games / Columns

Top 8 Forgotten Game Genres – Character Platformer, Action RPG, More

April 23, 2019 | Posted by Marc Morrison
Super Mario Bros

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about game genres, specifically ones that have fallen out of favor. Most of these genres still have games coming out for them, but it wasn’t like it used to be in their prime when they were mega-popular. Two additional picks here might be FMV games and the RTS genre but with only 8 slots, I picked things I thought were direr. Enjoy:

#8: Simulators

If you go on Steam, there are seemingly dozens of simulator games being released every other month. The problem is that most of them are either incompetent or else “joke” games, that aren’t serious. In the last 5 years there are about 4 or 5 “serious” simulator games: American Truck Simulator, Farming Simulator, Car Mechanic Simulator, House Flipper, and Cities Skylines/Planet Coaster. Then there is dreck like Goat Simulator, Garbage Truck Simulator, Bus Simulator, and so on. I think the last good two flight sims were X Planes and Flight Simulator X, which didn’t set the world on fire. I think for a successful simulation game, it should be easy to approach (and have a tutorial to teach) but hard to actually master.

#7: Skateboarding/Extreme Sports

Hey, remember when the past two or three E3’s and EA conferences when the internet/Twitter has all but demanded a Skate 4? And then EA doesn’t deliver it? Yeah, those are some good times. I think the last “major” skateboarding game was Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5, which was shat out due to a contract with Tony Hawk and Activision. The last *good* skateboarding game was probably Skate 3, at least when it comes to something approaching an AAA-level game. I’ll admit the genre isn’t what it once was, but remember on the PS2/Xbox era we had skateboarding games, rollerblading, BMX, surfing, snowboarding, jet ski (Hey, when was the last Wave Race?), and more? At this point though, I’m honestly afraid to see EA attempt a Skate 4, mangling the Frostbite game engine, and requiring it to be some sort of “service” game, which would further ruin it.

#6: Movie-based Games

Back in the day, when a big-budget movie blockbuster would get released there would be a video game, on about 7 different platforms, released about it. 95% of these would be bad but some of them were really great. This trend started to go away during the 360/PS3 era, where the games were particularly dire. Still, I long for the days of good movie-based games. Here’s a story: back in the 360/PS3 generation, Disney was going with Avalanche Studios to create an Iron Man game. It would basically be Just Cause, only instead of Rico, you would be Tony Stark, flying around and blowing up crap. You would have to collect Unstable Isotope-8 (from the Avengers Alliance FB game) to upgrade your suit and unlock new abilities. If they had released that, tying it to the MCU, it would have been a lot of fun, I gather.

#5: Action RPGs/Dungeon Crawler

This is actually somewhat related to my simulators topic above. There are (seemingly) a lot of Action RPGs coming out lately, but none of them are really great. Path of Exile was good but it also released 6 years ago (not counting updates), with Diablo 3 and Torchlight 2 being even older. There is a new game coming out, Warhammer: Chaosbane, which is a lot of fun, but isn’t officially out yet. The Action RPG genre has never been really big but there are a lot of gamers who long for those types of games and loot-shooters like Destiny, The Division, or (god forbid) Anthem don’t exactly cut it.

#4: Arcade Shooters

Back in my day, Unreal Tournament and Quake 3 were the only shooters around, and we liked it! I’m somewhat kidding but I have a lot of fond memories of playing the Unreal Tournament demo in a school computer lab and I kind of miss it. There have been a few stabs at creating fast-paced shooters with unique weapons, Nexuiz and Shootmania but they haven’t gone anywhere. Even the “names” of the genre have tried and failed: Quake Live and Unreal Tournament, from 2014 that stopped getting updates in 2017. Shooters like Call of Duty and Battlefield do offer more, but there is something to be said for just basic/fun FPS games.

#3: Arcade Racers

Also, there used to be arcade racing games. Now, I know that Dangerous Driving just came out but one game doesn’t exactly resurrect a genre. In my mind, the last two good arcade racing games, that didn’t have “Mario Kart” stuck to the title was Blur and Split/Second. Onrush is neat but the team aspect is weird to me. I miss games that just let you blast around a track, with or without weapons, and you weren’t focused on how many credits you need for your next engine part, or that stuff. From the Wave Race line, remember when Nintendo used to make F-Zero games? Whatever happened to those?

#2: Space Games

I think there have only been two space games that have come out recently, and neither is what I’m really after. Rogue Galaxy was a lot of fun but you don’t really have 3D control of your ship, at least on a combat front. And Elite: Dangerous is way too overwhelming for me, when it comes to a space game. I want a space game like Freelancer or TIE Fighter, which provided immense ships for you to take on and gave you a lot of control over your ship without being too crazy. Also, I pity anyone who got roped into that Star Citizen Ponzi scheme, with that game never coming out.

#1: Character Platformer

Man, character-action platformer games are all but dead, aside from Nintendo ones. Stuff like Yooka-Laylee, Snake Pass or Lucky’s Tail didn’t exactly set the world on fire. Even a game that sold/reviewed well (and one I love) the 2016 Ratchet & Clank, has been all-but forgotten at this point. R&C is a game I expected a sequel announcement, at least, but here it is 3 years later and nary a word. I miss more light-hearted games, where you have to solve a problem through precise jumping or with what tools/abilities you have. Even Nintendo has somewhat slowed their platformer output over the years. There was an abundance of these games in the PS1/N64 era and I want them to come back…preferably with better graphics.

For comments, list your favorite forgotten genres and why.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison