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B-Team Sequel

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When executives have a hit on their hands, the first thing they tend to want is a sequel to cash in on the hype. But sometimes the creators don't cooperate. Maybe it would take a long time to really do a sequel justice and the execs want a quick turnaround. Maybe the creators have become tired of the franchise and want to move on to something new. Sequelitis Or maybe one or more key creators fell victim to Author Existence Failure.

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Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be), there's a compromise solution: hand it off to the B-team and let the original creators either take their time to make the "real" sequel or move on to whatever they'd rather be working on next.

This often happens in video game franchises. Since a totally new sequel with new assets and even a new engine can take many years to create, publishers will often task a different studio with making a quick-and-dirty Mission-Pack Sequel while the original studio takes their time to make the "real" sequel. Some annualized franchises even alternate years between the A-team and B-team.

In film, this often happens when the original director steps back into a producing or consulting role, and is sometimes accompanied by a "soft reboot" in which previous installments are still canon in Broad Strokes but there's a major tonal shift. As such, the line between this and a full Reboot can sometimes get fuzzy.

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This is de rigueur in comic books, where until relatively recently franchises very rarely stayed in their original creator's hands; thus, only especially notable comics examples should be listed.

Naturally, results vary, and many a Contested Sequel has come about due to this practice. Sometimes the B-team feels too beholden to the original, leading to cries of It's the Same, Now It Sucks!. Of course, if they stray too far, fans may cry that They Changed It, Now It Sucks! because Only the Creator Does It Right. Either way, it's a leading cause of the Sophomore Slump in video games and movies.

On the other hand, sometimes a fresh set of hands can lead to a Surprisingly Improved Sequel or Even Better Sequel; if and when the original creators do return to a franchise, they might be surprised to find that fans now consider the "B-team" to be My Real Daddy. In extreme cases, the cycle can continue with the B-team becoming the new A-team when the franchise is handed off to a third creator years or even decades down the road.

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Another major cause of a sequel falling into different hands is when a group runs afoul of Creative Differences. If one vision contrasts with another, it may become a tug-of-war for creative control until someone wins out. In other situations, problems may arise that force one group to bail out, or sell off the rights to produce if they go bankrupt. Contracts can affect where these rights go and when, and if companies divide, it's possible the work will be handled by a replacement group, some of which may have divergent ideas from the original. There is also Sequelitis, the trend where works fall out of favor when new installments don't do the previous ones justice, and a lot of the time, it's because someone gets too fast and loose with the elements of a work and creates a big mess as they run out of ways to keep the magic going. The simplest fix is to hand it off to new blood with decent ideas to employ.

If a new creator only finishes a work that's already been extensively worked on by a tragically deceased predecessor rather than come up with an entirely new sequel, see Posthumous Collaboration.

Compare Changing of the Guard, which is when a sequel focuses on different characters, and with which this sometimes overlaps.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Although he occasionally did some minor consulting or character design work, Akira Toriyama largely left the Dragon Ball franchise in the hands of various other writers and artists after the end of the Dragon Ball Z anime; most notably, he had little involvement in Sequel Series Dragon Ball GT, which many fans treat as a Dork Age. This changed with the newer Sequel Series Dragon Ball Super, the first Toriyama-headed Dragon Ball series in almost two decades. Though, in the case of the anime at least, all he does is provide designs for some characters and a plot outline of the major story beats; the vast majority of the content including all of the Filler Arc episodes (which constitute at least half the runtime) are still Toei's work, making it 75% an example of this trope (he's slightly more involved with the manga version and occasionally illustrates and writes pages for it on top of reviewing every chapter, providing the story, and doing designs, but most of the 'grunt work' of illustrations and dialogue plus some minor plot points are still done by Toyotaro). Notably, Super largely retconned GT into Canon Discontinuity. However, with Dragon Ball Xenoverse introduced, a plug-and-play multiple reality situation goes into effect, and Super also touched on the idea of multiple universes and timelines existing.
  • Downplayed with Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, which changed animation studios from Diomedea to Studio Comet, but retained some staff from the original (although quite a few notable production roles changed hands between staff).
  • For the second season of Psycho-Pass, there was change in the animation studios (Production I.G to Tatsunoko Production) and main writer (Gen Urobuchi to Tow Ubukata). The end result became a Contested Sequel as Ubukata revealed that he had to "fill in the blanks" when he was told of the movie's plot. The movie had the original studio and writer back and was better-received than Season 2 was.
  • The animated series of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- was done by Bee Train but after the Rekord arc, the rest of the second season had a lot of fillers. This led to a change of animation studios from Bee Train to Production I.G. and staff with Nanase Ohkawa of CLAMP to adapt the rest of the arcs into two OADs, ignoring the filler material from the TV series.
  • There was also a change in the animation studios and director in Hoozuki no Reitetsu because Wit Studio, who were in charge of Season 1, had been very busy with other shows which leaves Studio DEEN to do the OVAs and Seasons 2 and 3.
  • FLCL Progressive & Alternative are spearheaded by new writers, but they stay firmly rooted in the spirit of the original FLCL and take many cues from it.
  • Both the anime and the manga of Fairy Tail have been subject to many distinct changes of production. The first anime was criticized for being somewhat Off-Model from the manga's designs, featuring over-saturated colors, using magic circles for all the spells cast that weren't in the manga, and toning down a lot of the violence and Fanservice. This was the setup up before the anime went on hiatus in 2013. In 2014, the anime went under new production which toned the colors back to more like what is seen in the traditional ink colored art of the manga, removed the spell circles, made the characters accurate to their designs in the manga, and gained better reception. However, it also had some faults, coming at the cost of losing nearly all its signature songs (the rights of which belong to Ponycanyon) and replacing them with shaky imitations by the same composer. The second anime ran until 2016, with a third anime to cap off the run of the original manga to air in October 2018. On top of all this, Fairy Tail advanced over to a new author while the original stayed on as a storyboard artist, co-creating Fairy Tail: 100 Years Quest while launching a new series, Edens Zero.

    Films: Animation 
  • All of the Direct-to-Video sequels made by Disneytoon Studios fall into this, since they were Disney's animation sub-studio as opposed to their in-house animation department that makes the Disney Animated Canon films. In some cases, such as the two Cinderella sequels and Bambi II, this was out of necessity as almost all of the original artists that worked on the films had long since passed away or retired.
  • Every single animated feature directed by Don Bluth likewise had almost all of their sequels shipped out to outside studios or departments, and Bluth had no involvement with them. Bartok the Magnificent was the lone exception since it was directed in-house at 20th Century Fox's animation department by Bluth himself to keep his animators busy between work on Anastasia and Titan A.E..

    Films: Live Action 

    Literature 
  • After Douglas Adams died with his The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series finishing on an unsatisfactory note, Eoin Colfer was brought in to write a final book, which was released to mixed reviews. Although Adams said in interviews that he eventually intended to write a sixth book, what few notes he left on the subject are unrelated to Colfer's ...And Another Thing and were instead packaged together with a half-finished Dirk Gently manuscript and various other scraps and musings and posthumously released as The Salmon of Doubt.
  • The Millennium Trilogy was originally supposed to be a ten-book series, but Stieg Larsson died after completing only three books. Another writer was hired to continue the series with The Girl in the Spider Web. Although Larsson reportedly left behind partial manuscripts for a fourth and fifth book, they are in the possession of his girlfriend, who does not approve of the continuation of the series by ghostwriters, and these materials are not used in Spider Web.

    Live-Action TV 

    Video Games 

Action-Adventure

  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate. The game was made by Ubisoft Quebec after Ubisoft Montreal took a break following the infamous Assassin's Creed: Unity, making them rethink the future of the series.
  • After Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City, A-team developer Rocksteady wanted plenty of time to create the last game in the trilogy, Batman: Arkham Knight. To keep the series going, WB Games Montreal was given a turn at the wheel with the prequel Batman: Arkham Origins, using modified assets from the previous games. note  General consensus is the gameplay is too derivative of Arkham City but the story takes the series in an interesting direction.
  • Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time, the fourth game in the series, was developed by Sanzaru Games, the company that handled the HD Trilogy re-release, rather than Sucker Punch.
  • Dark Souls II falls square into this. Series creator Hidetaka Miyazaki supervised the production of the game, but most of his attention and that the original Dark Souls team was on making Bloodborne, which was in development around the same time. To add to this, the original director, Tomohiro Shibuya, left the project under uncertain circumstances (though it's been alleged that the original version didn't feel very much like a Souls game) and a new director took over from there, around the halfway point in production. This goes some way toward explaining why Dark Souls II is considered the weakest game of the franchise by many.

Adventure

  • When Dizzy creators Philip and Andrew Oliver decided to concentrate on developing games for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Codemasters sought another developer to continue the series on home computers. Big Red Software's Magicland Dizzy went over well enough that Codemasters made Big Red their new A-team, and let them develop almost all subsequent Dizzy games aside from the few that the Oliver Twins coded for the NES. Crystal Kingdom Dizzy, however, was assigned to another B-team, Visual Impact.

Driving Game

  • Stuntman is an interesting double example in that the sequel had both a different developer and publisher. The original was developed by Reflections and published by Infogrames under the Atari brand name. The sequel, Stuntman: Ignition, was developed by Paradigm Entertainment and published by THQ. Also interesting is that the companies that worked on the first game outlasted the companies that worked on the sequel.

Eastern RPG

First-Person Shooter

  • After the success of BioShock, creator Ken Levine and developer Irrational's ambitious plans for what eventually became BioShock Infinite made for a six-year wait. In the meantime, publisher 2K tasked B-team 2K Marin with creating BioShock 2, which turned out to be a Contested Sequel. Detractors criticized the recycled setting, derivative premise, slow start, and shoehorned multiplayer; proponents cite the improved gameplay and mechanics and excellent third act, and even the solid-but-forgettable multiplayer found an audience. The Minerva's Den add-on is lauded as one of the best pieces of DLC ever made by those who actually played it, although a late PC release doomed it to relative obscurity.
  • After "finishing the fight" with Halo 3 and performing a few victory laps with Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach, A-team Bungie officially handed the Halo franchise over to B-team 343 Industries starting with Halo 4. 343 was spun off from Microsoft Studios specifically to shepherd the franchise after Bungie's departure from Microsoft in 2007.
  • Metroid Prime Trilogy:
    • Nintendo's decision to entrust the then-unknown American developer, Retro Studios, with the task of creating a successor to the immensely acclaimed Super Metroid was quite controversial when first announced. The revelation that they were going to bring the series into 3D via means of First-Person Shooter elements didn't help matters. Of course, this reaction was totally flipped around when the game, Metroid Prime, actually came out, with it receiving high praise from both fans and critics, and producing two direct sequels. If this didn't cement Retro Studios' status as the Metroid series' Real Daddy, then the critical and commercial power bombing of series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto's own 3D entry into the series, Metroid: Other M, certainly did.
    • Metroid Prime 4 is not being developed by Retro Studios, but by a new, currently unknown development team.
  • The Call of Duty series was created by developer Infinity Ward. However, after the success of the second game, Activision tasked developer Treyarch and later developer Sledgehammer Games to make their own installments so that a Call of Duty game could be released every year. After Jason West and Vince Zampella were fired from Infinity Ward in 2010, which studio is the A-Team became a lot more arguable.

Rhythm

  • After A-team Harmonix was purchased by Viacom and left to develop Rock Band, the Guitar Hero franchise was purchased by Activision and given to B-team Neversoft starting with Guitar Hero III.

Sports

  • A-team Neversoft handed the keys to the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater series over to B-team Robomodo in 2007. The series was already the poster child for Sequelitis, but Robomodo managed to make it even worse by tying their debut effort, Tony Hawk Ride, to a barely-functional skateboard peripheral, resulting in record lows for the series in both review scores and sales. Ironically, Neversoft left its signature franchise to itself become a B-team, first for Guitar Hero and then briefly for Call of Duty before being absorbed into Infinity Ward.

Platformer

  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
  • Donkey Kong Country Returns: After finishing their work on Metroid Prime, Retro Studios were tasked with reviving yet another Nintendo series, Donkey Kong Country, which again did with high approval for the final product. This was also a case of the original creator being permanently unavailable, as Rare, the developer of the SNES DKC games and Donkey Kong 64 had been left Nintendo and now works under Microsoft.
  • While Keiji Inafune and his team at Capcom created the story and characters for Mega Man X3, most of the actual game development was palmed off to Minakuchi Engineering — who had previously handled the line of Mega Man (Classic) games on the Game Boy — as Capcom were in the process of transitioning their development systems from 16-bit to 32-bit. The end result was generally considered to be fairly mediocre, though still better than the later, Capcom-developed Mega Man X6 and X7.
  • The Game Boy Mega Man (Classic) games (otherwise known as the Rockman/Mega Man World series) qualifies on its own, with I and III through V being developed by the aforementioned Minakuchi Engineering. While these games turned out to be respectable in their own right, since the director assigned to them was a fan of the series and wanted to do it justice, the second game was developed by a B-team of the B-team—Biox (then Japan System House), whose programmers were used to working on the Game Gear and were relatively unaccustomed to the Game Boy's hardware, and on top of that knew very little about what makes the Mega Man series fun to play. The results show badly, and Mega Man II is generally viewed as the weakest of the Game Boy titles by far.
  • Mega Man 11 zig-zags with this trope. While development for it moved back to in-house at Capcom (9 and 10 were both made by Inti Creates), it's the first main entry in the classic timeline to not be made with Keiji Inafune's involvement due to him leaving the company, instead being made by those who worked on Mega Man Star Force.
  • Super Mario Land and Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins were both helmed during development by the mentor of Shigeru Miyamoto, Gunpei Yokoi, instead of Miyamoto himself. New Super Mario Bros. 2 was developed by a younger team, as the veterans were working on New Super Mario Bros. U at the time. While the former two games were very well-received, the latter one garnered mixed reactions (though all of them have been commercial successes).
  • Switch Blade was developed over several years as almost a solo project for Simon Phipps. Having left Gremlin Graphics for Core Design before the game was released, Phipps had no involvement with the sequel, which Gremlin assigned to the team previously responsible for the Platform Game Venus the Flytrap.

Sandbox

  • Just Cause 3 was developed by a new American branch of Avalanche Studios, as the Swedish studio responsible for the previous game was busy with a Mad Max game adaptation.

Real-Time Strategy

  • Homeworld received a very literal Mission-Pack Sequel in the form of Homeworld: Cataclysm; it was allegedly supposed to be an expansion pack but the new visual effects and game mechanics that B-team developers Barking Dog wanted to add required some major modifications to the game engine. Gameplay-wise it was quite well-received but the Genre Shift into Cosmic Horror was not universally popular with the fans, to put it mildly.

Third-Person Shooter

  • A-team Epic Games handed the Gears of War franchise over to B-team People Can Fly for the fourth installment, Gears Of War: Judgment. PCF's previous effort, Bulletstorm, could almost be seen as an elaborate application for the job.
  • Played With regarding Postal III: while it was supposedly co-developed by franchise creator Running With Scissors and Russian developer Akella, RWS later distanced themselves from it.

Western RPG


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