Spinoffs happen fairly often in movies and TV, and we see them from time to time in videogames, too. Usually they’re forgettable, but sometimes you’ll see a spinoff that’s so weird that you just have to check it out. They’re a lot more rare these days than they used to be, mostly because to the higher cost (and risk) of game development, but they still pop up from time to time. These eight games prove that you can make a weird spinoff to just about anything.
Uncharted: Fight for Fortune
After playing all three of the Uncharted games, I think everyone was ready for a card game based on the series, right? NO? OK then. That’s exactly what Uncharted: Fight for Fortune was – a Vita title that translated the world of the games into a Magic: the Gathering-like experience. Some of the best cards came from syncing trophies earned in the other Uncharted games. It wasn’t a bad game, just a really odd one.
Kirby’s Dream Course
The Kirby games have stood the test of time in the 2D platforming world, but this is a spinoff no one saw coming. Nintendo took Kirby and made him the ball in hybrid golf / puzzle game. Kirby’s power-ups are included, giving him the ability to skate across frozen lakes, for example, all in an effort to get the ball into the hole in as few strokes as possible. Add in the always-solid controls from Nintendo, and you had an oddly compelling game.
The Typing Of The Dead
Remember House of the Dead? The light-gun zombie shooter that you pumped full of quarters in the arcade? Now imagine that the game doesn’t have any guns, and your only weapon to take on the zombies is a keyboard. Sounds crazy, right? Well, that’s The Typing Of The Dead. As the zombies approach, you have to bang out target phrases on your keyboard to take them out. I don’t know if it’s the first educational zombie game, but it’s definitely one of a very few.
Link’s Crossbow Training
Nintendo needed a game to launch the Wii Zapper, and it needed to be something popular. Enter Link’s Crossbow Training. A shooting gallery featuring the Legend of Zelda frontman toting a crossbow would seem like an elegant solution if it didn’t feel so out of place. After all, Link’s never used a crossbow in any game before or since. Even though it sold around 5 million copies, you can grab a copy for next to nothing at any Gamestop, and they’ll only give you a nickel for yours (seriously, it’s worth five cents).
Mega Man Soccer
You knew Capcom had to get in on this spinoff act somewhere, right? Mega Man Soccer takes the titular hero and tosses him onto a soccer field, with predictably poor results. The game ran poorly, and the camera didn’t show enough of the field to allow you to really play the game. There was no real plot, and the game really never ended. It did let you use the powers of the various robot masters to make special shots, so that’s something.
Pokemon fans love their little beasties, so it should be no surprise that Nintendo published a game based on catching them in photos instead of Pokeballs. It’s a first-person rail shooter that tasks you to photograph Pokemon, and gives you items like apples and “pester balls” to get their attention. When the round ends, your pictures are judged based on quality. It’s a game that most Pokemon fans will love, and most everyone else can safely ignore.
Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
And the winner for the most unpronounceable word in a title is…this weird mashup of a JRPG and a rhythm game. It might sound like a joke, but Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy was just one of the spinoffs that Square Enix tried (that group also included Dissidia for PSP). The thing is, the Final Fantasy series has so much good music that it’s almost understandable that they wanted a rhythm game. Tapping the 3DS screen in time to the beat to make your character swing a ridiculous-looking sword isn’t that much of a departure for Final Fantasy anyway, right?
Just About Every Mario Spinoff
If there’s any character with more spinoffs than Mario, I don’t know who it would be. There’s his very forgettable foray into sports with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games and his brief, apparently unlicensed stint as a pseudo-medical professional in Dr. Mario, just to name a couple. He even spent a little time teaching kids how to type. I’m not sure how a plumber manages all of these things. Still, if you’re looking for a strange spinoff, Mario’s probably starring in it.