Even Better Sequel

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Metroid = Awesome. Super Metroid = Super Awesome.
Halo 2 is a lot like Halo 1, except it's Halo 1 on fire going 120 miles per hour through a hospital zone chased by helicopters and ninjas. And the ninjas are all on fire too.
Jason Jones, Official Xbox Magazine

The rule usually holds that the second work in a series, decent though it may be, simply can't stand up to the glory of the first. Indeed, for many a series, when all is said and done, a consensus forms that First Installment Wins.

The exception to this conventional rule is the Even Better Sequel, which are largely (if not unanimously) thought to actually top the already-good original. In many cases, this is either the result of or comes along with a Genre Shift, as instead of just trying to top the original, the makers will be trying something entirely new (see the Alien and Terminator examples). In addition, this seems to be common with sequels to superhero films. This may be because genre conventions demand (or at least, strongly encourage) a Super-Hero Origin story in the first movie, which takes up a good chunk of the plot and screen time with a relatively uninteresting everyman character before we even get a chance to see any super-heroics. Sequels tend to work well if any change is organic, or a plot was built up in the previous installments.

It's possible that in the musical world, Even Better Sequel is the rule rather the exception, considering that an artist's first album (though still good) may have been recorded when they were still trying to figure out their style. Also common in video games, where the sequel is often built on the technological and fictional foundation of the first, significantly reducing the time needed to come up with or adapt new technology or build the game's world, and allowing the developers to focus on enhancing the things that worked and prune the things that didn't . Sequels in any medium may also benefit from the higher budget and greater creative freedom that are afforded to a proven franchise, provided the beancounters have the good sense to refrain from Executive Meddling.

Compare Surprisingly Improved Sequel, Sequel Displacement (where a sequel becomes more well-known than the original), Sequel Escalation, More Popular Spinoff.

When it happens within individual seasons, that is Growing the Beard.

Contrast Contested Sequel, Sequelitis, Sophomore Slump.

Examples of Even Better Sequel include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • While the original Mobile Suit Gundam performed badly on its original run (in fact, it was cancelled due to falling ratings... but became a smash hit on reruns, go figure), six years later, Zeta Gundam was so popular that it spawned a direct sequel just two weeks after it was completed—a feat yet unsurpassed by any other Gundam installment. To this day, many Gundam fans consider Zeta the best entry in the saga.
  • The Patlabor TV series (a separate continuity from the first OVA and the movies) was consistently decent, but the second OVA (which followed in the same continuity as the TV show) was much better, upping not just the production values but also the humor and the drama.
  • While the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha was unexpectedly good (given its original premise), it's the second one that remains the most popular among the three seasons.
  • May not be a complete example, but the loosely connected Psychic Powers manga stories by Katsuhiro Otomo kept increasing in quality as time went on. First was a largely forgettable short story about some cops investigating a paranormal case. This was followed by the beautifully written & illustrated Domu A Childs Dream, featuring those same officers investigating a series of psychic killings. Then came the classic Akira, revolving around the government's attempts to copy the powers seen in Domu: A Child's Dream for their own ends.
  • The first Inuyasha anime was widely loved even with all the filler, but the last part of the manga (that hadn't yet come out when the anime ended) was shown in Inuyasha: The Final Act, which was much more straightforward.
  • Most fans agree that the second season of the Slayers anime, Slayers NEXT, is superior in all aspects, from story to character development, to the first season. Unfortunately, it declined shortly after that.
  • A variant example with the Naruto series. The series itself has been continuous since the beginning, and thus has never had need of a true sequel. However, after the drought of Filler (over eighty continuous episodes, nearly two year's worth) after the animated episodes Overtook the Manga, there was a Retool to coincide with the series' Time Skip, leading into Naruto: Shippuuden. Much like the manga it derives from, it jumps in quality to become much more mature, relying far less on toilet humor and greatly emphasizing Character Development. The producers also learned their lesson from the Great Filler Drought, interjecting a filler arc in between every 1-2 Canon story arcs so that there's no chance of Overtaking the Manga. These filler arcs are worth mentioning, in that they are actual story arcs of fairly decent quality, unlike the pre-Time Skip episodes which were mostly stand-alone slapstick.


Films -- Animated[edit | hide]

  • Some people say Toy Story 2 wasn't as good as the first movie—it was better. That's saying quite a bit, considering the original is a modern-day classic.
    • And what's even more impressive is just how much better Toy Story 3 managed to be. Hell, it's considered by many to be the best threequel ever made.
  • The Rescuers Down Under is generally considered to be better paced, better written, and in general a better movie to the original The Rescuers.
  • Atypically for many Dreamworks Animation sequels, Kung Fu Panda 2 has been considered even better than the original, which is already considered one of Dreamworks Animation's best films to date.
    • This is because, as mentioned in the opening paragraph of this page about Alien and Terminator, it tried something new. The last story was about Po coming into his own and learning to be the Dragon Warrior. This film was about saving the world and finding out about Po's past. It wasn't a rehash of the same thing at all, which helped it a lot.
    • Also, like the Terminator and Alien sequels, it featured a shift towards more action, which was available now that Po had completed the training from the first movie. No Bag of Spilling here! Likewise, there is more drama as Po learns some hard truths about the apparent fate of his family and his people and must struggle to come to terms with it. In turn, it sets the stage for the next with the obvious groundwork for a romantic relationship for Po and Tigress and Po's biological father, part of a hidden village of giant pandas, realizing his son is alive.


Films -- Live-Action[edit | hide]

  • While A New Hope is considered a cinematic masterpiece, many consider The Empire Strikes Back as an even better film, and the best of the Star Wars saga, though at the time of release it was disliked by many fans.
  • While the original Alien is a great movie - interesting characters, creepy and horrifying designs for the alien, it introduced the xenomorph life cycle to an unsuspecting populace, and so on - the second movie, Aliens, is widely (though not universally) regarded as a better film. It also benefited from a Genre Shift from straight up Horror to Action Horror, which meant that instead of being The Same but More, Aliens was able to do things its own way.
  • Batman Begins was the reboot everyone hoped for after the Neon Age of Schumacher, but it was The Dark Knight that won universal acclaim and a posthumous Academy Award for Heath Ledger.
  • Some film buffs consider The Godfather Part II to be better than the original The Godfather, and everyone considers it to be at the very least comparable.
  • X 2 X Men United is considered an improvement on the already good original X-Men 1, fleshing out the characters and themes introduced in the first one, while providing more action.
    • Bryan Singer said the strategy for X2 was to follow the Empire Strikes Back plot, where they split up the characters for purposes of development, then bring them together again for a fantastic finish.
  • Spider-Man 2 likewise had a drastically improved plot, as well as longer bigger and better fight scenes. And if anything, the knockout train battle against Doctor Octopus was the Spider-Man fight everyone had been waiting and hoping for.
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day got even more acclaim, and had a much higher gross than the already-loved first film. Like the Alien series, it shifted from horror in the first installment to a greater focus on action in the second. Incidentally, both sequels were directed by James Cameron.
  • The first three James Bond films are generally considered to be progressively better than the one that came before it. Goldfinger is still regarded by some as the best Bond film ever.
  • The Evil Dead series.
    • The Evil Dead was a cult film that was noted for its extreme violence and low-budget gore. Evil Dead 2, however, added a new element of slapstick comedy, which is apparently what Sam Raimi wanted all along. The action also focuses more on the character of Ash, who became something of a cult icon.
    • The third film, Army of Darkness, has the highest budget and is the most well known. It continued the trend toward increased slapstick violence and making Ash a wisecrack-spouting badass, which is generally what people remember most about the series.
  • Mad Max and Mad Max 2, (later renamed The Road Warrior). The first was impressive for a low-budget action film to come out of Australia, though by today's standards is rather slow-paced and tedious (despite some excellent auto-stunts.) The second film practically popularized the Scavenger World in film, filled with balls to the wall action and is the best remembered film in the series.
  • Two examples come from the Universal Horror cycle of the 1930s: Todd Browning's 1931 version of Dracula, despite its fame and popularity, is generally considered a far inferior film to its 1936 sequel, Draculas Daughter—and although James Whale's Frankenstein 1931 (1931) is well-regarded among the critics, its 1935 sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, is considered an even better film.
  • Scream 2 is considered by critics to be scarier and funnier than the original Scream. Discussed in Randy's film class, where everyone discusses movie sequels, the frequency of sequels that are better than first installments, and which sequels achieve this.
  • The third Police Academy film, Police Academy 3: Back in Training is considered by most fans as the series' peak.
  • Wrong Turn 2 Dead End received a far better reception than the original film, even though it was Direct-to-Video. Having Henry Rollins in it probably helped.
  • A Fistful of Dollars was a good movie. Its sequel, For a Few Dollars More, was an improvement in several ways. The third film, The Good the Bad And The Ugly, is even better than the second one and is generally considered to be one of the best films ever made.
  • Asterix and Obelix: Mission Cleopatra (the titular comics live action adaptation) was a lot more funnier and better than the first, Asterix and Obelix Take On Cesar. Asterix and Obelix at the Olympic Games [dead link] is said to be less good than the second but better than the first.
  • The Vengeance Trilogy by Park Chan Wook started with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, which isn't a bad film, but relatively obscure. Oldboy, the second film, is the one everyone remembers. Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the third film, was also well-received but is not as well-known as Oldboy. However, these are all stand-alone films linked only by the theme of vengeance.
  • Gamera: Guardian of the Universe was a pretty good reboot of a long-dead franchise. Gamera 2 Advent of Legion had a tighter script, deeper characters, better special effects, more action and more gore. Gamera 3 Awakening of Irys had less action but even deeper characterization and still better special effects with more effective gore, and a better script. It's still debated whether 2 or 3 is the best, but everyone agrees they're both better than 1.
  • Tremors escalated the abilities and threats of the monster worms (called graboids) in the two sequels Tremors 2 and 3, and progressed from almost a pure deadpan horror story with few comedic elements in the first film, to the character Burt Gummer becoming a breakout hero whose conflicts with the monsters were ever more characterized by subtle humor and overall badassness. Tremors 4, however, broke this formula in the act of trying too hard to continue it, and consequently sucked.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Hobbit's sequel, The Lord of the Rings, is much more mature in tone and epic in breadth with more dynamic characters and a great deal more at stake.
  • The Silence of the Lambs to Red Dragon.
  • The third Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, is generally seen as the best, or at least better than the first two.
  • Every book in the Shannara series after the first.
  • David Brin's first Uplift trilogy - Sundiver is decent, but Startide Rising blows it out of the water (no pun intended).
  • The Odyssey is often said to be much better than The Iliad.
    • However, the two works weren't necessarily written in order, or even by the same person. It could be that The Iliad is an inferior prequel.
    • The two were, however, considered by antiquity the best of the entire Trojan Cycle, which included six other lost epics. (Whether the Homeric poems were written before or after the others is up for debate, though.)
  • While Logan's Run is a good book, Logan's World is much better seeing as it has an actual coherent plot and flows from one scene to the next. Plus it shows Logan is an even bigger Badass then you were originally led to believe.
  • The first two books in The Dresden Files were Strictly Formula and didn't do much, even if they were enjoyable reads. As the series continued, it got deeper, began playing with tropes a lot more, deviating from formula, and developping characters beyond the stock modern fantasy character archetypes.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Star Trek: The Original Series was a good television show that had some damned good lead actors [1] and often made poignant insights into the human condition, but suffered from cramped production time and a low budget. Star Trek: The Next Generation had an actual budget, universally high-quality actors (including Patrick freaking Stewart), a chance to use a Story Arc or three dozen, and consistent show continuity, and in fact is the only Trek show to get a Golden Globe nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. TV Guide also considers TNG to be one of the 100 best shows of all time. Things proceeded to escalate even further, in terms of critical reviews at least - Star Trek: Deep Space Nine earned even more critical raves than its predecessor, and pioneered the use of intensive Character Development and Story Arcs spanning multiple seasons in a time well before that became the norm. No matter who you talk to, either The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine is, in terms of sheer quality, the best show the franchise has ever produced.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess was also a spinoff but was easily more popular than Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. No doubt due to the obscene levels of Les Yay. It was also much more willing to be experimental in its stories, and considering how different Hercules could be, that's saying something.
  • The various Power Rangers series fall somewhere between sequel and spin off, but in general, while the first few seasons were good, the production team were still trying to hammer out the kinks of trying to write and film a story around already done Japanese source footage. The show hit it's stride somewhere around Power Rangers in Space.
    • Power Rangers Time Force had the benefit of numerous seasons before it to hammer out the kinks before the franchise was sold to Disney, making it one of the most solid entries. It was also extremely close to the original Mirai Sentai Timeranger.
  • While Buffys spinoff Angel took time to develop, Angel managed by its third or fourth season to kick its mother-series' ass. Of course, that was around the time when Buffys infamous Seasonal Rot kicked in. More subjective is whether Angel was better than Buffy in its prime.
  • Frasier is considered the equal to, if not better than, its parent show Cheers.
  • NCIS is generally considered superior to (and is far more popular than) JAG.
  • The second season of The Mole is generally liked better by the viewers than the first season due to an increase in cast size(fourteen players over ten players), a more or less superior cast, and host Anderson Cooper opening up and becoming more friendly and relatable than how he was shown during Season One.


Music[edit | hide]

  • It should be noted that an Even Better Sequel can seem even rarer in the music industry than other forms of entertainment; the "sophomore slump" is such that receiving, for example, "Best New Artist" from an organization might be seen as the kiss of death.
  • Nirvana's In Utero over Nevermind. The latter is more popular and well known, but the former is more critically acclaimed, and arguably a more musically interesting album.
    • This trope also applies to Nevermind. While Nevermind was a massive success, Nirvana's first album, Bleach, is almost completely unknown by comparison.
  • The Pixies' second album, Doolittle. Their debut, Surfer Rosa, while failing to be a commercial hit, was well-received by critics, and has since been noted for being one of the greatest albums of all time. With the bar already rather high, Doolittle was released, and is regarded as even better than Surfer Rosa. Oddly, the band fared far better commercially and critically in Britain than they did in their home country of America.
  • Michael Jackson made Off the Wall, which was popular and critically acclaimed. Then he made Thriller, which came to be the biggest-selling album of all time.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins and Siamese Dream. Debut Gish was well received, but was totally displaced by the second record.
  • Sehnsucht (namely "Du Hast") was what put Rammstein on the map in America, despite it being the second album.
  • A lot of people said this about Joy Division's second album, Closer, which came after the massive, genre-defining masterpiece Unknown Pleasures.
  • Led Zeppelin's first album was filled with blues-covers and was all around fairly good. But Led Zeppelin II was where they instead focused more on the rock aspect and really took off.
  • Cream was a Supergroup whose first album consisted mostly of blues covers and was not as good as people hoped. For Disraeli Gears they added elements of psychedelia and became the biggest rock band of the world...
  • Paranoid is generally considered the best Black Sabbath album. Guess which number it is.
  • Metallica's debut Kill 'em All is a classic, but most consider Ride The Lightning to be better.
    • ... and Master of Puppets turned out to be the best.
      • Ride the Lightning vs. Master of Puppets is actually the subject of many a Flame War. While Master was the more commercially successful album and their big breakout, most of the band's more devoted fans agree that Ride the Lightning was the superior album.
  • Likewise, Megadeth easily topped their debut with the follow-up Peace Sells... But Who's Buying?
  • Neutral Milk Hotel only released two albums... but In The Aeroplane Over The Sea is the second, and it's the one that everybody remembers.
  • Rush's Fly By Night is vastly more respected than their debut album, largely because of Neil Peart joining the band. Not that the original doesn't still have its charms.
  • Judas Priest: their first album Rocka Rolla was utterly overshadowed by Sad Wings of Destiny, a universally avowed Adaptation Distillation of metal.
  • Joanna Newsom's first album, The Milk-Eyed Mender, was a cute folky affair that garnered a largely positive reaction. Her second album, Ys, knocked everyone's socks off and is generally considered one of the best (if strangest) albums of 2006.
    • Her third album has managed to pull this off again. Successfully combining the best elements of the first two. Oh, and it's a Triple Album
  • P!nk's first album was popular, even if it was considered 'more of the same' from LA Reid and Babyface, the producers. Pink did her second album Missundaztood herself, and it is outstanding.
  • Deep Purple's first three albums were cult classics; however, most people know of the band from their fourth album (Deep Purple in Rock) onward. This may have something to do with their then-new lineup and different sound.
  • Hawkwind came first. Then, one of them (Lemmy) is fired, and Motorhead is born. Now who's laughing last?
    • While being on topic, Motorhead's first album, the self-titled one, well, let's say that is less remembered than the other three which came after them: Overkill, Bomber and the classic Ace of Spades.
      • Even less well remembered is On Parole which pre-dates Motörhead and Fast Eddie.
  • Iron Maiden recorded their first two albums with Paul Di'Anno, which are regarded as classics. Then he was replaced by Bruce Dickinson, and they recorded The Number of the Beast. That's all.
  • Helloween did well with their self-titled EP and Walls of Jericho with Kai Hansen on vocals and guitars. Then, he gets tired of singing and playing the guitars at the same time. Then, they hire Michael Kiske. Then, they record the first Keeper of the Seven Keys. Bingo!
    • And even better, after KOTSK1, came its sequel, Keeper Of The Seven Keys 2, considered THE Power Metal masterpiece. Too bad that after those two albums, the band went down to the hill.
  • Dream Theater's first album was recorded with Charlie Dominici on vocals. Then, after he was fired, the band hires James LaBrie. Then, they record Images and Words, which is considered even today a masterpiece of the Progressive Metal. It also contains their first (and ATM only) number 1 hit. After that, the band kept on the road and released many great albums as well.
    • While being on topic, one of DT's songs was called "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper". After firing Derek Sherinian, the band went to record their second masterpiece, a Concept Album called "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory", one of the best ConceptAlbums of the genre.
    • Speaking of Dominici... He went on to make a series of prog concept albums called "O3: A Trilogy". The first one was a solo album, with Dominici on acoustic guitar, harmonica, and vocals. The second and third were epic amazing prog metal, similar to DT.
  • Vision Divine. Their original singer, Fabio Lione, left the band to concentrate on his solo career and on Rhapsody. Then, they've hired the unknown (to the metal world) singer Michele Luppi. The three recordings on his stance are still today regarded as the best the band made in their career, even after Lione's return.
  • Garth Brooks' first album held his breakthrough song, "The Dance", and won him enough acclaim to make him a CMA Horizon Award winner (now Best New Artist). No Fences topped that with his signature song, "Friends in Low Places", and won him his first CMA Entertainer of the Year award. Ropin' The Wind topped that by becoming the first country album ever to debut #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
  • The Beatles were incredibly popular and well-loved with their first few albums, and were breaking new ground with them. But there were still critics at the time convinced that The Beatles were nothing but a passing fancy for the ladies who would inevitably give way to the next big thing. The lads from Liverpool responded by churning out the likes of Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album. The rest is history.
  • Although Bon Jovi's first two albums were popular, Slippery When Wet surpassed them by selling diamond in the US and topping the charts in seven countries. It is also their most critically acclaimed album.
  • Queen's first three albums, while quite good examples of Queen's musical talent, were not commercially successful. Their fourth album, A Night At the Opera, contained their single greatest hit (and first ever #1 song), "Bohemian Rhapsody", and the well-regarded "You're My Best Friend."
    • Arguably, a similar relationship holds for the clip to Bohemian Rhapsody, which was the first Queen clip not to be just a performance of the song, and is widely regarded as one of the first true music videos.
  • Disturbed from The Sickness to Believe. The debut was considered simple but catchy, loaded with small hits and Signature Songs while Believe had the band stepping into stronger melodies, better writing and deeper, even introspective concepts.
  • The debut album for Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine, was well regarded, though some accused Trent Reznor of going Lighter and Softer and selling out industrial music. Five years, a nasty fight with his first label, and a Creator Breakdown later, The Downward Spiral was released, which is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made and silenced those who accused Reznor of being a sellout.
  • American Pop/Rock band Toto got off to a good start in their self titled debut album, but after their 2nd and 3rd albums ended up slumping, Toto IV was a smash hit, earning several awards (and giving the band their signature smash hits "Rosanna" and "Africa").
  • The band Sugar Ray reached mainstream fame with their second album, Floored. Critics expected the band to fizzle out, having gotten their "Fifteen Minutes of Fame". The band responded with their third album, 14:59 (noticed the title?), which surpassed the first in number of sales, singles, and revamping their musical drive.
  • Coldplay's debut, Parachutes, got some acclaim. But the follow-up A Rush of Blood to the Head sold better and is considered by many as their Magnum Opus.
  • Eminem's first canon album,[2] The Slim Shady LP received notable critical acclaim and had his breakout hit "My Name Is", but the follow up The Marshall Matthers LP is widely considered one of the best rap - if not overall - albums ever.
  • Oasis' (What's the Story) Morning Glory? is either this or just as good as the debut Definitely Maybe.
  • The Beastie Boys' debut album, Licensed to Ill, was loud and raw hip-hop with a frat-boy lining, with several good selections. The next album, Paul's Boutique, was a sudden departure from their Def Jam days. It's not hard to see why Paul's Boutique is regarded as the best of the Beasties albums - it's got significantly refined lyrical jive, and multi-layered, sample-rich beats by the Dust Brothers.
  • Amy Winehouse's Back to Black. "Frank" her first album was a best seller and was nominated for a number of prestigious awards including both a Brit award and an Ivor Novello award (which it won). Back to Black however is the best selling album of the entire 21st century in the United Kingdom, and won considerably more awards including five Grammies. It also had success in many other countries around the world too and is credited by many for kick starting a third British invasion in America paving the way for other artists such as Adele, Duffy and Jessie J.
  • Adele's first album, 19, was a pretty good record and was reasonably successful in both the UK and the USA (despite lacking a very strong hit single in the latter country), and it was released at a time when that kind of sound was very popular. After refining her sound on her tour in support of that album, she came back two years later with the enormously successful 21, which put out three number one singles in America and is currently one of the biggest selling and most acclaimed albums out this year.
  • Def Leppard's first album (On Through the Night) was alright. It sounded like a cross between T. Rex and Thin Lizzy, but it seemed kind of indecisive. Their fortunes improved with High 'N' Dry (their first album produced Mutt Lange) and Pyromania made them superstars.
  • Rilo Kiley's second album, The Execution of All Things was a sort of refinement of their previous work under the guiding hand of Conor Oberst's Saddle Creek Records.
  • Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain can be considered this, depending upon who you ask. Both this and their debut, Slanted & Enchanted are equally acclaimed indie rock records. However, Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is the album that flirted briefly with the mainstream and garnered them attention from major labels, despite the band's preference for remaining independent (which they ultimately did).
  • The last hit from Country Music group Lady Antebellum's debut album was also its first #1 hit and the biggest country hit of 2009. "Need You Now," the title track to the band's second album, was an even bigger hit and perhaps the most successful country crossover ever. The two follow-ups have done extremely well on the country charts too.
  • Dark Tranquillity's first album Skydancer was one of the first Melodic Death Metal albums, but generally not "understood." After trading singer Anders Friden to In Flames, and getting Mikkel Stane in return, they produced The Gallery, which is today considered one of the most influential Melodic Death Metal albums of all time.
  • Mindless Self Indulgence's first album, Tight, is usually considered an excellent album by fans. Most, though, consider their second album Frankenstein Girls May Seem Strangely Sexy to be their best release.
  • While their first album, “Ring, Ring”, got okay reviews, ABBA’s second album, “Waterloo”, got noticed following their win on Eurovision. The additional albums afterwards got decent reviews and are still praised.

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • The first Jak and Daxter game was a fairly respectable and appealing kids collect-a-thon that could have been the PlayStation 2's answer to Super Mario 64—but like that game, it also suffered from very low difficulty and short length, and a pretty thin story. But Jak II took the series in a completely new direction after that, and it turned out all for the better—the story became a million times better, the overworld system of the original was altered to be suited around mission based gameplay rather than just grabbing as many objects as possible, the difficulty was considerably beefed up (for better or for worse), you had a new power-up where you could turn into a raging killer monster if you collected enough Dark Eco that only gets stronger as it gets more powers, you got to use cool gun weapons, you could hijack vehicles ala Grand Theft Auto, you could compete in races, you got a hoverboard, the levels and bosses were much more elaborate and fun, and the whole game is an example of a Darker and Edgier turn done right—oh, and Jak actually became a real character, and learned how to talk, too.
  • Prototype was a rather enjoyable sandbox game that even rivaled In Famous, but the story was slow and a bit confusing and the texture wasn't exactly amazing. Prototype 2 however fixes most of the problems of the first game and has a new main character with more emotion then the original. The only major thing fans complained about was having to kill and consume Alex Mercer.
  • Red Dead Revolver was a mid-console-life Western-themed shooter that was, while fun and incredibly stylish, seemingly incomplete. This is because Capcom started the production, cancelled it, and sold it off to Rockstar, who finished it and polished it as best they could. The end product is fondly remembered but still only a Pretty Good Game, at best. Its pros outweigh its cons, but it still feels like it's missing something. Then, Rockstar made Red Dead Redemption, which has been hailed by no less than the New York Times as one of the finest games ever made, and a strong contender for the case for Videogames As Art.
  • Just Cause was an entertaining yet heavily flawed sandbox game and relatively obscure. However, Just Cause 2 was an unlikely sequel with breathtaking graphics, incredible gameplay, and adrenaline-rushing stunts. It enjoyed far more popularity and received far better reviews than its older brother.
  • Twisted Metal for the PS One was a great game, but it had its share of flaws. It was easy to crash into walls, all the buildings looked the same, controls felt "slippery." Then Twisted Metal 2 came out and many consider it the greatest Vehicular Combat game ever made, as well as being the best-selling game of the series.
  • In the Professor Layton series, Professor Layton and the Curious Village was a revolution in gaming, creating a whole new genre. Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, on the other hand, featured more mini games, a wider variety of backdrops, simply beautiful music, even more Crowning Moments Of Awesome, and an arguably more interesting plot.
  • Halo was the Xbox's killer app. Halo 2 was it on awesome, rock, more Elites, and a hotter Cortana. Halo 3 has a bit of a Broken Base on this subject, but the side that thinks this way normally sites the MP as being better. Halo 3: ODST was a return to the Halo 1 awesomeness mixed with the Halo 2 awesomeness. And it had the Halo 1 Pistol. And Reach is being praised as the best Halo game yet.
    • It could be said that even the advertising campaigns for ODST and Reach are an example. While the ads for the first Halo games showed gameplay graphics mixed with a bit of story and suspense, although they were appealing, they were generic video game ads for the most part. ODST took it Up to Eleven with the live-action segments showing actual (stunt) soldiers in combat in the spirit of the gameplay style with a bit of a Tear Jerker story with the memorials.
  • Assassin's Creed I was generally liked by the gaming community, despite the somewhat repetitive nature of the missions (even the bonus ones) and its long, simplistic combat. The sequel, Assassin's Creed 2, is one of these, having improved dramatically in nearly every way from the original with a much wider mission variety, an improved combat system with more options, a more compelling main character, more ways to get to your targets (and take care of them), and lots of fun extras for the completionists out there.
  • Baldur's Gate was an incredible and incredibly fun game that sold huge numbers and almost singlehandedly saved CRPGs, but was also a flawed game in many ways. Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn gave its far more sympathetic characters greater depth (even with such simple characters as Minsc (and Boo!), and the development between the first and second), had more complex and varied maps, pitted players against much better designed combat encounters, topped it all off with stunning graphics accompanied by the most epic soundtrack ever, and even removed many of the flaws..
  • Warcraft: Orcs and Humans, was somewhat imaginative and creative Real Time Strategy game for computers. Warcraft II: The Tides of Darkness, built on that: It added naval and air combat, better graphics, more easy-to-use controls, a more original story, cooler units, and removed the need to build roads in order to build your towns. The work paid off, and WC2 was Blizzard Entertainment's first game to win "game of the year" awards from several publications. Beyond The Dark Portal, the expansion pack, was one of the first expansion packs, particularly for a strategy game, to feel more like its own game as opposed to a campaign cobbled together from random missions. Years later, Warcraft III: The Reign of Chaos managed to avoid Hype Backlash by adding RPG elements that differentiated it from StarCraft, the company's earlier super-popular hit RTS. The story was one of the best told in a strategy game and the very powerful Map Editor allowed the creation of custom maps that are still being made and played today.
    • World of Warcraft also deserves a mention here, as the second expansion pack (Wrath of the Lich King) makes significant improvements over the first (Burning Crusade), especially in the way it gets players involved in the plot and makes them feel like they are having an impact in the world (something that's particularly hard to pull off in an MMORPG). Other improvements include significant revisions to class balance, a return to the high fantasy roots of the game (many considered Outland to be too Magitek for the game's theme), and a main villain who's tightly integrated into the story. In Burning Crusade, Illidan makes a few brief appearances, but otherwise seems content to sit in the Black Temple and wait for players to come kill him.
      • Cataclysm is even more popular and better designed than anything that's come before it. Particularly significant in that not only is it 5 new levels of content, the typical raids, and so on, but a COMPLETE REVAMP OF VANILLA (that'd be the original release, for those of you who don't know). So successful in the revamping, that is, that Burning Crusade and even WotLK can seem mundane and monotonous.
  • Diablo was a fun, quirky game that is still an excellent play, but its sequel Diablo II and its expansion Lord Of Destruction was so huge that many people are still playing it today, nevermind the number of clones it spawned.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. Even deeper insight to the character's pasts, have the most epic plot of any of Ace Attorney games with the added novelty of playing as Mia and even the chance to play as Edgeworth in the last case.
  • Super Mario Bros. was a great game. While its immediate sequel, Super Mario Bros. 2, wasn't particularly amazing in either the Japanese version or the American version (though the latter is regarded a Cult Classic for its offbeat gameplay and canon additions to the series), Super Mario Bros 3 took the already superb gameplay and level design from the original game, and added all kinds of great new features, such as more power-ups, the overworld map, new abilities, and a much greater variety of enemies and levels.
    • Likewise, Super Mario Bros was also an improvement over the original Mario Bros..
    • Super Mario 64 was also a great game, and the first real 3D platformer to get the gameplay in general right and be the codifier for many future games. Super Mario Galaxy topped Super Mario 64 in the 3D Mario series. It got better reviews from many critics, brought back the airships, had more epic pretty much everything and with its 97%+ reviews, even was ranked higher than The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time for a while, currently ending up being the second best game of all time review wise on many review aggregate sites.
      • And then Galaxy got a sequel itself, which might have scaled back on the depth of the story somewhat, but more than made up for it with several gameplay-updates (most notably the return of Yoshi) and absolutely phenomenal level-design, and is almost universally regarded as even better than its predecessor.
  • Paper Mario was a great game for the RPG-starved N64, particularly thanks to its semi-action battle system. Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door took that battle system and cranked it to eleven, adding Stylish Moves, the audience mechanic, and even Action Commands for the special moves, among other things.
  • Super Smash Bros. was awesome... but Melee was a HUGE HIT! And not just better than the first: It was the Nintendo GameCube's BEST Selling Game! Finding someone who actually hates that game is like trying to find a microscopic needle in a country-sized haystack. YMMV BIG TIME for the fans, but generally, the critics liked Brawl more than Melee. Critics gave Brawl a very positive review, receiving a 93% score on Metacritic, and 92.7% on Game Rankings. Brawl was ranked "Fighting Game of the Year" of 2008 by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. As of March 2010, it has sold a total of 9.48 million copies worldwide, and is the eighth best-selling Wii game. And the music score for the game was highly praised as well.
  • Rayman, considered good already, underwent a massive upgrade for Rayman 2: The Great Escape, adding a better plot, many interesting or funny characters, extra action, a ton of Scenery Porn, a neat soundtrack and more well-designed levels.
  • Citing Lucas Thomas from IGN: The original Metroid established the setting and feel. Metroid II, from the Game Boy, elaborated on the story. But it was this game, Super Metroid, that pulled together all of the series' previously established elements, embellished them, and polished the experience of exploration, retraversal and power-up acquisition into a true masterpiece of game design. And then there's the Metroid Prime trilogy.
  • Mega Man 1 was a revolutionary combination of solid graphics, gameplay and soundtrack, widely regarded as a great game. Mega Man 2 improves on every aspect of the original, removes the unnecessary point system, garnering it universal praise typically referring to it as at the very least "better than the original." 2, 20+ years and four generations of console gaming after its release, remains securely entrenched as the best-selling installment of the Classic series.
  • Star FOX 64 took a fun SNES shooter and increased the variety of missions, balanced out the weapon power ups, actually made your teammates useful for something other than human anthropomorphic shields, and just seems to run better. Notably, it was intended as Sequel Displacement, since the designers considered it the definitive remake of the first game.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog was a fun platformer for the Genesis that featured the novel concept of rolling into a ball and smashing into enemies at high speeds. Unfortunately, the game required you to accelerate for lengthy periods before you were allowed to do this, and many of the levels were standard platforming affairs, not the rollercoaster-in-the-sky designs the series later became known for. The sequel added Sonic's best friend Tails, more varied bosses and enemies, better music, multiplayer, streamlined level design, Sonic's trademark Spindash ability and Super Sonic.
    • And for many, Sonic 3 was even better than THAT.
      • Sonic & Knuckles acted as the "Director's Cut" of Sonic 3 when attached with its lock on technology, and introduced the one-game-only Super Saiyan 2 Sonic Hyper Sonic. Some fans considered Sonic 3 & Knuckles the pinnacle of Sonic's career, even more than Sonic 3 by itself.
    • And Sonic Adventure was loved by the fandom in its own way with its original story, and Sonic Adventure 2 let us play with the villains... but it wasn't until Sonic Colors that the Polygon Ceiling was broken.
      • Although prior to Sonic Colors, Sonic Adventure 2 was considered by most fans to be the best of the 3D Sonic games (though this wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement).
  • Seiken Densetsu 2 (a.k.a. Secret of Mana) for the SNES was a decent game, but was sorely lacking in replay value. Its sequel, Seiken Densetsu 3, improved tremendously on this aspect with three different potential final bosses, each with their own set of endgame dungeons and Dragons, as well as six unique characters to build a team of 3 out of. The addition of the class change system (4 final classes per character) meant that there were literally hundreds of different party combinations to try out.
  • While the original Guitar Hero was a success, the hammer-ons and pull-offs had a hopelessly tight timing window, forcing most folks to ignore them entirely and strum every note. Guitar Hero II fixed this, giving the gameplay a much more natural and fluid feeling. Add to this the second game's co-operative game mode (where one player plays lead guitar and the other can play either bass or rhythm guitar) and practice mode (where players could play any individual part of a song as slowly as they wanted until they got it right), and you're set.
    • And now that the same team has made Rock Band, it's doubly true for them.
  • City of Heroes is a successful recreation of the superhero genre in MMO form, featuring exciting combat, an amazing array of choices when it comes to powers and abilities, and a character creation engine that other MMOs wish they had. Nevertheless, it had problems (repetitive missions, long travel times, unpopulated zones, etc.). The sequel/companion game City of Villains uses fewer zones (thus avoiding underpopulation), has tighter content, and the storylines are much less repetitive. And best of all, it uses the same amazing character creation software. (And yet, on many servers, Villains still has problems with underpopulation, because most people play Heroes...)
    • And now the the newest sequel/expansion/whatever, Going Rogue, arguably sets the bar even higher in terms of zone design and plot, allowing you to actually seem like you're influencing the world. At least until level 20, at which point you go back to the worlds of Co H with only a few slight differences.
  • Banjo-Kazooie was a good Super Mario 64 clone, with the player characters learning various moves to travel through nine separate levels that are accessible via teleportation from Gruntilda's lair. However, the game had little extras, an unnecessary life count and many events and collectables reset if the player died or left the level. Banjo-Tooie gives even more depth to the gameplay, with even more moves, massive levels that interconnected together (and were all part of the overworld) with a few cross-level puzzles and a wider variety of characters to meet. There's even multiplayer modes and the option to replay mini-games and boss fights, infinite lives, and all events and collectables stayed gone for good when finished.
  • The original Crash Bandicoot game started the whole style of gameplay for the games, but the game was too difficult, the controls were too touchy, and collecting the gems was a chore. Crash 2 refined the gameplay a lot. Crash 3 added relics and is widely considered the game where Naughty Dog perfected the gameplay.
    • Naughty Dog repeated the same feat with Jak and Daxter and Uncharted.
      • Put it this way: Uncharted: Drake's Fortune was considered a great action-platformer-shooter, a compelling-but-not-perfectly-persuasive reason to get a Play Station 3. Uncharted 2: Among Thieves? Currently ranked as the ninth-best game of all time on Gamerankings.com.
  • DCII is this for the Da Capo franchise. The original was a generic cuteness Eroge. The second one had some surprising twists and turns and a plot that was actually moving.
  • The original Spyro the Dragon was a creative, if underwhelming, platformer, with a unique premise and decent challenge. The sequel, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage!, however, managed to take everything good about the first and build on it. Spyro could swim now, instead of dying on repeated contact with water. New moves were available, power-ups were invented, levels were expanded and made less linear, and the controls got tightened up considerably. Minigames became important, there were secrets scattered all over the world, and the game rewarded exploration and innovation. The third in the series, Spyro: Year of the Dragon, managed to make it even better.
    • Indeed, in yet another shocking similarity between them and Naughty Dog, Insomniac did this with Ratchet and Clank. The first was a fun platformer with cool weapons. The second game was a fun platformer with cool weapons that upgraded with use and were modifiable, his health increased with enemies defeated, the incredible Charge Boots were added, there was fun space combat, there were all new gladiator-esque arenas, the "Quickselect" menu paused the game while it was up, and the New Game+ (instead of just letting you restart with all your gear as it was in the first game) turned into "Challenge Mode" wherein there were new weapons and upgrades to be purchased, with a "multiplier" money mechanic, and tougher enemies. The third game cranked up the weapon upgrading features from one upgrade to four in the main game (and two upgrades to three in the New Game+), added the "Lock-Strafe" control mechanism, added a new and improved weapon-switching mechanic, allowed two rungs on the Quickselect rather than just one, and best of all, added a very good online (and offline) multiplayer mode, while retaining all the pluses from the previous game.
  • Likewise, the final game in The Legend of Spyro trilogy, Dawn of the Dragon, is considered vastly superior to the previous two games, some calling it the best Spyro game since it left Insomniac. A major factor in this is that Dawn of the Dragon was developed by French studio Étranges Libellules rather than Krome Studios who developed A New Beginning and The Eternal Night.
  • In terms of gameplay if not in story, Kingdom Hearts II is considered an improvement over the original Kingdom Hearts.
    • Birth By Sleep has been called by some reviewers the best game since the original. It returns the platforming elements that the first game had, retains the flashy and fun battle system from the sequel but ramps up the difficulty, and the story on it's own (not including any of the downplayed backstory) is much simpler compared to the Kudzu Plot that the overarcing story of the series has become.
  • The Age of Empires games may be a renowned Real Time Strategy series today, but many reviewers found the first game to be lacking. It was with the second game that all the real acclaim started pouring in.
  • The first Gears of War game was a knockout hit with some relatively minor problems. Such as how the story never felt like a complete whole but just a series of things that happens, and it isn't until act four (of five) that anything important gets done. And while that doesn't affect the gameplay much, there were some issues with weapon balance and variety. Gears of Wars 2 openly addresses the concerns and creates a game with a stunning level of scope, a much wider weapon variety (including a supposed shotgun Nerf), and a true sense of a major war going on. While leaps and bounds greater than the first game, it is still with its own problems; the final boss is a joke, although the lead up to it is a lot of fun...
    • However, fans of the first game (read: People who were good at the first game) went into a fury of They Changed It, Now It Sucks towards the sequel. The shotgun nerf was the biggest target, as it was all anyone ever used in the first game, and the game was decried as "taking no skill" and being "noob friendly" simply because people weren't used to dying to weapons that weren't the shotgun (which by the way, was based more on luck and connection than skill in the original). They have also complained about the next-to-unnoticable decrease in movement speed, claiming it makes the game so slow it's unplayable.
  • The original Star Wars Battlefront was a excellent mix of strategy combat and shooter game, blessed with complex but recognisible maps and splendid sound effects. The sequel took all that, and added an achivement system that actively rewarded players, as well as a much wider collection of maps, units and game modes. And playable Jedi.
    • Taken even further in the PSP games where they let you customize your unit's load-out and stats, before joining battle, and while the battlefields aren't quite as expansive and complex as the PlayStation 2 games, (atleast in Elite Squadron) they combined both planet-side and space combat into one battle rather than making them be separate battlefields like Battlefront 2 had done while greatly improving the fighter controls in the process.
  • Tetris the Grand Master is a great Tetris game sure to challenge those who think they're good at Tetris. Then there's Tetris: The Grand Master 2 (and TGM2 PLUS), which pushes the challenge even further for a more intense game.
  • SimCity, albeit suffering from Seinfeld Is Unfunny, started off rather exceptional for its day, being the father of the Sim, Wide Open Sandbox, and strategy genres of games to follow, but was even more improved with its first sequel Sim City 2000, which introduced new transportation options, zoning options, and a whole new isometric view, as well as several other perks.
    • It was then somewhat topped by Sim City 3000, which kept the same isometric view (but a little more realistic than previously) and added more realistic features such as waste management, aging infrastructure, and neighbor deals. The Unlimited version of 3000 also added an Asian and European tile sets.
    • However, despite what some say about 2000, all fans agree that Sim City 4 (and its Rush Hour expansion pack which then led to Sim City 4 Deluxe) is by far the greatest game to be made of the SimCity franchise for its deeply challenging gameplay and the boosted shelf life thanks to countless GameMods, despite being possibly one of the earlier users of the Real Is Brown trope.
  • Say what you will about the bisexual knife-throwing Romanian vampire and the protagonist bait-and-switch and said protagonist's relationship with his girlfriend and that ENDING, but from a purely Tactical Espionage Action standpoint, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty absolutely trumped its predecessor in every single category. It had ridiculously upgraded graphics, tons of new weapons including the nonlethal M9 tranquilizer gun for those who wanted a hardcore Stealth Run, a much more realistic damage system, first-person aiming for more precise gunplay, the ability to hold up enemy soldiers for items, vastly improved AI, and much-needed variety in the game's escort and sniping missions. While MGS3 and 4 later proved to be superior titles, they were really just perfecting the huge number of beneficial changes that MGS2 made to the series.
    • On the other hand, it had terrible amounts of backtracking and boring level design compared to the original
    • Metal Gear 2 was an improvement over the original, but was never released in the US and was far from perfect. Metal Gear Solid followed it up with a grand epic story, becoming the Killer App for the Playstation and was really the first game that felt like playing a movie.
  • Super Robot Wars (the classic series) was merely a massive excuse to throw a ton of mecha series into the same plot for the lulz, and the plot was not very thick at all (though F/Final somewhat subvert this slightly). Super Robot Wars Alpha was when the storywriting really took off, and the series attained fans for its story, not just its novelty.
    • It also helped that the attack animations from Alpha onwards actually looked like, you know, animations. As opposed to static sprites sliding around with some hit effects thrown in.
    • Super Robot Wars has gone through this numerous times even from game to game. The original NES game had a clunky (and practically worthless) upgrade system, the inability to select your mission lineup, no limits to overpowered attacks (more of a hindrance than a help, really) and you always had to counter enemy attacks. 3 changed things up for the better though still had a long ways to go. All in all, each game in the Classic Timeline built on the engine of the previous one, and Alpha brought it all together. Alpha Gaiden finally gave it that little extra polish by finally discarding a few gimmicks that didn't work (double movement) and including new ones (support), and then Advance brought in team attacks.
  • Say what you will about its balance, but Marvel vs. Capcom 2 is generally seen as better than its three awesome predecessors, enough to still have a tournament scene. If you're counting sequels in gameplay only, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom is also sometimes seen as even better than that.
    • For most people, Capcom vs. SNK 2 is the best game of the SNK vs. Capcom series.
  • The first 2 Phantasy Star games were important as some of the earliest examples of JRPG's, however, they also have a lot of grinding, punishing difficultly and are quite light on story, making them difficult to get into. 3 was rushed and a Contested Sequel. Phantasy Star 4 is styled much more after modern JRPG's with plenty of story and character interaction, a lighter difficulty curve and faster pacing, such that it is still cited by many as one of the best JRPG's ever.
  • Blinx the Time Sweeper was an overall average game with somewhat innovative gameplay and a rather generic storyline. Blinx 2: Masters of Time and Space completely revamps the franchise, adding extremely well-designed (but long) levels, better controls, a better storyline, the ability to play a two-sided story as both the heroes and villains and an amazingly-detailed character customization system (highly unusual for a platformer). It's unfortunate the series ended when the developer, Artoon, went defunct.
  • Pikmin was a good game, but too simple, and the time limit could be a bit suffocating. Pikmin 2 added far more depth to the gameplay and replaced the scramble to collect all the ship parts with a long adventure to find all the artifacts you can that much better suited the gameplay and overall mood of the game.
  • Pokémon Red and Blue were already popular and still are, but Pokémon Gold and Silver are still claimed by fans as the best Pokémon games ever, chiefly due to the staggering amount of cool new features it introduced. Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire were even criticized for getting rid of several of those features.
    • Thus making Pokémon Diamond and Pearl even better sequels to R/S/E because they brought back many of the features in G/S/C, as well as adding online multiplayer and improving the way moves worked.
    • When they announced that they were remaking the first-generation games for the modern system, it was a Base Breaker. When they announced that they were doing it again with the second-generation games, The Fandom Rejoiced.
    • Pokémon Black and White have also been getting a lot of praise, finally changing the formula a bit by having only new Pokémon until you beat the game and a much more fleshed out plot. It can be said that HeartGold, SoulSilver, Black and White form a "quartet" of modern-era Pokémon games released in the same timespan that are regarded as some of the best games in the series, receiving less flak and far more unanimous praise from reviewers and fans than previous games after Generation II.
  • Star Wars: Dark Forces was an innovative, successful shooter on its own merits. But each sequel was markedly better, with the apex in terms of story quality coming with Jedi Outcast. The most recent game, Jedi Academy, suffers from a somewhat lackluster story in comparison with its immediate predecessor, but Academy's gameplay and mechanics are best in the series.
  • Donkey Kong Country was considered a visual landmark in gaming when it was released, but its sequel, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, is largely seen as the better game, expanding and improving on the original.
  • Mass Effect is seen as a landmark RPG, reconstructing eighties-style space operas and combining epic storytelling with Third-Person-Shooter combat and a fluid choice system that allowed players to tell their story any way they want. The game wasn't without its share of problems, mostly in the combat department. It was hampered with such things as an ineffectual cover system, a dice-roll damage calculator, and tedious exploration segments, making it was a gem with a few noticeable flaws. Mass Effect 2 came along and embraced its Shooter side, creating a far better cover system, an aim-and-shoot damage system, and an even deeper choice system (in fact, all of the choices in the FIRST game count in this one). The story is darker and more mature, and even the soundtrack got an epic makeover. Of course, some fans dislike the changes, but most enjoy the game anyway. As of this writing, Mass Effect 2 has the highest Metacritic rating in the series, with both 1 and 3 at 8.9, and 2 at 9.4.
    • Say what you will about the way Bioware ended the trilogy, Mass Effect 3 is generally considered a step up from the first two gameplay-wise. The combat is much more fluid, the enemies are smarter, and the overly-simplified weapon system from 2 gets significantly fleshed out, with greater weapon variety and the return of weapon mods.
  • Half-Life 2 expanded on its predecessor in every way. The original was revolutionary in its use of storytelling techniques in a first-person shooter game, with superb level-design and gameplay insuring it would become regarded as a classic for years to come. The sequel featured one of the most advanced graphics engines ever seen in a video game, with realistic physics and lighting granting a whole new level of immersion, and the same attention to polished level-design and fun, intuitive and balanced gameplay made Half-Life 2 live up to the legacy of Valve's debut title.
  • God of War 2 was received even better than the already very much loved first game, using the Playstation 2 to even greater effect. (Although that doesn't excuse the Phoenix puzzle.)
  • Endless Ocean: Blue World takes the basic gameplay (such as it is) of the original game and expands upon it greatly while streamlining several of the more tedious aspects and applying more structure to the previously random chaos. Judging by reviews thus far, it's been a major success in doing so, although the game is still quite niche in nature.
  • Burnout and Burnout 2 were fun racers with an emphasis on dangerous driving and spectacular crashes. Burnout 3 put the driving and crashes together with the Takedown mechanic and made it even faster than its predecessors. It's regarded by many as the best racing game of its generation.
  • Call of Duty: United Offensive to Call of Duty.
  • Rare Fan Sequel example: Nexus War took everything good about Urban Dead and made it better, but unavoidable developer issues made it Too Good to Last.
  • Shadow Hearts was altogether an excellent game. The sequel removed pretty much every flaw from the original, doubled the gameplay length (a two-disc game on the PlayStation 2 was a rare thing), and improved pretty much every aspect of the game. Reviews will tell the same story.
  • Wii Sports was a solid pack-in game for the Wii showcasing what the system could do and being extremely accessible to the general public. In turn, Wii Sports Resort would not only serve as an excellent demonstration of the Wii MotionPlus's improved control, but it went beyond that by having more than twice as many games, even more individual game modes, more depth, if subtle, to several of the games, and the inclusion of in-game achievements.
  • Golden Sun was considered a great game, if a little blase in terms of characters (we have the Jack of All Stats, the funny best friend, the kid Squishy Wizard, and the White Magician Girl) and plot (bad guys stole the MacGuffin! Let's go kill them!). Golden Sun: The Lost Age gives us a fresh perspective, more interesting characters/character development, a massive plot twist, multi-elemental Summon Magic, a more developed class system, even more Crowning Music of Awesome... basically, it improved everything.
  • Hitman series fits this trope quite nicely. Codename 47 was a nice stealth shooter. Silent Assassin greatly improved the controls and allowed the player to play as an actual assassin in every single mission by including new options and assessment of performance (and allowed the player to save in mid-mission). Blood Money introduced "accidents", notoriety meter and even more captivating story. Contracts, third game in the series also isn't bad, but half of its contents is a pack of refurbished missions from Codename 47.
  • Doom defined the First-Person Shooter genre even more than its predecessor, Wolfenstein 3D, to the point that, for several years, FPS games were called "Doom clones." Doom II improved on every aspect of the game, with superior level design, more and deadlier monsters, and removing the episode system that was a relic of the first game's shareware origins.
  • CAVE shooters tend to follow this trope.
  • Mask of the Betrayer was an Even Better Sequel for Neverwinter Nights 2, containing a smaller band of more developed characters, a much better overarching story, and such complicated literary devices as symbolism and foreshadowing, as well as exchanging the cliched Sealed Evil in a Can out to destroy the world for a more personal and sensible mission.
  • The Legend of Zelda was considered a masterpiece of it’s time. The second game (The Adventure of Link) was something of a Love It or Hate It deal. Then on Super Nintendo, A Link to the Past, returned to the style of the first game, improved the graphics, gameplay and story, as well as making it a lot easier to work out where to go next. Then in 1998, Nintendo put out The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, a game that takes the best aspects of the prior installments and manages to make it even better, while averting the Polygon Ceiling even harder than Super Mario 64. As of 2010, twelve years after its release, it's still referred to as one of the best games (if not the best) ever made, even after twelve years that included most of Metal Gear Solid, the real "blossoming" of Grand Theft Auto, the entry of Microsoft into the video game business, and the creation of an untold number of new intellectual properties in gaming. A Crowning Moment of Awesome for Nintendo indeed. And to go one step further, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is the game most often cited as possibly ousting it from its number one status. That said, there are players who prefer the more classical 2D-style games, particularly the nonlinearity of the first one.
  • Kirby's Dream Land was a good game. Then later games gave him a Worthy Opponent, the animal friends, and of course, his iconic Power Copying ability. Quite a few times in this series, we've had a game that's been an Even Better Sequel to the one before it.
  • Final Fantasy was a landmark RPG, marred by certain technical limitations and poor balancing. The first sequel changed the system completely and isn't widely liked, and second sequel isn't very well-known. Final Fantasy IV (released as "II" in the US), however, marked the real Growing the Beard moment for the whole franchise. Arguably, there are examples of even better sequels from that point onward, but...fans being fans, there's that other trope instead.
  • In the Mother trilogy, each follow-up is an Even Better Sequel:
    • MOTHER 1 was well-received when it first came out in Japan and sold pretty well, but has attracted some criticism over its flaws, like an insane amount of grinding, unbalanced level design and a battle system ripped straight from Dragon Quest. EarthBound received better graphics and sound capabilities due to the upgrade from the NES to the SNES, cut down on the grinding by implementing an "instant win" maneuver for weaker enemies, polished the design noticeably, and revamped its characters somewhat (truly establishing Giygas as the Cosmic Horror we all know and love fear). And for good measure, it's the only game in the series to officially make it to the USA.
    • And, of course, Mother 3 improved on EarthBound. It removed the auto-win system, but it also revamped the tools system for Duster and having generally better aesthetics. The biggest improvement, however, was in story. In Earthbound, there wasn't much of a plot beyond "collect all the sanctuaries and defeat Giygas", and the characters were about as three-dimensional as a sheet of cardboard. Meanwhile, Mother 3 had great character development, an astonishing story with some very good foreshadowing, and was overall a much better game. If Shigesato Itoi had decided to make another game, who knows how good it would have been?
  • Macross Ace Frontier was a pretty good game, though it sorely lacked many things (like ubiquitous Mecha Expansion Packs and missing a lot of songs). Macross Ultimate Frontier picked up the slack, kept most of the things that was in Ace and added tons of new stuff. For example: giving Macross Zero a full scenario, split the original Macross between series and movie, the various packs were added, more characters and mecha, and added a shop which allowed people to buy some of the harder-to-get items (like some of the titles).
  • Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat both have this. The original Street Fighter was a somewhat popular, if RIDICULOUSLY hard fighter that was a nice change from Karate Champ. Street Fighter II came out, and pretty much launched the fighting game craze of the 90's and has been the inspiration for pretty much every fighter made since. For MK, the first one was popular (for obvious reasons) but the second game introduced the series' signature dark tone, and is widely considered to be the best 16 bit MK game, and possibly the best of the series.
  • The Adventures of Lolo was a classic NES game, but as the series went along, the games got better and better, expanding upon the concept and adding more puzzles, bosses, and such. In the third game, you can even play as Lala!
  • Tecmo Bowl was a hit in the arcades and NES, but come 1991, Tecmo Super Bowl would earn the hearts of many. While there were only a handful of playable teams in the original Tecmo Bowl, every NFL team (and most of the players) were playable in Tecmo Super Bowl. Super took the gameplay of the original and made it more lenient, even adding different modes of play, making it the ideal football video game of its time.
  • Team Fortress (and its pseudo-remake Team Fortress Classic) was very innovative and created an entire FPS sub-genre, but was very lacking thematically. After 9 YEARS in development out comes Team Fortress 2, with 9 distinct characters recognizable by silhouette or voice alone each with their own nationality, personality and unique weapons, not to mention the hats and the constant patches and fixes both major and minor valve keeps handing out. For free! Unless you own the Xbox version, in which case you don't get them at all. You can thank Microsoft for that.
  • Another from Valve: Left 4 Dead. While the original Left 4 Dead was an excellent game, Left 4 Dead 2 took it even further, keeping all the great gameplay from the original while adding several improvements, such as melee weapons and a more advanced "Director". And all this from a game initially boycotted by fans of the first game who feared it would be nothing more than a collection of new maps with some new character designs!
  • The Touhou games for Windows are generally considered an improvement on the PC-98 games, but many Touhou fans still agree that the PC-98 games weren't exactly shabby to begin with. A lot of fans are still hoping for certain PC-98 characters to return in future Windows installments.
  • Croc for Game Boy. Quite emphatically so.
  • The original Motorstorm was a great game, but plagued with Loads and Loads of Loading, punishing Rubber Band AI and a general lack of content. Pacific Rift improves on everything that was problematic with the first while enhancing what was already good.
  • Sin and Punishment is a great rail shooter, only marred by the analog stick controls (although the game is designed around it). Sin and Punishment 2 takes full advantage of the Wii's pointer functionality for more refined controls, succeeds in being significantly longer and more epic without resorting to Fake Longevity (an impressive feat considering the genre of the game), cranks up the intensity of enemy combat and boss battles, and boasts smoother visuals and framerate.
  • Star Control was a fairly good Turn-Based Strategy/Shoot'Em Up game based on Space War. Star Control II took the combat mechanics and the All There in the Manual backstory and added an extremely well-written Action Adventure story mode, and quickly became a beloved Cult Classic.
  • Opinion on which is the best Castlevania game mostly depends on whether you prefer the Classicvania or Metroidvania style of gameplay. Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse featured improved graphics and the inovations of selecting different routes through the game and other playable characters, although it was much harder than the original and was more frustrating to play. Not only did Super Castlevania IV feature improved graphics and sound, but featured better and more fluent controls. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is considered a big highlight of the series, as it finally perfected the Metroidvania style that was attemped in Simon's Quest.
  • Harvest Moon was a cult classic Super Nintendo game. It was full of awesome and Heartwarming Moments, excellent characterization for its system, and bright graphics; it was well-recieved though released too late in the systems lifespan to get any proper love. Harvest Moon 64 is considered one of the best video games the Nintendo64 had to offer and upped everything that made the first game to eleven. It's also one of the only direct sequels to a previous game in the series.
  • Persona 3 was an excellent, intelligent game combining tried and true RPG devices with an intriguing social simulation system. Persona 4 greatly improved the battle system, provided even better artwork, smoothed out the pacing and writing, and generally provided a more cohesive gaming experience.
  • Pac-Man: Championship Edition received positive reviews, praising the successful reimagination of the franchise. Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX received even more positive reviews. Eating a train of 30 ghosts for a massive score jump, anyone?
    • How could the original Pac-Man get even more addictive? How about randomized mazes, ghosts with unique movement patterns, and more power-ups? Slap a bow on it and you've got Ms. Pac-Man.
  • The first DJMAX Technika is a great and innovative Rhythm Game, breathing new life into the arcade rhythm game scene. Its sequel, DJMAX Technika 2, boasts a streamlined user interface, an unlock system that no longer requires you to complete missions (you simply go onto the Platinum Crew website and make your purchases there), and a less annoying way of unlocking alternate boss songs in Club Mixing sets.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2, the sequel to the already well-received Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. The graphics are better, the story is darker and more mature, the characters (especially the protagonist) are better-defined and more likeable, the gameplay has been polished and refined, the class system has been expanded, and there's enough content to easily last you over 150 hours.
  • Silent Hill 2 is generally considered superior to its predecessor due to its more original and complex narrative and excellent soundtrack.
  • Space Channel 5 was an awesome game. Then Part 2 came out, and took everything in the game and made it even better. Some people consider it to be "The near perfect sequel." The main improvements were larger variety of songs and better control response.
  • In the Elder Scrolls series, Arena was good, Daggerfall was considered even better, and many agree that Morrowind topped that, in terms of graphics, gameplay, and even story. Oblivion's combat system is widely considered to be better, and it received a 94% from both Metacritic and Game Rankings, compared to Morrowind's 89%, although many Morrowind fans believe that Morrowind was still the best game overall. The way the receptions are increasing and expectations are building, Skyrim looks likely to top them all.
  • Overlord introduced novel gameplay features and a likable cast of extras, but never really developed the third-person slasher beyond a few puzzles to be solved by those novel features. Overlord 2 shipped with the mandatory visual and audio upgrades. It also expanded the cast of personalities and the personality of the cast, upgraded the previous features seamlessly with new, presented maps that put them to ingenious use, and most ballsy and brilliant of all, let the minions (the fan favorite) take the spotlight in gameplay and story without taking away control or credit from the player.
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum has been called by many the best superhero game of all time, and a good all around game in general. Its sequel, Batman: Arkham City, took everything that was awesome about the original Up to Eleven and added Catwoman as a playable character.
  • Suikoden was one of the PlayStation's first great RPGs, with a boatload of colorful characters to gather and play with. Suikoden II retains this aspect, revamps the turn-based war sequences, adds several plot twists and player punches, and introduces the player to one of the most deranged villains in all of RPG-land.
  • Portal 2 is considered by many to be even more awesome than Portal, as the second game vastly expanded upong the first, giving us new characters, a new story, and more gameplay features. It all adds up to about 6 or 7 hours of gameplay as opposed to the first game's 3 to 4 (or around 30 minutes if you've already beaten it), plus a co-op mode that's about the same length and filled with all-new puzzles.
  • Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean was a cult hit for the Gamecube, and a great RPG for a system sorely lacking in that category, but it suffered from several flaws: bad, bad, bad voice acting, a battle system that was overly complicated and relied heavily on luck, an irritating level up system, and several infuriating Guide Dang It moments. Baten Kaitos Origins revamped the battle system to be quicker and simpler while still maintaining the strategic elements that made it fun, replaced the Fake Difficulty with real difficulty, got competent voice actors, and had an even better soundtrack.
  • SSX was widely regarded as the best launch game on the PlayStation 2, with incredible graphics for its time, easy to learn but surprisingly deep gameplay, and awesome music. SSX Tricky added smoother, faster gameplay, much improved load times, a boatload of new characters, tweaked tracks, and even more awesome music.
  • Master of Orion was considered an excellent strategy game for its time. It's sequel, however, is considered one of the quintessential 4X games.
  • Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee was an excellent game, but it's sequel Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus is generally agreed to be better, with better maps and areas, new features (such as Flying Sligs and being able to have multiple mudokons follow you), and more challenging puzzles.
  • In Famous was considered a solid, fun sandbox game for the Play Station 3 with an interesting premise. The sequel upped the ante with more and varied powers, a more versatile city to run around in, bigger differences between the good and evil paths (as well as 2 separate endings), improved graphics (now utilizing facial mocap), improved physical combat, and a more emotional and dramatic story.
  • Sega's cel-shaded skating/platforming/"tagging" hybrid Jet Set Radio was, and still is, unlike anything gamers were playing at the time. This Dreamcast gem, while having some flaws, is regarded as one of the system's stand-out titles. JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future blew everyone's mind (and the bar set by the first game) when it was released on the Xbox. Impressive (if a bit flashy) visuals, refined gameplay removing the tagging commands while re-vamping the trick system, and an improved story (even if it was a re-telling of the originals') puts it leagues ahead of it's predecessor. One thing it didn't improve was it's music. Then again, not like they needed to anyway. The music just turns me on indeed...
  • Fancy Pants Adventures was a solid platformer, with smooth animations, and a few neat extras. It was a bit short, but that wasn't that much of a problem. Enter The Fancy Pants Adventures: World 2, with even better animations, smooth platforming that had solid controls, with tons of bonus levels, trophies, and pants. Then Fancy Pants Adventures was released on consoles (alternately called World 3), which upped the quality even more with achievements, headwear and pants, many, many minigames, and multiplayer.
  • Fallout was a landmark in the CRPG genre, with more freedom of action than any before it. Though you were given a broad goal, you were free to choose where you wanted to go and when, could interact with almost anything, and had numerous means of dealing with challenges based on your skills, abilities, prior knowledge, and personal morality, including defeating the final bosses with dialogue. Fallout 2, despite the bugs and cut content thanks to its rushed deadline, is basically The Same but More and widely considered superior because of it.
  • Air Combat was a pretty cool game, Ace Combat 2 was even better, but it was Ace Combat 3 Electrosphere that really got the Ace Combat series going (too bad nobody outside Japan saw the original product). Ace Combat 04 Shattered Skies is the best-rated AC game to date, while Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War easily tops it in the story, characterization, and gameplay variety departments. Unfortunately, the trend stopped there and it remains to be seen whether the Continuity Reboot with Ace Combat: Assault Horizon will change it.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Metalocalypse did very well with Ratings for Adult Swim, but it started out trying to show as much Gorn as possible. Season 1 gave us the most Nightmare Fuel image in existence, the end of Dethkids. Season 2 was better, establishing Continuity. Season 3 is even better, presenting the band in a more realistic light (they're in their Dork Age), and it's 22Min long instead of another Quarter Hour Short. It also has been light on the Gorn (so far), the 1st 2 Episodes being rated MA instead of the usual MA-V.
  • Justice League Unlimited managed to outdo the awesomeness of Justice League, thanks in no small part to two season-spanning Universe-shattering MythArcs. Oh, and The Question's transformation from an obscure DC character to an Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • Happens in The Simpsons. While Seasons 1 and 2 are considered great, Season 3 is considered by fans to be the start of the Golden Age, when the series was in its prime.
  • Beast Wars originally dealt with a huge backlash from the fans that were against animal-themed Transformers (at least those with organic animal modes), but somewhere by the end of the first season almost everyone else seemed to catch on that the series was better than the original in almost every way, and it's still usually considered the high point of the entire Transformers animated fiction.
    • A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that the people who grew up on G1 were ready for a Transformers series that escaped the ghetto. The producers knew this, and delivered in spades.
  1. (yes, William Shatner can act)
  2. The first album, he did, Infite, was a incredibly weak critical and commerical success, and didn't feature the trademarks of his later albums, like Slim Shady.