Maybe some of these franchises should stick to what they know. Because when they don't, we get some of the worst gaming spinoffs in gaming history. That's what this top ten today is all about-- those gaming spinoffs that had their hearts in the right place, but god knows where the hell the developers' brains were. After you've scoped out these ten terrible spinoffs, why not sound off on which ones you dislike the most!
For a more positive top ten list, check out SPC's look at the top ten greatest gaming spinoffs!
10) Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (PS2)
Take what is most arguably the most popular Final Fantasy game, make a shooter set three years after the game, throw in Vincent Valentine as the protagonist, and you have an intriguing game on your hands in theory. In reality, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII reeks of poor enemy AI, lackluster level design, a copious amount of cutscenes, and overall relatively tame gameplay that does little to fulfill players. While the scope of the story is no doubt impressive, the overall game doesn't do much to excite or impress.
9) Castlevania Judgment (Wii)
Another instance of a franchise that is well known for one genre and put in a totally different genre, Castlevania Judgment is the Castlevania series's jump into the fighting genre with 14 playable characters spanning across the series's history. This 3D fighter faltered in both gameplay and presentation, offering a disorienting camera, really poor controls, extreme imbalance regarding the characters, and an art direction that felt more like Death Note than Castlevania (makes sense considering the character artist behind the game did do Death Note). Although some things like the visuals outside of the character designs and remixed music present are worth noting, everything else in Castlevania Judgment made players feel cursed, and it's a horrible game to have a curse.
8) Virtua Quest (PS2, GCN)
A spinoff of Sega's venerable Virtua Fighter franchise, Virtua Quest has really nothing to do with the franchise other than taking part of its name and having brief encounters with Virtua Fighter's cast. Unlike the game it is a spinoff of, Virtua Quest is as shallow as shallow gets. Its two button fighting system belies no complexity whatsoever, and the brainless AI and enemies that you'll stumble across in the various virtual worlds do little to challenge players. The icing on this very bitter-tasting cake is a story that is full of cliches and characters that are highly annoying. While it was appreciative that Sega wanted to do more with the Virtua Fighter series and branch out, Virtua Quest is nothing but a strong contender for greatest gaming spinoff disappointment.
7) SoulCalibur Legends (Wii)
The opposite of Castlevania Judgment, taking a fighting game series and putting it in action-adventure clothes, SoulCalibur Legends is a game that will give most players the fear of getting carpal tunnel, between madly shaking the Wii Remote and mashing the same button over and over again. Unlike the line of games it's a spinoff of, SoulCalibur Legends has little depth to it. Sure, there are means to try to freshen up the experience through the use of basic environmental puzzles to solve, but the action is just too repetitive and too dull to generate much excitement. The addition of multiplayer is a lovely touch, but when the game is so basic, you'll want to go back to the nineties and play brawlers that have more depth than SoulCalibur Legends.
6) Sonic Shuffle (DC)
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. That must have been the route Sega took, as it took Sonic and friends into a Mario Party-esque board and mini-game collection with the Dreamcast's Sonic Shuffle. Right away you can tell that the game sports a very pleasing to the eye cel-shaded style, a popular visual style of the generation. Then, you get into actually playing the game, and any good will from Sonic Shuffle is blown away, like golden rings ejecting from Sonic when he takes damage. From the mostly inane and boring mini-games that take too long to finish for the most part to the amazingly long, torturous load times, Sonic Shuffle is one surefire way to ruin a party that will make players prefer to play the worst Mario Party game than this board game abomination.
5) Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, GCN, XBX)
Still one of the most laughable attempts at trying to be darken it up in a video game franchise I've ever witnessed, Shadow the Hedgehog suffers from the same problems that some of the worst 3D Sonic games suffer from, as well a bunch of new additions. The inclusion of guns make for a totally tone-deaf experience, as does the needless cursing such as when Shadow searches for that "damn fourth Chaos Emerald". On top of all that, common problems with the 3D Sonic games arise, such as a poor and maddening camera system, a deluge of bugs and glitches, and some poor collision detection. Having multiple endings is a nice touch, but considering there really is but one true canonical ending, it makes the need to play through the game about ten times seem worthless. And that's what Shadow the Hedgehog essentially is, a worthless spinoff that hilariously takes itself way too seriously.
4) Hey You, Pikachu! (N64)
The immensely popular Pokemon series has seen a robust lineup of spinoffs, both good and bad. The Nintendo 64 release, Hey You, Pikachu! is one of the latter. Using a voice-recognition software via a microphone peripheral that came with the game, Hey You, Pikachu! has users talking into the device to interact with the lovable Pikachu. At least, that's the intent of the game when the microphone actually works. You see, the peripheral was intended to be used mostly by children, thus it really only consistently picks up voices that are high pitched. Throw in the lack of things to do with your Pikachu pal, and you have a game that is a frustrating experience and one that was simply not worth the exorbitant price tag that Nintendo expected N64 users to shell out... or in most cases, have their mothers and/or fathers shell out.
3) Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City (PS3, 360)
This poor spinoff example shows that you can have a horrible spinoff but still sell really well. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City might have been an incredibly awful shooter with poor handling, lackluster controls, horrific enemy AI, ridiculously bad level and mission design, and myriad technical issues, but that doesn't stop it from selling two million copies. Of course, for someone who can easily become jaded like myself, this didn't help my view of the industry or the need for publishers to attach a popular IP to a wickedly bad game just to get sales, whether or not it would hurt said IP in the long run. Really, it might be less painful to have an onslaught of zombies feed upon your flesh than play Operation Raccoon City. Okay, I'm being hyperbolic here, but it's a bad game and a bad spinoff, which is what you should take away from this.
2) Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (NES)
Once again an example of taking a franchise known for one genre and putting it into another, Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight is an NES game from 1990 that left behind the fighting game genre and leaped into the action platforming genre. It starred Ken, a favorite from the franchise, but this time he was in the form of a cyborg cop. Well, at least that's who it was in the localized version. In Japan, the cyborg was just a guy named Kevin. Anyway, okay, that's not too bad, but where Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fighter falters is in its massive difficulty. This would be fine if it wasn't an artificial difficulty, generated from its utterly unresponsive controls and poor design. The game is not just a bastardization of the Street Fighter name, but it's just an entirely bad game in general. What would have been next if this game had seen a sequel-- Ryu as the reincarnation of a Hellhound?
1) Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon (CD-I)
Any one of the trio of atrocious Legend of Zelda offshoots created for the Phillips CD-I system could be listed here as the number one wretched gaming spinoff, but let's just choose Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon just to save time here. When Nintendo neglected to have Phillips designed a CD add-on to the Super Nintendo, Phillips gained the opportunity to use some of Nintendo's properties for their new CD-I system. These games are well known for being wretched entries in their respective franchises, and it says something that they're but a distant memory compared to the wild successes that the franchises nowadays still are. Possessing laughable presentations, poor gameplay, short adventures with no replay value, and an abundance of other hilariously awful design decisions and implementations, the trio of horrible Zelda games, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon included, are without question in my mind the worst gaming spinoffs of all time.