Ray Fowler shares some deep insight into the nature of the “spiritual successor” in his blog post “Lineal Legitimacy and the Fallacy of the Spiritual Successor”. See the post here.
Particularly interesting is Ray’s hypothesis that, in order to make a success of a game – or series of games – stepping in the footsteps of a giant, one has to “create legitimacy”. This is achieved, he says, by initially staying as true to the original as possible and just rebooting it with improved graphics/presentation. At this point, one has created “legitimacy”, and one can begin to iterate on the original.
Ray is doing some amazing work on “Remnants of the Precursors”, a Master of Orion reboot (in all but name), so the concept of a spiritual successor is of particular interest to him. I highly recommend checking out some of his other posts if you enjoyed this one.