1990: The Year Of The Sequels
It’s not uncommon for successful movies to get sequels and it’s now becoming popular in the video game realm as well. Sure, there have been plenty of follow-ups to hit titles as far back as Donkey Kong, but with the massive amounts of Game Paks being sold on the NES, it’s looking like 1990 is shaping up to be the year of the sequel. We had a minor surge back in 1988 with the likes of Super Mario Bros. 2, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. Those were all successful and highly sought after, especially with the chip shortage in full force. But that’s nothing compared to what we have in store for us this year. Let’s run through them, shall we?
Bases Loaded II: Second Season
The first Bases Loaded was a smashing success on the NES, selling thousands of copies and making Jaleco some serious coin. The sequel features the same television camera viewpoint of behind the pitcher. New this time around are enhanced player stats, giving you the power to try and utilize the right players at the right moments. We’re not huge fans of the batting game thanks to the less than ideal camera angle, but fans of the original should feel right at home here.
The original Double Dragon was one of the best selling games on the NES, but it had one major flaw: the lack of two player simultaneous play like the arcade machine. The sequel has fixed that glaring omission so now you and a friend can beat up gangs of enemies to avenge the loss of your girlfriend, Marion. There are more levels to play through and even better graphics this time around. This one is sure to be an even bigger hit than the original, and that’s saying something!
One of Konami’s earliest hits on the NES was Top Gun. Here we are three years later and a sequel has emerged. The gameplay seems very much the same as the original, but a greater variety of missions and enemy types are in the cards (you’ll even have to watch out for satellite laser beams!). There’s even a two player competitive mode where you and a friend lock into a dogfight to see who’s truly the ace pilot.
The sequel to end all sequels is scheduled for very late February/early March and it looks like it will be a doozy. The game has already sold almost 3 million in Japan and Nintendo of America predicts about 7 million will be sold this year alone. We’ve played the game on the PlayChoice 10 arcade machine and it’s absolutely amazing. The new power-ups are spectacular (you can fly now!) and there are so many secrets hidden throughout the levels that this one should keep gamers busy for years to come. Mario fans are in for a spectacular treat!
The Adventures of Lolo II
The first Lolo game was quite a bit of fun thanks to its unique puzzle rooms that required lots of trial and error to solve. The game’s cute graphics and charming enemies return in the sequel and from what we can tell you can expect more challenging puzzles this time around. This one looks like more of the same, which might be just what the doctor ordered for those into this style of games.
Sometimes you know a sequel is going to outperform the original, but in this case we’re just not sure about Ghostbusters II. On the one hand the original was so mediocre that the sequel just has to be better, right? Then again, this is Activision we’re talking about – who has yet to deliver a truly fantastic game for the NES. The graphics look more colorful and varied, but the small characters and uninspired settings have us worried.
Snake’s Revenge: Metal Gear II
The original Metal Gear definitely has its fans and it’s one of the more complex games on the NES. There are all sorts of cool gadgets to use and it’s fun to sneak around and take out bad guys. We don’t know a ton about this one yet, but the initial screens look like the first one, with a sort of overhead view, but with more detailed graphics. It appears there will be some side-scrolling action levels too, which sort of reminds of Contra, which is always a good thing.
Speaking of Contra, we’re definitely hyped for Super C, the sequel to one of the best two player co-op shooters on the NES. This one is looking better than ever thanks to more detailed visuals and seems to have a grittier look going for it. New overhead shooting levels, like those seen in Commando, make an appearance this time to switch up the action. Familiar power-ups like the Spread Gun also return. Now we’ll have to see if the infamous 30-guy code works as well!
Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
Now here’s a game we’re itching to play! Can you believe that just one year after the original adventures of Ryu Hayabusa that we’re getting a sequel? By the looks of things the graphics have been enhanced and early footage we saw shows some major upgrades in the background layers, allowing for what developers call parallax scrolling. Basically it adds depth to the scenery, making it look more life-like! If this one contains the high octane action and challenge of the first and has a captivating story then it could very well end up being a contender for game of the year. We’ll report back soon.
The Mafat Conspiracy: Golgo 13 II
Sometimes we’re surprised when a game gets a sequel and this is one of those cases. That’s not because Golgo 13 was a horrible game (although it wasn’t one of our favorites), but because we thought the original didn’t sell all that well. With enhanced graphics and new spy saga perhaps the sequel will catch on?
Rad Racer II
One of the original best selling games on the NES was Rad Racer, which Nintendo published back in 1987. The sequel is being developed and published by Square Soft, a new third party that created the first one, but licensed it out to the Big N. There are 8 racecourses to drive and the graphics look like they’ve seen a slight upgrade. We know the original is a favorite of many NES fans, so this could be a great one to get when it arrives this summer!
RBI Baseball 2
One of the most popular baseball games of all time on the NES is getting a sequel. Tengen will be bringing RBI Baseball 2 to the NES and although the graphics don’t look all that improved (slightly), the features should probably attract a lot of attention. The game will have all 26 pro teams, each with a roster of 24 real players. The stats are updated as of 1989, so the players should act like their real life counterparts.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
We’re just getting word about this horrific sequel, and we can’t wait to learn more. Early screens show a massive jump in graphic quality and we’re hearing that the cartridge may use a special chip to deliver even better visuals and music. Apparently the game is going back to its roots and will contain gameplay similar to the first title – ditching the adventure aspects of Simon’s Quest. Japanese media is reporting that the title will have multiple characters to play as and branching paths for even greater replay value. This series is one of our favorites and so you can bet we’re eager to put Dracula down once again!
All too often the NES receives watered down ports of arcade games. Usually the main thing ripped out is multiplayer support. This is NOT the case here when Mindscape brings Gauntlet II to the system this fall. In fact, it’s one of the few games to support Nintendo’s new four player adapters (NES Four Score and NES Satellite), allowing up to four players to partake in the adventure. This could be a game changer!
Skate or Die 2
Skateboarding has become huge over the past few years so it’s no surprise to see a sequel to Skate Or Die release merely a year after the first. This time around Electronic Arts is publishing its own game, ditching Ultra in the process. This time around the game looks to have a story mode and you’ll even be able to skate around in the mall! It’s definitely zanier than the last one, and if it can hold up to the computer versions then perhaps this one will be a big hit.
Mega Man 3
Perhaps it was inevitable we’d see another sequel to Mega Man after the massive success of Mega Man 2 last year. Details are just coming in on this new action game from Capcom. From what we can gather you’ll once again be up against 8 new Robot Masters from the evil Dr. Wily. The game isn’t even out in Japan yet, but it looks like Mega Man will have even more powers than ever before. You might even get your own robot pet puppy to help you along your way! Just one more game to add to our long list of must-haves this year!
Dragon Warrior II
One of the most successful games for the Famicom is Dragon Quest (Dragon Warrior in the U.S.) and we’re getting the sequel later this fall! We’re quite a bit behind on these games, so by the time we receive this one Japan should be onto the fourth one. The screens we’ve seen show that you know longer must adventure solo and now you have a group of friends that can help you fight along the way. This RPG is sure to delight fans of the original – count me as one – and this will make the perfect Christmas present for those gamers with good taste.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
OK, so I’m in the minority of gamers out there that didn’t care for the original TMNT game on the NES. It was so brutally difficult that I never managed to make it to the end and the gameplay loop just wasn’t that exciting. The arcade game is a completely different story, taking on a more Double Dragon / Final Fight brawler approach that worked extraordinarily well with the turtles license. That game is now in development for the NES and if they can pull it off for the home market than it will be an extremely fun game to play with friends. It’s too early to know for sure, but we have hope this one will deliver the goods.
Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
Our entire team of reviewers at Nintendo Times hated the original Ultima on the NES. We know it’s a beloved franchise on the PC, but wow was it a pile of crap for the Nintendo. Early screens show much-improved graphics for the sequel, but it’s going to take a lot more than pretty visuals for us to pick this one up. Here’s hoping some the combat system is more exciting this time around and maybe get rid of mundane tasks like food management.
So, what do you think? Do you see any must-have games on the list? We count at least seven that we’re picking up! It should be an exciting year for NES owners. With the chip shortage a thing of the past and more developers than ever working on games for the system there is going to be more choice than ever before. 1990 is shaping up to be THE best year ever for the system and we think it could be the best year ever for video games…period.
Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He’s currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.