Why People Look Down on “Spin-Off” Games

My take on the term "spin-off"

Video Game aficionados, especially diehard fanboys, were born and bred to dislike spin-off games with linear cynicism. Like every other average joe, we don’t embrace change that easily. Change is looked down upon by fanboys. Like the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” especially when fanboys grow with a game series since childhood–like Metal Gear Solid

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We learn to read the underlying layers of emotion within complex characters and to truly understand them, like Big boss from Metal Gear Solid. Growing up with similar core gameplay mechanics within a series gives us a sense of belonging and togetherness. The likeability of such characters adds even more to the “anti-change” mindset.

For example, Metal Gear Rising was a spin-off game of the Metal Gear Solid Saga.

Putting all the shortcomings and expectations aside, the game was revolutionary, with its “free hack and slash” mode that brought a smile to our faces. But, many fans considered it as part of the series. Many expected much more “sneaking” missions and the usual epic soundtrack of mythical proportions. Instead, they found themselves in a campy, “innocent-fun” game with signature J pop rock tunes that completed the package. Some fans felt alienated and lost, disowning the title. 

To clearly define the title “spin-off”, the game Metal Gear Rising was designed by Platinum Studios, not Fox studios. Hideo Kojima, developer of the universally acclaimed Metal Gear Solid Saga gave it his blessing. Knowing that his studio lacked the experience to develop a game solely based on hack and slash. Even the title was named differently, straying away from the Metal Gear Solid “formula”.

Hideo’s vision for a video game was a free-form hack and slash experience that had little boundaries. The game enhanced the characterization of Raiden from the Metal Gear Solid Saga, adding many more layers of complexity to the character. But it only enhanced the Metal Gear Solid Saga’s story, without adding much to the whole package. Players didn’t need to experience Metal Gear Rising for further progress within the series.

With the new game shown on the E3 Showfloor, Keiji Inafune, the creator of the definitive game that shook the world, Mega Man is producing a brand new game with Spark Unlimited and Team Ninja for a spin-off game called Yaiba Ninja Gaiden Z.

Like every other Ninja Gaiden game, people want Ryu Hayabusa, the main protagonist of the series back. They felt that Team Ninja was doing a classic “bait and switch” tactic to lure diehard fans with a new character called Yaiba. Core mechanics have been revamped, including a dismemberment system that gives players power to use zombie limbs as nunchucks. The game features a cel-shaded look, further separating itself from the “Ninja Gaiden Norm”. Gameplay has been simplified, cutting off the challenge that was ever so present in the Ninja Gaiden Series. Negative comments ensued, where fans of the series disliked the new character, new visual art style and the change in gameplay. They found it rather “distasteful”.

With these high expectations, its hard to please diehard video gamers.

Change is needed in this industry as globalization takes place. Developers must adapt to the ever-changing industry. But with such a “pessimistic” mindset, spin-off games that feature innovative or genre defining moments are “shat” upon with negative remarks, demanding *insert game series characteristic here* complaints. I wish more gamers learn to embrace change for the greater good. If not, we are indirectly promoting formulaic games with similar characteristics (AHEM Call of Duty).

This industry would certainly be a monotonous one without new experiences!


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Author
K.Goh
Audiophile, gamer and film buff. Just sharing my opinions.