by Ben Hopkins
Now, I understand the want of trying to take a character or series and branch them off in a new direction, even if just for a single game. Nintendo can seemingly take any of their icons and have them fight each other or play sports together and it’ll sell an ungodly amount of copies. Not all companies should try and follow this formula. Sit back for a second and take in (and try to understand) these ten spin-offs that the world would probably be better off without.
1. Hey You, Pikachu!
I’d like to start off by saying that in theory a game where you can talk to a Pokemon and interact with them and blah blah blah could be great and have tons of potential as a breeding/creature raising game. That being said, the N64 was not the generation to try and do this. Hell, it seems a little absurd that the voice recognition unit that was necessary is only used in two N64 games, and this one is the only one of those two that saw a North America release.
The degree to which you can speak to Pikachu is more or less how in depth you can have a conversation with your bluetooth function in your car. Between the two though I’d have to say bluetooth triumphs since you can at least change your non-Spanish speaking friend’s car settings to Spanish while they’re out of the car.
Pikachu can only respond to a certain number of keywords and he doesn’t give a flying shit about anything else you may have to say to him. Very small children probably had a blast for a while since Pikachu’s vocabulary is probably about as expansive as their own, but if you’re over five years old you’ll lose interest only minutes into this frustrating waste of money (an $80 waste of money thanks to Nintendo’s outrageous price tag).
2. Streetfighter 2010: The Final Fight
Everyone is well aware that the 90’s was a great time to take a fun franchise and butcher it by going in a direction nobody wanted it to go in. Originally released in Japan with a main character named Kevin, Streetfighter 2010: The Final Fight began to trip over itself when the team that brought it over decided that Kevin should actually be Ken Masters from the original classic fighter. If the character had just remained as Kevin, no one would have cared about the terrible story and mediocre gameplay. But someone took a character you enjoyed, bent him over a futuristic rail, and promptly went to town.
Twenty five years after the original Streetfighter, Ken Masters has retired from his fighting career and, logically, moved on to the field of science. He’s developed a superhuman-gift-granting material known as “Cyboplasm” (a name which gives me a headache), which ultimately gets stolen at the same time that his partner, Troy, is murdered. As one would expect, Ken then gives himself a whole bunch of bionic implants and the ability to teleport interdimensionally. Wait? No one expected that? Well that explains why everyone hated this entirely-uncalled-for-futuristic-cyborg-heavy-side-scrolling sequel to what was just a simple, albeit classic and great, fighting game. Let’s move on and pretend this game just wasn’t made.
3. Shadow the Hedgehog
I’m going to go ahead and get talking about this game out of the way so that the rest of this article isn’t saturated with my utter hate for Shadow the Hedgehog. Given, I could devote an entire separate piece to the downfall of the great game series that was Sonic, but I don’t think anyone needs to read any sort of literature laden with such contempt as would flow forth into that piece.
Shadow the Hedgehog came out in 2005, four years after the character’s introduction in Sonic Adventure 2. He was presented as the bad-ass, who-gives-a-shit, rebellious counterpart to our good old friend, Sonic. Presumably, an executive got a little too drunk at a company party and green-lit this project saying, “Sure! A guy that can break the sound barrier should totally have his own game where he uses guns and motorcycles and other cars!” We can all only hope that he was not only fired but continued to suffer from severe depression for bringing forth such a terrible effort to this world.
The game revolves around the whole ambiguity associated with Shadow’s character, in so much that he has the capacity to do both good and evil deeds. While Sonic was a loveable, blue hedgehog who loved chili dogs and brought justice to his world, Shadow apparently has a lot of emotional issues and you’re supposed to sympathize with an evil-super-speed-hedgehog created by a mad scientist. I’m sorry but I feel not sympathy. The only sympathy I feel is for the systems that this game was released for because they’ll always have this shit stain of a game in their back-catalogue. At this point I feel like one of those comedians that brings up something and says, “Hey, you remember that? That was terrible.” But this was terrible. Truly awful.
4. The Typing of the Dead
Moving on from my intense hatred, this next one is more confusing than anything else. Presumably if you’ve ever entered an arcade in America in the last fifteen years you’ve seen a cabinet for House of the Dead. In the vein of similar games such a Time Crisis, the player finds themselves on a set path with the ability to duck out of the way of impending danger and retaliate with a storm of bullets. Simple formula, but incredibly enjoyable.
In 1999, Sega decided to take the gun out of House of the Dead 2 and re-release it with the ability to kill zombies through improved typing speeds. “Wow! What a concept!” Said the single higher-up who had problems typing and got the project rolling. Why the hell is an M-Rated, zombie killing, violence glorifying game aiming for an audience that needs practice typing on a keyboard?
No matter how it came out, despite it’s weird concept, The Typing of the Dead was a fun game, all things considered. I’d still take a regular HotD (Oh my god the abbreviation for this series is Hot D, maybe I shouldn’t abbreviate it again) over this modified version, but it could have been a lot worse. It’s here on this list because, well, you tell me you’re not confused by the concept.
5. Bomberman: Act Zero
Don’t quote me on this, but I think it’s a scientific fact that no one has ever said anything good about Bomberman: Act Zero ever. Not a single person. Once a guy thought about saying something good about it but then he didn’t. Because you can’t.
Released in 2006 for the Xbox 360, Act Zero is the annoyingly dark and gritty reboot that absolutely nobody asked for. The game is played in the same top down manner as previous installments, but the levels just come off as ridiculous when you start seeing the crazy neon explosions of the bombs and remember it’s supposed to be taken seriously. If this game had been entirely tongue-in-cheek, maybe I’d have something good to say about it. But I don’t. I have less to say about this than the others because you can finally sum it up in four words, “It was pretty awful.”