Action-adventure game

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Action-adventure is a video game genre that combine core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.

A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based on its gameplay interaction rather than visual or narrative differences. A video game genre is defined by a set of gameplay challenges and are classified independently of their setting or game-world content, unlike other works of fiction such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of where or when it takes place.

An action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter games and platform games. Some multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games are also considered action games.

In video-game culture an adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of a protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media, literature and film, encompassing a wide variety of literary genres. Many adventure games are designed for a single player, since this emphasis on story and character makes multi-player design difficult. Colossal Cave Adventure is identified as the first such adventure game, first released in 1976, while other notable adventure game series include Zork, King's Quest, The Secret of Monkey Island, and Myst.


With the decline of the adventure game genre from mainstream popularity, the use of the term (and the hybrid term "action-adventure") has been more liberal. It is not uncommon for gamers to apply the term "adventure" or "action" to describe the genre of fiction to which a game belongs, and not the gameplay itself.

Action-adventure is a hybrid genre, and thus the definition is very inclusive, leading it to be perhaps the broadest genre of video games, and can include many games which might better be categorized under narrow genres. Typically, pure adventure games have situational problems for the player to solve, with very little or no action. If there is action, it is generally confined to isolated minigames. Pure action games have gameplay based on real-time interactions that challenge the reflexes. Therefore, action-adventure games engage both reflexes and problem-solving, in both violent and non-violent situations.


An action-adventure game can be defined as a game with a mix of elements from an action game and an adventure game, [1] especially crucial elements like puzzles. [2] Action-adventures require many of the same physical skills as action games, but also offer a storyline, numerous characters, an inventory system, dialogue, and other features of adventure games. [3] They are faster-paced than pure adventure games, because they include both physical and conceptual challenges. [3] Action-adventure games normally include a combination of complex story elements, which are displayed for players using audio and video. The story is heavily reliant upon the player character's movement, which triggers story events and thus affects the flow of the game. [4] Some examples of action-adventure games include The Legend of Zelda , God of War , [3] and Tomb Raider series. [5]

Player character fictional character in a role-playing or video game that can be played or controlled by a real-world person

A player character is a fictional character in a role-playing game or video game whose actions are directly controlled by a player of the game rather than the rules of the game. The characters that are not controlled by a player are called non-player characters (NPCs). The actions of non-player characters are typically handled by the game itself in video games, or according to rules followed by a gamemaster refereeing tabletop role-playing games. The player character functions as a fictional, alternate body for the player controlling the character.

<i>The Legend of Zelda</i> video game series

The Legend of Zelda is a fantasy action-adventure video game franchise created by Japanese game designers Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. It is primarily developed and published by Nintendo, although some portable installments and re-releases have been outsourced to Capcom, Vanpool, and Grezzo. The series' gameplay incorporates action-adventure and elements of action RPG games.

God of War is a mythology-based action-adventure video game franchise. Created by David Jaffe at Sony's Santa Monica Studio, the series debuted in 2005 on the PlayStation 2 (PS2) video game console, and has become a flagship title for the PlayStation brand, consisting of eight games across multiple platforms. The story is about Kratos, a Spartan warrior tricked into killing his wife and daughter by his former master, the Greek God of War Ares. Kratos seeks to rid himself of the nightmares by serving the other Olympian gods, but soon finds himself in confrontation with them due to their machinations. Years after the destruction of ancient Greece, Kratos ends up in ancient Norway with a young son named Atreus. The two journey throughout several realms to fulfill a promise to the boy's recently deceased mother, inadvertently making enemies of the Norse gods.

Exactly when a game stops being an adventure game and becomes an action game is a matter of interpretation. [6] There are quite a few disagreements in the community and in the media over what actually constitutes an action-adventure game. One definition of the term "action adventure" may be '"An action/adventure game is a game that has enough action in it not to be called an adventure game, but not enough action to be called an action game." [7] In some cases an action game with puzzles will be classified as an action-adventure game, but if these puzzles are quite simple they might be classified as an action game. [3] [8] Others see action games as a pure genre, while an action-adventure is an action game that includes situational problem-solving. [7] [8] Adventure gamers may also be purists, rejecting any game that makes use of physical challenges or time pressure. [3] Regardless, the action-adventure label is prominent in articles over the internet and media. The term "action-adventure" is usually substituted for a particular subgenre due to its wide scope.


Although action-adventure games are diverse and difficult to classify, there are some distinct subgenres. Popular subgenres include:

First-person shooter Action video game genre

First-person shooter (FPS) is a video game genre centered around gun and other weapon-based combat in a first-person perspective; that is, the player experiences the action through the eyes of the protagonist. The genre shares common traits with other shooter games, which in turn makes it fall under the heading action game. Since the genre's inception, advanced 3D and pseudo-3D graphics have challenged hardware development, and multiplayer gaming has been integral.

<i>Metroid Prime</i> video game

Metroid Prime is a first-person action-adventure game developed by Retro Studios and Nintendo for the GameCube video game console. It was released in North America on November 17, 2002, and in Japan and Europe the following year. Metroid Prime is the fifth main installment in the Metroid series, and the first Metroid game to use 3D computer graphics. Because exploration takes precedence over combat, Nintendo classifies the game as a first-person adventure rather than a first-person shooter. On the same day as its North American release, Nintendo also released the Game Boy Advance game Metroid Fusion, marking the return of the Metroid series after an eight-year hiatus following Super Metroid (1994).

<i>Half-Life 2</i> 2004 first-person shooter video game

Half-Life 2 (stylized as HλLF-LIFE2) is a first-person shooter video game developed and published by Valve Corporation. It is the sequel to 1998's Half-Life and was released in November 2004 following a five-year $40 million development. During development, a substantial part of the project was leaked and distributed on the Internet. The game was developed alongside Valve's Steam software and the Source engine.


Action-adventure games are faster paced than pure adventure games, and include physical as well as conceptual challenges [6] where the story is enacted rather than narrated. [9] While motion-based, often reflexive, actions are required, [4] the gameplay still follows a number of adventure game genre tropes (gathering items, exploration of and interaction with one's environment, often including an overworld connecting areas of importance, and puzzle-solving). [2] While the controls are arcade-style (character movement, few action commands) there is an ultimate goal beyond a high score. [2] In most action-adventure games, the player controls a single avatar as the protagonist. [3] This type of game is often quite similar to role-playing video games. [10]

An overworld is, in a broad sense, an area within a video game that interconnects all its levels or locations. They are mostly common in role-playing games, though this does not exclude other video game genres.

Avatar (computing) graphical representation of the user or the users alter ego or character

In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. An icon or figure representing a particular person in a video game, Internet forum, etc. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. Avatar images have also been referred to as "picons" in the past, though the usage of this term is uncommon now. It can also refer to a text construct found on early systems such as MUDs. The term "avatar" can also refer to the personality connected with the screen name, or handle, of an Internet user.

Protagonist the main character of a creative work

A protagonist is a main character of a story.

They are distinct from graphic adventures, which sometimes have free-moving central characters, but also wider variety of commands and fewer or no action game elements and are distinct too from text adventures, characterized by many different commands introduced by the user via a complex text parser and no free-moving character. While they share general gameplay dynamics, action-adventures vary widely in the design of their viewpoints, including bird's eye, side scrolling, first-person, third-person, over-the-shoulder, or even a 3/4 isometric view.

In adventure games, a text parser takes typed input from the player and simplifies it to something the game can understand. Usually, words with the same meaning are turned into the same word and certain filler words are dropped.

Birds-eye view elevated perspective

A bird's-eye view is an elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird, often used in the making of blueprints, floor plans, and maps.

Third-person shooter (TPS) is a subgenre of 3D shooter games in which the player character is visible on-screen during gaming, and the gameplay consists primarily of shooting.

Many action-adventure games simulate a conversation through a conversation tree.[ citation needed ] When the player encounters a non-player character, they are allowed to select a choice of what to say. The NPC gives a scripted response to the player, and the game offers the player several new ways to respond.

Due to the action-adventure subgenre's broad inclusive nature it causes some players to having difficulty finishing a particular game. To compensate for this lack of the player's ability, companies have devised ways to give the player help, such as helpful clues, or allowing them to skip puzzles outright. [11]


Brett Weiss cites Superman (1979) as an action-adventure game, [12] with Retro Gamer crediting it as the "first to utilize multiple screens as playing area". [13] Mark J.P. Wolf credits Adventure (1980) as the earliest-known action-adventure game, [14] was an adaptation of text-based adventure game Colossal Cave Adventure for the Atari 2600, with the player having the ability to fight in combat like in an action game. [7] Castle Wolfenstein (1981) was another early action-adventure game. [15] Allgame also claimed the following titles released prior to 1982 were action-adventure games: Rescue at Rigel (1980), [16] Quest for the Rings (1981), [17] and Venture (1981). [18]

According to Wizardry developer Roe R. Adams, early action-adventure games "were basically arcade games done in a fantasy setting," citing Castlevania (1986), Trojan (1986) and Wizards & Warriors (1987) as examples. [19]

Although noting some similarity to Adventure , IGN UK argues that The Legend of Zelda (1986) "helped to establish a new subgenre of action-adventure", becoming a success due to how it combined elements from different genres to create a compelling hybrid, including exploration, adventure-style inventory puzzles, an action component, a monetary system, and simplified RPG-style level building without the experience points. [20] The Legend of Zelda was the most prolific action-adventure game series through to the 2000s. [21]

Games like Brain Breaker (1985), Xanadu (1985), Metroid (1986) and Vampire Killer (1986) combined a side-scrolling platformer format with adventure exploration, creating the Metroidvania platform-adventure subgenre. Similarly, games like 005, Castle Wolfenstein and Metal Gear (1987) combined action-adventure exploration with stealth mechanics, laying the foundations for the stealth game subgenre, which would later be popularized in 1998 by Metal Gear Solid , Tenchu: Stealth Assassins , and Thief: The Dark Project .

The cinematic platformer Prince of Persia (1989) featured action-adventure elements, inspiring games such as Another World (1991) and Flashback (1992). Alone in the Dark (1992) featured the use of 3D graphics, which would later be popularized by Resident Evil (1996) and Tomb Raider (1996). Resident Evil in particular created the survival horror subgenre, inspiring titles such as Silent Hill (1999) and Fatal Frame (2001). [7] Action-adventure games have gone on to become more popular than the pure adventure games and pure platform action games that inspired them. [22]

See also

Related Research Articles

Puzzle video games make up a unique genre of video games that emphasize puzzle solving. The types of puzzles can test many problem-solving skills including logic, pattern recognition, sequence solving, and word completion. The player may have unlimited time or infinite attempts to solve a puzzle, or there may be a time limit, or simpler puzzles may be made difficult by having to complete them in real time, as in Tetris.

Platform game video game genre

Platform games, or platformers, are a video game genre and subgenre of action game. In a platformer the player controlled character must jump and climb between suspended platforms while avoiding obstacles. Environments often feature uneven terrain of varying height that must be traversed. The player often has some control over the height and distance of jumps to avoid letting their character fall to their death or miss necessary jumps. The most common unifying element of games of this genre is the jump button, but now there are other alternatives like swiping a touchscreen. Other acrobatic maneuvers may factor into the gameplay as well, such as swinging from objects such as vines or grappling hooks, as in Ristar or Bionic Commando, or bouncing from springboards or trampolines, as in Alpha Waves. These mechanics, even in the context of other genres, are commonly called platforming, a verbification of platform. Games where jumping is automated completely, such as 3D games in The Legend of Zelda series, fall outside of the genre.

A stealth game is a type of video game in which the player primarily uses stealth to avoid or overcome antagonists. Games in the genre typically allow the player to remain undetected by hiding, sneaking, or using disguises. Some games allow the player to choose between a stealthy approach or directly attacking antagonists, but rewarding the player for greater use of stealth. The genre has employed espionage, counter-terrorism, and rogue themes, with protagonists who are special forces operatives, spies, thieves, ninjas, or assassins. Some games have also combined stealth elements with other genres, such as first-person shooters and platformers.

Survival horror is a subgenre of video games inspired by horror fiction that focuses on survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambience. Although combat can be part of the gameplay, the player is made to feel less in control than in typical action games through limited ammunition, health, speed and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics. The player is also challenged to find items that unlock the path to new areas and solve puzzles to proceed in the game. Games make use of strong horror themes, like dark maze-like environments and unexpected attacks from enemies.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

<i>Dragon Slayer</i> (series) video game series

Dragon Slayer is a series of video games developed and published by Nihon Falcom. The first Dragon Slayer title is an early action role-playing game, released in 1984 for the NEC PC-88 computer system and ported by Square for the MSX. Designed by Yoshio Kiya, the game gave rise to a series of sequels, most of them created by Falcom, with the exception of Faxanadu by Hudson Soft. The Dragon Slayer series was historically significant, both as a founder of the Japanese role-playing game industry, and as the progenitor of the action role-playing game genre.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to video games:

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.

A strategy video game is a video game that focuses on skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. It emphasizes strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. They are generally categorized into four sub-types, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time, and whether the game focuses on strategy or tactics.

In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can explore and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since.

The 1990s were a decade of marked innovation in video gaming. It was a decade of transition from sprite-based graphics to full-fledged 3D graphics and it gave rise to several genres of video games including, but not limited to, the first person shooter, real-time strategy, survival horror, and MMO. Handheld gaming began to become more popular throughout the decade, thanks in part to the release of the Game Boy. Arcade games, although still relatively popular in the early 1990s, begin a decline as home consoles become more common.

Survival games are a subgenre of action video games set in a hostile, intense, open-world environment, where players generally begin with minimal equipment and are required to collect resources, craft tools, weapons, and shelter, and survive as long as possible. Many survival games are based on randomly or procedurally generated persistent environments; more-recently created games are often playable online, allowing multiple players to interact in a single persistent world. Survival games are generally open-ended with no set goals and are often closely related to the survival horror genre, in which the player must survive within a supernatural setting, such as a zombie apocalypse.

A variety of computer graphic techniques have been used to display video game content throughout the history of video games. The predominance of individual techniques have evolved over time, primarily due to hardware advances and restrictions such as the processing power of central or graphics processing units.

Eastern role-playing video games (RPGs) are RPGs developed in East Asia. Most Eastern RPGs are Japanese role-playing video games (JRPGs), developed in Japan. RPGs are also developed in South Korea and in China.

Metroidvania is a subgenre of action-adventure video games. The term is a portmanteau of the game series Metroid and Castlevania. Metroidvania games use game design and mechanics that are similar to games from these two series. Specifically, the term derives from the Castlevania title Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and many of the games in that franchise which come after it, which are generally considered to contain certain aspects of gameplay comparable to that of the Metroid series of games. As such, the term is used to invoke gameplay concepts and mechanics similar to that of these two series.


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  16. Rescue at Rigel at AllGame
  17. Quest for the Rings at AllGame
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