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Can bad games have good sequels?

In contrast to Hollywood, videogames usually improve with every iteration. The Best Games Ever Show Episode 54

Welcome to the Best Games Ever show Episode 54: the best game that's a sequel to a bad game.

Because we live in a meritocracy, rubbish things never get sequels. Except we don't live in a meritocracy, we live in hell, and therefore rubbish things often get nine sequels and a spin-off TV show while good things are busy getting rejected in board rooms. Such is life.

But it's not necessarily a bad thing, because every now and then, sequels far outstrip their progenitors. It's a phenomenon that occurs most often in the world of video games, where sequels will often build on the bare bones of games that perhaps have good ideas but leave a lot of refinement to be desired in the execution. The old Hollywood adage that "the sequel is never as good as the original" simply doesn't apply to our medium. In fact, quite the opposite.

Consider, to pluck two completely random examples out of the air, Assassin's Creed 2 and Watch_Dogs 2. Both are highly regarded as great games in their own right, and they're both sequels to games which were considered lacklustre in their day. But, when you get right down to it, they're not entirely different from the games they follow on from: the mechanics are all there, the mission design, the visual style: it's generally as present and correct in the first Assassin's Creed as it is in the first Watch_Dogs. The execution, however, is vastly improved.

This is a medium of iteration and experimentation. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don't, but generally, developments in technology and game design crawl toward better ways of doing things. I think. Maybe not always. Just like how every episode of this podcast builds on the last one as we find more of our groove. To find out which sequels our panellists think are much better than the originals, you need to watch or listen to The Best Games Ever show episode 54. Luckily for you, there are a bewildering number of ways to do so below.

Watch the video version here:

    Check out the exciting new video version of the Best Games Ever show!Watch on YouTube

    Listen to the audio version here:

    Or subscribe to us via your favourite podcast platforms:

  • Here's The Best Games Ever Podcast on Apple Podcasts.
  • You can also follow us on Spotify.
  • It's even on YouTube if that's your thing.

You could also simply read the summary below, if you're the sort of person who skips to the last page of a book (a wrongun, a reprobate, a Bad Seed).


Tom picked Football Manager 2009 on the grounds that one outlet gave it a bad review which they then retracted. The same outlet then gave next year's version a glowing appraisal.


Borderlands 2 is a lot better than the first game, but can it be said that the first game is bad?


Image credit: Sean Hernon | Image credit: Sean Hernon

Connor went for Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, on the grounds that it's better than Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, arguably the one of the most highly regarded sports games ever released.


“What is the Best Games Ever Show?” you ask? Well, it is essentially a 30-minute panel show where people (Jim Trinca and associates) decide on the best game in a specific category. That's it. It's good. Listen to it.

Come back in a week for another exciting instalment of the Best Games Ever Show.

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Borderlands 2

PS3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac

Football Manager

Video Game

See 1 more

Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2

iOS, Nintendo GBA, PS1

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About the Author
Jim Trinca avatar

Jim Trinca

Video Producer

Jim is obsessed with Assassin’s Creed and Star Trek. He’s been in the games industry for over a decade, having been a freelance writer and video producer for loads of companies you’ve heard of (and loads that you haven’t). In his spare time he tends to an ungrateful cat.