The 11 Best (and Most Bizarre) Genre Mash-Up Videogames

By David Wolinsky in Daily Lists, Video Games
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 at 8:02 am
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Mexican honey mustard and popcorn. Crunchy peanut butter and lamb-jelly sandwiches. Dippin' Dots and buttered grits. All of these sound, on paper, like pregnancy craving fever dreams. But as it turns out, they're actually all freakin' delicious.

This same phenomenon exists in videogames, with the very excellent indie hit Wizorb from Tribute Games -- which combines Breakout-style ball-bouncing with RPG-style spell amassing just hit Steam -- being just the latest in a very rarely (successfully and satisfyingly) revisited trend: games that seamlessly blend two different play styles into a wholly fresh and original experience. Gaming peanut butter, meet gaming chocolate: Topless Robot is rolling up its sleeves to look at some of the very best times developers decided to synergize where no one has dared synergize before.

11) Final Lap Twin

For whatever reason, RPGs are like the town bicycle of this list, so get ready to ride, hard. When it comes to sports games getting all up in RPGs' level-grinding grill, though, the clear standout is Final Lap Twin for the Turbo-Grafx 16. Basically, it's like your standard nonlinear RPG, only the protagonist's epic quest is to make his racing champ daddy proud of him. The random battles out in the overworld are, if you haven't guessed it already: races. Leveling up comes in the form of souping up your wheels more and more. Then, and only then, can you become the "world Baby Four-Wheel Drive Champion." It's worth noting there's a tennis version of this game as well from the same developer, Namco, but the true crime is that Hit the Ice, a canceled NES hockey RPG for the NES, sadly never hit shelves. Not sad because HTI was great - far from it - but because players never got to see this disturbing advice-giving screen from your coach about hamburgers.

10) Typing of the Dead

This one's an oldie but a goodie. In fact, it's hard to believe this typing educator/rail-shooter zombie blaster came out a dozen years ago. Even harder to believe? That's the last time zombies being introduced into something was an original, interesting, and surprising choice. What other pearls of wisdom do you have to offer the games industry, Mavis Beacon?

9) Metal Gear Acid

Leave it to Twitter-enthusiast foodie and occasional game director Hideo Kojima to turn his own convoluted series into a stealthy turn-based strategy collectible card game. What's more audacious? Slinging together that many descriptors, that that's the most concise way of describing this PSP game, or that it actually works astonishingly well?

8) Quest for Glory

Back not only when adventure games reigned supreme, but also they were actually kinda new, Sierra's Hero's Quest games were landmark for many reasons. Chief among those was because it had the ingenuity to mix classic adventure games and RPG elements. Its influence can be felt even as recently in games like Skyrim, which forces players to level up by actually doing things in the game world. Admittedly, it was somewhat less fun then: I remember spending days (in the game) trying to climb the same tree over and over again just to get my stealth up by one. But at the time, it still held enough sway and power to activate the endorphin rush known only to gamers who like seeing arbitrary stats increase by miniscule amounts. The visual representation to the text-heavy adventure only added to the fun - it was like the transition from radio to television by adding graphics to a text-based adventure game.

7) Recettear: A Item Shop's Sales

The proverbial they (not the shadow government) always say there are two sides to every story, and this sleeper PC hit puts you in control of Recette Lemongrass, RPG item-shop owner extraordinaire. Actually, she's not so great at it at first, and is only running the store to pay off a massive debt. So, there's a strong tycoon element to the game by trying to keep your combo chain (sequential successful sales) going and occasionally you can accompany an adventurer who takes you along into dungeons to scoop up rarer and more valuable items. There's a refreshing a respite in these sequences, where you take over as the adventurers. And then, after that, it's back to the exciting world of debt management!

6) Portal

Most players despised Turok: Dinosaur Hunter for its massive amount of first-person platforming, but Portal turned that into an asset by doing away with the enemies and, in their stead, placing sweet, delicious puzzles. That's right. We're saying Portal is basically one huge Turok rip-off.

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