Retro Monday: Attack of the sequel!

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Been missing out on some retro-gaming related features to brighten up your Monday? Well fear not, because we’re back with a brand spanking new weekly feature, which happens to include far fewer gypsy curses, so that you can once again relive the glory days!

In honour of our big-budget sequel, we’re going to kick things off with a look at the best sequels to ever grace a classic console, so strap yourself in for more 8 bit explosions than you can shake a stick at.

Megaman 2

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AKA Rockman, for those of us who were fortunate enough to have one of those fantastic Golden China consoles back in the day. Starting off with a fantastic little intro sequence that set the game up, players got to once again take on the evil robot masters built by Dr Wily, battling in hard as nails levels to meet up with the end level bosses.

Antagonists such as Wood-Man, Heat-Man and Quick-Man would be waiting for players, but just getting to them required some flexing of the grey matter. While some levels seemed impossibly difficult, completing others would give us access to powers that made the second trip much easier.

Addictive and challenging levels, innovative design and a soundtrack that still sounds great today, if it wasn’t for the success of Megaman 2, we most likely wouldn’t have had any more sequels developed.

Street Fighter 2

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Twenty years ago, players got to experience a fighting game unlike any other at the time, as Street Fighter 2 took the world by storm. Setting precedents for the genre, SF2 gave us combos, mini-games and (just barely) hazardous environments. No longer limiting players to just one lone martial artist on a quest to be the greatest fighter alive, gamers instead got to trade blows as a variety of characters, from Ryu to the ridiculously unbalanced Sagat himself.

But it wasn’t gameplay improvements that SF2 has created a legacy around, but more for the continual updates, annual rereleases and slightly modified versions that were to follow in the years since it became available.

Still, for a game that is centred around the idea of hadokenning a friend into a corner, its stood the test of time, and is still fondly remembered today.

Mortal Kombat 2

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On the other side of the fighting game spectrum, there was Mortal Kombat. Shocking the world in its original debut, and leaving overbearing moms and misinformed politicians frothing at the mouth, this was a sequel that pulled out all the stops.

Better digitization of characters, a cleaner palette, smoother animations and enough blood to meet our national shortage come December, MK2 was seen as one the finest examples of a sequel done right, during its time.

But it wasn’t just the visuals that had been spruced up for MK2, as the gameplay had been substantially overhauled as well. Combos were tighter, special moves were unique to the specific characters, allowing for interesting match ups.

Of course, MK2 wasn’t without controversy, with various parents groups and government agencies decrying the ludicrous violence, and Germany even banned the game when it was first released. That didn’t stop MK2 from being a massive hit though, and it went on to span various spin-offs in other media, more sequels, and even a recent reboot.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 3

When it came to bigger, better games for sequels, Sonic was at the forefront, not by reworking a successful formula, but instead adding to it in a manner that made the gameplay more rewarding, despite the increased challenges.

With longer levels, more characters and the option for a second player to pick a controller and join in the fun whenever they wanted to, Sonic 3 was a game built around co-operative gameplay years before future developers showed any real interest in the idea.

Sonic 3 was so successful in creating one of the most signature games to ever showcase the speedy hedgehog in fact, that it set a benchmark for all future games in the series, a measuring stick that is still used today, with precious few Sonic games ever reaching those lofty heights again.

And for a character that was in a cartoon that featured Steve Urkel as his voice-over artist, that’s pretty damn impressive.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kongs Quest

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Its the beginning of the mid-nineties, and Nintendo is on a roll. Their new Super-Nintendo system is a hit with families and gamers, while their library is just cranking out quality game after quality game.

Handing over the reins of their Donkey Kong franchise to Rareware, the studio managed to create a follow up to the original game that completely surpassed the original, stuffing it full of collectables, characters and hidden objects in order to keep the game going after the end credits rolled.

Piggybacking on enemies to take down enemies returned, but this time, there was a greater variety of wildlife to commandeer, ranging from rhinos to spiders,anglerfish and even seals. Gorgeous visuals and easy to learn gameplay, Donkey Kong Country 2 was a pirate-themed adventure of legendary proportions.

The Revenge of Shinobi

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Ninjas, is there anything that they can’t make cool? Long before obnoxious brats in orange jumpsuits were taking the stage as ninjas, Joe Musashi was out there fighting the good fight against hastily-edited sue-proof versions of Batman,Spider-Man,the Hulk and Godzilla.

Featuring more elaborate stages for its time, and all new special ninjutsu attacks, TRS was a game that allowed players to fight for justice while a fantastic soundtrack played in the background.

In fact, the soundtrack was so notable that it made its way into a video game symphony in Sweden, back in 2007. So the next time someone mentions to you that real ninjas are prepubescent mentally retarded kids with evil animal spirits inside of them, strap ‘em down and make the offender play this bit of golden era magic.

Super Mario Bros 3

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If I didn’t include this, Geoff would have my head on a pike. While Super Mario Bros 2 was an addictive experience in mushroom-eating, castle-storming action that usually resulted in that bimbo Princess Peach not being where she was supposed to be, SMB3 took the concept and ran wild with it.

Enhanced visuals, bigger worlds, suits that could give Mario new abilities, and most importantly, some non-linearity in choosing where to go next, set the stage for Mario’s biggest adventure to date. Challenging and unforgiving to novice players, SMB3 was also filled with secrets, rewarding players who found them with extra lives and points.

Read  The Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection packs in 12 arcade classics

For Nintendo, this was one of their biggest selling games ever made, earning the company enough cash back in the day, reportedly over $500 million. If you’ve never experienced the ingenious majesty that is SMB3, then do yourself a favour and make an effort to play it.

Top Gear 2

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We’re not talking about the popular TV show that features expensive cars and lawsuit-fuel comments, but instead a racing game that brought a very real sense of reality to the circuit. Featuring a then revolutionary damage system and model, players could actually wreck their cars before they crossed a finish line.

And all cars were not made equal in this game, as you would most definitely start out with a slower model, that was sorely in need of some fancy new engine parts and upgrades. Long before Need for Speed was making imitations of the Fast and the Furious movies, Top Gear 2 was allowing players the option of manual or automatic gearboxes, while nitro-shfting their way to glory.

Track and Field 2

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If ever there was a game that would give you thumbs of steel, it was Konami and their sporting games. While actually the fourth game in the sporting franchise, TF2 was still directly linked to the first game, keeping its Olympic theme and ridiculously hard events.

Injecting the title with some patriotism, players could now choose their nation to represent, while taking part in various events, such as fencing, the high dive and Tae Kwon Do. While some games required strategy, there were still a few events that necessitated the use of rampant button-mashing, an event so furiously difficult that it should have been included as a separate meta-game within TF2 itself.

But with few other games in the genre to challenge it, TF2 was still a masterpiece of variety that featured Olympic endorsement.

Jungle Strike

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If you were aching to relive some Airwolf memories years ago, your only real alternative was to play the NES game, an 8 bit horror show of terrible gameplay and bad level design. But then along came Desert Strike, delivering a salvo of isometric viewpoint goodness that was completely original at the time, meaning that its popularity would no doubt see a sequel.

And that is did, with Jungle Strike picking up where the original left off. While players still used the Comanche attack helicopter as their primary method of ensuring freedom, other vehicles were added as well, such as an attack hover boat, a weapon-heavy motorcycle and even a ridiculously powerful F117 stealth fighter jet.

Lush and fun to play, Jungle Strike was a sequel that blew the original out of the water.

If there was a particular sequel that made your day as a gamer all those years ago, let us know in the comments section below.

Last Updated: September 12, 2011

Darryn Bonthuys

Something wrong gentlemen? You come here prepared to read the words of a madman, and instead found a lunatic obsessed with comics, Batman and Raul Julia’s M Bison performance in the 1994 Street Fighter movie? Fine! Keep your bio! In fact, now might be a good time to pray to it!

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