Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
How to Title Your Stupid Sequel

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 27 Nov 2012 12:00
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Lesson 3: The Double-Title

If you took the original title off one of the sequel names in the previous lesson you wouldn't have a clue what the series was. "Revelations" alone could refer to about fifty thousand things. What you see kinda rarely these days in gaming is a sequel name where you can identify it just from the additional part. You'd know what I meant if I said LeChuck's Revenge or A Puzzle Of Flesh, assuming you have a working knowledge of 90's PC adventure games. In this case it is the original game's title that's being artificially bolted on with the colon, not the subtitle. By picking a subtitle that would also work perfectly well as a main title you are finally showing the necessary commitment to thoughtful storytelling and taking the franchise in significant directions. Well done, you.

Lesson 4: Complete Disconnect

Magnum Force, The Enforcer and Sudden Impact are sequels to Dirty Harry. They're never referred to as Dirty Harry 2 or Dirty Harry: Resurrection. The same is true of James Bond films, which is just as well, because we'd be up to Dr. No Part 47 by now. It's just a thought, but maybe you could give the audience enough credit to assume you don't need to put a big fucking label on everything for the benefit of easily frightened thickos who only want to watch what they're familiar with.

"Well, obviously they wouldn't call the new James Bond film Dr. No Part 47, because Dr. No was only in the first one," I hear you cry. Well, apparently that's not so obvious a principle to the people who name Halo games, because Haloes are barely involved at this point. There's one in Halo 4 but it only shows up at one brief moment in the background. It's like how Stan Lee always has a cameo in Marvel films, if the films were all called Stan Lee followed by a number.

Lesson 5: The Full Circle

In other words, the practise of just naming the sequel after the first game, unchanged, like Prince of Persia or Sonic the Hedgehog. The usual intention being to imply that this is a big ol' reboot and everything up to this point is officially stricken from the record. This is a really fucking stupid practice and if you do it you deserve to die. You're just making it awkward to have conversations about the series. People are still going to need a way to indicate which of the two identically-named games they're referring to, and they'll usually do it by putting the year the game came out on the end, as with Sonic 2006.

On reflection, there's a delicious irony in that. In your misguided attempts to avoid having to put a number on the end, your title ends up with a fucking massive number on the end with four whole digits. Ha! In your face. I'd love to play Sonic 2006 but unfortunately I never got around to playing the 2,005 previous installments.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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