This is a small addon to “This is the Best Game Ever”. In that feature I wrote about my disappointment with Rogue Leader. I felt there was just something missing from it that the first game, Rogue Squadron, had. Well, I think there are two other reasons you can be disappointed with a game: repetitive gameplay and nostalgia. Sometimes you play a great sequel, well deserving of all the high marks and praise it gets, but it just does not keep your interest like previous games in the series.
You see a game series can only do so much to change up the gameplay. The fans of the series expect a certain type of gameplay, so developers tend to be conservative about any changes to the formula they make. Usually, the first sequel makes a lot of changes to the gameplay. The second sequel has smaller changes, and so on. This means there is less “new” with each new game. A large part of the fun you get from games is from the freshness of the gameplay.
The fourth or fifth sequel is more polished and solid than the original, but the gameplay has been refined so much that you do not get that newness feeling. There is nothing really wrong with the gameplay. You have just played too much of it. The thing is that same old gameplay can feel fresh again with time. Our brains only have a limited memory that fades over time. If you played Mario Bros. for a month straight you would be pretty bored and might even say you never want to play it again. Give yourself a five year break though, and you might have fun with Mario Bros. again.
This is something that developers need to watch out for. Releasing new sequels every year or even every other year is a surefire way to get players bored with your game series no matter how solid the gameplay is. Players (and game critics) need breaks; too many sequels will cause them to rate the games poorly. At the time time, sequels should not be too sparse either. I would guess the majority of fans are ready for a sequel within three to five years. This means companies like Blizzard and Valve are probably not catering the best to fans with their ten year times between sequels.
Nostalgia also factors into this. Usually when you think about a franchise, your most fond memories are the earliest games in the series. These were your first experiences with the gameplay and you loved how fresh it was, but what is also common is to lump all the sequels in with these first experiences. A game might have A, B, and C in the original, and D, E, and F game mechanics are added in sequels. However, nostalgia paints the original game as having everything from the beginning; your memory props it up to be better than it was.
This nostalgia can cause you to be disappointed with a sequel. You may think “The first game had A, B, C, D, E, F. Everything about it was fresh. The sequel only adds G, so it is too much of the same old thing.” I think it is important for anyone that analyzes and critiques games to factor in this nostalgia. It can really change your opinions on a game. Do not rely on memory. Check the history of the games in a series to see what each one offered. Only then can you really compare a new game to previous games.