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Spiritual Licensee
A counterpart of Better by a Different Name in a way, and also a sort of subtrope of Spiritual Successor and Follow the Leader (but not always), in effect a Captain Ersatz of a story rather than a character. It's particularly evident with video games; most people have certain movie characters with tons of potential they dream of playing as in an amazing game, yet as most movie licensed games are terrible, there's almost no chance of that happening.

Technically no chance, anyway. This is when something has nothing to do with a certain series, but evokes almost the same feeling you'd imagine a decent license invoking with a certain franchise, making it (intentionally or not) a Spiritual Licensee.

This can also occur after a developer decides to create a Spiritual Successor to a game from a previously established franchise, but put an original spin on the game to differentiate it from its predecessor(s).

Compare Expy for the equivalent trope with characters. Also compare Recycled IN SPACE!. Contrast Spiritual Antithesis, Dolled-Up Installment, Surprisingly Similar Stories and The Mockbuster. Can be a Divorced Installment.


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  • If there was ever a tabletop game version of Watership Down, it would be called Bunnies & Burrows.
  • The Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000 come almost prepackaged from Robert A. Heinlein.
  • Mutants & Masterminds is naturally the tabletop game roleplaying game equivalent of the Marvel and DC universes so much so that fans had every character from both publishers statted out in the forums. Furthermore, while both companies tended to develop their own RPGs in the past, DC Comics released its most recent tabletop game under third edition Mutants & Masterminds rules.
  • Pathfinder is considered by many Dungeons & Dragons players to be D&D 3.75 (halfway between 3.5 and 4th Edition). It helps that it is heavily based on D&D's rule set.
    • Pathfinder is more like "the successor to D&D 3.5 in all but name" and 4 is "the successor to D&D 3.5 in name only". 4th edition is really an entirely different game that happens to share the same name (and a lot of flavor text). It's almost trivial to convert a D&D 3.5 adventure to Pathfinder rules, something that's not true of 4th Edition.
  • FATAL is... well, let's be fair. FATAL is probably the worst Berserk RPG ever made, but it's still the closest we'll ever come to a Berserk RPG.

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  • The MagiQuest simulated-adventure franchise, although much lower-tech and modest in scale, is currently the closest that fans of Niven & Barnes Dream Park can come to savoring the fictional mega-theme park's attractions.

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