Top Seven Game Franchises that Radically Shifted Perspective.

Updated: Feb 12

Most video game franchises use a specific view point, and this often defines both how the game looks and how you play it. For example, Call of Duty = FPS. God of War = 3rd person hack n’ slash. Metal Slug = side scrolling platform shooter.

Most franchises stick with their signature view point throughout. However, occasionally developers like to throw us gamers a curve ball by radically shifting a game’s view point mid-franchise. Not only will this alter how the game looks, but usually how it plays too. Let’s take a look at a few of these franchises, and see if the change of perspective was a wise move or not.

7: Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario

Ok, let’s start with the obvious low hanging fruit, Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario. I’m lumping these two franchises together since they have been orbiting each other for so long now that it would be rude not to. As I’m sure you are aware, both started out as 2D side scrolling platformers. (Ok you got me, Donkey Kong and Mario Bros didn’t scroll, but I’m starting with Super Mario Bros.)

Sonic the Hedgehog

Video by Underground Gaming Entertainment

Super Mario Bros

Video by Pii89

Mario entered the 3rd dimension with Super Mario 64 in 1996 for the N64, with Sonic doing likewise in 1997 with Sonic R for the Sega Saturn.

Sonic R

Video by Razor & Zenon

Super Mario 64

Video by TTDLX

Was this a wise move? For Mario definitely. Super Mario 64 pretty much set the template for 3D platformers. Later 3D titles such as Super Mario Sunshine for the GameCube and the Super Mario Galaxy series for the Wii were superb.

For poor old Sonic it was a mixed bag. Sonic R was well received, but Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 is considered by most to be the worst game in the franchise, and one of the worst games of all time. Period. Switching back to his 2D roots for Sonic Mania was probably a wise move.

6: Thunder Force

If, like many, you are only familiar with the franchise from Thunder Force Three onwards, you would be forgiven for thinking that the franchise has always been a horizontal side-scrolling shoot ‘em up. (Yes, we know about the semi-vertical bit in ‘Ellis’ so you don’t need to point that out 😜)

However, Thunder Force One was an eight-way-scrolling semi-open-world shooter seen from a top down perspective. Thunder Force Two mixed these levels with the more conventional side scrolling design the franchise is known for. How did these eight-way top down semi-open world levels play? Frankly, not very well, so developer Technosoft’s decision to ditch them was perhaps a wise move.

Thunder Force One

Video by Minase

Thunder Force Two

Video by VG Longplays

5: Duke Nukem

Duke Nukem is another franchise who’s early days bear little resemblance to the later games that made the franchise famous. Duke Nukem, with all his quips, blond hair and +10 testosterone started off as a humble 2D side-scrolling platform shooter.

Duke Nukem Two

Video by Dosgamert

It wasn’t until the third instalment that Duke Nukem went 3D. Was this a wise move? Based on sales figures and cultural impact it was a very wise move. Hail to the King Baby!

Duke Nukem 3D

Video by 64DD

4: Alien Breed

The first three of Team 17’s Alien Breed games were a hit on the Amiga home computers. (And the ill-fated CD32 console). They combined Gauntlet-esque top down maze shooting game play with a distinctly ‘Alien-esque aesthetic and tone.

Alien Breed Special Edition ‘92

Video by Al82 Retrogaming Longplays

It came as something of a shock then, when the next instalment was Alien Breed 3D. This was when ‘Doom Clones’ were all the rage, and since the Amiga didn’t have Doom, this was as close as it got. A noble effort perhaps, but even the Amiga 1200 (the most powerful Amiga at the time) didn’t have the horsepower to run 3D games properly, as you can plainly see. Was this a wise move? Probably not.

Alien Breed 3D

Video by naviamiga

The franchise was resurrected in 2009 by Alien Breed Evolution for the XBox 360, which was soon followed by Alien Breed Impact for PS3 and PC. The series returned to its top-down roots, but now took full advantage of twin-stick controls, mouse-aiming and modern-day eye candy. Was this a wise move? Alien Breed: Evolution and Alien Breed: Impact were successful enough to spawn two sequels - Alien Breed 2: Assault and Alien Breed 3: Descent, which would suggest that yes, this was a wise move.