Say what you will, but Super Mario RPG was awesome. The game was co-developed by Squaresoft, and it used all the Mario characters we knew and loved, as well as some new characters that they made up just for this game. To this day, fans go crazy at the mention of the name Geno. Sure, all the Paper Marios and Mario & Luigi RPGs were fun, but Super Mario RPG started the party. To this day, it still hasn't been bested. I'd kill to get another chance to hop across musical tadpoles, run in Yoshi races, or even just smash into enemies with a Starman in order to farm experience. Seriously Nintendo, we want a remake.
During the PlayStation era, Squaresoft became obsessed with titles that didn't quite fit in the numbered Final Fantasy line. Many of these were mostly forgettable (Chocobo's Dungeon, anyone?), but one, Final Fantasy Tactics, is widely regarded as one of the best grid-based tactical RPGs to ever hit the market. It had an awesomely customizable job system, a unique action system that worked off of action recharge time and allowed you to set traps, and a storyline that dealt with issues that weren't normally dealt with in RPGs at the time. (You just have to love those church conspiracies.) It was later remade for the PSP, and now it's even coming to mobile phones. And that's not to mention that it got spinoffs of its own in Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Advance 2, which then got a spinoff of their own in Final Fantasy XII. So Final Fantasy Tactics has been spun off enough times to land itself back in the main numbered titles. No other spinoff has managed to do that.
Now we come to our final Mario entry on our list. Mario Kart is the single longest-running Mario spinoff in the franchise's history. In fact, you might consider it the first Mario spin-off ever created. Before Mario was playing baseball and throwing parties, he decided to hop in a go-kart and throw turtle shells at his friends. It was big back on the SNES, it was huge on the N64, and it has become a staple of the Mario line on every console since.
Yes, Portal is a spin-off. The reference to Black Mesa during the end credits song is more than just a one-off joke. The game actually takes place in the same world as Half-Life, and at this point, I'd say Portal is even more popular than Half-Life. Half-Life never gave us endless strings of memes like "The cake is a lie," and "Gotta go to space." Portal is one of the most popular games of all time, a real phenomenon unto itself. However, it's still not the greatest spinoff in video game history. That honor goes to our next entry.
Mega Man was a game about a blue robot that needed to defeat a series of robot masters built by a mad scientist. Then came Mega Man X, and Mega Man Zero, and Mega Man ZX, and Mega Man Battle Network, and Mega Man Star Force, and Mega Man Legends, and so on. There are so many Mega Men out there that I can't even keep track of them anymore. So why does this take the number one slot on our list? Because the Mega Man spinoffs have a surprisingly good track record. Anyone can think of a Mario spinoff that sucked, or a Sonic spinoff that sucked, or even a Castlevania spinoff that sucked. However, Mega Man's spinoffs always did well. X is just as iconic as the original Mega Man. Zero was popular enough to get his own series on the GBA, which then got its own spinoff on the DS. The Battle Network games lasted for six iterations, each with multiple releases, and one 2D platformer. In fact, the worst of the series was probably Star Force, and even that got its own anime. When it comes down to it, Mega Man will always be the king of the spinoff.
By Angelo M. D'Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*