Video Games That Made A Successful Genre Switch | Games Rants
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Video Games That Made A Successful Genre Switch | Games Rants

Highlights

  • The Legend of Zelda successfully switched genres with Breath of the Wild, transforming the franchise into an open-world adventure game.
  • Mega Man experimented with RPG elements and exploration in Mega Man Battle Network, which became extremely popular and led to its own spin-off series.
  • Castlevania made a significant change in focus with Symphony of the Night, becoming more non-linear and pioneering the Metroidvania genre.

Video game franchises generally stick within one main genre. Whether it be first-person shooters, fighters, or role-playing games, most fans prefer that their favorite franchises not change genres too often. If a game franchise does experiment with other genres, it’s usually in lesser-known one-offs rather than in main games.

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Still, there are times when video game franchises take a risk and make a sudden shift in genres despite potentially alienating their core audience. Sometimes these risks ended in failure, but sometimes they ended in massive successes and huge steps forward for the franchise. Here are some video game franchises that successfully switched genres.

10 The Legend Of Zelda Went Open World

Tears of the Kingdom Player Creates NFL Field Goal

The Legend of Zelda series initially looked very similar to an RPG, with a top-down camera and puzzle-based dungeons. Later games would expand the game’s scope and feature more areas and maps, but the game would always feel limited in its exploration.

Breath of the Wild changed all that with its release in 2017, transforming Zelda into an open-world adventure game where players could explore freely and craft items and weapons from whatever they picked up. The change was a massive success, and the follow-up Tears of the Kingdom followed closely in the vein of its predecessor to similar success.

9 Mega Man Jacked Into The World Of RPGs

Two characters fighting in Mega Man Battle Network

By the dawn of the 21st century, Mega Man as a franchise was well-known for branching off into alternate storylines, starting with the Mega Man X series in 1993. In 1997, Mega Man Legends served as Mega Man‘s first foray into genres outside of its 2D sidescroller origins, featuring 3D environments and action-adventure gameplay.

Mega Man furthered its experimentation with the release of Mega Man Battle Network, a tactical role-playing game that combines deck-building with RPG elements and exploration. The Battle Network series was extremely popular, spawning a number of sequels and its own follow-up spin-off series in Mega Man Star Force.

8 Castlevania Blends Action-Adventure Into Its Platformer Origins

Alucard exploring inside Dracula's castle, fighting off against a winged demonic beast.

The original Castlevania games were actually quite different from what they are hailed as now. Initially linear level-based games in which characters fought through enemies until they arrived at the stage boss, the franchise as a whole would shift with the release of Symphony of the Night in 1997.

Unlike its predecessors, Symphony of the Night was much more non-linear, letting players explore the castle freely as they searched for key items needed to progress the game. This change in focus is what eventually led to Castlevaniabeing the second parent of the Metroidvania genre.

7 The Shining Series Goes To Strategy And Back

Promo art featuring characters in Shining Force

Compared to monoliths like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, the Shining series is really only known to hardcore RPG and retro fans. The series first started as a standard dungeon crawler called Shining in the Darkness, with players directing their party through a labyrinth in order to save a kidnapped princess.

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While Shining in the Darkness was relatively well-received, the franchise decided to take a left turn with its second game Shining Force, which was a tactical RPG similar to Fire Emblem. The game was incredibly successful, receiving several sequels. While the franchise itself has reverted to standard RPGs, the Shining Force games are considered RPG classics.

6 Metroid Morphs Into A First-Person Shooter

Metroid Prime_Cordite Statue

The Metroid franchise originally gained fame as a sidescrolling adventure game, being instrumental in the creation of the Metroidvania genre. The main entries in the series remain in the same vein, including the most recent entry, Metroid Dread.

However, the Metroid Prime subseries takes the franchise in a completely different direction. While the game is still largely action-adventure, the player takes on a first-person perspective, making it a lot closer to shooters like Doom or Halo. The Metroid Prime series are just as, if not more, popular than the main series, with the fourth game being highly anticipated.

5 Fate Goes From Visual Novel To Hack And Slash

fight in FateEXTELLA

Fate/stay night initially started as a visual novel published by Type-Moon in 2004. Its unique premise and worldbuilding drew the attention of fans, and a strong anime adaptation turned it into a mainstay in the anime industry.

Despite its popularity in the anime sphere, Fate/stay night continued to develop as a video game franchise. While initially staying within the visual novel sphere, Fate eventually branched out to other genres, with Fate/Extra being the franchise’s first attempt at an RPG. Fate/Extella would introduce the franchise to the action RPG and hack-and-slash genres, with the new game Fate/Samurai Remnant continuing in that vein.

4 Dynasty Warriors Goes From 1-On-1 to 1-On-1000

Guan Yu striking enemies

Dynasty Warriors and its various subseries have generally defined hack-and-slash games for the modern era. Moving down dozens of foes with a single character gives a special kind of thrill that normal action games don’t have, and clearing maps of swarms of enemies is always satisfying.

RELATED:Underrated PS3 Hack And Slash Games

Surprisingly, Dynasty Warriors did not start out as this kind of game. The original Dynasty Warriors was a fighting game, featuring a number of historical Chinese heroes fighting each other in one-on-one combat. While some later entries did feature some kind of one-on-one combat in the form of duels, the franchise generally did away with this gameplay starting with the second entry.

3 Final Fantasy Goes From Turn-Based To Action

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Final Fantasy is a hallmark of the JRPG sphere, being one of its earliest and most famous examples. The franchise has evolved steadily over the years, going from turn-based to the iconic ATB system, though it has always stayed firmly-rooted in RPG fundamentals.

Recent games, however, have seen the Final Fantasy games take a different track, with Final Fantasy 15 featuring real-time active combat for the first time in the main series. Final Fantasy 16goes even further on the action, pulling the franchise further away from its turn-based roots.

2 Yakuza Goes Retro With Turn-Based Combat

Yakuza-Like-a-Dragon-Lost-Judgment-Gameplay-Ichiban-PS5-Xbox-Series-X

The Yakuza series has slowly become one of the biggest video game franchises in the world, and it only seems to be getting more popular as time goes on. The series is filled to the brim with things to do, but its most striking feature is its beat-’em-up combat system which features ludicrous and outlandish heat moves.

Yakuza: Like a Dragon, however, makes a huge change thanks to a quirk of its main character, Ichiban Kasuga. Ichiban is a huge fan of Dragon Quest, and his obsession leads him to think of every fight like an RPG. This change was somewhat controversial, but it didn’t stop Like a Dragon from being one of the best games in the franchise.

1 Persona Shoots Into Stardom With Simulation Mechanics

junpei in persona 3 reload

The Persona series started as a subseries of the much larger Shin Megami Tensei franchise, with many of its mechanics, Personas, and gameplay elements brought over. The first couple of Persona games were actually quite straightforward RPGs, though they had more than enough unique elements that set them apart.

Despite this, Persona 3‘s addition of life simulator elements brought a breath of fresh air to the franchise. With the ability to experience daily life to hang out with friends, rank up social stats, or grind in the dungeon, the Persona games soon developed their own identity and shot up into stardom.

MORE:Video Game Developers That Specialize In One Genre

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