We are now in the eighth generation of video game consoles, and will very soon be in the ninth. At this point, it seems like half of the games that see release are sequels to popular franchises. The games in this list captured lightning in a bottle, yet most of the sequels to these classics still managed to out-do the original.
With that being stated, these games are classics for a reason - they are some of the best games ever made. The popularity of these games has caused many of them to move into other avenues of popular culture, quite apart from establishing some of the biggest franchises in gaming today.
10 Red Dead Revolver
Red Dead Revolver was released by Rockstar Games in 2004 for the PS2. This great title is forever in the shadow of its two sequels, Red Dead Redemption 1 & 2. Many gamers have played through the Redemption games, but have never tried the first in the series.
It is, understandably, rather more simplistic, being released a console generation before its sequels, but it is still a great game worth playing – especially if you liked its sequels. Do yourself a favor, though: go in with somewhat lowered expectations. It’s actually surprising this title hasn’t gotten an HD remake yet, given the popularity of its two sequels.
The original Fallout is nothing like the modern Fallout games, but it is still a classic title with an enormous fan-base. The first installment was developed and published by Interplay in 1997. The original played more like a traditional RPG, with a top down isometric perspective and turn-based combat.
Fallout set the tone for the rest of the series, with its quirky characters and competent voice-acting. Many of the familiar characters from the Fallout series, like Dogmeat, first appeared in the original game. This is definitely worth a playthrough – just don’t expect the fast-paced action of the modern titles.
8 John Madden Football
The original John Madden Football may not look that great by today’s gaming standards, but it was a revolutionary game when it was released. This was the first football game to have eleven players per team on the field; which took some clever programming at the time.
The first Madden also had other variables not included in football games at the time, like different weather conditions. John Madden and the development team were supposedly at odds during development, due to Madden’s strict requirements for the game that would carry his name.
7 Halo: Combat Evolved
The original Halo was released for the Xbox in 2001 and gave Microsoft not only a successful franchise for its new console, but a new mascot as well. Halo: Combat Evolved managed to stand out in a market saturated with first-person shooters.
Halo already has five sequels, with another, Halo Infinite, set to be released in 2020. Halo’s success has also given rise to several spin-off titles, like those of the Halo: Spartan series. The success of Halo has led to it branching out into other form of media, such as movies and television shows.
6 Mario Bros.
Not to be confused with Super Mario Bros. for the NES, Mario Bros. was an early arcade release (1983) from Nintendo that gave way to possibly the most beloved game franchise in video game history.
In Mario Bros., Mario and Luigi got their names and signature colors. This game is also the beginning of Mario’s fight against the Koopas. Unfortunately, Mario Bros. is one of those games that isn’t as great as you remember it being (the passage of time will do that to you). It can get repetitive unless played with a friend. Don’t get us wrong: it’s a fun game, but it needed a little more variety.
5 Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy was released for the NES in 1987 and helped make RPGs (which weren’t that popular in North America) a more mainstream genre. For a NES game, the visuals are outstanding, and the soundtrack is made up of some of the best 8-bit tunes ever composed.
This title also allows the player to do something that even modern Final Fantasy games (not including spin-offs) don’t – it allows you to create your own party at the beginning of the game. This is also the hardest Final Fantasy game in many gamers’ opinions, too: you really have to plan out each turn in battle carefully.
4 Pokémon: Red & Blue
Look how far the Pokémon series has come. It is soon to see its eighth true sequel, and, like many franchises on this list, has branched out to other forms of media. Pokémon introduced a game mechanic which has been copied numerous times – the ability to capture random enemies and have them fight for you.
Pokémon: Red and Blue were so good that its sequels don’t really deviate much from the original formula. The newer games are basically just vehicles for delivering new Pokémon. Not bad for a game that wasn’t even in color.
3 Batman: Arkham Asylum
Much like the first Fallout game, Batman: Arkham Asylum is forever going to be in the shadow of its more popular sequels. The only thing missing from this game is the freedom to move about in a large open world. The confines of Arkham Asylum have a claustrophobic nature that makes the player wish for what the sequels provided – a true open world map to explore.
The battle mechanics from Arkham Asylum, which have since been copied endlessly, provide some of the most satisfying hand-to-hand fighting in video game history. Rocksteady Studios aimed high when they made Arkham Asylum, and they nailed it completely.
2 The Sims
When taken at face value, The Sims games don’t seem like they would be that fun to play. You create someone and watch them go through the drudgeries we wish we could skip in real life. The Sims games are strangely addicting, though.
The sequels added much more content and depth, but the original’s simplicity also has its own appeal. Watching your sim succeed in their chosen career and building a mansion for them to live in is remarkably satisfying. The only complaint generally leveled at The Sims franchise is the excessive release of expansion packs and the costs involved.
1 The Legend Of Zelda
The first The Legend of Zelda game departed from what most gamers knew at the time. It allowed you to explore an open world rather than be stuck on one screen (like Pac-Man), or one level (like Super Mario Bros.). It also allowed the player to save their game with a battery backup.
Battery backups were in use before the Legend of Zelda was released, but it was still a relatively new concept at the time. The sequels continue to raise the bar for action/adventure games, and cause gamers to ponder what Nintendo could possibly do to improve on the last title. The latest Zelda title, Breath of the Wild, was a huge triumph and a remarkable achievement. Now, how about that sequel?