Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius has clear influences from Brave Frontier.
Dragon Heroes is clearly modeled on Hero Shooter, especially the enemy formations.
The Westport Independent has been frequently compared to Papers Please in style, theme, and tone. Both have a low-fi dictatorship setting, a somewhat similar art style, rebellious organizations, "choices mean everything" plots, and gameplay revolving around paperwork. The former revolves around a newspaper that must adjust to new government regulations or aid a rebellion, while the latter is about a border checkpoint official.
The music: The Nuvema town theme, the Surfing theme, Route 10 theme, and N's Farewell are all suspiciously similar to songs from Mother 3 (respectively: Hinawa's Theme, The Green Train's Fun, Too!, Run, My Dog, Run!, and the Love Theme).
The story: The back-story reveals that Unova's two dragons, Reshiram and Zekrom (and probably Kyurem) were once one, and twin heroes formed Unova alongside it. However, one twin wanted things to remain natural and the other was in favor of urbanization. The dragon then split in two as a result, the older twin forming Reshiram and the younger twin forming Zekrom. N and Ghetsis are said to be the decendents of one of these twins.
The Pokémon: Drilbur and its evolution, Excadrill, are reminiscent of the Mischievous Mole and Reconstructed Mole enemies respectively. Garbodor is similar to the Forlorn Junk Heap. Many others resemble enemies from the other Mother series games.
Mewtwo looks quite similar to Giygas from Mother 1, except with some purple and a few extra details added.
Cities: Skylines is so similar to the SimCity series, despite being made by a completely different developer with no involvement whatsoever from Maxis or EA, that many consider it to be a better SimCity 5 than the actual SimCity 5!
Raw Thrills, the arcade game devhouse headed by Eugene Jarvis, has three instances of this.
Rareware's GoldenEye and Perfect Dark are likely the prime video game examples. Perfect Dark is built on the Game Engine of Goldeneye, so it feels like a natural extension of the same game, despite Bond being nowhere in sight. They even use Rare Guns and settings from Goldeneye with the names slightly changed. Goldeneye had another Spiritual Successor in the form of the TimeSplitters games, done by the core team behind Goldeneye. Time Splitters 2 is extremely similar to Goldeneye and with the use of the Map Maker, one can get extremely close to it.
Fumito Ueda's Shadow of the Colossus was thought to be a Spiritual Successor to his previous game, ICO. However, he revealed a direct connection between the two games in an interview several months after the game's release: the protagonist of Shadow of the Colossus is actually a direct ancestor of the protagonist in Ico. However, the two play very differently and have no further storyline connections. In turn, The Last Guardian is part of this world.
Uber Entertainment is trying to fund a new one called Planetary Annihilationon Kickstarter.
The Paper Mario series was conceived and created in-house by Nintendo's Intelligent Systems after a direct sequel to Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars became impossible due to Nintendo and Square's late-nineties falling-out.
Likewise for the hand-held Mario & Luigi series. Practically the only differences between Mario & Luigi and Super Mario RPG are the plot, characters, and change of perspective from isometric to more traditional side-scrolling. Incidentally, Alphadream, the development company, is made of staff originally from Square.
Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma are considered to form a thematic, though unofficial, trilogy as successors to Soul Blazer. Although there are direct links included; The first boss of Soul Blazer is a Bonus Boss in Illusion of Gaia, with a storyline explanation of why, albeit a somewhat bizarre one. Meanwhile, Terranigma is explicitly referred to as "Illusion of Gaia 2" in a Developer's RoomEaster Egg.
There's also a dog named Turbo who shows up in all three games.
The turbulent history of Wasteland's developers has prompted a lot of this:
After Interplay made Wasteland for Electronic Arts, EA made a "sequel" named Fountain Of Dreams, which they ultimately decided not to market as a sequel to Wasteland.
Since IP couldn't get the rights to Wasteland back from EA, IP (specifically, the RPG group inside IP, Black Isle Studios) instead repurposed a prototype GURPS RPG to make Fallout and Fallout 2.
After Fallout 2, IP committed many dark and evil deeds that sapped away BIS' strength and ultimately led to all of BIS' development efforts (Including Fallout 3, codenamed "Project Van Buren") being canceled. After firing droves of BIS employees, shutting BIS down, and ultimately going down in flames itself, IP put Fallout on the auction block.
As the crowning glory to this nonsense, InXile head Brian Fargo (the producer of the original Wasteland) has reacquired the rights to Wasteland recently, opening up the possibility for Wasteland itself to get an actual sequel. Which is actually happening thanks to the Kickstarter's success, leading to the release of Wasteland 2 in 2014. Oddly enough, this game works in many ways as the spiritual successor to the first two Fallout games, since the Fallout 3 that was released is often considered to be different compared to the first two.
The scepter then has to go to Afterfall which is being developed as a spiritual successor to Fallout, set in Nuclear Winter Eastern Europe.
Interplay also released Dragon Wars, the spiritual successor to The Bards Tale trilogy they developed for EA. Brian Fargo then obtained the rights to The Bard's Tale and published another game under that title in 2004.
After Michael Cranford, the main creator and programmer of the first two Bard Tale games, stopped working with Interplay, and wasn't involved in the creation of The Bard's Tale III, he created his own take on how he would make the third part of his game, Centauri Alliance, which was more, or less Bard's TaleIn Space!, although with a lot of improvments to gameplay, and a battle-mode similar to that found in the Gold Box games. Centauri Alliance even had an option to transfer characters from the three Bard's Tale games.
The two Icewind Dale games that run on the Infinity Engine, are argubly the most similar to Gold Box games in general feel and gameplay. In the Icewind Dale games, like in Gold Box games(and many other older games), the player creates the whole adventuring party.
The Realms of Arkania series creator, Guido Henkel, outright admited in an interview, that the split into the first person exploration, and isometric view battle mode, is patrly inspired by the Gold Box games. In turn, the founders of Bioware admited that the Realms of Arkania games, were also one of the inspirations for the Infinity Engine games, like Baldur's Gate. Guido Henkel himself latter worked personaly on Planescape: Torment, one of the Infinity Engine games. It's actualy even him in make-up as the Nameless One, on the game's box.
The Infinity Engine games themselves had a colossal impact on the Western RPG genre and, thanks to their complicated parentage (it's virtually impossible to separate BioWare and Black Isle's contributions to their awesomeness), received a plethora of successors:
BioWare's Neverwinter Nights (a series later continued by Black Isle's successors) was a successor both to their own Baldur's Gate series and to the aforementioned Gold Box game by the same title. All three games were based on D&D.
The Trackmania series is considered to be the Spiritual Successor of an early 90's game called Stunts, which not only has the merit of sporting super-sleek 3D graphics (for the time of course), but is about clearing obstacle-laden tracks on powerful sports cars. Coincidentally, Trackmania Nations, to put an example, is about clearing obstacle-laden tracks in an Formula-1-lookalike racing car.
Maximo: Ghosts to Glory was created as an heir to the Ghouls 'n Ghosts series, to the point of borrowing the first-stage music of the latter, and having protagonist stripped to his boxer shorts after taking enough damage.
Fallout 3 bears the distinction of being the spiritual sequel of The Elder Scrolls series while itself being an actual sequel to another game.
The other theory is that the Halo Trilogy is a PREQUEL to PiD and Marathon, though that seems more unlikely now due to the Halo IP no longer being owned by Bungie. With that said, Destiny appears to be a successor to that franchise.
Dragon Ball: Advance Adventure is a spiritual successor to a game based on Dragon Ball released on the NES that's better known overseas as Dragon Power: both are action games with 2D fighting elements based on Goku's adventures, with Advance Adventure improving heavily on the gameplay and expanding the scope of the game beyond the Emperor Pilaf saga to include everything up through the King Piccolo saga.
Xenosaga was one for Xenogears (although the third game & the sourcebooks hint that the two take place in the same timeline, albeit very distantly apart). This was due to copyright issues; Square Enix still holds the copyright for Xenogears, while all the people who actually worked on it went to Monolith Soft. There are a metric ton of Shout Outs and characters that are strikingly similar. Word of God, however, states that Xenosaga was a Continuity Reboot for Xenogears, and not an actual prequel.
And history has now repeated itself: Xenoblade is a spiritual successor to both Xenogears and Xenosaga, once again caused by Namco retaining the saga franchise while Monolith, now owned by Nintendo, wanted to make more Xeno games. Which is receiving a sequel (still called more of a "spiritual successor" by many to the previous game which was called Xenoblade Chronicles outside of Japan) in the form of the upcoming Wii U game Xenoblade Chronicles X, formerly known under its codename X. It has been confirmed to be a new story/setting, but has similar gameplay as Xenoblade, expies of characters from previous games seen in trailers and mecha similar to the previous Xeno games.
Class Of Heroes is the Spiritual Successor to the (Japan-only)Wizardry Xth subseries, although much of the races, and (in the first game only)classes are almost identical to those in the Dark Savant Trilogy(Wizardry 6 through 8).
Smash TV later got its own Spiritual Successor, Total Carnage, with the same gameplay and over-the-top violence, except you're fighting a Saddam Hussein lookalike instead of going through a futuristic game show.
One of the victory conditions in Civilization II is to make a journey to Alpha Centauri, thus beginning the colonization of the galaxy by your side. Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri can thus be seen as the direct sequel to this particular victory. Or, it's just Civilization IIIN SPACE!
While Guitar Hero III is obviously the notional sequel to Guitar Hero II, many feel that the "soul" of the franchise has moved along to Rock Band. After Harmonix, the series' creator, sold the Guitar Hero IP to Activision, they moved on to Rock Band, making it the game which still employs the Guitar Hero II development team, game engine, and philosophy regarding note chart design.
While we're on the subject of Rock Band, Unplugged for the PSP hearkens back to Harmonix's pre-Guitar Hero days, playing much more like Frequency or Amplitude (in fact, it was orginally supposed to be a direct sequel to the latter, but Sony then vetoed the idea, forcing Harmonix to slap the Rock Band label on it). The DS version of Rock Band 3 continues the trend, while the DS version of Lego Rock Band is a similar but more watered-down game. The similarities then ballooned into Rock Band Blitz, which is little more than a direct self-plagiarism of Amplitude. This means that, in a way, Harmonix finally got thatAmplitudesequel they wanted!
And now, Amplitude has its own successor, thanks to Kickstarter.
killer7 and No More Heroes, both brainchildren of Goichi Suda. Travis, the protagonist of No More Heroes, can learn special abilities themed after the various personalities from Killer7 by bringing balls to a drunk in a bar.
Far Cry, as well as spawning a couple of re-imaginings, also has a spiritual sequel in Crysis. It was made by the same company, it's set in a similar location, and includes similar themes.
In fact, Crysis plays much more like a sequel to Far Cry than Far Cry 2 does. Far Cry 2 was developed by a different team, is highly non-linear in terms of both storyline and gameplay, and isn't connected to the original's story in any way.
The game Heavenly Guardian was originally supposed to be a game in the Kiki Kai Kai series (Pocky and Rocky), and had its sprites reworked into a new game when the publisher lost the license.
Sega created their own spiritual sequel to Virtual On in 2009's Border Break. It takes the storyline conceit of Virtual On that the arcade consoles are networked to future actual Humongous Mecha by networking them on the Internet to play against other players in other arcades.
Ultima VI received its own spiritual sequel in the form of Cythera, which featured an improved resolution and expanded skills.
The upcoming Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is the spiritual Spiritual Successor to classic Ultima series, and it's MMORPG offshoot, Ultima Online, being even developed by Richard "Lord British" Garriot, the Ultima series creator. Interestingly, you will apparently be able to control if the game will be a single player, few friends online, or a full-blown MMORPG experience. The setting of game is even called "New Britannia", the player character will be called the Avatar, and there are other, almost sequel-like nods to the old series.
The Nintendo Wii game Muramasa: The Demon Blade is a spiritual successor to both of them, and was in earlier stages referred to as Princess Crown 3, in the same way Odin Sphere was named Princess Crown 2.
The Boktai series (including Lunar Knights) can be considered a spiritual successor to Metal Gear: Ghost Babel. The game engine is very similar, and Ikuya Nakamura, the director of all the Boktai games, was also the character designer of Ghost Babel.
Nintendo recently announced a Chinese company is developing an MMORPG featuring all of the Disney franchises separated into different worlds that the players can visit called "Disney Fantasy Online". That's right, it's an MMORPG version of Kingdom Hearts with the Square elements subtracted. The website really screams it out, since the Disney characters are wearing the same outfits they do in Kingdom Hearts.
The Wii's menu system (including the default channels and at least part of Wii Sports) is a Spiritual Successor to Mario Paint. The music is too similar to be a coincidence, and the Wiimote works a lot like the old SNES Mouse did.
The way you can customize the Wii menu through drag-and-drop is also very similar to the GBA Movie Player. Both the Wii and GBAMP also have 512MB of memory.
WarioWare D.I.Y. also shares a lot of elements with Mario Paint, such as the usable colors. The music maker borrows all of the symbols used for notes and the man running above the staff outright.
The Yakuza series is considered a Spiritual Successor to Shenmue, due to a shared publisher (Sega), as an open-world sandbox with Virtua Fighter roots, a similar emphasis on hand-to-hand combat and time-killing minigames, and an elaborate, intricately-told story.
Guilty Gear 2: Overture is a spiritual successor to the Herzog Real-Time-Strategy/Action hybrid games. Really.
The Tiger Game.com could be considered the spiritual successor to the Game Gear, as the Game.com featured games from Sega licenses (like Virtua Fighter II and Sonic Jam), and was launched the same year as the Game Gear was discontinued in 1997, with Sega not making a new full handheld console after that.
The Pandora is the spiritual successor to the GP2x which is the spiritual successor to the GP32. While all three handhelds differ in developers, companies, and even nationalities, the philosophy of being and open games device anyone can make games for has been present and strengthened throughout the series.
A more closely-related successor to the GP2X is the Wiz, made by the same company (Gamepark Holdings). The Pandora, it should be noted, is made by a separate group of developers though its underlying philosophy is very similar to the GP32, GP2X, and Wiz.
Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (aka Sonic 3D Blast) is more of a spiritual successor to the early arcade game Flicky, than a proper Sonic title.
Dawn Of War II plays more like Company of Heroes than Dawn of War 1. It largely abandons base-building, which was a major part of the first Dawn of War.
Battle Garegga's spiritual sequel is Armed Police Batrider, which inherits many of Battle Garegga's mechanics, such as bombing the scenery for powerups and medals, as well as the medal chaining system, and even has guest appearances by the ships of Battle Garegga and the Mahou Daisakusen series. Batrider in turn had a spiritual sequel in Battle Bakraid, which borrows Garegga's option changing feature, has a somewhat modified medal chaining system, and the "tickle laser"-cum-charge-shot from Batrider.
The Dynamic Difficulty system of these games is lifted from Zanac, of all things, only made completely and utterly inconvenient (notably, the removal of every rank reduction method except dying.)
Ibara, sharing the same main designer also counts as a Spiritual Successor, if you can count a near-exact copy of the rank system of Garegga as one.
NBA Jam is a spiritual successor to Arch Rivals (both are arcade-style basketball games created by Midway which played fast and loose with the rules).
Likewise, NFL Blitz to High Impact Football.
Heretic is a spiritual successor to Doom. Both are published by id Software, and both use the id Tech 1 game engine. In fact, using the God Mode and Weapons cheats from Doom will result in death and loss of all weapons, respectively, when used in Heretic.
Tales of the Abyss is the spiritual successor to Symphonia, particularly in terms of gameplay, but also in cartain thematic elements. This is due to it sharing Symphonia's development staff ("Team Symphonia"). It was followed in turn by Tales of Vesperia, making a sort of spiritual trilogy.
Nexus War to Urban Dead, with the added twist that the former made off with a substantial chunk of the latter's player base when it came out. So not only does it have similar mechanics and interface, it's played by all the same people.
Persona is an obvious spiritual successor to one-off MegaTen Gaiden GameShin Megami Tensei if... This is most prominent in Persona 1, with there being a truly astounding number of parallels between the two games, but even later Persona games have some of this; if nothing else, the "persona" system remains a greatly revised and expanded version of the "guardian" system found in If....
At the time of release, Digital Devil Saga was a Spiritual Successor to Persona, featuring some noticeable similarities in both story and gameplay. However, the Persona series itself has been fully revived since then, thanks to the success of Persona 3 and subsequent games.
Devil Survivor is a Spiritual Successor for the Majin Tensei spinoff series, although this statement is based only on the fact that they are strategy games.
According to Word of God, the inspiration for Prototype came about due to Hulk's "weaponize" ability; that is, the ability to turn vehicles and such into improvised weapons, rather than limiting the player to "pick up and throw." Reportedly, during testing, somebody posed the question "What If? you could weaponize the player?"
Demon Sword: Spiritual successor to The Legend of Kage. Irem's Ninja Spirit, although made by completely different developers, was also a spiritual successor (pardon the pun).
The popular, but now dated, X-COM series has a number of unrelated spiritual successors, including the UFO After Blank series, the open-source UFO: Alien Invasion, and Rebelstar: Tactical Command for the GBA.
X-COM: UFO Defence itself is kind of a prequel to earlier Gollop's game Laser Squad, quite successful on ZX Spectrum, but nearly unknown elsewhere. XCOM Apocalypse even borrowed Mega Corp. names from Laser Squad. This came a full circle with Laser Squad: Nemesis — a true sequel to Laser Squad and Spiritual Successor to X-COM.
Krazy Rain is a spiritual sequel to the massively-multipler online Rhythm GameO2Jam.
RayStorm: spiritual successor to RayForce. RayCrisis is the official prequel to RayForce.
Border Down: Successor to Metal Black, a Shoot 'em Up by Taito. Hiroyuki Maruyama, the president of G.rev, started the company and did subcontracting work for Treasure and Taito to generate revenue just to make this game. Why? He just really liked Metal Black.
Razing Storm is the spiritual sequel to Crisis Zone, the Gaiden Game to Time Crisis. Like Crisis Zone, you use a machine gun instead of Time Crisis's handguns (though for bigger targets, you (automatically) switch to stronger weapons), and instead of hiding behind objects, you take cover behind a heavy-duty shield. Razing Storm has since been renamed Time Crisis: Razing Storm for its PS3 release.
Well, Time Crisis in whole, is a spiritual successor to the Rolling Thunder, borrowing some elements from the older games. Take Cover during Timed Mission is a common similarity between them. The themes are also similar.
The Tetris clone NullpoMino is somewhat of a spiritual successor to Heboris: Unofficial Expansion (sharing the same font and a similar level of customization), developed from scratch due to Heboris UE's source code—a mixture of C++ and a gaming script—being an Eldritch Programming Abomination.
Metal Slug is the spiritual successor to Gunforce 2 and In the Hunt, which were made by the same staff back when they were working for Irem.
By the same developers, the Neo Geo golf game Neo Turf Masters is a spiritual sequel to the Major Title series.
The Konami arcade game M.I.A.: Missing In Action is pretty much an unofficial official sequel to Rush'n Attack (aka Green Beret), using what is essentially a more advanced version of the same engine, but with a different setting (being set in Vietnam instead of Russia).
Irem's Vigilante is pretty much a more advanced version of their earlier single-plane Beat 'em UpKung Fu Master in a different setting, although there was an official sequel for the Family Computer in Japan titled Spartan X 2.
Tear Ring Saga, a Japanese-only strategy RPG for the PlayStation designed by Fire Emblem creator Shozo Kaga, is practically an unofficial Fire Emblem sequel, to the point that Nintendo sued Kaga's company, Tirnanog, for copyrights infringement (but lost the case).
A similar case of a spiritual successor to the Contra games could be made with Sin and Punishment, another game by Treasure. It also has programmers returning from Contra III: The Alien Wars, and the very story and setting of game is very much a darker version of Alien Wars. It was, and is also regarded as way superior 3D Contra game, than the contemporary Contra: Legacy of War and C: The Contra Adventure.
Tetris: The Grand Master is the spiritual successor to Sega's Tetris games, and borrows many elements such as the piece colors, the bottom-biased rotation system, fast sideways movement and soft drop, and piece lock delay (a feature present in all of Sega's Tetris games but not in Nintendo's, at least for a while).
Data East's Neo Geo platformer Spinmaster stars the same characters from the Sega Genesis game Dashin' Desperadoes, but plays more like a modernized version (literally and figuratively) of the original Joe & Mac (aka Caveman Ninja) than the game it's supposed to be a sequel to (which was more of a racing platform game). Spinmaster might as well had been called Joe & MacAS INDIANA JONES-STYLE TREASURE HUNTERS.
The first Video Games (and arcade games in general) can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to various carnival games such as the claw game, shooting ranges and Pinball as you spend little money for one game that is quickly over and in the case of Pinball you aim for a high score. It also helps that the only business experience Nolan Bushnell had before founding Atari was from maintaining these at a carnival.
However, they're more a spiritual successor to the earlier electromechanical arcade games, at least some of which had a similar cabinet design to those first video games.
The Final Fantasy games set in the Ivalice universe (including Vagrant Story, which technically isn't a Final Fantasy game) are successors to Quest's Ogre Battle franchise. Final Fantasy Tactics, the first game in the Ivalice universe, was already a spiritual successor of Tactics Ogre in its gameplay. Not surprisingly, Yasumi Matsuno, the director of most of the Ivalice series, was also the director of Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre, as well as the script writer of OgreBattle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber, while Hiroshi Minagawa and Akihiko Yoshida were the illustrators in most of his games. After the release of Vagrant Story, Squaresoft actually purchased all of Quest's assets and absorbed them into the company.
Technically, Final Fantasy can be seen as a "Spiritual Series", as virtually none of the games have direct relation to each other, unless they have odd numberings or alternate subheadings, like Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy: Dirge of Cerberus. Every numbered Final Fantasy game has no direct relation to any other other than a few series trademarks. Even though they are technically sequels based on numberings, fans never consider them to be actual sequels. Thus Final Fantasy takes Spiritual Successor to the extreme.
The G.I. Joe arcade game by Konami is a spiritual sequel to an obscure pseudo-3D shoot-'em-up titled Devastators by the same company, which itself was loosely based on the 3D stages from the original Contra.
Umineko: When They Cry is a spiritual sequel to the two-installment Higurashi: When They Cry. It shares many elements with Higurashi: written by the same person, "Groundhog Day" Loop that loops at the beginning of each new arc, and spikes from happy scenes to horrific scenes; however, it's in an entirely new setting: instead of a small, secluded village, it takes place on an island owned by a multi-million-yen family with new characters. It does have a couple Continuity Nods, however, in the form of Bernkastel and Lambdadelta.
But that hasn't stopped the fans from theorising that there is a connection between the series, especially since Bernkastel has been confirmed to be an amalgamation of all the Rikas who never made it past June of 1983, plus Higurashi was labeled When They Cry 1 & 2 (Higurashi and Higurashi Kai) while Umineko is When They Cry 3 & 4 (Umineko and Umineko Chiru). This might indicate a closer connection between the series.
According to Turn 10, they consider Forza Motorsport 3 to be the true spiritual successor to Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo series. To paraphrase Polyphony Digital president Kazunori Yamauchi, "No it bloody well isn't".
Driveclub, created by Evolution Studios, is more a spiritual successor to Taito's long-discontinued Battle Gear series than their own Motor Storm series. The driving physics are somewhat similar, and they are more of skill-based racing games set on fictionalized courses.
Driveclub itself is also a spiritual successor to Sega's discontinued OutRun series, in a similar way like above. Both Driveclub and Out Run are score-based racing games in regard, except the latter has branching routes lead to Multiple Endings when the former has no plot at all.
Mitsumete Knight in 1997, which used Tokimeki Memorial 1's game engine and most of its mechanics, with several twists such as easier girl management, an expanded battle system, and a rich medieval/heroic-fantasy storyline where Anyone Can Die ;
Meine Liebe in 2001, using too the same game engine than Tokimemo but in a Gender Flipped version, making it the predecessor of the Tokimeki Memorial Girl's Side branch of the series ;
Love Plus in 2009, reducing the datable characters to a measly three of them, but with lots more development around them and an After Story of sorts where the player can interact with the girl long after having they have confessed their feelings (a system which got a lot of controversy, especially with some Otakupushing the thing a bit too far).
In 2007, Konami released Brooktown High in English. It was an In-Name-Only successor to the Tokimeki Memorial series. It received mixed reviews and weak sales.
Shira Oka: Second Chances was meant to be an unofficial fan-made spiritual successor to Tokimeki Memorial, but in English. It began development around 2005, but the full game was not released to the public until December 2010. Therefore, the title of "first fan-made spiritual successor in English with a commercial release" goes to the independent game Summer Session.
Refazel was supposed to be the sequel to Ferazel's Wand—hence the similar title. Sadly, the fellow who was in charge of the first game left Ambrosia Software shortly afterwards, and they wouldn't give him the sequel rights, so he made it into a sort of inverted Dolled-Up Installment.
Buck Bumble for the N64 is a 3D spiritual successor to Codemasters' C64/NES game Bee 52.
Wanako Studios' Assault Heroes can be seen as a spiritual successor to Konami's Jackal, as both games put you in control of a heavily-armed jeep (though Assault Heroes adds such features as multiple weapons, on-foot stages and dual analog-stick control).
L.A. Noire is also considered a Spiritual Successor to Grand Theft Auto (what if GTA was a film noir?), though arguably less so, due to the fact that this one's much more story-driven; the Wide Open Sandbox aspect of GTA and Redemption is not used in the main storyline. Instead, it has you moving from one mission directly into the next.
The Project Gotham Racing series is a spiritual successor to the Dreamcast game Metropolis Street Racer. In turn, Forza Horizon is a spiritual successor to PGR, with its development team including many former Bizarre Creations employees.
And interestingly enough, the series it used to duel with, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, is itself a spiritual successor to 720 Degrees.
Alpha Protocol is a spiritual sequel to Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines and Deus Ex, an action-RPG where choices result in tangible consequences and gameplay is more heavily affected by one's character sheet than most games, including other RPGs. More cynically, Alpha Protocol gets a lot of undeserved flak and is often brushed aside as an attempt at "Mass Effectwith SPIES" that failed miserably, so it also shares living with a bad rap (as well as some genuine technical problems) with Bloodlines.
I Wanna Be the Guy itself is arguably the spiritual successor to a Japanese flash game known as Zinsei Owata no Daibouken/The Big Adventure of Owata's Life, which inspired IWBTG's creator. Owata acknowledged this in its final version, which ended in a Homage to I Wanna Be the Guy...followed by a Crossover appearance of the main character as the Final Boss.
The NES game Laser Invasion can be considered the successor of the two first Top Gun games released by Konami for the NES. Laser Invasion shares the same engine used in Top Gun The Second Mission and similar HUD, except that you control a gunship instead of a F-14, and there's a few light gun and maze sequences set on foot.
Kane and Lynch can be seen as a successor to Freedom Fighters. Both were developed by IO Interactive and feature music by Jesper Kyd, and aside from the co-op mode in the former game, the gameplay in the two games is practically identical.
Brütal Legend's "Stage Battles" were intended as a spiritual successor to Herzog Zwei... and they do have some strong similarities, but also to Sacrifice — not surprising, as they had a developer for that game on the dev team.
The 1995 pinball machine Attack From Mars turned out to be a huge seller, but didn't get a proper sequel until the Pinball 2000 machine Revenge From Mars. In the meantime, the 1997 pinball Medieval Madness was created by the same developers and, despite the different premise, was far more similar to the original game's structure than the sequel was.
Konami's Dance Masters is sort of a spiritual successor to Para Para Paradise, and even has several parapara/eurobeat songs, including the famed "Night of Fire".
In Japan, Hudson Soft produced the NES and MSX ports of Star Force and ran a nationwide tournament around it. But Star Force was a Tecmo game, and so Hudson developed a rather similar game called Star Soldier to feature in the next year's tournament. Star Force and Star Soldier each had their own line of sequels.
Bayonetta to Devil May Cry, moreso the first DMC game, but the traits are shared with later DMC games. Both were created by Hideki Kamiya, both share over the top action, and both have styles of attacking where mixing it up grants a higher score at the end of each section/chapter.
After a falling out between the developer and publisher of Operation Flashpoint, the publisher won the rights to the name and would reuse it for a rather different duology, while the developer kept the rights to the engine behind Operation Flashpoint and went on to create the ARMA series, which is widely considered to be the true successor to Operation Flashpoint to the point that the developers collectively call both series the Armaversum.
As a twist, for the tenth anniversary of the original Operation Flashpoint, the developers released a final patch (just over six years after the penultimate patch) that actually renamed the game to ARMA: Cold War Assault, as well as removing the Codemasters-developed expansion campaign "Red Hammer."
The old Taito game Mizubaku Adventure AKA Liquid Kids could be considered a successor to The New Zealand Story. Both of them are cutesy maze-like platformers with a hero who needs to rescue his kidnapped relatives/friends from cages in every level, have enemies pop up from randomly appearing portals, and have warps to other levels that appear by shooting empty portions of the stages. They also both have the same font for in-game messages!
The rare coin-op Nightmare in the Dark is a spiritual successor of sorts to the more well-known Snow Bros., except that you control a hunchback who engulfs enemies in balls of fire rather than snowmen burying enemies in snow by pelting them with snowballs.
And then came Bloodborne, yet another horror Action RPG by the director of Dark Souls and Demons Souls, but set in a new continuity.
R-Type had a line of actual sequels, but before most of these Irem made a spiritual successor titled X-Multiply.
Aliens: Infestation can be seen as a Spiritual Successor to the Alien 3 video game on Super Nintento and Genesis, and Metroid II: Return of Samus. It also requires saving people during the game(althrough with the difference that in Aliens: Infestation saved people are marines, and are later playable thanks to it), a similar visual style, and Metroidvania style of play, similar to that in the Alien 3 game. The PDA's in Aliens: Infestation, also work similarly to the terminals in the Aliens 3 game. From Metroid II, it has the requirements to use special tools/abilities to get further, a similary variety of enemies, and the general feel of the game is similar, which has sense, seeing how the Metroid series is a Spiritual Adaptation to the Alien franchise, with Metroid II being especialy similar to Aliens.
Twin Cobra was a spiritual successor to Tiger Heli, which in turn had a predecessor in Gyrodine, whose programmers went on to found Toaplan, the company which made the other two games. All three of these helicopter-based vertical shooters were distributed by Taito.
Skiesof Arcadia is considered to be a spiritual successor to Phantasy Star since both were developed by Sega's Overworks studios, and they're both turn-based roleplaying games. In fact, some fans consider Skies to be more a successor to Phantasy Star than Phantasy Star Online.
The Valkyrie Drive series is basically this to the Senran Kagura series.
Pochi & Nyaa, the last game Compile was working on before they went bankrupt, was an obvious attempt to recapture some of the gameplay and aesthetics of the Puyo PuyoCash Cow Franchise which they no longer owned.
The sequel, Chrono Cross, got its own Spiritual Successor in the Baten Kaitos duology for the Gamecube: both games share several staff members, have the same art style (hand-painted backgrounds with 3d sprites), and have similar battle systems.
Doublesix's All Zombies Must Die is a spiritual successor to their earlier zombie-slaying game, Burn Zombie Burn.
The Fire Pro Wrestling series, along with HAL Wrestling for the Game Boy, is this to Nintendo's classic Pro Wrestling game, following the same style of play mechanics as well as the use of Captain Ersatz versions of existing wrestlers.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's Portable : The Gears of Destiny is this for the Wild ARMs series. To start with, the Original Generation main character is a combined Expy of the various Wild ARMs protagonists, and she comes from a dying wasteland planet that's a Filgaia Expy and whose restoration serves as one of the main plots of the game. It helps that Kaneko, the Wild ARMs creator, is the one in charge of the game's development, and that he and Tsuzuki, the Lyrical Nanoha creator, are old acquaintances. This was confirmed in an interview Tsuzuki included in the guide, where he mentions that the Wild ARMs elements were included as a show of respect to Kaneko and the franchise he made, of which he had been a fan of since Wild ARMs 3.
Even though it's an entirely different setting and story, Tree of Savior has been hailed as a successor to Ragnarok Online for a multitude of reasons:
Tree of Savior's developer, IMC Games, was founded by one of RO's original developers (prior to the Samsung buyout that caused most of Gravity Corporation's founders to leave). Several other people from those days are also working on Tree of Savior—notably, SoundTeMP, who provided most of RO's memorable soundtrack.
The game has a 2˝DSprite/Polygon Mix, like RO, and the in-game art style looks like a higher-detailed evolution of RO's.
The Two Guysfrom Andromeda, the guys behind the Space Quest games, have just recently come back together to try and create a "SpaceVenture" that looks every inch like it'll be a successor to their previous series. They've even gotten Gary Owens back to narrate again!
The original Resident Evil was conceived when Capcom wanted an updated version of their Famicom horror RPG Sweet Home. An early teaser for Biohazard even used an arrangement of the Sweet Homebattle theme and it is believed that the international title of Resident Evil came from a line in Sweet Home which describes the mansion where the game is set "a place of residing evil."
The Sega arcade game Congo Bongo may had seemed like a blatant Donkey Kong-ripoff, but in reality the game's developer, Ikegami Tsushinki, was the same company Nintendo contracted to handle the programming for Donkey Kong.
The UK-based company Graftgold ported Rainbow Islands to the Amiga and other European-market home computers. They followed it up with a game called Fire and Ice, which had somewhat similar game mechanics (in particular, combat is done by shooting something that immobilizes an enemy and then touching it while immobilized, enemies left immobilized for too long will become stronger, every level contains a certain amount of enemy-dropped items which the player is supposed to collect, and taking too long to finish a level causes something to chase the player character), and its box cover had a quotation from a review that called it "the best platformer since Rainbow Islands".
Super Retro Squad is this to Super Mario Bros Crossover in that the game is based on characters from vastly different games with their gameplay retained. The differences in this case are that Super Retro Squad is a Writing Around Trademarks version for commercial release (as such, the characters are replaced with expies — Mario himself, for example, is replaced by a German miner named Manni), the worlds in the game are based on each of the characters rather than solely emulating Super Mario Bros.., and there is some Character Customization present.
The ZeroEscape series can be seen as a spiritual sequel to the Infinity series (which includes Never7 and Ever17), including similar themes about existence and involve a shady pharmaceutical company.
G-Loc was developed as a spiritual successor to Sega's After Burner.
General Chaos is a spiritual successor to Pigskin, a "footbrawl" game developed by the same people back when they worked at Midway Games.
The Drakensang games are a spiritual successor to the Realms of Arkania series, being the first video game adaptation of The Dark Eye system and setting since Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva. The first game Drakensang: The Dark Eye was even nicknamed Realms Of Arkania 4, before being published. Although the Real Time with Pause playing style, and the interactions with companions, also show a large influence of Infinity Engine games, especialy the Baldur's Gate series, and that influence was confimed by the creators. And all of this goes even further back, as the original Realms of Arkania games, were confimed as having influenced the making of the Baldur's Gate games.
Blazing Star is the semi-official sequel to Pulstar, created by the same team working for a different company.
Following development of the late-80s soccer simulation Kick Off and its sequel, author Dino Dini left publishers Anco. Although Anco released a poorly-received "official" Kick Off 3, Dino Dini's Goal (written for another company) is considered to be the true successor to Kick Off 2.
Asura's Wrath was stated by Cyberconnect 2 to be a spiritual successor to God Hand in the sense of over the top action, but the concept of the game itself is more like one of these to Time Gal or Yarudora due to being touted as an Interactive anime like the aforementioned games.
Risen to Gothic series after Gothic 3. Developers — Piranha Bytes — left the publisher, who retained rights to the title, world and most characters. Risen uses similar mechanics, but tries to correct the drawbacks of Gothic games.
The Gothic series is already a Spiritual Successor to the Ultima series, with the future Piranha Bytes seeing Ultima IX, and trying to do a better 3D Ultima game. The interactivity with the surroundings, life-like NPCs with their schedules, and many more will seeM familiar to fans of the Ultima series. The war with orcs, is even similar to the war with gargoyles from Ultima VI, with the orcs, like gargoyles being also revaled as a much more sympathetic species, that averts Always Chaotic Evil. The Sleeper is also defeated in a similar way to Exodus. both are defeated not in battle, but by destroying the things that bound them to reality. In Exodus' case, you insert 4 punchcards into slots in Exodus' computer interface, which overloads and destroys it, while in the Sleeper's case, you must stab the 5 hearts that anchor him in the Mortal Realm.
Crowd-funded effort Shadow of the Eternals is Eternal Darkness 2 in all but name.
SWIV was created by the developer of the home computer versions of Tecmo's Silk Worm, reusing some of the sound effects, and was all but advertised as a sequel to it. "Silkworm IV" was only one of three official expansions of the Initialism Title.
Not really a successor, but Mass Effect director called Starflight a key inspiration.
Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light are considered by many to be the successors to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R franchise. They are very similar in theme, the major difference in setting being Metro taking place mostly in the underground Metro in Moscow, and for the gameplay, that Metro is a traditionally linear fps as opposed to the sandbox of the Stalker series.
The currently-in-production freeware game 0 A.D. can be considered a spiritual successor to the Age of Empires series as a whole: it was originally going to be a total conversion mod of Age of Kings before the decision was made to create a whole new engine for it, it is set in a similar time period to the original Age of Empires, and its graphics quality is currently on par with Age of Empires III while also having a similar premise for the multiplayer function (that the player is in charge of a colony or settlement of the larger civilization, rather than building from the ground up). It even has (or will have) a lot of the same civilizations as the first two games.
The platformer Mighty No. 9 seems to be a spiritual successor to the Mega Man series, complete with Keiji Inafune and other people who used to work on the latter series being part of the development team. It's basically a Mega Man style game made as a response to the lack of Capcom-made ones.
The Wii game Saint is effectively the successor to The Monkey King: The Journey Begins, with a more realistic art style. They were clearly developed on the same engine, and are both very loosely inspired by Journey to the West.
Titanfall to Call of Duty, more specifically Modern Warfare, due to the fact that developer Respawn Entertainment is composed of the majority of developers from Infinity Ward who left Activision following the release of Jason West and Vince Zampella, the co-founders of Infinity Ward.
New Super Mario Bros. 2 is strongly influenced by Super Mario Bros. 3, from the Tanooki Leaf power-up to those colorful rectangular sheet platforms Mario can walk between to the return of the Angry Sun to the Koopalings to each World's map being a wide rectangle. Reznor's role in this game is also rather similar to that of Boom Boom, guarding the midpoint of each World.
New Super Mario Bros. U is likewise heavily based on Super Mario World, featuring the return of Yoshi after his absence from the above, baby Yoshis, visual elements like the slanted polygonal hills seen in the background of some levels, Edible Theme Naming, a level select consisting of one large map instead of eight separate small ones, a haunted shipwreck, and the hidden Brutal Bonus Level Superstar Road.
Another game by Square-Enix, that's technicaly a spin-off, but also feels like a throwback to the first six Final Fantasy games, is Final Fantasy Dimensions. Many characters, not seen since Final Fantasy I return here, like Bikke and his crew, Matoya, and the Prince(well, now King) of Alfheim. The Final Boss is also a form of Chaos, and the super boss is the Omega Weapon from the Gameboy Advance port of Final Fantasy VI.
Mad News to Mad TV. Both were designed by Ralph Stock, but for different publishers. The only major difference is that you run a newspaper instead of a TV station; it is heavily "implied" that you still control the same character, just with the Serial Numbers Filed Off.
Japanese video game developer Azarest, is essentially Artoon, without actually being Artoon.
Space Football: One On One by Triffix for the Super NES is this for LucasFilm Games'Ballblazer for the Atari 8-bit computers, as it also is a futuristic soccer/football game using hovercraft.
Many players of the defunct browser-based RPG Glitch have recreated their avatars and in-game communities as "Folk" in Here Be Monsters.
Football Manager to the earlier Championship Manager, as the development studio Sports Interactive split from the publisher, retaining the game code but not the name of the franchise.
WolfQuest is this to Wolf. Both games are very similar, having the sane subject matter and made with the same goal in mind: Educating people about wolves.
The open world racing game The Crew, published by Ubisoft, is developed by Ivory Tower - a company that includes former employees from Eden Games, the company that created the Test Drive Unlimited games. And it shows.
The shoot 'em up-fighting game hybrid Senko no Ronde (known as WarTech in other countries) is one to Psychic Force. Both games are developed by Taito's arcade division, who then split up and formed G.rev, and both titles also share similar gameplay flow. What sets these two apart however is that Psychic Force is much more akin to a traditional fighting game, whereas Senko no Ronde plays much more like a bullet hell shooter.
Nintendo's amiibo line of NFC products has been described as partially a successor to the e-Reader accessory for the Game Boy Advance, which allowed players to scan cards to unlock certain game features; in this case, however, the function is built into the game hardware rather than requiring a separate peripheral. While initially, amiibo were in the form of figures, the possibility of card-based amiibo was brought up, suggesting the possibility of similar uses to the e-Reader. Since then, the amiibo cards have been confirmed for an Animal Crossing spin-off. The figurines themselves also successors to the NFC figures for Pokémon Rumble U.
The Namco Arcade GameCosmo Gang: The Video seems to be trying very hard to be a Galaga sequel while still maintaining a fair resemblance to the original electromechanical Cosmo Gang.
Pump It Up Pro is, oddly enough, this to In the Groove. Since the rights to ITG were picked up by Konami (in other words, Konami nixed ITG), the team behind ITG, who had collaborated with PIU developer Andamiro for the In The Groove 2 dedicated cabinet, decided to collaborate with Andamiro once again, this time working on a Pump It Up game geared towards the same sort of players who enjoy ITG, featuring a lot of ITG elements such as the use of the StepMania engine, notes colored by beat (rather than each column having its own color like in mainline Pump, although the option to use that coloring scheme exists), scoring based purely on accuracy rather than other factors like note streaks, and a good chunk of the soundtrack consisting of songs from artists who contributed to ITG such as Kyle Ward. In short, it's In The GrooveWITH A PUMP IT UP PAD LAYOUT!