As I said in the previous installment, if I could demand a sequel l for only one of the games in my list, I’d probably go with Henry Hatsworth and the Puzzling Adventure. HH is a 1 out of 100 kind of game, the sort of perfectly balanced experience that only comes along once or twice on a given system. The humor and gameplay will stick with you long after you’ve seen the final screens, but more importantly, it’s the sort of game with real soul, an indescribable quality only found in true labors of game-design love.
But before I drop #1 on you, you need one last chance to get caught up.
If you missed em–and I bet a lot of you did–definitely check out the rest of the series (these are links to the respective posts on my blog at IGN.com).
Games #5 and #4: http://tinyurl.com/6twbm5n
Game #3: http://tinyurl.com/7t885bc
Game #2: http://tinyurl.com/82vlkak
In the end, it seemed too darn sad to conclude with a title that has almost zero chance of a sequel. After looking over my original list and pairing it down to the final roster, it made the most sense to finish with the sequel most players would vote for.
“The company is currently refocusing and returning to its roots, working on one of its most requested titles for the next generation,”
That quote–which may or may not refer to our #1-needs-a-sequel-game–is making plenty of waves in the blogosphere right now. That such a small quote can garner so much attention is a good indication of just how popular this #1 Demanded Sequel may prove to be.
If you don’t already know what game we’re talking about, then you haven’t been following the rumor mill as closely as the rest of the Gamecube fanboys . . .
Without further ado, the #1 Nintendo Game that DEMANDS a sequel is . . .
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem
Why pick Eternal Darkness for the number one sequel slot?
Well, to begin with, it’s probably the most popular game in my list, and like so many other overlooked sleeper hits, ED:SR built up an enormous reputation in the years following it’s original launch (2002). But most importantly–and relating directly to my reasons for giving it the top spot in my list–Nintendo has repeatedly stated that they intend Wii U to be a console for both casual and serious gamers.
I want this. I–like so many of you–desperately want the Wii U to claw back a piece of the hardcore market, to see Nintendo escape the reputation of a company only concerned with kids and grandmothers, to see my favorite system achieve the nigh-impossible task of creating games that are accessible, entertaining, challenging, balanced, and–most importantly–innovative . . . and do all of these things in a way that appeals to a variety of age groups and gaming devotion.
If the quote above is truly hinting at a Eternal Darkness sequel–and we have no guarantee that it is–then this would be a serious statement of commitment for Nintendo. The first Eternal Darkness wasn’t a smash sales hit, but it WAS a Nintendo-published, M-Rated, seriously spooky psychological horror game that pushed the genre in new directions (sanity effects, anyone?), not to mention a game with an incredibly intelligent narrative that would freak the h*ll out of most players. Simply, Eternal Darkness is the poster-child for the unequivocal greatness that Nintendo can–and does–achieve when they choose to move away from tried-and-trusted rainbow road racing and party-game paradise.
We all know that no company does innovation like Nintendo, period. Rumble packs? Platform gaming ala Mario? Motion Controls? Handheld, glasses-free 3D?! The final jewel in Nintendo’s crown will not be creative imagination or new technology (they already do these things perfectly well), but must be a balancing of their cutie-pie image (Mario, Kirby, Pokemon, Nintendogs) against the deeper, darker, more complex experiences of less sunshiney software (Metroid, Castlevania, Killer 7). In recent years, we’ve seen Nintendo make efforts in this direction (Donkey Kong Country Returns is notoriously difficult, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was a huge hit on the DS, and even Skyward Sword (which I’m just beginning) is aiming at a more mature sense of storytelling than we’ve seen in previous Zelda titles. Lest we forget, one of the top games on GameCube was Resident Evil 4, and the N64 was the system that gave the world it’s first taste of Goldeneye 007. Nintendo systems have always hosted a smattering of great games for older audiences—they just need to do it more consistently. They need to convince the big boys why we should stick around and play.
Eternal Darkness is quite literally the most non-Nintendo thing Nintendo has ever endorsed (if Nintendo had published Conker’s Bad Fur Day, ED:SR might have had some competition). Characters lose their minds and speak in freaky jibberish, Lovecraft-style madness is a permeating theme, and the whole story takes place in a shockingly dark universe awash with devilish symbols and occult imagery. Throw in a deceased narrator, an opening scene with nightmarish skeletons and shotgun blasts, and a headless corpse–all of this within the first 5 minutes of the game— well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Looking at them side by side, I can only lament that Skyward Sword’s opening sequence wasn’t nearly as awesome. :ducks flames:
Am I suggesting that Nintendo, in order to succeed, needs to become less Nintendo—to embrace the darkside, as it were?
Not necessarily . . . but, on the other hand, games like ED:SR give us a hint of how Nintendo–the company that made superstars out of the humble Mario and meekly heroic Link–could be all things to all gamers. Nintendo shouldn’t stop making games that appeal to all ages, but at the same time, they need to dedicate more resources to the development and/or publication of titles that suit the more risqué tastes of the grownup fanbase.
A few words on the game itself.
Eternal Darkness might be a bit extreme for some Nintendo fans, but for me, it’s the ultimate example of Nintendo-sponsored excellence. Though I don’t care about the narrative in most video games (so many storylines are too predictable and trite, though this is a topic for an entire separate blog), ED:SR has one of the most incredible and intelligent plots of any Nintendo-published game I’ve ever played. The whole experience is incredibly creepy and dark, so obviously a game made by designers who were unafraid to incorporate grown-up storytelling alongside classic literary influences. The gameplay ingeniously blends with the narrative; levels are a series of linear chapters that occur in various eras and geographic places, all of which are tied together in a plot of epic scope and nightmare imagination. Maybe I just have a taste for the darkness, but I haven’t seen many titles on Nintendo that do so much storytelling with so much maturity and intricate detail. Like a great film or text, ED:SR creates a universe that stretches far beyond the confines of the game itself, creating massively fertile ground that practically begs for sequel treatment.
Another reason to hope for a sequel is for a chance to revisit the amazing plot structure that includes 3 branching paths, all of which must be completed in order to see the true, final ending. Such devotion requires the love of a true completionist, since a player will have to go through the same game three entire times with only minor gameplay differences to maintain your interest. Still, I find it incredibly cool that a player must chose their path quite early in the game, but will only understand their choice much, much later. A sequel could greatly expand upon the original ED’s multi-path plot layout, while simultaneously adding a great deal of replay value and content (both of which are increasingly important factors in today’s retail environment).
Chance of a sequel?
If the current message board rumors are to be believed . . . well, I’ve got to conclude that we simply don’t know. In researching this piece, I read several debates regarding SK’s tease-tastic “returning to roots” quote, none of which seemed to resolve the issue in a conclusive fashion. The studio just experienced a significant staff cut—which could obviously impact a company’s best intentions—and SK possesses a small catalog of other games that could reasonably be the “most-requested title”. Nevertheless, Nintendo has renewed the Eternal Darkness trademark (which in itself means little, but adds fuel to the fire), thereby giving a glimmer of hope to the fans of Nintendo’s darkest offspring. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
And with that, I conclude my 5-part countdown of the Nintendo-platform games that DEMAND a sequel.
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