Chris Pratt: Raptor Whisperer
Yesterday I did something fairly uncharacteristic for me and took off a half day from work, just because I felt like it. It was shortly after turning in the paperwork that I realized I should really use this opportunity to go see Jurassic World. So I got my ticket for the 1 pm and settled into the theater expecting it to be largely empty. I was completely wrong, the theater was absolutely packed, so I am guessing I was not the only person with this idea. As far as the movie, I have to say I liked it quite a bit. My initial review was not as good as the original, but better than the sequels, but shortly realized that it sounded like I didn’t like the movie. I actually enjoyed the sequels quite a bit, just nowhere near as much as the original. I remember seeing the original in the theater and being enthralled, and that kind of magic just can’t be captured again.
The movie was enjoyable, but mostly once things started going to shit. The best moments in the movie involved Chris Pratt. He has become this loveable goofball of an action hero, and in many ways he reminds me of he way Harrison Ford played a lot of his action roles. The movie is kind of a big dumb action movie romp through dinosaur land, and I am perfectly fine with this. There were a lot of call backs to the original movie, which played well for a nostalgia factor, but also gave certain aspects of the movie a “been there done that” feel. It was well worth the $5 for the matinee ticket and hell it was probably worth a full priced ticket as well. I have a feeling we will see a reboot of the franchise considering that they left things open in the end for sequels. No one seems to make a one off movie anymore, they have to leave things open to make a desperate ploy for more money later in the form of a sequel.
Sequels that were Better
My initial reaction to Jurassic World being better than the original sequels got me thinking. The concept of a sequel is such that we immediately expect it to be worse than the original. So today I am going to delve into some direct sequels that worked surpassed the original games. Now there are some ground rules here. For example Castlevania Symphony of the Night is a sequel in theory to the original Castlevania… problem being decades passed between those two games so it is a no brainer that SOTN surpasses the original. The same is true for the original Zelda and Link to the Past. It isn’t really fair to talk about those games, because they are not direct sequels and had a lot more to work with than the original did. Similarly I am going to ignore games like Doom 2 and Wolfenstein Spear of Destiny… because they are quite simply the original game with more features added onto it. I feel like in order to declare something a sequel that surpassed the original, it needs to actually go past what the original game offered. I am looking at you Fallout and Fallout 2… because while I enjoyed the second game a lot, it probably should have just been an expansion pack since the engine was essentially the same.
Master of Orion II
I loved the original Master of Orion game, but when the sequel came out it just did everything better. The graphics were higher fidelity, and you could delve into things at a much higher level of detail. The game kept my favorite race the Silicoids and seemed to make them even more badass. Additionally you had the ability to design your own ships, which gave me the fantasy fulfillment of rolling into a star system with a death star and destroying it. The game was far more evolutionary than revolutionary but it surpassed the original in a way that it completely took it off the map. The funny thing is that this game still holds up, and I can still lose an entire afternoon playing it through the GOG galaxy client.
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
This is probably going to be the most controversial pick that I make, because people either seem to love this game or absolutely hate it. For me it took a game that I already liked and simply made it matter more. By the time this game came out I was already heavily leaning towards roleplaying games as my primary source of enjoyment. Simon’s Quest took the Castlevania game that I loved and added a persistent component that let me improve over time as I explored the world. Now there were moments in the gameplay where it was not terribly obvious how you should proceed, and these got frustrating apparently in tracking down a couple of draculas parts, but for me at least this is the game that really cemented “Metroidvania”. It was part Castlevania, part Metroid and part Adventure of Link, and melded together in a way that I enjoyed immensely. The critics at the time bashed it because it was not enough like the original Castlevania, and ultimately the third game in the series became more popular, but I still feel like Simon’s Quest was the best of the 8 bit Castlevania games.
When this game originally came out, I for the most part ignored it. I thought Warcraft: Orcs vs Humans was a boring title, and in truth at the time I would have rather played Dune 2. It was not until the first Battlechest existed that I finally gave this game a chance, and I spent the next three months obsessed with it. The gameplay felt much more responsive and you had so many more options of things that you could build. I’ve always been a base builder when playing an RTS and this game allowed me to go to stupid lengths to build impenetrable fortresses. What really extended the life of the game past the original release however was the fact that you could download all of these user created maps in the form of “PUD” files, which in itself was a bit of a play on the Doom “WAD” file format. After a few months I spent as much time designing new maps for the game as I did playing them. Warcraft 3 really gets credited for the birth of World of Warcraft, but I think this is the game that made us first give a damn about the setting.
Assassins Creed II
First off I have to admit that I am not really a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I have spent a bit of time piddling around in them but quite frankly they don’t offer the mad hack and slash game play that I really crave. Ultimately the game is ruined the moment I need to stealth around and complete a mission. The rest of the time I have a blast killing random guys on rooftops, but that pretty much is ignoring the thing that people seem to like about it the story. I have to give this game credit however because when the first Assassin’s Creed game came out I played it on a friends console, and found the controls to be some of the most frustratingly cludgy things ever. I pretty much ignored the game from that point on until at the urging of Tamrielo I finally gave the game a proper shot. The second game improves on everything that was wrong with the first game and manages to make moving around the world feel natural. If it weren’t for the fact that the game is largely about assassins that like to stealth about and attack from the shadows… I could probably enjoy it. That said I have to give this title credit for eclipsing its predecessor and spawning the franchise proper.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 took all the bits that worked well in the original Mass Effect and then sanded down all of the bits that never worked that well. The end result was the best game in the Mass Effect series as far as I am concerned. The first game was okay, and upon going back and playing it I can appreciate it for what it was. At the time however I just could not get into it. The combat in that game was maddening at times, and felt like it wasn’t quite certain how to do turn based third person combat. The second game however made it feel fun to duck behind objects and snipe things, in the same sort of way that Gears of War did. The other thing that made the game amazing was the sheer scale of the number of characters you could ultimately recruit into your party. I still think the Mass Effect series would make an amazing television show, that played out over the course of five or six seasons. If I have to play one game in the series though, I will always return to playing ME2. It still has the most enjoyable mission system, because I like the feel of going off on these smaller strikes rather than getting bogged down in the length on rails story missions. I would seriously kill to have a game that was just a bunch of going off on random strikes forever, that was Mass Effect game play at its finest for me.
I Showed you Mine…
I just scratched the surface on sequels that ultimately trumped the original game. Now that I have shown you mine, its time for you to show me yours. What games did you feel outpaced the original, or what games did you not manage to get into the series until the second iteration. I am curious what games you hold a torch for after all these years. Not sure why I was feeling particularly nostalgic today, but ultimately I decided to just run with it. I am hoping that this post spawns other posts or at least some comments below.