Stone Age Countdown: Top 5 Secret Sequels
Video game sequels are extremely common, but some may be a bit more common than you think! This time on Stone Age Countdown, we look at some games that had surprising sequels, and some that were themselves sequels to games you may not have ever heard of.
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Gameplay credits: NintendoComplete - Sneaky Snakes, BattleClash, Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge, Faxanadu, Twisted Tales of Spike McFang World of Longplays - Snake Rattle n Roll Played by Waldimart, Guardian Legend Played by Reinc, Makai Prince played by NPI Xanadu by LordKarnov42 Guardic by The MSX Channel
Background music by RoccoW: https://roccow.bandcamp.com/
Video games and sequels go hand in hand. 99 times out of 100, if a game is successful, it will get a sequel. Heck, even if it’s not so successful a follow up may arise. What's fun though, is discovering that a game you love was itself a sequel to a game you’ve never heard of, or that a sequel was made, but you had no idea. Sometimes it’s because of localization, sometimes it’s because it was just released at the wrong time, but sometimes sequels can happen when and where you least expect it.
Here are my Top 5 Secret Sequels.
#5 Sneaky Snakes
Snake Rattle n’ roll for NES isn’t exactly a hugely popular game in its own right, but I was a big fan of it when I was a kid. So much so that I even wrote a letter to Nintendo Power asking why they never made a sequel to it. They never wrote me back, but if they had, they probably would have told me that a snakey sequel already existed. It was for the Game Boy, and the reason it presumably slipped (or slithered) by most people was because the packaging and promotional artwork looked nothing like the first game. Even the name was changed.
But this is indeed an honest to goodness sequel to Rattle n’ Roll! The music, the graphics, it’s all in the exact same style as the NES original. The gameplay, however, is a little different. Instead of the isometric perspective the NES game is known for, Sneaky Snakes opts for a side scrolling approach, which was probably for the best on the old dot matrix Game Boy screen. Other than the perspective though, the gameplay is largely the same. Eat pibbles to grow your tail, jump on evil mushrooms, travel in sewer grates, everything that made the original great was still around. It’s not nearly as good a game in the end, as the side scrolling perspective and slower gameplay kinda dragged the whole thing down a few pegs, but if you’re a fan of the NES original, you’ve got to try Sneaky Snakes.
#4 Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge
Here’s another case of a sequel having a name that’s not even close to the original. Metal Combat: Falcon’s Revenge is a direct followup to the Super Scope game BattleClash. Once you know, it’s impossible to unsee. The title font is the same, there’s a big ol robot on the front of the box, but without the word BattleClash there, it’s not immediately apparent that it’s related, which is a pretty strange marketing choice.
BattleClash is a tragically underplayed title. The Super Scope never really took off the way the NES Zapper did, but the few games that were made for the thing were pretty fun, especially BattleClash. If you’ve never had the pleasure, it’s is basically like Punch-Out!! except with giant robots and guns instead of racial stereotypes and boxing. But if you were to walk into a store at the time and see Metal Combat on the shelf, you’d never know it had anything to do with BattleClash.
And the game itself is unsurprisingly really cool. Maybe not quite as good as the original in my humble opinion. But the fact that it got a sequel at all is kinda crazy, so I’m certainly not one to complain. It’s got a ton of new robots to blow up, a larger charge meter for more powerful shots, and even a little voice acting at the beginning of the game. More people should play with the Super Scope and these games. They’re super fun.
Faxanadu is one of those games I assume a lot of kids (like me) only knew about because of the old “Now You’re Playing with Power” posters. The screen shot made it look like a Zelda II style adventure, it had really enticing box art, and an ultra cool name. “Faxanadu.” It just sounded like a cool mystical place or something. Funny thing about that cool name though, I’m pretty sure it’s not pronounced like I always thought it was.
Turns out Faxanadu is a sequel to/spinoff from a game called Xanadu for Japanese PCs, and this is a sort of a special Famicom version of that game. Put those words Famicom and Xanadu together and you get Fa-Xanadu. Doesn’t really roll off the tongue like Fax-anadu does, but it’s a pretty fascinating bit of history!
Weirder still is that Xanadu itself is a spinoff from the Japanese series Dragon Slayer, so Faxanadu is a spinoff of a spinoff, which is pretty bananas. Like Faxanadu, Xanadu is a side scroller with RPG elements. Unlike Faxanadu though, there isn’t really any jumping or direct combat. When you battle in Xanadu, the game brings you to a different screen, sort of like the battle sequences in early Final Fantasy games, except the combat isn’t menu based. You sort of run into the enemies until they die, kind of like the Ys games. It’s pretty different from Faxanadu, but you can definitely see the lineage.
#2 The Guardian Legend
The Guardian Legend is an awesome game, and one of the coolest concepts on the NES. For those who don’t know, it’s part vertical scrolling shooter, and part top down action/adventure game. It looks and sounds absolutely brilliant, and has held up remarkably well.
What we here in the US didn’t know was that Guardian Legend was not a completely original game. It was, in fact, a sequel to a game called Guardic for MSX, a home computer that wasn’t exactly popular over here.
To be fair, Guardic is a cool game, but it’s got absolutely nothing on Guardian Legend. For starters, it’s a single screen top down shooter, and that’s about it. No adventure elements besides some branching paths between stages, no transforming ship (that I know of), no mysterious story, nothing. But even though it doesn't quite manage to live up to the excellence set by its superior sequel, Guardic is a pretty fascinating piece of history. But back to The Guardian Legend, even without the fascinating secret lineage, it’s without a doubt one of the coolest games on the NES, and has more than earned its cult following.
#1 The Twisted Tales of Spike McFang and Makai Prince Dorabotchan
This game rules. It’s a Zelda-style adventure about a vampire who eats tomatoes instead of drinking blood, and fights garlic monsters. There’s a whole mythology included that made me feel like I was playing some sort of cartoon adaptation. The game looks, sounds, and plays amazingly. The only real gripe I have with it is that it’s too short.
Fortunately, there’s more of it out there in the world, sort of. Spike McFang is actually the second of two games that take place in this world, the first being Makai Prince Dorabotchan for the PC Engine.
Unlike Spike McFang, the PC Engine game is a side scrolling platformer, and it’s a pretty cool one at that. It’s certainly all manner of weird, but you toss tomatoes, ring bells, and jump around in very colorful worlds full of expressive characters. Overall it’s not quite as good as Spike McFang, but it’s got some pretty strong Mr. Gimmick or Bonk’s Adventure vibes going on, which is definitely not a bad thing. Spike McFang outclasses it in just about every way though, and is definitely worth seeking out of you like these kinds of games.
Now, you’ve probably noticed that a couple of big names were missing from this list. For example, EarthBound aka Mother 2 is the sequel to Mother. Secret of Mana aka Seiken Densetsu 2 is the sequel to Seiken Densetsu, aka The Final Fantasy Adventure. These didn’t make the list because, while at the time of their release their lineage was still shrouded in mystery, today the fact that these titles are chapters in their own series is more or less common knowledge.
Thanks for watching, everyone. If you liked what you saw here today please comment, like, subscribe, and let us know what you think. Are there secret sequels I missed? Was any of this news to you? We always love hearing from folks in the comments, so don’t hesitate to sound off. Thanks again, and on behalf of all of us here at Stone Age Gamer, keep playing games.