A spinoff doesn't necessarily have to be bad. On TV, both Frasier and The Jeffersons were spinoffs, and audiences went right along with that shit. If the audience loved the characters here, they'll love them over there. You'd think it would be even easier with video games -- hell, Mario is really just a spinoff of Donkey Kong. Yet the game industry has birthed some absolutely baffling spinoffs, taking the new games so far away from what made the originals great that they barely reside in the same solar system.
#6. The Typing of the Dead
The House of the Dead was an arcade light-gun shooter about killing zombies while waiting for the 3 o'clock showing of Wild Wild West to start at the mall. An endless army of corpses, monsters, and horrible dialogue attacks you as you weave your way through a blood-splattered mansion built by a mad scientist to house his ultimate creation, which turns out to be a naked claw monster you must defeat by firing bullets into its dick. There have been five or six sequels so far, all following the same basic premise of having the player endlessly pull a trigger into a violent gore explosion while occasionally scaring the shit out of them by suddenly throwing half-skinned jawbone maniacs into their faces.
"He's after our Visine!"
Some coke-nostriled developer decided that eviscerating the prowling legions of the undead would lend itself perfectly to an educational game, and came up with The Typing of the Dead, which regrettably is exactly what it sounds like.
This is how we picture every Internet argument.
Zombies attack you, and you have to successfully type phrases that appear onscreen before they juice your eyeballs with their teeth.
Seemingly in an effort to compound the freewheeling lunacy of the premise and thereby increase the horror quotient, the game has you type out everything from benign non sequiturs to bizarre instructions for handling gasoline while a hulking ragebeast tries to bore through your skullbone with a chainsaw. Your character doesn't even carry a handgun, opting instead to wear a baffling keyboard harness like a steampunk war correspondent, presumably to compose a sternly phrased letter to the zombies' supervisors.
"You'll be bussing tables at a Guy Fieri restaurant once this little grenade hits the comments box, Scabby Jeans."
A part of us thinks that this is the dumbest idea in video game history; another part thinks that maybe all education should be conducted this way.
#5. Pokemon Channel
In the Pokemon series, you kidnap adorable creatures and force them to battle other adorable creatures so that you may collect more adorable creatures and become the master trainer of all adorable creatures (it's less a game and more a self-fulfilling prophecy). The majority of Pokemon titles were developed for handheld systems in order to make absolutely certain that they became life-dominating obsessions.
Michael Vick loved this game.
Some gamers rabidly defend video games as a legitimate art form, and Nintendo, apparently with the singular purpose of forever silencing those arguments, released Pokemon Channel. This was the gaming community equivalent of dressing an alcohol-sweating boxcar drifter as Santa Claus and having him run through an orphanage screaming "FUCK YOOOOOU" over their Christmas porridge.
The "gameplay" of Pokemon Channel consists of you watching Pikachu while he watches different television shows. That's it. That's not just us reducing the game down to broad strokes for comedic purposes -- that is literally the game in its entirety.
"Alrighty, now to figure out the parental code so I can watch me some Pokemen."
There are no missions to accomplish, no enemies to defeat, and no way to skip through any of the shows, even if you've already been forced to watch them. The only way to progress in the game is to watch Pikachu sit through different shows in real time, which in turn unlocks more shows for him to watch. This is basically a simulator for anyone who had to suffer through hours of Bonanza marathons because their dad kept the remote wedged between a can of Keystone Light and his regret-soaked Fruit of the Looms.
There is no interactivity to speak of, which we're pretty sure is the defining characteristic of a game. You just supervise a tiny creature while it watches television, and clearly somebody somewhere felt that this was a worthwhile investment of both time and money.
There's no way that this game proposal didn't start out with the words "bet" and "stupid."
#4. Bomberman: Act Zero
The Bomberman series features an adorable robot of the same name running through a colorful world and setting off explosives to solve puzzles. He's dressed like a harmless cartoon Eskimo, and his bombs are giant time-fused balloons that deliver the most nonthreatening explosions in recorded history. Bomberman could not be more child-friendly if he were wearing a BabyBjorn.
Oh no! He's going to throw cupcakes at us and hug us to death!
Somebody decided that Bomberman needed a dark, gritty reboot similar to a Darren Aronofsky fever-tainted nightmare about the Teletubbies and turned the character's bright Saturday morning cheeriness into Jacob's Ladder.
"It all started with the murder of my parents ... that I committed."
In Bomberman: Act Zero, Bomberman is a cyborg slave forced into a televised deathmatch against other cyborgs, sort of like Gerard Butler in Gamer, only somehow less interesting. Essentially, they took everything fun about Bomberman and made it crazy and depressing.
This is the same character as that adorable one at the beginning of this section.
The vibrant gameplay that had been carefully refined for over a decade regressed to a gulag of miserable sameness wherein you march one of the generic bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back through a forest of giant lunchboxes to try and kill your enemies, who belt out screams of blood-curdling agony when they expire.
It's a bondage slave murder maze inexplicably based on a children's game, and like Michael Bay, it somehow manages to make explosions boring.
"I ... win? I think?"