Top 10 Black Sheep of Popular Video Game Franchises
When a franchise runs so long that it accumulates dozens of games, not every game in the series is going to be as popular as others. However, some sequels go beyond merely underperforming and become so reviled or even ignored that they're outright dismissed by later games. The most acknowledgement these games receive in later installments is often in the form of dismissive in-jokes, and they're likely to be remembered as little more than curios in series history. Here are ten games in popular series that came, went, and didn't do much else.
10. Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest (NES)
The original Castlevania was a superb action / platforming game with menacing graphics (by 8-bit standards, at least) and a brutal challenge level. Its sequel kept those qualities, but it also radically transformed the game design by making Castlevania into an open-world adventure game. Unfortunately, Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest neglected to give anything more than the most cryptic hints regarding where the player should go, and it required long, convoluted passwords in order to save progress. The game's sequel, Castlevania 3: Dracula's Curse returned the series linear monster-killing, where it would remain until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (which actually had the technology to make the scope of Simon's Quest into something entertaining rather than tedious).
9. The Legend of Zelda 2: Link's Adventure (NES)
Similar to Simon's Quest, Zelda 2: Link's Adventure followed a seminal first installment with a bizarre genre shift. In this case, Nintendo took Link even further away from his first game, by having him star in a side-scrolling action / platform game, and replacing his arsenal of gadgets with spells, sword moves, and an RPG-style experience system. The only part of the game that resembled the original Legend of Zelda was the large overworld map. However, though the gameplay Zelda 2: Link's Adventure would never be revisited, it's actually a good game if you can handle the brutally high difficulty level. The 3DS Virtual Console version, which adds restore points, makes the vicious enemies and lack of in-dungeon save points somewhat more manageable.
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Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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