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Top 10 Bizarre Hybrid Video Games

VO: Riccardo Tucci WRITTEN BY: Jason Porter
Script written by Jason Porter Why only have one genre in your video game when you can have both! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the top 10 most bizarre hybrid video games. To have your ideas turned into a WatchMojo or MojoPlays video, head over to http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and get to it!
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Top 10 Bizarre Hybrid Video Games

He runs! He jumps! He… builds cities? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the top 10 most bizarre hybrid video games.

For this list, we’re looking at the most unexpected and unusual combinations of distinct video game genres ever to appear together in a single game. We’re not saying these games are good or bad, just that they mix genres together in an odd way. We’re also limiting the list to titles released in North America - and keeping it to no more than one entry per IP.

#10: “Brütal Legend” (2009)


Hack & Slash Action + RTS

A game about a heavy metal roadie fighting demonic legions with an axe, a guitar and a hot rod has to be all about that sweet, sweet hacking and slashing action, right? Well, tell that to Tim Schafer. The legendary game designer behind such cult hits as “Psychonauts” and “Grim Fandango” decided a simple open-world adventure game wasn’t quite epic enough on its own, and added real-time strategy “stage battles” into the mix, where players can build structures and direct units to victory. Whether you love or hate the end result, there’s a lot going on in “Brutal Legend.”

#9: “Valkyria Chronicles” (2008)


Strategy + RPG + Shooter

At first glance, this game is a fairly standard turn-based strategy title, with a setting based on Europe during World War I and some truly gorgeous visuals. But look a little bit closer, and it becomes obvious that the well-told story and sympathetic characters also make it a pretty solid RPG. Now, turn-based strategy RPGs are nothing new for Japanese games, but it’s rare that a game balances both while still managing to add yet another genre into the mix - in this case, an intuitive unit control system based on 3rd-person shooter mechanics. The end result is a new blend of styles that somehow feels completely natural.

#8: “Blood Bowl 2” (2015)


Strategy + Football

This game takes “Fantasy Football” way too literally. “Warhammer 40K” is basically the 500-pound gorilla of turn-based strategy gaming, so of course it’s a natural fit for… uh, football? Somehow, that’s the premise of this game, which mashes up the already somewhat violent sport of American football with the extremely violent tempers of Bretonnians, Orcs, Dwarfs, and the like. Whether fighting for the pride of their team or the Bloodweiser Trophy, these strange foes battle it out in a turn-based arena game based on the rules of the gridiron. With quick back-and-forth rounds, varied strategic approaches depending on race, and hilarious color commentary from a bloodthirsty ogre named Bob and an immortal vampire named Jim, Blood Bowl 2 is as entertaining as it is weird.

#7: “The Guardian Legend” (1988)


Action-RPG + Shooter

Developers have been tinkering with cross-genre video game experiences ever since the invention of clearly-defined genres. A case in point is “The Guardian Legend,” released for the NES in 1988. As the Guardian of Earth, players wipe out alien threats in an interlocking mixture of vertical shmup and top-down action-adventure sequences, tied together with RPG-like story and inventory elements. It’s even got exploration and a bit of puzzle solving. Few games before or since have matched the sheer number of gameplay styles incorporated into this classic and criminally underrated title.

#6: “Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords” (2007)


RPG + Puzzle
Remember Bejeweled? Did you ever look at that game and think, “This would be way cooler with knights and wizards in it?” If so, you’re not alone: developers Infinite Interactive had the same idea, and this was the result. At its core, the game is all about matching tiles, but this mechanic is wrapped in a full fantasy RPG. Players visit towns, accept quests, and earn experience and gold - and when the time comes to fight, they take turns swapping tiles on a puzzle board and clearing matched sets to deal damage to their foes. The formula was a surprise hit, and has spawned sequels and spinoffs in the years since its release.

#5: “Spore” (2008)


Various

It's s simulator! No, it's a god game! No, it’s an action game! No, it's a strategy game! This unique 2008 release is all of those things and more. Starting from a single cell, players adjust parameters and directly control beings in the game world over time, as their species grows, learns, evolves, and eventually becomes a space-faring civilization, exploring the galaxy and parleying with alien races. This game was hyped through the roof before its release, and although it may not quite have met the lofty expectations set by all that excitement, it still has one of the most eclectic genre mixtures in any video game to date.

#4: “Persona” series (1996-)


RPG + Dating Sim

This spinoff of the “Shin Megami Tensei” series of RPGs has been around since 1996 - and it’s always been a little weird. But it wasn’t until the release of Persona 3 a decade later that the Social Links system was introduced, resulting in one of the most unusual hybrid games on the market. P3 took the brutal demon-versus-demon JRPG combat that MegaTen games have always been known for and squished it together with a high school dating & friendship simulator. Players and critics loved it, and the series hasn’t looked back since, but a game where helping out the student council eventually enables you to summon the Norse god Odin will never not be bizarre.

#3: “Stardew Valley” (2016)


Farming Sim + Dungeon Crawler

Remember “Harvest Moon?” The beloved cult series placed players in the shoes of a young farmer making his quiet way in a quiet world… and that was about it. Players could plant crops, buy supplies in town, and court a spouse to help tend the property. This 2016 hit is a love letter to those games in many ways, but it adds an extra element to the mix: procedurally-generated dungeons full of enemies and loot. The dungeon-crawling aspect of “Stardew Valley” adds more replayability and helps fill in the downtime between regular farm life activities, making this hybrid indie game a breakout success that sold over a million copies within two months of its release.

#2: “ActRaiser” (1991)


Action-Adventure + City Builder

This SNES game put players in control of a character called “The Master,” who was defeated by the evil Tanzra hundreds of years ago and has just woken back up. The Master is still too weak to just fly back down to Earth and kick Tanzra out, so instead, he takes possession of a warrior statue and fights his way through the side-scrolling armies of Tanzra’s six lieutenants. But the action game is only half of ActRaiser’s formula: Once each lieutenant is defeated, its former domain needs rebuilding, so the Master reappears as an angel and helps design a new city. Sword-swinging adventure bookended with rounds of “SimCity” lite? Genre mash-ups don’t get much stranger than that.

#1: “Odama” (2006)


Pinball + RTS

If there’s any game that’s got an unlikelier mix of genres than ActRaiser, it has to be this 2006 GameCube release. Players oversee feudal Japanese battles, complete with lacquered armor and flashing katanas - but instead of just directing infantry, cavalry, and archery units, they also have a secret weapon, a massive, indestructible ball called the “Odama.” That’s right: this game lets you crush enemy soldiers with a giant pinball. There are even giant stone flippers to bounce the Odama back onto the battlefield. It’s so bizarre that the only way to truly grasp it is to play it. Congratulations, Nintendo - you out-weirded everyone else... again.
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