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Matt Keller
09 Jun, 2006

Easy Mode #27

PALGN Feature | Your fortnightly serve of whinging diatribe.
Well, it’s the bargain hunter’s favourite time of year right now with many of the June sales in full swing. There have been a few surprises at the sales – the usually reliable EB’s sale has been utter crap, yet the big chain stores like Target and Myer are bringing in the big bargains. Some of the usual suspects like JB continue uphold their bargain-centric reputations. Embrace your love of mass consumerism and pick up a few games on the cheap to get you through the winter (or summer for our UK chums) drought. I’ll be running through a few of my picks for the bargains, but first, a retrospective…

Matt’s Somewhat Serious Bit

As the video game market expands and new technology continues to drive development costs higher, many companies are pumping out sequels. However, these sequels have got to come from somewhere, and occasionally a developer will deliver a successful new intellectual property for a publisher to milk – usually at the start of a new generation of hardware. The fans of the new game will inevitably want a sequel, and in most cases, their prayers will be answered. Unfortunately, these sequels are occasionally a big letdown, so this week I thought we’d look at a few of the more outstanding sequels in a bit we’ll call “2 Disappointing.” But first, a lesson in the English language.

Dictionary.com defines disappointing as “Not up to expectations or hopes.” So before firing off your hate filled responses, please note that the games listed are here because they were a let-down, not because they are necessarily bad.

Devil May Cry 2
F: PlayStation 2
D: Capcom
P: Capcom
R: 2003
PALGN Score: 7

2001 was a big year for Capcom, with high sales from both established franchises like Resident Evil (a quick port of Code Veronica X yielding big sales) and new intellectual property like Onimusha and Devil May Cry. Fans took a liking to the cocky antics of Devil May Cry’s protagonist Dante, and the action the game provided was very intense. With over 4 million copies sold, Devil May Cry was one of the games that really put the PlayStation 2 on the map early in its career.

Capcom got into a bit of a panic in 2002, when they realised they had no major release for the holiday season. The Japanese developer was obviously feeling quite devious one day when they decided to take an existing work-in-progress (the title of which I do not know), slap Dante into it, call it Devil May Cry 2 and have it on shelves before Christmas. Funnily enough, the game was delayed into January, missing the holiday rush. The reaction to Devil May Cry 2 wasn’t good, with the game’s difficulty considerably toned down over its predecessor, not to mention the more mature attitude of Dante and the completely non-sensical plot. The game shipped on 2 DVDs, with one for Dante and the other for Lucia, who just happens to be the heroine of the game that became Devil May Cry 2. But hey, it’s not the first time another product was evolved into a Devil May Cry title – the first game was originally Resident Evil 4.

Not really all that good

Not really all that good
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The game did actually meet with favourable sales initially, but failed to repeat the success of the first game. Its performance was enough to ensure that a 3rd game was released, Dante’s Awakening, which saw the game’s development handled by the original development team – a real return to form for the Devil May Cry series, but the damage the series suffered to its reputation has yet to be fully repaired.

Driver 2
F: PlayStation
D: Reflections
P: GT Interactive (now Atari)
R: 2000
PALGN Review: NR

When Driver was released in 1999, it began a new era of action-driving games that took a lot of inspiration from Hollywood action films. With faithful reproductions of American cities on an unprecedented scale (for 3D) and its high energy action car chases, Driver delivered a real kick in the pants to the PlayStation’s action game line-up. The game was a big success, selling over 5 million copies.

Driver 2 was one of the last highly anticipated titles on the PlayStation with developer Reflections promising big new additions to the game to basically beat the rival GTA series, by taking their concept to 3D before they had a chance. Driver 2’s biggest new features were on foot sections and car jacking. Unfortunately, these new additions proved too ambitious for Reflections, with the new bits suffering from absolutely atrocious control which killed any joy the game potentially had – the game is on the verge of being unplayable. Driver 2’s framerate really killed the fun one could derive from the driving sections, leaving the package to be an unmitigated disaster. Yet, it still sold several million copies.

See Grand Theft Auto 3 for a good stab at this game

See Grand Theft Auto 3 for a good stab at this game
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Many had faith that Reflections would deliver a better game if they had superior technology, so anticipation for Driver 3 (or Driv3r) was quite high, but we all know how this story ends. It’s possible that the Driver series may never again enjoy the critical and commercial success of the first game.

Super Mario Bros. 2: Mario Madness
F: NES
D: Nintendo EAD
P: Nintendo
R: 1988
PALGN Review: NR

Super Mario Bros. is the game that put Nintendo on the map, and remains the highest selling video game to date. But for some reason, Nintendo felt that the West was not ready for the real Super Mario Bros. 2. There are quite a few different reasons why the switch was made, and honestly, the party line story about the game being too difficult for American audiences is pretty much spot on (this writer required the assistance of save states to beat it).

Instead of releasing the real Super Mario Bros. 2, Nintendo decided to give a bit of a Mario makeover to a small profile game named Doki Doki Panic. The slower paced and totally different gameplay was a bit unpleasant and the ending totally unsatisfying, but the game has a dedicated fanbase. It didn’t exactly do any harm to the Mario brand either, even if it didn’t repeat the success of the original game, with Super Mario Bros. 3 selling somewhere in the region of 20 million units. Western gamers would not see the real Super Mario Bros. 2 until its inclusion in Super Mario All Stars in 1993, although it did appear in a polished up form – you can see it in its original form (with a slightly different screen ratio) on the Game Boy Color’s Super Mario Bros. DX.

Viewtiful Joe 2
F: GameCube/PlayStation 2
D: Clover Studio
P: Capcom
R: 2004
PALGN Review: 8

The “Capcom 5” is somewhat funny in hindsight; one didn’t make it to market, one was a fairly mediocre shooter (with hypnotic ass shaking), one was completely off the wall, one is unanimously considered to be the best game of the generation, and one was a moderate success and a promising franchising opportunity. Viewtiful Joe was a unique brawler which caught the attention of the wider Nintendo fanbase, mostly due to its initial exclusivity. The game was pretty damn fun (gaining a rare 9/10 from yours truly) with its homage to Hollywood clichés and cool features like slow-mo and fast forward.

Capcom drew the ire of the rabid Nintendo fanbase when they took Joe to the PlayStation 2 with additional features and new playable features. The Nintendo fans also did not appreciate the fact that the sequel would also be released simultaneously on both forms. These factors only relate to the game’s poor commercial performance; the combined sales of the two versions equated to about half of the sales of the original game’s GameCube release.

My main disappointments with Viewtiful Joe 2 are due to the fact that Capcom cut the most appealing new feature out of the game just weeks prior to release, and that the sequel largely did nothing to improve on the original game. The lack of co-operative play, a feature that Viewtiful Joe was crying out for, is pretty much responsible for killing all interest in the title. The series has never really recovered – Joe 2 did alright when it hit the bargain bin, but Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble on the DS was a big bomb despite being a critical darling, and Red Hot Rumble…let’s pretend that one doesn’t exist (a feat easily achieved by its performance at retail).

Halo 2
F: Xbox
D: Bungie
P: Microsoft Game Studios
R: 2004
PALGN Review: 9

It’s not Easy Mode without a little controversy.

I’d say that if it were not for its multiplayer component, Halo 2 would be thought of (or at least been debated about) as being a major disappointment. Halo is the only reason the Xbox took off, because it provided a damn solid single player and co-operative experience, and an enjoyable multiplayer game. Consider this: Halo was thrown together in 9 months, yet is thought of as being one of the best of this generation, so forgive me for having higher expectations when the same developer has four times as long to deliver a sequel.

A really cool sequence, but it wasn't in the real game

A really cool sequence, but it wasn't in the real game
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Perhaps the biggest source of Halo 2’s disappointment stems from the E3 2003 demo reel. Master Chief and Cortana in the middle of a huge battle on Earth. All Bungie needed to do was give us one hell of a fight on Earth, just like what we saw in the demonstration. Halo 2’s Earth fight lasted for basically one level. The best level in the game. The rest of Halo 2 is a cheap rehash of the original game, including the terrible cut and paste level design – Halo’s #1 weakness. But what about that ending. Just when it looked like we were going to get the big Earth battle we so desired……BAM! End Credits.

Halo 2’s cliff-hanger ending will only serve to bolster the excitement for the third game. I remain unconvinced that we will ever get our large scale battles on Earth, especially with the teaser for the third game implying that it will be set after the Covenant win the fight on Earth. I don’t care if it’s a losing battle – just let me fight it!

Matt’s Other Serious Bit

June 30 is a pretty hectic time in the world of business, and consumers can benefit by waiting for stores to clear out their excess stock. I thought I’d take some time this week to pimp a few of the best deals going around.

Dragon Quest
F: PlayStation 2
D: Level 5
P: Square Enix
R: 2006
PALGN Score: 8.5

Best deal: Myer – 50% off (49.95)

It’s the highest selling series of RPGs in Japan, yet it took forever to make it back to PAL Shores. Old school in its play style, but packed with an awesome visual style, both artistically and technically, Dragon Quest is easily one of the top 5 RPGs on the PlayStation 2. Expect to get about 100 hours of play out of this one if you want to see all it has to offer – very good mileage for those on a limited budget.

Got a spare 100 hours?

Got a spare 100 hours?
Close
Taito Legends 2
F: PlayStation 2/Xbox/PC
D: Taito
P: Empire Interactive
R: 2006
PALGN Review: 8

Best Deal: EB Games – 50% off ($25)

Taito were at the forefront of arcade game development in the 80’s and 90’s, and this compilation has a stack of their best efforts. But who gives a crap about the other games in the package when you can be playing the awesome Elevator Action Returns. You can find the original Taito Legends around for a similar price if you want to rummage through the disorganised mess that is the EB sale.

The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
F: Game Boy Advance
D: Flagship
P: Nintendo
R: 2005
PALGN Review: 9

Best Deal: Myer – 50% off ($35)

It’s fricking Zelda.

..
It sure is


World of Warcraft
F: PC
D: Blizzard
P: Vivendi
R: 2004
PALGN Review: NR

Best Deal: EB Games - 50% off ($45 + a monthly fee and your soul)

6 million addicts can’t be wrong. Easy Mode will not be responsible for the following events which may arise as a result of the purchase of World of Warcraft;
Is it worth selling your soul for? Probably

Is it worth selling your soul for? Probably
Close
New Super Mario Bros.
F: Nintendo DS
D: Nintendo EAD
P: Nintendo
R: 2006
PALGN Review: 9

Best Deal – David Jones ($55)

Mario’s return to 2D has come at the right time, with many stores giving reasonably good discounts on what may well be the Nintendo DS’s game of the year. Pick up a copy immediately and rediscover what made gaming fun.

Why don’t they bring back…Poochy

Christmas 1995 saw the release of Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. The weird and wonderful platformer is often remembered as one of the greatest games of all time, but Yoshi’s canine companion Poochy seems to have been long forgotten, to the point where he didn’t even get a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Poochy ponders the important questions, like how the heck a male Yoshi lays eggs

Poochy ponders the important questions, like how the heck a male Yoshi lays eggs
Close
Poochy is a rather unconventional hound, with no ears and a bizarre-looking tail – he looks like a bit of a freak, but is quite lovable nonetheless. He’s super strong and super stupid (despite the name of his debut level being “Poochy Ain’t Stupid”), evidenced by the fact that he as the ability to carry you over and push you into spikes and lava.

Nintendo has two opportunities in the pipeline to bring back the beloved Poochy – as a trophy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, or in his original role in Yoshi’s Island 2. Only time will tell if we will see the freaky dog in action once again.

Easy Feedback

Which sequels have you been really hyped about, but ended up being disappointed with? What made the game disappointing? What do you think the developer could have done to make the game better?

Post your answers in the comments.

The views and opinions expressed in Easy Mode are those solely of the writer, and do not reperesent those of PALGN, its sponsors, advertisers or affiliates

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21 Comments
7 years ago
I heart Poochy. But if theres anything from Yoshi's Island that needs to be brought back in some form its Fuzzy. Such absolute brilliance, if theres not a Fuzzy level in YI2 I will cry.

Another very good article.
7 years ago
I’d say that if it were not for its multiplayer component, Halo 2 would be thought of (or at least been debated about) as being a major disappointment.

No, Halo 2 was a disappointment, through and through. The multiplayer component was broken and still is, since the release.
7 years ago
I see I'm one of the extreme few who liked Halo 2 better then Halo:CE icon_lol.gif
7 years ago
DancesInUnderwear wrote
I heart Poochy. But if theres anything from Yoshi's Island that needs to be brought back in some form its Fuzzy. Such absolute brilliance, if theres not a Fuzzy level in YI2 I will cry.

Another very good article.
Fuzzy must return. I replayed the fuzzy level in the original like 100 times icon_lol.gif

And yes, Halo 2 was a disappointment. With all the hype it was recieving prior to its release, I was expecting one hell of an insane game (and the fact that I saw that E3 2003 demo...man that looked freaking awesome), but it came out pretty crappy.
7 years ago
A particularly good Easy Mode this week, good show.
7 years ago
Touch Fuzzy get dizzy!
7 years ago
I didn't like DMC2 either, but DMC3 made up for that. One big dissapointment was that in 2 they took out the cheese and got serious! Dialogue like "Flock off feather face, or stick around and have some fun" (I think that was it) was why I liked DMC1. The whole guitar thing in 3 plus the cutscenes and I forgave all.

Xenosaga 2 was awful but again 3 looks like it might be OK again... Grandia 1 was better than 2 and 3, Shadow Hearts 3 stretched the concept a bit thin and I metroid prime 2 wasn't as cool as 1.

Often the sequel is dissapointing for me because it doesn't bring anything really new to the picture and I feel like I'm playing the previous game again icon_sad.gif

ps. I didn't like RE4 much, and I hate Dragon Quest's art style, but they're personal things.
7 years ago
Excellent return to form, Matt.

Sequels I've been dissapointed with? Red Faction 2 springs to mind. Red Faction was an interesting concept, and RF2 had a serious chance to expand on the shortcomings that were self-evident in the original, and create a really strong environment-heavy franchise. However, that wasn't to be as the sequel turned out to be merely a slightly-better-looking version of the first.

The same applies to Summoner.
7 years ago
Spanca wrote
Touch Fuzzy get dizzy!
Best level name, EVAR!!1!!!!!1!!!!!11!!
7 years ago
I'm going to say Halo 2 campaign was a easily better then the original Halo, in most areas. Still I can see where people are coming from, it didn't really have that "wow" factor from the original.

Good read as always.

Oh bring back Poochy!!! I always played as him in Tetris Attack icon_biggrin.gif
7 years ago
Good write-up - entertaining, as always!
icon_y1.gif

I'm one of those folks who enjoyed "Super Mario Bros. 2" (and I refer to the version appropriated from "Doki Doki Panic", not the Japanese "Lost Levels" sequel) - it was a fun game with cool new enemies (well, I though the Shy Guys were cool when I first got the game) and very catchy theme music (one of my favourite "Super Mario" overworld themes).

And let's face it, if it weren't for that game then "Yoshi's Island" wouldn't have turned out the same - it was full of Shy Guys!
icon_wink.gif

On the topic of "Yoshi's Island", I say bring back Poochy simply for the nostalgia factor (although I'm quite neutral on the charactre in terms of endearment and all that), but DEFINITELY bring back the Fuzzies - that level was hilarious!
icon_lol.gif
7 years ago
Don't tell me I'm the only one who touched intentionally? icon_razz.gif
7 years ago
Interestingly, Wikipedia has Artoon down as a co-developer of "Yoshi's Island 2"...

You know, the developer that brought us that "Yoshi's Topsy Turvy" game, which wasn't exactly what we'd call a "great game".

Now, I know Wikipedia isn't a definitive source for information, but I just saw it now, and it does say Artoon - that is interesting.

See, another thing I found was that "Super Princess Peach" was apparently developed by TOSE (of "Stafy" fame) and not by Nintendo as I originally thought - apparently they don't like to put themselves in the credits of a lot of the projects they work on. Seems weird, and I don't quite yet know if it's true.

Top this all off with the news that the new DS Wario platformer is actually being developed by Suzak (they did some of the "F-Zero" GBA games).

So, why is Nintendo giving all their franchise spin-off platformers to other developers to work on?
This is terrible for a pedantic Nintendo collector like me - I've been skipping over any "Super Mario"-related spin-off platformers that weren't first-party, and now it seems a number of the current and future releases will fall into this category.

Might have to reconsider this stance...

icon_lol.gif
7 years ago
Spanca wrote
Don't tell me I'm the only one who touched intentionally? icon_razz.gif
I touched them intentionally icon_razz.gif

I thought DMC2 was an absolute travesty. Being an avid DMC player (I've got almost 100 hours in DMC3 now, and I'm still trying to S rank all of DMD icon_smile.gif ), when I picked up DMC2 I wanted to cry. Combat was insanely shallow and easy, and the bosses were incredibly tedious. The only cool thing which I thought was in that game when you beat one boss, and he says "I coulda been king of this world!",Dante replies with "Oh yeah? Well, here's your crown", points E&I at him and blasts him through a window so he can fall to his death. Cheesy, and not as good as DMC or DMC3, but it was still pretty good icon_smile.gif
Also the story sucked big time. And there was no Neo Angelo/Vergil which made it even worse icon_razz.gif
7 years ago
DancesInUnderwear wrote
I heart Poochy. But if theres anything from Yoshi's Island that needs to be brought back in some form its Fuzzy. Such absolute brilliance, if theres not a Fuzzy level in YI2 I will cry.

Another very good article.
I reckon it will be back...especially seeing the DS motto is "Touching Is Good"

Everyone wants to touch Fuzzy again!
7 years ago
I touched Fuzzy intentionally, I had to know what it meant by dizzy. icon_biggrin.gif

Poochy and Fuzzy both need to return for YI2, plus Shyguys must be in abundance.

It's true TOSE don't like to have their name on a game. Read this article on Gamasutra for reasoning. Don't be so pedantic, it's just another developer, it's like not playing Metroid Prime as it was made by Retro Studios and not R&D1.

I was disappointed by Way of the Samurai 2, the first was a fairly good linear hack and slash game with cool swords, and great choose your own style plot. The sequel was an uninteresting, open ended hack and slash game with cool swords, and uninteresting plot.

That's about it, apart from lack of difficulty in certain sequels. Guess we were spoilt with Lost Levels, that was such an awesome game. It was like playing SMB over again, yet again. Good as an inclusion in Super Mario Bros DX (although some levels were lost - world 9 + lettered worlds, love the irony there) and All Stars, don't know if I would have bought it.
7 years ago
"Interestingly, Wikipedia has Artoon down as a co-developer of "Yoshi's Island 2"..."

That's true actually. I'm not a huge fan of Artoon after Topsy Turvy, but developers do change through their mistakes and in their defence, it was a horrible concept. I perfect example of a massive turn around in quality is from Fuse Games. The developers made Mario Pinball for the GBA and this year (or last?) produced an excellent result in Metroid Prime Pinball. Same sort of game concept, and the developers were able to expand on their previous mistakes, which in the end made Metroid Pinball an excellent title.

Most sequels do have trouble replicating success though. I actually mentioned this in my Rise of Nations review - I'm a fan of the originals. Halo was significantly better than the second, and this follows through with Metroid Prime being much more fairly balanced on all fronts. I think developers often try to expand on ideas that gamers thought were excellent in the previous game, but they end up over using that concept.

A personal favourite 'sequel of sorts' was Majora's Mask. I thought Nintendo did enough to make the game feel different, whilst also clinging onto some elements that made Ocarina of Time so successful. I thought it was a perfect blend since it was so radically different than past attempts - which is different with Halo vs. Halo 2 and Metroid Prime vs. Metroid Prime 2. Same sh!t, different smell.
7 years ago
armageddon12 wrote
Don't be so pedantic, it's just another developer, it's like not playing Metroid Prime as it was made by Retro Studios and not R&D1.
Yeah, I am a bit overly-picky with my games.

That said, Nintendo owns Retro Studios, so the "Metroid Prime" games are first-party, but that's all by the by.

On the "Super Mario" related games, and on what Mark said, I do hope that Artoon can learn from their errors in making "Topsy Turvy" and when they bring us this "Yoshi's Island 2" game, they bring something that stands up next to the original.
I mean, the original was some of Miyamoto's finest work, and to think that he might not have total control over the sequel is a bit of a concern...
Ah, we'll see how it goes.
7 years ago
Spanca wrote
Don't tell me I'm the only one who touched intentionally? icon_razz.gif
Of course I did. I did it all the time.

Ah, I'm feeling nostalgic, time to play some more Yoshi's Island.
7 years ago
Ahh Yoshi's Island my first ever game...ever.

Great game and yes I did wonder what ever became of Poochy.

On your article cousin Matthew. I thought it was a nice little piece and one that hasn't really been explored too often. I hope you keep the last character section going. There would be plenty to choose from.
7 years ago
Andronicus wrote
That said, Nintendo owns Retro Studios, so the "Metroid Prime" games are first-party, but that's all by the by.
Second party actually.

Awesome article as always Matt. Halo 2 didn't disappoint me as much as everyone else but I think that reason is because I'm not into the franchise like everyone is. I like it, love it even but it isn't the be all and end all that most make it out to be. So in that regard, Halo 2 wasn't too disappointing although it definitely could have done certain things better.

Despite its flaws, I found Driver 2 to be an awesome sequel to Driver. I spent many hours just mucking around in Driver 2's various cities, seeing what I can and can't do. Sure the framerate sucked balls but damn it was still fun to hoon around in.

Most disappointing sequel for yours truly? To be honest, I don't think I have one.
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