As a Myst fan, MNOG obviously appeals super heavy to me. I’d argue it has less replay value than MNOG 2 - there’s less gameplay, it’s more like an interactive movie - but like a good movie, that you want to go back to and enjoy again. I enjoy MNOG at least as much, if not more, than the actual Bionicle movies.
I never got to play it in '01, but I imagine the episodic release system would have been something to experience, too.
MNOG 2 had the potential to be a better game, but it wasn’t. Length was added by putting incredibly slow grind everywhere, rather than adding new content. There was enough there to be a fun game, but if you played it properly, it would take probably a literal week of gameplay to finish, and that’s insane given the lack of diversity in the actual content. I could have loved this game, but I don’t. Also Hahli’s dialogue makes her seem incredibly unintelligent, which is frustrating given that it’s her first appearence.
The story is flat-out more bland - it’s just a Kolhi tournament with a crystal hunting minigame and a Mask of Light trailer slapped on the end, while in MNOG you really felt as if you were part of the world, and it effectively introduces all the villages in a non-formulaic way. And it climax’s really well - you can feel the tension as the rahi attacks pick up when you gather the company, and the fight with Makuta belongs in a movie (plus, the game’s art style made it almost look like a pseudo-anime, and that sequence has aged incredibly well for a 2001 flash game).
But I also agree with the sentiment that VNOG is a massively underrated game, although it’s a very different beast and I wouldn’t be able to compare it with MNOG. (Maybe with MNOG 2, in which case, VNOG is leagues better. )