12 Games That Defined Their Genres

The Escapist Staff | 8 Dec 2010 21:00
Misc - RSS 2.0



Guitar Hero

Genre: Music
First Released: 2005
Platform: PlayStation 2
Developer: Harmonix

Music-based games had been around for years before Guitar Hero came along. Fundamentally, it did nothing new. Music played along with animations on the player's television and the "game" consisted of an interface whereby the player could perform action in time with the music. Simple. Dancing and Karaoke games had been doing this for some time. But Guitar Hero introduced a subtle shift in this dynamic. So subtle, many failed to recognize it at the time for the brilliant development it represented, and many are struggling with how to recreate that shift even today.

On the surface, Guitar Hero seemed to be little more than a dancing game with a plastic guitar. You held the guitar while the music played. Simple. Yet not. Because the one thing Guitar Hero accomplished that no dancing game had ever achieved was to make the gamer an accomplice in the creation of the music.

Pressing the guitar controller's buttons in time with the music accomplished no more and no less than allowing the music to continue to play. The player didn't write the music, nor, really, create it, but by holding the guitar, manipulating it in time with the audible and visible game cues, he felt like he was making music. He felt like a guitar hero. That experiential thrill was unlike anything that had come before, and that fundamental innovation led to the plethora of music games that mimicked it with different peripherals like Rock Band and DJ Hero.


Originator: Dance Aerobics

Genre: Music
First Released: 1987 (Japan)
Platform: NES (Power Pad)
Developer: Nintendo

The first music rhythm game wasn't Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution or even Parappa the Rapper. It was a game developed for Nintendo's Power Pad peripheral called Dance Aerobics. The Power Pad was a flat piece of plastic that you laid on the floor like a game of Twister, and Dance Aerobics had you hit the correct parts in time with the music. If you got the moves wrong too many times, the game ended. Sound familiar? It's odd that this genre didn't really catch on with the masses until over a decade after Dance Aerobics, but it was this gem that inspired all the Hero and Band games that have come since.

Comments on