Spinoff video games exist for a very good reason: to sell people on a game they might otherwise not play. Say you don’t care for racing games, but you love Mario. Maybe you’ll give Mario Kart a shot. Maybe you’ve never played a strategy game, but you love Final Fantasy. Boom, Final Fantasy Tactics. Sometimes, though, spinoff games push the original franchise further than any reasonable person would expect.
The results can be good, bad, or in between. However they ended up, here are some serious head-scratchers: video game spinoffs that make no sense.
1. Metal Gear Survive
Remember all those times in the Metal Gear Solid games when you went to alternate universes to fight zombies? Neither do I. But in Konami’s first attempt to make a Metal Gear game since director Hideo Kojima left the company, that’s exactly what happens. This four-player co-op game takes place right after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the prequel to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Spoilers for Ground Zeroes: Snake and his pals take off of Mother Base just as it blows up and sinks into the ocean. Fortunately for the people left behind, they didn’t die. Unfortunately, though, they were transported to a zombie-infested alternate reality, where they have to, as the title suggests, survive. Why this happened, and what it has to do with the rest of the Metal Gear Solid storyline, remains murky and will probably never be explained.
The easiest explanation is that Konami has no idea what to do with Metal Gear Solid without Kojima, so it’s going to slap the name on any other project it can come up with until people stop paying attention.
2. Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
This fast-paced competitive puzzle game is really great, but it makes one wonder what Street Fighter and Darkstalkers characters are doing in a puzzle game at all. But there they are, right in the middle of the screen. As you and your opponent compete to create gems in the puzzle portions of the screen, the fighting game characters beat each other up based on how each player is faring. It doesn’t make any sense, but that’s no problem when the rest of the game is this good.
3. Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy franchise lends itself well to a number of genres and beyond the straight-ahead Japanese role-playing games that they are. But a shooter? That’s a bit of a stretch for a series that usually focuses on strategic combat and epic storytelling. As you may have guessed, the game wasn’t very good.
4. Castlevania: Judgement
Most Castlevania games are about exploring a vast monster-filled castle on your way to battle the undead fanged man himself, Dracula. Castlevania: Judgement puts a new spin on the concept by ditching exploration entirely and focusing on fighting. Yes, it’s a fighting game, but it’s not a good one.
5. Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
The core Might & Magic games are old-school RPGs that take place in medieval fantasy settings. They’re not at all like Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes, a puzzle game spinoff that many gamers actually prefer to the main series. In this finely-tuned title, you have to line up members of your army into rows and columns so they’ll either unleash deadly attacks or fortify your defenses. It’s a lot of fun, even if it comes straight out of left field.
6. Street Fighter: The Movie
One of the earliest PlayStation One games was a fighting game based on Street Fighter: The Movie. Like a snake eating its own tail, it’s a game based on a movie based on a game. Which might actually be fine and dandy if only it were any good. The animations are stiff, the controls unresponsive, and the whole thing looks dark and dreary — unlike every other Street Fighter game in existence. At least it lets you be Kylie Minogue as Cammy and Jean Claude Van Damme as Guile.
7. Mega Man Soccer
A boy robot who’s usually found blasting through mechanical enemies in pursuit of the nefarious Dr. Wily, Mega Man is not exactly known for his skills on the sports field. But when you find him playing soccer against Toadman in this bizarre spinoff from 1994, the best thing to do is simply to go along with it.
8. Mortal Kombat: Special Forces
For a fighting game based on murdering your opponents, I suppose it’s not that big of a stretch to have one of the combatants — er, “kombatants” — walk around shooting and beating the crap out of enemies in this brawler spinoff of Mortal Kombat. But the tight gameplay fighting game fans expect is sorely lacking here, and the ugly, blocky graphics don’t benefit the game in the slightest. Also, why does Jax have metal arms, when the game takes place before he got them? Let’s just say it makes no sense.
9. Silent Hill: Book of Memories
Most Silent Hill games drop your very vulnerable character into a town teeming with unspeakable creatures. Not Silent Hill: Book of Memories. This top-down dungeon crawler lets you and your buddies team up to fight off malevolent creatures using all the hack-and-slash attacks you’d expect from games like Diablo. This isn’t the Silent Hill you remember. It’s probably not a Silent Hill you’d want to remember, either.
10. Shadow the Hedgehog
When you think Sonic, you probably think about speeding through colorful game worlds. You probably don’t think about a dark, gun-wielding anti-hero blasting enemies in a dreary game. But that’s exactly what you got in Shadow the Hedgehog, an ugly, boring, repetitive, badly designed game that never should have existed in the first place. (Wow, that was harsh.)
11. Pokémon Snap
Pokémon Snap would actually turn into something of a precursor to Pokémon GO, but no one knew that at the time of its release on Nintendo 64. It’s basically an on-rails shooter, meaning you’re conveyed through the levels automatically, while you look at stuff. But instead of a gun, you have a camera that you use to take pictures of the Pokémon you encounter. It’s weird, but unlike some of the games on this list, it’s not half bad.