Spiritual Successor
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Spiritual Successor

A spiritual successor, sometimes called a spiritual sequel, is a successor to a work of fiction which does not build upon the storyline established by a previous work as do most traditional prequels or sequels, yet features many of the same elements, themes, or styles as its source material, thereby resulting in it being related or similar "in spirit" to its predecessor.[1][2]

In films and television

The film 10 Cloverfield Lane was not originally scripted with any connection to Cloverfield. When the film was acquired by Bad Robot Productions, producer J. J. Abrams recognized a common element of a giant monster attack between the two films, and chose to market 10 Cloverfield Lane as a spiritual successor to Cloverfield to help bring interest to the newer film, which allowed him to establish a franchise he could build upon in future.[3]

The show Parks and Recreation is often described as being a spiritual successor to The Office, which was also developed by Greg Daniels. Both shows feature characters who within the universe are being filmed by a documentary film crew, who are occasionally acknowledged. They also both feature satirical senses of humor and are presented as mockumentaries.

The movie Night Is Short, Walk On Girl shares its setting and some of its characters with the show The Tatami Galaxy, and has thus been considered a spiritual successor to it. Both are directed by Masaaki Yuasa and are based on books by Tomihiko Morimi.[4]

Other films that have been described as spiritual successors include: Tenet to Inception, both Christopher Nolan sci-fi action films;[5] and On the Rocks to Lost in Translation, both Sofia Coppola comedy-drama films starring Bill Murray.[6]

In video games

There are several different definitions of a spiritual successor game, but they broadly involve a successor work that is inspired by, or in some way builds on the design of the previous. These are possible because while characters and names can be protected or trademarked, video game mechanics for example cannot.[7][8]

Common studio

Spiritual successor games are sometimes made by the studio that developed the original work, under a new title, which may be due to licensing issues.[9] An example of this would be the work of British game developer Frontier Developments, which created two spiritual successors with the "Planet" name, Planet Coaster and Planet Zoo. These games are successors to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and Zoo Tycoon respectively, which were developed by Frontier in the 2000s and 2010s. One example of a spiritual sequel resulting from legal issues is Dark Souls by From Software, inspired by Demon's Souls by the same studio. The rights for Demon's Souls, an exclusive title for the PlayStation 3, was held by Sony Computer Entertainment, preventing From Software from making a successor on other platforms, leading them to create a new property with similar gameplay mechanics for the Xbox 360 and other platforms.[2][10]BioShock is a similar example, as a spiritual successor to Irrational Games' System Shock 2. While the game was met with critical acclaim, it was considered a commercial failure, and publisher Electronic Arts would not allow a third title. After several years and other projects at Irrational, as well as being acquired by a new publisher 2K Games, the studio developed BioShock, with a similar free-form narrative structure.[11][12]

Common staff

Alternatively, the successor may be developed by staff from the preceding work under a new studio name. A number of games from Bullfrog Productions have spawned spiritual successors in the years after the studio was closed by Electronic Arts in 2001. These include Godus- succeeding Populous,[13]War for the Overworld, succeeding Dungeon Keeper,[14]Satellite Reign, succeeding Syndicate Wars,[15] and Two Point Hospital, succeeding Theme Hospital.[16] While Bullfrog had closed, all of these successor works have involved staff from the preceding titles, such as Godus' Peter Molyneux.[17]Shadow of the Colossus was considered a spiritual successor to Ico by the lead director of both games Fumito Ueda; Ueda did not want to necessarily make the connection between the games one of a canonical narrative, but that both had similar narrative themes and elements that he wanted players to interpret on their own.[18]Yooka-Laylee, a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, was developed by Playtonic Games, which was made up of former staff members from Rare.

Common themes only

As a looser definition, a spiritual successor may be developed by a different studio with no connection to the first, and is simply inspired by the gameplay, aesthetics or other elements of the preceding work. Several examples include Axiom Verge, succeeding Metroid,[19]Cities: Skylines succeeding Sim City,[20] and Citizens of Earth, succeeding Earthbound.[21]War for the Overworld (succeeding Dungeon Keeper) crossed through several of these categories over the course of the development. Originating as a fan-made direct sequel to Dungeon Keeper 2, the game then became a spiritual successor with only thematic connection after moving away from the Dungeon Keeper IP. Finally, the hiring of returning voice actor Richard Ridings presented a direct staff connection to the original.

In other industries

The Honda CR-Z is regarded as the spiritual successor to the second generation Honda CR-X in both name and exterior design, despite a nearly two decade time difference in production.[22][23] The Toyota Fortuner SUV is a spiritual successor to the Toyota 4Runner SUV mainly because they both share the same platform as the Hilux pickup truck. The Canon Cat computer was Jef Raskin's spiritual successor to the Apple Macintosh.[24]

In sports

In sports, the Ravens-Steelers rivalry is considered the spiritual successor to the older Browns-Steelers rivalry due to the original Cleveland Browns relocation to Baltimore, as well as the reactivated Browns having a 6-30 record against the Steelers since returning to the league in 1999.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Carreker, Dan (2012). The Game Developer's Dictionary:: A Multidisciplinary Lexicon for Professionals and Students. Cengage Learning. p. 206. ISBN 1435460820.
  2. ^ a b Jin Ha Lee; Clarke, Rachel Ivy; Sacchi, Simone; Jett, Jacob (2014). "Relationships among video games: Existing standards and new definitions". Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology. 51 (1): 1-11. doi:10.1002/meet.2014.14505101035.
  3. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Kit, Borys (March 17, 2016). "Hot New Movie Catchphrase: Call It a "Spiritual Successor," Not a Sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017.
  4. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (2017-10-05). "The Night Is Short, Walk on Girl review - a hallucinogenic trip down a rabbit hole". The Guardian. Retrieved .
  5. ^ "Christopher Nolan Offers New Details on 'Tenet' Story and What the Hell "Time Inversion" Even Means". Collider. 18 June 2020.
  6. ^ "On the Rocks review: Sofia Coppola's spiritual successor to Lost in Translation". The Independent. 2 October 2020.
  7. ^ https://www.gamedesigning.org/gaming/copyright/
  8. ^ https://odinlaw.com/when-does-spiritual-successor-become-copyright-infringement/
  9. ^ https://www.giantbomb.com/spiritual-successor/3015-425/games/
  10. ^ Reilly, Jim (February 10, 2012). "Sony Talks The Last Guardian, Demon's Souls, And The Vita Launch". Game Informer. Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ Parkin, Simon (April 17, 2014). "Rapture leaked: The true story behind the making of BioShock". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ "The Making Of: BioShock". Edge. July 23, 2012. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. Retrieved 2016.
  13. ^ https://techcrunch.com/2014/08/07/peter-molyneuxs-godus-game-can-make-you-a-mobile-deity-on-ios-right-now/#:~:text=Wacky%20game%20creator%20Peter%20Molyneux,free%20on%20the%20App%20Store.
  14. ^ https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-10-23-dungeon-keeper-war-for-the-overworld-and-a-helpful-developer-from-ea#:~:text=War%20for%20the%20Overworld%20is,the%20franchise%20dead%20and%20buried.
  15. ^ https://www.redbull.com/gb-en/satellite-reign-syndicate-wars-returns-at-last
  16. ^ https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-07-23-superb-theme-hospital-spiritual-successor-two-point-hospital-heading-to-consoles-late-2019
  17. ^ https://www.pcgamesn.com/indie/war-overworld-be-narrated-richard-ridings-voice-mentor-dungeon-keeper
  18. ^ McNamara, Andy & Berghammer, Billy (2006). "Colossal Creation: The Kenji Kaido and Fumito Ueda Interview". Game Informer. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved 2006.
  19. ^ https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/spiritual-successors-greatest-games/
  20. ^ https://venturebeat.com/2018/09/13/cities-skylines-surprise-launches-onto-nintendo-switch-today/
  21. ^ https://v1.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/conferences/e32014/11727-Citizens-of-Earth-Earthbound-Inspired-Atlus-Approved
  22. ^ "2007 Tokyo Auto Show Preview: Honda CR-Z". Inside Line. edmunds. 2007-10-09. Retrieved . Honda says the name of its sporty two-passenger concept for Tokyo -- CR-Z -- stands for "Compact Renaissance Zero." But it's no accident that the car and its name evoke fond memories of the old Honda CRX from the late '80s and early '90s.
  23. ^ Squatriglia, Chuck (2008-02-20). "Europe Gets Honda's CR-Z Hybrid Before The Rest of Us". Autopia. Wired. Retrieved .
  24. ^ Shapiro, Ezra (October 1987). "A Spiritual Heir to the Macintosh". BYTE. p. 121. Retrieved 2014.
  25. ^ "Garber: Want nasty? Get a load of Ravens-Steelers". ESPN.com. 15 January 2009.

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