Friday, 10 January 2014

3 Games that Deserve Sequels


In which Eye Moustaches is let down by something on the internet, but out of that darkness starts a blog
While browsing the internet 1 I came upon this. I clicked on it and what followed were three minutes of crushing disappointment. All but one of the games on this list have numbers in their title and crucially are all successful franchises. I'll cut you in on an industry secret: Skyrim was something of a big deal, they're probably going to make another one. The article had no fight, no argument to win. To say you want sequels to games that are or were enormously popular is the equivalent of white noise. With that in mind, I present the article I thought I was going to read, a list of games that deserve sequels but probably won't get them. These are the games, if you find them in a store, you put them at the front of the stack when the manager isn't looking because people need to play them and damn their filing system. Fight the power. 
The oppressors of generations who kept you down with myths of... alphabetization!


Zack and Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure

Yep, I'm one of those people.
 Zack and Wiki was a puzzle game in the purest sense in the world. The Legend of Zelda is a puzzle game interspersed with unnecessary monster battling to pad out the run time, Professor Layton is a puzzle game embedded within aimless wandering and fetch quests. Tetris isn’t a puzzle game, whoever gave you that idea? Zack and Wiki is (with a handful of exceptions) simply puzzle after puzzle for the entirety of the game. Your objective in each level is clear, use the objects at hand and some outside the box thinking to survive and reach the treasure chest.


Sadly the game itself never brought in much treasure and so a sequel seems unlikely. This is a shame as Zak and Wiki’s particular style of gameplay was and still is a rare thing. The game involved manipulating objects and planning out the result of your actions in a way that only Portal seems to resemble. Like that game, Z&W is very suitable for co-operative play. In the game’s best puzzles once your solution is planned out, putting it in motion is quite straightforward, the real fun is to be had plotting out these sequences of events.


When it worked it was a deeply satisfying game, but when it didn’t it was quite frustrating and these moments, that perhaps a sequel could avoid, sullied an otherwise excellent game. As suggested earlier, the game does best when it keeps things cerebral, once you know what to do, the doing shouldn’t pose a problem. Occasional (badly implemented) combat scenes, sections involving genuine dexterity, that awful thing with the tennis racket and certain puzzles based purely on magical rules (the Barbaros’ castle levels are notorious for this) betray this ideal. Having to sometimes restart the longer levels from the start was also annoying. 
No, not that awful thing with the tennis racket
Zack and Wiki: Quest For Higher Sales is a game that deserves to be made although to say that is hardly original. Before and after the game came out, previewers and reviewers were notably more direct about telling people to buy it2At the time, they knew that the fate of what had the potential to be a fantastic, unique series rested on a game with a cringe worthy name and cover, that what they had was an incredible game that people were unlikely to buy. Unfortunately, it seems they were right. 

Also, most of the cast are rabbits. Didn't seem relevant earlier.

Red Steel 2

This suggestion may surprise you. In a moment, you'll probably find yourself thinking: "wait a minute, that game has a number in the title, the very thing you were annoyed about earlier". My response to that accusation is to make that accusation myself before you get the chance3. Before you have time to reflect on that, let me confuse you with a paradox. While I believe Red Steel 2 deserves a sequel, I never would have said the same about Red Steel 1, a game which actually did get a sequel. The original Red Steel was an ugly and hard to control mess that forever damaged Matthew Castle's credibility. The guns were hard to aim and the motion controlled sword fighting was an awkward, shoehorned in feature. The grey, dark multiplayer levels weren't up to much either.


The motion-plus enabled sequel was a far better game. The setting was an interesting addition to the well trod the-wild-west-but-with-samurai-and-the occasional-robot-drone genre and most importantly, bright especially when compared to the Winter solstice set original. The controls were tight and the transition between sword and guns was smooth and natural. The guns themselves were satisfyingly varied  and the customisation options kept them fresh.
The trouble was that the combat was pretty much the entire game. Red Steel 2 consisted of combat sections that led into quick time events that led into dull training sections that rewarded you with more combat events. The streets you explored had not a single NPC and aside from the absurdity of its setting the game had little humour. Over time, the repetition gets to you. The overly effective kneecap option in fights didn’t help matters.
This is why Red Steel 2 needs a sequel. Its team got so much right in terms of controls and combat4 but didn’t do anything else with these ideas. The resultant game was a series of combat arenas with enemies that gradually increased in strength. While enjoyable, Red Steel 2 taunts you with the game it could be. The man with the ridiculous coat and eye moustaches deserves another chance.
Just look at tho- YES I know it has the Eurogamer watermark on it. Is the fact that this is on blogspot not enough of a clue that this isn't a well funded operation? 

Infinite Space

Infinite Space was a game with great potential and a combat system that offered slightly more depth than you might have first assumed. It offered to show you the stars like Doctor Who5 but in the end you were the gamer who waited, waited for the dialogue you’d read before to finish so you could move onto the next block of dialogue you’d read before, so you could advance the plot. Infinite Space was a fine game when it was in space, the menu heavy port sections were the problem.
Unlike the other games in this list, Infinite Space is not necessarily a game I really liked, but a game I wanted to really like. It promised me the freedom to explore space in a way that was an end in itself, not simply a way of getting from one planet-based level to another6.


Footnotes:

1: Which sounds much more sophisticated than "while procrastinating"
2: Reports of IGN home invasions later turned out to be unfounded
3:You just got 8-Miled
4: And the equally important field of making shooting explosive barrels satisfying
5: : It’s not the characters name….. but if you say the Doctor, no one will now who you mean…. But it’s… wrong…. But you need to be accessible to the reader, on that note, transcribing an argument with yourself about how to refer to a fictional character will not help matters
6: Also, I needed a third game for the list. Ironically, Infinite Space is included here to fill up space

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