So here’s a question – I’m keeping it hypothetical for now.

Game A is released, and it’s awesome, gaining both critical and popular acclaim. The publishers see dollar signs, and demand a sequel as soon as possible. With no time to develop an entirely new title, Game B is thus virtually the same except for cosmetic changes and a few tweaks.

Now, how is a reviewer to respond to game B? Do they criticise it for being just a re-tread of a Game we’ve already played, and a cynical cash in? If B is the same as A, however, doesn’t that by default mean that it’s awesome too?

In the context of reviewing brand new games, I think the issue is resolved fairly easily: you can assume that many potential fans will already have paid £30 for A, and question if a second helping is really worth another £30. Looking back on A and B from years later, though, it’s a bit different. We’re talking games you’ll probably either get cheap on ebay or scrounge off an abandonware site. Also, even if you already slogged through A, that might have been 8 years ago, so you might be more open to the idea of that second helping.

Because of this, I’m wondering if the mindset of “same as the original, we’ve already been there and done that” is really a valid comment when reviewing oldies. How much weight should we place on similarity to predecessors when assessing a game?