In the arms race between console and PC gaming, it's hard to say which side really has the advantage. Console gaming can lay claim to an easy-to-pick-up control system, affordability, and a quicker turnover between installments of popular franchises. Not that a quicker turnover is always such a good thing. Many console gamers will tell stories of the wait for a new entry in their favorite series only to end up with a disappointing mess. Those are the sequels nobody likes to mention, the ones many would prefer to forget ever existed.
Not all bad sequels are created equal. While what makes a console sequel good is pretty universal, but what makes it bad is wholly individual. Some of the entries on this list were wild experiments that didn't pan out, while some of them junked what their series was best known for. Many are just quick cash-grabs made to wring money out of brand-name and still, others are just compromised ambitions. Some were so poorly made that they ended their franchises completely. These are the unloved.
For this list, we've dug through gaming history to find these disappointments and failed experiments. Some are now looked back on with fondness, while others leave us asking, "What were they thinking?" They are all here, those franchise installments destined for a life on the used shelf at the game store. The ones that make fans cringe at their mention.
These are the 25 Console Game Sequels Fans Pretend Don't Exist.
25 The Legend Of Zelda 2: Link's Adventure
Nintendo seemed to make a habit of experimenting with the second installment of their NES franchises. Zelda 2 switched up the gameplay completely from the original. Gone was the top-down view and open map, replaced with side scrolling and RPG elements.
The difficulty went way up as well.
The use of experience points, random encounters, and the introduction of magic spells to the series were an interesting experiment but felt too out of place in a Zelda game. Though not a bad game, Zelda 2 just strayed way too far from the first. The game over screen with Ganon is still iconic though.
24 Super Mario Bros. 2
What gamers must have thought when this came out. Instead of a traditional sequel to their landmark classic, Nintendo reskinned another game, Doki Doki Panic, with Mario characters and released that as a sequel in America. It was a strange decision and the vegetable throwing gameplay must have seemed odd to many.
In fairness, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto worked on Doki Doki Panic, so it wasn't totally out of left field. Still, as a sequel, there's nothing like it. This game has been re-evaluated in recent years and elements from it, like Birdo and the Shy Guys, have transferred over into other Mario games.
23 Castlevania 2: Simon's Quest
While it did introduce nonlinear gameplay to the Castlevania series, thus adding the -vania to Metroidvania, that's one of the few things people liked about Simon's Quest. Even that comes with a caveat though, because that nonlinearity was responsible for the game's huge amounts of backtracking. Combined with controls that made attacking difficult, overly cryptic puzzles, and an unskippable day-to-night cutscene Simon's Quest drove even hardcore gamers mad. NES games were hard but this one was maybe too hrd. The game had some good ideas, but it would take the polish of later Castlevania titles to refine them.
22 Resident Evil 6
Resident Evil 6 makes it onto this list for the simple reason that it doesn't even feel like a Resident Evil game. Resident Evil was one of the first survival horror games, it was supposed to be scary as well as thrilling. Players had to use strategy to make it through because ammo and weapons were rare.
That was all gone by Resident Evil 6.
By the time of this game, all the horror was gone and players could now just shoot their way through any obstacle. Even the zombies used guns for gosh sake. After this fiasco, no wonder Capcom rebooted.
21 Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2
The first Force Unleashed was actually a pleasant surprise to many. It let Star Wars fans do what they always wanted, go wild with Force powers, while also telling an engaging story about Vader's secret apprentice.
A sequel wasn't necessary, but we got one anyway.
Immediately it angered fans by starring a clone of the first game's protagonist, gutting the emotional impact of the story. But if that weren't bad enough, the developers didn't even bother to innovate. Force Unleashed 2 used the exact same gameplay as the original, but with nicer graphics. Maybe it's good this is no longer canon.
20 Dragon Age 2
The first Dragon Age was a huge hit for BioWare. Both a commercial and critical success, the game was praised for its in-depth character customization, complex narrative, and open world. So, of course, they threw all that out for the sequel. Dragon Age 2 was a disappointment for many reasons, but the two people kept coming back to were the lack of customization and open world. Instead, the action was confined to a single city and players could only choose their character's first name and gender. For a truly immersive role-playing experience like Dragon Age: Origins, this sequel felt like a betrayal.
19 Knights Of The Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
Following up on the first Knights of the Old Republic, arguably still the greatest Star Wars game of all time, would be a challenge for anybody. That BioWare handed development over to Obsidian Entertainment and gave them such a small window to finish the game didn't help. The company tried their best, but the final product was not up to snuff. Huge parts were unfinished upon release, leading to bugs that disrupted gameplay. Worse though, the story was underdeveloped and failed to live up to the first game. Only Kotor 2's villains, Darth Nihilus and Darth Sion, are remembered fondly.
18 Epic Mickey: The Power Of Two
Epic Mickey was a weird idea to begin with. A loving homage to classic Disney cartoons made into a platform by Warren Spector, the guy behind Ultima? The fact that it even worked for one game is surprising enough.
But getting lightning to strike twice wasn't in the cards.
The problem with Power of Two was that it didn't fix the first game's problems and didn't add anything new. As a result, the gameplay was repetitive and the camera was to annoying to use. The charm of the original had just faded. Can Disney do something with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit now?
17 Final Fantasy X-2
Oh boy, a sequel to a sequel! Final Fantasy games rarely get direct sequels, so it's all the more head-scratching that Final Fantasy X was one of the few that did. Developer Square Enix apparently decided to take the opportunity to experiment.
Unlike other games in the franchise, X-2 is non-linear and players can choose which storyline missions to do and when. Critics felt this muddied the narrative structure and also judged the shift in tone from Final Fantasy X. Fans were likewise angered that the character of Yuna was turned from a thoughtful summoner to a bubbly pop idol.
16 Bomberman: Act Zero
Let's say you have a franchise known for its cartoony aesthetic and simple but effective gameplay. It comes time to make a new game in this franchise. What do you do? If your answer is junk the look everyone knows the series for in favor of a gritty reboot, congratulations! You just made Bomberman: Act Zero. But aside from ditching the classic cartoon designs for something out of a 90s comic book, the gameplay itself sucked too. Bad camera, no offline multiplayer, lack of different game modes. No wonder Konami went right back to the classic Bomberman after this dud.
15 Devil May Cry 2
What exactly went wrong with Devil May Cry 2 is hard to say. It's not like the game was rushed, it had two years of development time after the first Devil May Cry. Yet it looks far worse than its predecessor. Literally, the graphics are poorly rendered, making everything a murky grey color. The aesthetics weren't the only thing that suffered. The gameplay had an axe taken to it as well. The strategy-oriented combat devolved into just hack and slash and the difficulty of bosses went way down. Capcom also had the gall to include a second campaign that just repeated all the levels.
14 Ninja Gaiden 3
The Ninja Gaiden series was in a weird place going into its third Xbox installment. Team Ninja's reboot of the classic NES series had become known for its insane difficulty level. While that difficulty turned some off, others enjoyed the challenge and became a loyal fanbase. So the series could continue as is or make things easier to bring in new players. They chose the latter.
Ninja Gaiden 3 was a more streamlined experience that simplified the gameplay and lessened the difficulty. The fanbase hated the move, feeling it dumbed down the experience, and the series hasn't released a new game since.
13 Alone In The Dark (2008)
While it never reached the heights of its contemporaries, the Alone in the Dark series is credited as one of the first in the survival horror genre. A shame it ended on such a lousy note. Like a major studio remaking a low-budget horror flick, this 2008 installment was hugely hyped but misunderstood the appeal.
Players found the inventory clumsy, the story convoluted, and the controls awkward. The emphasis on fire mechanics was also repetitive and time-consuming. And for a "horror" game, it wasn't scary. Alongside the panned Uwe Boll adaptation, this game essentially ended Alone in the Dark as a franchise.
12 Sonic The Hedgehog (2006)
If we could point to one game that jumped the shark for its franchise, this would the game. Sonic '06 was the series point of no return. There hasn't been a good Sonic game since. Listing the problems with this game could take all day. Glitch-filled gameplay. Way too many loading screens that take forever. Non-responsive controls. But the most widely panned part of this snafu had to be the story. It's infamous online for a romance between Sonic and a human woman. A semi-realistic human woman at that. Sonic '06 has well-earned its notoriety, and we wish we could forget it.
11 Shadow The Hedgehog
Post-Sega Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog games have a bad reputation to begin with, so a spin-off of one of those is bad news already. A spin-off starring Sonic's dark, brooding counterpart is even worse news.
Where to even begin with this?
The controls are awful, but that's normal with any 3D Sonic title. But the fact the developers added motorcycle sections (in a game about a character whose whole deal is that he's fast) and gave Shadow a gun, is just confusing. This is an example of a story takes itself so seriously it only makes things sillier. Who was this game for?
10 Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures
We bet you didn't even know this existed. Yes, there is a sequel to Pac-Man that was released on consoles, Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo to be precise. And it's... bizarre to say the least. Instead of eating dots in a maze, Pac-Man 2 is a point and click adventure game. Really.
They were actually trying to tell a story with Pac-Man.
Players didn't control Pac-Man either. No, they controlled the environment around him to protect the yellow mascot from ghosts and obstacles. Points for creativity, we guess. If this game weren't weird enough, it's based on the Pac-Man Saturday morning cartoon.
9 Prince Of Persia (2008)
Of all the games on this list, Prince of Persia '08 is one of the few that's actually a good game. It was more a victim of circumstance than anything else. Being a reboot following the beloved Sands of Time trilogy, fans already didn't like the game for not sharing characters or continuity.
Turning the difficulty down and simplifying the combat system also soured them on it. But the game itself had merit. The graphics were gorgeous and the characters were fun. And though the gameplay was easier, it was still highly playable. Maybe fans will give it another shot now.
8 Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts And Bolts
Gamers should learn not to get their hopes when it comes to years-later sequels. Such was the case with Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts. A sequel to a cult classic platform on the Nintendo 64, fans waited eight years for a sequel. What they got wasn't exactly that.
Nuts and Bolts lacked any 3D platforming, instead, it became more of a LEGO racing game. Gameplay was based around finding engine parts, building cars, and racing them. While it wasn't a bad game, fans were disappointed it wasn't a true sequel and wondered why it was even a Banjo-Kazooie game. That's why they made Yooka-Laylee.
7 Metroid: Other M
This is probably the only game on this list hated for its story more than anything else. Because the gameplay is classic Metroid. Perhaps more linear than usual for the series, but the same side-scrolling, alien shooting fun people know.
But the story angered both fans and critics alike.
One of the few times Nintendo has let someone else develop one of their big franchises, Other M promised to dig deeper into the psychology of series lead Samus Aran. But many felt the narrative undermined her character, turning one of gaming's strongest female leads into a stereotypical submissive girl.
6 Perfect Dark Zero
The original Perfect Dark was a spiritual sequel to Goldeneye on N64, one of the best shooters ever. That game perfected Goldeneye's multiplayer and added a crazy sci-fi infused setting of its own. All of that meant that anticipation for Perfect Dark's own Xbox 360 sequel was very high. And it fell just as fast.
Not only did the sequel get rid of the alien-infested sci-fi setting people liked about the first, Perfect Dark Zero just felt dated in comparison to the numerous other multiplayer shooters of the time. Sadly, another swing at the property seems unlikely anytime soon.
5 Star Fox Adventures
Star Fox Adventures is a special case because, in a way, it ruined two franchises at once. See, originally this was going to be the first game in a new series called Dinosaur Planet. Krystal would have been the main character. But Nintendo took a look at Dinosaur Planet and decided to retrofit it into a new Star Fox game.
Fans hated it for taking the action out of the cockpit and away from space dogfights. Others were upset that Krystal was turned into a generic damsel in distress instead of the heroine she was meant to be. Nice Job Nintendo.
4 Silent Hill: Homecoming
Sometimes the worst thing a sequel can do is not innovate. The Silent Hill series has seen its fair share of stinkers, but Homecoming is getting singled out on this list for just not doing anything new. It's the same old Silent Hill game. Same fog, same creepy town, same clunky melee.
Really the only new thing it did was release in HD.
Fans of the series also felt the designs for the new monsters were lazy and nowhere near as frightening as past installments. All this might have been due to this being the first Western-developed Silent Hill game.
3 Earthworm Jim 3D
There were many game franchises that didn't survive the transition from 2D to 3D back in the 90s. But darn if they didn't all try. Earthworm Jim was one of those casualties. A regular earthworm in a super-suit that gave him superpowers, Jim was the star of two highly popular Sega Genesis platformers.
But when the era of the PlayStation arrived, the series couldn't keep up. Earthworm Jim 3D was released on the PlayStation and people hated it. Low-quality graphics, even for the time, and an uncontrollable camera were the main complaints. Only one more Earthworm Jim was released.
2 Tony Hawk Ride
Tony Hawk's series of licensed skateboarding games were big hits back during the PS1 and PS2 eras. Gamers loved being able to pull off crazy tricks most of them never could in real life. Things looked good for the series going into the seventh console generation.
So what happened? Motion controls.
Tony Hawk Ride came packaged with a skateboard-shaped motion control peripheral that, to put it bluntly, didn't work. When it did work, few gamers could get it to read their motions properly, leading to frustration. A sequel, Shred, using the same peripheral was a massive failure.
1 Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor
If gamers know the Steel Battalion games for anything, it's for their ridiculously huge controllers. The first two games came with special controllers that look more like the cockpit of a helicopter than a gaming device. It had pedals, two flight sticks, and numerous buttons. Appropriate for a mech warfare series.
But Capcom, in a bid to bring in new players, decided to get rid of that for this Xbox 360 installment. Instead, they replaced it with the regular 360 controllers and the Kinect. The mix of control schemes made the game unplayable and alienated the dedicated fanbase the series already had.