Video games spin-offs aren’t always met with a whole lot of enthusiasm. Titles like Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and Link’s Crossbow Training usually come to mind. Each game lacks the original series’ charm and takes away from the pedigree of an established franchise. Despite this reputation, the titles below illustrate that there are some great video game spin-offs out there.
These games have all managed to surpass the standards of their respective franchises to create something noteworthy on their own accord. As a result, they’ve propelled past the precedent made by the series they are borne from.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – The Sims
It’s hard to believe that the massive cash cow that is The Sims is actually a spin-off of developer Maxis’ larger Sim franchise, the likes of which includes SimCity and its sequels. Though SimCity was successful on its own, The Sims helped usher the franchise to the popularity it enjoys today by appealing to people from all walks of life.
While City tasks fans with managing neighborhoods, The Sims allows fans the ability to take control over individual human beings. Virtually everything from our own real lives can be recreated in some way and there’s hardly any restrictions to what one can do.
It’s perhaps for this reason that the series is still picked up by people who typically don’t play video games. The Sims gives them a chance to finally live out their fantasies in some form. Whether you’re a fan of the title or not, there’s no doubting that Maxis struck a digital goldmine.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – Portal
While the Half-Life franchise is deserving of the merits its received from gaming outlets and fans, its two Portal spin-offs are just as worthy of praise. Melding clever puzzle mechanics with laugh out loud jokes and a well written plot, it isn’t a stretch to say the two games are deserving of even more acclaim than the games they’re based off of. The formula Valve created for Portal is just that good.
Each title’s puzzles are challenging, but not frustrating to solve. The inclusion of co-op in the second entry somehow makes Portal more fun than what it already is (which is how every co-op mode should be, frankly). Falling through an endless cycle of blue and orange portals with a friend honestly never gets old.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – Persona
The Shin Megami Tensei universe is incredibly broad. Common elements in each of the franchise’s titles include aloof protagonists, dark narratives, and grueling difficulty settings. The same can’t be said of the series’ lighthearted, teen-focused Persona games. Though there are some grim details to be found, Persona titles are balanced in such a way that there’s a nice touch of silly high school drama thrown in for good measure.
It’s no wonder why the games were the first of the Shin Megami Tensei series to see a release outside of Japan. The titles are painstakingly relatable, as players will often find themselves working in a part-time job, going to the gym, and going out on dates to boost relationships with other characters. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that each title has redefined immersion within the JRPG genre.
It should be noted that this spin-off series hits its stride in Persona 3. The first two games do include the aforementioned high school antics, though are a little more based in the dark atmosphere of the overarching Shin Megami Tensei franchise.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – Final Fantasy Tactics
Many weren’t expecting the Final Fantasy franchise to explore other genres right after Final Fantasy VII hit the market. It seemed as though the company had finally found the right formula for its marque franchise, after all. Keeping the time frame in mind, it’s no wonder why the launch of Final Fantasy Tactics soon after VII‘s release took a lot of people by surprise.
Tactics provides a breath of fresh air for the tactical RPG genre. In line with the difficulty of its contemporary peers, the game seeks to reward rather than punish. Interesting narrative developments and character progression keeps players invested throughout the entire journey.
Of course, its smart gameplay makes fans feel empowered, which is exactly what any good tactical RPG should do. Fans of the franchise agree that this combination of worthwhile story threads and compelling level design puts Tactics above some mainline Final Fantasy games.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – Fallout: New Vegas
Though Fallout fans today still debate whether Fallout: New Vegas should be considered a spin-off, there’s no doubting that the only non-Bethesda entry in the franchise is one of its best. New Vegas improves upon the foundation that Fallout 3 built, enveloping players in a brilliant plot filled with memorable moments. Side quests successfully immerse players further into this post-apocalyptic world and provide some much-needed backstory to the characters one interacts with.
It’s amazing that developer Obsidian Entertainment was able to pull it all off using the same assets and engine as Fallout 3. New Vegas sets a new bar for open world RPGs that few games since its debut have managed to match in detail and scope.
Great Video Game Spin-Offs – World of Warcraft
Blizzard helped pioneer the real-time strategy genre as we know it through Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Its addictive gameplay hooked millions of fans around the world, most notably through its multiplayer functionality. It wan’t until the developer made World of Warcraft, however, that the franchise saw the monumental success it enjoys today.
This spin-off MMO is nearly synonymous with its genre and the PC community as a whole. World of Warcraft attracted the largest audience in the medium upon the time of its release in 2004. Since its inception, the title has helped revitalize MMOs by removing unnecessary systems and constantly rewarding players for the time they spend in-game. Others in the genre have adapted World of Warcraft‘s formula over the years just to stay relevant. It’s hard to imagine what gaming would look like today without this cultural phenomenon.
The titles above have each played a significant role in shaping the industry we all know and love. They feel more integral to the medium than the franchises they’ve come from, proving that not every video game spin-off is as bad as they say. Keeping this in mind, it’s important to look to the future of gaming with an open mind, as there’s no telling where the market’s newest innovation will come from.