#6: Sequel Shenanigans
There’s an interesting phenomenon that exists entirely within the world of video games. I call it “The Super Streets of Sonic Fighter II Effect”. I’ll break it down:
- New game is introduced. It’s novel and exciting and blows people’s minds.
- Shortly afterwards, a sequel to this game is released.
- It proves to be better than the original in every single way.
- There’s no going back to the first one, and you feel a fool for ever having loved it.
The SSSFII effect is distinct from other observable phenomenon of this kind as the technology used to make video games often takes huge quantum leaps in a short space of time. This was especially true in the eighties and nineties. When you bought your computer or games console, you could be sure it was obsolete by the time you got it home and opened the box. Things just kept changing and getting better – we seem to have reached something of a plateau these days, but back then you could be sure that the sequel to your favourite game would do something you’d never seen before.
Join me as I take a look at games of yore, and try and parrot back our thoughts as we played for the first, second or last time!
Streets of Rage
“Sweet! I get to play as three characters!? I’m spoilt for choice! The streets are really grungy, it’s just like being in an action movie!
Oh my god! Did you see that!? I totally smashed that guy’s face in! Take that, dick patrol! I should be a cop, nothing says ‘justice’ like a knife in the tummy. Holy shit, my backup squad just blew that guy away with a bazooka!”
Playing the Sequel:
“Wow, look how big the sprites are! There’s no Adam this time, but we get a giant muscle man and a kid with rollerskates. These moves are slick! I’m going to practice my jump kick in the back garden – a couple more days of playing this and I’ll be a martial arts master. Those sound effects are great! I winced a bit hearing the drainpipe crack that thug’s skull open.
Sweet! I totally saw up Blaze’s skirt!! This is the best game ever!”
“Uggh! Is this a Master System game!? What’s wrong with the graphics? Did Blaze dye her hair or what?
There’s only three characters!? What a swizz. And that special attack is so cheap. Back you go, Streets of Rage, into the drawer of shame with the 32X carts.”
Sonic The Hedgehog
“A hedgehog? He doesn’t really look like a hed- Oh crap! Look how fast he is! Woah, these graphics are so colourful, it’s like being in a cartoon! Sweet, I get to smash TVs and little robots. Bosh!
Let’s see Mario run around a loop like that!”
Playing the Sequel:
“Wow! Everything’s so shiny! These levels look great! What’s that, there’s ten Zones this time!?
Who’s this sexy beast? A two-tailed fox!? Aw, he follows me around! And I can play as him, too!? Holy fucking shit the Special Stage is 3D…! It’s like being in Tron!
“Hm. Why’s the music so slow? And why doesn’t the clock keep time? I don’t remember Sonic being purple, either. Oh, it’s over.”
You never played this game.
Playing the Sequel:
You never will.
There is no Street Fighter I. There is only II.
“Oh man, this is creepy! These caverns go on forever!! I best bust out a pencil and paper or else I’ll get lost forever. Sweet, I got a new beam! It actually goes to the edges of the screen this time! I wonder who this “Kraid” is that the instruction manual talks about…? Bet he’ll be tough to beat! JUMPING JEHOSHAPHAT SAMUS IS A LADYWOMAN!”
Playing the Sequel (and we all know it’s Super Metroid):
“No game has ever been this good. This is real to me now. Shit, these Space Pirates are scary. They have eyebeams and everything! Oh yeah boi, I got missiles for ya now! Kabosh!
Hey, Kraid’s back. How you doin’, little guy? Hm, he’s a bit on the small side… I wonder what’s on the other side of the door, then? FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK KRAID GOT BIG!!!! Game over man, game over! Oh, he’s dead.
Man, this is the longest game ever. It just keeps going on! The map is really helpful. It’s interactive. One day in the far future, mankind will have this technology.
Woah! I can have a cool magic shield thing!? They didn’t mention that in the manual. Oop, my energy’s getting low, time to shed the hardware! I THINK I SAW A BOOB.”
“Oh lord, it’s like playing the map screen! Why doesn’t my gun do anything!? Every room looks the same! MAKE IT STOP!”
And so that brings us to the end of our sequel-a-thon. I’ve been writing about games a lot lately… I’ll get back onto toys soon, if you’re very good boys and girls and eat all your dinner. Do you have anything to add…? Did you play a sequel and have it forever spoil your enjoyment of the original? Or did the opposite happen? Sound off in the comments!
“The drainpipe crack”