It’s hard to believe that entire genres of games would just die out but it’s been happening. For example one genre that died and needs never return are the PachiSlot simulators that plagued the SNES and PS1 libraries in Japan. Stacks and stacks of games where all you do is pretend to play slots or pachinko with no real reward or even a sense of progression. While these games still exist today, the numbers of them are far greater than there were back then. Go to a retro game store in Japan and there is ALWAYS full discount boxes filled with this crap. That said, there are a couple of genres that don’t quite have the attention they used to that were actually good and have sort of been pushed to the side by changing mainstream tastes. So I’m quickly going to give you a brief overview of 3 genres that I feel need some more time in the spotlight.
A shmup, or Shoot Em Up, is the kind of game where you control a space ship or some other vehicle and play auto scrolling stages while you shoot the hell out of everything on screen. Dodge bullets, collect power-ups, kill bosses, it’s an absolute blast but for some reason the genre has become extremely niche over the years.
Back in the day we had TONS of really good shmups such as Gradius and Darius just to name the most well known ones. Every so often a new one come along and catches the public eye like Darius Burst Chronicles for the next gen systems or Ikaruga back on the Gamecube but generally speaking the only people who know about these games are enthusiasts. You ask your average person if they’ve played Deathsmiles, DoDonpachi or Mushihimesama and they’ll probably look at you like you’re talking another language. Mushihimesama is a particularly interesting example because lots of people have seen that “Hardest boss ever” video but none really know which game it comes from.
It’s a great genre that’s fun, challenging and satisfying as all hell when you get good, so look up some of the great titles hiding in the shadows.
2. Point and Click Adventure
Remember stuff like Monkey Island? Day of the Tentacle? Myst? Well not many people do apparently because this genre is almost all but completely dead. Granted we occasionally get remakes of things like Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle but in terms of new point and click games we’re extremely lacking.
That’s not to say they aren’t being made at all, a recent example that springs to mind is Broken Age but a title like that doesn’t even come close in terms of quality so the games that came before. Luckily, sites like Good Old Games or emulators like ScummVM allow you to relive the classics but it would be nice to get some new games that felt like the old adventure games of yester year.
Off the top of my head the closest example of a modern one that actually had that same level of quality was Anna: Extended Edition. If you want to try a proper point and clicker head over to Good Old Games and get yourself the free copy of Beneath a Steel Sky. Not the best but a fairly decent place to start.
3. Survival Horror
I like to harp on about this and I’m sure it’s going to become annoying eventually but the old school survival horror games were SO GOOD and they just don’t make them any more and it’s a damn shame. I wrote a whole article about the death of the genre previously on this site but it would be nice to see a revival.
Fixed cameras, tank controls, quality writing and game play that could actually be classed as horror rather than action. Just look at all the classics like Silent Hill, old school Resident Evil, Haunting Ground, Siren and Project Zero. These are games with pretty decent followings and people have a lot of love for these titles. Some of them are still going to this day but the quality has fallen away and they are nothing compared to what they once were.
Unlike the shmup however, there aren’t many people making games for this market. Horror is the genre that gets beaten around the head by amateurs releasing stupid, unscary messes of games like The Forgotten Ones (Free on steam), Silent Hill: Downpour, Dead Space and Outlast. People think that if you make your monsters look at bit weird and make it dark then you have a horror game but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Very occasionally a quality horror game will come out like Amnesia: The Dark Descent or Lone Survivor but these releases are way to few and far between. Hell, I can’t even remember the last quality console horror game to be released since the PS2, that’s just how dead the genre of proper horror games are now.
Unfortunately, times and tastes have changed so I don’t think any of these genres will be getting the mainstream appeal that they probably deserve any time soon. Still, no amount of bitching and moaning from me will make people take interest so fans of this stuff just have to sit and hope for some decent releases.
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