A Question for the Readers #13: Out of Order

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?

18 thoughts on “A Question for the Readers #13: Out of Order

  1. I prefer 999 over the sequel as well and it is not because I started with 999 first. Thought the game structure in the sequel was too back and forth for my liking. It didn’t flow as well as the first. Despite that, I enjoyed the puzzles and the story.

    I would have to say Suikoden series. I played the series in this order: 5,3,4,2,1. Yep, I went backward. It didn’t destroy the story and the experience. Some people say Suikoden 2 is their favorite out of the series. For me, I enjoyed Suikoden 3 the most.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I feel the puzzle rooms in VLR had more polish to them, when parsing the experience as a whole, I have little doubt 999 is the stronger game.

      I should’ve mentioned Metroid Prime because I played through that trilogy in reverse order myself. Does Suikoden have self-contained stories like Final Fantasy or is it a continuous narrative?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have not had the chance to play Metroid Prime, but it looks good.
        Yes, it has self-contained stories like Final Fantasy. In terms of gameplay, it’s more like Final Fantasy 12 with some light strategy. I enjoyed all of the games in fact. I really wish my DS Nintendo wasn’t sold because I really want to play Suikoden Tierkreis. I really got to find myself a way to play this game.
        You know, I just want to say thank you for your post because now I am reminded that I need to go find myself Suikoden Tierkreis to complete my Suikoden series collection. If you ran out of games to play, which I highly doubt, do consider Suikoden. It’s really a gem.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a really weird habit of playing second in series games first… Uncharted 2, Dragon Age II, Age of Empires 2, and Metal Gear Solid 2 for examples. It’s not intentional either. Just how it works out for me, haha

    Liked by 1 person

    • I started with Uncharted 2, and in all honesty, I don’t think you’d be missing out on much by not playing the first. Metal Gear Solid, on the other hand, is a series I approached in a mostly logical order (the only weird thing I did was clearing the MSX installments while clearing the Solid installments).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I have to say my approach to the classic Mega Man series was a bit strange too. For me, I think it went 2, 3, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and I have yet to complete 8 or even touch 11. Then again, given how unimportant the plot is, it’s not terrible surprising.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have a bad habit of playing the first two games in a trilogy, and not the third. It happened with Mass Effect, because the first two are on Steam and the third is not. It’s on Origin.

    It happened again with Shadowrun Returns, and Shadowrun: Dragonfall. I still haven’t played Shadowrun: Hong Kong.

    Also, I played the Tomb Raider 2013 reboot and Rise of the Tomb Raider, but not Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

    Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, but not Arkham Origins.

    Years ago, I played Splinter Cell 1 and Pandora Tomorrow, not Chaos Theory, which is supposed to be fantastic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That happened to me when I played Baldur’s Gate. I barely managed to finish it, and I have to admit I wasn’t impressed with the gameplay enough to want to check out the sequel. Maybe I’ll try again sometime in the future.

      Also, from what I’ve heard, you’ve already experienced the best the Batman: Arkham series has to offer.


  4. I started the Persona series and Megami Tensei as a whole with Persona 3. It seems like a whole lot of western Megatenists started with P3 in 2006, since that was the first game in the series that got significant notice beyond the crazy hardcore set who learned Japanese to play imports. It’s funny that things worked out that way – the port of Persona 1 back in the 90s was calculated to remove as much Japan as possible from the game to relate better to westerners, and it was a miserable failure as far as I can tell. From P3 I jumped to Nocturne in the mainline Shin Megami Tensei series, and then I was cursed with the mark of this fandom.

    Liked by 1 person

    • For Western fans of Shin Megami Tensei, I think they really couldn’t help but play them in a weird order. Then again, new Japanese fans would have a ridiculous amount of entry points that they too would discover the series in different ways. To date, the only game in the series I’ve completed is Persona 4. That said, it is absolutely one of my all-time favorites. I do want to try out Persona 5 at some point, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, I highly recommend Persona 5, especially if you loved 4. P5 is a little closer to the main SMT games in some ways, which I was happy about, but Persona is still very much its own thing. The only problem I have with these kinds of games now is the amount of time they demand from the player.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was pretty similar. My introduction to the Megaten Series was Shin Megami Tensei, then Persona 4, then came the rest of them. They had already made a lot accessible to westerners by the time Persona 4 came out, so wasn’t as harsh an introduction as it could have been, but man those games run the gamut.

      Otherwise, I played Saints Row 2 before 1, and Final Fantasy was VI, IV, VII, VIII, I, X, IX, but otherwise, I’m usually pretty good about hitting series in order. Digital distribution has been making that easier and easier.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My experience with the Megaten series is weird in that the only game I’ve played is Persona 4. Despite being one of my all-time favorites, I have yet to play another game in the series. I will rectify that one day, I promise.

        I have to say my order of playing the Final Fantasy series is a bit more sane than how I tackled Dragon Quest, though because of limited availability, I still ended up skipping around a lot (for me, it went I, II, IV, VI, and then V/III at the same time). I’m thankful that digital distribution is making revisiting these series easier.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Interesting subject matter. Completed Resi 2 on the ’64 first staring enviously at my Sony owning friends. Resi on a cartridge?? Remarkable! Then Remake 1, 0, 3, 4, CV and 5. To be fair the plots convoluted enough it doesn’t break the series to much.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My journey through the Zelda series was wildly out of release order, but as you stated with Dragon Quest, it doesn’t really cause any issues as so few entries are connected narratively. I won’t go through EVERY Zelda title, but my first several adventures were (in order of actual completion) Oracle of Ages, Oracle of Seasons, Ocarina of Time, Link’s Awakening, Wind Waker (the first one I played at its time of release). I played Majora’s Mask several times throughout the years, but only beat it once I had gotten to college. All other future 3D titles I played at their time of release. And I have gone back and beaten Link to the Past, but have never beaten either of the first two NES titles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t mention the Zelda franchise because I did play them mostly in order. I didn’t always complete them in order, though. In fact, Breath of the Wild was actually the first console Zelda game I completed in the same calendar year of its release since The Wind Waker (The Wind Waker was actually the very first time I pulled that off with a console installment). That said, it wasn’t like Dragon Quest where I jumped all over the place. When I started to write my Zelda retrospective, there were only three games in the series I hadn’t completed (Phantom Hourglass, Spirit Tracks, and Tri Force Heroes), so I rectified that problem as soon as I could.

      Liked by 1 person

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