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10 Gaming Subgenres That Have Basically Disappeared

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  • Posted on 08th Apr, 2022 16:40 PM

There have been quite a few gaming subgenres that have all but disappeared. Here are some good examples.

p>Video games have gone through a lot of changes as a medium since their earliest days. Many things, surprisingly, have remained consistent since the days of arcade cabinets and Atari 2600. However, with time, many specific trends in the video game world have become far too outdated for the modern-day industry.

Related: Forgotten Video Game Genres We'd Love To See Return

There are dozens upon dozens of genres in gaming: shooters, platformers, RPGs, and puzzle games. However, inside each of these categories, there are more specific subgenres that come and go with time. These ten gaming subgenres were once insanely popular, but now receive little to no attention by mainstream gamers.

10 Plastic Instrument Rhythm Games

Rhythm games test players' musical ability in a variety of ways. Popularized by arcade staple Dance Dance Revolution, these games are often fast-paced with high energy. However, console rhythm games began to get pretty ambitious with their control schemes, coming packaged with instrument-based plastic controllers.

The most popular examples of this subgenre from the early 2000s would be the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises, or Nintendo's own Donkey Konga series. However, these extraneous devices are rarely compatible with current generation consoles. The genre's only remainder is the VR-exclusive Beat Saber.

9 Fitness Games

During the evolution of virtual reality, the idea that video games could incorporate elements of exercise had been long in the works. Nintendo attempted to capitalize on this in 1988 with the Power Pad, as did Dance Dance Revolution. However, it wasn't until the Nintendo Wii's release in 2006 that the dream became a reality.

Nintendo's new franchise was called Wii Fit, packaged with the Balance Board. The game contained mini-games that would function as workouts, as well as yoga exercise guides. The series became popular enough to spawn its own Super Smash Bros character, but Nintendo has left the Balance Board and franchise in the past.

8 Extreme Sports Games

While Wii Fit and other games like it promoted active workout, other subgenres let players enjoy extreme sports from the comfort of their couch. These games were often sandbox-based, meaning players had free rein to wander complex areas. However, the goal would be to earn points from performing various tricks.

Related: Sports Games Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre

The most popular example of an extreme sports game would be the beloved Tony Hawk's Pro Skater franchise. However, many titles similar to it, like Jet Set Radio and Mirror's Edge, also thrived during the mid-2000s and early 2010s. Sadly, these games only remain popular due to nostalgia nowadays.

7 Educational Games

The popularization of personal computers made it easy to appeal to kids. For millennials and zoomers, their first exposure to video games would likely be from educational video games provided by their parents. These games would strive to not only be fun, but also to subtly promote learning patterns in children.

The biggest example of this would be Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, which has been revived as a game show and animated cartoon in recent years. JumpStart Adventures was also a popular franchise for kindergarten to fifth grade kids. Nintendo even jumped on the bandwagon with the Brain Age series.

6 Text Adventure Games

One of the most primitive forms of video games were text adventures. These games featured no graphics, and would only be controlled via keyboard. Often, text adventure games worked similar to a Choose Your Own Adventure book, allowing players to feel as if they were a part of a narrative story being told.

One example of this subgenre is The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, released in 1984 and based on the book series of the same name. The Zork franchise from the late 70s is also seen as a forefather of this subgenre. Nowadays, the subgenre is usually only seen in indie releases, such as 2014's Depression Quest.

5 Point-And-Click Adventure Games

A cousin of text adventure games is the subgenre of point-and-click adventures. These games allowed players to interact with cinematic game worlds by clicking to both move their character and investigate objects. This franchise was famously popularized by a video game developer known as Sierra Entertainment.

Related: Classic Point & Click Games That Still Hold Up Well Today

Among Sierra's biggest series included King's Quest, Space Quest, and Leisure Suit Larry. While these series have seen reboots in the modern age, the genre is also associated with Telltale games, a now-defunct studio that published point-and-click successors such as The Walking Dead series and The Wolf Among Us.

4 Sidescrolling Beat 'Em Up Games

A "beat 'em up" game refers to an action game that features characters fighting enemies with weapons or hand-to-hand combat. It's one of the earliest gaming genres, originating in titles like Double Dragon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Franchises like Final Fight only cemented the genre's legacy in gaming history.

Nowadays, beat 'em up games have been mostly replaced by hack-n'-slash titles like Dynasty Warriors and Bayonetta. However, some indie releases sought to revive the long-gone subgenre, such as Castle Crashers and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

3 Real-Time Strategy Games

The subgenre of real-time strategy games began with games like Utopia in 1981. The genre quickly evolved into more complicated franchises, such as Civilization and Age of Empires. The positive is that there are still many communities dedicated to real-time strategy games, even though new releases are scarce.

Part of the reason companies rarely release new real-time strategy games is that they tend to have long lifespans. Blizzard Entertainment, for instance, released the latest installment in the StarCraft series in 2013, and have kept it alive via expansion packs. Still, many older games of this genre can be found free-to-play online.


The term "MMORPG" stands for "massively multiplayer online role-playing game". This mouthful of a genre is used to describe franchises such as World of Warcraft, which became very popular in the mid-2000s. World of Warcraft's very first installment has remained alive and active to this day thanks to expansion packs.

Related: The First MMORPGs Ever, Ranked

Other games like Star Wars: The Old Republic and Final Fantasy XI have seen huge waves of subscribers upon release. However, the video game market is very unsaturated by this genre, and brand-new games are rarely ever sought out. Aside from a select few titles, this genre is a pretty small, exclusive club for games to be in.

1 3D Mascot Platform Games

The 90s saw an uptick in various video game publishers trying to introduce audiences to their own Mario-or-Sonic-level mascot. Some publishers succeeded, with games like Banjo-Kazooie and Crash Bandicoot producing iconic video game characters. However, this subgenre very quickly became overdone.

However, the genre hasn't necessarily disappeared as it has decreased in popularity. Franchises like Knack and Yooka-Laylee have failed to appeal to wide audiences, but indie games like A Hat in Time have received critical acclaim. There probably isn't much hope for the future of characters like Ty the Tasmanian Tiger, Spyro, or Tak.

More: Best Games In Each Major Genre (According To Metacritic)

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