It's not often that a video game franchise becomes successful enough that it gets a spin-off title or two. However, while most spin-offs help expand the base, some spin-off games end up being better than the original.
If you're looking for some of the best spin-off games that are better than the original, then we've got what you need.
The Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons series of games were one of the first chances every gamer could get to run their own virtual farm. However, as more similar titles released on other platforms, the franchise started losing its popularity. It also didn't help that the farming sims weren't exactly known for being beginner-friendly.
Thankfully, Marvelous Rune Factory spin-off games came. Even though Rune Factory retained some of the farming mechanics of the Harvest Moon games, it also had more RPG elements and dungeon crawling than the original title. This helped diversify the experience and kept things from being too calm, slow-paced, and idyllic.
Fast forward to today and the spin-off series is already 8 games deep. The latest title, Rune Factory 5, continues to uphold the charm of the original harvest Moon games while still being more accessible and arguably more fun to play.
Respawn Entertainment's fast-paced shooter, Titanfall, was forever doomed to play second fiddle to Battlefield. Even though Titanfall was considered the better game of the two, especially the sequel, Titanfall 2, the Battlefield games still sold better and had more players. Unfortunately, the latter is kind of a big deal for a shooter where the endgame content revolves around multiplayer.
Fast forward to 2019 and Respawn Entertainment found the solution as it released what's essentially a battle royale version of Titanfall with hero shooter mechanics.
Announced and launched on the same day for multiple platforms, Apex Legends caught on almost immediately. The game has since become one of the biggest battle royale games out there, second arguably only to Fortnite.
With an active competitive esports scene, constant updates from Respawn Entertainment that often includes new playable characters and game modes, and far more players than the original Titanfall games ever enjoyed combined, Apex Legends has eclipsed the original title.
The Sims is one of the best-selling games of all time. The entire franchise has sold a combined total of more than 200 million copies. It's also one of the most unique and influential games of all time, essentially introducing simulation games to audiences when it was first released back in the year 2000.
Even in 2021, The Sims franchise is still going strong with The Sims 5 expected to be announced at any moment now, and The Sims 4 still receiving updates. However, as popular as The Sims has become, it's actually not the first simulation game Maxis worked on.
Way, way, way before Maxis developed and released The Sims with EA as publishers, Maxis had already worked on the SimCity games.
The first-ever SimCity game was released back in 1989 with sequels released in 1993 and 1999. Ironically, its spin-off, The Sims, was a much bigger hit at launch than the first few SimCity games. In fact, it wasn't really until 2003's SimCity 4 that the SimCity series of games gained widespread popularity and critical acclaim.
Unfortunately, after SimCity 4, things went downhill for subsequent SimCity games. What arguably put the final nail in the proverbial coffin was 2013's SimCity, which was both a critical and commercial failure.
Final Fantasy Tactics
Final Fantasy is one of the oldest gaming franchises. The first Final Fantasy game was released in 1987 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Since then, a mainline installment has been released every couple of years with spin-offs sprinkled in between. Arguably the best of such spin-offs is Final Fantasy Tactics.
Even though the subsequent Final Fantasy Tactics game was no longer as good as the PS1 classic, the entire Final Fantasy Tactics series of games are still worth playing for those who are into tactical RPGs.
One thing that made Final Fantasy Tactics one of the best spin-off games ever was how it successfully captured the essence and feel of the original games. It felt familiar. This is probably owed to how Final Fantasy Tactics used a class system that is derived from the original games. It also helped that well-known Final Fantasy characters appeared as well.
But, while Final Fantasy Tactics used familiar elements, it also established itself as a different game. It had its own cast members, an original and surprisingly deep story, as well as an art style that has stood up to the test of time relatively well.
Even if played today, the original Final Fantasy Tactics on the PS1 holds up. We even consider it as the best Final Fantasy spin-off. Although it is far more convenient to get its updated version, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, on iOS and Android platforms.
Unless you're a hardcore fan of the source material, you'd be forgiven if you didn't know just how long Megami Tensei has been around.
Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei was originally a sci-fi/horror novel trilogy that was released in the 1980s. The story was later adapted into video game form in 1987 for the Famicom. Since then, there have been over 40 Megami Tensei games released. Of those mainline and spin-off Megami Tensei titles, the one that stands out the most is the Persona games.
The first Persona game was released in 1997 and became the first Megami Tensei RPG to see a Western release. From there, the Persona series would take a life of its own. Even though it still uses similar themes from earlier Megami Tensei games, the Persona games focused more on psychology and interpersonal relationships.
By the time that Persona 4 had released in 2008, the Persona games were more of a household name than the Megami Tensei franchise. 2016's Persona 5 only served to solidify the series' claim as one of the best spin-off games ever released.
World of Warcraft
It's funny to think that World of Warcraft is actually technically just a spin-off. It's been around for far longer than the original Warcraft games were when it was first released way back in 2004.
Blizzard's real-time strategy franchise, Warcraft, was a genre-defining series that helped popularize gaming, in general, back in the 90s. It ended up receiving two sequels, each with its own fair share of expansions. However, while all three Warcraft games received critical acclaim and sold well, not a single one could come close to the success of World of Warcraft.
The World of Warcraft spin-off helped expand the world of Azeroth (and beyond) in more ways than anyone could have ever imagined back then. It was and still is far more accessible. Instead of being a real-time strategy title, World of Warcraft was an MMORPG with straightforward and understandable gameplay mechanics that had enough nuance and complexity to let you sink hundreds if not thousands of hours in.
According to some sources, World of Warcraft has generated more than $10 billion in revenue for Blizzard. Judging by the current success of World of Warcraft, this figure is only going to continue to grow.
Turn 10 Studios' Forza Motorsport was first released back in 2005 for the original Xbox. It gave Microsoft a much-needed answer to Sony's Gran Turismo racing sims for the PlayStation consoles. However, it remains debatable if Forza Motorsport was ever able to eclipse Gran Turismo. But, you can't deny that it did give a lot of gearheads on the Xbox a proper racing game that they could finally fall in love with.
Unfortunately, Forza Motorsport's scary emphasis on accuracy and realism wasn't the most welcome. This made it a divisive title that warranted a more arcade-centric spin-off, which eventually came in the form of Forza Horizon.
Make no mistake. Forza Horizon is still very much a realistic and accurate replication of real-life racing. The only difference is that it took games away from professional tracks and gave them a wide-open world to race around in.
For most people, the latest installment in the Forza Horizon series, Forza Horizon 4, is the best racing simulator around. Therefore, the Forza Horizon franchise, by extension, is one of the best spin-off games ever released.
Fallout: New Vegas
Bethesda Softworks' decision to revive Interplay's dead Fallout games has turned out well for them. True, Fallout 76 was and still is a disaster. The verdict is still out if it will ever recover from its messy launch. However, before Fallout 76 and Fallout 4, Bethesda Softworks had two massive hits on its hands with Fallout 3 and its spin-off, Fallout: New Vegas.
Whereas Fallout 3 introduced a sprawling open-world full of interesting people you get a chance to meet, Fallout: New Vegas focused on smaller bits.
This isn't to say that New Vegas was a smaller game. Rather, the spin-off emphasized the thrill of exploration less. Instead, it sported far superior gameplay mechanics and execution, as well as arguably better missions and an unforgettable cast of characters that saw players try to solve their own murder with equally interesting sidequests to boot.
There's a good reason why New Vegas is a favorite among Fallout fans: it's the best Fallout game ever.
Some games sell well and break records. Some games are so well-made that it ends up having a lasting influence on the industry. Some do both twice.
The Metroid franchise is the best example of this.
Before Metroid Prime, the Metroid series of games was known for its unique blend of 2D action platforming and RPG gameplay. Then, Metroid Prime was announced and fans feared that it would signal the series' turn for the worse. Instead, the opposite ended up happening and the spin-off titles ended up seeing their own trilogy.
Metroid Prime introduced Samus to an entirely new generation of gamers without alienating older fans. It had a much bigger world than ever before and expanded on established lore in ways that the older Metroid games didn't. It also certainly didn't hurt that it had stellar gameplay.
Unfortunately, the success of the Metroid Prime trilogy might have set the bar too high for Metroid Prime 4.
Pokémon Legends: Arceus could go down as one of the best spin-off titles ever made. However, until it releases, that honor belongs to Pokèmon Conquest. At least, as far as Pokèmon games go.
Conquest was released as an exclusive title for the Nintendo DS back in 2012 with an enhanced version for the Nintendo DSi later on. The spin-off title was a more strategical take on traditional RPG gameplay of mainline Pokèmon games. In particular, Conquest emphasized team composition and strategy, making players think of which Pokèmon to choose to clear all the unique objectives of every level in the game.
Unlike other spin-off titles, Conquest lets players choose Pokèmon from the first generation all the way to the fifth generation. This gave it an expansive cast of Pokèmon that's never been seen in a spin-off title since.
Unfortunately, despite earning rave reviews, Conquest never really took off. It ended up being the last Pokèmon spin-off of its kind, which is a shame.