Readers discuss their favourite one hit wonders from throughout gaming history, from Eternal Darkness to Vanquish.
The subject for this week’s Hot Topic was suggested by reader Gain2, who asked why you think your chosen game never got a sequel and what you’d want it to be like if it did.
Although there were plenty of choices, some names did come up multiple times, including Skies Of Arcadia and Blast Corps. Beyond Good & Evil was also mentioned more than once, despite technically having a sequel on the way – albeit one nobody seems to think will actually be released…
Nobody does it better
I feel making a joke about Beyond Good And Evil 2 never releasing might be low hanging fruit. I’m also not convinced it’s anything more than vapourware, so I’ll instead plump for GoldenEye 007 as my pick.
GoldenEye is a bit of a nightmare to return to, ever since Halo made first person shooters feel good on a controller, but Rare’s level design, music, atmosphere, and grasp of what makes James Bond so appealing remains unparalleled. We’ve had more Bond games since its release but none nearly as good. The less said about Goldeneye’s remake the better.
Perfect Dark was a fantastic spiritual successor and utterly enthralling in its own right but there’s just something about Bond’s pure outrageousness and sense of fun that can’t be beaten. For a sequel to work I think it would have to adapt one of the better, but less realistic, films. Personally, I’d pick Goldfinger, 60s setting and aesthetic intact. If the new TimeSplitters nails the old gameplay feel with modernised controls, then I’d love it to play just like that.
One hit wonders
Two games spring immediately to mind, Rare’s Blast Corps on the N64 and the arcade version of Atari’s Marble Madness.
The basic premise of Blast Corps is that a truck loaded with a nuclear bomb is hurtling uncontrollably towards buildings that you have to destroy with various vehicles and mechs to prevent a collision. It made for compelling, edge-of-the seat, gameplay. The dumper truck that destroys buildings by skidding into them is particularly memorable. As too the blistering soundtrack that intensifies the experience.
An obvious reason why there was never a follow-up is the purchase of Rare by Microsoft and the fact that, to my knowledge, it didn’t sell particularly well. If one were to be made, I guess it could include on-foot first person shooter elements, functioning as segues between more fleshed out third person vehicular sections,
A follow up to Marble Madness was made but never released. You had to negotiate your marble across a maze comprised of various hurdles, foe, surfaces, and gravitational effects using a trakball that determined velocity and direction. It had a wonderful orchestral soundtrack and graphics that at the time looked amazing. While versions were released on consoles, without the trakball they played very differently.
Aside from the documented reasons why Marble Man was abandoned, the reason why there has been no comparable follow up to Marble Madness is probably due to the control mechanism. While comparisons have been made to Sega’s Super Monkey Ball, for the same reason it plays very differently. But if it was reimagined, it would certainly need to include more and longer stages – there were six in the original and they were all fairly short – with new challenges that retain the same unique control element.
Honourable mentions to Missile Command and the flawed but unique Jet Force Gemini, also by Atari and Rare, respectively. Given that Missile Command was successful, and that Atari did milk its contemporary, the wonderful Centipede, it’s a mystery as to why they never, to my knowledge, developed a follow-up. There are plenty of ways they could have advanced the concept at the time, perhaps with different challenges, varied scenarios and features. I’d love to see Jeff Minter have a go.
GC: Liberator was a pseudo-sequel but there was actually a Missile Command 2… which was cancelled after public playtests went poorly.
Shooting for more
Thinking of games that are at least 10 years old, and so unlikely to ever see a sequel at this point, Vanquish and Bulletstorm would both be high on my wishlist. Both were great shooters that were far more exciting and entertaining than Call Of Duty even at the time, and there was more than enough potential for at least one sequel.
Sticking with shooters, this time of the 2D variety, Super Time Force always deserved a sequel in my books. It’s clever use of time, that saw you fighting alongside your previous attempts, added a unique puzzle to each level that elevated it above other games in the genre.
On the more obscure side I always felt that Little King’s Story on the Wii was unfairly overlooked by most people. A mix of real-time strategy and role-playing game and absolutely chock full of imagination throughout, there is still nothing else really quite like it.
The recent remaster of Clash Of Heroes has also made me long for a sequel, although I’d be pretty happy with some DLC which offered new characters for the multiplayer.
Finally, despite the constant rumours over the years, I’m still doubtful we’ll ever see Beyond Good And Evil 2. The gameplay in the original wasn’t exactly perfect, but the charm of the characters and game world always shone through and I’d love to see the story of Jade continue.
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I haven’t played many games that are one hit wonders, so to speak, but there are some intriguing ones out there that could do with a sequel.
Dynamite Headdy on the Mega Drive was a good one. Very entertaining but Treasure simply leant on what they do best: make a ton of great bosses. As a platformer it was a little undercooked. Headdy had such a wide range of abilities, but barely much chance to exploit any of them. I wonder if the later Silhouette Mirage for the Nintendo 64 was a more convincing platform game? But alas, Treasure barely exist these days…
Fighters MegaMix on the Saturn is another. It would be a great way to reintroduce the Virtua Fighter cast and test the waters for a new Fighting Vipers game. The Vipers giving the Virtua Fighter cast a much-needed shot of charisma.
But the big one would be a Skies Of Arcadia 2, please. Sega often make pleasing noises in the franchise’s direction but so far nothing. And while the story was pretty much complete, the game did give hints as to where they might go next. Perhaps to explore the origins of the sinister Dark Rift or even go to Arcadia’s moons! It could be so awesome.
My favourite game without a sequel would probably be Hybrid Heaven (N64) or Skies Of Arcadia (Dreamcast/GameCube). Arcadia is fairly well known and came at a time shortly before Sega had to shift to a software-only company, and the mismanagement of the shift probably nixed any chance of a proper sequel.
Hybrid Heaven I think simply didn’t do that well, and Konami had bigger fish to fry with the success of its contemporary, Metal Gear Solid. The bright point of the game – and what I’d like to see someone ape some day – is the unique battle system. You and an enemy would freely move around a 3D area, as a power gauge filled up allowing you to attack. So kind of a mix of real-time for positioning and then slightly turn-based for the actual attack.
Your attacks would be mostly kicks or punches, which you could also chain into combos or wrestling moves, and you had the possibility of learning more moves when your opponent used new ones on you. You could level up individual body parts for defence if you were attacked in them enough times, and for attack if you hit the enemy using them enough times.
I am not aware of any game like this since, but if GC or a reader knows of one I’d love to play it! The rest of the game was a bit monotonous (making your way through an underground base), but the enjoyable combat stays with me all these years later, and while a direct sequel is all but impossible, I’d love to see a role-playing game that adopts the combat system itself.
Honourable mention to Ghost Trick, I hope the new port sells well enough to tempt Capcom into a sequel.
GC: Nothing springs to mind for us, as a modern equivalent for Hybrid Heaven.
More of everything
My favourite game is For Hono(u)r.
It’s such a perfect test of skill and has a really high skill ceiling that I will never touch, as it seems to require too much dedication. I download it once a year and play it to death for a month or so until I have figured out all the new characters.
I would absolutely love a next gen sequel, but I can’t see it happening for quite some time. They are now on year 7 and still adding new characters to fight with (there is an Aztec warrior for this season) and it’s taken them this long to finely balance all 30 playable characters.
The fighting (I prefer 1v1 ranked) is what makes the game so addictive but most people play the 4v4 domination game which I find gets a bit boring after a while. If a sequel was made, I would want a larger breach the castle mode with, say, 100 players with just one life each. I would also want to see knockout tournaments brought back.
Most of all I just want faster loading times, more variety in game modes, and more people playing it!
There were two games on their respective Nintendo consoles that were original at the time and even now could still be unique, but definitely will not have any official sequels made now presumably.
Blast Corps on the N64 was a truly fun and seriously addictive game, of which you may get something like it from the indie games market but no confirmation regarding this. I believe that the unique style here has not been copied yet.
Against the clock, whilst being quick and versatile, you must try to stop a nuclear carrier of explosive quantities by using a variety of hardware which are different types of demolition vehicles. Each vehicle has its own specialty that has to be utilised by blasting and destroying all objects and obstacles in their way, to stop a major catastrophe from happening.
It was brutally explosive and so fun to cause acts of much needed destruction to stop one major disasters! All this high octane fun was played to an awesome soundtrack, which suited the in-game action perfectly and both gameplay and music just felt so empowering together.
The other game was Eternal Darkness on the GameCube and boy was it a scary game back then. The joyous thing about it was not being your typical jump scares, which blight the movie and gaming industry today.
I am so used to jump scares that I have controlled the way my body reacts to unforeseen moments out of nowhere, which has translated to controlling fear in the outside world. Mainly due to hundreds and hundreds of horror moment hours from these virtual film and gaming worlds!
In Eternal Darkness it’s the building up of paranoia and anxiety due to the tension of the game and mechanical effects with the controls. A sanity meter builds up as incredibly weird circumstances that you stumble across test your nerves in very unique ways that you won’t know what you’ll come upon next!
I don’t think a game like it has come close. You’ll see bugs crawling on your TV screen or you engage enemies and your controller appears to be unresponsive as you battle them! Characters’ limbs seemingly drop off and the blooming save file pretends to be erased!
This week’s Hot Topic
The subject for this weekend’s Inbox was suggested by reader Gain2, who asks what is your favourite game that does not have a sequel?
Even if they’re not that that successful, most games get sequels at some point, but which is your favourite that never did? Why do you think it never got a follow-up and does it at least have a spiritual sequel or something similar?
Do you feel it’s too late for a sequel now and if not, how would you like it to look and play? If it’s a game with its first sequel coming up soon, how do you hope it will have evolved from the original?
E-mail your comments to: [email protected]
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