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Max Wilco

Sierra may be coming back (New KQ Game)

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I think the real problem was that the original quote was from someone at Activision and went along the lines of: "I've seen it, and it's not a point-and-click, and it's awesome." 

This led to misunderstanding that it wasn't even an adventure game at all-- I'm guilty of having made the same mistake and lashing out on Twitter. They corrected the misunderstanding and I apologized.

 

So I think people will only really be upset pre-release if it's not an adventure game... or of course if it looks awful. 

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This is why I have continuing love/hate affair with the adventure community. Because going from text adventure, to parser, to point 'n click was somehow fine. But that's also it. "I only want to play point 'n click games from now on. And I can deal with graphics that have a resolution higher than 640x480, but I am probably still going to mention that I long for 'the good old days'."

 
That's true, but I also think it's because we actually went through a bunch of later "innovations" after that
which didn't add anything and in some cases took away from the experience. Some seemed to simply
be innovations for innovations sake rather than anything that improved the game.
 
It's hard to simplify adventure game commands past a certain point, and point-and-click seems to be that point, for the most part.
After that, any further innovations seem to involve changing the very nature of the game into a different genre.
 
I think the peak in popularity and acclaim around the parser/point-and-click era (eg. KQ6 and SQ4, as well as Monkey Island 1+2, etc.)
was for good reason... there are certain graphical styles and command systems that just suit the adventure game perfectly.
 
I think if high resolution graphics are done really well (as Space Venture seems to be so far), then that's great,
but I think there is more to go wrong with higher res graphics, they can come out really horribly.
 
Not that I want to see everything in SQ4 or Monkey Island resolution, but that resolution is reasonably fool-proof
and makes sure that everything is consistent (rather than in some higher-res games where the characters are in one
style and the backgrounds in another, etc.).
 
I'm not against updates and innovations, but if I were the developers, I'd be aiming to replicate most of what
made the best games so good, rather than tinkering with the formula. 
I think unless you have something that clearly is going to potentially make the experience better for most people
(eg. adding actual graphics to text adventures) then proceed with extreme caution with any big changes.
 
I'd prefer them to just try to get a standard, straightforward, good adventure game made first, following the tried-and-tested formula,
then maybe once they've totally mastered that, THEN try to tweak it here and there.

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I think if high resolution graphics are done really well (as Space Venture seems to be so far), then that's great,
but I think there is more to go wrong with higher res graphics, they can come out really horribly.

 

Personally I find most modern low res games to have pretty terrible artistic aesthetics. Old low res games tend to look much better because the artists who worked on them knew how to work in those resolutions in order to bring out the most from the limited tech they had to work with. Sierra AGI games for an example often balance wery nicely with the technical limitations and stylis end result. Not all of them, but there's some surprisingly stylish looking stuff there.

 

Many modern low resolution games on the other hand look like they are done by people who try to imitatet the style but they don't necessarily have thr required know how on how to make the low resolution art look actually good. Of course there is good looking stuff there as well, but in many cases the art just looks like the developers were trying to hide the already poor quality of art by lowering the resolution instead of really working with the limitations of resolution. 

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That's true, but I also think it's because we actually went through a bunch of later "innovations" after that

which didn't add anything and in some cases took away from the experience. Some seemed to simply

be innovations for innovations sake rather than anything that improved the game.

Stuff like that will always happen, but I think it's unfair to assume that something will fail only because it failed once before. Moving adventure games into 3D was mostly a mistake. I say "mostly" because Escape from Monkey island wasn't that bad, and people speak fondly of Grim Fandango to this day. But to say that playing around with the genre will equate similar problems is like refusing to watch any film that has a CG-generated leading character in it because Jar Jar Binks sucked. History allows people to learn from the mistakes of others. Also, I think the Sierra of then and the Sierra are now are driven by very different motivations. The Sierra of then seems to have been struggling to find its footing. You're bound to make mistakes if you see your house of cards tumbling down.

 

It's hard to simplify adventure game commands past a certain point, and point-and-click seems to be that point, for the most part.

After that, any further innovations seem to involve changing the very nature of the game into a different genre.

That is your opinion. Which is fine, but again, games like Grim Fandango challenge your assertion. There is also a more recent game, such as the PlayStation-exclusive Journey which is extremely simple, but, I would argue, is still an adventure game. It's simplified to the point where this no in-game text, nor any verbal lines. And yet, it's all about exploring and uncovering the story behind the world you're in. Bear in mind, though, that "simplify" was a word you choose yourself; as far as I know, The Odd Gentlemen have promised us an adventure game that doesn't use the mouse. Not a simplified game.

 

I think the peak in popularity and acclaim around the parser/point-and-click era (eg. KQ6 and SQ4, as well as Monkey Island 1+2, etc.)

was for good reason... there are certain graphical styles and command systems that just suit the adventure game perfectly.

If you really want to play it safe, sure. And you could, but you'd not really be exploring the boundaries of game storytelling, in my opinion, which would be a shame.

 

I think if high resolution graphics are done really well (as Space Venture seems to be so far), then that's great,

but I think there is more to go wrong with higher res graphics, they can come out really horribly.

 

Not that I want to see everything in SQ4 or Monkey Island resolution, but that resolution is reasonably fool-proof

and makes sure that everything is consistent (rather than in some higher-res games where the characters are in one

style and the backgrounds in another, etc.).

Hmm. I don't agree. What you're talking about arguably has to do with the skill of the artist(s) and possibly the budget (which I believe was why BS5 went with 3D characters on drawn backgrounds). Not with the resolution. The early-90's Sierra/LucasArts-look is not tied exclusively to 320x200. Also, I agree with Tomint. I've seen a lot of AGS games with art that has just been scaled down and blurred to oblivion. Most SQ3 remake projects have been all about fucking up Mark Crowe's great art and make it look as if the player has Glaucoma. To me, that spells out that, to most artists, that way of working is kind of a lost art. There are exceptions, but do what you do best. Don't try to do what Mark Crowe did best because... y'know, can't beat Mark Crowe ca. 1989-1993.

 

I'm not against updates and innovations, but if I were the developers, I'd be aiming to replicate most of what

made the best games so good, rather than tinkering with the formula. 

I think unless you have something that clearly is going to potentially make the experience better for most people

(eg. adding actual graphics to text adventures) then proceed with extreme caution with any big changes.

If they're interested in building a new audience, which I assume they are, because that'd be more viable, that won't fly. The market for "retro" games will always be a niche market, even if it has grown to be a rather big one.

 

I'd prefer them to just try to get a standard, straightforward, good adventure game made first, following the tried-and-tested formula,

then maybe once they've totally mastered that, THEN try to tweak it here and there.

I get what you're saying, but the game scene of today is very much one strike and you're out. Or, rather, one strike and people will have made up their minds about you. Phil Fish will forever be known as an asshole, even if he makes amends and restarts development on Fez II. Pulling in all the "kids" and making them appreciate this form of interactive storytelling is more likely to be their top priority, rather than appealing to all us old farts. And hell, that's how it should be. Sierra On-Line could easily have sold a rehash of Mystery House to IBM. But they didn't - they had a team of 6-7 people working for 18 months on a computer game. Something that was pretty daring back then.

 

I get that this is not the Sierra. But still, that is the name this company is now operating under. And if they want to carry on the spirit of yore (which does not equate the technical qualities), playing it safe should be the last thing they ever do.

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I don't vastly disagree with anything you said, other than probably the level of innovation we're talking about.

 

Eg. Grim Fandango changed the controls, but not drastically. In fact, they went back to moving the character with the arrow

keys, so they kind of just regressed back to the parser controls.

 

I think 3D graphics can be used if they're done well, though I'd probably steer away from something like a first-person view.

 

For adventure games in general, I'm not against the kind of simplification/reduction you're talking about with

Journey... though I don't think it would suit a King's Quest game to have no dialogue, as I think that's a key part

of what makes KQ great/fun.

 

With the graphics, I would assume that the Odd Gentlemen are updating the graphics, in a similar way to

Space Venture, and that's great if they do a good job (which they seem to be able to do, based on their

other games). My preference for low-res only really relates to fan games.

 

With the retro thing, I wouldn't look at it as retro so much as "what works". 

I think a good game is a good game across generations and I think that the core things that made the

adventure games work shouldn't be messed with too much if you want an enjoyable game.

 

I agree that it would be awesome if they experiment and it pays off. But having seen most attempts to

experiment in this area, there is a high, high chance they could mess it up, thus messing up the reboot.

 

When you say, "the game scene of today is very much one strike and you're out" I think for that very reason

they shouldn't start reinventing the wheel too much. People far more experienced in adventure games

tried that and fell flat on their faces. 

 

For a new KQ, I'd say update the graphics, maybe do something a tiny little bit different with the controls if

you want, but otherwise keep everything else pretty much intact.

 

(Also I don't know what the Odd Gentlemen have in mind for controls. From what they have said, I assume it might

be something with the mouse for movement and then certain keys for use/talk/etc. as in Full Throttle.)

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the developers were trying to hide the already poor quality of art by lowering the resolution instead of really working with the limitations of resolution. 

 

I agree in that instance...when that happens, it does indeed suck balls in a majority of cases.

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Everyone needs to stop throwing a hissy fit and see what comes from all of this. Just because it might not use the same interface as the classic titles doesn't automatically invalidate it. I think too many people around here are stuck wearing rose-tinted glasses, or else just can't enjoy anything that's not a Sierra adventure game. I love the classic titles as much as the next person, but what, exactly, is so wrong with the torch being passed? Just because it's not the original developers working on it? Get a grip and wait for some actualy screenshots or gameplay videos! At this rate the project will get shitcanned before the end of the year thanks to "lack of interest".

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Well, geez. You get all lazy and don't check the SubChan for a few1 months, and then something like this goes and happens. Now the cheeping, winged piglets nesting in the tree behind my house suddenly make more sense.

 

After reading everything posted so far, I'm personally in the 'wait and see' camp here. I approve whole-heartedly of the idea of using the Sierra publishing brand constructively in this manner; the name certainly still means something even outside of our little cabal, and leveraging it in the right ways could have some interesting results. Somewhat more worrisome is the idea of classic Sierra adventure game franchises possibly being dug out of their graves and butchered in a misguided attempt at appealing to the nostalgia market. Will this be the case, or will this new King's Quest (and possibly other games) actually be quality spiritual successors to their namesakes? Only time, and sequels, will tell.

 

I will say up front that, personally, I hope that Space Quest doesn't get that treatment. Besides Troels' comment about the 2.5 Guys from Andromeda2 needing to be involved (which I agree with), I feel that SQ already got a  tasteful (and amazing) resurgence and send-off with the latest round of fan games. Incinerations, especially, is the perfect cap-stone to the series IMHO, even if it is technically 'just' a fan game. If this new Sierra were to try and ressurect the series without the Guys, I doubt they would be able to do as good a job as our own dedicated fans have done - we'd end up with a cash-grabby, sub-par Space Quest zombie instead of a series that, though essentially dead, is at least resting peacefully in a beautiful hand-carved mahogany casket after having been lovingly laid to rest at a lavish-yet-tasteful funeral attended by everyone who ever knew and loved it dearly3 , who even now cherish its heartwarming, un-zombified memory. I love the series too much to want to see that happen to it; if it comes to that, I'd rather let SQ lie and focus instead on Space Quest: The Next Generation (aka Spaceventure).

 

 

...buuuut, as for ports of the existing Sierra games to current OSes? *Hell* yes. Port the hell out of them. Whore those bad boys out to every smart phone, tablet, and VR headset there is. B) More exposure for the classics is never a bad thing. Nintendo figured this out - they sell their own classic library on their current-day consoles, and make money hand over fist from it. You don't have to do anything fancy to 'em - just keep circulating the tapes.

 

 

 

 

1) Eight. Eight months since I last posted. I need to get off my virtual ass more often.

 

2) We love ya, Josh, really.

 

3) I'm suddenly recalling the end scenes of Full Throttle here.

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Well, there does seem to be a very vocal group of people who're interested in a familar experience or else. Certainly, some of the people attacking The Odd Gentlemen over their own miscomprehension of the "not point 'n click"-quote didn't seem very interested in waiting and seeing.

 

I'm with Cosmic Castaway all the way. You could always argue about the level of innovation needed, but I'm personally happy Sierra are choosing to go their own way rather than trying to follow a bunch of outdated design dogmas.

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Just out of interest, what are the other camps?

 

 

Well, there's...

 

--The 'It's named Sierra and has the old logo so it's automatically going to be awesome! NOSTALGIA!!" camp

--The 'Sierra's current corporate owners are douchebags and I hate them and this is a heartless cashgrab attempt! JADED VITROL!!" camp

--The 'I've been hurt before but I still believe in miracles so I'll hope this turns out well! CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM!!' camp

--The 'Who the hell is Sierra and why should I care? KIDS THESE DAYS!!' camp.

 

...among others.

 

In the new story, King Graham – revered as the greatest adventurer to ever live – shares his life’s adventures with his curious granddaughter, Gwendolyn. It is through these tales that Gwendolyn discovers the true greatness of her grandfather.

 

 

 

So, I guess she calls him...Grahampa? :rolleyes:

 

 

On a less groan-y note, given that both of Graham's kids had love interests the last we saw them, I wonder whose child she is? Given her name, I'm tempted to think she'd be Alexander's little girl, and he named her as a clever jab at his old identity...

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--The 'It's named Sierra and has the old logo so it's automatically going to be awesome! NOSTALGIA!!" camp

--The 'Sierra's current corporate owners are douchebags and I hate them and this is a heartless cashgrab attempt! JADED VITROL!!" camp

--The 'I've been hurt before but I still believe in miracles so I'll hope this turns out well! CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM!!' camp

--The 'Who the hell is Sierra and why should I care? KIDS THESE DAYS!!' camp.

 

They're all sub-sections of the "wait and see" camp though... the only non-wait-and-see camps I can think of are:

 

--The "let's storm the gates of Odd Gentlemen's offices and force them to do what we want" camp

--The "I don't want to wait, so I've built a time machine to see what happens right now" camp

 

Everyone else is essentially waiting-and-seeing whether they want to or not.

 

 

Sierra would have tried to be innovative rather than keep resting on its laurels.

 

Though thinking about it further, I'm not sure if Sierra's innovations in their golden age (around 1983-1995) were all that innovative...
The main "innovations" just came from the improvement in computers:
 
--Graphics got more detailed
--Mouse to move, instead of arrow keys
--Text read out by actors
 
The only main innovation I can think of outside of that is:
 
--Instead of typing "use/talk/pick up/move/etc." those became icons
 
Everything else remained pretty much the same from KQ1 to the later games -
roam around picking stuff up, talking to people, looking at things, combining items and
using them on things, as part of a story... that was their formula for about 15 years.

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Sierra was pretty innovative. They did not only strive to use best tech possible, they also tried to advance the way stories were told in games. They also were among the first game companies to utilize the use of things like CD audio, full voice acting, sound cards. It might not look like much in today's POV, but back then those were humongous strides.

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Though thinking about it further, I'm not sure if Sierra's innovations in their golden age (around 1983-1995) were all that innovative...

 

:o Oh no you di'int!

 

I'm not entirely sure if it was the Roberta Williams Collection or the King's Quest Collection, but one of those (or both? :unsure: ) painstakingly chronicled every single technical or narrative innovation in the manual. I suggest you learn to recite those by heart before thou ever darest to to speak Sierra's name in vain again!

 

Just kidding! I'm inclined to agree with you. Considering Sierra's output during that era consisted of churning out sequel after sequel to their handful of cash cow franchises (and before anybody takes offense at that word: the KQ series very nearly went into double-digits, mind you!) to a large degree, I don't think it's unreasonable to assume that Sierra management liked to play it safe.

 

That being said, personally, I don't mind them trying out new things. Optional multiplayer for example sounds interesting and it could really be a cool thing in a family oriented game. I was mostly surprised at the eagerness of the Activision rep to pretty much instantly cockblock whatever momentum The Odd Gentlemen had going as soon as the news were revealed.

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Being technically innovative has very little to do with Sierra putting out mainly sequals. The innovative stuff was many times under the hood rather than in gameplay, but Sierra never was afraid in moving forwards, whetever it meant the use of FMV or using 3D engine.

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Nobody really argued that they weren't technically innovative. Even Jimmy, whose post I was referring to, pointed that out: "The main "innovations" just came from the improvement in computers", which doesn't really contradict anything you said. Truth be told, I think the case could be made that by the mid-90s, they were starting to fall behind on the technical front. Compare, say, 1995's Phantasmagoria to something like 1994's Under a Killing Moon (which effortlessly combines FMV with an actual 3D environment), and it really feels like stone age stuff. But that's another discussion for another day. The main issue here is gameplay.

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--The "I don't want to wait, so I've built a time machine to see what happens right now" camp

 

Count me in that group, although I must admit that it didn't work out as well as I had planned. I ended up in Space Quest XXVII. I may write a fanfic about it.

 

Okay, I should probably make a serious post. So here it is. Count me as one of the skeptics. Knowing what I know about the gaming industry and their history of "reboots", it's clear to me that any attempt at rebooting a series will usually be done with the mind of targeting contemporary audiences, not the hardcore fans. Now, I don't expect they'll do something as dramatic as chuck out the whole canon and basically say "this was a different time and place in Sierra's history, it no longer applies". They did that with the Tomb Raider series (twice), and I was happy with neither attempt.

 

I am also not in the group that believes that because it's no longer "point'n'click", it's automatically going to be Call Of Duty or Angry Birds. The people who are behaving like that on the Sierra Groups thread are behaving rather poorly in this regard, childishly even. And unfortunately, it's a select vocal minority blowing a questionably yet innocuously worded announcement way out of proportion. :)

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I think it all boils down to whether we get to experience the story without being forced to endure QTE sequences or other quick reaction type stuff. Adventure games have always played with the formula -- take Loom, for example. That game barely had an interface, no inventory and no dialogue trees, yet it told a compelling story and is considered a classic game to this day.

 

The question, as far as I'm concerned, is not about whether we get to use our mouse to point and click at things, but whether we'll be allowed to explore a world at our own pace and immerse ourselves in the story.

 

As far as modern day adventure games go, anyway. We have to take into account that the new Sierra isn't just about rebooting franchises or updating the adventure game legacy. Hell, they're doing a new Geometry Wars, for chrissakes. And back in the day they were releasing things like Thexder, Red Baron and Lode Runner.

 

Also, on the subject of graphics: the low res thing is not a matter of what works best. Some contemporary games in the 320x200 days were damn near unplayable for not being able to make out what the hell was on the screen. Simon The Sorceror II, anyone?

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This is a little off-topic, but am I the only one here who doesn't view adventure games as some kind of storytelling medium? I've seen that phrasing pop up a surprising amount in this little community, which is surprising considering that Space Quest has never been very strong on the "storytelling" front, per se. Most of the "story" you're told is illogical and arbitrary. The core of the experience comes instead from, you know, the game -- the exploration and the interaction with the world, events, characters, puzzles, etc. In other words, the participatory elements of the story.

 

It seems to me that if you want to be told a story, there are much better media for it.

 

Anyway, back on topic, I'm equally supportive of both self-conscious nostalgia and innovation (especially with old IP). As long as Sierra adventure series are kept within the adventure genre, I'll be excited for any new products.

 

Finally, Sierra's storied and very real innovation was on the technical front -- everyone agrees with that -- but this necessitated gameplay innovations as well. Every substantial change in technology (AGI, SCI parser, SCI icons, FMV, 3D, digital sound, speech, etc) necessarily carried with it changes in the way the game was constructed. My SQ5 experience was worlds different from my AGI SQ1 experience due to the technology used to construct the world I was exploring.

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I'm in the "Cautious Optimism" camp. At this point, there's a lot of innovation in gaming, and if they can apply some of that to King's Quest to create a new kind of adventure experience, I'm all for it.

 

 I remember in "South Park: The Stick of Truth" that there were several puzzle sections where you could clear a room of enemies without ever engaging in combat just by using your inventory of skills on background objects. And because of how they were designed, the puzzle sections were often more fun and exciting than the battles themselves. It struck me as a very modern way to approach KQ1's violence-optional puzzles.

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As far as adapting a series for newer audiences, what's so wrong with that? Just because it doesn't appease the diehard fans doesn't mean it's terrible. You can please some of the people all of the time, but you can't please all the people all the time, and all that. If they made a game that was geared exclusively towards the hardcore Sierra fan, it'd be an utter failure, and that's assuming that developers could even settle on a design that would be appealing to the fans of old. Bemoan the state of gaming all you want, but the fact is that the Grande Olde Sierra Titles™ are no longer the apotheosis of computer gaming. And if anything's been made clear in this thread it's that no one seems to agree on just what parts of the Sierra legacy are so great. Exactly why I think there's potential in this new venture: we don't know what's in store, and it could very well be an enjoyable adventure game.

 

As for the storytelling medium discussion, that is a good point, though I think it's more apropos in regard to Space Quest, and less so when applied to another series like King's Quest or Quest for Glory. Yes, there's a fair degree of humor and occasionally the absurd in both, but they also manage to tell some good stories. I would say that it's pretty clear that those technological advances allowed for better stories to be told, however. King's Quest went from simply rehashing fairy tales to stories like those found in King's Quest 5 and 6, which, while still referencing and using various bits of fairy tales and mythology, felt less like a mashup of Mother Goose and the Brothers Grimm. The same thing is true of Space Quest, though it definitely has always been more interested in the comical than telling a compelling story.

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This is a little off-topic, but am I the only one here who doesn't view adventure games as some kind of storytelling medium? I've seen that phrasing pop up a surprising amount in this little community, which is surprising considering that Space Quest has never been very strong on the "storytelling" front, per se. Most of the "story" you're told is illogical and arbitrary. The core of the experience comes instead from, you know, the game -- the exploration and the interaction with the world, events, characters, puzzles, etc. In other words, the participatory elements of the story.

 

Yes, very good points...
 
Especially with the Space Quest series, I couldn't really tell you much about the actual story to be honest.
To me the whole enjoyment is the humor/satire/references, the sci-fi elements with the cool/funny/interesting
settings and characters, combined with the interesting puzzles.
Of course you need a bit of a story to drive things forward, but it really doesn't have to be that involved.
All it has to do is send you to a new interesting location once in a while with some more objects and characters.

 

My SQ5 experience was worlds different from my AGI SQ1 experience...

 

I gotta disagree on this, for me personally... they're different experiences to the degree that the
later one has more detail in the look and sound, but otherwise they're very, very similar.
 
You play as a character who goes around locations picking up objects and talking to people and uses those
objects on other objects and characters to solve puzzles before moving to a new location to do more of the same.
In fact, that pretty much describes 99% of the classic adventure games that came out from the late 80s and early 90s.
 
There are the rare exceptions like Loom... though it's pretty telling that no one else adopted Loom's
style of play, and that even though it sold well, its two sequels were never made.

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