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Multi-Genre Games vs. Single-Genre Games


T-Pac

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Graphics Team · Posted

Hybrid games (like The Guardian Legend, Blaster Master, etc.) can appeal to multiple interests as far as game genres go ... but they also have a reputation for handling the genres they combine less successfully than games that focus on only one gameplay style.

So are all multi-genre games a "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none", or can they be greater than the sum of their parts?

[T-Pac]

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I’d say they are more a Jack of all trades, which means they have no weaknesses.  They can do multiple things and do them well.  
 

Assassins Creed does combat, traversal, stealth, ship combat, tower defense, rpg elements, etc and does them well.  It doesn’t excel at those and wouldn’t be considered a best in class in any one area though.

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Administrator · Posted

I think it depends entirely on implementation and execution.  Which is to say that some games have a mediocre experience across genres, whereas others are done very well.

If we look at Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, for example.  It is a "metroidvania" or maybe more traditionally, an action-platformer / rpg-like hybrid of sorts, and in my personal opinion, it does both very well.  That Action-platforming of SOTN isn't the best of any game ever, but it is certainly better than many single-genre platforming games out there. 

There are some games that mix up genres beautifully, creating a really unique and exciting experience that is unlike other things we've played.  Then sometimes, it feels forced and it isn't really done very well, where if they just simplified the gameplay maybe it would have been better.

It is certainly more *difficult* to pull off a game with mixing up genres, and having it excel and be firing on all fronts, but it's definitely possible to do so.

I know some people complain that developers are adding RPG or roguelike elements to just about "every game" released, and sometimes it doesn't work well, but sometimes it really does and creates an interesting experience.

To answer the original question - yes, I absolutely think some of them can be greater than the sum of their parts - and sometimes, it is done so well that it creates an entire new sub-genre or popular genre mix that catches on wildly. 

I haven't played the game Inscryption yet, but everyone I know who has played it, especially @Gloves who raves about it, says the game is fantastic.  It has 'overwhelmingly positive' reviews on Steam and is generally quite well received.  It is a mixup of several genres, creating a very unique experience.  

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When it comes to multi-genre games and the fun factor, I think it all depends on the expertise of the production company and their level of investment in the game. How do they compare to single-genre games? Well it depends…

- less favourable: when they make multi-genres for the sake of making them. A bunch of 5/10’s in each of the genres within such a game results in a non-worthwhile experience.

- middle grounds: when each of the genres are decent fun within a game, so interesting to experience it without a lasting memory in the long run.

- synergistic effect: when each genre is pretty fun in its own right (say 7-8/10’s), it becomes a very memorable experience; or a real bargain, effectively you’re buying 2 or more games for the price of 1!
Mystical Ninja on the SNES is my prime example, with the platform sections I’d give it an 8/10 and the light RPG sections a 7/10. Together as a whole, I’d give the game a 9/10 because it was a totally new experience (at the time) with the genre mixing, and the value I was paying the game for!

 

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Generally not fun of multi-genre games unless it's pulling off some sort of really fun gimmick.

More often than not it's just games trying multiple things to see what works or appeal to more people, and end up being not that great at any of those things. I think I can say with quite a bit of certainty that all my favorite video game experiences have been completely focused design.

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While not everyone is a fan of this game, I’d say Battletoads is greater than the sum of its parts, the mix of beatem up stages, platforming, and vehicle stages all contributed towards making the game more interesting and memorable. The people who complained that it should have been exclusively a beate up actually got that with the sequel and the result is generally less satisfying

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I always appreciated multi-genre games from the height of the 8-bit computer era.  Games like Raid on Moscow and Beach Head (and BH 2) are still some of my favorites.  And of course, the various multi-sports games (Summer, Winter, Cali, World) were quite impressive at the time.  A successful example that was also popular on the NES would be North and South.  Hostages/Rescue Embassy Mission also fits this category.

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7 hours ago, G-type said:

The people who complained that it should have been exclusively a beate up actually got that with the sequel and the result is generally less satisfying

The beat em up stages of the original are by far the worst, too 🙂

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On further thoughts, I think if you actually buy the physical items with retail prices, there might be more an inclination to pay through the game in its entirety and to fully immerse in the genres within a multi-genre game. This might not affect the overall score but I can see it might change some perspective for some. 

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I think it depends on the skill and talent of the developers. There are some great multi-genre games that I have played. I think the Guacamelee games fuse platforming and beat 'em up gameplay extremely well. As a fan of both genres I consider the Guacamelee games to be great platformers AND great beat 'em ups. They have some fun, tough battles, as well as some intricate and challenging platforming sections that both feel satisfying. 

The Red Star mixes beat 'em up gameplay with bullet hell shooter elements, along with an isometric perspective and some light RPG elements in the form of an upgrade system. It all comes together as something that feels really fun and intuitive to play.

13 Sentinels is a visual novel and a real time strategy RPG, and both parts of the game were really engaging.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War mixes different types of puzzles together, along with a few action game elements, stealth, and a rhythm mini-game. It focuses mostly on puzzle solving but effortlessly moves between other genres too in order to make a game that always surprises you and never gets boring.

Valkyria Chronicles mixes strategy RPG with some third person shooter elements and is a classic. It stands out for incorporating things you don't generally see in a Japanese strategy RPG.

MDK 2 has third person shooting, platforming, and puzzle elements. It felt like three games in one with three different characters for each gameplay style and it was really fun (and really HARD too LOL).

The Earthworm Jim games (particularly EWJ 2) played around with genres too to fun effect, creating an experience that kept surprising you with each new level.

I find that I sometimes get bored with the same thing all the time. So sometimes I appreciate seeing developers play around with different genres to try and create a fresh experience. 

Sometimes though, I also find myself in the mood for a very specific type of experience. That's when I really appreciate having single genre games to play. 

I can enjoy both approaches depending on my mood and also depending on how skillfully the game is made. 

 

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Multi-genre stuff can be good, but I prefer it when the combination of genres just feels like its own thing, instead of a combination of the parts. Platform fighters like Super Smash Bros don't feel like platformers or fighting games, they feel like their own thing. Metroidvanias I guess do feel like platformers, but don't feel like action RPGs to me. I'd say I like multi-genre games that don't feel multi-genre

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