games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Oddest Franchise Games – Mario is Missing, Zelda’s Adventure, More

February 26, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Mario Is Missing

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball! This week I’m here to talk about gaming franchises, specifically ones which involve some oddball games. Most franchises stick to what they are good at but occasionally they branch off in either good or bad directions. Here is my list of the ones which go really off the rails. Enjoy:

#8: Chocobo Racing/Ehrgeiz

Both games came out around the same time in America and I was baffled by both. Chocobo Racing is a pretty bog-standard kart racing game that was trying to copy Crash Team Racing and Mario Kart pretty nakedly. Unfortunately, it didn’t aspire to do anything really new or different so it is only an average copy, at best. Ehrgeiz is a different beast. While it has some things in common with other 3D fighting games of its era, it plays pretty differently than them and is unique. It’s not always successful but I at least had more fun playing Ehrgeiz than any of the Dissidia games.

#7: Mega Man Soccer

Most Mega Man games are just shooter/platformers where you take on bosses, gain their powers and then defeat Dr. Wily in the end. Mega Man Soccer is basically a soccer game only with Mega Man heroes/villains as the players. The one unique hook is that everyone has a special attack, like turning the ball into a fire ball which can stun other players if it touches them. I think this might be the first example of a mascot character going from one genre to another, at least when it comes to actually controlling those characters, but don’t quote me on that.

#6: Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes

Most of the Might & Magic games are pretty standard PC RPG games. You form a party, kill monsters, use spells, collect loot and so on. Only instead of fighting from a turn-based combat system or using a FPS-style system, you do everything with a match-3 combat system. You have to stack three units on top of one another in a column to activate them to attack the other player. Alternately, you can have three units next to each other which then forms a wall to defend against attacks from the opponent. Gravity also factors in to when you swap units so you can create combos to maximize your attacks or defense. Lastly, the game has a very anime-esque look to it that I’m sure turned some of the old die-hard fans of the franchise off, but looked fine to me.

#5: Mario is Missing!

There are a *TON* of Mario spin-offs out there, being that the franchise is one of the longest lasting and diverse when it comes to video games. A lot of them are pretty good, to even excellent, but a particular bad one is Mario is Missing! From what I can gather, this is basically a “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” clone only done way more ineptly. The objectives and clues it has for you are very arcane and not explained well at all. There are some occasional platforming sections in the game but they are also bad. I remember playing this as a kid around 8 or 9 and hating it with a fiery passion. While I’m sure I could figure it out better now, I still wouldn’t like it.

#4: Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo

The first thing I love about this game is the title. It’s an obvious joke about how many different iterations of Street Fighter 2 came out over the years. Instead of a fighting game with chibi characters, which goes to Pocket Fighter, Puzzle Fighter is basically an offshoot of Puyo Puyo to me. Only instead of needing to match four gems of the same color, you need a like-colored “Crash Gem” to actually get rid of the gems you pile up. Or, you can use the rare diamond to get rid of all of one color at once. I generally like this style of puzzle game over Puyo Puyo, which I still can’t do well at. It just seems more intuitive to me.

#3: Zelda’s Adventure

There is a general high bar of quality when it comes to the Legend of Zelda franchise. A bar that the Philips CD-i games miss entirely when they had three Zelda games on the system. Two of the three games, Wand of Gamelon and this one are from Zelda’s perspective, which is actually kind of novel. That’s about the only thing they have going for them. While Wand of Gamelon is bad, Zelda’s Adventure is even more inept. You can’t have music and sound effects going on at the same time, it has terrible controls, gives no help about how you should deal with enemies or what items to use on them and the “acting” is below an Asylum film project. I’m sure if Nintendo could turn back the clock this is one of the few mistakes they would correct.

#2: Typing of the Dead

Not all spin-off games are bad, in fact Clash of Heroes or Puzzle Fighter are some really great games. One of the best of these though is Typing of the Dead. The original TotD basically re-used the assets/game of House of the Dead 2, only instead of a light gun you have weird Dreamcast-style Proton Packs with keyboards in front of the characters. You basically have to type well in order to kill the zombies and other creatures that are attacking you. You can occasionally get bonuses if you hit a certain phrase in a limited time limit or just a letter, but you have to be quick about it. I don’t think the original TotD is on a digital store front but the “Overkill” version is, which is pretty much the same thing.

#1: Pokemon Snap

Technically, Pokemon Snap came out later in America than Pokemon Stadium but in Japan it predated Stadium by a month. I imagine the delay was Nintendo of America going “Is this goddamn game going to work in America at all?” Well, yes it is, but with one or two caveats. The first is that the game only has about 60 Pokemon of the original 151 that were in the first two games. The second, probably larger, caveat was NOA being dumbfounded by it. Instead of releasing a “proper” Pokemon game for the N64, they got a safari game where the only goal is to take photos. Still, when it comes to which Pokemon game people remember more from the N64, Pokemon Snap is way more recognized than Pokemon Stadium was.

For comments, list your favorite weird spin-off game and why.

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Top 8 Franchise Resurrections

article topics :

The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison