In the last couple of weeks since Kingdom Hearts 3D came out, I’ve read from various message boards and news sites people once again talking about the series and when 3 is coming out. In these discussions, the concept of spin-off games is often brought up, being games that expand the story but otherwise aren’t important to the main story and while I disagree that any Kingdom Hearts game really is a spin-off game (except for maybe Re:Coded, I have a feeling it’s going to be important later) I do like spin-off games as a concept.
For one, extending the backstories or giving us what-if scenarios are great ways to flush out the universe those character inhabit and I’m bit sad to say that I don’t usually purchase any, but there are a lot of games out there I would love to see expanded. So what constitutes a spin-off game? Well, I’m going to a lot more strict than most people when talking about these kinds of games because one thing I really hate about some “spin-off” games is that they are usually put onto mobile devices and are just watered down versions of a main game. This was the impression I got from games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, that it was basically just a lamer version of the main Uncharted games that were on the PS3 and the concept of the game might have been called Uncharted 4 given more production values and released on the home console.
A spin-off, to me, needs to expand on the story of someone who is not the main character of the series proper and/or breaks the norms of the main games mechanics and try something a bit newer. Also, if the series has a continuous story Kingdom Hearts, it cannot expand the that story in meaningful ways. It has to be self-concealed so that people who don’t play it don’t get totally lost. I say this because even though Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days fills us in on the villains from Kingdom Hearts 2 and has different mechanics and a different overall structure from Kingdom Hearts games before it, the game just so happened to have foreshadowing to future games and an important character that has since been shown in every game afterwards.
What I’m talking about is games like Metroid Prime, whose trilogy tells a self-enclosed story that does not require knowledge of the other Metroid games (since it takes place before most of them even happen) and doesn’t seem to effect the major overall story set up by Metroid II, Super Metroid, Other M, and Fusion, but still giving us a bit more insight into the Metroid Prime universe (for example, Metroid Prime 3 is when the Space Pirates are removed as a major threat from the galaxy and puts Super Metroid into a slightly different context).
So enough explaining, time to speculate: If there were going to be spin-offs of a certain game series, which ones and what would they consist of?
1) Uncharted: Sully’s Quest
Uncharted 3 did an okay job at expanding the relationship between Nathan Drake and Victor Sullivan, but it fell kind of flat on letting us know more about Sully himself. This kind of sucked for me who considers him to be my favorite character and I wish I knew how he got tangled up with Marlow more than maybe they were dating. That’s why, I would like to see an Uncharted game that starts Sully, maybe years ago when his hair was still black and his mustache still growing, maybe when he was teaching apprentice Nathan Drake the ropes (although that seems like it would be better suited to star Nathan Drake) or even in the current time (maybe he got into trouble on the way back from the Jungle in Uncharted 2).
How could this be done?
Sully recognizes himself to not be like Drake. Doesn’t have his looks, doesn’t have his luck, and probably doesn’t have his ability to absorb bullets and shake it off like it was nothing. What Sully can do is manipulate, probably throw the right kind of money around to get what he wants, and is more than willing to screw a couple of guys over. What I would like from a Sully centric Uncharted game is not just the exotic places and the refined shooting and stealth gameplay, but something more in the criminal underbelly like the opening sequences for Uncharted 3. Maybe Sully can often smooth talk or bribe his way into certain areas instead of sneaking and shooting people. Maybe the player can even get caught on purpose to be taken closer to his goal. I would actually think that an interesting sequence would be Sully held hostage by the bad guys, and Sully actively sabotaging their efforts by using the clues he knows about where a treasure is to keep them away from it, kind of like what he was doing in Uncharted 1.Narrative wise, maybe we can kind out how he and Roman developed such a hateful relationship.
2) No More Heroes: United Assassins Association
There is a year gap between No More Heroes and No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle, where Travis Touchdown left Santa Destroy and the UAA was able to build up from just being the 10 best Assassins in the world as part of a fake organization, to a very real league of the 50 best assassins in the world. While both games have Travis work his way up the ranks to get revenge, how did a scam set up by Sylvia evolve to make Santa Destroy the most wretched hive of scum and villainy.
How can this be done?
How No More Heroes hasn’t gotten a multiplayer create-a-fighter thing yet is beyond me. Initially, I thought of this game to be like an MMO, where people would get wander around a larger version of Santa Destroy with custom made assassins based on the many different assassins featured throughout the game. Then you can look up and challenge assassins higher ranked than you and get challenged by those lower ranked than you with the top 50 being put on an online leaderboard. The game would have a kind of system set up for allocating abilities and weapons, and strategies would be open enough that every opponent you’ll meet will be somewhat different.
3) Metroid: Galactic Federation vs. Space Pirates
Gosh, in my example of what a spin-off game I realized something about the Metroid series. The Space pirates were defeated really, really quickly. Not counting the Prime series, they were pretty much killed off in the first Metroid game and made a desperate strike in Super Metroid (were they even in Return of Samus?). In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Samus helps the Galactic Federation take down the Pirate homeworld in what is pretty much a decisive invasion. So that’s it, Space Pirates are no longer a threat to the galaxy and if Other M and Fusion are any indication the Federation is becoming the next big threat.
How can this be done?
But I think there is a lot more that the Metroid universe can give us and it doesn’t always have to revolve around Samus Aran. With different tech involving Phazon, cloaking, technology, plasma, power, wave, and ice beams, I would love to see an RTS that takes place in the Metroid universe, specifically the Metroid Prime universe. The game could be very much like an established RTS like Starcraft or Star Wars Empire at War, but take place in the Metroid universe which possibly means that besides fighting off Space Pirate troopers and GF Marines, you’ll be fighting the local wildlife. To keep in pace with Metroid games, this RTS could also favor explorations, with ruins and temples scattered throughout the map that contain ancient Chozo technology, temple guardians, or new routes only accessible one way. I think one of the coolest things ever would be sending my marines through a temple on a planet like Tallon IV, and stumbling on a bunch of Space Pirates taking on a boss. From there a player could help the boss pick off the Space Pirates, wait until their gone and attack the weakened boss or Pirates, or maybe just leave them alone and use that opportunity to mount an attack on their main base.
And of course, all of this one the Wii becomes excitingly possible. Since the devices uses Wii remotes, which I think could be used with the nunchuck to work like a mouse and keyboard, and the gamepad, which is used to make Pikmin 3 behave more like a traditional RTS, there’s no better opportunity for some developer *coughRetrostudioscough* to revisit the Metroid Prime universe.
4) Rock Band: Manager Mode
I’m sure some of you are reading that and telling me to go die in a fire, but hear me out. I don’t see this as a major release, but something as an add-on/app game to the Rock Band games. Often in those games, players go through career mode, playing their favorite covers and even though it’s really weird to have a rock concert that plays perfect covers of Queen, Linkin Park, Spongbob, Still Alive from Portal, if you play well the fans will love you. Well why not enhance the rocker experience by letting that guy who can’t sing and sucks at every instrument be the manager?
How could this work?
I imagine this game working in both a single player and multiplayer setting. The manager sits in the room and makes the decisions of what songs the players play, certain staging and costume decisions, and maybe how much money should be allocated to selling things like merchandise or if certain places demand more money for security. The rewards for the band players could that have the possibility of gaining more fans and money than without a manager (at a higher risk of course), and maybe even exclusive in-game content. All the decisions the manager will have to make can be based on a semi-random scenario generator that produces statistics for them to analyze. This could also widen the options for venues instead of just generic stage. Maybe you’re band is playing for a gaming convention, you know they would love Still Alive somewhere in the setlist. Maybe you’re playing for a bunch of 80′s music lovers, so when deciding to pick that 80′s tracklist of that New Age Jazz Rock Fusion tracklist, the choice is a lot simpler. During the game, the manager gets a nice overhead look of the stage and watches the crowds of people to gauge their responses to the show. Maybe there’s lots of talk about the band being a bunch of sell outs, so you the manger can make the quick decision during the show to donate money to charity to gain more fans or pack up merch booths since they’re not selling anything and giving the band a bad image. Maybe crowd is getting too wild and starting to rush the stage, the manager can order security to control a particularly rowdy bunch of people otherwise they might damage the other players experience by making their notes suddenly disappear or other weird interface screws.
That’s all I can think of now. Remember, if you’re a developer and you said “hey, that’s a pretty good idea” you can email us and I’ll tell you who to make the check out to.