Top Ten: Spiritual Successors of Video Games

October 8, 2009

A “Spiritual Successor” is a type of sequel that is not considered part of the same world and storyline but is nonetheless considered a successor since it was made by the original’s game creators and that it shares common themes, styles or elements of it. You can probably think of a Spiritual Successor as the smart-alecky half-brother who’s a little bit better than you. Today, RetroviewActive looks at the Top Ten Spiritual Successor video games in history.

10.  Nintendo Wii’s Menu = Mario Paint & GBA Movie Player’s Successor

While not exactly a game per se, the Wii’s menu system is actually a spiritual successor to the game, Mario Paint. What makes it a spiritual successor is that the music, including the default channels and part of the free game Wii Sports, are all too much of a coincidence, even including the Wiimote itself, which behaves similarly like the Super NES’s Mouse. It even goes as far as being the successor to the forgotten GBA Movie Player‘s customization of channels and 512MB Internal Memory. Neat, huh?

9. Doom = Heretic‘s Successor

Heretic is often considered to be the predecessor to the iconic Doom series, as it was created by id Software, and that both run on id’s Tech 1 Engine. It is also considered that if you were to use the God Mode and Weapons Cheat, it would result in death and loss of all your weapons, respectively, in the game Heretic. I’m guessing that’s the only thing that differentiate the two.

8. BlazBlue = Guilty Gear‘s Successor

BlazBlue basically boils down to Guilty Gear, with more emphasis on attacking and more penalty on defending. During early development, it is said that Arc Systems received a lot of heat for just giving Guilty Gears a massive makeover, but ithe true reason for BlazBlue being made was because the company Sammy that published their titles, had merged with Sega and were ultimately forced to create an IP that was to their name. That, or they did not want to name it Guilty Gear XXX (pow-chika-chika-wow-wow)

7. Portal = Narbacular Drop

Before the creation of The Orange Box and Portal, Narbacular Drop was the senior game project for students attending DigiPen. It was later developed by Nuclear Monkey Software in 2005 and was a free PC Download. It was not long before Valve discovered the game and hired the entire development team to work for them, which later created the game Portal, which has the same basic concept around it.

6. Mad World = God Hand

Mad World is considered to be an over-the-top, gory, bloody video game, so it has no surprise that the game has some roots tracing back to an unknown sleeper game known as God Hand. Mad World was created by the now reconfigured remains of Capcom’s now defunct Clover Studios. I never had a really chance to play both of them, but from the overall looks of things is that both games share some elements that both made them over the top. But, really, without the Man Darts. That’s just ridiculous.

5. Donkey Kong Country = Super Mario World

Donkey Kong Country feels like more of a Spiritual Successor because they took everything that they made that set the game apart from it’s predecessor’s earlier games, and expanded on it, and even the gameplay was even reminiscent  of a Mario game( such as collecting coins, power-ups, a finite number of lives and a expansive overworld), but in reality, it was Yoshi’s Island that picked up the sequel for the Stateswide release.

4. Gunstar Heroes = Contra III: The Alien Wars

Were it not for the fact that Konami released Contra: Hard Corps for the Sega Genesis, this would still be considered a Spiritual Successor, mainly for the fact that two of it’s mian programmers worked on both games. Now, I’m just wondering if the Konami Code works on Gunstar Heroes.

3. Odin Sphere = Princess Crown (later on it would be Murasama: The Demon Blade = Odin Sphere = Princess Crown)

Princess Crown is a little-known game made for the Sega Saturn that had a lot of thematic similarities, such as having the same director including the “little girl reading the game story in a book” narrative device. It would even be a larger spiritual successor line when the new Wii game, Murasama: The Demon Blade.

2. Illusion of Gaia = Terranigma  = SoulBlazer

While not a regular trilogy, both Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma form a thematic, if not official, trilogy that is the successor of SoulBlazer. The first boss in SoulBlazer is considered to be a Bonus Boss and is given a storyline of why, even though it looks really weird while Terranigma is explicitly considered to be “Illusion of Gaia 2” in a hidden room populated by the developers. That, and there is a dog named Turbo in all three games.

1. Early Video Games = Carnival Games

Early Video Games(and all arcade games in general) share similar roots when it comes to carnival games and can be seen as a spiritual successor to carnival games such as claw games, shooting ranges, and Pin Ball because you spend little money for one game that is quickly over, and in the case of Pin Ball, you aim for a High Score. It was also known that the only business experience that Nolan Bushnell had before founding Atari was that he knew how to run a carnival game. You could say this could be the granddaddy of all spiritual successors!

So there, you have it. We went through a seemingly endless(well, to me) list of spiritual successors. Makes you think WHAT is actually original in these times, but who really cares, really. It’s video games!


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