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SEQUELS FEATURE - January 1992

Sequels, eh? Don't you just love 'em? Well, yes and no. It's easy for Andy to ask if there's such a thing as a good sequel, it's me who has to wade through the 3,000 or so of them that there have been trying to work out if they're as good as the original games or not, and quite frankly by the end of the whole thing I never wanted to hear the word 'Two' again in my entire life.

The answer to the question is, of course, that some sequels are good and some are bad. But which are which? Come with me as we take a trip to Deja Vu City to find out...


Sequels can be divided into several categories. Firstly, you've got sequels which aren't actually game sequels in their own right at all, but licences of other things which are in themselves sequels. Titles in this field include the likes of RoboCop 2 (a very poor re-write of the original, colossally successful, Speccy RoboCop game which basically replaced the innovative and atmospheric feel of the first game with a bog-standard and horribly tedious-to-play platform shoot-'em-up), and Rainbow Islands, which is simply a conversion of the arcade game, which just happened to be a sequel to Bubble Bobble.


Then you've got the 'We've got the licence and we're going to milk it' sequels, where a software house has bought the licence to a movie or coin-op, then written their own sequel to it. This approach can be seen in the Renegade series, where a brilliant first game was succeeded by a slightly less brilliant 'unofficial' follow-up (Target Renegade) and then by a hugely less brilliant second sequel (the useless Renegade III). Ocean seem to have been particularly guilty of this ploy, trying it with Arkanoid (the superior Revenge Of Doh), Athena (the completely hideous Psycho Soldier), Chase HQ (S.C.I., which promptly undid all the good work they'd done with the wonderful original), Hunchback 2 (a platform game bearing only the tiniest similarity to the original, which was in fact the first-ever official arcade licence game on any machine), Green Beret (the not-even-slightly-related-to-Green-Beret Vindicator, which simply used the popular name of the first game to try and sell a fair-to-middling vertically-scrolling blaster) and the bizarre Kong Strikes Back, a sequel to Donkey Kong which was actually an unlicened conversion of a completely different coin-op called Mr Do's Wild Ride, but others wringing the last drop of value out of that expensive licence have included Elite with Bomb Jack (Bomb Jack II was a particularly poor effort, but at least it wasn't quite as dull as the recent Mighty Bomb Jack, which flopped due to being rubbish and because nobody could remember who Bomb Jack was after all this time anyway) and Domark who gave a bizarre space-travel setting to Trivial Pursuit 2 -A New Beginning, but completely failed to induce lots of space on shop shelves as the kids ignored the game in droves.


Or how about the plain old 'crap sequel' (to use a technical term), which simply doesn't come close to the fabness of the previous title? Fine examples of this species are to be found in Rebelstar 2 (a sort-of-okay follow-up to the second-best game of all time), Alien Highway (deadbeat descendant of the great Highway Encounter), Spy vs Spy 2 and Spy vs Spy 3 (overcomplicated and graphically horrendous, when compared to the simple slapstick violence of their predecessor), Costa Capers (impossibly hard and dull sequel to the seminal Technician Ted), Match Day 2 (zzzz), Chuckie Egg 2 (iffy arcade adventure following up one of the greatest platform games in history) or the Dan Dare saga (a fine game, superceded by the alright Dan Dare 2 and then the abysmal Dan Dare 3).


But for every three cheap'n'nasty cash-in jobs, you do get the odd success, the follow-up which actually takes the original game and comes up with something as good or even better. Check out Android 2 from Vortex, Starstrike II from Realtime, IK+ from The Hit Squad, Bak To Skool (sequel to Skool Daze) from Microsphere, I Ball 2 from Firebird, Antics (sequel to The Birds And The Bees) from Bug-Byte, or Hi-Tec's Guardian 2 for yourself, because every one of them is a superb game which expands and improves on an original game which was pretty flippin' excellent in the first place. Which just goes to prove - the show's not over 'till the fat lady sings. Whatever the hell that means.


Of course, some sequels might as well not bother with the '2' at the end of their names at all, so similar are they to the originals. Code Masters sold lots of copies of Fruit Machine Simulator, so they released it again with slightly different fruit and called it Fruit Machine 2 and similarly, their BMX Simulator 2 was just the first one again with some different tracks. Mirrorsoft followed up Dynamite Dan with a sequel which was actually mistaken for its parent on buses several times and refused half-fares, and the only difference between Odin's Nodes Of Yesod and Arc Of Yesod was the fact that the second one had a marginally less silly name. Melbourne House brought us Mugsy's Revenge, a game so like the first Mugsy that many observers suspected the programmers had accidentally picked up a photocopy of the original code instead of their specification list, while teams of highly-trained experts deliberated for days trying to tell Mastertronic's Agent X and Agent X II apart without success. But the most brazen effort of all has to be the release of Jet Set Willy 2 from Software Projects, which actually included every single room of the original game, but tacked on the same number again and called it a follow-up. Or did the title actually mean Jet Set Willy times 2?


Some games have, of course, spawned more than one sequel, frequently in an attempt to create a cult hero in the games-buying public's consciousness by sheer ubiquitous presence, although usually the games operate by the law of diminishing returns, getting less popular as the series progresses. The most celebrated these days (and the glaring exception to the previous rule) is Dizzy (Dizzy, Treasure Island Dizzy, Fantasy World Dizzy, Magicland Dizzy, Fast Food, Kwik Snax, and Dizzy Panic, with Bubble Dizzy, Dizzy Rides The Rapids, Prince Of The Yolk Folk and more all on the way), but times gone by have seen popular icons made out of Monty Mole (Monty Mole, Monty Is Innocent, Monty On The Run, Impossamole), Wally Week (Automania, Pyjamarama, Everyone's A Wally, Three Weeks In Paradise and the spin-off Herbert's Dummy Run), Horace (the first character to have more than one game made about them, namely Hungry Horace, Horace Goes Skiing and Horace And The Spiders), Rockford (in Boulder Dash I, II, III and IV, not to mention the Boulder Dash Construction Kit), the Ultimate double-act of Sabreman and Jetman (Jetpac, Lunar Jetman, Solar Jetman, Sabre Wulf, Underwurlde, Knight Lore, Pentagram) and the Magic Knight (Finders Keepers, Spellbound, Knight Tyme and others). Sadly, in these days of coin-op and character licences, old Diz may well be The Last Of The Original Heroes.


Olli And Lissa. A fine little cartoon game. As was the sequel, Olli And Lissa 3. Hang on a minute... Nope, extensive research reveals that there was, in fact, no Olli And Lissa 2 ever released on the Speccy. Weird.


In about 1985, Imagine released a brilliant coin-op conversion of Hyper Sports, itself a sequel to the arcade's Track And Field. Four years later they converted Track And Field for the Game, Set And Match 2 (hey!) compilation, except this time it wasn't brilliant. In fact, it was one of the worst Speccy games in the world ever.