Derivative Games Aren’t Necessarily Bad

Long-time reader and friend, Norfen, brought up an interesting point in my Kario Kart 8 Deluxe review. I couldn’t come up with any cons for the game. I pretty much like everything about it. Norfen said, “Wouldn’t a con be that it is derivative?” Brilliant topic for discussion!

I stopped and reflected on that for a few minutes. I have certainly been critical of games in the past when they feel like rehashes of previous games. I think most of you reading this will identify with the ‘wow clone’ era of MMOs, and many shooters these days are all derivatives. Usually the term ‘derivative’ is used in a negative connotation… but I don’t feel that way about a lot of games.

There are many cases where I WANT a derivative work.

I WANT more games like Assassin’s Creed — which is the king of derivative gameplay. [Site note, AC: Origins leaked. Going to Egypt woot!] I want more EverQuest style MMOs. I want developers to flat out copy the sandbox nature of UO (See Legends of Aria). I want more games like Warcraft RTS, and I don’t want them to change much if anything. In the case of Mario Kart, I like that it’s the same.

When developers depart from what works (for me), I’m actually turned off. You’ll note I want to have my cake and eat it too. When it works, I want more. When it doesn’t work, I want innovation.

I just finished (finally) playing through Breath of the Wild. I really enjoyed it, but I have to say the biggest let down for me was how little it actually ended up feeling like a Zelda game. I longed for the familiar formula, despite having just previously played two Zelda games (Twilight Princess and Wind Waker) while awaiting its release.

Whether you enjoy games that rehash the same old gameplay / mechanics / feel / etc. is entirely subjective. There’s no right or wrong answer. But I definitely want to voice that many games are good BECAUSE they are derivative works of their predecessors.

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