Spin-off kings


Well, it was always going to happen. If you're milking a phenomenon with merchandise, movies and cartoons, you may as well make some spin-offs. But what a collection. For starters, we have particularly fond memories of Pokemon Pinball on Game Boy Color, although the GBA Ruby and Sapphire re-run was pretty good too. Then there's Pokemon Dash on DS, which saw you scrubbing furiously at the screen with your stylus to make Pikachu run. Pokemon Ranger was alright but nothing special, although N64's photography game Pokemon Snap was genuinely ace.

Anything else? You bet. There's Pokemon Trading Card Game on GBC... or the now awful-looking Hey you, Pikachu! that let you talk to Pikachu on N64. Pokemon link brought Poke-themed puzzling to DS... and there were Pokemon Puzzle League and Puzzle Challenge along the way too.

Above: Love him or hate him, Pikachu's got good reason to be so chipper. He's the spin-off king

As if that wasn't enough, Pokemon's even got its own handheld console (no not Game Boy, although you'd be forgiven for thinking it was). The Pokemon Mini was a fully-fledged, cartridge-switching handheld unit, featuring shake sensitivity and a dot-matrix LCD screen. There are several on eBay if you fancy tracking one down.

Still more? Pokemon Box, Pokemon Attack, Pokemon Colosseum... Sick of the word 'Pokemon' yet? How about Pokemon Channel? Anyone? OK, OK, we'll stop now. Suffice to say Pokemon has had more diverse offshoots than Mario and many of them bring something new to the table. Even the obligatory pinball game featured a Pokedex and area navigation system to elevate it beyond a mere high-score challenge.

Does this mean Pokemon games are better than Mario games? No, of course not. It's just rare to see a generic game stamped with the Pokemon brand, whereas Mario's Golf, Baseball, Tennis and such could all feature anyone in his place. Mario Kart alone almost clinched it for the red and blue fella, but his over-use elsewhere has diluted him somewhat. And Pikachu's electric attack beats water-based plumbers every time.

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