For disclosure purposes, I love sequels. Once I become attached to a world or a set of characters, it’s only natural that I want this experience to continue. A quick scan of my collection indicates that I must be very attached to these worlds, as almost 80% of my PS2+ era games have numbers attached to the end.
There are really three ways a sequel can go in my opinion. A sequel can be a completely different story set in the same universe, such as the Suikoden games employ. The second way is to continue the specific saga of a set of characters from a game. God of War’s Kratos is an example of this, where they continue to use the same person and give him new adventures. The last way a sequel can work is using the same systems/parameters, but changing the world and characters. Final Fantasy does this amazingly well, keeping enough of the spirit and mechanics, but completely developing a new saga with new characters.
Since these are musings, I often wonder whether I’m truly a core gamer anymore. The older I get, the less likely I am to be willing to completely learn a new game without having some emotional investment in the world. I’m the guy who buys the sequel, even if it’s not as promising as the original, because I care about what happens to either the story or the world.
Does my unwillingness to branch out make me a part of the problem? I already think that the videogame industry is not nearly as creative as it was in the past, but if i’m buying rehashes and sequels, I’m just as guilty as developers for not demanding something new. In my Nintendo blog, I grumbled at the company for catering to the lowest common demoninator, but I find that this may actually include me. The last 100% new property that I bought in a videogame was probably Valkyria Chronicles (I don’t own a 360, so I keep track less of what happens there and i’m poor), and it took me a long time to slog through it because it kept throwing different things at me that I was unaware/unprepared for, even though I enjoyed the experience when it was finished.
At the same time, I am a complete hypocrit because I find that many sequels leave me feeling disappointed. I bought Street Fighter 4 immediately when it came out (my ankle was broken, so it was the perfect time to game since I couldn’t walk), but it never grabbed my attention because the new characters were dull and the old ones didn’t offer me anything I hadn’t done before. Many Final Fantasy games I found weren’t that interesting, and if I did beat them, I never felt the urge to do it again.
So why do I buy sequels? I can’t tell if it’s the completist in me, or if it’s the hope that they’ll bring something memorable and useful to something I already love. Sequels can be great, as God of War 2, Suikoden 2, and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn show, but just as many of them make me feel empty at the end.
What do you think? Do you devote yourselves so completely to a series, or can you judge it objectively? Do you like sequels, or would you rather keep the finality the end of a game brings?