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Gamings Terrible Twos: Gears of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 and many more

March 3, 2010

Gaming’s Terrible Twos: Gears of War 2, Metal Gear Solid 2 and many more

By Adam Brown

When sequels fail to live up to expectations, we must call them out 

Whenever a fantastic new intellectual property comes out my first reaction to it is always one of joy. Of course, after completing the title, it is then quickly followed by the longing for a sequel that takes everything wonderful about the game and amplifies it by tenfold, while also fixing minor issues that I may have encountered.  Some sequels seem more than equipped for this challenge, with recent titles such as Uncharted 2 and Mass Effect 2 being prime examples. 

Unfortunately, this type of sequel success isn’t always a given.  Even some of the biggest franchises out there have stumbled on their second tries, leaving a plethora of heartbroken fans in the wake of an either flawed or drastically different than expected sequel.  As testament to this all too common phenomenon, here are five of the most notable examples of sequels throughout the years bearing the number 2, or the significantly more stylish Roman numeral II, that sadly couldn’t manage to live up to the expectations set by the fans of their beloved predecessors.

Super Mario Bros. 2

Let’s face it; Super Mario Bros. 2 was an entertaining game but certainly not the sequel that most fans were expecting.  Heck, it wasn’t even technically a Mario game at all.  After there was some negative feedback of the original Super Mario Bros. 2 in Japan because of the title’s difficulty and similarity to the first Super Mario Bros., Nintendo decided to convert an Arabian themed platformer named Yume Kojo: Doki Doki Panic into the western Mario sequel. 

This gave birth to a title that felt very different than most would have anticipated, with Mario and crew tossing vegetables to take down opponents and using potions to find hidden doors to parallel worlds.  Sure, we eventually got the true Super Mario Bros. 2, now called Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, but longtime fans will never forget that first head scratching moment they had to pluck a turnip from the ground in order to chuck it at advancing Shy Guys.       

Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link

The original Legend of Zelda game was an amazing and groundbreaking title that deservedly had a ton of fans eagerly awaiting a sequel.  Players waiting for another great action adventure title were instead blindsided by The Adventure of Link, which is better described as a side-scrolling RPG platformer. 

Unlike the previous title, which had Link adventuring and fighting from an overhead vantage point, this sequel instead consisted of an overworld map that would transition to side-scrolling segments whenever any action was required.  While not a bad game, the decision to incorporate a significant side-scrolling element into this sequel was off-putting at the time, especially considering that most other games were also attempting to mimic aspects of the incredibly popular Super Mario Bros. series.  As a result, fans waiting for a more traditional sequel had to hold out for another four years awaiting the release of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the SNES, whose naming was quite appropriate since it returned the series back to its original form.              

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

I believe the feelings of most Metal Gear fans upon the release of Metal Gear Solid 2 (MGS2) can best be described by this brief skit. 

“Man, that MGS2 demo was amazing.  The graphics are incredible compared to last time and Snake is still as awesome as ever, I can’t wait to play the finished game.  Sweet, I remember this part from the demo so I will just quickly get through this and see what else Snake will need to…, wait, where did Snake go?  Are you kidding me, am I going to have to play through the rest of this title as this silver-haired whiner?  Great, and now he’s naked.  I wonder how much credit I can get if I trade this in quickly.”

This bait and switch that had fans believing that MGS2 would be another adventure involving Snake, only to replace this beloved character with Raiden – who was widely disliked – throughout most of the title served as a slap in the face to many of the series’ fans.  Definitely unfortunate since the game itself was actually quite good, so as long as you didn’t mind having Snake playing second fiddle.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords

More than any other game on this list, KOTOR II was a victim of timing.  After the immense success of the original KOTOR, the sequel was handed off to a new developer, who was only given about a year in which to pump it out.  As a result, the game had an unhealthy amount of technical issues and bugs that certainly made the game feel unrefined, if not unfinished. 

Another unfortunate side effect of the incredibly short development time directly affected the story, which was one of the original’s strongest components.  In order to get the game onto shelves on time there were large amounts of content gutted from the intended experience including a droid factory, several locations, as well as an entire planet. 

While the game can still be enjoyed for what it is, the rushed development turned what could have been another masterpiece into a title that felt rather buggy, unpolished, and entirely incomplete.  Not the kind of sequel one would expect from such a critically and commercially celebrated title.    

Gears of War 2

As a single-player experience, Gears of War 2 more than surpassed its predecessor.  However, many fans of this series wound up buying the sequel in order to play what was supposed to be its much improved multiplayer component.  While I’ll agree that the multiplayer offering in Gears 2 is definitely better than the original’s, it was almost completely broken when the title was released.  Tons of people ran out to purchase this game day one, only to return home to find out that it was nearly impossible to actually get into a multiplayer match due to significant matchmaking issues.  Thankfully, these problems have since been addressed and fixed, but this still hasn’t helped to fully remove the sour taste that this experience has left in many Gears fans’ mouths.     

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