Follow TV Tropes

Following

Genre Shift / Video Games

Go To

  • Battletoads starts out as a 2.5D beat 'em up, and then changes so dramatically that it's almost like a collection of minigames rather than a cohesive whole. It changes nearly every stage, with only hints of the first few beat 'em up levels surfacing every so often
  • Max Payne likes to tease the player with hints and suggestions of genre shift. For example, the first portion of the game seems to be a shooter set in a "normal" world with normal enemies, specifically a mafia group that the titular Payne had infiltrated, but then was exposed after being framed for murdering his partner. Following the connections up the hierarchy leads to a Hellfire Club-like nightclub called Ragnarok, where multiple references to The End of the World are brought up, and it seems the mafia heavy who uses it as a front is worshiping demons and practicing dark magic. However, it turns out that he's just a little insane and full of crap, even if he was killing people in his demented worship—no dark magic, just lots of creepy atmosphere, and then it goes back to what it was. Well, with a few bizarre dream sequences that seem to have installed a door in the Fourth Wall.
  • Advertisement:
  • Drakengard starts off as Heroic Fantasy, but slowly and surely turns into a Hack and Slash version of Survival Horror, the horror aspect being the emphasis here. When things start to really get weird, they hang a lampshade on it when one of the mission descriptions is "Time and space fall apart, and the fantasy begins."
  • The Monster Rancher series started life as a Nintendo Hard Mons series that blended elements of a management simulation with action-based RPG combat. Monster Rancher EVO, however, threw it all out the window and was an ordinary RPG with weird, half-and-half combat (half "classic Monster Rancher" style and half standard RPG) and a stats system based on playing a rhythm mini-game. No, really. It also added towns, missions, almost completely axed tournaments, and it had a bizarre circus theme.
  • Phantasy Star:
      Advertisement:
    • The original tetralogy is a relatively straightforward series of Japanese RPGs, though at least one of the side-story games is a text adventure. After the tetralogy, the series became a multiplayer Online Action RPG with Phantasy Star Online, Phantasy Star Universe and the portable games based on or inspired by these entries.
    • Phantasy Star Online 2 went through some radical shifts in genre itself. The first three Episodes told a continuous story about the battles between the Oracle Fleet and the Darkers, until Episode 4 suddenly became a Real World Episode that revealed PSO2 to be an parallel universe to the one Earth inhabits, with an Applied Phlebotinum-powered internet bridging the two. Episode 5 suddenly changed the story to one resembling "Isekai" stories, with ARKS being trapped in the Swords and Sorcery world of Omega; in addition to placing a greater focus on Tower Defense with "Buster Quests". The at-best-tepid reception Episodes 4 and 5 received convinced Sega to shift back to the stylings of the original three episodes and return to its Science Fantasy roots.
  • Advertisement:
  • Halo: Combat Evolved: Two words: The Flood. The game starts off as a fun little shooter where you fight aliens with multi-coloured blood and where marines shout at the fallen enemies. Then you get to "343 Guilty Spark" in which you wander through a creepy fortress with no enemies, discover what happened to the squad before you then fight through a Flood infested forest. The Flood are like the Left 4 Dead infected, but they can fire weapons, including ROCKET LAUNCHERS. And they can sprint, too.
  • The same case goes for the Trigens in Far Cry.
  • Played with in Uncharted 2 when you bump into what seems like a yeti-type monster while in the mountains. However, later on it turns out to be a bunch of apparently bullet resistant natives in suits. Which you then discover are actually mythical ape-like Guardians of Shangri-la, so everything is okay again.
    • Something similar happens in its predecessor, Uncharted, where you play a seemingly simple (Albeit still fun) third person shooter similar to Tomb Raider but having a bigger emphasis on combat rather than exploration. Come episode 17 and the game suddenly turns into a third person survival horror with the sudden appearance of conquistadores and WWII zombies.
    • This starts happening near the end of Uncharted 3 when Djinns start possessing the bodies of the mooks you kill, making them incredibly difficult to destroy. As it turns out, it´s actually subverted; the Djinn are hallucinations Nate is suffering while under the effects of the mind-controlling MacGuffin.
  • Half-Life started as a deconstruction of I Just Want to Be Badass, and still stands as one of its most shining examples.
  • After a couple of hours in post-alien-invasion urban wasteland, the Half-Life 2 level Ravenholm turns the game almost into a survival horror game similar to Silent Hill 2. Once you reach the end of the level by climbing up an old mine shaft in the early hours of the morning, it's back to regular gameplay and atmosphere again.
  • In Medal of Honor: Airborne, after 5 missions of largely realistic gameplay based on actual historic World War II campaigns, the final mission throws bulletproof, heavy-machinegun-wielding Nazi Super Soldiers at you, and takes place in, as Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw put it, "a giant concrete tower that can only be described as a Doom Fortress", which is actually real. 8 were built, they were ridiculously sized, and they had more refuge in intimidation than use.
  • Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath starts out as the Oddworld equivalent of a western. Mysterious Bounty Hunter? Check. Gun toting outlaws? Check. Hick Towns populated by chicken men? ...Um, Check. But then in the final third of the game, after stumbling into an ambush set up by the Big Bad, and getting hit with a Tomato Surprise, the game shifts to a more traditional Oddworld setting as you help the native Grubbs overcome the Big Bad. This change completely overhauls the game. Stranger's costume changes, the concept of Moolah (and therefore the concept of enemy bounties) is removed (enemies are turned into ammo instead. Don't ask), the soundtrack changes from spaghetti western music to epic orchestrated pieces, the enemies change from gruff outlaws to military Mooks, new gameplay mechanics are added, and the scenery colors shift from browns and reds to blues and greys.
  • The Chzo Mythos goes from fairly conventional (but good) horror, to SPACE horror, to Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Similarly, EarthBound starts off as pure humour, then goes to sci-fi at the Cave of the Past, then shifts to horror at the end of said cave.
    • The game is pretty quirky from the get-go, but it gets downright surreal when you find yourself in Moonside. The game is very fond of Mood Whiplash.
  • In terms of in-game Genre Shift, Spore goes from the hunt/gather adventure-game-esque "Cell" and "Creature" stages, to real-time strategy for "Tribal" and "Civilization," to a Wide Open Sandbox for "Space."
  • Ōkami gets a bit of a shift towards the end, from a feudal Japan mythical fantasy to a feudal Japan Sci-Fi fantasy. Near the end, you see Kaguya, a woman born from a Bamboo shoot in the myth, have a rocket that looks like a bamboo shoot, and in the last part of the game, the eponymous Ark of Yamato turns out to be a spaceship, also implying that these monsters you've been facing are aliens.
  • Similarly to Okami, Xenoblade spends the entire game in typical JRPG swords-and-magic fantasy, only to switch to Sci-Fi in the epilogue.
  • Tales of Graces is yet another JRPG to switch gernre to Sci-Fi, though in this case it happens halfway through the plot.
  • Tales of Vesperia starts as a lighthearted journey storybefore it takes a very dark shift as the protagonist becomes a Vigilante Man and murders several villains who were "above the law", with his increasingly extreme methods bringing him into conflict with his friend who intends to go the Internal Reformist route. Then it becomes a slightly lighter, but still dark, take on a typical rescue-the-princess story, and then the mood becomes much lighter and the plot turns into an elaborate analogy for global warming.
  • The Ace Attorney series wavers back and forth on how fantastical its court drama is. In the first game spirit channeling is simply a way to talk to Mia Fey after her murder. The magatama shows up in the second game, upping the fantasy factor, and by the third game the entire final case revolves around the angry spirit of Dahlia Hawthorne and her attempt to murder Maya Fey. However, Apollo Justice trades the spiritual for a scientific (if slightly implausible) explanation for the Perceive ability and in Ace Attorney Investigations the closest we get to unrealism is the holodeck-esque Little Thief. Dual Destinies now runs the full gambit of fantasy and scientific (though with leaning on the latter), with the Magatama and Perceive abilities returning, a new futuristic method of therapy, a case based around a mythological demon supposedly being released from his chambers, the revelation that robots exist in this setting, and a heavy focus on space travel. It becomes fully fantastical again in Spirit of Justice with half of the game taking place in a country that uses a form of spirit channeling as part of their court procedures.
  • The first King of the Monsters is a kaiju-themed wrestling game. Its sequel is, instead, a side-scrolling beat-em-up.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VI shifts from a linear world to an openended one - the game begins in the World of Light, a bright, happy world with a linear plot and virtually no subquests. The second part of the game, the World of Ruin, is a dark, dreary place and is entirely open for exploration, the player free to recruit allies and do subquests in any order before heading to the final dungeon.
    • In general, the series has toyed with adding in modern and Sci Fi elements from time to time, starting with a race of moon people and a giant robot in Final Fantasy IV (or even earlier than that, with Warmech from the very first game.) Urban Fantasy with Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XV, and Science Fantasy with heavy Cyber Punk themes in Final Fantasy XIII.
    • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years goes with episodic series with all of them being emotionally challenging stories filled with character developments. After you reach the Moon, however, the game shifts right into a linear and almost plotless dungeon crawler with Boss Rush.
    • Two of the main-series entries are not traditional single-player JRPGs, but rather MMORPGs: Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV
  • The game system in the Metal Gear series remains mostly unaltered, but the story and style subtly shift between games.
  • KOEI's Dynasty Warriors was a 1997 PS1 Fighting Game using characters from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms storyline; starting with 2 for the PS2 it morphed into a Hack and Slash that over time became possibly more popular than the turn-based strategy game (one of KOEI's flagship series), and in turn spawned its own Genre Shift, the Empires standalone games (for Dynasty Warriors 4 through 6, plus Samurai Warriors 2: Empires) that uses Turn-Based Strategy between the battles, where the dynamic focused less on enemy commander defeat and more on controlling bases, which would end up getting worked into Dynasty Warriors 6.
    • Dynasty Warriors 4 had a so-called Duel mode (certain officers could issue challenges which if accepted would turn into 45-second duels inside an enclosed square that however used the same controls and camera as normal gameplay), while Warriors Orochi 2 has a versus mode that harkens back to the original Dynasty Warriors game in being viewed sideways.
  • NieR is a third person action adventure game most of the time at least. The game isn't afraid to change things up on you. Sometimes it acts like a shoot'em up, at one point it turns into an isometric action game, but the most unusual genre shift is in the Forest of Myth when you enter the dream world and the game suddenly becomes a text adventure.
    • Meanwhile, NieR: Automata changes the series from post-apocalyptic fantasy with some sci-fi elements to pure sci-fi with robots and advanced technology and only the occasional fantastical element.
  • The iDOLM@STER started out as a Simulation Game with light rhythm game elements, but recent installments inverted it, becoming rhythm games with very light simulation elements. Shiny Colors reintroduced the simulation elements.
  • The original Higurashi: When They Cry game started out in the style of a basic Dating Sim, but shifted gradually into the horror and Gorn over the course of the arc. Later on, starting around Tsumihoroboshi-hen but becoming most evident in Matsuribayashi-hen, though, the series slowly shifted into being less about horror and more about The Power of Friendship to Screw Destiny.
  • The first arc of the sequel series, Umineko: When They Cry, is a definite horror story once the murders start. However, while the later arcs have more Gorn, the simple fact that there's a Big Bad to be confronted and argued with shifts it over much more to a "mystery" feel. In fact, a sizeable chunk of the story consists of the characters fighting amongst themselves about what genre the story's supposed to be.
  • The first Dune game was an Adventure Game. Dune II established the Real-Time Strategy genre. Note that the first game did have some strategy elements. In fact, you had to set up consistent spice production using the Fremen tribes you find and befriend (which takes some doing), while training other Fremen tribes to fight and arming them in order to defeat the Harkonnen. The game is clearly based more on David Lynch's film than the book, even though Duncan Idaho looks like a Centauri, for some reason.
  • Perfect Dark is a first-person shooter through and through. But while it starts off as a spy thriller similar to GoldenEye (to which Perfect Dark is a Spiritual Successor), the story becomes increasingly sci-fi to where the final level takes place on an alien planet that's at war with another race.
  • Resident Evil began as an atmospheric horror series. By the fifth numerical installment, the series had shifted to the point that it took place largely in broad daylight, replaced the slow, plodding (but frightening) zombies of the first three games with faster and more intelligent enemies that used firearms (and provided the player with enough guns and ammo to respond in kind), and featured a co-op focus. This was a progression from the fourth game, which shook up the series formula with the introduction of similar gameplay to the fifth, but still had a horror tone to it (as well as a pervasive element of campy self-parody in its story that wasn't present in the previous games and hasn't returned since). With the fifth and now sixth games, the horror that the series was once based on has been substituted almost entirely by action. Resident Evil 7: biohazard dials back the action and returns to the franchise's Survival Horror roots, but the gameplay is now done in a first-person perspective.
    • Also, within the aforementioned Resident Evil 4, the soundtrack undergoes a genre shift about two thirds of the way through. For the first three and-a-half chapters, the music is mainly drone or dark ambient, but starting with the later part of Chapter 4, it becomes more action-oriented and orchestral. After that, the Mercenaries sub-game has a techno soundtrack, with two of its songs recycled from P.N.03.
  • Magical Starsign does this, in much the same way EarthBound does.
  • Psychonauts. During the first parts of the game, the game is very quirky, and quite a few jokes are made, and the focus is mostly on an escape from home, but then, it develops into a fight against a conspiracy involving stealing brains of fellow Psychonauts, from that point on, the game's humour becomes a little darker, the minds more and more creepy, and it shifts towards a psychological thriller - with the final level being a rather infamous example of Nightmare Fuel (And That One Level).
  • The original Star Control is an action/strategy sci-fi game with very little plot. The sequel is a plot-heavy action/adventure game, and much better for it. The creators have said that this was quite deliberate; they weren't too excited by the idea of a sequel that was just more of the same.
  • Warcraft:
    • The first three games were all RTS games where you could build and command entire armies In fact, Warcraft more or less refined the RTS format. World of Warcraft, however, is a MMORPG where you command ONE character. But the first three games provide most of the backstory, and there's even places in the World of Warcraft where you can site where specific events in the previous games happened. For example, the throneroom above Undercity was directly based on a cinematic from Warcraft III where Arthas betrayed his people and murdered his father. Alot of the original in-game builds are based on the buildings (Mostly the Alliance and Horde Barracks) straight out of the 3rd game.
    • The Expansion for the third game was what slowly shifted the genre from strategy to RPG; it introduced Heroes that could be revived, had numerous abilities, and more importantly could level up and become stronger. The various campaigns were more focused on your hero units than your other ones, with a harsher food cap that resulted in much smaller armies compared to the previous installments. This culminated in the Frozen Thrones campaign for the Orcs, which was a RPG in all but name as you were given control of, at most, 3 units during the whole campaign, but were all hero units that broke the level cap of 10.
  • Thunder Force is an arena shooter. Thunder Force II is part arena, part sidescroller. Every TF game past II is a sidescroller.
  • The independent game Suguri is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up, while its sequel, Acceleration of Suguri, is a one-on-one arena shooter.
  • Eversion does this intentionally, as the game is based on having things not exactly as they appear.
  • The cute and sweet dating sim series Angelique did this a few times for spin-off titles, but the best example is the RPG "Tenkuu no Requiem" which flirts with getting Darker and Edgier by bringing in a group of villains who aren't afraid to kick some dogs. (Quite literally in the accompanying Radio Drama.) This was a temporary shift though as following games returned to the series main genre.
  • Each game in the BIT.TRIP series is based on different gameplay mechanics.
    • BEAT is a paddle game similar to Pong.
    • CORE is a double-axis shooter.
    • VOID is a free-roaming collection game.
    • RUNNER is a Platform Game.
    • FATE is a Bullet Hell shooter.
    • FLUX returns to BEAT's gameplay design, while applying some gameplay mechanics and concepts from the other games.
  • Police Quest: SWAT started as a first-person Interactive Movie, then changed to isometric overhead RTS, then to a Rainbow Six-style Tactical Shooter. Going back further, Police Quest 1-4 were all Sierra adventure games. The first game was a straightforward Police Procedural. The second game was mostly a police procedural with more of a Lethal Weapon flavor. The third game was a Darker and Edgier tale of revenge. And Police Quest: Open Season was an even darker Author Tract about trying to hunt a crossdressing serial killer despite the media's interference.
  • Iji has a decidedly Survival/Horror twinge to it, especially in the very first level, but that is very quickly dispelled, and it very rapidly progresses into an epic Sci-Fi battle to secure the safety of the planet, with increasing levels of epic warfare depending on how you progress.
  • Boiling Point: Road to Hell most of the game is set in a Troperiffic Wide Open Sandbox Banana Republic. You deal with the drug lords, the rebels, the army and the CIA. The final act: Stop the Big Bad in his volcano lair from using his giant mind control device.
  • The (Do)DonPachi features this not exactly in its gameplaynote , but in its characters and plot. The series started off as two shooters with mainly mechanical graphics for the player and enemies, much like other shmups of their time; the only characters you see are the player character (in DoDonPachi's true ending), the Colonel, and Hibachi. In DoDonPachi dai ou jou, the "mecha-loli" element starts to creep in: the player character is accompanied by one of several different Element Dolls, who make prominent appearances on the covers of the PS2 and Xbox 360 ports. By DoDonPachi Daifukkatsu, the mecha-loli trend is in full force; the Element Daughters (successors to the Dolls) appear as bosses and you'd be hard-pressed to find official Daifukkatsu art that is devoid of the Daughters, let alone features the player ships.
  • Ultima I begins as a more-or-less typical fantasy RPG and then gets to the point where you have to use a time machine and go into outer space to defeat twenty spaceships to gain the title of "Space Ace." All this in 1980.
    • Ultima IV shifted from a traditional fantasy adventure with "Kill the Big Bad" as the primary goal, with a story that was more about philosophy and attaining personal enlightenment, without a primary villain. Later games had villains again, but the philosophical overtones represented by the Virtues remained an important theme throughout.
  • Rainbow Six switched from a plan-based multi-team Tactical Shooter to a more straightforward single-team semi-tactical shooter starting with the console versions of 3.
  • The first two installments of Need for Speed had fairly realistically-handling cars, then it shifted to arcade-style handling starting with Hot Pursuit, then to Wide Open Sandbox racing from Underground to Undercover. Only with Shift did it return to its simulation roots.
  • Wonder Boy went from Super Mario Bros.-style platformer to linear Action RPG to Shoot 'em Up to Metroidvania in the span of four games.
  • The Half-Life 2 Game Mod Day-Hard, usually a straightforward parody FPS, has a part where you need to enter a Hell Hotel sans weapons for a Fetch Quest. What follows is Silent Hill-esque Surreal Horror. It doesn't last too long, but it's very out-of-place nonetheless.
  • The original Ikari Warriors was a Rambo-inspired run 'n gun shoot-'em-up essentially developed to be SNK's answer to Capcom's Commando. The sequel, Victory Road, retained the same game system from the first game, but was now set in outer space and featured alien enemies and high-tech power-ups. The third and final game in the series, Ikari III: The Rescue, returned to the military theme of the first game, but was now an overhead beat-'em-up instead of a shoot-'em-up.
  • There was a minor trend among game developers to turn established belt-scrolling franchises into competitive fighting games as a result of the "fighting game boom" of the 90s:
  • The original Saturday Night Slam Masters, along with its upgraded edition Muscle Bomber Duo, played as one would expect from an arcade-style Wrestling Game. The sequel, Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, plays like a wrestling-themed version of Street Fighter II (i.e. multiple punch and kick buttons, command-based special moves, 2D playing field, victory by KO, round-based matches).
  • Mortal Kombat started out as a tribute to martial arts cinema. Apart from the Multi-Armed and Dangerous monster dude Goro, nothing out of the game was too out of the ordinary for those who've seen martial arts movies, and its main claim to fame was being the first major "bloody" fighting game. Then Mortal Kombat II came around, and the main plot of the series — a dimension-wide conflict for people's souls — took center stage. Then Mortal Kombat 3 turned things in a post-apocalyptic direction, with some sci-fi elements added in the form of the Lin Kuei cyborg ninja program. And so on and so forth.
  • The original Mario vs. Donkey Kong for the Game Boy Advance was a puzzle platformer modeled after Donkey Kong '94, but the Nintendo DS sequels, from Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis to Miniland Mayhem, were Lemmings-style puzzle game that utilize the touch screen and stylus. The latest installment, Minis On the Move for Nintendo 3DS, is a Locomotion clone.
  • Fahrenheit's story is an extreme example of this; the story starts out as an occult murder mystery, but, somehow, it suddenly turns into a philosophical sci-fi action flick a la The Matrix near the end.
  • Persona 4 is an extensive RPG with dating sim elements and Mons based on demons. The sequel Persona 4: Arena is a fighting game by Arc System Works. In fact, this has happened a lot with the Shin Megami Tensei series. The main series tends towards dark, post-apocalyptic stories, the first two games and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey having heavy sci-fi elements (you use some kind of technological device to summon your demons,) while Nocturne does away with all the sci-fi elements. Meanwhile, the Persona series ditches the post-apocalyptic elements and introduces high-school life and Jungian psychology into the mix, with the demons becoming aspects of a person's psyche, and the enemy demons doing the same, turning into Shadows starting with Persona 2. By Persona 3, Slice of Life and Dating Sim elements are introduced, while Persona 4 turns into a more light-hearted Scooby-Doo-style murder mystery with MegaTen trappings. Meanwhile again, the Raidou Kuzunoha games are Alternate History with more action elements and also more light-hearted, while Devil Survivor acts very much like a Deconstruction of the Mons genre in general. And that's only counting a few of the games in the franchise.
    • Shin Megami Tensei IV starts out in what looks like a Medieval setting with the heroes trying to stop demons that emerge from a cavern in the middle of the capital. Then modern elements start appearing until the game reveals that beyond the cavern lie Modern Tokyo. The rest of the game then becomes the typical Shin Megami Tensei faire of traveling through Tokyo After the End.
  • Super Mario Galaxy starts off like most typical Mario games, where the title plumber had to rescue Princess Peach from Bowser (in this game, Bowser kidnaps Peach and carries her off into space), but about halfway through the game, the plot unexpectedly shifts to a sad story about the loss of a different princess' family, but then cuts back to Mario still trying to save Peach from Bowser.
  • The first half of Lionheart was a rather good RPG with a decent backstory, interesting dialogue and plenty of opportunity for roleplaying and character development. Then around the midpoint the whole thing devolved into a hack-and-slash fest with hardly any side quests.
  • The original Mass Effect was an RPG mechanics heavy shooter. In 2 the leveling and class system were put in the background in favor of a tighter shooter experience, but 3 brought back RPG mechanics in force while tightening the combat even more. Role-playing (as opposed to RPG mechanics) remained a major form of engagement.
  • Discworld Noir, as the title implies, starts out as an Affectionate Parody of the Film Noir genre. Once you figure out the sinister plan behind the events, however, it turns into a Cosmic Horror Story.
  • Tecmo's Deception was a first-person RPG which made use of common conventions such as a Mana Meter, recovery items, buying and selling from merchants, and Summon Magic. The sequels ditched all of this in favor of more action-oriented third-person gameplay with an emphasis on combos.
  • Little Inferno: After being a pure puzzle game in which you group objects together in a fireplace and set them on fire to unlock combos, which only consists of just two screens of which one is the inventory/store, completing the last combo results in the fireplace exploding. From that point on, the final 15 minutes are much more like a point and click adventure where you see your own character for the first time and wander outside into the frozen wasteland that has been hinted to in some letters you burned.
  • Silent Storm starts out as a fairly realistic Spy Fiction set during World War II where you command a squad of Allied or Axis commandos and tasked with finding traitors and following clues. Then Panzerkleins are introduced, followed by Energy Weapons and a shadowy organization straight out of James Bond that seeks to get both sides of the war to obliterate each other, so that they can pick up the pieces. The change was so jarring, a mod was created shortly after release to remove Panzerkleins from the game (although that makes the plot a little nonsensical).
    • The stand-alone Expansion Pack Silent Storm Sentinels takes place a few years after the war, with the game going back to its Spy Fiction roots, and the titular organization (made up of some of the commandos from both sides) trying to stop the formerly-defeated organization from going back to its old tricks. Then (sigh) the Panzerkleins are re-introduced (apparently, everyone forgot about them, and none were left in the Sentinels' stocks), and (with The Reveal that the Sentinels' commander is the head of the villainous organization) it goes right back into James Bond territory with Panzerkleins and energy weapons.
    • Hammer & Sickle, surprisingly, averts this, as the developers have finally listened to the players and did their best to stick to the Spy Fiction genre. This time, since the events take place during the Cold War, the fiction is of this flavor. The Player Character is a Soviet soldier sent across the Iron Curtain to form a spy network and subvert the Allies without starting World War III (an actual possibility)... The the Sentinels and the organization (that just won't die) show up... but without their high-tech toys.
  • Mission Critical is a fairly hard sci-fi first-person adventure game, where the Player Character is the last surviving crewmember aboard the USS Lexington after it is ambushed by a more powerful UN ship, and most of the crew play the role of a Trojan Horse in order to sneak a nuke aboard the enemy ship and give the player time to complete the mission. A good first part of the game is devoted to the player trying to fix immediate problems with the ship, such as an overloading reactor, the frozen main computer, a hole in the hull, inactive communication dish, etc. Then it switches to a more typical sci-fi about exploring other planets and alien ruins. Cue Time Travel, and the genre switches again, only to go back to its original genre in time for the Final Battle (which is also the first battle which was originally lost). The game also features an Unexpected Gameplay Change, where the typical first-person adventure game changes to a space RTS for Space Battles.
  • Spec Ops: The Line starts out as a typical (if slightly sub-par) military shooter. Then you get to Chapter 8, and the game changes into a deconstruction of military shooters with heaps of Psychological Horror.
  • A Dark Room begins as a text-based civ builder, suddenly turns into a roguelike, and ends up as a classic Shoot 'em Up.
  • You can do this yourself with the extremely versatility of The Sims, in the sense that you can alter the setting of the game world. The Sims 3 in particular has mastered this trope. In that game alone, you can have your Ridiculously Average Guy go about averagely paying bills, get in an average amount of exercise, enjoy average family barbecues, work in an average dead end job at the ole business office, shoot the breeze with the average neighbors, go on average bowling nights, get married to an average girl and have average kids... but then you can turn your average guy into a vampire-werewolf hybrid and have him fight with your alien neighbors, get a job as a ghost hunter, become insanely muscular, have sex with every able bodied female in the world, detonate public property for fun, die and come back to life, craft a man-sized Ridiculously Human Robot from scratch... among other things.
  • The Saints Row series has had this happen a couple of times. The original game was a deadly serious drama about police corruption , gang warfare, and urban decay. The second game was a Scarface-style revenge story that slowly got Denser and Wackier as it progressed. Saints Row: The Third jumps the rails and goes into full-on Affectionate Parody mode. Saints Row IV shifts again, starting off as wacky as the third game, but quickly becoming a surprisingly grim sci fi story that borrows heavily from The Matrix.
    • Gameplay has undergone a slow but steady shift, as well. The first game was a dyed-in-the-wool Grand Theft Auto clone, and the second mostly followed suit. Changes to Saints Row: The Third pushed more into action-RPG territory (with an XP/level system and customizable perks). Saints Row IV seems to have embraced that genre full-on, actually calling XP by name, changing "Missions" to "Quests" and adding side-quests and a spellcasting-like superpowers system.
  • A relatively subtle example happens in Emerald City Confidential after Chapter 2. As more magic gets used by the characters, the story takes on a less cynical Film Noir tone. It even has a genuinely happy ending, which isn't noir-ish at all.
  • The Diablo franchise has always been an action-RPG with emphasis on action. That said, the games have slowly lost the trappings of RPGs. With the third game's switch to automatically assigning attribute points and removing any perment decision trees (for example, skills can now be respec'ed almost at will, rather than being permanent), it has essentially become a pure Action title with class loadouts.
  • The Crash Bandicoot series; once a 3D platformer, it went through several different owners and many genres until it became a game where you control monsters to fight other monsters.
  • Team Fortress 2 Starts out as a light-hearted No Plot? No Problem! first person shooter, then switched gears with a wackier backstory, hats and comedy, then of course, Gray Mann came into the story, and it turned Darker and Edgier, with the team fighting an endless horde of robots, based on themselves, and eventually lost their jobs. The current (non-related to game) story is of Ms. Pauling, the Annoying Video-Game Helper announcer's sidekick attempting to put the team back together.
  • This trope is one of the defining features of the company Key/Visual Arts - the original four main games they created (Kanon, Air, CLANNAD, and Little Busters!) all start off as light-hearted slice of life comedies that slowly segue into romance and serious drama with supernatural elements. The first game to diverge, Rewrite, only did so by adding in a new genre, taking it from slice of life comedy with urban fantasy elements to an outright fantasy romance.
  • Silent Hills' playable teaser shifts from previous Silent Hill titles' third-person survival gameplay to first person exploration.
  • Tomb Raider Chronicles does this every 4 levels, being comprised of 4 stories about Lara's past: first, standard action-adventure fare set in Rome, with a twist of comedy (due mainly to the presence of Pierre and Larson), then an espionage-themed adventure set in a Soviet Submarine, followed by a straight-up horror story starring The Fair Folk and teenage Lara and lastly, another espionage story set in a skyscraper, but this time including more action elements. The game itself is much darker in tone (appropriately, as the four speakers are mourning Lara's (not) death), and serves as a bridge between Last Revelation's balanced tone and Angel Of Darkness' extremely dark storyline.
  • The Muv-Luv franchise turns this Up to Eleven.
    • First, you have Muv-Luv Extra, a harem visual novel that mostly plays out like a silly high school romantic comedy.
    • Then you have Muv-Luv Unlimited, which transports the protagonist to a post-apocalyptic setting where humanity is threatened with annihilation, but still manages to retain much of the romantic comedy elements of Extra. Though it does end tragically.
    • And finally there's Muv-Luv Alternative wherein you return with all your "experience" of Unlimited intact, and try to stop mankind's impending doom. This VN abandons most of the comedy of the earlier installments and become a full-fledged apocalyptic horror story, with many, many traumatic and painful events to endure.
  • The Bad Boys Love route of Hatoful Boyfriend: The game abruptly transitions from a humorous (if sometimes surprisingly heartfelt) pigeon dating sim to a dark and violent murder mystery/thriller story.
  • Call of Duty has done this twice. Originally it was a World War II shooter, much like Medal of Honor and countless others. Then, in 2007, they released Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare to massive success, launching the Modern-Military Shooter genre and spawning numerous imitators. However, due to oversaturation on the market (among other things), the Modern-Military Shooter falling out of favor much like the World War II shooter before it. As such, the series threw the genre overboard to rid itself of the title (ironic since they were the ones who popularized it in the first place), and settled on being an Alternate History/Sci-Fi shooter. And then when that overstayed its welcome, the series went back to its World War II roots.
  • Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden was a spoof of JRPGs. Its sequel is a more Western-styled Action RPG with a Diablo-ish focus on loot.
  • Hitman is a series of stealth-action games. Hitman GO uses the series' stealth mechanics as the base for a turn-based puzzle game.
  • The first entries in the R-Type series had always hinted on the evil nature of the Bydo. But it wasn't until Delta that the shmup franchise really took a turn for a Darker and Edgier direction, replacing the colorful sprites of previous games with a substantial dash of Nightmare Fuel. The series itself had another one later on, with the turn-based R-Type Tactics spin-offs.
  • The Castlevania series underwent a significant genre change, both gameplay-wise and story-wise, with 1997's Symphony of the Night. The early games, with some exceptions, were linear action-platformers divided into levels, extremely difficult due to their emphasis on fast reflexes and rote memory, and inspired by classic horror movies. Symphony of the Night switched the emphasis to non-linear exploration of a huge world and added RPG elements, so that the challenge now came from finding the things you needed to make progress through the castle (spawning the term Metroidvania due to the resemblance to Metroid). The horror influence broadened to include a wider variety of movies and literature, as well as classical mythology and folklore, with the series eventually settling into the dark fantasy mold rather than horror.
  • Bloodborne starts off as a Gothic Horror in an especially dark, grungy Victorian setting. Most of the early enemies and bosses are different variants of werewolf, and the plot seems to be about finding a cure for the beast affliction plaguing the town of Yharnam. As you progress, the game starts dropping hints at something deeper: the Healing Church that controls the town is conducting disturbing rituals and appears to have a direct hand in the town's troubles. The predominately beast-themed enemies give way to snakes and other more disturbing threats the further you get out from Yharnam. Then you arrive at Byrgenwerth and the true scope of the game becomes clear: the game is a Lovecraft-inspired Cosmic Horror Story. Yharnam occupies a neverending Nightmare Realm overseen by the Great Ones, powerful beings secretly observing and influencing humanity. The Healing Church worships them as god and uses their blood and magic to exert control over the city, while a splinter faction of the Church conducts arcane rituals to summon them into the world. What's more, the Great Ones themselves are impregnating human woman to bear surrogate children for them. Yeah, suddenly the werewolves don't seem so bad.
    • Bloodborne itself was a major Genre Shift compared to the rest of the loose series it belongs to. While its predecessors Demon's Souls and the Dark Souls trilogy were Dark Fantasy games which could at times be pretty damn scary (although as a lesser example within the series, Dark Souls II strayed a bit closer to High Fantasy than the others), Bloodborne used basically the same gameplay to create an experience that was full-blown Horror, a game that is grotesque and nightmarish practically from beginning to end.
  • Played with by the Metroid series. The main games are all side-scrolling Platformers. Then came the Metroid Prime sub-series, which were First-Person Shooters, that don't even act like they're a spin-off of a Platformer-series. And then there's the completely absurd and unexpected Genre Shift: "Metroid Prime: PINBALL"! It's by no means the most successful game in the series, but it sure is the strangest Genre Shift from a Platformer or FPS that you could ever make...
  • Kirby: Canvas Curse and by extention Kirby and the Rainbow Curse start off as more of a push away from standard Kirby affairs as the titular character no longer has his signature ability and now must be guided though levels by the player, Canvas Curse's bosses play more like mini-games until the final boss which brings back the traditional Kirby formula. Rainbow Curse however has made it so combat is a key feature through out the game.
  • The Indie games Evoland and its sequel revolve around the concept of the evolution of video game technology. 1 shifts from an overhead adventure in zelda style to end up as an RPG. 2 goes further with the bulk of the game being an RPG, but different stages undergo drastic genre shifts into such things as top-down-shooters al la 1942, Fighting Games, and even Rhythm Games.
  • South Park: The Stick of Truth and the first five minutes of South Park: The Fractured but Whole are both Heroic Fantasies. Then the Coon shows up and everyone switches to playing Superheroes.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club! starts out as a cute comedic visual novel where you try to date one of the three girls. Then one of the girls commits suicide by hanging and the whole visual novel turns into a horror game. And then it turns into Meta Fiction, as a certain character knows that she is in a game and isn't happy about it...
  • Undertale is mostly a quirky RPG with some creepy moments there and there, but going on a Genocide Route turns it into a straight up horror game where you're the bad guy.
  • BioShock Infinite and "Burial at Sea: Chapter One" are both a fast paced First-Person Shooter with some stealthy missions thrown in to keeps things interesting. "Burial at Sea: Chapter Two" is very much a Stealth-Based Game from start to finish.
  • Kingdom Hearts I and most subsequent games are Action RPGs with some platforming elements. Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and its remake opt for a Card Battle Game instead. It's also where the series starts shifting from the lighter fantasy romp through various Disney worlds with the occasional dark moment to more of a contained and overall darker narrative.

Top

Example of:

/
/

Feedback