The Sequel Guide Part 1
Sequels. All good games need Ďem, all bad games donít. But no matter
the quality of the game, a sequel or sequel to a sequel can make or
break a series. Now, back in the day of 2-D, the sequel didnít have
any specific rules. But today, we all look for, and donít look for,
certain aspects in the 2nd part of the adventure.
What makes a part 2 (or 3 or 4 and so on) good or bad? Need
some tips for future game designing? Well then, read the
Let the Sun Set (The Golden Sun flaw)
Part 1 needs to end. And I mean completely. Nothingís
wrong with dropping hints of a potential future adventure BUT DONíT
MAKE A SEQUEL NECESSARY! No one wants to get in the middle the
game, reach the climax, and right when the sacred ruby falls towards
the ground and the villain kidnaps the heroine, causing the hero to
start charging at him, the screen fades to black and the credits
start. Thatís not cool. Sequels shouldnít be a
money-making scheme right away.
Hint-Dropping: A Double-edged Sword
Some games feel the need to leave hints of a future adventure. This
is good, because the game can be completed in full and a sequel can
fit in. BUT! Hint-dropping is something that must be committed to.
If the designer leaves information and promises, oh letís say certain
Mystery Items (*coughBANJOKAZOOIEcough*) for all to see, and then does
not live up to that promise in the sequel, theyíll make many people
pretty irate. Leaving little bouncing game-packs wonít make up for
going back to the first game either. So if you donít leave hints, you
lose an easy and effective way to have the sequel anticipated. But if
you do, you have to live up to it, or elseÖ
Just Make the Sequel!
ÖOr you could just not drop hints and make a sequel that takes place x
years later. This way, you donít have to worry about fulfilling
promises. But stillÖ
Keep the Plot Whole and not Hole!
Sequels are good for filling in plot holes that were left uncovered in
the first installment. In fact, a game designer should listen to the
players complain about things that they didnít understand, so they can
be sure to answer and clarify those in the sequel. But! Filling in
holes is good, but making more is bad bad bad! Chrono Cross
was good for answering some questions we had after Trigger, but
many gamers were left even more confused after playing it. Not a good
Toto, I donít think weíre in Kansas anyÖactually, nevermind
Itís a sequel, right? So wouldnít it be a good idea to include part,
if not all, of the world from the first game? Banjo-Tooie and
Pokemon Gold/Silver get an A+ in this category. B-T started
the adventure in the same place as B-K. Pokemon G/S gave us
the WHOLE world from the original game, and you really canít get any
better than that. There is a feeling of nostalgia that you get from
returning to the old areas in a sequel, and it seriously enhances the
game experience. This isnít a must, but the ideal sequel would follow
Hey, on the last adventureÖ (The Referral Rule)
If a sequel cannot bring in the physical areas of the first or earlier
installment, it at least needs to mention the last game. Sequels that
mention or are based on the past adventure are great, and they really
have the tied in feel. The reference can be something big like The
Wind Wakerís, or small, subtle, but distinctive like in Chrono
Cross. In this day and age, if you donít mention old game at all,
it isnít a true sequel.
The subtle referral
- If you wish to make a sequel new player friendly, make sure you
include elements of the past game that will be understood by the
veteran players, but wonít leave any newbies in the dark. Again, look
at Chrono Cross.
If it ainít broke, donít fix it
A simple rule. If a game has something thatís good, donít change
it in the sequel. Just donít. Instead, get rid of the elements
that no one likes (Tingle anyone?)
The Law of the Second Meeting
A sequel should contain the same characters as the first. Even
if they arenít playable, they should be there or mentioned. The
sequel feel just isnít as strong if the second adventure is full of
complete strangers. The game that breaks this law needs to be
very strong in references to the past game and plot links. Yet,
even those wonít win some gamers over.
Hey! But youíre dead! (The King K. Rool Trick)
After taking hours beating and banishing the final boss of a game, no
one wants to see that theyíre up to their old tricks again in the
sequel. If they are, there better be a really good reason. I donít
think anyone wants to hear ďHaha! That was my clone that you beat!Ē
No, thatís corny and a cheap way for the designers to get an
antagonist. Guys like King K. Rool and Ganondorf have excuses,
because they are never really truly defeated. But when Andross starts
to come back after heís been killed, things start to get a little, uhh,
If itís a true sequel, keep the controls the same. If itís a true
sequel on a different console, try to keep them similar. Part of the
sequel feel is that itís only a second chapter, so the player should
be able to jump right in without having to learn anything new. Only
an evil programmer would feel the need to switch stuff around.
Character Control Conformity
In an ideal sequel, the characters will already know their old
abilities and have their old items. I mean, come on, do you really
forget how to jump? I donít understand how Link looses all of his
items and magic power, but he somehow does. I KNOW itís a plot thing,
but still. It just doesnít make sense. Banjo-Tooie, again,
serves as an ideal example. Banjo and Kazooie start the game with all
moves learned in Banjo-Kazooie.
The Tertiary Step
Making a trilogy is an iffy thing. First off, the first sequel has to
have done well. Now thereís a trap. Do you live off of the success
of the past two games or do you not press your luck? A trilogy can
have both wonderful and disastrous results. If the third adventure is
good, then you have a set of games that will go down in history. If
itís bad, then parts one and two will look bad as well, regardless of
how good they were. A trilogy can either make or break a series. A
simple rule is to follow this guide- in excess. Donít take chances
and try out new things that might fail. Stick to what works. Also,
wrap it up. Donít leave any lose ends at the finale of the trilogy.
I mean, do you really want to make another ďLand Before TimeĒ?
Threeís a good number to stop at before things get crazy.
So, in my opinion, what elements would an ideal sequel have? Letís
Is a believable second/third/etc. chapter
Resolves plot conflicts without making holes
Contains the same characters
Contains some of the same music
Has bad elements changed
Has part of the old world accessible
Mentions the old game
Has the same controls
Has a believable enemy
Following those guidelines, I would have to say the game thatís come
the closest to meet them isÖ
Pokemon Gold and Silver!
Well, thatís it for Sequel Guide 1. Stay tuned for part 2!