One of the phenomena of fiction are spin-offs. Since the video game world is in great growth, it is interesting to review how it has affected the world and to review the most successful spin-offs of video games.
The term “spin-off” is inextricably linked to success. If it is not for the results of the derivative work it is for those of the original work. As the title becomes popular, the chances of its story branching out grow. The videoludic medium, while still growing at an industrial level (not so much in other ways, unfortunately for many) does not escape this phenomenon. It is interesting, for this reason, to look back to take a look at some of the most successful spin-offs in video games.
Gaiden and spiritual sequel
It is noteworthy, at the outset, that not everything can be called a spin-off. It is not the same as, for example, a spiritual sequel. Nor is it necessarily a gaiden (a Japanese term that comes to mean something like “parallel history“). The fundamental difference is that a derived game arises after the original work and its main objective is to expand the universe of this. Or at least that’s what sounds nice. An Internet legend said that “money is money,” and companies have the blissful habit of wanting to earn the more money, the better.
This is how the spin-offs come about. And there is so much art to sneak a new story unnecessary and that no one had asked. There are many different types of derived stories that we can find in fiction and go far beyond pursuing the Obi Wan in turn for his adventures in space.
We could explain it through the following metaphor: the universe of a work is like a kind of forest. And, in the center of that forest, stands the great millenary tree with thick trunk and thousands of leaves. This tree is the main story of a work and occupies the most important place in the forest. The rest focus on increasing the future legacy that can leave the work. In telling new stories taking advantage of the universe that already exists. Or in exploring new details that were not considered important in showing the main story of the great millennial tree.
In video games, due to its mechanical nature and the need for interaction between the player and the work, a specific type abounds. One that, based on a video game with a vast world behind, is reinvented with new mechanics and looks for the way to offer a new story taking advantage of all the resources offered by the main.
A clear example can be Final Fantasy Tactics. Quite a few deliveries of these strategy games have enjoyed fame, prestige and good numbers. Although they do not require great creative effort and may not help to expand the main universe, they are often interesting because of the new possibilities they can offer outside their nature.
This, it goes without saying, was interesting for the fans of the saga because although it did not suppose a new delivery with all the law, was a way to return to an attractive universe. And, of course, he brought a good amount of gillnets into Square’s coffers. According to VGChartz (page that serves as guidance, but does not provide exact figures) this secondary series would have sold more than 6 million copies. Not bad for not belonging to that main tree.
The Nintendo Case
Within this category it is mandatory to mention Nintendo. La Gran N is a veteran making the most of its main franchises and rare is the character who does not have 2 or 3 games derived from the main story. The most obvious as important and by numbers may be, perhaps, Mario Kart. More than 100 million copies have sold between all the deliveries of the saga. Usually it is, at least, among the 3 best selling games of all the consoles of the company. A resounding success.
Another that deserves, in addition to plumbing plumber, a special mention, is Pokémon. Pokémon Ranger, Mysterious World, Pinball or, much more recent and dreamed, Pokémon GO. All of them are deliveries derived from the original game whose major change is the new mechanical perspective. The latter, as we speak in terms of success, has broken several records of downloads and for weeks has surpassed 750 million. Almost nothing.
By following the metaphor of the forest, this type of spin-off can grow from the main tree itself or even grow as a new tree. They are separated from the main tree and help to expand that immense forest of pocket monsters. Although, of course, this is not the only type. Yes the most recurrent, but not the only ones.
Another one that usually abounds and contributes more in narrative terms is the one that follows the particular history of a secondary personage. It is common for the community to ask for more than one favorite character and, at times, it may be interesting to know what has happened to kill the protagonist on duty.
The first one that can be crossed by the head for reasons of closeness is Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. The one that emerged like a DLC any for the fourth delivery left the protagonism to Chloe and it was centered in one of its adventures. It ended up gaining so much entity that almost could be considered a new delivery of the saga. Minor, obviously, but that acts as a game derived from the main series and sims freeplay cheat on the website.
And it’s not the first to come out of a Naughty Dog saga. His previous pet, Jak, had a companion so charismatic that he deserved a game for himself. Daxter had his own story between the first two installments of the original trilogy and we needed to know what had happened to that fusion of weasel and marsupial that had left the dark echo armed with a flamethrower because “behind every hero there is always another hero.” More than 4 million copies sold the title of Ready at Dawn.
There are times, moreover, that this type of deliveries are mixed with the first type to which I have referred before. It tells a story of someone secondary and takes advantage of new mechanics and even undergoes a gender change. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a good example. In it we take to Raiden (protagonist in Metal Gear Solid 2 but secondary in the rest of the saga) that more than to move within a box what it does is distribute espadazos. And it did not malfunction; reached almost 2 million in sales.
“Hello, it’s me, Mario!”
But it is by no means the most famous or important of this fusion of types. He said it was mandatory to mention Nintendo if we were talking about spin-offs and that the plumber is the world’s most plumbed-out person. It’s Mario himself, icon and legend of video games at a global level, the most successful and famous spin-off in the industry. Super Mario Bros. was born thanks to the success of Donkey Kong, starring Mr. Jumpman. Such success was, in fact, that generated a new franchise that helped save the industry and grow the medium to the point we are today. One of those few occasions when a tree that was to support the main grew much more and was more important than the central one.
Little has to be said about the success of the plumber. Not only does each game sell a lot, but it is one of the franchises with the best numbers in history. This secondary grew so much that it generated more derived sagas. Like, for example, Mario Kart himself, the games of Luigi or Yoshi … It is quite probable, in fact, that Mario is the franchise with more series derived from the world of video game.
To mention another similar (although no one reaches the sole of the shoe to Mario’s success) it would not hurt to remember the saga Persona. The saga of JRPGs is, in essence, a secondary saga of the franchise Shin Megami Tensei. In Japanese lands is a major saga rolera (behind the beasts Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy), but Atlus wanted to offer experiences to a larger audience. And they have. Persona 5 surpassed this year the 1.5 million copies sold as reported by Polygon. The secondary saga is better known worldwide than Megaten.
In fact, Person could well preside over a third type of spin-off. One that focuses on counting more things within the main universe. It does not have to be a parallel story, the adventures of a secondary character or even rely on other mechanics to be justified. It is a completely alien to the main tree. And it simply takes advantage of the frondiness of the great forest in which it has grown.
It can also happen that a universe is nourished by a large number of derived stories and are all just as important as the main one. A forest completely filled with large trees but none gets to stand out. The Zelda saga enjoys great success and importance in the industry and is completely unique. And, in part, it may be because of this WWE.
Link games are characterized by not having a strict order. There are jumps in time, different dimensions and each delivery follows its own story. There are dozens of theories, schemes and explanations that arise from Skyward Sword and can end in several points according to the time jumps and the destiny that has had to him to follow Hyrule. But there is no fixed time line that is the only possible history and the rest are mere derivatives. Each and every one of the deliveries collaborate to generate the complete and common history of the universe of Zelda. It is a set of spin-offs that breaks the rule and form among all the main plot. And, of course, it is synonymous with success; it is estimated that among the total franchise have exceeded 90 million in sales.
The forest of money
The point is that, as I said at the outset, spin-offs are inextricably linked to success. No matter what type you are and the forest to which you belong; or you will get good numbers or you are born thanks to good numbers.
Thus it has been to the point of generating its own categories: those based on new mechanics but the universe is already known, that is based on secondary characters, that seeks to tell something new of the universe or that, among all others , enjoys special prominence. All Zelda, Mario, Pokémon, Final Fantasy, Resident Evil, derived games designed to take advantage of a fashion. Every tree, branch or small leaf is part, like it or not (to the companies they love) of that great forest in which players are looking to spend our time.