Not all games deserve a sequel, and I’ll be the first to admit there are several franchises that should stop making sequels. Not going to mention any names, but you know who you are. However, there are times a game needs a sequel to expand upon the concepts of the story. Often times, a game that would benefit from a sequel gets left on the shelf never to be heard from again. These games beg the question why no sequel was ever developed. Perhaps, the game didn’t do well financially and wasn’t well received at release. Developers may have moved on to a more profitable franchise and thus left the game behind. The biggest hurdle for most might have something to do with intellectual property disputes. Whatever the reason for these games never producing a sequel, I have complied this list of games I’d love to revisit. I am taking a look at why some of these sequels aren’t happening yet, or why they’ll never happen at all.
Vagrant Story –
Released in 1999 and set in the crumbling city of Lea Monde, Ashley Riot, a Riskbreaker agent, travels to Lea Monde to investigate a cult leader Sydeny Losstarot and a parliament member Duke Bardorba. Ashley is accused of the murder of Bardorba, and the events one week prior to the murder unfold in the prologue.
Departing from the bright and childish graphics found typically in a Square game. Vagrant Story is a unique console action adventure RPG featuring a muted sepia-toned art style heavily influenced by French Gothic architecture. The plot centers on darker themes not typically associated with a Square game. There are no shops, or interaction with NPCs; instead the focus is on weapon creation and modification. Including challenging puzzle solving and strategy. The combat system features a complicated balance between strategy and real time. Praised by critics and fans alike, Vagrant Story was well received in Japan at the time of release.
Unfortunately, it didn’t do well in the West until eight years after it released, generating a cult following. In addition, the director Yasumi Matsuno left Square to work on his own gaming projects. Since Matsuno left the development team disbanded by Square the team moved on to working on Square’s cash cow franchise of Final Fantasy. When asked about a revisit or remake of Vagrant Story Executive Producer Akitoshi Kawazu in 2007 stated, “Vagrant Story was a title that pushed the PS one to its limits. The technical hurdles in porting it to the PSP would be extremely high. Of course, I think it’s the next natural candidate for such an update, and there’s no denying its extreme popularity overseas”.
If this game saw a sequel I would love to see more about Ashley. Little is known about our protagonist outside of how he became a Riskbreaker. Although, the motivations are revealed behind why he must track down Sydney and the Duke, none of the characters are built up to make them relatable. Maybe this was a set up to expand upon this world, but it was tossed aside after poor initial reception in the West. Vagrant Story could be a well-received game now gauging from how many action adventure games such as The Witcher franchise feature complicated combat systems. These would all be great things to get this game off the ground, however, no mention of the game has circulated in years, and it is fair to say there will be a sequel. But it doesn’t hurt to dream right?
Legend of Dragoon –
Another JRPG from 1999 Legend of Dragoon published by Sony Computer Entertainment attempted to challenge the mega franchises of Square’s Final Fantasy. The story begins in the fictional continent of Endiness, Dart the young protagonist returns from after a five-year-long journey to a monster who murdered his parents and annihilated his home too, Neet. During his journey home Dart falls prey to Feyrbrand, a dragon controlled by Sandora, a rebel faction. Rescued by a mysterious woman, Dart returns to his home in Seles to find it destroyed by Sandora. He learns his childhood friend has been kidnapped and he sets out to find and rescue her.
Utilizing the time honored tradition of turn based combat, Legend of Dragoon introduced a new combat system, which is praised for making battles dynamic and engaging. Combat made use of additions, which is a combo system that leveled up and awarded players with more damage or point per strike. Although, the combat was criticized for being too difficult at times, it was revolutionary for the time the game released. The game shifts between three modes. The field mode is 3D rendered characters are placed on a beautifully pre-rendered backgrounds. The battle mode is a 3D real-time environment based off of the pre-rendered field mode. And finally, the world map, although it doesn’t allow for free movement on the map, players could move from point to point.
In a sequel of this game and using the trend of an open world concept, I would ask to completely open up the world of Endiness. Allow players free range of the world to enter into fun side quests and learn more about this geographically diverse world. The combat style would have to be modernized to fit in the current action RPG style. This would mean removing the turn-based system and refining the additions combat system. Explanation of the lore of the game by making a prequel to explain the events prior to the game would expand the world. If that was not possible, then following up on the changes the world faced after the final battle and to see how it shaped the future would be an interesting way to start a Legend of Dragoon 2.
Although, Legend of Dragoon received mixed positive reviews it gained a cult status following by PS loyalists. This game has such a strong following that Sony Computer Entertainment decided to attempt to produce a sequel 12 years later. But it was for naught when SCE Worldwide Studios President Shu Yoshida stated on the official Playstation Blog: “I still occasionally hear from fans of The Legend of Dragoon, and many want to know if there is a sequel. LOD2 was put into preproduction after I left the Japan Studio, but was eventually cancelled for some unknown reason, and the team members moved on to different projects. Some people still work in the Japan Studio, so we talk about the memories of developing LOD when we see each other at company functions.” In this case it looks there will never be a return to Legend of Dragoon and Sony is keeping quiet about it. We can only quietly reflect on the game of the past and wait for a post to the PS vita or PS4.
Icewind Dale series –
Icewind Dale released in 2000 is a RPG series developed by Black Isle Studios. Set in the Forgotten Realms region of Icewind Dale. The games take place several years before the events described in R.A. Salvatore’s books.
Both games allow players to an adventuring party of up to 6 characters. Using the lore from the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons and Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition rule sets respectfully. Both games integrated a real-time combat system, in which players could pause the game to issue commands. Dice rolls were simulated by the game to enhance play and likeness to the tabletop game. The entire party is generated by the played and as such the player-characters do not have present personalities. Each player character is capable of assuming the role of “protagonist” Icewind Dale begins in the town of Easthaven the town’s leader, Hrothgar invites the party to investigate the strange incidents in the town of Kuldahar. Icewind Dale II begins in the harbor town of Targos, laid under siege by a goblin army controlled by the Legion of the Chimera the group of adventurers work to liberate Targos from the goblin army. Garnering generally positive reviews struck a cord in the WRPG market for the combat-heavy focused game.
A Icewind Dale III could firstly allow a player to import their saved games. This way the world could be shaped by the things the players did in previous games. An updated combat for modern systems in a must. Although, I personally don’t care where in the world the game focuses, I think it is important to keep the formula of a six party team. Keep the dynamic and make it something fresh and nostalgic to work against the lessened strategic elements found in RPGs today.
Back in 2011 it was reported by Feargus Urquhart of Obsidian that they were pushing to update the former Black Isle property. In an interview Urquhart states, “I was talking to Atari last week and said why don’t we do this? The old didn’t end because of low sales. They stopped being made because of licensing issues, and Interplay going out of business, and BioWare moving on to console, and a whole lot of things. So a part of it is, why not go make Icewind Dale 3? You can’t spend $20 million on it, but why not go make it?” There is some red tape the publisher and developer have to go through and since this article was dated in 2011, it looks like there might never be an Icewind Dale 3.
Released in 1998 Xenogears is one of the darker JRPGS I’ve ever seen. Introducing religious themes and incorporating mechs into their own battles. Protagonist Fei Fong Wong, a young man from the village of Lahan, finds his village under attack from the Gebler army. Fei finds an abandoned gear and loses control of the gear which leads to the destruction of his village. Fleeing his village with a village doctor Citan, they embark on a journey learning there home world has a sinister future in store for them.
Xenogears met financial success and critical acclaim from fans and critics alike. Receiving praise for the dark story, well developed characters, fun gameplay, fantastic graphics and a beautifully orchestrated soundtrack. It landed as a “Greatest Hits” for PS and frequents top 100 lists of the best games and RPGS ever. Combining the traditional RPG combat with a Time Battle system, which introduces a martial-arts style of combat, this system uses combo based attacks. A 2nd mode of combat is utilized with the addition of the gears battles, using a turned based system, however, gears are capable to deathblows that must be built up with an attack level. Although, the game is not an open world, the map is much more flexible in points the party can travel. Vehicles become available to make travel faster during different points in the game.
In a Xenogears sequel, expanding upon the main theme of the story would be great. Either by making a prequel of the game to show the events that lead up to Xenogears, or the recounting the events that take place following the ending of Xenogears. Finding out what happened to Fei and crew would be an interesting story to follow up with. Updating the combat to the modern consoles would be a huge advantage to the game. With the complicated and challenging battles, the combat system would be a welcome change.
The main reason there is no Xenogears 2 is due many members of the development team leaving. These individuals formed a development company called Monolith Soft. Square retains the legal right to Xenogears, making it difficult to produce a sequel for Monolith Soft. The studio produced a new series called Xenosaga, which offered a different take on the universe, but didn’t stick up to the standards of the original game. Although legally, they can’t say it is part of the Xenogears story, the Xenosaga and respectfully Xenoblade franchise are doing very well on Nintendo.
Jade Empire –
Released on the original Xbox in 2005 and later on PC in 2007, Jade Empire is the story of an orphan left in the care of Master Li. The orphan grows up in a martial arts school and quickly rising in the ranks of the school, becoming a master student by the start of the game. Through an unfortunate series of events the school and surrounding village is burnt to the ground. The students find themselves fleeing for their lives and searching for Master Li, when they return to school to find the attackers laying in wait.
Jade Empire received positive praise at release due to the innovated story, characters and breathtaking environments. Heavily influenced by Chinese Kung-Fu movies, the environments are bright and picturesque. The combat is fun and uses Kung-Fu moves in real time combat. BioWare managed to mesh a fun blend of visuals and storytelling into a comical dark game. There are two major philosophies, which the player can follow; these philosophies open up different options for the game as well as different endings. The combat uses martial art styles, the player executes a combination of heave attacks, blocks and spells.
In a Jade Empire sequel, I would love to see an expanded would, much like Dragon Age: Inquisition. Allowing the player to visit all the lands written extensively about in the lore of the game. Smoothing out the combat in a future game would make the combat more and less clunky. Giving the player the ability to customize their character, which is typical of a BioWare game. Finally, the philosophy system should have more of an effect on the game rather than showing most prominently at the end of the game.
In 2007 BioWare stated there were no future plans to develop a Jade Empire 2. Former BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuck stated in 2011, “ It’s a setting that we were really passionate about, and we still are. Both Greg and I were big believers in the IP…We’re just looking for the right way to deploy it. Finally, in 2015 current BioWare GM Aaryn Flynn said, “Both [BioWare developers Mark Darrah and Mike Laidlaw] worked on Jade Empire, so they’re advocates for it in the studio (so is Matt Goldman, DAI’s Art Director). I worked on it too!” “Our plate is awfully full right now, but the idea to go back to the universe does come up pretty regularly,” he added. “Mark and I spent a solid two hours in my office talking about it not long ago…” Darrah added, “Never say never, but no current plans.” I keep wishfully thinking they will make a sequel but I haven’t gotten my hopes up.
There are more games than this list that deserve sequels, and all of them are all big question marks and what the heck went wrong. Some of the games on this do have developers hinting that there is a future for these games. However, all of them currently collect dust on our shelves and are full of nostalgia for replays.
Is there a game you would add to this list?