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Everything has its roots, even video game genres. Sometimes all it takes is one avant-garde idea to completely shape an entire genre. The games below are highly influential in the video game genres we see today. Plenty of game development hinges on taking inspiration from other games that did things well, so we’re looking back on some significant games that helped shape genre standards.
Dragon Quest: The Father Of The Console RPG
Surprisingly enough, Dragon Quest’s standard gameplay was inspired by western RPGs, such as Ultima and Wizardry, but Dragon Quest carved out its own identity with its elegantly simple battle system. Part of what the creators wanted was easy, pick up-and-play mechanics. That’s exactly what they achieved with their combat interface that’s still used today with its command setup, such as attack, magic, and items. More importantly, though, it gave birth to the console RPG, and many of its mechanics are still the backbone of modern RPGs, right down to story progression. Dragon Quest not straying from its roots is really not all that surprising – letting go of a formula that influenced a genre so strongly must be hard.
Megami Tensei Teaches Pokémon The Monster Pursuit
Pokémon often comes to mind when gamers think of monster collecting; Pikachu is one of the most iconic gaming mascots, after all. But here’s food for thought – the Megami Tensei series focused on monster recruitment before Pokémon. The series does not have cute monsters like Pokémon’s Jigglypuff. Megami Tensei’s demonic monsters are for those looking for darker friends. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei first introduced players to demon collecting when it hit Japan in 1987 (though it never released in the U.S.). It wasn’t until the 1990s that the series made its way to the U.S., around the same time as Pokémon. Many games have since followed the monster recruitment trend like this year’s Final Fantasy XIII-2, and the upcoming Studio Ghibli and Level-5 collaboration: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch.
Alone In The Dark Sets The Standard For Survival Horror
In 1992, Alone In The Dark set the groundwork for the survival horror genre. In fact, many consider it the first real 3D horror game. Alone In The Dark has all the things that make the survival horror genre thrive – focusing on exploration, starting you off weaponless with only your fists and feet, using your wits to complete puzzles, and creating a suspenseful atmosphere with slamming doors and booby traps abound. One unfortunate thing that has been lost, though, is Alone in the Dark’s non-linearity; you didn’t have to find the octagon crank to get where you were going. Silent Hill and Resident Evil no doubt took a page from Alone In The Dark’s gameplay and psychological thrills to surge a genre all about surprising you with jump scares.
Street Fighter II Inspires The Fighting Genre
Almost all games contain some sort of fighting, but what if a game distilled that gameplay to its purest form? In 1987, Street Fighter entered the arcade arena to mass appeal. But the true explosion of fighters didn’t come until the release of Street Fighter II in 1991; that’s when the game caught fire worldwide. Maybe it was the easy rules, the competitive charge, the martial arts mastery, or getting your initials on the leaderboards, but Street Fighter II inspired the ‘90s fighting craze. Several developers took note, and we see Street Fighter’s roots amongst series such as Mortal Kombat, Dead Or Alive, and Tekken. Even more to its credit, Street Fighter is still around today and it’s still on top, showing many fighters how you keep the fighting genre inspired.
Gauntlet: Why We Hack-And-Slash
In a world with Castle Crashers and Marvel Ultimate Alliance, who would have thought that a multiplayer dungeon crawler would work on an arcade machine? But 1985’s Gauntlet pulled it off and it did it with one of the best lines in gaming ever, “Red warrior needs food badly!” Gauntlet’s overall influence on the hack-and-slash genre today includes classes, multiplayer, and loot. Simplistic and all about hacking-and-slashing the night away, it’s amazing how many games still successfully follow Gauntlet’s formula. Little did Midway know that Gauntlet’s addictive setup would fuel games like Diablo, where countless gamers have lost hours upon hours dungeon crawling all in the name of more loot.
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