10 Times Video Game Spiritual Successors Were Better Than Official Sequels

Every now and then, an imitation is far more than flattery.

ff13 lost odyssey
Square-Enix / Microsoft Game Studios

When a video game is critically acclaimed and hugely successful, a franchise is pretty much assured. If the first instalment is a mammoth hit, it's likely to lead to a gaggle of sequels, prequels, and spin-offs.

However, a beloved title is also likely to spawn something else - copycats. After a platformer, sim, or beat 'em up becomes a trailblazing icon, it isn't long before a multitude of doppelgängers come out of the woodwork to ride its coattails.

But a spiritual successor shouldn't be classified as unoriginal just because it draws inspiration from another source. In fact, some "rip-offs" manage to surpass their forerunner.

What's interesting is there are times when a spiritual successor is released the same time as their counterpart's sequel. Even though everyone is expecting the mainstream IP to dominate, the clone ends up cleaning house. In moments like this, it appears the original series has gone downhill while the new brand has breathed new life into the genre.

The ten entries on this list may wear their inspiration on their sleeve but there's no question they crushed it when they were launched alongside their competition.

10. Blazing Chrome (Contra)

ff13 lost odyssey

Even though Contra has had some decent sequels over the last decade or so, none have come close to matching the classic series. In fact, Konami's bullet-hell shooter has been surpassed by many spiritual successors, including Metal Slug and Vampire Survivors.

Then there's Blazing Chrome. JoyMaster's sidescrolling platformer is so masterful at emulating its inspiration, many players would genuinely believe it's a forgotten run-and-gun from the SNES/Genesis era if they played it with zero context. The trailer also perfectly nails the cheesy 90's vibe to a tee.

While blasting at the screen-filling bosses and listening to the catchy chiptunes, it's easy to forget this isn't an official Contra sequel. Although critics took umbrage with the brutal difficulty curve and outdated controls, these factors further highlight how well this kick-ass clone captured the spirit of Contra.

Blazing Chrome couldn't have come out at a better time, since it was released the same year as the abominable Contra: Rogue Corps. Every aspect of this twin-stick shooter screams "bland," whether it's the graphics, the bosses, or the tedious mission structure. 

The recently released Contra: Operation Galuga was a huge improvement, but it still came up short when compared to Blazing Chrome.

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James Egan has written 80 books including 1000 Facts about Superheroes Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Horror Movies Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about The Greatest Films Ever Made Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about Video Games Vol. 1-3 1000 Facts about TV Shows Vol. 1-3 Twitter - @jameswzegan85