"Sequels are never better than the originals". Or so they say. Here are ten series which don't suffer from second-game-syndrome, in which the second game is really weird and crappy, and then there's a massive rebound with the third game. Rather, each of these games completely eclipses its predecessor. Here are the ten "seconds" which surpassed their "firsts" the most.

In case you didn't know, the original Wave Race is on Game Boy. Play it for 10 seconds and tell me if you can stand it. The difference between Wave Race and Wave Race 64 is that the latter is actually playable. Your jet ski doesn't make an annoying 8-bit whine whenever you accelerate, you don't have to squint to see what's happening on your pea-soup GB screen, and there's none of the dreaded Game Boy blur, which obscures the action whenever you move in the original. Wave Race 64 is mildly entertaining for a few minutes, and that's all it needs to be to be better than the first game.

The original F-Zero was created solely to show off the Mode 7 capabilities of the SNES. Predictably, the gameplay was as thin as cardboard. A mildly fun diversion, but nothing more. F-Zero X offers a considerably more substantial package; there's multiplayer this time, for one. And instead of four cars, there's about forty. The gameplay is much faster. The track designs are certainly more creative; you go through loop-de-loops, spirals, and a whole bunch of other 3D things that Mode 7 couldn't duplicate. The X-Cup in particular is a neat feature: it randomly creates a set of tracks every time you play. Gotta love those flamboyant character designs, too. A prime example of a sequel outdoing the original simply because it has more content. GX is still the better game, but F-Zero X can still provide quite a bit of fun for any avid N64 owner.

Zone of Enders 2, otherwise known as what ZOE1 should've been. ZOE1 had a pretty obnoxious plot, with a main character so rigidly moral I wanted to reach into the TV and smack him. The "quest" is also incredibly brief, the gameplay offering nothing aside from smacking up robots. Well, ZOE2 isn't a masterpiece either, but there's no doubt that it's a considerable improvement over the first one: the graphics are way slicker (it looks like an anime come to life, basically), the voice acting is better, there's far more options in combat, and there are mission objectives besides just beating up bots--for instance, protect that guy AND beat up bots. The plot still isn't stellar, the the game is still very short, but the little upgrades here and there add up to make ZOE2 a far more appealing package than its predecessor.

Finding ways to improve upon the first Dark Cloud wasn't hard for Level 5. For one, make a game that doesn't look like a fart. Second, make a game that isn't as repetitive as office paperwork. Third off, don't make the player die after taking three freaking hits. Fourth off, don't make the player character want a 7-Up every two minutes. Fifth off, don't make the player's weapons break permanently when they're 18 floors into a dungeon crawl. Fix all that and throw in a hot chick as your ally, and then you've got a game. And hey, that's exactly what Dark Cloud 2 did. Bravo.

Playing the original Warcraft is an exercise in tedium, with Genesis-quality music, terrible voice acting, and an annoyingly cumbersome interface. When Blizzard went back to the drawing board for Warcraft II, they came up with a considerably lighter game; brighter palette, much more upbeat soundtrack, more humorous voices, and a game that's a whole lot more fun to play. The action all moves much faster, and the grid-based unit movement is thrown out the window in favor of less restrictive gameplay. Air and naval units join the fray this time around, as do hero units. Every aspect of Warcraft II feels like a much more polished version of the first game. Sure, it's no Starcraft, but WC2 is way better than what came before it.

Going back to the original Star Fox is a lot like going back to Power Rangers; sure, there's some nostalgia to be had, but it's tough to deny that it's just not what it used to be. Luckily, Star Fox 64 is more a remake than a true sequel to the first game, so the original is more or less obsolete. With drastically improved visuals (Andross isn't a robot anymore), the very first Rumble Pak support, and the shocking addition of voiced dialogue (on N64? No way!), SF64 is not only way better than the first game, it's by far the crown jewel of the series.

Lufia II has the distinction of being the sequel to the world's most generic RPG: Lufia & the Fortress of Doom. Get four heroes, do a few fetchquests, find and confront the true villain, and get in a whole frigging bunch of random battles along the way. Not gonna lie, it's a pretty lousy game. The bad news is that three out of four of those points are still applicable to Lufia II. The good news is that it's bearable this time. Random battles are gone, with a Super Mario RPG-esque "run into the bad guys to fight them" system taking its place. Your walking speed is about three times as fast. The dungeons are a lot more involving due to the influx of cleverly-designed puzzles. Despite a plot riddled with cliches, Lufia II also manages to deliver what is quite possibly the most epic RPG ending ever. And that music; oh, the music. A true masterpiece among SNES soundtracks. No one will argue that Lufia II is easily the best game in the series. If only that PS1 game hadn't been cancelled.

The original Smash Bros. was pretty fun. Developed on a low budget and with a very brief dev cycle, Nintendo had intended for the game to be a Japan-only release. The game's massive success there prompted a swift localization to the rest of the world, and bada bing, bada boom, Nintendo had another huge series on its hands. For the sequel, SSBM, HAL pulled out all the stops, giving it what was surely a massive budget and a much bigger time frame to make it. The effort showed; twice as many characters, three times as many stages, a plethora of new modes, in both single and multiplayer, and of course, the advantage of vastly superior graphics and an excellent soundtrack, thanks to the GameCube hardware. There is at least ten times as much content here than in the original SSB. Hell, games today still have trouble matching SSBM's replay value. I personally have still yet to get the Diskun trophy.

Be honest: have you ever played the original Street Fighter? The one where Ryu wears slippers? The one where Sagat is the last boss? The one where you had to bash those big pressure pads to register light/heavy attacks, but since everyone abused them, they were usually broken? Maybe not. Well, it doesn't matter, because the game sucks. Street Fighter II is feeling pretty dated itself nowadays, but back in the day, it was awesome. Instead of just having Ryu or Ken, a whopping eight characters were available to choose from. No more busted pressure pads; the standard six-button layout was in full force starting here. These two basic changes, along with many other refinements, were key ingredients to what turned out to be a sensation. The popularity of SFII was enormous, and can almost single-handedly be pointed to for the rise of versus fighting games. Oh, and Ken's theme kicks ass.

Whaaaat?! There was a game before Calibur?! Yes, in fact, there was: Soul Edge, known as Soul Blade on PS1. There's a reason you're probably not very familiar with this game: it's generic. Its claim to fame at the time was that it was in 3D, and the characters had weapons. It wasn't that great. At least Voldo was in it. Any game with Voldo can't be that bad. And really, Soul Edge isn't bad: it's just that Calibur is ten times as awesome in every respect. To say that the presentation was improved would be a gross understatement; Soul Calibur on Dreamcast was quite possibly the best-looking game ever back in 1999. Not to mention the brilliantly simplistic side-stepping system, which fundamentally altered its gameplay. And the way more fluid control scheme. And the way bigger cast. And the mounds of new content, particularly the mission mode. The reviewers went wild over this game back in the day; it's still at like #3 on Gamerankings. Not sure I'd rank it that high, but the fact that it so clearly left its predecessor in the dust, to the point that many people don't even know it's a sequel, while gaining universal praise for itself earns Soul Calibur the top spot on the list.

And there they are. Ten games that went above and beyond their predecessors. They're all at least decent, so try them out. No fancy denouement here. Excluding the word "denouement".

List by Phediuk (07/05/2007)

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