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Author Topic: What makes for a good RPG sequel?  (Read 11842 times)
MeshGearFox
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« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2009, 12:38:35 AM »

Well, Kato DID say CC wasn't really intended as a *sequel*. And I mean, it's really not except in some very vague sense. The gameplay is different, and while the story relates to the first game and happens because of those events, it's its own self contained thing. Can you really say it's a terrible sequel if sequel-ness wasn't the main intent?

I really don't buy the notion that CC retconned CT though. I mean, it didn't in the sense that every change CC did to CT canon happened after CT ended (as much as that concept matters in a story that doesn't really have linear time). It altered what happened to Schala, but nothing it did really like... changed the nature of Lavos, or any of the established characters.

Retconning is more what that DS port of CT did with its completely incoherent alternate endings that don't have anything to do with established canon from either CT or CC which make Schala even for no apparent reason.
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Eusis
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« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2009, 02:03:12 AM »

Can you really say it's a terrible sequel if sequel-ness wasn't the main intent?

Terrible is admittedly a harsh word, but I mean that it doesn't pass for a sequel. Possibly the better for it now that I think about it, people thought that fan sequel of CT looked awesome but I was more put off by what I saw, while CC wound up more interesting and memorable by not worrying about being a proper followup.
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Danakir
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« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2009, 02:47:29 AM »

What if the sequel looks and plays like its predecessor but has a far superior narrative given the writers' improvement in storytelling? 

If I'm buying a sequel, then it's most likely because I had fun and want to hear more about the setting/characters, hence story is most important.

My opinions on the importance of story aside, I've rarely seen such continuations turn out well unless they were planned from the start. We have Shadow Hearts Covenant, and Lunar 2 could count if it didn't take place centuries or a millennium ahead (depending on if WD really just made that point up) and thus have a whole new crew anyway. Suikoden's probably the one that really nails it simply because it DOESN'T show us the whole world in the first installment or close enough, there's a lot more planned but they get to it gradually, nor is the immediate threat ever some threat to the world that makes everything else seem trivial in comparison.

Did I mention that Suikoden is hands down my favorite game franchise?

So pretty much, my point stand.

As for whether Chrono Cross was a great sequel or not, frankly I couldn't stand it at all as a game, but that's just me and as MeshGearFox said, it wasn't intended as a sequel so it doesn't even matter all that much anyway.

Though really, unless intended, like you said, sequels do usually turn up poorly in one way or another.

And sometimes even when intended. *cough*Xenosaga II*cough*
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« Reply #18 on: June 05, 2009, 03:12:10 AM »

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« Reply #19 on: June 05, 2009, 03:23:57 AM »

And sometimes even when intended. *cough*Xenosaga II*cough*

After what Soraya Saga revealed I'd question whether that counts as 'intended'!

Anyways, this is pretty much a universal truth, though motivation's probably a part of this too. I'm thinking a sequel to a story that the writers really wanted to do is more likely to be good than some (heavily controlled?) attempt at cashing in, and it doesn't help for a lot of RPGs that a setting is completely exhausted for a sequel. The only well received release of that "Compilation of Final Fantasy VII" was Crisis Core, I have yet to really play it but it sounds like part of that is due to being a prequel and covering a significant but nearly non-existent character who had plenty of potential for development. Contrast with Advent Core, that regresses Cloud's development for the sake of audience pandering and even contrives a resurrection for Sephiroth just for a flashy final battle, and in the process took away the ambiguity of the original ending that left us to decide whether humanity would be spared or not.

Star Ocean 3 is a whole other kind of terrible though, I'd liken it more to Matrix Reloaded in that it was following something that at least left itself open, but completely screwed everything up anyway. Then there's MGS4, further proof that just because we have nagging questions doesn't mean we really want to see them answered.
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« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2009, 08:10:42 AM »

Neal--are you referring to true Sequels (KHII to KH) or numerical sequels (FFIV, FFV, FFVI)?

To be honest, I didn't really think about that.  I was thinking more in general.  However, discussion can be valid on either one; what makes a true sequel and what makes a numerical one favorable to you, since it's a different can of worms for each.  The question is often asked "do I need to play the previous installment to enjoy X game?" and if I'm reviewing a sequel, I make sure to answer that. 

Now I'm going to tangent in a semi stream of consciousness fashion:

The example that was at the forefront of my mind was Grandia II.  Not a true sequel to Grandia, but a numerical sequel with the Grandia vibe.  If a new Grandia installment was sci-fi, would it be accepted the way sci-fi installments are accepted into the Final Fantasy franchise?  Or would it cease to feel like Grandia? 

As a true sequel, FFX-2, despite being cotton candy fun, was a poorly done and unnecessary sequel to FFX. 
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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2009, 08:34:11 AM »

Quote
Probably the only other RPG that better fits as a bad sequel/great game is Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter simply because at least CC addresses the big question CT left behind.

If you really think about it, Dragon Quarter fits exactly with the rest of Breath of Fire canon.  All the games fit in with each other in terms of worldview, actually.  In that way, I felt the whole series was nothing but amazing sequels to one another (But then again, it's probably my favorite RPG series next to Suikoden, so take that with a grain of salt or two.)
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #22 on: June 05, 2009, 08:51:05 AM »

I don't really care much about story continuity between games in series or whatever, partially because I don't think JRPGs tend to have good storylines, but mostly because I never beat games anyway, and usually don't even get up to the parts where stories start getting into full swing, honestly (which is maybe why I don't get into JRPG storylines that much :3). I usually only play RPGs up to the point where new gameplay elements stop getting introduced, which is typically around the 15-25 hour mark, and unless I find the gameplay hugely fun, I don't really see any point continuing because I'd just be doing the same exact thing over and over again for another 40 hours. 15-25 hours is plenty long for a game anyway. I feel that my purchase was validated at that point.

This is also why I tend to judge sequels on their own merits too. The odds of me having been interested enough in the previous entry's gameplay mechanics to want to see them repeated is pretty slim. Especially if I feel like I saw everything there was to see from the previous entree's gameplay, if the new game is really close to the first in gameplay and doesn't improve balance or something drastically, I'm going to be even LESS interested in it.

Partially this is why I don't have P4. I don't care about the improvements. The one thing that bugged me in P3 was apparently not addressed in P4, and otherwise the games sound incredibly similar from a gameplay standpoint. On the other hand, I thought DS1 had some nice ideas but wasn't very fun, whereas DS2 fixes all of my complaints with the first game.

Quote
I'm thinking a sequel to a story that the writers really wanted to do is more likely to be good than some (heavily controlled?) attempt at cashing in, and it doesn't help for a lot of RPGs that a setting is completely exhausted for a sequel.

Well, I think this is kind of what happened with CC. Kato and some of the other minor writers from CT went off on their own and did it because they were the only ones really interested in it. If the rest of the Dream Team had been reassembled, despite their apparent complete lack of interest in doing such a thing, you probably would've had a direct sequel to CT that wouldn't have pissed off the fans but nevertheless would've been completely uninteresting (and would likely play very similar to CT, but would still have the rather rubbishy balancing because Square could not make a well-balanced game if their life depended on it, and so not really FIX anything in the previous game, and thus be completely superfluous).

Anyway though, as I've said elsewhere before once or twice, maybe, I have my own theory as to why most fans don't like sequels to games they really like, and it's more of a mental thing than anything to do with the game itself.

Quote
If you really think about it, Dragon Quarter fits exactly with the rest of Breath of Fire canon.

DQ was the only BoF game I kind of liked, at all, so I guess I'd personally consider it a good sequel.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #23 on: June 05, 2009, 03:57:25 PM »

From a business standpoint, games have a unique opportunity that movie sequels don't have. Games can have virtually no narrative continuity between one and another, and people are completely okay with that, in fact even many times prefer it. This allows companies to build strong IPs with little concern whether new players will be able to get into the game.

When movie companies do sequels they're always taking a risk, because if the stories are too linked (in the case of trilogies and multi-part stories), you won't be able to bring in a new audience, because they will have not been following the events of the previous movie(s). This is especially true of TV series. Miss a few Episodes of LOST or Battlestar Galactica, and you're pretty much lost to being able to jump in.

Enter video games: epic self-contained units that focus a higher percentage of their efforts on graphics, action, and gameplay. Even in the case of very heavy narrative, a 10 minute summery can setup a player for a 40+ hour adventure, and they're off and running. So it's much easier to bring new players to existing IPs. The other reality is that about 50% of all IPs have little narrative continuity.

Final Fantasy, for instance, isn't really a series in the same sense that the movie industry has series. It's probably more akin to a production studio. One picks up a Final Fantasy game with about the same amount of expectations that one goes to watch a Pixar film. You don't need to know ANYTHING about the series to be able to pick up a Final Fantasy and play it. The same goes for most other RPG IPs as well. The few exceptions being space operas, which typically are presented in trilogies and multi-title seires, like Xenosaga, and in some sense, Star Ocean. Xenosaga is about the only example I can think of where coming into a game without having played any others is completely impossilbe.

So, I'd say the most important thing, for a sequel, is to be able to appeal to new players who haven't played the older games. That can be achieved either by the nature of the series (like Final Fantasy) or short summeries, or other narrative practices.
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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #24 on: June 05, 2009, 04:30:04 PM »

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Xenosaga is about the only example I can think of where coming into a game without having played any others is completely impossilbe.

What about .hack?
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« Reply #25 on: June 05, 2009, 04:50:49 PM »

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Xenosaga is about the only example I can think of where coming into a game without having played any others is completely impossilbe.

What about .hack?

In both case it's possible, the gameplay isn't that obscure after all, but it'd be intensely boring.
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Prime Mover
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« Reply #26 on: June 05, 2009, 05:30:11 PM »

What about .hack?

Actually, I was just thinking about .hack, but having not played any of the games, I can't really personally comment. I guess what I meant was that Xenosaga wasn't the ONLY example, but one of only a few. .hack deffinitely fits the bill though.
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« Reply #27 on: June 05, 2009, 05:41:38 PM »

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« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2009, 12:22:28 PM »

Partially this is why I don't have P4. I don't care about the improvements. The one thing that bugged me in P3 was apparently not addressed in P4, and otherwise the games sound incredibly similar from a gameplay standpoint.

Which was?
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2009, 02:27:01 PM »

"Hey go find three wizzdangs that are only dropped by RED ENEMIES found between floors 70 AND 80 and you have five days to do it."
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