The classic arcade era brought the world many fun and memorable games. Some games were one-of-a-kind while others were a dime a dozen. Some games were so good (and profitable), that they spawned a sequel or even an entire series. Just like the movies, it is a rare thing for a video game sequel to be considered better than it's predecessor. Below are 10 Classic Arcade Sequels That Were Better Than the Originals.
Smash-TV isn’t often thought of as a sequel, that’s usually Smash TV’s successor “Total Carnage” which gets that honor. However, if you look at the unique style of gameplay of two joysticks used to control both direction of movement and firing, then Eugene Jarvis certainly made a much better sequel to his original game of robot-destroying frenzy – Robotron 2084. In this game, the addition of a storyline makes this classic truly addicting. With the goal of “Big Money, Big Prizes!,” we certainly do love this game and its futuristic game show theme. Buxom beauties, cash, robots, gore-exploding bombs, and VCR’s galore? Yes, please!
This sequel to the 1985 Capcom classic, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, may not be one of the first platform-style games, but it is one of the first to truly get it right. Mastering the side-scrolling original was difficult, but this 1988 sequel is even more challenging. Not only do you have to battle ghouls and uh… ghosts, but now the number and type of baddies have increased. Also, external factors like wind, uneven terrain, and slicing guillotines make this more challenging and more rewarding than the first. Many of the same elements, such as the main character – Knight Arthur, carry over from the original, but the improved gameplay make this sequel a macabre masterpiece.
Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a pop-culture juggernaut that first made it’s debut in the arcades back in 1989. However, simultaneous 4-player quarter eater from Konami was merely a prelude to the 1991 release of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Turtles in Time. Improved graphics, gameplay, and sound, along with the cool “3-D” effects of throwing foot soldiers at the player made this one a blast to play. The “in Time” aspect of it almost allowed for the Turtles to battle their way not only through the streets of New York, but through history as well. Staying true to the source material, this game made an indelible imprint on many a '90s kid.
There aren’t many sequels out there that make you completely forget the predecessor, but that honor goes to Galaga. This 1981 Namco/Bally release sent Galaga’s founding father, Galaxian, into early retirement just two years after its debut. Sure, the gameplay is similar, but Galaga required its players to react quicker, shoot faster, and get in “the zone.” The rapid fire option alone would be enough to cement its legacy against Galaxian, but Galaga also offered one of the earliest bonus stages in video games, and the improved strategy of utilizing a captured ship as a double-barreled blast against the enemy space bugs. Galaga would go on to inspire several other iterations and even a 25th anniversary re-release arcade combo with Ms. Pac-Man.
“Finish him!” The mass appeal of an extra violent (for the time), competitive fighter was expanded in the second edition of the Mortal Kombat franchise. The story line was expanded as was the character base to fill-out this 1993 arcade classic. Not only were new characters introduced with new fighting moves to learn, players were also allowed to implement numerous options to end matches with multiple fatalities, babalities, and friendships. Not only could you show off your exceptional fighting skills to your opponent, you could set them on fire, rip out their spine, or make them cry like a baby. A "Toasty!" entry in our list of 10 Classic Arcade Sequels That Were Better Than the Originals.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs may have given the world Apple, but they also gave the gift of a really fun video game - Breakout. Though they left the world of video game design behind, Taito was there to pick up the torch and carried to the finish line with Arkanoid. This physics-based game of breaking blocks using a paddle to deflect a ball amps up the fun with power ups, laser cannons, and even a boss level.
1943: The Battle of Midway
There were several shoot-em-ups (or “shmups” as labeled by fans), created before 1943: The Battle of Midway, but following their release of the successful 1942, Capcom mastered the genre. Released in 1987, this game is based on the epic World War II battle of the same name and allows the player to pilot a P-38 Lightning against a flurry of Japanese fighters. Sure, 1943 improves upon 1942 with more advanced graphics and new special attacks. However, the real appeal here is the ability to play two players simultaneously. Now, instead of trying to beat your friend’s score, you could team up to inflict the most damage against the onslaught of enemies together. This arcade classic would go on to inspire future generations of 2-player shmups like Raiden, Varth: Operation Thunderstorm, and Strikers 1945 among others.
Pac-Man added a bow. The End. Just kidding! Ms. Pac-Man was so much more than a coy ploy to lure more females to the arcade, which is why it's on our list of 10 Classic Arcade Sequels That Were Better Than the Originals. The sequel to the era-defining Pac-Man included more mazes, an actual storyline, and (hold your breath) speed. A microchip upgrade to the arcade game’s circuit board allowed for Ms. Pac-Man to snatch up power pellets quicker than her love interest could ever dream. Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde (sorry, Sue), never knew what hit them and players continue to drop quarter after quarter in this machine at coin laundries and dive bars to this day.
We're sure there are some who will debate whether or not Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. is better than the original 1983 Mario Bros. arcade game solely because they are so different, thus, they are difficult to compare. However, the impact Super Mario Bros. had on the '80s generation cannot be overlooked. Technically, the game debuted on the Famicom system, but it was eventually made into an arcade format on Nintendo’s Vs. platform. The arcade version was almost exactly like the NES version with a few exceptions like no 1UPs and increased difficulty, but the advanced levels were unique to the arcade and wouldn’t be seen until NES’s Super Mario Bros. 2. Whether at home or in the arcade, Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros. turned a mild-mannered plumber into a force to be reckoned with.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
It’s hard to quantify just how impactful Street Fighter II has been in video game history. If you want to look solely at money, released in 1991, Street Fighter II had earned 1.5 billion dollars in revenue by 1993. It seems that the only carry-overs from Capcom’s first iteration of Street Fighter were the main characters, Ryu and Ken, and the 6-button layout. Aside from that, everything was different - and better. Multiple characters to choose from, each with their own fighting styles and special moves, allowed for more varied play, shifting strategy, and plenty of smack-talk from friends. Looking back at the clunkiness of the original Street Fighter makes the sequel’s quick pace and smooth fluidity look all that more revolutionary. Congrats Street Fighter II! You fought your way to the top of our 10 Classic Arcade Sequels That Were Better Than the Originals list. Hadouken!
Next: 10 Best Classic Arcade Games