Does anyone remember the fever for karting games? ‘Bomberman Fantasy Race’, ‘Chocobo Racing’, ‘Speed Freak’s,’ Crash Team Racing ‘… All that were spin-offs. Who asked for them? Perhaps it will give a clue a ‘Mario Kart 64’, that multiplayer poison capable of breaking the best friendships that put 5 million copies in its first year. The own ‘Super Mario Kart’ was also a spin-off.
You know: it all started with an arcade, ‘Donkey Kong’. Mario – Jumpman, in fact – was a guest character, he took the lead role for the sake of new narrative aspirations. The boss became the grandfather of another playable character – the real Donkey, grandson of Cranky Kong – and, in parallel, Bowser acquired the role of authentic nemesis. What follows, almost 30 years and more than 200 products later , are a handful of good ideas or, at the very least, many ideas.
If your game triumphs, sooner or later it will have its own spin-off. Or its translation in game of board (‘This War of Mine’), letters (‘Reigns’). Or in the form of comics, short films and other dramas to expand what they call lore .
Long before Marvel set up his mega-franchises – you know, what a freaking comic book kid would make you believe that thirty years later those characters would be among the highest grossing films of the century – the video game industry has drunk, even got drunk, of what we call sequels , remakes, reissues and spin-offs.
If we focus on the latter, understood as narrative work created from an existing work, split or creative extension, we can go back to the literary phenomena product of success. An example? ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, first split with Tom Sawyer’s best friend as protagonist.
In movies it is common to run into subseries focused on characters: the cat in boots is to Shrek what Minions to Gru. Because the formula started with the animation: from ‘Locos felinos’ was born ‘Felix the cat’, in 1919. From ‘Looney Tunes’ we have ‘Merrie Melodies’, ‘The Bugs Bunny show’ and a score of extra series. talk about derivative products: ‘The Sarah Connor Chronicles’, ‘Agents of SHIELD’, etc. Dozens of tributaries leave from each river.
With real actors, Cabaret , of BBC Television, began its production in 1936 and broadcast up to six derivative series in just 3 years. Not counting adaptations in the United States. In video games, the term spin-off is parallel to the ditto in television or cinema. In TV, a spin-off deepens in the narrative point of view of a character or activity -anterior or later, prequel or sequel- of the central frame of the mother series. Frasier is to Cheers what Aida to 7 Lives.
Trading jargon would tell us that a spin-off is a corporate derivation, a diversified opportunity. The greater the flexibility of the original product, the more options to expedite that secondary market. Although the guantas sometimes come: ‘Solo’ has managed to freeze the Star Wars movie calendar. From ‘Fantastic Animals: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ we better not talk.
Videogames have understood this formula better than any other means: if something works, do a spin-off. Or a few
Video games have understood better than any other medium, with the permission of the American comic, this formula: if something works, it will have its spin-off . And, if not, maybe we could try another perspective in the form of a spin-off. Fulfill a dream. A second chance. Because if something knows the game is to create sequels better than their first deliveries. Debug the technique.
Some of your favorite games are. ‘ Dragon Quest Builders ‘: we are still playing a ‘Dragon Quest’ while remembering that ‘Minecraft’ had many good ideas. A clever and addictive mix. Or ‘ Metal Gear Rising: Revengance ‘: Platinum Games borrows a license from Konami and sends stealth to where Raiden lost the first spine. A hack & slash in the hands of the best masters of the genre.
‘Hearthstone’ was born out of the Warcraft franchise. Well, like the ‘World of Warcraft’ itself. The card game is still a reference point where successes such as ‘Crash Royale’ have been seen. The Persona series is spin-off of the Megami Tensei saga. It is not uncommon to meet players who know this and ignore the matrix saga.
Or we could talk about ‘ Fallout: New Vegas ‘, for many, their best delivery since they left behind the isometric perspective. The story is known: Bethesda Softworks bought the license and developed ‘Fallout 3’, which became an immediate success. But putting the team to develop the sequel was impossible: the whole team was working on the sequel to another saga, ‘Skyrim’.
With a litigation still to close with Black Isle Studios, many of their devs were already in another successful company: Obsidian Entertainment. Bethesda commissioned a sequel to them and they made a rather goofy decision – after the frontal refusal to create an intermediate sequel between deliveries 2 and 3: take the ‘Fallout 3’ unborn created by Black Isle and dress it with the graphic aspect of ‘Fallout 3 ‘from Bethesda . In conclusion, a delicious RPG much more complex and complete than its predecessor, located in the same universe of the saga but wrapped by a literary obsession composed of almost 70,000 lines of dialogue.
Although the most notorious example is found in ‘Forza Horizon’. Let’s say that some of the best developers in driving games set up their own council in the spa town of Leamington Spa (United Kingdom). We are talking about guys who have led projects in Black Rock, Slightly Mad or Bizarre Creations. People for which there is the saga ‘Burnout’, ‘Project Gotham Racing’ or ‘Colin McRae: Dirt’.
With the permission of the director of Turn 10, Dan Greenawalt, was born the split ‘Forza Horizon’, conceived as the Coachella of the engine, much more carefree and arcade than the saga matrix. The result? His deliveries 3 and 4 can be labeled, without nervous cough or oblique glances, the best arcades in history , the side of ‘OutRun’ or ‘Sega Rally’.
Something similar happens with the ‘Super Smash Bros’, the violent face of Nintendo, an experiment of HAL Laboratory where a certain Masahiro Sakurai satisfies that fanatic itching: what if we mount a crossover with all the characters of the brand and put them to distribute tollins on a stage up there, on top of the sky ? Ten out of ten.
In terms of spin-offs, Naughty Dog is one of the boldest studios. And no, we’re not referring to that Uncharted card game, ‘Fight for Fortune’.
We already pointed it to the beginning: the first trilogy of Crash Bandicoot, pet of rigor for the brand, ended with a magnificent game of karting: ‘Crash Team Racing’. A formula that they repeated with ‘Jak X: Combat Racing’, and that in the seventh generation went on to become a DLC with its own production. ‘Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’ is narratively what ‘Left Behind’ to ‘ The Last of Us ‘: small campaigns with the ability to concentrate all the good of mother games , in just 4 or 5 hours, and where they still reserve the space to venture, to experiment outside the canon.
And maybe we fall into the swampy waters of the spoiler but the saga ‘Portal’ is but a natural spin-off of the ‘Half-Life’ dynasty. The first ‘Portal’ was presented as an extra pill in Valve’s Orange Box, sharing elements of the same fictional universe. Elements of commendable validity.
‘Far Cry’ was born as a muscle demonstration. The Germans Crytek presented at the E3 of 1999 a demo, X-Isle: Dinosaur Island , to boast of new engine , one on which large open spaces could be created , greater distance of rendering and advanced physics.
Already from its germinal point of departure, ‘Far Cry’ was more tool than game. A tool that Ubisoft took advantage of and stretch horizontally. ‘Far Cry Primal’ was already a spin-off taking as mold ‘Far Cry 4’ but moving to the Stone Age the epicenter of the action. There was not much risk, something that pissed off the respectable , but it irrigated the recipe with enough fresh ideas.
A kind of DNA that holds the type under different rules and marks – the ‘Watch Dogs’ are also a little’ Assassin’s Creed’-. Something Ubisoft know well: already applied to the ‘Chronicles’, a secondary saga that leads to the brotherhood of murderers in Russia, India or China in the same way that the matrix saga made them go through historical periods as the end of the Ptolemaic Dynasty or the conflict between Sparta and Athens in full cultural heyday.
But let’s go back to ‘Far Cry’ because there are, on the one hand, the formal DLC: from ‘Far Cry Instincts’, Evolution and Predator, as well as Hours of Darkness, Lost on Mars and Dead Living Zombies from the latest ‘ Far Cry 5 ‘ .
On the other hand, we can talk about the vast extensions that make up the magnificent ‘Blood Dragon’ or the imaginative and recent ‘New Dawn’: if in the original campaign of ‘Far Cry 5’ we are the resistance that fights against a demented sect, in this spin-offs we pass to the other side, oppressed by a guerrilla that is too violent and too voracious. Power corrupts everything. And more in a kingdom without laws .
Cooperation is the best option: we must collaborate in this “New Eden”, on the ashes of our deceased. It has been 17 years since the events predicted by the Seed family . Hope County is still a victim of nuclear influence. Although we have up to 8 specialists to recruit throughout the county -remodeled for the occasion-, among which are survivors like Hulk or Reverend Jerome.
We are probably facing an almost identical mold, while the prosperity of our conquered territory defines the progress of the campaign. Ethanol is the key fuel to advance, with which we will raise our defenses. It is obtained through expeditions and skirmishes in the most inhospitable areas of the map .