10 Weirdest Genre Shifts In Video Games

When Sonic met Ikaruga.

Spider Man

What is a genre? Webster's Dictionary defines it as "a specific sequence of nucleotides in DNA or RNA".

What is a hack? WhatCulture's editors define it as "Someone who rips off ancient Simpsons jokes instead of writing the article we paid them for".

Ah well. Best get started then.

Genres are an undoubtedly useful way of codifying media, with each label allowing potential customers to understand the experience they will have with a particular product. This writer, for example, knows that attempting to play anything labeled "Bullet-Hell" will cause his sensory-overloaded brain to dribble out through his ears before the end of the first level.

As such, when a game shifts genres on the player it always comes as something of a shock - like biting into a renegade piece of scampi that's been dowsed in chilli oil. Some may appreciate the added spice, while others may bemoan that when they ordered the blandest thing on the menu, they wanted the blandest thing on the menu (And yes, that was a Goodness Gracious Me reference).

As this list will show, genre shifts are always profoundly bizarre experiences. Whether they're 10 minute diversions or game-changing alterations, games that switch gears part-way through are always memorable (although not always for the right reasons).

10. Brutal Legend

Spider Man
Double Fine

Starting off, we have one of the most infamous genre shifts in gaming history.

Brutal Legend was marketed as a (more) metal God of War - a hack-and-slash extravaganza of melee brawls, open-world exploration and the most head-banging soundtrack in gaming history.

And to be fair, it was all of those things. For the first four hours.

Having spent the game's opening act gathering the forces of good to battle against the evil General Lionwhyte, players were stunned to realise that they wouldn't just control protagonist Eddie Riggs through the fight - they had to build structures, guide units 𝘢𝘯𝘥 control the Jack-Black voiced hero as well.

Brutal Legend's transition from brawl-heavy action-adventure to Real Time Strategy was not well received by the gaming public, who felt they had been duped by the game's duplicitous advertising and the action-heavy opening hours. Developer Tim Schafer would later admit in an interview with Eurogamer that Vivendi, the game's publishers, refused to advertise the game as an RTS as they feared it would hurt sales.

Given Brutal Legend's notoriously poor performance at retail, it's safe to say that they would have been better off letting gamers know what they were getting into from the start.


Hello! My name's Iain Tayor. I write about video games, wrestling and comic books, and I apparently can't figure out how to set my profile picture correctly.