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Gameplay Roulette

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An Unexpected Gameplay Change is when the play style of a game is altered in the game itself. When applied to a level, it becomes a Gimmick Level. Now take that concept to a global scale.

In some cases, the control scheme changes accordingly to the levels or scenes played, in a way such that the game blends several genres or styles in one. It's not a party game, because the default scheme is that of a different genre. This can also extend to the scale of a game franchise, so the control scheme and entire play style are completely different for each concurrent installment; the first few games might be your classic platformer, but the games after that go from being a first person shooter, to an RTS, to an MMORPG.

That's Gameplay Roulette, in a nutshell; the trend of some games or franchises to switch up their gameplay in a frequent basis. Done well, it will provide a dose of variety and flexibility in order to avoid stagnation. Done badly, it might be perceived by fans as a desperate attempt from creators to try to either keep the present formula fresh or look for new genres that can fit into the series.

A rule of thumb for telling the difference between Unexpected Gameplay Change and Gameplay Roulette: If you can point to one game style that's the "main" genre of that particular game, and the rest are all just deviations from the norm, then it's Unexpected Gameplay Change. If you can't say that any style is the main genre, then it's this trope.

Subtropes are the Party Game and Minigame Game, which feature Gameplay Roulette almost by definition.


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  • As seen in the AVGN review, the NES/SNES/Game Boy Godzilla games all fall under this trope.
  • Transformers suffers from this trope somewhat, with its myriad attempts to pump out specialized lines for specialized fans: the Alternators and Titanium lines for collectors, Go-Go-Gobots for preschoolers, etc. It has also not had a consistent genre for its video games, spanning from platformers to Fighting Games to Action/Adventures.
  • The Army Men series was often criticized by professional reviewers for its schizophrenic gameplay changes. The first two games were isometric strategy/tactic games, most of the others were Third Person Shooters, but there were also a pair of isometric Desert Strike-style flight games (the Air Attack series), a Robotron: 2084-style overhead shooter (Green Rogue), a RTS, and even a Tomb Raider ripoff (Portal Runner).
  • The BIT.TRIP series goes all over the place; from Pong to something like Missile Command, Canabalt to a Shoot 'Em Up, and finally back to Pong in the finale.
  • The Boktai franchise has changed with every game. The first one gave you a customizable gun and had heavy emphasis on stealth. The sequel took your gun and gave you melee weapons instead, with an MP meter to cast magic. The third is a weird hybrid with some gun parts and a few swords to choose from, and with motorcycle levels. The fourth is basically a very well refined version of the third, with two playable characters (one with guns and one with melee weapons) and almost no stealth element at all.
  • Darksiders: While all the games in the series fall within the category of Hack and Slash, each game dips their toes into different secondary genres. The first game mixes God of War-style combat with Zeldaesque Action-Adventure gameplay, Darksiders II is an RPG, Darksiders III is a Souls-like RPG, and Darksiders Genesis is a top-down Action RPG with Co-Op Multiplayer.
  • The original Dawn of War was a fairly standard RTS. The second game was an RPG (at least in the single player, with multiplayer remaining an RTS and effectively being a completely different game). The third game was closest to being a MOBA, and was not particularly well received as a result.
  • The Dept. Heaven series has a different genre with each episode (but not spinoff). The only thing similar between the gameplay of the episodes is that they're all a type of strategy game. Except Riviera: The Promised Land, which is a JRPG.
  • The Digimon World franchise definitely qualifies. First: Raise your Digimon at the gym and compete in real-time battles, the story is a young boy trying to piece together what has happened to the denizens of File Island. The second is a dungeon crawler, with turn based battles, the story being a young kid becoming a tamer, then fighting off the Evil Organization. The third plays somewhat like a mix between Pokemon and Final Fantasy, the story reflecting this. And the fourth ditches humans altogether and brings back real-time battling and introduces co-operative playing in teams of up to four players.
  • While the main-series Dragon Quest titles have consistent gameplay mechanics (save for Dragon Quest X, which is an MMORPG), the spinoffs have dabbled in many different kinds of genres, including (but not limited to) Dynasty Warriors-style hack'n'slash adventures, Minecraft-inspired voxel-style building games, and Mon-centric monster raising games.
  • By this point, the only thing you can be certain about any new mainline Final Fantasy game is that it's some form of RPG. And the spinoffs will probably at least have RPG Elements.
  • Jak and Daxter moved from a fairly light platformer to a gun-heavy Darker and Edgier pair of platformer/driving games to an all-out racing game by the time of Jak X.
  • Konami's Knightmare (Majou Densetsu) series for the MSX started with a top-down Vertical Scrolling Shooter. The second game, Knightmare II: The Maze of Galious, was a platform-based Action-Adventure. The Japan-only third game, Shalom, was an Eastern RPG.
  • Grab a copy of LittleBigPlanet 2 and head to the community. Have your mind blown at the variety of gameplay that can be found in nearly 9 MILLION levels. The Controlinator, which didn't appear in the first game, lets players make their own controls for anything in their level, so eventually, people took their favorite genres and applied them to this game.
  • Magic: The Gathering had several unsuccessful attempts to branch out into the video game world until Magic Online, which was basically the game online. Some games, like Battlegrounds and Armageddon, had RTS elements; others, like Tactics, had Turn-Based elements. Consistently, however, the most successful video games in the series are the ones that emulate the real card game the closest (Magic Online, Duels of the Planeswalkers, Magic: The Gathering Arena).
  • Mega Man (Classic) was a sidescrolling platformer. Legends made an action RPG out of it (moderately lucrative) and Battle Network is an RPG with a special battle mechanic (more successful than Legends, with sequels and a Spin-Off, Star Force).
  • Mortal Kombat has attempted three times so far to make action-adventure versions of the games, with less than stellar results. Two of the Fighting Games, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and Mortal Kombat: Deception, included minigames inspired from chess, Puzzle Fighter and even Mario Kart, as well as changes in the fighting, combo and fatality systems with almost each game. They even tried making side-story Beat Em Ups starring Sub-Zero and Jax, neither of which was very good.
  • Warlords is a series of turn-based strategy games. The spin-off series Warlords: Battlecry is a series of real-time strategy games.(Although one could easily say RTS/RPG, as the RPG part isn't just tacked-on like Warcraft, it's actually done better than a lot of RPGs). Then comes the spin-off Puzzle Quest series of puzzle-RPG's... including Puzzle Kingdoms, which is basically puzzle/RPG/RTS.
  • The Sgt. Frog games are, appropriately enough, completely random. For instance, Chou Gekijouban Keroro Gunsou Enshuu da Yo! Zenin Shuugou requires playing through ten different training missions before the final boss battle—and every mission is a completely different style of play from the others.
  • The Shining Series was originally a first person dungeon crawler. Then it turned into a Turn-Based Strategy franchise before releasing one more first person game and deciding it wanted to be a action RPG. Even the action RPG games bear little in common with each other. It later turned into a fighting game.
  • The Sly Cooper series began as a platforming game with a focus on stealth. With the second game, the developers gave the other members of the Power Trio playable-character status and shoved more combat into the game, throwing in many, many minigames for good measure. The result was a stealth/platforming/actioner hybrid. The third game stretches the mixture even further, with the end result that there's an Unexpected Gameplay Change every ten seconds.
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog series is notorious for this effect:
    • Sonic Adventure was almost a literal roulette wheel, with six playable characters — each of whose levels used different styles of gameplay, from "run/platform to the end of the level" through "fishing minigame". Sonic Adventure 2 dropped this to run/blast things/find stuff, with each style having two characters, one from each side, dedicated to it.
    • Quadruply for Sonic Adventure. Most people count the six playable characters as separate gameplay styles in and of themselves — but if you pay attention, there are even more beyond that! In Sonic's story alone, you didn't just run to the end in a 3D platformer — you also snowboarded, sandboarded, played pinball and slots, engaged in aerial combat, fought hand to hand (or spindash to spindash), and raced in a hoverkart. Not to mention you can raise artificial life forms here and play whack-a-hole/hedgehog there...
    • Sonic 2006. There were three "main" gameplay styles, with Sonic focusing on running, Silver focusing on exploration/level manipulation, and Shadow having a blend of running and combat, but each character had two "Amigo" characters who play occasionally switched to. Sonic had Tails and Knuckles, Shadow had Rouge and Omega, and Silver had Blaze and Amy.
    • This trope became less dominant after 2006, as Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Generations each only have two types of gameplay, while Sonic and the Secret Rings and Sonic Colors avert this trope completely.
  • All of Space Rangers. Normally a simultaneous turn-based space action-rpg, but then sometimes you shift genre into arcade shooter, or into an RTS which you can also turn it into third-person shooter, or a text adventure which might range from choose your own adventure to economic simulator. If you want to avoid those, be a bit careful on getting quests. Don't worry too much, though, all of them are fun.
  • Star Control is a serviceable action/strategy. Star Control II is an excellent action/adventure. Star Control 3 is a crap version of 2, with some odd colony management stuff thrown in for no discernable reason.
  • One of several reasons that the Star Fox series hasn't been as strong since 64 is that the gameplay has been constantly changing from Rail Shooter in the original and 64, Action-Adventure in Adventures, Third-Person Shooter in Assault, and Real-Time Strategy in Command. Adventures itself, in addition to being action-adventure, also goes through the usual rail shooter when Fox travels between Dinosaur Planet and its satellital regions, in which gameplay adds elements of Dungeon Crawling (this is also true for the Force Point Temples and Krazoa Palace). Star Fox Zero brings back the traditional gameplay seen in the first two games, but the unconventional controls received mixed reactions.
  • The Super Mario Bros. games tend to be more successful than most in this. They've successfully spun off into RPG, Driving Game, Party Game, and other franchises. Nintendo as a whole seems to love doing this. The secret to their success at not alienating fans is that these shifts are always explicit spin-offs; there's rarely any worry that they'll never make another "normal" entry in a series as well.
  • Super Star Force for the Famicom alternates between Shoot 'Em Up space areas and Zelda-style Dungeon Crawling.
  • The Warcraft series was originally one of the trope codifiers for the RTS genre. Then in 2004 World of Warcraft was released, and for most people the name Warcraft became synonymous with MMORPGs. The only Warcraft game released since then has been Hearthstone, a CCG.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! games:
    • Almost every other game of the console titles attempts to break from the standard card game mechanic of its real-life counterpart by adding various levels of RPG Elements, or Duel Monsters-inspired board games, none of which have been nearly as successful, especially when the former gets bitched out for changing the cards so drastically in order to fit into the new mechanics that veteran duelists can't fathom why they now work the way they do. The handheld games, on the other hand, stick largely to the card game mechanic... and the fans like it that way.
    • There's also a few non-video game attempts to branch the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise away from the card game, two of which were featured as popular spin-off games in the anime. None of them caught on. A third, called Yu-Gi-Oh! Hexors, exists as nothing but a board game that had no mention in the anime or manga. It never even saw a second booster pack release, being cancelled after the starter sets failed to sell.
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Falsebound Kingdom has almost nothing to do with the card game aside from the monsters used being taken from there. The gameplay is a mix of an RTS and an RPG. Long story short, the heroes get sucked into a video game made by Scott Irvine, where they have to fight their way out using computer programs based off of monsters from the card game.

    Individual Games 
  • The levels of Abobo's Big Adventure are each based on specific NES games — Double Drabobo, Super Mabobo, Urban Chabobo (Urban Champion), Zeld Abobo, Pro Wrabobo, Mega Mabobo, Contra Abobo, and Punch Abobo. In Pro Wrabobo in particular, the first half of the level is based on Balloon Fight.
  • The Adventures of Bayou Billy is nominally a side-scrolling beat-em-up, but there are also on-rails shooting sections and driving levels interspersed throughout the game.
  • Many European computer games of the 8-bit era (particularly those from the Spanish publisher Dinamic, e.g. After the War, Army Moves, Freddy Hardest) came in multiple parts, each of which would load separately and offer a different style of gameplay, often even with a different-looking title screen and status bar. These disparate parts would be linked together by an Excuse Plot and passwords given in between.
    • Army Moves (Dinamic) had Stage 1 as a Shoot 'Em Up in a jeep driving from left to right, Stages 2-4 as a Shoot 'Em Up in a helicopter flying from right to left, and Stages 5-7 (on the second load) switch to foot-soldiering action with a little platforming.
    • Savage consisted of three levels: a side-scrolling action level, Space Harrier-style running-towards-the-horizon, and a flying exploration level.
  • Alien Storm switches between three gameplay styles - Beat 'em Up style combat, autoscrolling jumping and shooting, and first-person shooting in autoscrolling indoors environs. The Genesis version even adds a maze-like element to the Womb Level at the end.
  • Alligator Hunt have you fending off an Alien Invasion in multiple formats; you could go to shooting alien drones and walkers on foot, to suddenly piloting a spaceship before the screen turns Space Invaders-style, and so forth.
  • Alone in the Dark (2008) included third person melee combat, first person shooting, platforming, and driving. All in one game!
  • The Amiga game Awesome plays as a Thunder Force-style arena shmup during standard space battles, in asteroid fields, and when landing on a planet, then changes to an After Burner-style third-person rail shooter for boss battles, and finally to overhead run 'n gun gameplay a la Ikari Warriors on the planet surfaces.
  • Done deliberately in Asura's Wrath, where the entire gameplay style changes depending on the situation and story.
  • Barbie Super Model, where you switch from being a side scroller where you dodge obstacles, to a matching game, to remembering the correct keys for Barbie's dance moves in a modeling show in the span of a few minutes. However, it was made for children who may have had shorter attention spans and needed the variety of gameplay.
  • Battletoads has many styles of gameplay: beat-em-up vertical (both ways), horizontal with all 4 directions (belt-scrolling 3D) or just 2 (2D), high-speed obstacle courses, a racing level against three rats in succession, and even a (kinda) puzzle level that features snakes that move in insane patterns and you gotta stay on top of them. Sometimes the same level features more than one of these! And YES, this all forms a wonderful, cohesive experience.
  • Brütal Legend: The multiplayer is a straight-up Real-Time Strategy game. The single player is Hack and Slash, then Wide-Open Sandbox Driving Game, with Real-Time Strategy thrown into the mix. The game experienced a severe degree of backlash because the demo and trailers mostly emphasized the Hack and Slash elements and most players picked it up expecting a Metal Themed God of War only to find the Real-Time Strategy to be the major focus.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day for the N64 starts off as a regular platformer, but throughout the game you'll be racing across lava, flying around picking up villagers for Dracula, third-person shooting at Teddie Nazis, and tearing cavemen apart while riding on a dinosaur. The final boss pits you in a robot suit fighting a Xenomorph. The player almost needs to learn a new control scheme for every level (fortunately, the instruction manual does offer a list of control settings for each situation).
  • The first two Crash Bandicoot games had a couple of levels where you rode animals that were well received, but generally was mostly a platformer, Crash Bandicoot 3: Warped, on the other hand, has two scuba diving levels, four jet ski levels, four motorbike race levels, two tiger riding levels, and three airplane flying levels, of which the first two are about shooting down targets, and the third is a race. That's fifteen out of thirty two levels. Add in one boss who plays as a bi-plane shooter, and subtract that two of the bonus levels are just alternate entrances, and that's roughly half the game spent not on foot platforming.
  • Creature Shock, for most of the game, plays out like a FPS where your hero is on foot shooting at enemies from a first-person perspective. And then comes stages where you're suddenly fixed and enemies comes at you, with you shooting them like a Rail Shooter, and segments where you board a spaceship turning the game into a Shoot 'Em Up - though the last one can be expectable (when transitioning between levels, the moment your hero gets on his spaceship during cutscenes you'll be expecting one of these to pop up) but for the former two it seems to come at random.
  • Dark Forces was a well made but fairly standard first-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe. Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II was a well made but fairly standard first-person shooter set in the Star Wars universe... until about halfway through at which point the player gained a lightsaber and force powers, and it became more like a Hack and Slash game instead. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast did exactly the same, with the protagonist having given up being a Jedi since the previous game and again playing as an FPS until a few levels in. Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, the fourth and final game in the series, finally gave up and just let the player have a lightsaber right from the start.
  • The Desolate Room combines overhead exploration and Top-Down shooter, with RPG boss battles. Its sequel, The Desolate Hope, removes the overhead exploration, in favor of making the simulations a platforming Shoot 'Em Up, the deeper simulations a The Legend of Zelda style dungeon crawler with you searching for a fault in the code, and the boss battles remaining an extremely fast Action RPG.
  • Each subgame of Die Hard Trilogy is a different genre: Die Hard is a Third-Person Shooter, Die Harder is a Light Gun Game, and With A Vengeance is a Driving Game. The sequel, Die Hard Trilogy 2: Viva Las Vegas, also did this, mixing up the gameplay types in its story mode.
  • D2 has a mix of survival-horror style and Myst-style adventure segments, with a controller-based "gun game" combat system, and RPG-like stat advancement.
  • The second Earthworm Jim game features a lot more variety in gameplay than the first, including an isometric shooter level, a recurring Fire!-esque level revolving around bouncing Peter's many, many puppies across the stage with a giant marshmellow, and especially Villi People, which features a change in character to Sally the Blind Cave Salamander who's actually Jim in a costume and changes gameplay three different times (starting with a maze, then a game show, then a game of Simon with pinball bumpers).
  • Ether Vapor occasionally switches between Vertical Scrolling Shooter, Horizontal Scrolling Shooter, and even behind-the-back Rail Shooter. Its Spiritual Successor Astebreed looks to mix things up even more. Even in the first stage, the perspective changes several times.
  • Family Guy Video Game! has a different genre for each playable character: it's a beat-em-up for Peter, a stealth game for Brian, and a platformer/third-person-shooter for Stewie. There are also short Cutaway Gag minigames a la WarioWare.
  • Geist perpetually oscillates through first-person shooter, survival horror, puzzle, and action-adventure. This is justified by the game's premise (spiritual possession), as the gameplay mechanics can change according to the current host character.
  • Golf Story: The game has a surprisingly wide variety of non-golf objectives for a golf game. To wit, the challenges include, but are not limited to: disc golf, running from point to point on a time limit, driving a remote-control car around a course, and using a drone to drop balls into a hole. There's also a section where the protagonist must solve a missing person mystery when he and most of the major characters are locked in a fancy mansion, and while several of the relevant puzzles still involve golf mechanics, it mostly involves talking to people and looking for clues.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas does this every couple of missions. While the GTA series are known for shootouts, drivebys, and wild car chases, San Andreas stuffed every possible idea into the game's main storyline and side quests. This includes, but is not limited to:
  • The Guardian Legend alternates between vertical Shoot 'Em Up and overhead action-RPG gameplay. Interestingly, there is a password that lets you play the game as a pure Shoot 'Em Up.
  • Halo does this, changing from FPS to third-person vehicle shooter, flight-sim (e.g. "Two Betrayals", "The Arbiter", "The Great Journey", "The Covenant", and the spacefighter and helicopter levels in Halo: Reach and Halo 4), obstacle-course driving (e.g. The "The Maw" and "Halo" escape sequences and the "Outskirts" tunnel), and stealth (e.g. parts of "Assault on the Control Room" and "The Arbiter").
  • Haven: Call of the King had this as its entire marketing gimmick. "No other game has so many genres - it's like getting everything you like in one game!" The developers were so convinced that they had a new blockbuster franchise that they made Haven a trilogy and made the ending of the first game a Cliffhanger. The problem was, since the energy of the programmers was spread out over so many different game styles, no single one really excelled and the gameplay was decidedly average as a result. Call of the King tanked, and the remaining two games were canceled.
  • During the Six Pint Inn segments, The Hex is a regular old point and click. Once you discover the pasts of the six playable characters, the game switches to different styles of gameplay reflecting the games the six characters come from.
    • Super Weasel Kid is a 2D platformer game that involves jumping on enemies to defeat them and contains pits filled with spikes.
    • Combat Arena X is a 2D fighting game that contains hidden combos alongside standard fighting game attacks.
    • Secrets of Legendaria is a turn-based RPG with a medieval setting.
    • Waste World is a turn-based strategy game set After the End.
    • Vicious Galaxy is a top-down shoot 'em up set in outer space.
    • Walk is a walking simulator that parodies The Beginner's Guide.
    • Rootbeer Reggie plays like Tapper.
  • The Impossible Quiz. Usually, it's a straight quiz game (accounting for some bizarre logic), but then you have to do things like help Dr. Eggman mutilate Sonic The Hedgehog's corpse, stroke a cat, or clip toenails.
  • Incoming! is pretty consistent about making you blow poop up, but how you do it changes constantly in the Story mode. A mission might make you play as a defense turret, an helicopter ferrying supplies around, a tank, a jet, and then go back to the turret again. This also applies to a lesser extent to its spiritual predecessor, Darklight Conflict.
  • Incredible Crisis is a sequence of completely different games for each level — except one, which is replayed for three of the four characters. (Arguably, it's the most annoying of all the levels to have to play again.)
  • Kirby Super Star consists of multiple shorter stories containing different gameplay elements (Spring Breeze is a short remake of Kirby's Dream Land that adds Copy Abilities, Dyna Blade has a world map, Gourmet Race is a foot race against King Dedede, The Great Cave Offensive has Metroidvania elements and is the closest the series got to a true Metroidvania until Kirby & The Amazing Mirror, Revenge of Meta Knight has a darker atmosphere and timed gameplay, and Milky Way Wishes disables the ability to gain Copy Abilities from inhaled enemies but adds power-ups that let you transform into specific Copy Abilities anytime you want. There is also a Boss Rush, and minigames featuring completely different gameplay). The Nintendo DS remake, Kirby Super Star Ultra, adds even more sub-games (Revenge of the King is a remake of the original Kirby's Dream Land's Extra Game, Helper to Hero is a Boss Rush featuring the Player Mooks, Meta Knightmare Ultra has you go through most of the original platformers again as Meta Knight, and The TRUE Arena is a Boss Rush featuring the bosses created for the remake), and adds three new minigames (the original minigames, complete with their original graphics, are unlockable).
  • Live A Live uses the same basic gameplay systems across its different stories, but each chapter has their own unique twists:
    • The Prehistory chapter is close to playing like a traditional JRPG, but with the added ability for the protagonist, Pogo, to sniff out the location of monsters and items.
    • The Imperial China chapter focuses on the player, as the Earthen Heart Shifu, training three students in kung fu. The outcome of the story depends on how you train your pupils.
    • The Twilight of Edo Japan chapter is a Stealth-Based Game where the ninja Oboromaru is given the ability to hide himself from enemy detection. The player is given the option of either taking a completely stealthy approach, or fighting your way through every enemy you cross paths with, with different pros, cons, and rewards for each approach.
    • The Wild West chapter is a Time Management Game where the player must gather supplies to build traps for an oncoming gang of bandits within a limited span of time. Who among the townsfolk you choose to set up the traps is also important, as some townsfolk are better at setting up traps than others.
    • The Modern Day chapter takes inspiration from Fighting Games where players take on a succession of rivaling martial artists, while also attempting to learn and copy their signature attacks. The player is given a choice of which order to fight each rival, and each rival has weaknesses against other rivals' techniques, not dissimilar to Mega Man.
    • The Near Future chapter focuses on an orphan named Akira, who has psychic powers. In addition to giving him preternatural combat abilities, his telepathy is also key to progressing the plot.
    • The Distant Future chapter is a Survival Horror with very little combatnote , with an emphasis on narrative and evading a dangerous and unkillable monster.
    • The Middle Ages chapter plays out like a bite-sized JRPG adventure in a similar ilk to early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest titles.
    • The Grand Finale also plays like a bite-sized JRPG, albeit with its own twists. The chapter takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of the Middle Ages chapter's setting, and each character has a unique optional dungeon with different challenges, such as Oboromaru's key-centered maze, Cube's puzzles, and the Sundown Kid's race against time. Conversely, if the player chooses to play the final chapter as Oersted, the game becomes something of a reverse Boss Rush, with the player replaying the boss fights from the previous chapters as the bosses.
  • Mazin Saga: Mutant Fighter for the Sega Genesis regularly switches between a decent Beat 'em Up for the stages and a mediocre one-on-one Fighting Game for the end boss battles.
  • Mewgenics starts out as a Raising Sim, Except the cats you raise also inherit combat abilities along with other visual traits from their parents. You then assign one of six classes to them and send them in an adventure for cat food so you can feed your cats, and once your victorious cats return you can breed them again, passing adquired traits and class abilities (don't question it) onto their offspring, allowing for multiclassing!
  • Mission Critical at first glance appears to be your typical first-person adventure game with regular and timed puzzles. However, halfway through the game, the game switches to a space Real-Time Strategy, of all things, and back again. While YMMV, most reviewers agree that the blend of adventure and RTS was done very well and makes perfect sense in context (the player is the last surviving crewmember of a starship and is forced to fend off occasional attacks from the rival faction by personally commanding combat drones in RTS mode).
  • Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam: Hot Scramble, in alternating stages, goes back and forth between an impressive Rail Shooter and a weak imitation of Thexder. The second kind of stage was allegedly the result of Executive Meddling, and was removed from one limited edition of the game.
  • Mr. Bones on the Saturn had this as its main schtick. Normally levels played as as a free-roaming sidescroller platformer, but occasional puzzle or even Rhythm Game sections would mix things up.
  • NieR: Automata is primarily a Hack and Slash Action RPG, but radically shifting camera angles bring in elements of side-scrolling platformers, rail shooters, and top-down twin-stick Shoot 'Em Ups (particularly for 9S's hacking segments), along with an occasional foray into Visual Novel.
  • Nightbreed: The Interactive Movie starts with a driving/stealth section, where you have to drive around a map while both keeping an eye on your fuel gauge and avoiding/smashing through road blocks until you get to a cemetery. Once there, you get chased around by one of the eponymous Nightbreeds; you have to click the mouse in time with the character's arms. After that, you end up back at the driving level, going back to the cemetery. And finally, the game switches to a dungeon crawler, where you wander around identical caverns while looking for five characters to rescue. And then there are all the minigames, from fighting off "Sons of the Free" to dodging laser sights, all of which have their own gameplay mechanics. You have to do all this on one life.
  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams goes from flight stages to puzzle bosses to 3-D style platformers all within the same game.
  • The sheer variety of gameplay formats is one of the selling point for the indie Genre Throwback, 198X, which starts with you fighting punks in a Beat 'em Up, before going to a Racing Game, piloting a spaceship in a Horizontal Scrolling Shooter, and then becoming a ninja slicing up enemies in a platformer set in ancient Japan. It actually makes sense from a gameplay perspective: you play as a teenager playing games after exploring a supposedly-abandoned arcade.
  • Q-Pop switches between the reproduction round, where you play a strategy game on the world map, and the survival round, a simple roguelike where you have to eat, reproduce and fight.
  • The Rocketeer (the SNES game, not the NES game), goes from airplane/jetpack racing to Third-Person Shooter(the Hangar levels), side scrolling Shoot 'Em Up (Chase and Armada), and Beat 'em Up (Zeppelin).
  • ROM Check Fail. Well, except that most of the genres are some kind of shoot-em-up.
  • Rygar NES combines overhead and sidescrolling gameplay, ala Zelda 2.
  • Gunstar Super Heroes, the GBA Remake/Sequel to Gunstar Heroes, has this in spades. Every level is practically a different game.
  • Shadows of the Empire is a mix of Flight/Space Sim(first and last levels), Rail Shooter(third level and first part of last level), Third-Person Shooter(the majority of the levels), and Racing(Mos Eisley & Beggar's Canyon) gameplay. The Super Star Wars games did this too, eg the first game switches between sidescroller and free-roaming 3rd-person Vehicular Combat, then to a first-person rail-shooter in its final stage, similar to the old arcade game.
  • The Simpsons: Bart's Nightmare for the SNES is another game that focuses on actively inducing this trope. The hub of the game is a standard - if odd - platformer, but entering the levels let you play as a super hero, a godzilla, Indiana Jones, a miscroscopic being in a blood vein and Bart being chased by Itchy and Scratchy. Each one has completely unique controls and gameplay. There was a sequel called Virtual Bart, but its gameplay and systems were more forced and it didn't do as well.

    Interestingly, Bill Williams, the man who designed Bart's Nightmare, created many Gameplay Roulette games for Atari 8-Bit Computers. Alley Cat was about a cat who had to jump into the windows of a house and perform various cat-like tasks such as catching mice, knocking a bird cage off a table and chasing the bird, drinking milk out of saucers guarded by sleepy dogs, and other things. Though the core gameplay didn't really change. However, a more drastic change occurred in Necromancer. The first level had you planting trees and protecting them from evil spirits and creatures. The second had you navigating a dungeon with the ability to summon the trees you had planted and protected previously. The third had you engaging in a fight against a wizard of some sort.
  • The Simpsons: Virtual Bart features a literal case of this, as Bart's stages are chosen by virtue of him being strapped to a wheel.
  • Sin and Punishment is mostly a rail shooter with a single horizontal-scrolling platform stage, but Sin and Punishment: Star Successor has more horizontal-scrolling segments, one stage is part Driving Game, and the last part of the Stage 6 boss is a one-on-one Fighting Game segment.
  • To a certain extent, Space Station Silicon Valley is a game built around this concept. You switch between many different animals with varying gameplay styles over the course of the game. Additionally, the last stage of each of the four environments is effectively a minigame, such as a boxing match or a shooting gallery.
  • Spore features five different stages of evolution that play differently, sometimes radically, from one another:
    • The Cell Stage plays like a simple top-down arcade game where your microscopic creature is tasked with eating to grow and surviving against other creatures. A close approximation would be Pac-Man.
    • The Creature Stage is an Action RPG wherein your creature, and a party of others of the same species, explore a landmass while interacting with other species.
    • The Tribal Stage is a Real-Time Strategy segment in which your creatures species form a tribal society and must contend with other tribes, whether by peacefully assimilating them or driving them to extinction.
    • The Civilization Stage is also a Real-Time Strategy game, but on a larger scale as your creatures found a city and fights against other cities with land, air, and sea vehicles for global dominance.
    • The Space Stage is a Wide-Open Sandbox wherein your creatures attain space flight and travel throughout the galaxy. While you're gently encouraged to try and reach the center of the galaxy, you're given free reign to explore and expand your stellar empire as you see fit.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon has some sort of different thing to do in each level. To be specific:
    • Each of the four worlds contains one level that must be played as one of the four characters you unlock: One's a Kangaroo who has ridiculously high jumps and gets a lot of platforming without gliding, one's a bomb dropping flying penguin who gets a lot of aerial assault type levels, one's a strongman yeti who gets a lot of combat heavy sections, and one's a gun wielding monkey who gets a lot of shooting stages.
    • On top of this, each world contains a speedway where you're flying around either racing a set course, or trying to smash a bunch of items quickly enough. Hidden within these is a Hunter mission, which will have you doing aerial combat.
    • Each world also contains a top down shooter for Spyro's dragonfly to go through, that needs to be done to unlock the Sparx power-ups.
    • And then there's all the things in the levels themselves. Amongst other things you'll have to do for 100% completion there's skateboarding, yeti boxing, first person shooter sections, rail shooters, racing, cat hockey, submarine combat, turret shooting and other stages which changed the way the game itself played, such as sections where you had to do an Escort Mission, fight a number of Mooks, make it down a really long slippery slope, a level where your fire breath froze enemies, turbo-charged running sections and a Dual Boss that made use of an inifinite power up to be fought. There's probably others too. The developers all but admitted they had gotten very bored of making Spyro during the second game and decided to all out experiment with this one.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures 2: Trouble in Wackyland: Justified, due to the game's thematic premise. Buster and his friends were invited by Montana Max to enjoy his amusement park, in which each character can enter one of the main attractions. Each attraction has its own rules and gameplay template, which determines the control scheme. The final level, unlocked after winning in all attractions, is a standard platformer level like those of the game's predecessor.
  • Trauma Team is basically six games in one, but consists mainly of treatment games (which are rather like the other Trauma Center games) and diagnosis and forensics, which are adventure games.
  • TRON, the arcade game by Midway, has each of its four stages play very differently. The "roulette" part comes when the stages are swapped around on the ring menu screen, so you won't know which stage you'll play.
  • The Ultimate Stuntman, an obscure unlicensed NES game by Codemasters/Camerica.
  • The Ultimate Stuntman switches between being a driving game, a platformer, a wall climber, a bomb disposal puzzle, and gliding segments frequently.
  • Undertale starts out as a fairly standard puzzle-RPG with bullet hell and morality systems in the combat. Then the bullet-hell gameplay turns into a platformer. Then you play a dating sim. Then the combat briefly turns into an honest to God rhythm-game. And this isn't even going into the tone shifts.
  • As a very minor example, The Unholy War combines features from a Strategy game, but with combat played out as a 3D Fighting Game with limited moveset.
  • The WarioWare series is built around this trope, throwing rapid-fire 5-second minigames with different controls and gameplay styles at the player (though fortunately the rules are always easy enough to be described in one or two words.)
  • Waxworks (1992): Each level has its own style of play. The pyramid is based around puzzles and traps, Victorian London is stealth and evasion, the graveyard is the most action-packed, and the mine is almost like a pre-Resident Evil as you traverse a mine shaft full of plant mutants. The best weapon against them is the chemical thrower, but it has limited fuel and you must go to a certain spot on the map to refuel it.
  • WURM: Journey to the Center of the Earth combines sidescrolling shmup levels, vertical shmup levels, on-foot platforming, and first-person boss battles.