While sequels tend to receive all the glory in literary and visual work, prequels generally offer a more compelling experience. Prequels tell a story that takes place prior to the events of the original work and are generally intended to provide a better understanding of ambiguous or untold events that occurred throughout the original work. Given that prequels by definition will end up providing audiences with a better understanding of storyline elements and the characters involved, they serve a far greater purpose than a forced sequel does. The following are the 10 greatest prequels in video game history.
10. Resident Evil Zero
Recently remastered in HD for all current consoles, Resident Evil Zero is no longer a GameCube exclusive, and hopefully with its new wider audience Resident Evil Zero can be discovered by audiences that missed this true gem the initial time around. Resident Evil Zero takes place just before the events of the original Resident Evil. It is one of the final Resident Evil titles to be an authentic horror experience, and frankly is one of the final Resident Evil titles to be released that is any good. Resident Evil Zero is much more than “good,” as its excellent gameplay and switching mechanics between the two protagonists are ingeniously developed. Re-introducing the character of Rebecca Chambers from the original game along with new playable character Billy Coen, Resident Evil Zero answers a significant amount of series questions and proves essential to the franchise canon.
9. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Crisis Core was an action RPG developed by Square Enix and released in 2007 for the PlayStation Portable. The game was a prequel to the highly popular Final Fantasy VII that released a decade prior. Crisis Core was fan service that was so highly sought after that it was the sole reason many people purchased a PSP. Despite having an insurmountable amount of legacy and nostalgia to live up to, Crisis Core was able to please Final Fantasy VII fans with its interesting lore. Players control Zack Fair, which is a thrill in itself after knowing how integral he is to the plot of Final Fantasy VII. Players will see how Cloud received his iconic Buster Sword and also get to witness further madness from Sephiroth, one of the greatest villains of all time. Crisis Core is an excellent title worthy of its source material, but its biggest contribution is the canon it provides while serving as an excellent prequel to one of gaming’s finest achievements.
8. Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse
Castlevania III takes place centuries before the original Castlevania and further explores the Belmont family lineage. In the game, players take control of Trevor Belmont, an ancestor of the original hero Simon Belmont. With a trademark whip in tow, the game doesn’t feel very different from the previous two entries in the series. However, the franchise does successfully transition from one era to another. During Castlevania III, the evil known as Dracula had not yet manifested itself and a significant amount of series backstory is explained. Castlevania III is an achievement in prequels as it continues the franchise’s high expectations of quality game design, but also further advances the series’ lore with a wealth of information. Castlevania III was the first prequel the series offered and it was easily the most noteworthy one. By expanding on the family trees the previous two games in the series had developed, the world begins to feel more engrossing and players are able to fluidly enjoy the action.
7. Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening
2005’s Devil May Cry 3 served as an outstanding prequel to the original Devil May Cry. Devil May Cry 3 explores the origins of several characters that had been introduced during the first two games in the series. Many events that unfold in the early stages of the first game are explained during Devil May Cry 3, including the formation of the original game’s antagonist. Set several years before the first game in the series, Devil May Cry 3 is the high point in an underrated series that deserves more recognition. The story told through cutscenes still holds up to this day and the difficulty curve remains high. Whereas most games nowadays lean toward the easy side, Devil May Cry 3 relishes in being difficult and harkens back to old school difficulty levels in providing a challenge.
6. Halo: Reach
Developer Bungie’s final hurrah in the Halo series was a prequel to the 2001 original Xbox title that launched with the system. Halo would go on to become one of the most popular series in video game history and one that still had unaddressed story concerns. These plot mysteries would be answered in the fantastic Halo: Reach, which takes place right before the events of the first game in the series. The Master Chief is not around in this game and players instead control a Spartan super soldier named Noble Six. Halo: Reach offers a dark tone and emotional pathos as the doomed planet Reach has only one possible ending. However, it’s the journey not the destination that will be retained here. With the game set to please longtime fans of the series with various answers to unanswered questions, it becomes one of the finest examples of prequels in the industry.
5. Metroid Prime
The Metroid Prime series, which began on the Nintendo GameCube, fills the events between the NES titles Metroid 1 and Metroid 2. Therefore, Metroid Prime takes place before Metroid 2 and well before the later Super Metroid. As the first three-dimensional game in the beloved series, expectations were through the roof for the game, only to be deflated with the news that the title would move the series into a first-person perspective. Whereas previous Metroid titles were played from a third person viewpoint, audiences were skeptical that Metroid Prime seemed to play more like a generic shooting game. Thankfully, Nintendo and developer Retro Studios did not allow initial public reaction to sway their decision, and Metroid Prime would go on to make intelligent progressions the franchise needed to make. As a prequel, the game performs a fantastic fan service, not only filling in the events prior to Metroid 2, but also providing the origin of Samus’s power suit and many other details of her childhood past.
4. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Lufia II for the Super Nintendo is a prequel to Lufia & the Fortress of Doom and follows the ancestors of Lufia I’s protagonist. Lufia II admirably explains the origins of many questions posed in the original game, but the remarkable thing is that, in terms of gameplay, Lufia II blows away its predecessor with intelligent improvements. Lufia I was not a bad game by any means, there was simply nothing special about it in an era when JRPGs were so common. It also suffered from an extreme random encounter rate. Random enemies are encountered at an absurd rate as literally every step or two results in a random battle. This is jarring and a more common problem on the NES than on the SNES, making Lufia I appear archaic. Therefore, Lufia II arrived with little fanfare but quickly established itself as a serious contender among the best in the genre. Noteworthy improvements over the original include the removal of random encounters and keeping enemies visible on screen. The game is now a puzzle-RPG where dungeons challenge players with their puzzles rather than with random battles. It’s amazing that Lufia II arrived from its source material, but here is one prequel that sets itself apart from its predecessor.
3. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
Yoshi’s Island takes place before any other Mario game occurs. In fact, Bowser, Mario, Luigi and all the other familiar characters that audiences know from the Mushroom Kingdom are infants here. These babies are not playable characters, and instead players control Yoshi who will be carrying baby Mario on his back. Yoshi’s Island is one of the best platformers ever made and one of the best Super Nintendo games ever released. With moving hand-drawn style graphics and clever gameplay that was often difficult but avoided being frustrating, history has been kind to Yoshi’s Island in recognizing its greatness. Certainly, it deserves all the praise it has received. As a prequel, it uncovers the relationship between Mario and Yoshi, it shows that Mario and Bowser have been feuding since they were toddlers, and it allows Nintendo to show more backstory than they are generally accustomed to developing.
2. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is set 25 years prior to the original Deus Ex and 45 years prior to Deus Ex: Invisible War. Throughout this gripping game, developer Eidos Montreal successfully recaptures the key aspects that made the legendary original game a masterpiece. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is able to tackle intriguing moral subjects through the society which it has created. In the fictitious 2027 setting, the ethics behind slapping robot parts on people is still being questioned. The first game’s world takes place in an environment that has already made up its mind regarding these difficult moral choices, but Deus Ex: Human Revolution presents a literary side to the equation and allows gamers to fully immerse themselves within the series. The gameplay is top notch and will surely be enjoyed by everyone, but the full effect is received after playing the original Deus Ex first in order to see the progress that this intriguing series has made.
1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
Metal Gear Solid 3 takes place over 30 years before the events of Metal Gear Solid 1 and Metal Gear Solid 2 take place. Metal Gear Solid 3 is the earliest entry in the chronological timeline for the Metal Gear series and is an essential prequel to uncover the franchise-wide story. Players learn the origin of Big Boss through a gripping and emotional story told over the course of the Cold War. Since the game takes place in 1964 during the height of the Cold War, the series is able to make very interesting involvements for the nuclear weapons that often occupy major plot points throughout the games. Metal Gear Solid 3 offers fascinating insight into the origins of Solid Snake through the lens of his later enemy, Big Boss. By shaping the world of the series to come and introducing such a wealth of content to the series, Metal Gear Solid 3 stands tall as the greatest video game prequel ever made.