When a series runs for a long enough time, it’s only natural to want to experience the highlights first. After all, time is always of the essence, and it’s better to spend it with the provably good installments than by experiencing the low points. However, you may have experienced an instance in which you were so impressed with a particular installment that you wanted to see the rest of what a series had to offer – for good or for ill. As such, your point of ingress may not necessarily have been with the series’ inaugural installment. So the next logical question is: where do you go from there?
Dragon Quest V was my introduction to Yuji Horii’s long-running, influential series. It was its 2009 remake that I played first. Despite me greatly enjoying Dragon Quest V, it wouldn’t be until 2016 that I would truly try my hand at playing another installment when a remake of Dragon Quest VII was released that year. The game turned out to be extremely long, and during that time, I got the idea to play through and review the first four games in the series. I then proceeded to complete the first two games in the time it took for me to play through the seventh installment. After that, I played Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest IV at roughly the same time, completing the former first and then the latter shortly thereafter. After that, I sealed the gap by playing Dragon Quest VI. I haven’t gotten around to completing Dragon Quest VIII or Dragon Quest XI despite having copies of both, so Dragon Quest VI is where I have left off. So to recap, my order of completion for this series is: 5, 1, 2, 7, 3, 4, and then 6. Then again, every installment is entirely self-contained, so it’s not as though I was missing out on important plot details by skipping around so much.
The same couldn’t be said of how I approached the Zero Escape trilogy. Although I had heard of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors before Virtue’s Last Reward came out, I didn’t really have any interest in playing it until the latter’s debut. I went into Virtue’s Last Reward hearing that you don’t really need to have played its predecessor to understand its plot. While that is true on some level, the game does tangentially spoil one of the big reveals in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors. Despite this, I ended up playing the original game shortly after finishing Virtue’s Last Reward. Ironically, I ended up liking it even more than its (admittedly more polished) sequel, and it turned out there were plenty of other big reveals to be found regardless. It along with Prosecutor’s Path and Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 are easily some of the best games to have debuted on the DS.
The Uncharted series is a bit strange when it comes to its critical reception. If you took what the critics have to say about its debut installment at face value now, you would get the impression that it was always respected. However, I myself remember the reception being much more mixed back it was released. I know this because I was specifically looking for good PlayStation 3-exclusive games shortly after getting one in early 2009 and I didn’t find what critics were saying about Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune noteworthy enough to try it out for myself.
Even after playing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, which was universally praised back in 2009, I still wasn’t interested in checking out the original. I proceeded to play Uncharted 3 when it came out, but it wouldn’t be until I began reviewing games that I had any interest in playing the original. I ended up getting my opportunity when I got a copy of the Uncharted collection on the PlayStation 4. It was an interesting experience because I had the feeling that there would be important plot details I would have missed out on having started with the second installment. I assumed that it would be an origin story of sorts, explaining how protagonists Nathan Drake and Elena Fischer met. But nope, the game starts with them having just met, and Elena was just always inexpiably proficient with firearms. Honestly, there really wasn’t anything meaningful to be gained from playing the original Uncharted – almost no plot details from that installment reflect in later installments, and it is easily the weakest game in the series.
Though I did play through the installments of certain series in an unconventional order, I don’t think anything can top how I approached King’s Quest. To begin with, my introduction to the series was King’s Quest II. As I mentioned in my review, it made for a decidedly poor point of ingress to the series, being a textbook example of a complacent, token sequel. Obviously, I didn’t know that at the time, and for some reason, I found the game intriguing enough to want to look into the rest of the series. From there, I ended up getting a copy of the series’ sixth installment before finally getting the Roberta Williams Anthology, which compiled every game she ever made with the exception of The Black Cauldron and Phantasmagoria in its entirety. This included every King’s Quest installment save for the then-unreleased Mask of Eternity.
From there, I ended up sampling the King’s Quest series all at once. Being the easiest game in the series by far, King’s Quest VII was the first one I completed. After that, I managed to fake my way through the SCI remake of the original King’s Quest, though I didn’t obtain full points. After that, I hit something of a stumbling block. Many of these old adventure games made no sense unless you were on the same exact wavelength as their creators – and sometimes even that wasn’t enough. I seemed to hit a permanent dead end – until I discovered GameFAQs in 2003, that is.
After finding information on an unrelated game on that site (Sonic Adventure DX), I wondered if I could find information on the King’s Quest series. To my delight, I did, and I proceeded to knock them out one-by-one. First, I completed King’s Quest III because it had what I felt to be the most interesting premise. After that, I went back to King’s Quest II to finally see it off. From there, I completed King’s Quest V, in which I never knew there was anything of interest in the sprawling desert. That game was also notorious for crashing on Windows to the point where the Anthology version had saves for every significant development so players could skip certain sequences, though it was cooperative long enough for me to see it through, surprisingly. After that, I went for its immediate follow-up King’s Quest VI, which is the only game in the series I feel has held up well. Finally, I capped it off by finishing King’s Quest IV, which didn’t grip me as much as the others for some reason. So in summary, my order of completion was: 7, 1, 3, 2, 5, 6, and then 4. In a series that is more interconnected than Dragon Quest, it was extremely bizarre in hindsight.
So now it’s your turn.
Have you ever gone through the installments of a series in a weird order?