Now in earlier posts I have mentioned that there were some prequels that I found feel cliché and do not really add anything on their own. Now I am not opposed to having prequels to games and I want to make that point clear. Prequels can be interesting as long as they are trying to do something with it. It could just be for the sake of having something different. It doesn’t have to be amazing since it is already based upon a preexisting idea. It just has to have some reason for why it exists on its own. So to illustrate this, I want to talk about Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep so that you understand what I consider to be good for a prequel game. So let’s first start with the most important aspect of understanding good prequels and that is the continuity should be kept consistent.
You see, the problem with setting the events of the game before the events of another can be a serious challenge for continuity. I should have to explain why the timeline could end up with continuity issues, but since I love hearing myself talk I’ll talk about it anyway. Now a game series usually has its gameplay become more refined as it goes forward. So naturally certain issues that existed in a preceding title with not exist in subsequent ones. I am not saying there is anything specific to the Kingdom Hearts series that needed this treatment but just hear me out for a bit. If there were changes that were made to gameplay later, then if would be harder to justify giving those same advantages to characters you already know in an earlier point on your timeline. So then the best thing to do is to simply not base your prequel around them. In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep you play as three keyblade wielders from before the event of the main story named Terra, Ventus, and Aqua. the three of them travel through different realms while each dealing with Master Xehanort’s schemes in different ways. Along the way you see some familiar faces from the current timeline including Riku, Sora, and Kairi. Each of the three plays a bit differently from the others and have their own pieces of story to tell. So we have established a story that adds some closure to the events of the other games while not making any sacrifices to the continuity on the timeline. However, it doesn’t end there.
Now, it is one thing to create a previous storyline to help shed some light on things from the main series. For instance, the reason Sora’s nobody didn’t look like him at all was because of Ventus’ heart sleeping inside his own. However, that fact alone creates an explanation that needs its own form of closure. What I enjoy the most about this series is that everything has a purpose. While that can again be annoying since they add games on so many different platforms, they make each game feel like it is part of something bigger which I like. This is a prequel that not only answers questions that we had in Kingdom Hearts II, but it also paves the way for Kingdom Hearts III. You can’t help but respect that kind of ambition to have everything tied in like that. Of course, you only get the full effect after playing through each character’s campaign and even then Aqua is the one who actually knows the most about what is going on in the story. Terra spends most of his time just trying to not fall to darkness and Ventus just tries not to become one with Vanitas. In all honesty, Aqua might be the only one of the three who understands the full scope of what Xehanort did to her friends. However, even though the story is broken into fragments, the story at least has its own purpose.
If you haven’t seen what I am getting at here, it is probably because I beat around the bush too much. Or maybe I’m just that bad at writing. Who knows? So for the sake of making sure my point is crystal clear let me just cut to the chase. An acceptable prequel must be able to stand on it’s own two feet. It cannot be completely dependent on the original source material. It is totally find to reference things or have a similar structure to the original games, but it should have some reason for being there other than a tie-in. Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep justifies its existence by adding necessary backstory to the events of the main series. However, other prequels just exist as a sideshow when writers have written themselves into a corner. There can’t be any progression if you are moving backwards. That’s just common sense. So why do we feel the need to bring in prequels that don’t add anything to the series they are from and don’t have any semblance of their own identity. I won’t name any names, at least not in this blog post, but I just want it to be understood that a prequel has to do more than a sequel to be interesting. A sequel is meant to build on a preexisting franchise, but a prequel needs to build up the existing franchise while still having its own identity. It’s crazy to think about when I put it like that huh? It’s my honest opinion though. Oh, and the game should be fun too. That’s kind of a given though. Anyway, thanks for hearing me out and see you next time!