With so many sequels having come out recently and with more great ones on the horizon, we here at EGM got to thinking about our favorite sequels that not only furthered an already awesome story, but likely turned the franchise on its head and helped catapult the franchise to superstar status in our hearts.
Released: Nov. 17, 2002 – Nintendo GameCube
Why It’s Awesome: After Nintendo went a gaming generation without featuring one of the galaxy’s most notorious bounty hunters, many thought Samus, Mother Brain, and the Space Pirates would all be relegated to “cult” status if something wasn’t done. Then came along Retro Studios. The masses panicked when they heard that Retro—an American studio, for crying out loud—planned to move their beloved side-scrolling shooter into the 3D realm, citing several other classic franchises that failed to make the move (Donkey Kong, another franchise Retro would later save, was the first to come to mind). But not only did they put Samus into the third dimension, they also put you behind the visor in a first-person adventure, all the while still maintaining the classic Metroid feel of exploration, platforming, and blasting away baddies with her arm cannon.
Released: Sept. 29, 1999 – PS1
Why It’s Awesome: The first Suikoden was a nice little RPG that found a cult audience early on in the PS1’s life cycle. The second engulfed players in an engrossing, mature, politically tinged tale that dared to feature graphic, controversial subjects like cold-blooded murder, genocide, and even fellatio! Its epic narrative has gripped players for a decade since, even though it’s barely comprehensible at times due to an amateur-hour translation. Unfortunately, it released the same month as Final Fantasy VIII in North America, preventing it from gaining the audience it rightly deserved. Suikoden fans have begged Konami to release the game on PSN with an improved localization, but rumored technical issues have so far prevented this dream from becoming reality.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
Released: Nov. 5, 2007 – Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Why It’s Awesome: Having reinvigorated the World War II genre with the original Call of Duty and its subsequent sequels, the good people at Infinity Ward wanted to do something a little different for their third game. But while it shared many of the same tenets as the earlier Duty games, 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare wasn’t just a WWII first-person shooter with a more contemporary setting. The game also embraced the over-the-top action of a Michael Bay movie, and in doing so, it reinvigorated the modern military-shooter genre. But it’s what it did for competitive multiplayer that was truly revolutionary, as it added a RPG-like leveling up system, complete with unlockable rewards and new abilities. It wasn’t a new idea, but it worked so well—and made these modes so addictive—that, as a result, every game’s online modes now feature a leveling-up system, or are criticized for not including one.
Metal Gear Solid
Released: Sept. 23, 1999 – PS1
Why It’s Awesome: Sure, the series existed on the NES and obscure Japanese PCs back in the ’80s and early ’90s, but Konami’s mad genius, Hideo Kojima, revolutionized stealth-action in the late ’90s with Metal Gear Solid on the PS1, inspiring the birth of franchises like Splinter Cell, Syphon Filter, and Hitman in the process. Solid Snake’s infiltration of Shadow Moses enthralled players with every sneaky step, and you never knew what kooky character Kojima would introduce next, whether it was a revolver-stroking former Spetsnaz member or a crazed, psychic, gas-mask-wearing ex-KGB agent. Not only that, but Kojima also more or less introduced the ridiculously overlong monologue to gaming. Wait, should we really be thanking him for that?!
Red Dead Redemption
Released: May 18, 2010 – Xbox 360, PS3
Why It’s Awesome: Few folks gave the Capcom-born Red Dead Revolver a shot after it was picked up by the folks at Rockstar in the spring of 2004, but when the folks behind Grand Theft Auto decided to take this linear, lackluster, little-known Western and give it the, er, “rock-star treatment” by delivering the industry’s first worthwhile open-world tale in the Old West, the entire industry took note. More to the point, this super-sequel not only revitalized the floundering franchise, but it also managed to legitimize the notion of Westerns as a modern gaming genre in route to countless Game of the Year awards. Not too shabby.