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Worth Playing vol. 7: The Spinoff Spectacular

Wario Land Logo

Just like every other medium, video games often spawn sequels focused solely on once side characters, shining a light on their stories or adventures, and thus making the spinoff sequel. With video games specifically, the spinoff doesn’t have to focus on just a character: it can be a game that dramatically changes the gameplay but keeps the characters or storyline; it can be about a side story happening at the same time; it can focus on an entirely different character’s storyline altogether. It can be a lot of things. And an, there are a lot of spinoffs out there for your favorite franchises. Here are a handful of spinoff video games that are well worth your time.

SNK vs Capcom Card Fighters Clash

Game: SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters series
Card, Fighting, RPG
: Neo Geo Pocket Color, DS
: ~$25 (NGPC), $7 (DS)

Some of the most excellent spinoff games take the most ridiculous steps from the source material. I would say going from definitive fighting game to card battle RPG is a pretty ludicrous step. Making it even better, SNK vs. Capcom Card Fighters is a pretty awesome game to boot! The sole reason I want to own a Neo Geo Pocket Color handheld system is to own the two games in the series released exclusively for the hardware. Making everything a bit better though, a DS sequel was also released. It’s… alright. I didn’t feel it as good as the originals, but it’s a much more convenient way to pit card versions of Ryu against the aliens from Metal Slug!

Why you should play it:
– Unique concept and excellent card based gameplay
A ton of characters from nearly every Capcom and SNK franchise!
– If you happen to have a Neo Geo Pocket Color, you should get this because it’s likely the best on the system!

Chocobo Series

Game: Chocobo series
RPG, Racing
PS1, Wii, DS
~$30 (PS1), $12 (DS), $18 (Wii)

While the series has seen many more releases in Japan, the Chocobo spinoff series of Final Fantasy games span a wide range of genres but all feature the same familiar yellow creature. The most well known in the series in the US are likely the PS1 games Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 and Chocobo Racing. Unexpectedly exciting and full of cameos, Chocobo Racing was popular enough (or niche enough, perhaps) to almost get a sequel on the 3DS, but unfortunately the plans didn’t pan out. Two RPGs were released on Nintendo consoles though, Chocobo Fables on the DS and Chocobo’s Dungeon on the Wii. Both are more simple takes on the standard FF RPG affair, and both are decent entry-level RPGs for genre newbies.

Why you should play it:
Lots of cameos from other Final Fantasy games
Chocobo Racing is actually a fun racing game. And it manages to incorporate an epic RPG storyline!
A great place to start for newcomers to the RPG genre

Typing of the Dead Logo

Game: The Typing of the Dead
Dreamcast, PC

Not necessarily a spinoff but it’s here out of sheer ridiculousness. The Typing of the Dead is a port/enhanced remake of The House of the Dead 2, itself an on-rails shooting game. Rather than shooting zombies with guns to defeat them, you’re equipped with a keyboard and you must type words and phrases in quick succession to eliminate the undead. Yeah, I’m not making it up: word boxes pop up in front of each enemy and you must quickly input the letters to kill your foes. It’s awesome! If you own the Dreamcast keyboard (I do!) you can enjoy it on Sega’s console, but more than likely you’ll play it on the PC, which saw a port back in 2001. Also worth nothing, Sega surprised the masses by releasing a pseudo-sequel in the form of Typing of the Dead: Overkill, a port of House of the Dead: Overkill but with typing used as the main offense. Get your trigger fingers ready!

Why you should play it:
Oh my god, it’s a game where you type poems to kill zombies!!
– It 100% justifies buying the Dreamcast keyboard. Seriously.
– Excellent gameplay and plenty of legitimately challenging and humorous phrases to type!

Zombie Revenge Gameplay

Game: Zombie Revenge
Genre: Action
System: Dreamcast
Price: $15

Doing research for this article led me to a neat discovery about this awesome Dreamcast exclusive: it’s a spinoff of the House of the Dead series! You come across the walking dead much as you would in the light gun games, but the free roaming action aspect of Zombie Revenge gives it a unique feeling over its source material. Co-op is a huge deal in this game, making the game much more exciting as you provide backup for your allies, kill zombies with giant drills, and take on brutal bosses. The game is also pretty challenging too: I have still yet to beat it without cheating! Nonetheless, it’s a great game that should already be in any worthy Dreamcast collector’s collection.

Why you should play it:
If you liked The House of the Dead series then this should be an easy recommendation
– Co-op action and zombie massacres are awesome!
A real gem of a Dreamcast game that might go by unnoticed by many

Rune Factory Logo

Game: Rune Factory series
Genre: RPG, Simulation
System: DS, 3DS, PS3, Wii
Price: ~$20 (DS); $30 (3DS); ~$20 (PS3, Wii)

Described accurately as “A Fantasy Harvest Moon”, the Rune Factory series has been on an uproar as of late, thanks in part to the recently released (and quite awesome!) Rune Factory 4 on the 3DS! The game isn’t all about farming and wooing ladies (or gents) like the Harvest Moon games are. Granted, that is still a portion of what you do in the games, but there are also dungeons to explore, monsters to fight, and new skills to increase. If you thought the Harvest Moon games sounded cool but were too afraid to play them for fear of being labeled negatively (which is ridiculous because Harvest Moon is great), then Rune Factory is the series for you!

Why you should play it:
– Excellent immersion into the world mixed with plenty of action!
The newest release of Rune Factory 4 is readily available and one of the best in the series
– It’s Harvest Moon with monsters to fight!

Mega Man X Hadouken

Game: Mega Man X Series
Genre: Action, RPG
System: SNES, PS1, PS2, Wii
Price: ~$6 (Virtual Console); ~$20 (PS1); ~$10 (PS2)

Largely the same idea as the classic Mega Man series, the X series is more or less a spinoff. Yeah, it takes place in the same world as the original series, just several years into the future, but it looks and feels different from the joyful days of the Blue Bomber that it has to be a spinoff more than a sequel. Speaking of sequels, the X series has a ton of them, including some spinoffs of their own! Sadly we haven’t heard from X or Zero in a good while, but here’s hoping the more mature themed robot frenzy continues in the near future! Mighty No. 9 not withholding…

Why you should play it:
It’s Mega Man but with a (somewhat) definite storyline
– The series introduced many great enemies and allies, like Zero!
You can throw Hadoukens and insta-kill just about everything

Theatrhythm Logo

Game: Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy
Genre: Music, RPG
System: 3DS, iOS
Price: ~$20 (3DS)

The easiest way to describe this game would be “Elite Beat Agents with Final Fantasy music,” and that is definitely a good thing. It should say a lot when you can construct an entire game around the musical selections from each entry in the legendary franchise. Not only that, but to make a game that’s incredibly fun to play and complete fan service to boot make this a truly awesome spinoff. The Final Fantasy series is in no short supply of sequels and spinoffs, which makes Theatrhythm all the more impressive. Better yet, there’s even a sequel in the works as well!

Why you should play it:
– If you ever fancied yourself a Final Fantasy lover
– If you’ve ever thought of a Final Fantasy game and instantly recalled the music from said game
If you love the music genre

Sonic Spinball Title

Game: Any Pinball Spinoff
Genre: Pinball
System: Many
Price: ~$5 – $40

This is a clustering of an entry, because it encompasses any pinball themed spinoff game. Maybe it’s because I like spinoffs, maybe it’s because I think the idea of a pinball game themed around Metroid Prime is funny, or maybe it’s because Pinball is just that cool, but for some reason the Pinball spinoff has a soft place in my heart.

Here are a few pinball spinoff games to consider: Sonic Spinball, Mario Pinball Land, Kirby’s Pinball Land, Metroid Prime Pinball, Pinball of the Dead, Pokemon Pinball, and Pokemon Pinball: Ruby & Sapphire.

Why you should play them:
– If you like the game it’s themed around
Because Pinball is awesome!
– They are unique entries in just about every franchise

Street Fighter EX 3 Art

Game: Street Fighter EX series
Genre: 2.5D Fighting
System: PS1, PS2
Price: ~$20 (PS1); $10 (PS2)

Capcom ventured into the 3D fighting market with a few games, notably the Rival Schools franchise. But before all of that they took their cherished Street Fighter franchise in a new direction with the 2.5D fighting series Street Fighter EX. Though not nearly as memorable as the core series, the EX series has some notable features, including characters entirely exclusive to the EX trilogy. Believe it or not, the game’s were actually pretty good, though not nearly as great as the original series. The fighting of Street Fighter didn’t quite translate to the 3D plane, but that doesn’t mean the EX series (or really just the PS2 EX 3 for that matter) aren’t worth your time!

Why you should play it:
Plenty of exclusive characters only available in the series
– A fun diversion to the core franchise
– EX-Plosion!


Game: Wario series
Genre: Platformer, Party
System: Nintendo platforms
Price: ~$10 – $50

There is no greater spinoff character than Wario. I mean, think about it: The dude started out as Mario’s enemy in Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins on the original Game Boy, came back as the main character in that game’s sequel, managed to be one of the only worthwhile games on the failed Virtual Boy, spawned an entire franchise all his own, and throws micro game parties unlike that boring “Mario Parties.” Seriously, this dude has done everything right for a spinoff character. Whether you want platforming, party games, or games about collecting a boat load of money, Wario has got you covered. Oh, and did I mention some of his games rival that of Mario! Yeah…

Why you should play them:
– They offer a different approach to platforming than most Mario games
– If you happen to own a Virtual Boy, then this is the best series you can get for it
If you thought Mario wasn’t annoying enough

For fear of having the list run on far too long, I decided to crop the nominations down to just the few above. But for sake of not leaving any games out, here were some titles that were left on the cutting room floor:

Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, Mega Man Soccer, all of the Mario sports games, Virtua Fighter Kids, Dissidia: Final Fantasy, Bomberman: Fantasy Race, Golden Axe: The Duel, and Sonic Chronicles.

Mega Man Soccer Cover

There are a ton of spinoffs out there. After wrapping the research for this article I was kind of shocked by how many excellent titles there were to write about, and even more amazed that some of them I didn’t even know were spinoffs! Oh, and if you were counting, there are three House of the Dead spinoffs directly mentioned in the above article. Three! Man, Sega sure know how to milk it’s franchises…


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I've been writing about video games for years and playing them even longer. You'll find me playing all types of games, old and new. Mega Man III is greater than Mega Man II.

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  1. Great list, especially for the EX series. While they have a great amount of characters only found in the series, they also had an awesome soundtrack!

    1. That’s a good point! I never really thought about it, but that series does have some sweet tracks!

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