4 Genre Defining Video Games

Sometimes the genre defines the game, but sometimes the game defines a genre, and it is beautiful.

By Yagmur, Posted 06 Sep 2022

It is no secret that video games have become incredibly influential in today’s world. We might even say game-changing for some of them. They changed the way people viewed gaming as a hobby, as “gamer” even became a job title for some. For instance, only a few years ago, no one would have cared about eSports while now it is genuinely a career path.

And yet, video games did not only change the way people look at them, but they also changed the conventions of the industry. Some games became so big that they were able to influence many other games that came after them. We have brought you a list of games that were able to achieve such a great feat.

Dark Souls (2011) – Soulslike

Fromsoftware, Dark Souls, Remastered, Genre defining, Soulslike

When we talk about genre-defining video games, we must start with FromSoftware’s Dark Souls. At its core, Dark Souls is an action-RPG video game. No big deal, right? Taking place in a dark and medieval-fantasy setting, the player has to fight other medieval-fantasy heroes such as dragons and knights. Dark Souls was not the first video game ever made by FromSoftware- They have been in this industry for so long. In fact, even Dark Souls is considered by many to be a successor to another game by the same developer: Demon’s Souls. But Dark Souls was the first one to blow up in a way that shook the gaming industry.

From the popularity of Dark Souls, a new genre was born. Conveniently named “Soulslike”, this genre includes relatively difficult levels and subtler storytelling. Soulslike games mostly take place within a dark fantasy setting, commonly medieval fantasy, and the lore of the game is hidden in environmental clues. Soulslike games also feature death as an inevitable part of the gameplay. When a player dies, they lose all progress, if they have not reached the checkpoints. Yet players lose all their “souls” and have to retrieve them if they want to progress further.

Super Metroid (1994) – Metroidvania

Super Metroid, Metroidvania, Nintendo

While Super Metroid is not the first game in the Metroid franchise, it is the one that was able to polish and prepare the genre for the Metroidvania genre. Super Metroid is still considered to be one of the “best video games of all time”. It is also considered one of the greatest accomplishments of Nintendo. Indeed, from the moment it was launched, the game had critical acclaim from so many different video game reviewers. The year that it was released, it became the ninth best-selling video game in Japan. But what was so special about this game?

Super Metroid features a largely non-linear map with power-ups that affects the character permanently. The non-linear map causes the player to retrace their steps, thus, introducing another element in the game: Memory. Furthermore, the non-linear structure of the world is convenient for the level designers to add some “secret” locations and chests in the furthest corners. What’s more, the structure helps players to create an adventure of their own since they are able to choose a way to approach the level that differs from the intended path.

Super Mario Kart (1992) – Kart Racing

Mario Kart, Super Mario, Nintendo, SNES, Kart racing

To be true, Super Mario Kart is not the first game in the kart racing genre. Released by Sega in 1988, Power Drift featured a kart racing mode way earlier than Super Mario Kart. Yet it was this game that popularized the genre in a way that affected many other franchises. Super Mario Kart was released just four years later than Power Drift, but it proved to be far more successful than Power Drift ever was. Super Mario Kart became the top-selling game in Japan the year it was released. Both a commercial and critical success, Super Mario Kart was praised for its gameplay as well as its flashy graphics.

While now there are a lot more modes to play, the original Super Mario Kart featured only two modes, namely, Grand Prix and Time Trial. Although it is essentially a racing game, the kart racing genre is defined as a “simplified racing” game. Indeed, the mechanics of the car is incredibly simple in these games, even now, at a time when racing as a genre has become so realistic that special controllers are being released to play a game like Gran Turismo. In kart racing, there are usually certain power-ups or inhibitory items that one can use to stop other players from getting ahead of them. Furthermore, the map might feature unrealistic settings and unconventional twists and turns. In short, kart racing games are known to take certain elements of kart races and turn them up in a way that might almost be considered over the top.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) (2017) – Battle Royale

PUBG, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Battle royale

“Battle Royale” was popularized by the Japanese film of the same name, which was released in the year of 2000. However, in the 2010s, it saw a rise in popularity in the Western media with the release of The Hunger Games film in 2012. Video games were not exactly uninfluenced by this rise of the genre either. Many different mods that took elements from the Battle Royale genre for games like Minecraft and Arma 2 were released by different players.

But the most influential one of them was a DayZ mod released by Brendan Greene, commonly referred to as PlayerUnknown. It was so popular that the mod was even recreated for Arma 3 in later years. But the popularity did not end here: In 2017, the mod was expanded as a full-fledged online multiplayer game that we now know as PUBG. Released by the same developer that made the popular mods back in 2012 and 2014, PUBG was a commercial hit the moment it was released. Just a few months after its release, the game went on to break records. PUBG is still one of the most popular games of our time.

Yagmur Sevinc (@yagmursevvinc)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Dark Souls


Platform(s): Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher(s): Namco Bandai Games America
Developer(s): From Software
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: Adventure, Fantasy
Release Date: 2011-10-04

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