The 11 Lamest Videogame Spin-Offs
?It’s not much of a secret that videogame publishers love money, so when a game becomes a hit, a sequel is almost 100% guaranteed. When the sequels succeed, then the threat of the videogame spin-off emerges. Guitar Hero leads to Guitar Hero: On Tour, DJ Hero and Band Hero; Super Mario Bros. leads to Mario Kart, Mario Party, and so on. But for every spin-off that’s successful (or, at least, non-threateningly mediocre), there are several that aren’t – that the mass of gamers loathe and mock, that are are so terrible that even the original game’s fans hate them, and that are so confusingly bizarre that even those aforementioned money-hungry videogame publishers wish they could pretend they never happened. Here are 11 videogame sequels that no one wanted, let alone needed.
11) Death by Degrees
The central idea of Death by Degrees isn’t horrible — spin off Tekken fighter Nina Williams into her own PlayStation 2 action title. Unfortunately, the execution was pretty lacking, primarily because of the faulty dual-analog control scheme — basically, instead of pressing buttons to attack, you just pointed the stick at the person you wanted to die. It’s not a bad idea, but it didn’t work properly. Combined with long load times and incredibly obnoxious camera angles, Death by Degrees was a hard game to like. Seeing X-rays shots of bones breaking was perhaps it’s best feature — until you realized that it had no real effect on your enemies and they could still beat Nina up just fine even with a shattered skull.
10) Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy XII
Dirge of Cerberus is far from the worst game on this list, but it is perhaps one of the most misguided. Hoping to capitalize on the enduring popularity of Final Fantasy VII and appeal more to Western gaming audiences, Square Enix released this PS2 shooter starring the FFVII character Vincent Valentine 10 years after the original Playstation RPG. Unfortunately, thanks to mediorce FPS gameplay, poor enemy AI and boring levels, Dirge of Cerberus accomplished little other than prove that Square Enix should stick to RPGs.
9) Resident Evil: Survivor
Here’s a perfect example of a spin-off that completely misses the point of the series that spawned it. The Resident Evil games, particularly the early titles, are tense because you never know if you’ll have enough ammo to survive. Turning the game into an infinite-ammo shooting gallery removes every bit of that tension, so all you’re left with is an ugly, on-rails PS1 shooter with a terrible story. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the U.S. version of Survivor didn’t even support a light gun controller. Somehow, this piece of crap actually got not just one sequel, but two.
8) Castlevania: Judgment
Over the last few years, the Castlevania franchise has become one of the strongest handheld franchises around, thanks to sticking to the franchise original gameplay, which mixes exploration with RPG-tinged action and a nicely gothic feel. So Konami decided to squander that good will by releasing a shoddy Wii fighting game named Castlevania: Judgment with a combination of crappy controls, bland art and batshit crazy stupid storylines — e.g., the little breast-obsessed girl in the video above. Forget gameplay footage — the cutscenes above tell you everything you need to know about this game.
7) Mega Man Soccer
Sports game with added nonsense can be quite fun, as several bajillion Mario spin-off games have proven. But Mega-Man? One can imagine all the Mario characters coming together to play a game of soccer, but did arch-rivals Dr. Light and Dr. Wily decide to settle their differences on the field? Why is this happening? And why does completing the Capcom Championship mode reward me with a banner that says””CONGARTULATIONS?”
6) Shadow the Hedgehog
Honestly, you could do an entire list of just bad Sonic the Hedgehog spin-offs, but I won’t pick on the blue rodent too much here — partially because it would quickly get repetitive, and partially because Sonic fans are weirdly defensive. Besides, Shadow — the “dark and edgy” take on Sonic — is easily the worst, because he rides a motorcycle and packs heat and has a bad attitude and is for all intents and purposes the Poochie of the Sonic universe.
5) Street Fighter: The Movie
Just trying to fathom this game can cause a brain hemorrhage. So Street Fighter II is an intensely popular videogame, and so popular a live-action, major motion picture is made of it. Instead of releasing a new version of the original, popular game, a new, incredibly shitty game is released, made by a totally new programmer, based on the movie, and containing none of the quality and charm of the original. God only knows what Capcom was thinking, but after this turd hit arcades and Japan, they wised up enough that they refused to publish it in America — alas, Acclaim foolishly went ahead and released it themselves.
4) Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures
Pac-Man: The New Adventures is probably the best actual game on this list, but as a Pac-Man game? It’s a total failure. Ignoring everything that made the original game a cultural phenomenon, the SNES and Sega Genesis’ The New Adventures is more akin to the horrible ’80s cartoon, following Pac-Man in his hometown, wandering about trying to perform chores like getting milk for his baby or picking a flower for his wife. Even if that sounds vaguely entertaining, the player has no control over Pac-Man — he wanders about like a drunk, insane baby, while the player tries desperately to focus his attention with a slingshot. It can be cartoonishly entertaining, but Pac-Man? It is not.
3) Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
At one point, Nintendo was in talks with Philips to create a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo, but the project was canceled early on. Philips decided to turn the project into the standalone CD-i game console, and Nintendo granted Philips the rights to a handful of characters as a consolation prize. The result? Some of the worst games of all time. The Legend of Zelda series was the hardest hit, with three terrible games produced for the system: Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda’s Adventure and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Any of the three could rightly claim this spot, but for whatever reason The Wand of Gamelon is usually singled out as the worst. But really, they’re all pretty bad.
2) Hotel Mario
The Zelda games weren’t the only Nintendo titles disgraced by the Phillips CD-i; Mario also had to take one for the team. Hotel Mario tasked the plumber with the heroic task of… shutting doors. That’s right, in every stage, Mario (and Luigi, if you conned a second player into joining you) had to shut all the doors in one of Bowser’s hotels in order to move on to the next one. The gameplay is as thrilling as it sounds, so let’s just watch the horrible cutscenes instead.
1) Pok?mon Channel
Despite the fact this came out for the Nintendo GameCube, I’m not sure that Pok?mon Channel can legitimately be called a game, because in games you actually, you know, do things. It’s supposedly a virtual pet game, but even calling it that is a stretch. In Pok?mon Channel, most of your time is spent watching Pikachu watch TV. That’s right — you sit in front of your TV, watching something watching TV. Hell, as bad they were, at least the CD-i games had actual gameplay. Anything that manages to be more boring that Hotel Mario deserves the #1 spot on this list.
J. Matthew Zoss is the editor of Topless Robot‘s sister site Joystick Division. For more videogame coverage, visit joystickdivision.com.