The Disappearing Genre

By Jonathan Barnes, 8 years ago
I just found out that I am an “average gamer”. A recent study has shown that the average age for a “gamer” is 29. What does this mean? To me, it means that most gamers grew up with a console in their home. Be it an Atari 2600, NES, Genesis, or Super NES, most of us played video games at home through some of our youth. Along with that, most of us probably have fond memories of some of those times and classic titles.

A few weeks ago, the “Deal of the Week” was LucasArts’ classic The Legend of Monkey Island. By updating the game with a new layer of graphics and voiced characters, LucasArts effectively reintroduced the point-and-click adventure to video game consoles. I recalled having fond memories of some of LucasArts’ point-and-click adventures (Maniac Mansion, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, and The Dig spring to mind), so I figured I’d give the game a shot, and hope for a trip down memory lane. I ponied up my 400 Microsoft Points and spent the weekend chasing down the Ghost Pirate, LeChuck.

One weekend, several Vitamin Waters, an hour or two of reading online solutions, and one couch indentation later, I had finished the game. Setting down my controller a few thoughts sprang to my mind.

1) “Man… these games had/have obscure solutions.”
2) “I wonder if LucasArts will do this with the rest of their point-and-click catalogue”
3) “Why did this genre disappear?”

The point-and-click adventure game has seemingly fallen by the wayside. Even though it was never that marquee genre that had gamers foaming at the mouth for more, it still had a steady following. IPs like Sam and Max and the aforementioned LucasArts titles were always fun and tended to sell relatively well, but they seemed to disappear, leaving many of us “average” gamers nostalgic for more.

And it’s not just exclusive to point-and-clicks, the most classic genre has fallen by the wayside as well. Think about it, how many action-platformers have you played recently?

Back in the days of NES, every other game seemed to be an action-platformer like Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, and Metroid; now there isn’t a decent one to be played on the 360. Capcom took a bold step by creating the NEW, old-school, 8-bit Mega Man 10 and releasing it to Xbox Live, but what about a new IP? Chair rocked my summer last year with Shadow Complex and, if its sales of over 200,000 are proof, it did many of yours as well. You would think that the record-breaking sales of Shadow Complex alone would encourage a developer to sink some time and capital into developing a triple-A action-platformer title, but no dice.

I’ll grant you, there’s a lot to be said about the shifting of genre preference. The most popular games on modern consoles are typically shooters and RPGs, but have these effectively managed to replace the “classic” genres or is the itch still there, just waiting to be scratched?

Personally, in addition to a new action-platformer, I would love to see LucasArts come back with an updated X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter. Heck, I’d even settle for a Wing Commander!

So, fellow gamers, what are your thoughts? Do you pine for the days of genres past, or are you content with the current plate of games?
Jonathan Barnes
Written by Jonathan Barnes
Jonathan has been a news/views contributor since 2010. When he's not writing reviews, features, and opinion pieces, he spends his days working as an informal science educator and his nights as an international man of mystery.