Franchises That Cross The Genre Divide

by Jeff Cork on Aug 08, 2013 at 01:50 PM

As we approach the release of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, we take a look at other franchises that attempted to leap across game genres – with varying degrees of success.

It seems as though developers and publishers take a "never stop swimming" approach to IP. Like the saying goes, there's always the fear that sharks and game franchises will die if they stop moving forward. Sometimes that produces logical improvements and well-executed sequels. Sometimes it means odd offshoots and experimental takes. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. Regardless of the results, here are a few franchises and characters that have crossed the genre divide.

Aliens Vs. Predator
The first few games that smashed characters from the Aliens and Predator universe were a pair of beat-'em-ups, on the SNES (1993) and in arcades (1994). While players controlled Predators in both of those games, they didn't get to see the view from under the helmet until Rebellion's Aliens Vs. Predator FPS was released on the Atari Jaguar in 1994. The studio continued to release AvP games through 2010. An RTS take on the brand was released in 2003, with the release of Aliens Vs. Predator: Extinction.


Crash Bandicoot
Crash was always quick on his feet, thanks to the auto-scrolling action of his 1996 debut. Three years later, Mr. Bandicoot and his friends (and enemies) jockeyed for position in the kart racer Crash Team Racing. In 2000, he competed in the minigame collection Crash Bash.


Dead Space
Isaac Clarke's horrifying adventures began in 2008 with Dead Space. Since then, he's taken a number of other journeys, including the 2009 rail-shooter prequel Dead Space: Extraction, and the disappointing digital comic/puzzle game Dead Space Ignition, which bridged the gap between Dead Space and Dead Space 2.


Dragon Age
BioWare's Dragon Age: Origins was an RPG with tactical combat. Its 2011 sequel, released two years after its predecessor, streamlined the action to real-time, almost arcade-like levels. EA also released the tactics-based Facebook game Dragon Age: Legends in 2011. The upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition looks like it's leaning back toward its tactical roots.


When Halo was first announced, it was going to be a PC-based RTS. Since its 2001 release on Xbox, most of us think of it solely as an FPS series. Players did get a taste of what might have been with the release of 2009's Halo Wars, an RTS take on the familiar setting.

When we first met Mario back in 1981's Donkey Kong, he was a carpenter. He's since changed his profession to plumbing, and he's also tackled a host of genres. Who could have guessed that the barrel-hopping hero would serve as a pill-dispensing doctor, kart-racing champ, and straight-up star in a series of RPGs – including 2012's Paper Mario: Sticker Star.


Believe it or not, there are a lot of ways to experience life from inside a BattleMech's cockpit. In the 1989 game MechWarrior, PC gamers configured their own mechs and battled opponents in primitive (by today's standards) worlds. MechAssault took an arcade-style approach to the universe in 2002, adding faster combat and a console-friendly interface to the Xbox release. The upcoming MechWarrior Tactics goes way back, replicating the game's tabletop-gaming roots.


Mortal Kombat
Mortal Kombat was a deliciously bloody alternative to Street Fighter II in arcades back in the '90s. As with any self-respecting fighting game, each of the characters had their own personalities and back stories. Unfortunately for players, 1997's Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero didn't do a great job of providing illuminating details on Sub-Zero, and it was a mess of a game as well.


There's not much to Pac-Man – he started life as a yellow circle with a slice cut out. That didn't stop Namco from reimagining the little fellow. In one of the biggest departures from the arcade original, he was the star of his own adventure game in 1994's SNES game Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures. He's also appearing in a 3D platformer in the upcoming Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.



Blizzard started the wildly popular RTS Warcraft series with 1994's PC game Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Since then, the universe has grown to include 2004's World of Warcraft, which is considered to be a template for contemporary MMO design.


Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!