Playable Spin-Offs

by Nate T on May 25, 2012

In this current world of multi-platform promotions and cross-marketing product sales, it almost seems inevitable that every pop culture brand or big trending movie is plastered onto an off-shoot backpack, plate set and/or toy. Such is the case with games as well, and we're not just talking about the video game variety here. For every upcoming summer movie blockbuster lined up, there's a good chance a Monopoly version of that title is also coming down the pipe. In a number of cases however, this spin-off game is simply superficially connected to the source material, with the game play having very little to do with it (Hello Kitty Yahtzee anyone?). On the flip side, there are games that are very connected to the branded theme, but the mechanics leave little to be desired (as in the desire to play said game).

Thankfully, there are a number of game releases that are good games on their own, but with the added layer of the pop culture brand, further enhances the gaming experience. Let's look at a few that stand out and should garner consideration as an addition to your gaming shelves.

Battlestar Galactica

Reference: TV Show (latest incarnation)
Game: Battlestar Galactica
At first, the game looks to be a standard cooperative game, where everyone is trying to ensure the survival of the human race, which is being hunted down by killer robots (created by the same human race). However, the in-game twist is that one of your fellow compatriots (ie one of the players) is one of the killer robots, too. So while everyone is trying to survive another wave of attacks, this hidden agent may be going abouts sabotaging further efforts to survive. The game is filled with tension and action, much like its namesake television show.

Discworld

Reference: Book series
Game: Discworld
Each player is given a secret role based on some of the fictional characters from the books. Each role determines the player's win condition. Some may win based on how many districts on the board they control, some may win based on how much money is in their possession, others win by causing a lot of trouble. Deducing who your oppenents are becomes key to prevent them from winning, while also using good strategy to ensure your victory. While I haven't read any of the books myself, others have mentioned that the roles are quite true to the characters they represent.

Game of Thrones

Reference: Book series, and subsequent TV show
Game: Game of Thrones
The source material focuses on political and physical clashes between warring clans for control of the Iron Throne. One side may have formidable warriors, the other has greater political influence, another is able to coerce situations to their favour due to their immeasurable wealth. The game also reflects this with each faction having unique advantages. Does the player charge into battle head on, or lurk in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to snatch victory away.

Lord of the Rings

Reference: Book series, and then blockbuster movies
Game: Lord of the Rings LCG
In this cooperative game, each player leads their band of heroes into battle against the evil forces of Mordor. Communication and cooperation will be key strategies to ensure everyone survives the current obstacle - either facing down hordes of orcs or traversing through dangerous terrain.

Game: War of the Ring
Re-enact the epic battles from Lord of the Rings either as the armies of Middle Earth or as the forces of Sauron. Expand your territory wisely, lest your oppenent break through your defenses and wreak havoc to your plans. 

 

 

Star Trek

Reference: TV shows (various incarnations) and movies, and rebooted movie(s)
Game: Star Trek Fleet Captains
A tactical war game where each side controls a fleet of star ships. Each faction (with more being released through expansions) has unique abilities that contribute to their individual styles and win conditions. A number of popular ships through the Star Trek universe is recreated in detailed miniatures - Enterprise from the original series, Enterprise-D from The Next Generation and more.

Game: Star Trek DBG
DBG stands for deck building game.
Based in the Next Generation timeframe, this is a game that can be played 3 different ways. Compete against each other by exploring the universe and winning direct confrontations. Or pick sides and recruit allies to victory, recreating the Klingon Civil War event. Or team up and attempt to survive the Borg invasion. Favourite characters like Picard, Riker and Troi (both mother and daughter) help contribute to your winning strategy.

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