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Beaten Down by the Two Hit Wonders
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on September 10, 2003   |   Episode 2 (Show Archive)  


"Did you see a dog around here? What about a giant eagle?"
Every so often a company is blessed by creating a franchise that endures, and seems to go on forever. Series like Final Fantasy, the Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear Solid, and Castlevania all brought their developers fame and fortunes, not to mention sequels, sequels, sequels. But even more often a company will develop a two hit wonder.

When I talk two hit wonders, I talk about games that only had one sequel, games that for whatever reason never counted to three. I am talking about games like Strider, one of Capcom's best 2D action games. No matter which version you played (unless it was the N.E.S. remix), Strider was a balls to the wall action game that tested your reflexes, and overwhelmed your vision with highly detailed graphics!

Strider 2, an arcade game that would eventually be ported to the PlayStation, would attempt, and in some ways succeed, to top what they had done a decade earlier. Fans of the series were ready to take Strider Hiryu back out for a spin, but Capcom seems to have no plans for a third installment. They have no problem releasing countless Resident Evil inspired gun games that do extremely poorly in sales, and are never recommended by critics, but when it comes to Strider, you're out of luck.

But then again, Capcom has always had this attention problem, especially when it came to their licensed titles. A game like Duck Tales would be a big hit and warrant a sequel, only to have the series stop with Duck Tales 2. Almost like clockwork they repeated this with Rescue Rangers, which was followed up by the Rescue Rangers 2, and never to be heard from again.

Street Fighter III is easy to hate, but is it really to blame for no third Power Stone?
But the rule didn't just apply to Disney titles, oh no, Capcom couldn't see past number two when it came to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. Of course, Marvel's superheroes have become hot commodities for movies and games, so the truth is Capcom simply can't develop another Marvel vs. Capcom, since they no longer hold the rights.

What's frustrating about this trend is that quite a few great never see their way to number three. Power Stone and its sequel, Power Stone 2, are among the best multi-player games for any system. Yet here we are, years later, and there is no sign for a third edition. Perhaps they were spooked by the under whelming response to games like Street Fighter III, Dino Crisis 3, and P.N. 03!

Capcom isn't the only major company to succumb to this trend. Sega, Konami, and SquareSoft have all lost interest in a franchise from time to time. Problem is, some of the best ideas are lost when these companies change directions. Like Eternal Champions, the first game, for the Genesis, was a fairly standard 2D fighting game in the same vein as Street Fighter II. The sequel, Eternal Champions: Challenge from the Dark Side for the Sega CD, improved on just about every aspect, and proved that not only did the series have an interesting story, but also offered a number of new twists not seen in fighting games of the era. Had the series not be stopped, Eternal Champions could have been a really interesting 3D experience.

In the future, scientists will discover the harmful side effects of everyday make-up!
Konami had similar luck with the Sega CD when they released Snatcher. Although the game had made its way to a number of game systems in Japan, over here in the United States most gamers would only be able to play Snatcher on the Sega CD. Konami never saw fit to release the sequel, Policenaut, here in the states, which pretty much ruled out any chance of seeing a third installment.

This strategy was repeated a generation later when Konami released the cult hit Poy Poy. This four-player game was ready to take on Bomberman or any other party game you could throw its way, literally. If you could see it, you could pick it up and hurl it at your enemies, until somebody is the last man standing. Even though a sequel was released in Japan, Poy Poy 2: Poitter's Point 2, it did little to sway Konami from cutting the franchise completely.

Too often Americans (and often Europeans) get snubbed when it comes to sequels released in Japan. Unfortunately SquareSoft knows this formula all too well. In a move managing to disappoint fighting fans and role playing gamers alike, Square decided to keep Tobal 2, the sequel to the critically acclaimed Tobal No. 1, in Japan only. Not only did it end up being one of the deepest fighting games of all time, but without worldwide support the franchise shriveled up and died.

One could argue that with a fighting game or a party game the death of a franchise is really short lived. It's only the deep games, like a role-playing game or an adventure game where you feel the impact. After all, these are the games that bother to develop a story they believe you will be interested in. If a franchise is only given a couple outings, how will it be able to capture the epic tales required of a proper story-driven game?

"Oh sure, it's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt!"
So in lies the problem with Lunar: Silver Star Story, a classic Sega CD game that found a cult following, and critical success. It's sequel, Lunar: Eternal Blue, was just as sprawling, witty, and inventive, but wasn't successful enough to warrant a third game. Years later the games would reemerge on the PlayStation with extra content and a number of cool features. But even with a collectors edition set, Lunar was never able to quite count to three.

The first generation Super NES title Act Raiser was part SimCity, part

I don't think there's a caption needed here!
side scrolling action game, all fun. And even though it didn't sell as well as some of the other launch titles, Act Raiser was still popular enough to warrant the release of a sequel, appropriately titled Act Raiser 2. However, in a controversial attempt to make the franchise more popular, part two was ALL action, with no SimCity elements whatsoever. Regardless of whether the fans turned on the new director, or if the designers just lost interest, this franchise never saw a third outing.

In the case of Fear Effect, Eidos created a story based around characters I actually cared about. Not just because there was an underlined lesbian current running through the whole game, and not just because it had good control, but rather because it had a fairly interesting story. Fear Effect: Retro Helix also managed to present a good story, with heart pounding action and amazing cinemas.

Three years ago a third Fear Effect was announced, but in the mean time the game has gone from being on its last legs to being cancelled. The game could resurface in the future, since it has been written, and some of the game was coded. But all hands seem to point to two hit wonder, if you ask me. [MORE]


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