NEC Retro

Determining genre

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(written very quickly)

Unlike some video game companies (such as Sega; see: Sega Retro's take on "determining genre"), NEC did not employ hard and fast rules when it came to determining a game's genre. As such, NEC Retro uses the de facto genre system in Japan, with many caveats and exceptions depending on how third-parties classified their own games:

Name Rough description Classic examples
Action A catch-all category for games with a lot of real-time gameplay, but which can't be easily aligned with real-world events.
  • Pac-Man
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
Adventure Text-based or point-and-click adventure games, usually narrative-driven.
  • King's Quest
  • The Secret of Monkey Island
  • Myst
Educational Games designed primarily to teach concepts rather than general entertainment.
  • Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Puzzle Games which predominantly feature puzzle solving.
  • Tetris
Racing Games that involve travelling towards a goal in the quickest possible time.
  • OutRun
  • Gran Turismo
  • Super Mario Kart
RPG Games which feature characters who progress over time.
  • Ultima
  • Dragon Quest
  • Final Fantasy
Shoot-'em-Up (Shooting) Games which involve firing projectiles at targets.
  • Space Invaders
  • Gradius
Sports Games which attempt to emulate real-world sports (or similar).
  • FIFA
  • Madden NFL
  • NBA 2K
Simulation Games that attempt to simulate things. In Japan this definition also includes "strategy" games.
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Command & Conquer
  • Sim City
Table Card or board games. This designation typically isn't used outside of Japan.
  • Blackjack
  • Mahjong

This system pre-dates many gameplay concepts and there have not been universally accepted rules on how to deal with certain titles. For example:

  • Prior to the release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior in 1991, "fighting games" would have been classed as "action", however an explosion in popularity in the 1990s often led to these games being treated as part of a separate genre.
  • Doom is credited with popularising the first person shooter, something not possible until gaming hardware was able to render complex 3D graphics in real-time. First and third-person shooters are noticeably different from once-dominating 2D side-scrolling shooters (typically set in space), but the genre has never been as popular in Japan as in the West.
  • Genres often overlap. The Legend of Zelda is typically described as an "action RPG". Football Manager is both a sports game, and a simulation.
  • Some games do not fit nearly into any category, and so are marked as "miscellaneous" (or "etc"). Game compilations are are classified separately.