tone, and is widely considered to be the best 16-bit MK game, and possibly the best of the series.
- Streets of Rage was Sega's successful answer to Capcom's Final Fight for the Sega Genesis. It had decent gameplay, a memorable soundtrack, and the game even had multiple endings. The second game in the series took everything Up to Eleven, and would go down in history as not only one of the greatest Genesis games ever made, but one of the greatest video games of all time.
- Suikoden was one of the PlayStation's first great RPGs, with a boatload of colorful characters to gather and play with. Suikoden II retains this aspect, revamps the turn-based war sequences, adds several plot twists and player punches, and introduces the player to one of the most deranged villains in all of RPG-land.
- Super Mario Bros.:
- Super Mario Bros. was a great game. While its immediate sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2, wasn't as well-received in either the Japanese version or the American version (though both certainly have their fans), Super Mario Bros. 3 took the already superb gameplay and level design from the original game, and added all kinds of great new features, such as more power-ups, the overworld map, new abilities, and a much greater variety of enemies and levels. It is universally considered one of the greatest —if not the greatest— videogames ever made, and went on to become one of the highest-selling videogames of all time. History repeated once again with the fourth installment of the series, known in the West as Super Mario World, which introduced novelties like Yoshi, the Ghost Houses, and a non-linear overworld map. It also stands as one of highest-selling games of all time (actually outselling Mario 3 by a couple million units), and is usually contested with Mario 3 as the best (2D) Mario title.
- Super Mario Bros. was also an improvement over the original Mario Bros..
- Super Mario 64 was also a great game, and the first real 3D platformer to get the gameplay in general right and be the codifier for many future games. Super Mario Galaxy topped Super Mario 64 in the 3D Mario series. It got better reviews from many critics, brought back the airships, had more epic everything and with its 97%+ reviews, even was ranked higher than The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for a while, currently ending up being the second best game of all time review wise on many review aggregate sites.
- Later on, Galaxy got a sequel itself, which might have scaled back on the depth of the story somewhat, but more than made up for it with several gameplay-updates (most notably the return of Yoshi) and absolutely phenomenal level-design. It is forever contested as to whether the game is truly better, but it's at least on par with the original.
- Super Mario Land was an already-decent Mario platformer on the Game Boy, but Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins was even better, getting better review scores, having more levels, more interesting enemies and bosses and far better graphics and music. Wario Land (Super Mario Land 3) might be even better than that, getting some reviews of the Virtual Console version saying it's even better than the games starring Mario.
- Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon fixed the flaw that was most complained about in the first game, the short length, and gained almost universal praise.
- Super Mario 3D Land was a good, if relatively unambitious, game. Super Mario 3D World took all the best elements of its predecessor and ran with them, taking the platforming action of Land and placing it in bigger, more exciting and adventurous levels on a more expansive and open level map (as well as some other things, like the Captain Toad mini-stages and slot machine bonuses), on top of doubled the number of playable characters to four later five. It received almost unanimously better reviews.
- Paper Mario was a great game for the RPG-starved N64, particularly thanks to its semi-action battle system. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door took that battle system and cranked it to eleven, adding Stylish Moves, the audience mechanic, and Action Commands for the special moves, among other things.
- Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga is already considered a classic in the JRPG community, but Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is considered superior by some people for a few reasons. Some of those reasons being that Fawful is the main villain and you can play as Bowser.
- While Super Mario Kart was a huge success, catapulting the genre of go-kart video games, it was Mario Kart 64 which amplified the popularity by offering an addictive multiplayer mode and memorable tracks like Moo Moo Farm, Sherbet Land and Yoshi Valley.
- The original Super Monkey Ball game for the Gamecube had 118 stages in the addictive main mode and had 6 high-quality minigames, making it well-received by critics all around. Then comes Super Monkey Ball 2, which throws in 150 new stages, a playable story mode, brings back all 6 minigames from the original game, plus 6 more. The result had even higher ratings and was what many fans say is the highest point the series has ever made.
- Super Robot Wars:
- The classic series was merely a massive excuse to throw a ton of mecha series into the same plot for the lulz, and the plot was not very thick at all (though F/Final subverts this). Super Robot Wars Alpha was when the storywriting really took off, and the series attained fans for its story, not just its novelty. It also helped that the attack animations from Alpha onwards actually looked like, you know, animations. As opposed to static sprites sliding around with some hit effects thrown in.
- Super Robot Wars has gone through this numerous times even from game to game. The original NES game had a clunky (and practically worthless) upgrade system, the inability to select your mission lineup, no limits to overpowered attacks (more of a hindrance than a help, really) and you always had to counter enemy attacks. 3 changed things up for the better though still had a long ways to go. All in all, each game in the Classic Timeline built on the engine of the previous one, and Alpha brought it all together. Alpha Gaiden finally gave it that little extra polish by finally discarding a few gimmicks that didn't work (double movement) and including new ones (support), and then Advance brought in team attacks.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- The first game was already awesome despite its low budget. It's a satisfying crossover that takes twelve iconic Nintendo characters and puts them together in a great Platform Fighter, which combines great fanservice and frantic yet fun gameplay. Its sequel Melee takes that base and cranks it Up to Eleven by improving on it in absolutely every way; it has a much bigger playable roster, more stages, more music, more gameplay modes, collectible trophies for that extra layer of fanservice, and a tighter, faster-paced gameplay that's further enriched from the original by adding side special moves, among other elements. It was such a huge hit that it became the Nintendo GameCube's best-selling game, and is largely credited for introducing the then-Japan-exclusive Fire Emblem series to Western players.
- Although Brawl is a bit more divisive among the fanbase because of controversial changes, it's nonetheless seen as a vast improvement upon Melee in most regards. The gameplay was further enhanced by the inclusion of a Limit Break system, an expansive story/adventure mode was added, the music was unbelievably expanded with not only genuinely great musical tracks, but also a much, much vaster number of tracks to choose from, and the series introduced its first two Guest Fighters: Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog. The critics also liked Brawl more than Melee, giving it such positive scores as 93% on Metacritic, and awards such as "Fighting Game of the Year" of 2008 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.
- Team Fortress (and its pseudo-remake Team Fortress Classic) was very innovative and created a FPS sub-genre, but was very lacking thematically. After 9 YEARS in development out comes Team Fortress 2, with 9 distinct characters recognizable by silhouette or voice alone each with their own nationality, personality and unique weapons, plus the hats and the constant patches and fixes both major and minor valve keeps handing out. For free! Unless you own the Xbox version, in which case you don't get them at all. You can thank Microsoft for that.
- Tecmo Bowl was a hit in the arcades and NES, but come 1991, Tecmo Super Bowl would earn the hearts of many. While there were only a handful of playable teams in the original Tecmo Bowl, every NFL team (and most of the players) were playable in Tecmo Super Bowl. Super took the gameplay of the original and made it more lenient, even adding different modes of play, making it the ideal football video game of its time.
- The first Tekken was not a particularly remarkable game, and was seen as a Virtua Fighter clone, featuring blocky graphics, cheap music, and boss characters who were direct clones, as well as not many special moves. The home versions did not have any extra modes apart from Versus and Options modes. Tekken 2 addressed all the issues and added a lot more cool characters and many modes. Tekken 3 then established the series as a force to be reckoned with, but Tekken Tag Tournament took all the great things about Tekken 3 and improved the graphics, music, gameplay and character selection. So great was the reaction to Tag that Namco were criticised for the pared down roster in Tekken 4, and quickly reintroduced most of the older characters in Tekken 5 (which is also a very popular game in the series).
- Tetris: The Grand Master is a great Tetris game sure to challenge those who think they're good at Tetris. Then there's Tetris: The Grand Master 2 (and TGM2 PLUS), which pushes the challenge even further for a more intense game.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, a playable musical tribute to a quarter-century of Final Fantasy games, got a big upgrade in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call. More than just a Mission-Pack Sequel, Curtain Call triples the size of the original game's soundtrack and character roster, made the main single-player mode more engaging (Curtain Call's Quest Medleys offer a wider selection of playable songs than the Chaos Shrine from the first Theatrhythm), offered the option to play with any combination of the stylus/buttons and Circle Pad, and added online play. It even incorporates songs and characters from several of the spinoff and sequel games (X-2, Tactics, Crystal Chronicles, etc.).
- Tomb Raider II is this to some fans of the series, as it managed to add in several little things to make platforming faster and more creative (namely, ladder-climbing, more fluid jumping and the ability to make Lara do a 180-roll mid-jump), doubled your arsenal for taking Mooks apart with, and pushed past the graphical limitations of the original — while maintaining the difficulty and fun-factor, the resulting game not feeling "archaic" like the first one might. Then Tomb Raider III is sometimes considered the best game in the series, as it greatly improved on graphics, sound, and controls (adding integral new moves like crawling and sprinting), but featured a ridiculous difficulty level. Finally, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation is easily the most ambitious classic Tomb Raider game, a massive sprawling adventure set entirely in Egypt. After the first four games, the series lost its footing.
- The Touhou games for Windows are generally considered an improvement on the PC-98 games, but many Touhou fans still agree that the PC-98 games weren't exactly shabby to begin with. A lot of fans are still hoping for certain PC-98 characters to return in future Windows installments.
- The NES version of Konami's Track & Field was a well-received conversion of the early 1980s arcade game. Track & Field II, released the following year to coincide with the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, was a huge improvement, with better music and more realistic (for the time) graphics, and the addition of several new events such as fencing, the high dive, and the pole vault. It also included a password function to save the player's progress after every three events in Olympic Mode ("Championship Mode" in the North American release).
- Transformers: War for Cybertron is a decent third person shooter, taking the concept to a beloved 80's franchise and doing well enough by taking it through a path very similar to the comic books, revolving around deep political intrigues amid the firefights. As a game, it's mostly known for its interesting boss fights and the fact that, well, you're Transformers. Then came Transformers: Fall of Cybertron, regarded as one of the best Transformers-based games ever, with a strong central plot traveling through the viewpoints of both factions and a dozens of well-known characters, including fan favorites like Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave, Starscream, Jazz, Grimlock, Bumblebee, and more. It offers enjoyable sections for everyone, including big brawling fights, (optional) stealth gameplay, and high-speed vehicle combat sections to bring it above its predecessor. The final level even goes as far as to play like an episode of the 80's cartoon, complete with the faction-symbol transition as players switch viewpoints from Autobots to Decepticons and back again. Between Generation One inspired visuals, well known names providing voice acting, and many, many nods to famous moments the franchise's history, the game pays off the anticipation of fans in a big way.
- Twisted Metal for the PlayStation was a great game, but it had its share of flaws. It was easy to crash into walls, all the buildings looked the same, controls felt "slippery." Then Twisted Metal 2 came out and many consider it the greatest Vehicular Combat game ever made, as well as being the best-selling game of the series.
- The original Titanfall reviewed well, but was generally considered a somewhat lackluster shooter. The sequel, on the other hand, is generally considered to be much improved over the original, but suffered from very poor early sales.
- The even entries in the Uncharted franchise are better received than the odd entries. The first game, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune falls into "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny and Early Installment Weirdness territory but is seen as an enjoyable, if safe action adventure game with awesome production value and storytelling. The second game, Uncharted 2: Among Thieves successfully built on what the first game did well and fixed its problems. It's also held the test of time better than Drakes Fortune and is still considered one of the best games ever made. The third installment, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception was very well received and is a good game but it never quite hit the highs that Among Thieves did. When the fourth game, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, made the jump to the PS4, it came with a lot of new gameplay features that added to the experience. The more emotional, character-driven story is also seen as a better sendoff than what Deception would have offered if it had been the last game.
- Vermintide II was considered to be a better game than its already well-received predecessor, owing to the fact that it greatly expands on the class system (three classes for every character as opposed to just one), includes more enemy variety with the addition of the Rotblood Tribe, expands the environments to be far more open and changes the loot system to be less reliant on the Random Number God. The game's sales seemed to agree, as it managed to sell half a million copies in the first week of launch, a feat that its predecessor took half a year to accomplish.
- Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, was somewhat imaginative and creative Real-Time Strategy game for computers. Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, built on that: It added naval and air combat, better graphics, more easy-to-use controls, a more original story, cooler units, and removed the need to build roads in order to build your towns. The work paid off, and WC2 was Blizzard Entertainment's first game to win "game of the year" awards from several publications. Beyond The Dark Portal, the expansion pack, was one of the first expansion packs, particularly for a strategy game, to feel more like its own game as opposed to a campaign cobbled together from random missions. Years later, Warcraft III: The Reign of Chaos added RPG elements that differentiated it from StarCraft, the company's earlier super-popular hit RTS. The story was one of the best told in a strategy game and the very powerful Map Editor allowed the creation of custom maps that are still being made and played today.
- Wii Sports was a solid pack-in game for the Wii showcasing what the system could do and being extremely accessible to the general public. In turn, Wii Sports Resort would not only serve as an excellent demonstration of the Wii MotionPlus's improved control, but it went beyond that by having more than twice as many games, even more individual game modes, more depth, if subtle, to several of the games, and the inclusion of in-game achievements.
- The second expansion pack of World of Warcraft (Wrath of the Lich King) makes significant improvements over the first (Burning Crusade), especially in the way it gets players involved in the plot and makes them feel like they are having an impact in the world (something that's particularly hard to pull off in an MMORPG). Other improvements include significant revisions to class balance, a return to the high fantasy roots of the game (many considered Outland to be too Magitek for the game's theme), and a main villain who's tightly integrated into the story. In Burning Crusade, Illidan makes a few brief appearances, but otherwise seems content to sit in the Black Temple and wait for players to come kill him.
- The original Yakuza was considered a groundbreaking Wide Open Sandbox Beat 'em Up with a compelling crime drama story. The gameplay was very rough around the edges, though, and the dubbed voice acting was hit-and-miss. Yakuza 2 improved greatly upon the original, from refining combat and reducing load times to foregoing an English dub in favor of preserving the Japanese voice acting for a more authentic story.
- Zone of the Enders only sold well because of the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The game was decent but it suffered from repetitive battles, criminal shortness and whiny and cliched characters, leading to a somewhat mixed reaction. As such, many people who liked the original concept were happy to see the sequel, The 2nd Runner, tighten up the controls, give you twice as many options in battle and include a long and interesting plot to follow. They were even more surprised to see whiny and annoying characters in the first game return in style, having leveled in badass in the intervening time between games.