It’s understandable if a game is mediocre and sales wind up reflecting that. The big question is, what if you are “great” or there is something “great” about you, but you still manage to fly below the radar? You are now the game among the select group of fans that when they talk about you they often find themselves asking, “why didn’t they make a sequel to that?”
Today, I’d like to give the spotlight to those very games, that truly deserved more than what they got. Without further adieu, here are 10 RPGs that were underrated, but deserved sequels that expanded upon their basic ideas.
10. Pirates of the Caribbean/Sea Dogs II (2003)
Pirates of the Caribbean was an underrated RPG, if ever I saw one, acting as a sequel to the Russian game Sea Dogs (Corsairs II). It was Russia’s answer to Sid Meier’s Pirates! Sea Dogs II got the name change to Pirates of the Caribbean when the film of the same name was hitting theaters and popularity at the exact same time as the game’s release. While it mattered to some, I was indifferent to the fact that the Black Pearl was the only character that made an appearance in the game.
I remember enjoying the stats distribution, being able to buy new ships, equipping said ship, and recruiting people all over the Caribbean to crew your ship and fight for you. The naval battles (although they were slow they seemed pretty realistic to me at the time) were both fun and off-putting. The other worthwhile draws to this title were being able to fight storms, sword fights, exploring caves, finding treasure, and just avoiding the Black Pearl at all costs (it was scary). That might have just been a “me” thing, to be honest.
Even though it felt like a copy of Sid Meier’s Pirates!, at the time, the aesthetic just felt better. I feel like if a sequel had been released in the states for this game it had a chance to evolve into something more. Sure Assassins Creed: Black Flag could easily fill that void in my life, but it didn’t happen soon enough and something about it didn’t fill the void that I still feel when thinking about this game. Maybe it was just the awesome music score.
9. Jet Force Gemini (1999)
This underrated RPG has always reminded me what a crossover of the Ewoks cartoon and The Fifth Element would look like. This was a third-person shooter for the Nintendo 64 that received mostly positive reviews upon its release. In it, you play as three galactic law enforcement officers, Juno, Vela, and Lupus. In the game, you are trying to stop the villain Mizar, and his alien insect horde from spreading across the galaxy and enslaving the Tribals (another alien race within the game). Rare, the game’s developer, had A Gameboy Color sequel of sorts in the making but it fell apart and never saw the light of day, late in its development.
Despite the positive reviews, it was only a moderate success. I always felt like if this game had released a sequel, it would have been great. What made the game great was the fairly open and colorful environments, the weapons, and the creatures. Plus shooting at large numbers of Mizar’s horde was always quite satisfying. In essence, I always felt that, if this world had been re-visited, the sequel would have been pretty well-polished.
8. Advent Rising (2005)
I might get a little flak for this one due to this underrated RPG’s notorious glitches and feelings of incompletion. To be fair though, when this game was good, it was very, very good. Even if the characters looked like Slenderman, who am I to judge? The story was quite intriguing, after all, Orson Scott Card penned the story with Cameron Dayton.
I remember enjoying the environments and gameplay (when it was working), the story had me engrossed, and it had the potential to be epic. The game was set to be a three-part epic but fizzled out due to poor sales. Many of the game’s problems were based on various bugs and performance issues that were not fixed during development. If we had seen a sequel, again, maybe the problems could have been fixed, and maybe it could have been epic. Maybe…
7. Beyond Oasis (1994)
This was an underrated RPG that was shadowed over its Nintendo counterparts. This was Sega’s answer to Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series. Honestly? It’s pretty great. The story wasn’t overly complex, but it was still pretty enjoyable. Although it didn’t match the vastness of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the past (1991), it felt like a great entry for a first-time RPG player to submerge themselves into.
The world-building on the scale that it was using, at the time, was very rich in detail. The character models were breathtaking to look at back in the day. Although this game did have a follow-up title (Legend of Oasis, 1996), it was a prequel, not a sequel. Therefore, it technically does not count. The reason why Beyond Oasis didn’t get an actual sequel? It was the prequel’s fault. Quite simply, it wasn’t as “original” as the first installment. It was still good, just not as good.
6. Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (2004)
The fact that this never had a sequel totally makes sense and eludes me at the same time. It makes sense because the whole story parallels that of the Lord of the Rings, just before the forming of the fellowship and all the way up to the one ring’s destruction. Despite that, the story and writing were incredible and seemed to plausibly fit into the world of Middle Earth. The characters were engaging, the graphics were beautiful, even the turn-based formula fit in well with the gameplay. Honestly, it makes sense that there wasn’t really much of a way forward in the story after the climactic ending of the ring’s destruction. It was good inside and out. Right? Wrong!
Imagine being drawn into this engaging story and world, you have watched your beloved characters grow, and now you have successfully distracted the big bad (the Eye of Sauron) from the ring bearer. The ring bearer has succeeded. You have won the day. And then? Nothing! Absolutely nothing. You get a cut scene from the film and the voice of Gandalf (Ian McKellen) giving you a semi-moving speech and telling you your story has just begun. Then you are taken back to the main title screen. There isn’t a follow-through. Not even the slightest ounce of character closure, or really any sense of completion.
When I had originally beaten this, I thought that I hadn’t really beaten it. Actually, my 14-year-old self was quite confused. At first, I just figured all of my characters had died distracting Sauron. I told myself this just to ignore the void and disappointment that I felt. Do I want a sequel to this based on how cheated I felt? Yes. Something, anything, would have been better than an empty pat on the back. The fact that Gandalf told me my story has just begun at the end of the story, and there shall never be a sequel, still tugs at my heartstrings to this very day.
5. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II (2004)
Knights of the Old Republic II wasn’t technically an underrated RPG, and yes, it’s a sequel, but it needs a sequel to a sequel. It simply left us hanging. I don’t think I have to go into too much detail on why this sequel was never made, nor how great the story and gameplay are. The ending left us wanting so much more. To this day we still hear occasional rumors of Knights of the Old Republic 3 moving in and out of production hell due to the ever-changing Lucasarts team, as well as the ever-changing publishers.
The downside? It doesn’t really look like BioWare will be on board if or when this title, in fact, see the light of day. Which leaves many hardcore fans in doubt, and the future of this sequel uncertain. One thing that is certain, there is still a good chance we shall be hearing more about this project in the future. Whether it be a confirmation or developers throwing their hands up in the air forfeiting their wasted time to the gaming gods, is yet to be seen. A reboot instead of a sequel to this RPG, however, is likely.
4. Skies of Arcadia (2000)
Simply put, one of the best games you have never played. If Final Fantasy 9 and Dragon Quest had a baby, it was this game. Sadly, this was one of the most forgotten and underrated RPGs of the early 2000s. Apart from great turn-based combat, the fact that you got to traverse this open-world by an airship that encouraged exploration on foot around the various locales was something to behold, for the time. Being able to explore open worlds was a pretty big deal after growing up with platformers.
The world was vast, the game was great, and the sales were poor. To be fair, it was competing with many big RPG titles (including sequels) upon its release. Among the many were Final Fantasy 9, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and The Legend of Dragoon. The Dreamcast was also struggling to keep up with its main competition the PS1 and N64, at the time. In 2001, Gamecube released the Skies of Arcadia Legends port. However, it wasn’t enough to revive the series for a sequel. Fans of this title do hope for an eventual reboot onto next-gen consoles.
3. Jade Empire (2005)
Following the success of the first Knights of the Old Republic, BioWare wanted to create its own fantasy world RPG without any restrictions. Initially, Jade Empire was going to be historically based on the Han and Ming dynasties of China. Developers, however, felt they could do more and bend more by going along with Chinese mythology to better enhance a fantasy narrative for their character and world-building. The result? An amazing gaming experience.
They included the good and evil alignment used in Knights of the Old Republic along with real-time combat. It was an overall engaging experience that somehow was overlooked by the gaming community. I, myself, didn’t actually get around to playing the game until 2009. Of course, the game underperformed in sales, but BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk expressed interest in a sequel back in 2011. 10 years later, we are still scratching our heads and many have wondered if their focus had shifted over to the Dragon Age sequels and Jade Empire was simply left in the dust. It’s clear that may have just been the case.
2. The Legend of Dragoon (2000)
This classic RPG made my young self feel like I was playing medieval Power Rangers. Instead of morphing on dinosaur energy, I was morphing on dragon energy. It wasn’t as underrated as some of the other RPGs on this list, based on its decent popularity in the United States and Japan. I remember this being one of the best gaming experiences of my life. It was the first game I remember playing where you had to react physically to the turn-based combat (based on button timing and combos). The story was a little more interesting than the typical JRPGs at the time and was quite fun to follow.
The sales and fanbase were quite decent as well. What happened? Honestly, not even the game’s producer, Shuhei Yoshida, knows why it never came to be. In fact, a sequel was in the making following the release of the original. It just never really materialized. Many speculate that the distributor, Japan Studios, decided to focus on other projects. Another possibility is that after Yoshida left, they decided to not move forward with the project. The reasons could be many, but in the meantime, fans are at least hoping to see a reboot materialize for the next-gen consoles hopefully following suit of the Final Fantasy franchise. A reboot or sequel to this classic RPG would go a long way for fans.
1. Bully (2006)
Okay, so I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about Bully not having a sequel or anything…but…what the heck, Rockstar?! Quit playing games with the depths of my heart and just commit already. It’s like watching a will they or won’t they story and actually caring about it. Questions have continuously risen over the years based on potential concept leaks, a bunch of hearsay on who is covering the production, and even the hidden easter egg of hope (Jim “Boy” Calloway’s guns) in Red Dead Redemption 2. My soul just can’t take the lack of commitment.
Rockstar has played with the idea of bringing us a Bully sequel, but because the game had more of a cult following as opposed to a massive following, other projects have taken priority. This is fair and actually, based on their releases over the years, I can’t say that I blame them entirely.
The fact still remains though, fans of the game, including myself, have been keeping an ear out for even the slightest mention or possibility of a sequel. There is a reason for that. Bully is simply charming in every way that a game can be. Its cheesy parodies of high school clicks, its witty humor, and making fun of the adolescent experience as a whole was just therapeutic for a lot of us.
This title plays very similarly to Grand Theft Auto. Except instead of guns you have a slingshot and a potato launcher. Instead of cars, you have a bike, skateboard, lawnmower, and an occasional moped. You could attend classes, or not. Another big thing was how interactive the town and school of Bullworth were, and let’s not forget the catchy music score. It was an overall pleasure to play and I always find myself revisiting it because I have nothing satisfying my taste for more, other than the utter taste of disappointment that this classic RPG’s sequel has yet to materialize.
And that’s it for our list of underrated RPGs that deserve sequels! Do you have any underrated RPGs that you wish to get a sequel? Let us know in the comments below!