Justin Williams Laser takes a look at some of the strangest offshoots of well-known titles.
Sometimes when there are beloved characters or concepts that don’t get enough screentime in the main attraction, a spin-off makes perfect sense. However, Justin Williams Laser wants to take a look at the games that have no logical reason to even exist in the first place. Sometimes a developer just wants to try something new—and sometimes, it pays off in a big way.
Justin Williams Laser first points out Pokemon Snap for the Nintendo 64. This odd spinoff moves away from the RPG gameplay of capturing and battling monsters and moves you into a photographer role. The game, which is fully 3D, moves you along a predetermined track, akin to a lightgun game or a theme park ride. Your goal is to try to capture as many good shots as you can along the way and be graded on them at the end of the “ride”. While the concept seems strange in theory, it proved to be a big hit and sold units like crazy. There were even Pokemon Snap photobooths set up in malls and Blockbusters where you could print out the shots you took of your favorite pokemon.
One spin-off that wasn’t quite as well-received, also from Nintendo but years earlier, is the Super Nintendo game Mario is Missing. In this Super Mario spinoff, much like the title suggests, Mario is missing. You must play as Luigi who, unfortunately, does not get to do any of the fun things Mario is accustomed to. Instead of skillfully racing your way through well-designed levels, picking up powerups and defeating enemies by jumping on their heads, you must walk slowly from town to town, asking people if they’ve seen your brother, and answering history questions.
Justin Williams Laser is aware this sounds like a joke, but he assures you: this game is real, and it is absolutely terrible.
Another game that doesn’t quite live up to the greatness of its original series, Justin Williams Laser points out, is Megaman Soccer, also for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Megaman, much like Mario, usually runs through levels from left to right, defeating enemies by shooting his arm cannon at them rather than bouncing off their skulls. Megaman Soccer, not surprisingly, replaces this gameplay with a soccer game. The problem is, Justin Williams Laser explains, it wasn’t a particularly fun, or good-looking, or interesting soccer game. After this outing, Megaman put down the soccer ball and stuck to the tried and true formula of weapons and explosions.
One final spin-off that no one realized they wanted until it was released: Halo Wars. This RTS release in the popular first-person shooter series may seem odd, but Halo Wars is interesting because, as Justin Williams Laser points out, Halo actually began its life as an RTS game. Halo Wars proves that the game could have survived as a strategy game, and it was so successful it was followed up with a sequel.