It’s strange when we look back at a series, a franchise that we’re so used to, yet we fail to notice the massive leaps one entry took to revolutionize the entirety of the series. This list is for those games, the titles that looked at its predecessor and blew it, and our expectations, completely out of the water. Some of these games even managed to revolutionize a genre on top of their own franchise, which is just a testament to how important some of these sequels actually were.
10. Donkey Kong Country
Often branded with being the true beginnings of Mario, Donkey Kong was an arcade hit. Playing as – the originally named – Jump Man, players scaled up the level and took down a gorilla; the original Donkey Kong. When it comes to a jump between sequels, Donkey Kong Country managed to completely change all we knew about our favorite Ape family, giving us one of the greatest platformers of all time. Not only did it create a unique aesthetic in the form of its digitized sprites, but also the incredible soundtrack composed by David Wise, a musical feel that is as synonymous with the series as much as the gameplay.
The Donkey Kong series hasn’t really done much else to truly revolutionize itself as of late, apart from a couple of odd bongo-based spin-offs, which does nothing but show how tried and true the formula that permeated Donkey Kong Country was.
~ Jose Herrias
9. Sonic Adventure
This game is probably not only the best sequel to the Sonic series, but one of the best Sonic games of all time. Besides the lead character of Sonic, there are 5 other characters to play as: Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Big and E-102 Gamma. The goal of the story is to gather the Chaos Emeralds to thwart Dr. Eggman’s monster. This title was the first of the series to introduce free-roaming 3D game-play giving the game a more open feel while still hold to the linear level designs. Introducing the homing attack for Sonic that becomes a standard in the games to follow. Over everything else this game is still fun to play.
~ Melissa Buranen
8. Pokemon Gold & Silver
It was always going to be hard to improve on Pokemon, it had an extremely solid premise and formula already and all fans at the time needed was more creatures to collect and leaders to battle. Generation two added so much that even now the jumps between generations feel somewhat lackluster in comparison. The biggest inclusion, besides the extra 100 new Pokemon, was the ability to go back to the previous continent and fight the original gym leaders. Not just content with all this – ahem – content, Pokemon Gold and Silver gave the entire engine an overhaul, making it much more user friendly and fun in the process. Registered items, dark and steel types, breeding, genders and a whole slew of other greatness changed this series from a standard JRPG into a beast of its own.
On top of all this awesome, it provided us with one of the most climactic battles of the series – Red – which the series still is still to surpass in terms of epic levels.
~ Jose Herrias
7. Mega Man X
Today, the dream of a new Mega Man game may be broken into more piece than a maverick bot, but there was once a time when you could expect a new game in this series almost every year, whether you asked for it or not. Realizing that repetition was becoming an issue, Capcom found a way to shake up the formula just enough to not only make it feel fresh again, but also make one of the best in the series this side of Mega Man 2. The added mobility through dashing and wall jumping, armor and health upgrades and being able to return to stages all gave the game and the blue bomber himself, an edge over the predecessors. Although the series would eventually grow stale again after a series of poor design choices and bringing little to nothing new, Mega Man X can still be regarded as that spark that kept the series going longer than it might have.
~ Nick Grave
6. Street Fighter II
Not many people have actually played the original Street Fighter, a game which is strangely obscure despite being the beginning of the largest fighting game series ever. This is not completely surprising however, seeing as the original game is a pretty poor one v one fighter, which is exactly why SF2 is such a revolutionary sequel.
Looking at the series now, it’s fairly easy to see the route in which the series has taken, but it’s even clearer to see how the series formula has been cemented with its second installment. Street Fighter 2 even went on to completely revolutionize the arcade, fighting and multiplayer scene with it paving the way for competitions like Evo.
~ Jose Herrias