It looks like we’ve gotten all the introductions out of the way and done with. Apparently questions about my possible asian heritage have been answered, though I’m sure it would have become clear that I lack asian backround when all my entries were about World of Warcraft and glod farming or whatever it is those addicts talk about these days. I’m here today to rant about something that plagues both the video game industry and the movie industry. That vile thing is sequels.

Well, I guess it’s not really just sequels, but the lack of new ideas and stories. Now some movies and games are planned to be these groups and once they’re all made, that’s it. The Godfather, Lord of the Rings, Metal Gear Solid, Warcraft. All series that intended for there to be sequels that continues the story-lines. But then you get into series like Grand Theft Auto, Mario, Sonic, The Matrix, and the worst offender Star Wars. And to quote Yahtzee of Zero Punctuationif you beat a dead horse vigorously enough, its constant twitching and juddering will at least give a semblance of activity…

The top selling games in Japan so far this year include seven sequels or rehashes and three new games. How sad is that? I’m sure America is right along the same path and with the holiday season looking to consist of games like Gears of War 2, Fable 2, and Star Wars: Force Unleashed, it doesn’t look like it will be getting better anytime soon. Lets look at some of the franchises and companies that commit this offense.

Star Wars is great, yes I know that, but I don’t need eight different games in a year to learn that. Or, which has now happened with Soul Caliber 4, have them shoehorned into some series of which they completely don’t fit. That’s right, now in the swords and kung fu universe of Soul Caliber, the guy with the wooded staff has to fight a little green guy wielding a laser sword. My response immediately would be “Fuck this, I quit.” But somehow, over there at Namco, they have made it so that these weapons that usually cut through metal like a hot knife through air, can’t slice these people in half. I’d be completely fine with Star Wars: Force Unleashed being the last Star Wars game released, ever.

And if Star Wars is bad, what is Nintendo. Name the franchises Nintendo has created in the last decade. Pokemon might be about it. Smash Bros doesn’t count becasue ijt ust takes everyone who was already around and put them all together to fight it out. We’ve been playing with Mario, Samus, Donkey Kong and Zelda for that last 20 years. Let it it go. The last one of those games to have a new story was Samus with the Metroid Prime series. It’s the same story on every console generation except with prettier graphics and maybe a new gameplay idea thrown in. Don’t we deserve a little it more than that?

The whole Grand Theft Auto series is a shame too. The stories don’t even continue, it’s a different character every game. The locations are referenced, but never do we hear from the characters again. Though this game is a whole different rant, so we’ll let it go. Lets look at Blizzard, who has given us the great an creative series Diablo, Starcraft and Warcraft. They put a lot of care and effort to make sure their games avoid the label of crappy. But do we really need a Diablo 3? Diablo 2 wrapped up very well, and eliminated all lingering questions. Starcraft 2 was the only sequel I thought we needed from them because Warcraft is being progressed through WoW I suppose. Maybe this merger with Activision will allow them to create something new to build instead of falling back on the old stand bys.

This fear of new things has gotten so bad that companies have even started to fall back on series that haven’t been seen since the 8-bit generation or had no reason to be made in the first place. Bionic Commando is getting a new game. Half of the people who play games today have never even heard of it. We’re seeing recommissions of old arcade cabinet games come out every other week. Did Space Invaders really need 10 different reprints? The Petz series could have ended with Dogz and that probably would have been enough. Now we have Horsez 8, Bunnyz, Ferretz, Walrusz and Parasitez. Who needs these games? And why do they need z’s? To make them more extreme? It’s a game about taking care of animals how extreme does it need to be?

What is the solution to this? To start, lower the price of game development. When it costs 150 million to make a top of the line game, of course no one wants to risk it on some new, unproven idea. They want the proven cash cow. The other option that we’re seeing are smaller games. Portal is definitely one of the best games of last year. It took me 3 hours to beat it, but I loved it. I’ve replayed it multiple times. Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is 8 hours long and a ton of fun. Not every game needs to be a massive 40 hour epic. The last way is to help support smaller studios. N+ has gotten good reviews and it’s produced by a small company. We can turn back the tide on sequels, we can work on bringing back new ideas. It just takes a little effort to go out of your way to find it.