Underused game systems/mechanics?

What are some game ideas that aren't copied nearly enough?

I'll start with a game I wish someone would rip off: Team Buddies on the PlayStation. 1-4 player quick battles with proto-Minions. To build your team and weapons, you have to collect and place boxes from the map onto your pad. How you stack them determines what you make.

It had a simple single player campaign and up to 4 player split screen if you had a multitap. Really fun party game.

That box stacking thing does look cool. I can imagine something like this combined with, like, and Overcooked kind of experience where teams are chaotically trying to communicate about box stacking.

When it comes to mechanics I think should be ripped off--this is a common take, but I am surprised the nemesis system from Shadow of Mordor has not been ripped off successfully, even years after that game came out. I expected to see games wholesale steal the entire system, because although it's a lot of work to implement something like that, Shadow of Mordor proved that it can substantially deepen other content in the game by giving the player more to think about and more to do while they're messing around in an open world or in regular enemy combat. However, very few games have done that. I've heard that Assassin's Creed: Odyssey did a minor version of it with their mercenaries system, but it wasn't anywhere near as good, apparently.

I'm also surprised that more survival/crafting games haven't ripped off The Flame and the Flood, which is IMO the only game in that genre which was able to successfully refocus the gameplay on **travel** rather than **base-building.** All these games are super focused on base-building--making voxel houses, building voxel walls, crafting dried meat and putting it in a chest, etc--which makes a lot of them feel pretty samey. TFATF kept crafting but eliminated the base-building and forced the player to keep moving constantly. I feel like the survival-constructionn-crafting genre is kind of on a downswing after a decade of releases, but survival-travel gameplay space is still not that well explored. I kind of want to make a game in this space myself, someday!

This is a huge topic!!

One I feel like has fascinated developers for ages but is rarely really used is the harvesting and stacking of weapons/pieces from downed enemies. More than just grabbing their weapons, it's about integrating that into your body. One of the first I can think of is Zaxxon Motherbase 2000, where “you” are a tiny ship that can damage bigger ships and jump into them:


There's Tumiki fighters, where you use their whole bodies:


Einhander and Serious Sam DD took different approaches - in einhander guns would fall and you could attach them to the top or bottom, but serious sam DD let you custom stack them.

I feel like there's more to do with this kind of mechanic, it just hasn't been done amazingly in 3D... but I bet it could be!

The RPG combat in Panzer Dragoon Saga is just a running list of this for me.

  • - The three stages/levels/chunks of the ATB bar. You can act as soon as one is full, or you can save up for a bigger effect that requires multiple bars.
  • - The movement and positioning. With enemies constantly trying to get to a place where they are defended/invincible or can do their best attack, you have to weight your options between moving and not filling your ATB, or trying to fill it up enough to wreck them first. And that's not even getting into the bosses where there's all sorts of stuff going on depending on the side you're facing them from
  • - The redistribution of stats on the fly. You can sack an action to switch how your stats are balanced. Add on a changing appearance based on your choices, and it looks amazing on top of giving you the chance to fix things if you go into a boss with the wrong stat balance.
  • Another huge one for me was the combat in Breath of Fire 5: Dragon Quarter.

  • - You could lay traps and bait enemies into them. It just felt so good to trap the enemies in a room with the doorway stuffed with triggered damage spells.
  • - You could move/attack/move. You had an action gauge that could be used however you want. The boss is way too tough? Run in, whack it once, then have enough action bar left over to run back out o its move range. Being able to break up moves around actions was a blessing.
  • Someone, please rip these off. I need it.

    Treasure's Astro Boy game, and I think also the Bangai-O series, had super moves that used a meter, which you built by landing attacks, including the super attacks that used the meter. So you could maintain a self-sustaining economy of meter through shrewd use.

    Alien Soldier also kind of had something like that. If you did your teleport move with full health, it became an extremely powerful attack, but cost 1 health to do. But many enemies dropped small health items, so if you used the move at the right times, you could chain it together repeatedly by continually teleporting into enemies and simultaneously acquiring the health they dropped.

    Self-sustaining supers. It's always felt novel to me and I can't think of any other examples.

    Hmm, I guess in fighting games most “super” attacks do also build meter, but not so much that you could stay in that state and continue to use them. Gunsport does theoretically have that self-sustaining super state, but you'd have to get better at it than I am :o

    @exodus#1128 Oh do they? Capcom fighters are the only modern ones I‘ve played much of, but I had the impression most fighting game meters deplete a set amount (usually either completely or one “level”) upon use and you can’t build again until that use is over. Maybe just Capcom fighters?

    But yeah, in any case those Treasure games are the only ones I can think of where you can actually time a super move to GIVE you a super "use" rather than take one away (e.g., in Astro Boy when your meter is on the cusp of being full, using a super will fill it the rest of the way, adding one count to your stock). At least I think that's how it works!

    By contrast, in Radiant Silvergun your sword super move can't collect those pink bullets to build meter for itself, even though your normal sword move is the thing that collects those pink bullets.

    I spent a lot of grad school lunch hours talking about updating Team Buddies. It's ripe for the taking and would be a lot of fun on show floors.

    I've wanted to borrow a lot of lesser-known RPG mechanics. There are a lot of games inspired by Grandia, but I have yet to find a system that feels better than it. Even Grandia's sequels don't feel as good as the first. I've also loved the programmed inputs of Legend of Legaia and have wanted to play with it.

    Really, I should just get better at scripting to play with these ideas in my own time.


    @airconditioner#1158 Legend of Legaia

    That's not a title I hear coming up too often. It's a really cool one, but so often forgotten. Certainly more games could stand to steal the input system from it.

    Quick dashes that feel like teleporting with a cooldown.

    Alien Soldier is a great example, so is hyper light drifter and even some attacks in the Xbox Ninja Gaiden. It really makes you feel superpowered!

    Racing games need to be like Tokyo Extreme Racer, where you just drive around in the game world and challenge racers as you find em. To that point: more racing games need to be like TXR Drift 2: which has an in game forum where drivers troll each other between races.

    I wish more driving and open world games would get rid of the minimap. When playing GTA 5 I had to stop looking at the minimap in the corner to tell me when the next turn was because that's all I would look at. To that point: no more in game directional cues at all! Make players look at a separate map and have to remember to take turns at intersections, maybe get a little lost on purpose! damn that's so counter-intuitive.

    More racing games need ultra long cross country races. I bought The Crew specifically because I wanted an epic race from NY to LA that took 2 hours to do. When I found one I sadly had to contend with some absolutely epic rubber banding where I would get further and further away from other racers on long straights and then they'd immediately catch up when I got to a town.

    Arcade racers in general are kind of a dead genre! I think the last major one was the Burnout Paradise remaster. I almost always get a racing game as my first game for a console but that game is now almost always some kind of Need For Speed. And since we're bringing up NFS: more racing games should end like Need For Speed: Most Wanted. with the player getting into an epic police chase with a huge army and escaping the game world via jumping a busted bridge. It's a great way to end any game!

    After reading Kimimi's Panzer Dragoon Zwei blog, I‘ll throw adaptive difficulty into the ring. You see it a lot in Japanese games that cater to a niche audience in some way - see: Aleste, Super Robot Wars - and for as rewarding as the system can be when done right, getting it right requires a considerable amount of time and knowledge on the designer’s end.

    I definitely miss the arcade racer, especially the ones designed around exploration and finding shortcuts and wild pathways and boosts and stuff. I'd like to make one of those some day…


    @Video_Game_King#1219 I’ll throw adaptive difficulty into the ring.

    God Hand is one of my favourite adaptive difficulty games. It shows you how hard you've made things on yourself, and as soon as you start having a rough time, the difficulty drops back down too. I really like the up front presentation of it.


    @marlfuchs2#1211 I wish more driving and open world games would get rid of the minimap.

    I absolutely adore the minimap in the Panzer Dragoon games, as it gives me the information I need so I can glance quickly at it, turn to where enemies are, then get back to playing the game. But I despise it in pretty much any other title, as I just spend all of my time watching it instead of the game world. In some ways, it's kind of magical that games have amazing graphics now, but I'm less inclined to actually see them than ever before, thanks to increasingly informative minimaps.

    I think another mechanic that I sorely miss is items that have combat, utility, and puzzle solving functionality. Playing some Link to the Past Randomizer has given me a huge appreciation for the massive variety of gear in that game, and being stuck with random subsets of it on various seeds has shown me the incredible variety of options available (or creativity needed to get by with inadequate options). Dark Souls has the heart of a Zelda game, but everything is gated by combat and bosses. Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful and fun, but is pretty much just combat and raw exploration. Even Breath of the Wild doesn't really lock anything behind special gear.

    @exodus#1231 Beetle Adventure Racing is a masterclass at this. The shortcuts are so cool because you find the wildest shit in them. It has boosts but they're consumable pickups around the level, so you have to take them strategically. I highly recommend it.

    I do actually own beetle adventure racing, I've got to get in there!

    beetle adventure racing is cool but who here is familiar with the australian re-skin ‘hsv adventure racing’ that switched the beetles with these bad boys: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holden_Commodore_(VT)

    @marlfuchs2#1211 forza horizon 4 has what you're looking for!

    @devilsblush#1246 wow!! I definitely had no idea that existed. I love that the first video I could find of it is a VHS rip


    @marlfuchs2#1211 yes! Love the Tokyo Xtreme series. Some of them look really nice when emulated on PCSX2. I never got into the Drift series. Wasn't nearly as relaxing to me.