Video Games That Created A New Gameplay Genre

Play a first person shooter today and you’ll be forgiven for not making a direct link to Wolfenstein 3D. But that link is as clear as day. Before Wolfenstein 3D the shooter genre simply didn’t exist, with the game essentially giving birth to the industry we know today.

Here is a look at the retro games that innovated so well as to give birth to their own genre.

Donkey Kong 3D

Mario was the birth of platformers, right? Wrong. In 1978 a little game came along called Frogs, introducing the idea of jumping. Frogs was swiftly followed by Donkey Kong, a release that took things to the next level. Players saw a little man in a red hat jumping over barrels, immediately loved him, and thus the 2D platformer was born.

Of course, it wasn’t just platforming that was invented. The characters of Mario and Donkey Kong were also established, now seen as some of the biggest names in gaming. Yes, Mario didn’t start life jumping on turtles after all. He used to jump over barrels.

Wolfenstein 3D

We mentioned it already, and it would be a crime to not mention it again. The contribution that Wolfenstein 3D made to gaming really is incalculable. Many argue that shooters weren’t truly established until Doom came along in 1993, but without Wolfenstein Doom wouldn’t even have existed. Plus, lest it be forgotten, both Wolfenstein and Doom can both be attributed to the same programming duo; John Carmack and John Romero. Without these early pioneers the world of gaming would be completely different.

It goes without saying that Wolfenstein seems primitive in a world where hyper-realistic online Blackjack is accessible on a phone, but remember that Wolfenstein ran on systems that have less memory than a modern washing machine.


Many modern gamers tend to think that procedurally generated gameplay is a new idea. But it certainly isn’t, having first hit the industry in 1980. Rogue seems laughably primitive by today’s standards, with levels literally made up of hashtags, plus signs, and other basic keyboard inputs. But that each level is generated fresh is a truly remarkable achievement. Again, this procedural system was created in 1980.

Many programmers copied what was achieved in 1980, thus giving birth to the genre today known as Rogue-Like. Rogue-Like refers to any game that generates new levels, each with a random layout, every time the player dies and starts over.


Metroid and Castlevania exploded onto consoles in the 80’s, introducing players to a 2D experience they’d never seen before. Unlike Mario that exclusively went from left to right, Metroid and Castlevania allowed for the exploration of much broader worlds. It was now possible to go up, down, left, and right, all in a cohesive 2D world.

Metroid and Castlevania are now referred to as having created the Metroidvania genre of games. The trademark 2D exploration element is still alive and well today, with most new releases not being that far from the games that created the genre.