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12 Games That Defined Their Genres

The Escapist Staff | 8 Dec 2010 21:00
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Dune II: The Building of a Dynasty

Genre: Real-Time Strategy
First Released: 1992
Platform: MS-Dos
Developer: Westwood Studios

For many RTS fans, this is the game that started it all. It was certainly the game that first proved what could be done with the genre. Looking back at the game, it's amazing how firmly Dune II set the model for the entire genre. To begin with, it used a mouse to control units. It sounds bizarre to list that as an innovation, but back in 1992, it was positively revolutionary.

Moreover, it set the pattern for resource collection and base building that we still use today. In fact, the Harvesters of Dune II became part of the vocabulary of resource collection from then on. Throw in tech trees, three factions who each had different types of units and structures, and a minimap with fog of war, and you've got all the ingredients that RTS designers have been using for the last twenty years, from Westwood's own follow-up Command & Conquer to Blizzard's recent StarCraft 2. Other titles have taken what Dune II did and done it better, but no title in the entire history of the genre has done as much to establish the overall blueprint.


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Originator: Herzog Zwei

Genre: Real-Time Strategy
First Released: 1990
Platform: Sega Genesis
Developer: Technosoft

It's a shame more people today don't know about this early Sega Genesis classic. In fact, it's a shame that more people didn't know about it when it was released way back in 1990. Herzog Zwei was not what you would call a commercial success, but it's fondly remembered by those who played it as the first serious evolution towards real-time strategy. Players controlled a transforming mech, flying around the battlefield, buying and transporting units, fighting against enemy forces, and trying to capture enemy installations. The basic format of the game was very simple, but the possibilities were tremendous.

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