Game Genres On a Merging Diet

March 28th, 2010 -

If you are to ask a teenager about video games today, and more specifically, what genre does s/he play, you will more than likely get one of 3 answers: FPS (Halo, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare), RPG (Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest), or Action/Adventure (God of War, Uncharted)… What happened to all the other genres that used to dominate the industry?

Perhaps you recall some old PC games that went by the term of Point and Click Adventure. Sierra more or less held the adventure genre with games like King’s Quest, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry (there was a time when these games were actually fun). However, these were later outdone by a company formerly known as Lucasfilm Games, now known as LucasArts. Ron Gilbert pioneered the SCUMM program which allowed for playing adventure games through clicking the mouse opposed to typing commands which was the common practice for such games. The first game to utilize it being Maniac Mansion. The first game to really take off in the series though, was Monkey Island. Other games you may recognize (oh, you may recognize one of the creators: Tim Schafer – that guy who made Psychonauts, and more recently Brutal Legend) are Full Throttle, Day of the Tentacle, Sam and Max Hit the Road, and Grim Fandango. These games resonate as some of my favorite games for the PC years ago, and will always have a special place in my heart. Sadly, after Escape from Monkey Island (the 4th in the series), the games were discontinued by Lucas.

Creator Cyan, later known as Cyan Worlds, also had a rather large part in this genre… if at first you don’t recognize the name, maybe the title Myst rings a bell. It was one of the first games released requiring a CD-ROM drive to play. Sadly, Doom and Half-Life came along (not really that sad, since they were great games and pioneering the way for a now dominating genre) and killed the once popular point and click adventure genre. Not entirely, just how it once was. If you look hard enough, you can still find games made in this spirit. Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Zack and Wiki: Barbaros’ Treasure, Sam and Max: Season 1 and 2, Tales of Monkey Island… But how many of those have you played? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Great games, you should give ’em a try. Oh, also, the Penny Arcade episode games on the digital front of video games are definitely worth playing if you like the point and click style mixed with Paper Mario fighting.

Side Scrolling games. What happened? 3D comes around and no one is allowed to make them anymore? Clearly there is a market for them still, since Mega Man 9 and 10 came out, and plenty of people bought them… and that’s with an 8-bit graphical style along with midi file music (read: they were new NES games). Are they only selling because they are novelty games? Or is it because they have a known name behind them? Other 2D games have come out on the Wii semi-recently that were lavish in hand drawn/painted art such as Muramasa: The Demon Blade and A Boy and His Blob. How’d those games fair? Less than hoped for… Reason for that though may be the audience they were geared towards was the wrong target. That’s not to say people on the 360 or PS3 would be any better, but I believe they would’ve faired better had it been on those platforms because of the more accepting audience of games that aren’t exercise based or purely minigames.

Honestly, I bought three games for the Wii. Three. Zack and Wiki, Madworld, and No More Heroes. How many of those did I beat? One. How many did I love? Three. Something isn’t adding up… I love all three games, yet only beat one. I played the other two a total of two hours each. I just don’t ever get the energy to play the Wii… I don’t really know why. It has good games. No More Heroes Paradise is a remake of the original… the only game I beat on the Wii. It’s going to be on the PS3. And if it comes to America, I will be buying it again. And yes, I’ll be beating it again. I prefer playing my games like that on my PS3. Aside from those three games, I bought Mega Man 9 on the Wii because I didn’t want to wait to buy it on my PS3. I’ve played and beat all the Mega Man games for the NES, SNES, and Playstation, so this was pretty much a must buy for me. I beat all the Master Robots and got distracted after about an hour of play… never played it again on the Wii. The next week I got it on my PS3 and beat it in the time I played it on the Wii. And beat it several times thereafter. I can’t say everyone is like me and prefers another system for their games over the Wii, but I know I’d buy and play more of the Wii games… if they weren’t on the Wii. It seems the more unique IPs are released solely on the Wii, but it also seems that genres are needing to mix to survive in today’s world. I’d really like to see games go back to being purely one genre, just to see how it fairs…

Clearly I only touched on a couple genres – I’m really all too lazy to write about others. So with that, are there any genres that you miss? Or any games you played that you miss from years ago, that maybe you wish they’d bring back? Leave your comments below.

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