The 6 Most Baffling Video Game Spinoffs
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.
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.
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."
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?"
Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight
Street Fighter and the more popular Street Fighter II are fighting games about racial stereotypes using mystical powers to beat the shit out of each other. The series is one of the most enduring and recognized in history, and there is absolutely no reason to change it to anything other than the ludicrous punchfest it already is.
Well, maybe add just a bit more racism, but that's it.
Take everything and anything you may know about Street Fighter (including Jean-Claude Van Damme kicking Raul Julia into a wall of exploding televisions) and then set those memories on fire before throwing them out of a speeding van like a botched ransom. The end result will somewhat resemble Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight, which recasts Ken Masters ...
This big ol' sack of punch-meat.
... as a cyborg scientist battling aliens in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of 2010 (which you may recognize as the year Jonah Hex came out).
Yep, this looks about right.
The game plays like a cross between Metroid and a rabid bat penis and has absolutely nothing to do with the Street Fighter franchise beyond the words "Street" and "Fighter" being in the title. The original Japanese version was released as a vague sci-fi spinoff, but when it was brought over to the U.S., both the title and the main character's name were changed to cash in on the brand's enormous popularity. Sort of like Daniel Baldwin mumbling through the "Daniel" portion of his name to try and cheat his way into a dinner reservation.
However, in all fairness, fireballs remain a strong presence. We think.
Wily & Right no RockBoard: That's Paradise (Mega Man)
The Mega Man series centers on a blue android jumping and shooting his way through impossible odds to destroy eight evil robot bosses and defeat their villainous master, Dr. Wily, with a toe kick to his nefarious beanbag.
While still saving time to let the winds of victory blow through his hair.
Wily & Right no RockBoard: That's Paradise is a "business simulation" that combines all of the worst parts of Monopoly and Mario Party into a single joyless hatepunch masquerading as a video game. As the title suggests, you control Dr. Wily (he of the beanbag kick described above) and move around a board, buying properties and collecting rent, because for some reason he decided he'd rather be a slumlord than a robot lord.
"Sorry, but no pets are allowed. Nor are any weapons that would make it easier to destroy me."
You can also play as Dr. Light, Mega Man's creator and mentor, or Roll, Mega Man's female counterpart -- in fact, pretty much every character in the Mega Man universe is available to you except Mega Man. He evidently took the Crispin Glover/Marlon Brando route and declined to appear in this bizarre continuation of the series, which inexplicably took a cyborg sprinting through treacherous enemy lairs and detonating evil robots with his arm cannon and replaced him with a bunch of aggressively stationary melvins that stare at you while you browse an endless stream of menus.
Almost Every Sonic Game Ever Created
Sonic the Hedgehog is the misguided illustration of a very old man's concept of "attitude," complete with sneakers and an "everyone but me can go fuck themselves" smirk. Basically, he is what Sega executives imagined would appeal to bratty children who don't have the attention span for Super Mario Bros. The original series of Sonic games on the Genesis was action platformers that encouraged Sonic to run balls-out through each level as fast as he could, smashing through enemies, freeing his adorable animal friends, and defeating a boss every few minutes, until either the game ended or you ran out of Adderall and bit your grandmother. It's Mario on methamphetamines.
Although it was originally called Gollum's Precious Bonerland.
Sonic has actually spawned an embarrassing horde of spinoffs that, to date, outnumber the games in the official original series. Take Sonic and the Black Knight, for example:
We're guessing the black knight is the one dressed in red?
Sonic claws for relevance in this forgettable third-person action title that puts a sword in his hand and tosses him in the middle of Arthurian legend, because that makes all of the sense that is available to be made. It incorporated the use of the Nintendo Wii's motion controllers by forcing players to clumsily swing their arms around in an attempt to get Sonic to stab things while simultaneously indulging the most ridiculous piece of fan fiction Sega could find that didn't devolve into graphic hedgehog pornography.
Evidently feeling that third-person action was where all the money had been hiding from them, Sega continued the gibbering line of reasoning established by Sonic and the Black Knight with Sonic Unleashed. This game replaced swords with the ability to transform into a werehog to eviscerate your enemies, because a werehog is apparently a thing.
Followed by blood-curdling screams and blood. God, the blood ...
Sonic is already a hedgehog, so we are confused by the "werehog" terminology. However, we are even more confused by the fact that, in his werehog form, Sonic has elastic limbs like Stretch Armstrong that allow him to flail his way through bad guys and achieve the least subtle God of War ripoff since God of War II.
When Sonic Unleashed failed to fill the gaming community's pants with excitement, Sega decided to give their struggling mascot guns and a motorcycle and changed his name to that of a cool badass (see "very old man's concept," above).
"I also skateboard. Moms are so uncool, huh, guys?"
Shadow the Hedgehog even sported a new color scheme of red and black, which is the universal war paint of one who does not suffer any bullshit. He zoomed across blasted landscapes, belching hot lead at odious demons with a handgun the size of his entire body while cursing out rude quips, and this was based on a game about a smiling blue hedgehog that runs fast and rescues forest creatures.
In keeping with the darker theme, Tails was retconned to be a date rapist.
It's as if Sega doesn't know what to do with Sonic unless he's trying to mimic the success of another series. Ironically, if they'd stuck to copying Mario, they would've just made the exact same game over and over again for the past 27 years.
For more video game insanity, check out 6 Baffling Early Prototypes of Your Favorite Video Games and The 6 Most Absurdly Difficult Video Game Puzzles.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Dirty Truth About 'Finding Nemo.'
And stop by LinkSTORM to help that hangover we know you're still nursing.
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