GatherYourParty is the latest site to take a crack at explaining roguelike games. Maybe they can explain why my blood pressure goes up playing them also.
The roguelike is a genre that has been gaining momentum and popularity, or so it appears to the bystander. The indie scene is being flooded with games that announce themselves as roguelikes, roguelike-likes or the newest word-salad: rogue-lites.
When talking about the roguelike genre I will be thinking of the classical view, the Berlin Interpretation. This is not to say that I am a purist and will try to force the Berlin Interpretation to the single last item on the list, however; roguelikes as a genre have a discoverable design-philosophy behind them, an irreducibly complex core, which makes them what they are for a reason.
Really well assembled article. However I think it's still hard to classify what a roguelike is. I think these other branches are exactly that: rogue"like". Not rogue"clone". However in the end, I think it doesn't matter getting hooked up on details. Does it improve upon the fun factor is the most important question.
"We can do anything, we just can't do everything." -Todd Howard (re-quote)