Great games can spawn great or lousy sequels but, sometimes, we get strange video game sequels. Of course, the safest sequel is a basically a carbon copy of the original. On the other hand, later iterations or “reboots” of beloved video games can veer off the beaten path in unexpected directions. You've got games that switch genres, styles, objectives - the games on this list prove that sometimes, everything you think you know about a franchise can be thrown out the window at a moment's notice. These sequels to great video games embraced the weirdness, in more ways than one - some succeeded, some crashed and burned.
You’d think after the runaway success of the first two Banjo-Kazooie games, Rare would have this formula down pat. Another globe-trotting adventure for the wisecracking duo? More co-op platforming, more gorgeous expansive environments, more insane collectible quests?
Hmm, not quite. Hey, kids! Let’s all get jobs at the junkyard! Nuts & Bolts (2008) for Xbox 360 was all about… building vehicles out of scraps.
To defeat the evil witch this time, you have to construct cars, boats, motorcycles, and planes to complete stunt challenges. While there's some platforming involved, most of the time, you’re designing blueprints for new vehicles in your lab or piloting them around various courses.
Having a virtual erector set and making your own wacky contraptions was certainly a blast, but it’s a jarring departure from the wide-ranging journeys of a bird and a bear from the previous two installments.
Release: Nov 11 2008
Developer: Ashby Computers and Graphics Ltd., Rare Ltdsee more on Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
For some reason, Nintendo was in no hurry to capitalize on the huge success of their 1990 flagship game for the Super NES. The first Super Mario World was a typical Shigeru Miyamoto tour-de-force, a blockbuster that redefined platform gaming and introduced conventions that are still widely used today. Any other company would have had SMW2 out a year later, but Nintendo always follows their own drumbeat.
Almost six years later - near the twilight of the Super NES life cycle - Yoshi’s Island comes out, a cartoonish, goofy riff on platforming the likes of which had never been seen before.
The hand-drawn aesthetic is not unusual nowadays, but it was revolutionary and eye-catching back then. Supposedly, Miyamoto chose the exaggerated crayon-drawn animation style as a rebuke to the computer-rendered sprite graphics from games like Donkey Kong Country that were prevalent at the time.
It was an awesome game, but not every entertainment powerhouse would sign off on depicting their beloved corporate mascot as a diaper-clad mewling infant clinging to the back of a homicidal dinosaur that poops out weird eggs.
Developer: Nintendo, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis & Development
Platform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Mega Drive, Game Boy Advancesee more on Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
There’s not much you can do with character development for Bomberman. He’s a pixelated little guy who’s been around since 1983 and his entire existence is running around in mazes and dropping bombs. There’s some kind of plot if you’re into Bomberman lore (he’s an intergalactic policeman or something), but that’s hardly relevant.
Bomberman: Act Zero (2006), one of the first Xbox 360 titles, transformed the loveable blockhead into a ruthless cyborg warrior battling for survival in a dystopian future hellscape. The highly touted “First-Person Battle” mode (it was actually third-person) got universally panned. Everything about this game was terrible. In fact, it’s often regarded as one of the worst games of all time.
Developer: Hudson Soft
Platform: Xbox 360see more on Bomberman: Act Zero
Star Fox (1993) showcased Nintendo’s shiny new Super FX chip, which delivered some revolutionary 3D graphics to a home console. Fox McCloud was a gruff furry who zoomed through the galaxy in his cool spaceship blasting evil aliens with a whole squadron of fighters. Star Fox 64 (1997) delivered much of the same fun plot and innovative graphics. So what did Nintendo do for a sequel?
Five years later, Star Fox Adventures (2002) was released for the GameCube. Again, it featured Fox, but he was missing his coolest accessory - his spaceship! Instead, he was running around on a primitive world alone, killing enemies with a stick or something.
The game was originally developed by Rare as Dinosaur Planet, and it was essentially a Zelda clone. While a fun game in its own right, Star Fox Adventures was like tossing Captain Kirk down to the Gorn planet for a full season.
Developer: Ashby Computers and Graphics Ltd., Rare Ltd
Platform: GameCube, Super Nintendo Entertainment Systemsee more on Star Fox Adventures