Sulky dudes with spiky hair and way-too-big swords. Planet-crushing demons you can summon into battle. Gunblades that let you both stab AND shoot foes simultaneously. Robots. Giant airships. Squawking chocobo. Moogle knights. Man, what's not to love about one of the most epic and far-reaching RPG franchises ever created? The core Final Fantasy series spans an impressive number of top-notch games, but it's also known for spawning a diverse and peculiar range of oddball spinoffs too. Let's dig into some of the wilder and weirder offerings, shall we?
If you've ever been dying to hear a musical mash-up of the iconic surf-rock jam "Wipeout" paired with the unmistakable jingle of the "Chocobo Theme," then Final Fantasy VII: Snowboarding oddly doesn't disappoint -- despite a total lack of any beachside shenanigans. Originally designed as a mini-game diversion found near FFVII's Icicle Inn, this silly snowboarding romp was popular enough to merit an updated standalone version for mobile phones. Sending Cloud zipping down slippery race courses on psychedelic snowboards while dodging Moogle snowmen and other dangers was a nice break from hunting down Sephiroth.
Aside from reading like the sound you make when you sneeze, Ehrgeiz: God Bless The Ring had something else unusual going for it. This 3D arcade arena brawler let you play as some of the more popular characters from Final Fantasy VII, including Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, and a few other notable names. The wrestling-style combat and otherwise generic fighters proved a strange mix, considering the caliber of these special guests. Still, star power had it's appeal. So does busting out WWF moves with your favorite fantasy heroes.
Injecting a heaping dose of strategy into the series' classic RPG formula managed to make Final Fantasy Tactics even more appealing to fellow nerdfolk who already spent far too many hours grinding through dungeons and flinging spells around. With a completely different isometric perspective and an all-new way to experience the magic and mayhem that drew fans in to begin with, Tactics' deep combat system had some seriously sharp hooks. A brutal difficulty level delivered plenty of punishment, but it didn't stop the more masochistic among us from entering the fray over and over again.
Many thought Square Enix drank a little too much of the Guitar Hero Kool-Aid back when it announced Theatrhythm -- a musical Final Fantasy battler for the DS that hinged on rhythmic combat. It could have gone oh-so-wrong, but thanks to the franchise's excellent musical score pedigree spanning the first 13 Final Fantasy games and some thoughtful implementation, this potential train wreck spun out into a real screen-tapping treat. Plus, the little chibi-heroes and their monstrous adversaries are just too darn adorable to resist.
File this one under super vomitously cute. Chocobo's Dungeon may have oozed sweetness out of every pore, but underneath all of that fluff hid plenty of challenge and depth. Chocobo's lighthearted quest saw him hopping into the winding dungeons located inside villager's heads, which was an strangely warped but satisfying twist on the otherwise candy-coated plot. The game's roguelike elements added some welcome variety to the series, though it didn't skimp on tough creature encounters either.
Everyone's favorite feathered Final Fantasy friend sure gets around, doesn't he? The cute little fellow brought his pals this time around, but the party didn't quite turn out as expected. Essentially a Final Fantasy-themed take on Mario Kart that lacked the same polish, Chocobo Racing didn't live up to the franchise it less-than-subtly ripped off, leaving its yellow mascot sputtering in the dust. He did, however, slightly redeem himself on the racing circuit in Final Fantasy X.
In some peoples' book, the land of doofy Disney characters and the world of Final Fantasy go together like peanut butter and grilled cheese -- it's a little tough to choke down. Others gobble the stuff up. Kingdom Hearts was undoubtedly an odd concoction but one that resonated well with enough to generate a full spinoff franchise on its own. It succeeded against the odds, thanks to a sneaky layering of action-focused combat, a broad mix of characters, and more familiar Final Fantasy franchise structuring. But what's with the Gummi Ships guys?
A mouthful to be sure, this downloadable WiiWare exclusive stars a wimpy little king who enjoys sending folks out to fight his battles for him. That's all fine and good because he has the power to build structures with magic -- provided he gets the right resources. Being bossy can have its perks, right? Throwing in some heavy SimCity-esque elements, this totally funky spin on the Crystal Chronicles series delved further into new turf for the franchise.
Any Final Fantasy spin-offs you have an inexplicable soft spot for? Let us know in the comments below!
Nathan Meunier is a freelancer writer and author of Up Up Down Down Left WRITE: The Freelance Guide to Video Game Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter at @nmeunier.
Source : ign[dot]com