For better or for worse, we live in an industry ruled by sequels, where taking risks on brand new IPs is becoming rare, replaced more and more often by regular iterations of established franchises. At least, this is the case on the ďAAAĒ level, and Nintendo is certainly not excluded from this observation. However, Iím not going to get on a soapbox and rant about sequelitis; Iíll save that for another day. And the simple fact is, at the end of the day, developers wouldnít make sequels if consumers werenít buying them. When you truly love a game, it is hard to not want more.
Same platform sequels (sequels that appear on the same piece of hardware as the previous game) are interesting to me in the sense that they (generally) give developers a chance to focus less on making their core game engine work, and more on polishing the gameplay and adding new ideas. Because of this, you often find same platform sequels that outshine the originals in many ways. However, in most cases this results in a sequel that has refined many elements of the original, but has not really taken the franchise to the next level. That kind of leap is often reserved for a sequel on a brand new platform.
But not always. So Iíve put together a top 10 list of same (Nintendo) platform sequels that, in my opinion, did not just refine their respective franchises, but took them another step beyond, whether utilizing familiar gameplay while taking a clear leap forward, or coming up with something brand new entirely. So sorry Super Mario Galaxy 2, youíre one of my favorite sequels of all-time, but you just donít qualify for this list. This is for same platform sequels that really made that extra effort to step up their game. I have also decided to exclude games where the originals just werenít very good games. Iím more interested in sequels that took something already great and made it even better.
Iíll admit right now, I took a few liberties in deciding where to draw the line between refining and a true step forward, but in my opinion, these games all made a definable leap. And my opinion is law! Bow before my mighty opinion!
The original NES Castlevania was a pretty good horror-themed action / platformer game, and Castlevania II: Simonís Quest introduced uhÖ well, basically it introduced a lot of annoying junk that nearly breaks the game. However, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse is the Castlevania game that, in my eyes, really showed that Castlevania was a series worth paying attention to. Various playable characters, character swapping, transformations, increased variety in weapons, branching paths, multiple endings, and some of the tightest gameplay the series had seen to date made Dracula's Curse truly stand out.
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest (SNES)
Iíve gone back and played both the original Donkey Kong Country and its sequel, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddyís Kong Quest, many times now, and I have to admit, a part of me wonders what exactly I saw in the original at the time. Donít get me wrong, itís still a fun game, but itís not really quite the spectacular game that it felt like at the time, and when you take away the awesome graphics (which havenít aged well) and awesome music (which has), the game behind them is a fun but fairly basic platformer. Some people make this claim about the original trilogy as a whole, but I have to disagree; Diddyís Kong Quest is still excellent to this day. Itís tough to quantify exactly what it does that the original did not, but it feels vastly more nuanced and a lot more complex. Pretty much everything good about the original comes back kicked up a notch, while a bunch of new stuff (including some awesome animal buddies like the spider) is added to the mix. And the already great soundtrack somehow managed to get even better for the sequel.
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (DS)
Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story is a unique game on my list because it is the only one that I chose which I do not necessarily think was the best in the series up to the point of its release; Iíd probably reserve that spot for the original Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga on the Game Boy Advance. However, Bowser's Inside Story is right up there, and clearly superior to the first DS game in the series (Partners in Time) so it makes my list. Bowserís Inside Story was such a unique take on the formula, making Bowser the star of the show as the main playable character, while the Mario brothers still played a strong supporting role, getting swallowed and exploring the inside of his body (which had some of the best platforming / puzzles in the series.)
Wii Sports Resort (Wii)
This is a tough choice, because speaking by duration only, I spent a lot more time with the original Wii Sports than I did with Wii Sports Resort, or to be more precise, I spent a lot more time with Wii Sports Bowling and Golf than I did with anything in Resort. However, Resort is the superior game by a large margin, instantly rendering the original Wii Sports a relic. In part this was due to the Wii MotionPlus attachment, which gave developers the ability to finally realize the promise of the Wii remote, including a new addition to Wii SportsÖ sword fighting! But Wii Sports Resort also polished up and expanded upon some of the events in the original Wii Sports (removing a few that I never played anyway) while adding a bunch more events and a brand new erm... character? (if you believe Miyamoto), in Wuhu Island.
Pikmin 2 (Gamecube)
A lot of people are going to disagree with me on this one, and those people simply love being wrong. Ok, maybe that is a bit harsh, but when I look back on things, it feels to me like getting Pikmin near the launch of the Gamecube was the equivalent of getting a sweet little appetizer before the huge and delicious main course of Pikmin 2 arrived. You can argue against the Nintendoís decision to remove the day limit in Pikmin 2; I might disagree, but fair enough. However, what you canít argue against is that Pikmin 2 is a much meatier game, including a new playable character, new pikmin types, 200! treasure pieces to collect (next to 30 in the original), 30 additional challenge stages that can be played either single player or co-op, and a competitive battle mode. All of this culminating in not only one of my favorite Gamecube games, but one of my most played as well.
WarioWare: Twisted! (Game Boy Advance)
One of the limitations same platform sequels have is that they need to try to impress gamers in new ways using the same olí hardware that they already used. WarioWare: Twisted! got around this by saying fudge it, weíll just add new hardware onto the game cartridge itself. Twisted! came with a gyroscope built into the cartridge, which allowed players to manipulate the game world by actually twisting their Game Boy Advance itself. Of course, this could have just come off as a cheap gimmick, but a pretty brilliant WarioWare game was designed around it, which included, among other things, a ďbossĒ stage that involved keeping a man from falling over, which, through subtle manipulations, would have you holding your Game Boy Advance upside-down by the time it was over. Thatís the kind of neat innovation that you donít see in too many same platform sequels.
Mega Man 2 (NES)
I actually like the original Mega Man a lot more than most people do, at least, if you trust that our ratings here at Negative World reflect the greater Mega Man playing population in any way. However, there is simply no denying that Mega Man 2 is a superior game on every measurable level. Itís bigger, itís better designed, itís better balanced (except for the super cheap metal blade), the robot masters are more interesting, the power-ups are more fun to use, it controls (a bit) better, the graphics are better, and the music, my god, the music! Mega Man 2 is a perfect example of how to take a great game and make the sequel into a spectacular one not through a reinvention of the core principles, but by taking what works and just plain making it all that much better.
Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
Final Fantasy VI, known as Final Fantasy III in the West until subsequent rereleases that reverted it back to the original name, was the third Final Fantasy game to hit the Super Nintendo, although only the second Final Fantasy to hit the Super Nintendo in the West, the first being Final Fantasy IV, known as Final Fantasy II here. Confused yet? Final Fantasy V eventually made it over on the PlayStation and Game Boy Advance, but for the sake of this list (and also because Iíve never played it), Iím not counting it in my thoughts here. Final Fantasy IV was a great RPG, no doubt, but Final Fantasy VI is one of the defining RPGs of the SNES generation. Among the strong points of the game were a battle system where each character had a truly unique moveset, an en epic storyline with a very memorable villain and an equally memorable cast of characters, and one of the best soundtracks of the 16-bit era. Also the opera scene. Canít forget the opera scene.
Resident Evil 4 (Gamecube)
Most of the other games on this list (actually, all of them) follow the same core formula of their previous iteration and simply take things to another level. Resident Evil 4, however, was a complete redesign of the Resident Evil formula. In fact, itís a bit disingenuous to even call it a same platform sequel, because it could be argued that Resident Evil 4 is so far from the previous Resident Evil games that it is essentially a brand new franchise. But hey, Capcom stuck a 4 in it, so it counts! And man, what a game Resident Evil 4 was. A nearly perfect blend of action and horror, and one of the few (generally) linear, single player games that has a good 20+ hours of content in the main campaign and yet never feels old, Resident Evil 4 is just continual excellence from start to finish. Donít get me wrong, I enjoy the older Resident Evil games as well, and I wouldnít mind seeing that style return some day, but Resident Evil 4 was something on another level entirely.
Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES)
I often say that Super Mario Bros. 3 is the best same platform sequel in video games, period, but I have to admit that Resident Evil 4 is pretty darn close, and it was tough to decide which one should get the top spot. However, as far as sticking to the basic formula of the previous game (Iím counting the original Super Mario Bros. as the previous game here, ignoring the Westís Super Mario Bros. 2, which wasnít a true Mario game) and crafting a fresh and exciting new experience from it, Super Mario Bros. 3 has simply never been topped. It may not seem as impressive nowadays to younger gamers who didnít experience the game back when it released, but the leap from the original Super Mario Bros. (or the true, previously Japan-only Super Mario Bros. 2, if you want to count that) to Super Mario Bros. 3 was unprecedented at the time. From several huge worlds to explore to tons of new items and suits to franchise defining (and unfortunately a bit overused in current Mario games) settings and enemies to excellent graphics and yes, much like Mega Man 2, a spectacular soundtrack, Super Mario Bros. 3 excelled on every level. It gets my top spot, and I feel pretty comfortable in saying that it deserves it.
There you go. Do you agree, disagree? Have a game that I forgot about? Let me know in the comments!
PS. I have a few others that didnít quite make my list, and I usually post them all here at the end of these top 10 lists, but Iím going to hold off this time around and see if anyone else mentions something that I was thinking of.
Certainly Pokťmon Gold/Silver should be on the list, IMO. That sequel made so many improvements to the original, and set the franchise up for all subsequent sequels. The Hold Items feature, different regions, new evolutions, the day/night (and full on calendar) cycle...the game(s?) was (were?) such a step up from Red/Blue that it should have been been added to the list.
I think Mega Man IV or Mega Man V on Gameboy could be contenders, too.
Yeah where is Gold/Silver. Even though Gen 1 is my favorite, that doesn't change the fact that Gen 2 is much better and the best game(s?) on the system. No future game in the series has come close to being as impacting as that one(s?),XY come close but none of them to date have changed it so radically.
Re-reading the OP, I agree...especially with Mega Man 2. As great a sequel as it is (one of my favorite NES games, plus its sequel was pretty spectacular too), it doesn't do much differently than the original Mega Man aside from 1. better level design, 2. adding more bosses, and 3. devices (which there was one in Mega Man that did all three).
@deathly_hallows@-JKR- I'm counting Resident Evil 4 as a sequel to Remake / Resident Evil 0. Basically I count every new game in a series as a sequel to the games in the series that came before it. Some games may technically be, storywise, prequels... but I don't even consider story the main purpose of video games (in most cases), so I still tend to think of them as sequels in my mind, as in "the next game in the game series."
Although technically Resident Evil 3 was on the Gamecube. Just not until many years after it originally released elsewhere. And maybe not before Resident Evil 4, I don't remember.
@Jargon It's actually hard for me to think of many Zelda games as a big leap forward since Ocarina of Time, even though I do think a lot of them since then are better than Ocarina of Time, but there isn't much concrete to point to and say "see look at these steps forward!", they're mostly just all... different from each other. Either way I never played Twilight Princess on the Gamecube so I don't personally think of it as a Gamecube game. Sure it technically is, but not in my experience.
@anon_mastermind Both of those are way better than the originals in my mind, whereas Galaxy 2 is just kind of more of the same. I liked it more than the original, but really they're basically the same game.
I guess I'm just arguing with myself haha because I was going to say do top 20s so people stop getting mad about games being left out but then thats what sort of drives these discussions in the first place so it sorta helps kill the thread off if they're not top 10s anymore
I thought he was referring to RE4 off of REmake, which in that case I'd hugely disagree. I mean, they're both awesome games and I wouldn't say RE4 is a huge improvement, it's just different.
Surprised SMG2 didn't get a nod, even though I personally prefer the original. SMB3, MM2, and FF3 are all great choices. FF2 was godly in its own way though. What really held back FF games prior to 3 (6) for me was the art style. It always bugged me.
Pretty neat list. I was expecting SMG2 but it's important to remember this criterion:
Most IMPROVED sequels
In other words, games like OoT and SMG were already pretty amazing. While MM and SMG2 were great, it might be hard to argue that they were a big leap above their predecessors, in ways like Mega Man 2, FF3 and BiS were.
Although admittedly I cheated a bit with BiS, since I still think the original game is the best. But BiS still kind of came out and surprised me because it felt like a huge leap over PiT (which was the first and only DS M&L game up to that point) and it felt pretty fresh next to the first two.
@Shadowlink Oh I'm a lazy programmer? Ha ha ha ha as if you even understand how much I do for this place. ARGGHHHGHHHHHHHH.
Actually though, I don't think it would take that much programming work to reprogram to allow for top 5 and top 20 lists or top insertanynumberyouwant lists. In fact, the (slightly) more annoying part for me would be to do the graphics that would have to go with them, because I suck at graphics and hate when I need to do graphics for new types.
I think top 5 lists, at least, will come eventually, because a lot of people have asked for something like that, because sometimes people have good ideas for lists but they don't really demand a whole 10 entries.
Yup. Even if you like Majora's Mask or SMG2 more than their predecessor, you'll find just as large of a group that has the opposite opinion. Neither of them did anything that blew the previous title out of the water.