Making a sequel, by its nature, holds more pitfalls than doing an original piece. Creators have to come up with more ideas that revolve around the same characters and themes already explored in a previous entry. Maybe that “same-but-different” anchor leads so many sequels off the mark into middling outings, or worse, the outright abysmal.
Those same traps hold true for video games, perhaps even more so. Besides creating a compelling story and refreshing already-explored characters, game designers need to come up with new puzzles and enemies to keep players interested in a new title. Ever-advancing technology poses issues too: new game engines can rob games of their style and charm, or burden a title with not-so-fun minigames and sidequests. Ambition and technology can certainly help a game turn into a latter-day classic, while other times they can mire a game into a buggy mess.
The games mentioned here are all sequels to classic titles, and run the gamut of time from the early days of console gaming to the present. Some tried—and failed—to recreate or improve on the appeal of an original title, while other suffered development and distribution issues that hindered play. While some retain cult followings—even to the point of having defenders—nothing can mask the simple fact: these games suck! These are the 15 Worst Sequels To Classic Video Games.
15. Link: The Faces of Evil/Zelda: Wand of Gamelon
Writers and game enthusiasts around the internet have already widely discussed the failings of this abysmal entry in the Legend of Zelda series, so we’ll not belabor the point here. Just to recap though, Nintendo tried to get in on the CD-Rom market in the 1990s with this ill-conceived double release. After initial bickering with Sony, and later, Phillips over rights, Nintendo nixed the idea of the CD-Rom add on for Super Nintendo. To compensate, the company allowed Phillips to move forward with their own CD system, the CD-i, and to create several games using Zelda characters.
Unfortunately the CD-i wasn’t really designed as a game console; rather, the designers had intended it for generic multimedia more akin to a CD-ROM drive. That also created a problem, since the system also lacked the central processing power of a PC. The technical limitations resulted in games full of awful animation, lagging controls and sub-par voice acting. The game had poor sales, and is widely regarded as one of the biggest failures in game history today. Nintendo, for its part, refuses to even acknowledge the games.
14. Lego Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The Lego games have become their own sub-genre of games across a number of platforms, owing to simple design and licensing of classic properties as story fodder, chief among them, Star Wars. The first Lego Star Wars focused on the Prequel Trilogy while the second, superior game used the Original Trilogy as basis. But what to do when the entire saga had been played? Lego chose the popular Clone Wars television series to adapt next—a logical choice in and of itself. It’s in the execution that things went awry.
The Clone Wars suffers from garish design and boring, repetitive gameplay. The developers took a chance by creating a non-linear story for players to explore, but that only made the plot more confusing. Moreover, because the characters from the show are not as well known as their cinematic counterparts, only die-hard fans of the TV series would understand what the Hell is going on in certain levels! A large, maze-like hub also complicated gameplay. To date, it remains the nadir of the Lego franchise, an episode best kept far, far away.
13. Sonic the Hedghog 2006
Sega tried to break Nintendo’s corner on the home game market in the 1990s, and for a time, they managed to gain a foothold against their competitor. The strongest weapon in their arsenal: Sonic the Hedgehog, the blue, hyper-fast mammal that served as the company’s answer to the likes of Mario and Zelda. Sonic never quite achieved the levels of popularity as the classic Nintendo characters, though he did gain enough of a following to spawn an animated series, a line of successful games, and endless merchandising.
By 2005, Sega had stopped manufacturing its own consoles, instead focusing on games for other platforms—including the Nintendo Wii. To celebrate the upcoming 15th anniversary of the character, Sega rushed a reboot game into development for release in 2006 on the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. The hasty programming showed; wrought with bugs, the game suffered from slow load times, near-constant glitches and difficult controls. Longtime fans of the game also gnashed their teeth over a weird and almost incomprehensible plot which involved Sonic in love with a human woman. Subsequent games all but ignored the characters and events of this tragic reboot, simply pretending it didn’t happen.
12. Duke Nukem Forever
The original Duke Nukem games developed an enthusiastic cult following for their John Carpenter-style stories, irreverent humor, and ultraviolence. The series hit a franchise high with Duke Nukem 3D in 1996, which combined popular elements of first-person shooters and adventure games of the time with groundbreaking graphics. Though the series attracted criticism for its adult content and violence, it nonetheless won positive reviews and became a milestone in gaming. Following the success of Duke Nukem 3D, developer 3D Realms announced a sequel set for release in 1998.
Then things got nasty. Indecisiveness on the part of game co-creator George Broussard hampered development, and an ever-changing game engine forced developers to effectively scrap all progress on the game more than once. Conflicts with publisher Take-Two as well as finance difficulties further delayed the sequel’s release. When the game finally went on sale in 2011, critics attacked it for its poor controls and dated design, as well as its taking the vulgar humor to offensive levels. Much like the action heroes of the ’90s, Duke Nukem suddenly seemed old and antiquated — the Expendables of gaming.
11. Myst: Revelation
Myst didn’t just cause an earthquake in gaming upon release in 1993, it became a cultural landmark, and even helped drive the computer boom of the ’90s, thanks to its use of CD-Rom technology. Still lauded for a compelling story and breathtaking graphics, Myst launched a series of successful games that raised the bar on imagination. By 2004, though, gaming tastes and styles had changed, and the fourth game in the series, Revelation, proved less than its title would imply.
The Myst games had always relied on complicated logic puzzles and players exploring the game for interactive hotspots, but the increased detail made the game almost impossible. The ever-groundbreaking graphics required a top of the line computer to run correctly, and lag and choppiness hindered game play. Navigating the worlds became tedious thanks to the sprawling maps of the game, as did its long load times. Praised upon release and bought by many a Myst lover, Revelation may be a qualified success, though that doesn’t make it a good sequel, or even a fun game.
10. Lego Indiana Jones 2
The original Lego Indiana Jones game, like its Star Wars cousin, offered fans of the movie series simple, playable levels to relieve their favorite moments of the beloved films. While not as popular as some of the other Lego titles, it still enjoyed strong sales, positive reviews, and a strong fan following. The same does not hold true for the underwritten sequel, Lego Indiana Jones 2.
Released to integrate the events of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull into the game canon, Lego Indiana Jones 2 also reimagined moments from the original game to add gameplay to the already-lean story. While the Crystal Skull levels did offer fun in their own right, reviewing the events of the previous films felt repetitive and reductive. Fan antipathy to the Crystal Skull film also might have hampered reception of the game almost solely based on that installment. Repetitive, confusing and even worse, boring, Lego Indiana Jones 2 likely killed any future Lego games bearing the Indiana Jones moniker, and it stands as one of Traveller’s Tale’s absolute worst Lego-based creations.
9. Goldeneye: Rogue Agent
It’s hard to understate the effect of the original Goldeneye, 007 for Nintendo 64. The game raised the bar on first-person shooters, and helped popularize multiplayer gaming. The game also made new innovations in adapting a film story to a game, including facsimiles of sets, references to the events of the plot, and integrated new levels of character interaction, like stealth.
Eight years later, developer EA Games tried to recapture the success of the original Goldeneye, 007 with Goldeneye: Rogue Agent, a new first-person shooter for the Xbox, Playstation, and later, Nintendo DS. The follow-up, however, did not have a similar effect to that of its predecessor. Though the game tapped Hollywood Bond producer Ken Adam, costume designer Kym Barrett and acclaimed musician Paul Oakenfold to work on the project, the hype and pedigree of the creative team couldn’t rescue a bad game. Players criticized Goldeneye: Rogue Agent for its breaking with Bond film canon, and boring, repetitive gameplay. Players also faulted the game for a lack of innovation, relying instead on the presence of legendary actors Judi Dench and Christopher Lee to boost sales. Though the game sold well, sales figures couldn’t mask a lackluster game in alluring packaging.
8. Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV had all the makings of a great game: the same development and story team that had worked on previous, acclaimed games, advances in graphics, and a massive multiplayer online gaming feature made to rival World of Warcraft. Despite massive hype and years in development, an extensive roll-out couldn’t shield developer Square Enix from immediate player backlash.
Critics and players both attacked Final Fantasy XIV for a frustrating user interface and limited multiplayer capacity. Game engineers later revealed that they had tried to modify the game engine used in previous Final Fantasy games to complete this newest entry, which proved a disaster. More advanced graphics forced engineers to place limitations on the game, both in terms of graphics and play. Designers reused a number of graphic details to save on memory space, while further memory limitations put a cap on the size of multiplayer play to only 20 players at a time. The resulting game seemed unfinished; loaded with glitches, interface problems and programming limitations, Final Fantasy XIV became known as one of the biggest disappointments in modern gaming. Square Enix’s promises of patches to fix the game which never materialized only added to the negative reputation of the title.
7. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2
Star Wars has long since become a staple of gaming titles, much in the way the film series has become a pillar of all things geeky. Knights of the Old Republic debuted a new era in Star Wars games in 2003, and developer Obsidian Entertainment rushed this sequel into development for release the following year. That abbreviated programming period likely led to Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords landing as an entry here.
Knights of the Old Republic II tried to improve on graphics and user interface, but clearly and immediately ran into problems given the impending release date. Rather than try to streamline and complete the game, Obsidian mandated the inclusion of numerous cutscenes and minigames which took up precious time of the game programmers. The final release contained numerous bugs, and has become noted for its lack of resolution to the game story. Fans later released patches that would fix game glitches, as well as additional cutscenes based on the game script that would provide closure to the story. Though the game sold well and still has an enthusiastic following, Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords still carries the reputation of a frustrating, unfinished game.
6. Turok: Evolution
The original Turok: Dinosaur Hunter became a surprise hit, allowing players to experience first-person hunting and shooting of dinosaurs in a way the Jurassic Park games never quite captured. It also combined some of the best story and treasure hunting elements of Tomb Raider into a wild and fun adventure game which also featured state-of-the-art graphics. Critics and players hailed the game as a masterpiece, so naturally, developer Iguana Entertainment wanted to keep the franchise alive with the sequel. And, like so many movies and games before it, the sequel is where the franchise went off the rails.
Five years after the original game’s debut, in 2005, Turok: Evolution hit consoles. Whereas the original had a meteoric rise, the aforementioned sequel crashed like a comet—not unlike the one that wiped out the actual dinosaurs! The sequel was derided for graphic bugs, a boring story and a dreadful villain bad enough to spawn his own line of “dishonor” awards! That the Tobias Buckner Awards, so named for the loathed cyborg villain in Turok: Evolution, has outlasted the game in notoriety says a lot about just how much players hated the game!
5. Resident Evil 6
A weak AI, a drifting camera and overlong campaigns frustrated players in the sixth entry of the popular Resident Evil series. That may be due to an overly-ambitious design from publisher Capcom, which decided to abandon the game engine which had made the previous two Resident Evil games so successful. Instead, the producers opted for a more multiplayer-based design, and less of sense of atmospheric horror. Several production delays also hampered the game’s reception and hint at the numerous glitches and interface problems present in the final release.
Capcom pushed the release date of Resident Evil 6 from November to October 2012, further complicating matters. Programmers had already had to scrap and redo work on the game more than once, and the rushed schedule led to the release of an unfinished game. Players groused over a lack of downloadable add-ons for the title. Capcom quickly released patches for better controls, and to allow players to bypass certain campaigns. Nevertheless, the title marks a low point for the series, one which robbed itself of everything players had come to love about Resident Evil.
4. Star Wars: Force Unleashed II
Two years after The Force Unleashed won the hearts of gamers and hardcore Star Wars fans alike, LucasArts released this follow-up to an altogether different reception. The Force Unleashed II picked up after the events of its predecessor with a clone of the first game’s main character again faced with choosing between the Light and Dark Sides of the Force. The developers, unfortunately, offered little in the way of innovation to the game other than updated graphics. Perhaps the development team should have spent more time on the storyline, which received universal derision from critics. Attacked for a lack of development and awkward cameos from popular characters from the movies, players found the story less than engaging, and more of an attempt to capitalize on the story of the first game!
The Force Unleashed underperformed in sales terms. Fans wary of a claustrophobic, repetitive game with no sense of closure ignored it, preferring instead to wait for The Force Unleashed III. Unfortunately, the sale of LucasFilm to Disney nixed any plans to revisit The Force Unleashed series. What started with one of the most praised and lauded games of its is time ended on this foul and unsatisfying note.
3. Caslevania 3: Dracula’s Curse
The original Castlevania game for the NES became one of the signature titles of the gaming system. Relying on classic horror tropes, it combined side scrolling action with atmospheric story to make one of the best adventure games ever created. The sequel, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, remains divisive among gamers. While difficult and somewhat of a departure from the mechanics of the original game, it nonetheless justified its changes with non-linear gameplay, treasure hunts, and some inventive storytelling. Players used to straightforward play on the NES would have no doubt found the labyrinth structure frustrating without a hint guide, but in the internet era of online tutorials and hints, Simon’s Quest plays better than it did on release.
The same cannot be said for the third entry in the series, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Though the game introduced ambitious and compelling elements like a multi-pathway game and playable secondary characters, it floundered under one simple principle: it’s too damn hard! In Simon’s Quest, the game allowed players to maintain their experience points, weapons and location if they lost a life. Dracula’s Curse, by contrast, robbed gamers of their accrued points and weapons upon every death, and sent them back to the start of the stage! This constant do-over design and lack of weapons in a given level made advancement almost impossible, while wonky controls (an unfortunate hallmark of the series) only added to the difficulty. Few players could even boast making it to the final boss, let alone defeating him. 25 years after the cartridge hit shelves, Castlevania III’s subtitle remains all too prescient: players do nothing but curse at the damn game!
2. Devil May Cry 2
Devil May Cry continued the long string of success for Capcom in 2001. What began as a more literate sequel to Resident Evil was reworked into an action game of its own, one that surprised players with its originality and superb graphics. When the original sold in massive numbers and earned strong reviews, a sequel became a foregone conclusion. Two years in the making, Devil May Cry 2 would have an altogether different reception.
The sequel debuted in 2003 to a chorus of groans. Critics and players, so enchanted with the first game’s combat and control systems, found the combat and control of the sequel to be a giant step backward. Subpar graphics turned off players, as did significant changes to the personalities of beloved characters. Despite selling well over a million copies, Devil May Cry 2 earned the reputation of a lazy, rushed sequel. Fortunately, Capcom took notice of the backlash, and spent more time on refining Devil May Cry 3 into a more enjoyable experience.
1. Zelda 2: The Adventure of Link
Hang on, before you throw stones—and we know some of you reading this will want to—hear us out. The original Legend of Zelda is a masterpiece, one of the best games ever produced. It remains totally playable even today, more so than numerous contemporary video game titles. The game’s first divisive sequel, while strong on story, could have ended the series outright thanks to some odd design choices.
The Adventure of Link, of course, dispenses with the top-down view, along with just about everything else that made the original game so much fun. Instead of collecting objects which can level-up health or serve as weapons, The Adventure of Link focuses on experience points. That choice increases difficulty throughout the game, as does the need to learn new combat moves. Even worse, the game denied fans the choice of how to spend experience points—action vs. health vs. magic—forcing them instead to accept a forced power up or risk losing all their points upon death! Fans praised the inclusion of magic spells in the game, though half of the spells in the game function at only a single point in the plot before becoming useless.
The Adventure of Link dispensed with the whimsy and player choice of the original game in favor of a forced plot, near-useless power-ups, and extreme difficulty. Though it maintains a strong following of apologists today who see it as a misunderstood sequel, no amount of historical revision can get past the fact that it abandons almost everything to love about the original game in favor of more difficult and frustrating gameplay. It’s not just a disappointing sequel; it’s a bad game.
There are plenty of awful game sequels we didn’t mention. Did we miss your most hated? Tell us in the comments!