For good or bad, in the present-day video game release climate, if a commercial game is successful, there’s a very good chance that a sequel will be made. Even games with stories that tie things up rather neatly tend to be followed by sequels exploiting the recognizability of the IP. For the most part, this reality simply means fans get more of the franchises they love, and if every now and then something trite and terrible finds its way into the world, so be it.
That said — there are a number of games that deserve sequels, but due to poor sales — and to the chagrin of gamers everywhere — the prospect seems highly unlikely. Such was the case with Mirror’s Edge — despite garnering a substantial fanbase and high praise from critics, lackluster sales spelled nothing but doom for the franchise, and many assumed the series was dead in the water. To everyone’s surprise, EA announced a followup – Mirror’s Edge Catalyst – at E3 2014, and the game is being released this week.
Let’s check out some other games defied the odds and received surprise sequels.
Homefront sold decently well, but it was deemed mediocre by critics. The game, which imagines a world where a unified Korea has taken control of the United States, suffered from uninspired gameplay, a hokey story, and political controversy. Additionally, the dissolving of the game’s publisher – THQ, who sold the rights to Crytek, who in turn sold it to Koch Media – made a sequel seem very unlikely. Nonetheless, Deep Silver — a subsidiary of Koch Media — thought it a good idea to put out Homefront: The Revolution last month. It’s looking a lot like they were wrong, however: the game has been panned by critics for its lack of polish and repetitive gameplay.
Final Fantasy X-2
Before Final Fantasy X-2, nobody thought a sequel to a Final Fantasy game was even a remote possibility. From a narrative perspective, Final Fantasy X, like almost every game in the series before it, had a very conclusive ending. You can imagine how excited fans are when Square announced the game, which follows Yuna as she does everything in her power to avoid a destructive war in Spira. As the first game to feature merely three player characters and multiple endings, the game proved a remarkable entry in the Final Fantasy series for a number of reasons. An HD remaster of Final Fantasy X-2 is available for the PlayStation 4.
Shenmue and its sequel, Shenmue II, historically have had a ravenous — if not modestly sized — fan following. The games both sold very poorly, even after the series jumped from the ill-fated Dreamcast system to the Xbox with Shenmue II. Sega had very little incentive to release another sequel, which was a big shame for fans, as the second game concluded with a massive cliffhanger. Luckily, the series creators had the foresight to fund the release of Shenmue III via Kickstarter, allowing them to securely give fans what they want by developing the conclusion to Ryo Hazuki’s odyssey.
Double Fine’s Psychonauts performed so poorly that it was one of the primary reasons its publisher, Majesco, was forced to leave the video game market. Yikes. That said, the game received incredibly high praise from critics and has since developed a loyal cult following. Double Fine seems to have mastered the art of pleasing its fans, however, and despite a ten-year gap, announced at the 2015 Game Awards that they are working on Psychonauts 2.
Perfect Dark Zero
2.52 million people bought Perfect Dark for the N64, so it was far from a flop. That said, the franchise got caught up in Microsoft’s acquisition of Rare in 2002. It wasn’t until 2007 that Microsoft put out Perfect Dark Zero, a prequel, as a launch title for the Xbox 360. The game fared decently with critics, but couldn’t match the high quality of its N64 predecessor and, unfortunately, it seems unlikely that fans of the series will be treated to another installment.