Cold Coffee: Prequels

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bill-swift - September 6, 2012

With many series taking the prequel route next year, I thought now would be a good time to talk about how much I frackin' hate prequels. God of War: Ascension, Gears of War: Judgement and Batman's untitled Arkham prequel are just a few of the franchises that are heading back in time next year and I just don't really look forward to, at all.

The first question you really have to ask yourself is 'why do prequels even exist if they're so bad?'. First of all, prequels aren't always THAT bad. They exist as a tool to be able to go back and educate players on their beloved character's background...or to delay the fact that you have no idea where to take your series next. My point is that I totally get why prequels are made, but that doesn't bring me an extra comfort when I see them announced.

So what exactly is me beef with prequels? I'm glad you asked...

Over the course of usually 4+ years, we're introduced to this character and their story. This story just keeps getting better and better as it goes along; right to the end of the trilogy. Now, while I hate saying goodbye to a good series, I can totally accept when it's time for one to end. If they decide to move further with the story, all the power to them but it's when they suddenly stop and decide to go backwards that really pisses me off. As excited as we all are for these 2013 prequels, they won't live up to the original series. They're made as appetizers in an attempt to satisfy us until the real story continues, but it's not working for me. Besides...who eats appetizers after the main course? Think about it. I enjoyed both God of War PSP prequels but no one can truly say that they were little more than a pale complexion of the original trilogy.

On top of being an obvious decoy, prequels seem to give developers the feeling that they can use these breaks in between the main story to throw in all sorts of elements that really just don't belong in there in the first place. Case in point: Arkham Asylum prequel. While Batman isn't yet at the end of his trilogy, Rocksteady Studios believed it would be a good idea to take the Dark Knight back in time to the first time he met the Joker. This is obviously to help players understand the state Batman is left in at the end of Arkham City when the Joker dies. Arkham City was a HUGE game, because of the massive amount of expansion in every aspect of the gaming experience. Fans loved seeing the series move forward to bigger and better things so it's really no surprise that Rocksteady would want to include the Justice League of America into the prequel. It doesn't get much bigger and better than that. The issue is that this game that centered on the most human member of the JL 'Trinity' is suddenly having all these extra heroes thrown into it. When you're partners are able to lift entire skyscrapers with relative ease, it's easy for someone like Batman to become overshadowed and that's exactly what I fear is coming.

My point is that prequels simply aren't as strong in any aspect as a series' main titles. They tend to either branch off onto portable platforms to add a new gimmick to help sell the game or, even worse, simply sell as a full fledged game at retail. You'd think that no one would blow $60-70 on a prequel title but fans are easily sucked into spending cash on crap, especially with some strategic marketing campaign prior to the game's release.

Video game developers of the world, hear me! Stop with the sequels and get back to focusing on the thing that made your series successful in the first place. We see your greedy cash grab through the veil and we don't want it.

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