ByTB, writer at
Two brave souls play through video games, old and new, good and bad, Sega and Nintendo, to beat every last boss.

For some reason, many gaming companies have decided that simply numbering their sequels is no longer acceptable practice. It's much cooler to just use arbitrary subtitles in place of numbers. Don't worry about it, gaming publishers of the world, I didn't want to catch up on your franchises, anyway!

While it's not even close to the most confusing franchise, one day I found myself in front of a GameStop bargain bin deciding that I wanted to check out the franchise. I'd never played it before but I had heard great things.

So I'm standing in the store holding two games: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater and Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. I'm a newbie to the franchise, I don't know what the hell these things are. My phone was dead at the time so I couldn't look it up and I, of course, stumbled into the one where the employee was working who didn't know anything about MGS, either. Do I need both? Are they one in the same game? Is one like an expansion or something? I had no idea. All because Kojima couldn't just name the damn game something sensible, like Metal Gear Solid 3: Special Edition (which is what Subsistence is, by the way.) So let's take a look at some of the most bizarrely numbered franchises out out there and how to decipher them.

1. Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest

Look familiar? No? That's because we'll never play it. [Credit: Square Enix]
Look familiar? No? That's because we'll never play it. [Credit: Square Enix]

First up is a relatively tame entrant on this list, yet one that no doubt confused many folks back in 2004 when the name changed for the US release. Dragon Quest was made by Enix back in 1986 for the Famicom. This game would go on to revolutionize forever, essentially creating JRPGs as we know them today. Enix knew it had a hit on its hands and wanted to bring it stateside so that we in the US could revel in its brilliance. Too bad there was a tabletop RPG already out called Dragon Quest. So was brought to the US as Dragon Warrior and thus it was named through the first seven games.

This never needed to be a problem, until Square Enix decided that the Americans couldn't be left to suffer the name Dragon Warrior for one minute longer. Thus, with the eighth game on the horizon, the name was changed in the US. Enix then rereleased many of the older titles for the DS with the new Dragon Quest moniker. It's not like "dragon" is an uncommon word to have in RPG names, after all. We've got Dragon Age, Dungeons and Dragons, Dragon's Lair, Dragon's Dogma, Blue Dragon — the list goes on. So when Dragon Quest IV came out on the DS, it wasn't unreasonable to think that this was a new game.

To make matters worse, although the US is sitting pretty with the title change now, little do the unsuspecting masses know that Dragon Quest X was released in Japan all the way back in 2012 and there are no plans to bring it to the US. However, Dragon Quest XI will likely make its way over in the next year or two, so who knows what kind of a shit storm that will create?

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2. Assassin's Creed

[Credit: Ubisoft]
[Credit: Ubisoft]

A decade from now, Assassin's Creed is going to be a nightmare for retro gamers to try to figure out. The series started off with a pretty OK system. Ubisoft would number its main entry titles and give subtitles to the spinoffs. This worked out for the first few games in the franchise:

  • Assassin's Creed (main series)
  • Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles (spinoff)
  • Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines (spinoff)
  • Assassin's Creed II (main series)
  • Assassin's Creed II: Discovery (spinoff)

We're looking fairly good here. We avoid the Metal Gear Solid problem by having the spinoffs for portables and the main series entries for the home console. It's a clever way to do things once you figure out their system. But then:

  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (main series)

What the hell is this? Brotherhood is a main series entry and a direct sequel to so why didn't Ubisoft just name it Assassin's Creed III? Because it would be confusing. While I and II had different protagonists, II and Brotherhood are both following the same person. But then why didn't Ubisoft make the games Assassin's Creed: Discovery and Assassin's Creed II: Brotherhood to maintain at least a bit of continuity? Because Ubisoft, that's why. Oh, you think it ends there? Nope!

We know this is the third game, because Ubisoft says so. [Credit: Ubisoft]
We know this is the third game, because Ubisoft says so. [Credit: Ubisoft]

Next up we have Assassin's Creed: Revelations. This one's another main series entry and a direct sequel to Brotherhood. So I guess we're dropping the numbers completely, right? Wrong! After that we have .

Why do you hate us so much, ? You're giving us Assassin's Creed III, which is actually the fifth main series title? That's not confusing at all. At least the spinoffs have maintained their level of coordination, each being a subtitled entry also using the main series number it's associated with. The mobile and social games break this trend, but that's forgivable.

However, the next main title was Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. That's right, Ubisoft jacked the spinoff naming scheme for a main series entry! Now each game in the series is given a subtitle and we're stuck with that for the last three games. Ubisoft has also been calling the spinoff titles Assassin's Creed Chronicles. We're starting to see a pattern here, so don't be surprised if the next one is Assassin's Creed V: Chronicles, the 10th game in the franchise.

3. Final Fantasy

Yeah, you knew this was coming. [Credit: Square Enix]
Yeah, you knew this was coming. [Credit: Square Enix]

I was in elementary school when Final Fantasy VII was huge on the PlayStation. Back then almost nobody knew anything about the previous Final Fantasy games. After doing some digging, I found , II, and III, but that was it. Where were IV, V, and VI?

Turns out this was all just some localization nonsense. Basically, Squaresoft wanted the newest game in the franchise sent over without worrying about translating them all. So what we saw as I, II and III were actually I, IV and VI. V made it over to the US on Final Fantasy Chronicles for the , but II and III weren't translated until they were released on the GBA and DS.

After kicking Nintendo straight in the nads and moving to Sony, Squaresoft decided to keep the numbers the same, releasing VII as VII. But that's not the only bit of craziness that Final Fantasy has dealt with over the years. We also got the glorious:

Because who doesn't dream of a J-pop group saving the world? [Credit: Square Enix]
Because who doesn't dream of a J-pop group saving the world? [Credit: Square Enix]

X-2? What the hell? It's actually more straightforward than you think if you're familiar with Final Fantasy. See, despite using numbered entries throughout its main series, each entry is completely independent of any other entry. You don't need to have played Final Fantasy VII to play Final Fantasy VIII as they don't even take place in the same game universe.

This worked out fine until people kept crying out for a sequel to Final Fantasy VII. Fans wanted so much to see Cloud and co. again, that finally caved and gave us a sequel to Final Fantasy X. The develpers kept consistent with this naming scheme for the most part, aside from some oddities, like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (a prequel and second sequel, respectively) but to the average gamer, this is more than enough confusion to keep them away.

4. Kingdom Hearts

Only three games? That's not so bad. [Credit: Square Enix]
Only three games? That's not so bad. [Credit: Square Enix]

Unlike the other series on this list, has kept consistent throughout its entire run; main series titles are numbered without subtitles, while spinoffs are given subtitles. The problem is that this series has had far more spinoffs than main series entries and spinoffs are often just as important to the main storyline, so the distinction between main series and spinoff doesn't even matter.

Following the convoluted storyline in this franchise is a damned nightmare. Take it from someone who once considered themselves a fan — I've never seen a franchise try so hard to make its fans hate it.

Here's the whole stupid story. We started off with Kingdom Hearts. While awaiting the promised Kingdom Hearts II, we got Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories on the GBA. It was a game that linked the first KH with its sequel and played differently to the main series entries. It wasn't until the sequel came out that this became kind of an issue. See, Chain of Memories is vital to understanding what the hell is going on in Kingdom Hearts II. Without it, the entire introduction sequence makes no sense at all. But hey, it was a misstep, let's move on.

If this looks confusing, that's because it is. [Photo credit:]
If this looks confusing, that's because it is. [Photo credit:]

After KHII, we were promised a third entry as soon as series director Tetsuya Nomura was done with his other major project, Final Fantasy Versus XIII — yeah, we all know how that turned out. Square Enix couldn't leave us KH fans empty-handed though, could it? Of course not!

Let's list off the spinoffs we've gotten since Kingdom Hearts II, shall we?

  • Kingdom Hearts: Coded
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days,
  • Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep,
  • Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
  • Kingdom Hearts x (chi)

Don't forget those rereleases and compilations, like Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts: Re:Coded, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 Remix, Kingdom Hearts 2.5 Remix and finally Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue.

So, you want to know what order these all go in? So does the rest of the world. I wrote them out as they were released, but the chronological order is much different. Coded and 3D are sequels to II, while 358/2 days (pronounced three five eight over two days. Obviously) is right before II and Birth by Sleep takes place nine years before the first game. The worst part of all of this absurdity is that almost every game was released on a different console. The only consistency is that I and II were both on the PS2 and Coded/chi were both originally mobile games. Maybe now that Nomura was booted from , we may finally get an ending to this insanity.

Me with "Kingdom Hearts."
Me with "Kingdom Hearts."

Is there a franchise you'd like to see put through the wringer? Leave your ideas in the comments below and maybe I'll get to them if I decide I hate myself enough to do this again!

Game on!

Last Boss Gaming By TB and Crosstix


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