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empsolo

Game types and genres that were the gaming equivilent of evolutionary dead ends

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In the past 40 years of gaming, the medium has seen  developed from the basic games like Pong and Computer Space to the movie like cinematics of games like God of War, Call of Duty, as well as the emergence of popular genres like RPGs, platformers, real time strategy games, and the like. But, as in nature, some of these genres simply fade away for not adapting to the changing environment around them. Gaming's evolutionary dead-ends. What games, game types, and genres fall into this category?

 

I would argue that Defender and Defender II/Stargate fall into this label. Sure, defender was one of the first scrolling shooters. However, the idea of a scrolling shooter that could move back wards and forwards seemed to have lived and died with these two games. In fact the single direction shooter, as popularized by Konami's Scramble that was published the same year, would have tremendous influence on the genre going forward. This would include Irem's R-type, Taito's Darius, and even Konami's Gradius. and hundreds of other horizontal scrollers that would come in the late 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit eras.

Edited by empsolo

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Stargate showed that they couldn't much improve the perfection that was Defender.  I didn't like forced scrolling games.

Edited by mr_me

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Strike Force from Midway was an amazing Defender spiritual sequel.  There was also Resogun on the PS4 that is Defender like.

 

I'm probably wrong, Marble Madness, 720 and Toobin', might for in this category.  I think Atari Games was so creative during the late eighties. 

 

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There were more Defender type games such as Chopper Command and Empire Strikes Back. And most notably, Choplifter.

 

Edited by mbd30

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Resogun (PS4) and Choplifter (especially on the Master System) are wonderful evolutionary variants on Defender. If you want to go in three dimensions, Super Stardust HD on the PS3 put the game on a sphere and gave total movement in a left/right/up/down way.

 

I don't know that any game is a representative of an evolutionary dead end. It seems like the only thing studios do these days is exploit decades-old gameplay themes for more money. 

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Interesting topic. It's going to be challenging to come up with examples because truly one of a kind things that don't become franchises are often forgotten. 
 

I disagree about Defender, people have been riffing on it for decades. Dropzone, Resogun, various Jeff Minter homages, and my favorite of them all, Aqua Kitty Milk Mine Defender. It even has "Defender" in the name. 

 

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Fantasy Zone also built on the Defender foundation, adding a shop/upgrade mechanic with a simple (and brutal!) in-game economy.

 

Joust hasn't, err... "hatched" many imitators - Balloon Fight is the only one I can think of. But wouldn't it be cool if there was a Joust RPG/adventure game where the arcade segments are interspersed with traveling/exploration? Hmm...

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26 minutes ago, Zoyous said:

Fantasy Zone also built on the Defender foundation, adding a shop/upgrade mechanic with a simple (and brutal!) in-game economy.

 

Joust hasn't, err... "hatched" many imitators - Balloon Fight is the only one I can think of. But wouldn't it be cool if there was a Joust RPG/adventure game where the arcade segments are interspersed with traveling/exploration? Hmm...

 

I was thinking Joust. Balloon Trip is the best Joust on the NES.

 

Video games that are played in conjunction with real life toys such as a board game or ROB the Robot never caught on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_Rings

 

Did Moon Patrol inspire many imitators?

 

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I'd be inclined to say Pong itself- while it absolutely inspired a horde of knockoffs & similar paddle-style games, the genre as a whole has basically died off as games got more advanced. It's the gaming equivalent of the Neanderthal.

 

The only examples I can really think of are more like zebroids- crazy cross breeds that are interesting, but tend to be sterile. The Guardian Legend is a great game, but I couldn't tell you another that mixed Zelda-style exploration with vertical shooters. Odama is... not great, but definitely unique: pinball plus voice-controlled tactics. Not surprisingly, no one else ever tried it.

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7 minutes ago, HoshiChiri said:

I'd be inclined to say Pong itself- while it absolutely inspired a horde of knockoffs & similar paddle-style games, the genre as a whole has basically died off as games got more advanced. It's the gaming equivalent of the Neanderthal.

 

The only examples I can really think of are more like zebroids- crazy cross breeds that are interesting, but tend to be sterile. The Guardian Legend is a great game, but I couldn't tell you another that mixed Zelda-style exploration with vertical shooters. Odama is... not great, but definitely unique: pinball plus voice-controlled tactics. Not surprisingly, no one else ever tried it.

 

Are there any other games similar to ActRaiser that combine an action game with Sim City? Even the sequel dropped the sim aspect.

 

 

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1 hour ago, mbd30 said:

 

I was thinking Joust. Balloon Trip is the best Joust on the NES.

 

Video games that are played in conjunction with real life toys such as a board game or ROB the Robot never caught on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_Rings

 

Did Moon Patrol inspire many imitators?

 

There was that brief run of toys-to-games that every company got in on for a little while... but you could tell that didn't have a future because it combined the worst features of console games with the worst features of manufactured collectibles.

 

i miss ROB, though.  That was a concept that could have gone somewhere, if it had been handled a bit differently 

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I think "unique" games like the first ActRAiser are a different category. I mean if we talk about "evolutionnary dead ends" there has to be a line that appeared promising then died.

 

Pong still kind of live I suppose, Windjammers is nothing but fancy Pong.

 

I can't really think of a game genre that died without a trace. I can see how some games genres evolved so much tho that the original breed is now totally gone.

Adventure games, in the 80's sense, have evolved in both action-RPG and point'n'clicks, and are now gone (not counting the possible homebrew project for older machines). Point'n'cliks themselves are a dying breed.

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FMV games with limited interactivity?

 

Or games that ran on VHS cassettes where it just like played a video and you shot at stuff or something?

 

 

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3 hours ago, Eltigro said:

FMV games with limited interactivity?

 

Or games that ran on VHS cassettes where it just like played a video and you shot at stuff or something?

Yup. Or anything that relies on a technological gimmick and builds a game (and a series of clones) around it. 
 

Light gun games

Motion control waggle

Stereoscopic 3D

Kinect games

Power Glove

 

Don't drag me for saying this, but I think VR is in that category as well, at least for me, especially as VR gear is expensive and wire-happy. 

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Rail shooters have definitely fallen on hard times lately; I can't think of a recent one that *isn't* a light gun game (those qualify, but are kind of a specialized sub-genre). Sega, Namco, and Atari probably had the market split about 60/30/10 on that genre from the late 80's to the early 00's, but all three of them have either moved on to other things or sold their business, and nobody else has taken up the slack. It's a genre with arcade roots but I think games like Rez and Panzer Dragoon Orta showed that it could be adapted really well for home consoles, so it's a shame that there aren't many new ones.

 

I feel like music/rhythm games are definitely at a nadir right now too. I know there are games like Beat Saber out there but it's the only semi-popular new-ish rhythm game I know of, and it's still basically the same idea as all the others. Hit the scrolling icons on the beat. For a while in the late 90's it seemed like every other game was a DDR ripoff, a lot of them were actually pretty good and the genre as a whole was probably one of the top genres in the world. But I guess there's only so much you can do with it, especially because almost all the good games in the genre require some kind of extra peripheral and people are only going to buy so many of those.

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9 hours ago, mbd30 said:

 

Are there any other games similar to ActRaiser that combine an action game with Sim City? Even the sequel dropped the sim aspect.

 

 

Last year Sega published SolSeraph. Which looks like a modern-day version of Actraiser. City sections and side-scrolling action platforming included.

 

 

 

I've read negative reviews about it, but I'll probably pick it up someday just to see what could have been if Actraiser continued.

Edited by pablum

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9 hours ago, mbd30 said:

 

Are there any other games similar to ActRaiser that combine an action game with Sim City? Even the sequel dropped the sim aspect.

 

 

Sol Seraph which is on Steam, came out last year.  It's fairly like ActRaiser, but if they were trying to play homage to it, they screwed up.  The Sim part is more like 2 parts asinine tower defense with some questionable design choices mixed with one part Sim to build up the place.  The adventure parts are pretty on it as far as how the old game and sequel went.  I tried to like it, but I hate tower defense, and as it goes I wish I could have been refunded in time.

 

Have there been many vertical car shooters where you drive, fire at stuff, smash stuff on a 2D plane since really the likes of Spy Hunter and others in the early 80s?  Sure we got a faux then true polygonal 3D driving games, some that shoot, even a Spy Hunter like that, but the old style which in premise is similar but handles anything but I think is toast.

 

Perhaps Bust-A-Move/Puzzle Bobble franchise.  You don't see those evolving much beyond a decade they really kicked them out because you can only add so many special balls before it's like who cares.  Even Puyo Puyo fell into that trap until they figured out crossing it with other styles made for a new game in itself when crossed with Tetris.  Puyo had other companions in decent style but not evolved either, Dr Mario, Columns, etc, but never went further.

 

I suppose you could even argue Tetris itself, it was an evolutionary dead end because the design was perfect.  All you can really do with that game is rehash, maybe tweak a mechanic, give people more 'next blocks' to view, or new ways to clear junk blocks in an added mode, but in the end Tetris is the dead end that is Tetris.

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IMO, the "real time first person dungeon crawler" RPG sub-genre began and also peaked with Dungeon Master.  You really can't do anything else with it, besides improving the graphics.  You can't make the mechanics any more complicated due to having to manage a party in real time, and there's only so much you can do with puzzles in a step-based engine.  Making it a free-movement game not based on a grid would basically turn it into a really weird first-person shooter.

 

The subgenre pretty much just got worse and worse as time went on, because there was nowhere else to go.  The Eye of the Beholder series tries to cram D&D mechanics into Dungeon Master, but none of it gels well at all.  There were several Dungeon Master clones released on Amiga, but even the best of them (Black Crypt) doesn't top Dungeon Master.

 

Anvil of Dawn and Lands of Lore simplify everything in comparison to Dungeon Master, and try to get by just with some very impressive graphics and sound.

 

Of course, the subgenre got a somewhat recent boost in popularity with Legend of Grimrock, but it brings absolutely nothing new to the formula other than nice graphics (arguable, I much prefer the sprites in Dungeon Master).  LoG then resulted in a ton of LoG clones that are nowhere near as good as LoG, never mind Dungeon Master.

 

One obscure game that actually brings something new to the formula is Fall of the Dungeon Guardians, which brings massively multiplayer online-esque cooldown-timers to combat.  It allows you to benefit from the real time nature of combat (escape from a monster, turn the corner and wait for it to appear so you can get some free ranged attack/magic hits), but prevents you from "square-dancing" around enemies to completely trivialize combat (a hallmark of the worst of the Dungeon Master clones).

 

The only other way I can see to expand on this kind of game would be to place the game is a massive open world.  Legend of Grimdark 2 attempts this, but there's only so much you can do.  Running through a giant open field with a bunch of enemies zeroing in on you would just be tedious, as this type of combat only works when you are kept in narrow corridors.

Edited by newtmonkey
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The only "evolutionary dead end" I can think of are vector graphics, and even that can always make a brief come back (think Geometry Wars). Everything else can be recycled whenever a developer comes up with a "fresh" idea.

 

And I agree with Flojomojo, anything that uses unusual hardware has a "programmed obsolescence" built into it from the day of its inception.

 

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21 hours ago, mbd30 said:

Video games that are played in conjunction with real life toys such as a board game or ROB the Robot never caught on. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_Rings

That hasn't stopped companies from continuing to make them. Skylanders, Amiibo, and so on. The toy isn't quite as integral but it's still a big part of the games that support them. 

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On 1/25/2020 at 7:06 PM, Flojomojo said:

Yup. Or anything that relies on a technological gimmick and builds a game (and a series of clones) around it. 
 

Light gun games

Motion control waggle

Stereoscopic 3D

Kinect games

Power Glove

 

Don't drag me for saying this, but I think VR is in that category as well, at least for me, especially as VR gear is expensive and wire-happy. 

If VR isn't an evolutionary dead end, it's going to be one of those critters that hangs on the fringes, like the coelacanth.  It's an amazing tool to play a very limited number of games... but completely pointless for the bulk of genres.  The question is not "Will VR take over?", the question is "Will people buy into VR for the narrow range of content that shines under it?"

 

What doesn't really get spoken of today is that video games took off mostly because they used a display most people had in their homes... a TV.  This cut out the expense of buying a monitor, and made games affordable for most people.  VR will never have that advantage.  Even if the goggles drop lower in price, they'll always be an extra purchase.

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Some cool exceptions to the rules:

 

text adventure

AI Dungeon a framework for generating these on the fly


Nice mobile implementation of AI Dungeon, "Infinite Story" on Android and iOS

 

The Interactivr Fiction Compeition, playable on Frotz

 

full motion video

Her Story, artsy video game with video clips and a 1990s style interface
 

another idea for a category: how about games that so dominate a genre, there's effectively no competition? Like Minecraft or Roblox. 

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