In light of the absolutely horrible reception of Metroid Prime: Federation Force, we thought it would be a good time to examine some of what we think to be gaming’s greatest video game spin-offs.
Our 5 Favorite Video Game Spin-Offs
In our quest to do so, we’ve put a few limitations on what’s eligible for our list: no Mario examples–seeing as how Nintendo‘s mustachioed plumber has enough highly praised, multi-million seller spin-off franchises that we could filled all five spots with those titles alone. The franchise also has to have had a game released since the turn of the millennium, helping to keep the list somewhat relevant and more manageable. Finally, only one spot per franchise, and if one of these video game spin-offs has become its own series we’ll list a representative from that series.
Since this is akin to comparing apples to yangmei, today’s five are in no particular order:
Final Fantasy Tactics
Strip away the pursuit of cutting edge 3D graphics from Square Enix and what do you get? A timeless classic that has the most depth, the best story, and most believable characters in the entire franchise apparently.
Final Fantasy Tactics brought the series into the grid-based tactical RPG arena, where it would rule as king until receiving one of the best remasters ever made in the form of Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. It was the first Final Fantasy of its kind, and while other Tactics entries have come and gone over the past two decades, and localization errors aside, none have ever come as close to perfect as the original.
Every moderately successful video game developer these days has their flagship series, and Atlus is no different. However, Atlus‘s Megami Tensei series has taken a definite back seat in popularity to its own spin-off: The Persona series.
Persona really saw an increase in popularity with its third entry, thanks in part to an overhauling of gameplay mechanics and a new art style, video game spin-offs don’t get more stylish than this JRPG series. Persona has even had a crossover of sorts with Etrian Odyssey, in the form of Persona Q, a rock solid pair of fighting games and just recently a rhythm game. All of which are entirely canon because Atlus is crazy. You want all the story? Hope you like rhythm games.
Metal Gear Acid 2
I can already hear the furious clicking of keyboards from those who think Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance should be the best Metal Gear side series. It’s understandable, MGR is the better game, but I’ve stopped looking at MGR as an example of video game spin-offs and more of a continuation of Metal Gear Solid 4. All the signs are there: the story takes place shortly afterward, the tech is the next logical step up from MGS4‘s conclusion, the plot is extremely MGS in its convoluted nature and cast of over the top characters and it preserves some semblance of MGS gameplay and UI.
Metal Gear Acid, on the other hand, is an absolute left turn for the series. The story is completely original, the game play is card-fueled, turn-based strategy and even the art direction does its own thing. Metal Gear Acid 2 doubles down hard on all of these aspects, to great effect. It’s an experience all its own, and that’s what makes it an awesome entry in the same universe.
Unfortunately for fans, this one has the distinction of being the only dead series on this list. That’s a shame too because it was a breath of fresh air for a series that was being strangled by its own tangled plot threads.
Yes, Metroid Prime will be counted here as its own, separate series. While it has virtually every single aspect of a “regular” Metroid, Prime was given to a new developer and made the franchise jump to 3D as a first person adventure/shooter. Metroid Prime is still one of the most unique series in video games, with Alien: Isolation being the closest thing it has to a contemporary.
On the flip side, “Metroidvania” games still exist; we know Nintendo was working on one just recently on the 3DS that was scrapped. That means Nintendo hasn’t completely abandoned the traditional 2D Metroid, and that’s good enough for me to consider Prime a spin-off. There’s also the fact Yoshio Sakamoto, a key player behind Metroid‘s conception, insisted that Prime is its own series and is not part of the main Metroid series while he was busy taking the main story to places no one ever it wanted to go with Metroid: Other M.
Portal is an off-shoot of Half-Life, and as far as visibility and recognition go, it has pretty much eclipsed the series from which it rose. That’s neither here nor there though; what really matters is that Portal became a game that could change how you look at games.
The Portal mechanics allow for the most unique physics based puzzles to ever grace gaming. The test chambers are designed in ways that they’ll stump you for a little while, but not frustrate you into forfeiting. That’s the hallmark of not just great puzzles, but great game design in general. On top of that, the Portal series has one hell of a story, with some of the funniest characters and dialogue ever seen in any form of entertainment.
There you have it: five great video game spin-offs in all their glory. Let’s not mince words here though, you know you don’t agree with a list you’ve found on the internet. Come at us with your own list if you think you’re so good. There’s a comments section down there, have at it.