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Top 5 Overlooked Prequels: Prequel Edition
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 12, 2008   |   Episode 152 (Show Archive)  

   

This 1up picture is a few months old, so chances are none of these people still work for the company!
Over the past few years we have come to expect some fantastic feature articles and humorous lists from our friends over at 1up. Between their frequent history lessons and their list of the craziest video game raps, 1up is good at not only bringing the facts, but also bringing the funny. However, there's something about their recent feature that seems to completely miss the mark. It's not that it's poorly researched or lacking humorous comments, but there's something about it that just isn't right.

The article in question is 1up's list of the Top 5 Overlooked Videogame Prequels, posted last Monday. In this feature Kat Bailey takes an intriguing premise and fills it with what can only be considered low-hanging fruit. So what are the prequels? How about the original Mega Man? Or what about Castle Wolfenstein

The original Mega Man is an overlooked gem, but that doesn't mean it's a prequel!
for the Apple II? And that's not all, you better believe that Street Fighter and Soul Edge round out the list.

It's not that these games aren't worth putting on a list. With the exception of the original Street Fighter, all of the games listed are phenomenal achievements that shouldn't be ignored by anybody who calls themselves a gamer. There's just one minor problem: None of these games are prequels. Sure these games came out before the more popular sequels, but to call them a "prequel" is a gross mischaracterization of what that word actually means.

A prequel is, as my trusty dictionary reminds me, is "pre + (se)quel." In other words, a prequel is a game (or movie, or book, etc.) that is a sequel whose story actually comes before the original's chronology. For

Let's hope he upcoming Star Trek prequel is better than the Phantom Menace!
example, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace would be a prequel, since its story technically takes place before Star Wars: A New Hope, the first movie in the franchise. A game like Mega Man or Soul Edge is simply the beginning of a franchise; it's neither a sequel nor a prequel.

How does something like this even happen? I can understand Kat Bailey confusing the word's meaning and running with an idea, but surely somebody else at 1up would have noticed and corrected the name. Perhaps it's because "Top 5 Overlooked Videogame Origins" doesn't quite have the same zing and "Top 5 Overlooked Games That Spawned More Popular Games and You've Probably Forgotten About How They Started Because You Have a Crummy Memory" was just too long of a title to fit on the front page.

Regardless of how it happened, we at Defunct Games wanted to help out 1up and show them what it's like to actually post a list of the Top 5 Overlooked Video Game Prequels. You can argue with me about how "overlooked" some of these games are, but there's no question that each and every one of my five choices are REAL video game prequels.

Resident Evil Zero
Like all Resident Evil games, this GameCube exclusive managed to push units and gets its name out there. However, when it comes right down to it we're looking at the least successful Resident Evil game made for the GameCube (the overpriced
ports of Resident Evil 2 and 3 don't count). Then again, the game is competing against both the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil 4, considered by many to be one of the best games available for the Nintendo GameCube. It goes beyond just selling fewer units though, because Resident Evil Zero is just about the only console sequel nobody talks about. We still hear people talk about the merits of Resident Evil: Code Veronica, and of course people are going to remember the original three installments on the PlayStation. But who remembers Resident Evil Zero? Can anybody even tell me what the plot of Resident Evil Zero was? I didn't think so. The truth is, this is the one Resident Evil game that nobody cares about.

Need more proof? Recently Capcom announced that this long-forgotten Resident Evil game would be ported to the Nintendo Wii. There's just one problem, Capcom also confirmed that Resident Evil Zero would only show up in Japan. It's not that they are afraid of bringing Wii remakes over to these shores; they've already released Resident Evil 4 and Okami in the United States and Europe. It must just be the lack of interest in this one particular game; the one Resident Evil title that everybody overlooks. You do that at your own peril, though, because Resident Evil Zero is a solid adventure game with some cool locations ... assuming you can get over the clunky tank-like controls.

Battletoads (Game Boy)
The Battletoad's rise to power is the stuff of legend. Released at the height of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles excitement, the Battletoads were kind of like the mutant turtles ... only instead of turtles they were frogs. The good thing about this game was that it was fun, something you couldn't say about the original NES Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
release. This original Game Boy Battletoads game is deceiving, it features the cover art from the NES game and has at least one level that resembles something you played in that 1991 masterpiece. But don't be fooled, because Battletoads on the GameBoy isn't a port, it's a prequel to the original game. At least, I think it is. That's certainly what I took from it when I played it all those years ago, and Wikipedia backs me up that it is in fact a prequel.

There's no denying how successful the original NES game was, to this day fans of disturbingly difficult games still preach about the brilliance of Battletoads. But you'll notice that they aren't saying much about the Game Boy game. It's not that it's a bad game, because it isn't. For a Game Boy game this Battletoads prequel is surprisingly sound. However, nobody seems to care about it. As a fan of the Battletoads, it's disappointing that so few people check out this Game Boy game. Perhaps now that I've written a full story about overlooked prequels you will run out and see why I would have it on the same list as Resident Evil Zero and Samurai Shodown V.

Samurai Shodown V
Alright, so Samurai Shodown V isn't exactly the greatest fighting game accomplishment from SNK. In fact, some would probably say that it's a fairly poor installment to what was a good franchise. But what they don't say is that the last truly amazing Samurai Shodown game was the second one, which was released 14 years ago. Samurai Shodown III wasn't
bad, but it was a letdown after the stunning second game. And then there's Samurai Shodown IV, a game that absolutely nobody is talking about any more. Chances are this fifth game will end up like the third and fourth installments, they'll go down as nothing more than disappointing sequels to one of the greatest 2D fighting games of all time.

But there is a difference between Samurai Shodown IV and V ... one of them is a prequel. Okay, so that's not the most compelling reason to take a look at Samurai Shodown V, but at least it gives you a reason to reconnect with this aging franchise. No, it's not as good as the second game, but it's still a solid 2D fighting game that is, for the most part, dirt cheap. Long time fans of the series will complain about some of the edits SNK made to the core mechanics, but none of them change the gameplay enough to make you hate the project. And if you don't mind me getting up on my soap box, if people don't notice games like Samurai Shodown V then we'll never get a Samurai Shodown VI, VII and VIII. I'm sure a couple of those are going to fail, but SNK is bound to remember what made the second game so good and have a genuine hit on their hands. Right? Hmm, maybe I'm alone in this thinking.

Silent Hill: Origins
Believe it or not, we aren't just trying to list off all of the survival horror prequels. The truth is, if I could find a better variety of prequels I probably would have gone with that list. There's just something about games
like Resident Evil and Silent Hill that are easy to overlook. Perhaps it's the way they all start to run together after awhile, or the fact that these companies pushed out too many similar sequels and now people are apathetic to each new installment's release. Either way, Silent Hill: Origins was a solid PSP game that failed to drum up the kind of interest Konami was hoping for. You can't blame them for trying, they had overwhelming success with another PSP prequel, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops. Maybe they thought that lightning would strike twice. But it didn't.

Then again, anybody that played this prequel can tell you why this didn't become the million seller that Konami was hoping for. The game's story, while entertaining, is a little disjointed and the controls are all over the place. One should not forget that this game was also developed by a couple of different studios, each with their own take on what worked and what didn't. In the end the game is something of a mess, though it's certainly worth checking out. Konami tried to remind people about the game a few months later when it was ported to the PlayStation 2, but even on a system with 100 million more users, Silent Hill Origins remained overlooked.

Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961
What's this? A Grand Theft Auto game is considered overlooked? That's right, but I'm not talking about Vice City, San Andreas or Liberty City Stories, instead I'm talking about Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961 ... a prequel to a prequel. Okay, I'll confess, I don't even know if this game qualifies for the list I made up. It is a
prequel, but maybe there should be a whole separate list for prequels of video game prequels? Then again, it would only be populated by the likes of Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories and Vice City Stories. Oh, I give up, there's no reason to try and clutter up this already confusing top 5 list up with more rules. As far as I'm concerned Grand Theft Auto: London, 1961 is the most overlooked prequel, even if it is a prequel to another prequel.

Actually, this is more of an expansion pack. This was released as an add-on to Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969, which was already an expansion pack/prequel to the original Grand Theft Auto. It's also the one Grand Theft Auto game that nobody seems to remember. Try this out on all of your GTA IV-loving friends. Have them list off all of the Grand Theft Auto games. Just to be nice, don't make them list off all of the recent 3D incarnations (GTA III, Vice City, San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, etc.). Chances are they are going to mention Grand Theft Auto I and II, and maybe they'll mention Grand Theft Auto: London, 1969. But I know for a fact that they aren't going to remember London, 1961. I would put money on it. They also won't remember Grand Theft Auto for the Game Boy Advance, but maybe that's a good thing.

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