Great Games That Don’t Fit Into Particular Genres

When gaming, it is very easy to see the media that you enjoy neatly fit into different boxes. Often when games are announced, it will become very clear what genre or gameplay style they fit into, and this is designed to appeal to fans of this genre. However, this is not the case for all games.

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Every now and then, a game will launch that plays in an incredibly unique way, or has a combination of styles so specific that it is unable to fit into a genre specification. If you feel like every game you play is feeling repetitive, then playing a game like this is the perfect palette cleanser. So, which are the best?

8 Undertale

Undertale: Asgore, Undyne, Toriel, Sans, Alphys, And Papyrus

One of the most surprisingly popular games of the 2010s was Undertale. Part of the reason why Undertale’s success is so surprising is that the project was put together mostly by just one man, but also in how difficult the game can be to describe.

A common theme with games that sit outside conventional genres is that Undertale has a focus on narrative. The story of Undertale introduces you to plenty of charming characters who you grow to love throughout the story. The gameplay is similar to something like Earthbound, but the battle system can be completely pacifist by choosing dialogue prompts similar to a dating sim, matched with bullet-hell style dodging.

7 Death Stranding

Sam holds BB as dark clouds loom over them

Hideo Kojima is known for including unique angles in his games, and Death Stranding seems to be the epitome of this. This was his first game produced since he split with Konami in the mid-2010s, and while it was successful, it also raised plenty of eyebrows from critics and gamers trying to work out just what this game was.

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Kojima seemingly aimed for Death Stranding to sit outside genre norms, with the delivery focused exploration gameplay not feeling like anything else that has been released. Death Stranding was a massive risk with how much investment was put into the star-studded cast of characters, but it paid off with how well it was received.

6 Kid Icarus Uprising

Kid Icarus Uprising JPN Cover Art

The Kid Icarus series is one of Nintendo’s shortest with only three games, and while the first two were simple enough platformers, Kid Icarus Uprising on the 3DS is a little trickier to describe to those who haven’t played it.

Generally, it could be described as an action game, but the action featured is incredibly varied and is why this game is often just called a genre hybrid. The game was worked on by Masahiro Sakurai, who is mainly known for his work on Super Smash Bros. This revival of Pit the angel has its levels split into on-rails shooter sections where you are flying, and then when you land you start ground exploration third person shooting.

5 Luigi’s Mansion

A screenshot showing a close up of Luigi looking petrified in Luigi's Mansion 3

While the games starring Mario tend to be pretty simple to describe, the games that star his brother Luigi are not as easy. The Luigi’s Mansion games that feature Luigi in the starring role dabble in different genres, but they also do not fit into any of them completely either.

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The Luigi’s Mansion series highlights the cowardice of Mario’s brother by putting him in haunted mansions where he needs to solve puzzles and capture ghosts. This is done by exploring the detailed environments, completing puzzles, and using his vacuum weapon in unique ways to make sure he stays out of trouble.

4 Minecraft

The title screen of Minecraft showing various figures from the game at a dirt block tower

A sign of a successful genre-defying game is one that spawns a genre in itself, and the best example of this is Minecraft. Minecraft started off as a PC game, but soon became available on every gaming platform available due to just how popular it is.

Like the name of the game suggests, the core premise of survival in the game is to mine, and craft. This core premise does a disservice to the depth that is present, but it has now been adapted and copied by plenty of similar games, leading to the builder genre becoming massively successful. The game is still receiving frequent updates as well, keeping it relevant.

3 Gravity Rush

Gravity Rush Remastered - promo art

One way to make your game stand out is to make the way you interact with the world presented completely unique, and an often overlooked version of this is Gravity Rush. The core idea of Gravity Rush is simple to understand — your character is granted the ability to manipulate gravity for themselves and the world around them in unique ways.

This means that you can essentially fly, but, instead of flying, you turn gravity in the direction you want to go, and then you fall in that direction. It makes for a wildly unique method of exploration, and you interact with the world in a way that has not been replicated since.

2 Super Monkey Ball

super monkey ball monkey on a yellow background

While the Super Monkey Ball games are massively popular, it is not that easy to fit them into any categories, either. This series puts you not in control of the character, but the world around them. You tilt the obstacle course-like stages in different directions, so the monkey ball character is able to roll around until they make their way to the goal.

The focus on balance, precision, and timing makes the Monkey Ball games an experience unlike any other games, and it is simple enough that anyone can pick up and play without any explanation. While there have been some gimmicks added in different games, the core Monkey Ball gameplay has remained the same.

1 Katamari Damacy

The King And Queen Of The Cosmos leisurely dance in a galactic garden of delight during the intro to Katamari Damacy ReRoll.

Katamari Damacy is a series that seems to thrive off just how unique it is. The first time you see footage of a Katamari game, the concept will stick with you for a long time, and it’s something that immediately makes you want to try it for yourself.

Your character in Katamari is tasked with starting small and rolling around a ball that traps objects that are smaller than it onto it. This makes the ball gets gradually larger and larger, until you are sticking people, animals, and trees onto your ball, causing chaos and destruction. The different settings and challenges the games set keep the core gameplay loop refreshing and rewarding.

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