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Action role-playing video games (abbreviated action RPG or ARPG) 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 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.
In computing and telecommunications, a menu is a list of options or commands presented to the user of a computer or communications system. A menu may either be a system's entire user interface, or only part of a more complex one.
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.
Allgame listed the following games released prior to 1984 as action RPGs: Temple of Apshai (1979)and its sequel Gateway to Apshai (1983), Beneath the Pyramids for the Apple II (1980), Bokosuka Wars (1983), and Sword of Fargoal (1983). Jeremy Parish of USgamer claimed that Adventure (1980) was an action RPG. Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton claimed that the Intellivision games Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1982) and Treasure of Tarmin (1983) were action RPGs. Shaun Musgrave of TouchArcade notes that Adventure lacked RPG mechanics such as experience points and permanent character growth, and argues that Gateway to Apshai is "the earliest game I'd feel comfortable calling an action-RPG" but notes that "it doesn't fit neatly into our modern genre classifications," though came closer than Bokosuka Wars released the same year.
Temple of Apshai is a dungeon crawl role-playing video game developed and published by Automated Simulations in 1979. Originating on the TRS-80 and Commodore PET, it was followed by several updated versions for other computers between 1980 and 1986.
Gateway to Apshai is an action-adventure game for the Commodore 64, ColecoVision and Atari 8-bit family, developed by The Connelley Group and published by Epyx as a prequel to Temple of Apshai. It is a more action-oriented version of Temple of Apshai, with smoother and faster graphics, streamlined controls, fewer role-playing video game elements, and fewer room descriptions.
The Apple II is an 8-bit home computer and one of the world's first highly successful mass-produced microcomputer products, designed primarily by Steve Wozniak. It was introduced by Jobs and Wozniak at the 1977 West Coast Computer Faire and was the first consumer product sold by Apple Computer, Inc. It is the first model in a series of computers which were produced until Apple IIe production ceased in November 1993. The Apple II marks Apple's first launch of a personal computer aimed at a consumer market—branded toward American households rather than businessmen or computer hobbyists.
Jeremy Parish of 1UP.com argues that Japanese developers created a new brand of action role-playing game; these new Japanese games combined the role-playing genre with arcade-style action and action-adventure elements.Shaun Musgrave of TouchArcade also traces the genre's roots to Japan, noting that the "Western game industry of the time had a tendency to treat action games and RPGs as separate things for separate demographics".
1UP.com is an American entertainment website that focused on video games. Launched in 2003, 1UP.com provided its own original features, news stories, game reviews, and video interviews, and also featured comprehensive PC-focused content. Like a print magazine, 1UP.com also hosted special week-long "online cover stories" that presented each day a new in-depth feature story, interview with the developers, game screenshot gallery, game video footage, and/or video of the game studio and creators.
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.
Action-adventure is a video game genre that combine core elements from both the action game and adventure game genres.
Jeremy Parish argues that action RPGs were popularized in Japan by The Tower of Druaga . 38It was released for arcades in June 1984, and was intended as a "fantasy version of Pac-Man , with puzzles to solve, monsters to battle, and hidden treasure to find". Its success in Japan inspired the development of Dragon Slayer (1984) and Hydlide (1984). Dragon Slayer, Hydlide and Courageous Perseus (1984) "vie for position as genre precedent" according to John Szczepaniak, and there was an ongoing rivalry developing between the Dragon Slayer and Hydlide series over the years. The Tower of Druaga, Dragon Slayer and Hydlide were influential in Japan, where they influenced later action RPGs such as Ys , as well as The Legend of Zelda . :
The Tower of Druaga is a maze-based action role-playing arcade game released by Namco in 1984. It is the first game in the Babylonian Castle Saga series, inspired by Sumerian and Babylonian mythology, including the Epic of Gilgamesh and Tower of Babel.
Pac-Man is a maze arcade game developed and released by Namco in 1980. Originally known in Japan as Puck Man, it would be changed to Pac-Man for international releases as a preventative measure against defacement of arcade machines. Outside Japan, the game was published by Midway Games, part of their licensing agreement with Namco America. The player controls the titular character, as he must eat all the dots inside an enclosed maze while avoiding four colored ghosts. Eating large flashing "Power Pellets" will cause the ghosts to turn blue and reverse direction, allowing Pac-Man to eat them for bonus points. It was the first game to run on the Namco Pac-Man arcade board.
Dragon Slayer is an action role-playing game, developed by Nihon Falcom and designed by Yoshio Kiya. It was originally released in 1984 for the PC-8801, PC-9801, X1 and FM-7, and became a major success in Japan. It was followed by an MSX port published by Square in 1985, a Super Cassette Vision by Epoch in 1986 and a Game Boy port by the same company in 1990 under the name Dragon Slayer I. A remake of Dragon Slayer was also included in the Falcom Classics collection for the Sega Saturn.
Falcom's Dragon Slayer, created by Yoshio Kiya,is "the very first action-RPG ever made" according to GameSetWatch. Originally released for the PC-8801 computer in September 1984, it abandoned the command-based battles of earlier role-playing games in favor of real-time hack-and-slash combat that required direct input from the player, alongside puzzle-solving elements. In contrast to earlier turn-based roguelikes, Dragon Slayer was a dungeon-crawl role-playing game using real-time, action-oriented combat, combined with traditional role-playing mechanics. Dragon Slayer's overhead action role-playing formula was used in many later games.
1984 saw many sequels and prequels and several new titles such as Tetris, Karate Champ, Boulder Dash, and 1942.
Roguelike is a subgenre of role-playing video game characterized by a dungeon crawl through procedurally generated levels, turn-based gameplay, tile-based graphics, and permanent death of the player character. Most roguelikes are based on a high fantasy narrative, reflecting their influence from tabletop role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons.
T&E Soft's Hydlide, released in December 1984, 42–49 It was the first action RPG with an overworld. The game was immensely popular in Japan, selling 2 million copies across all platforms. According to John Szczepaniak, it "cannot be overstated how influential Hydlide was on the ARPGs which followed it". The same year, Courageous Perseus was also one of the earliest action RPGs.was created by Tokihiro Naito, who was influenced by The Tower of Druaga. :
T&E Soft Incorporated was a Japanese-based video game developer founded in 1982. Although they have made games with a wide variety of genres, they are primarily known in the U.S. for their video golf games. In May 2002, T&E Soft Corporation changed their name to D Wonderland Inc.
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.
Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu , released in 1985 (billed as a "new type of real-time role-playing game"), was an action role-playing game including many character stats and a large quest.It also incorporated a side-scrolling view during exploration and an overhead view during battle, and an early "Karma" morality system where the character's Karma meter will rise if he commits sin (killing "good" enemies), which in turn causes the temples to refuse to level him up. Xanadu Scenario II , released in 1986, was an expansion pack, created to expand the content of Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu. Hydlide II: Shine of Darkness (1985) also featured a morality system. Eurogamer cites Fairlight (1985) as an early action RPG.
An important influence on the action RPG genre was the 1986 action-adventure, The Legend of Zelda, which served as the template for many future action RPGs.In contrast to previous action RPGs, such as Dragon Slayer and Hydlide, which required the player to bump into enemies in order to attack them, The Legend of Zelda featured an attack button that animates a sword swing or projectile attack on the screen. It was also an early example of open-world, nonlinear gameplay, and introduced new features such as battery backup saving. These elements have been used in many action RPGs since.
In 1987, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link implemented a more traditional RPG-esque system, including experience points and levels with action game elements.Unlike its predecessor, Zelda II more closely fits the definition of an action RPG.
Another Metroidvania-style action RPG released that year was System Sacom's Sharp X1 computer game Euphory , which was possibly the only Metroidvania-style multiplayer action RPG produced, allowing two-player cooperative gameplay.The fifth Dragon Slayer title, Sorcerian , was also released that year. It was a party-based action RPG, with the player controlling a party of four characters at the same time in a side-scrolling view. The game also featured character creation, highly customizable characters, class-based puzzles, and a new scenario system, allowing players to choose from 15 scenarios, or quests, to play through in the order of their choice. It was also an episodic video game, with expansion disks later released offering more scenarios. Falcom also released the first installment of its Ys series in 1987. While not very popular in the West, the long-running Ys series has performed strongly in the Japanese market, with many sequels, remakes and ports in the decades that followed its release. Besides Falcom's own Dragon Slayer series, Ys was also influenced by Hydlide, from which it borrowed certain mechanics such as health-regeneration.
The Faery Tale Adventure offered one of the largest worlds at the time, with over 17,000 computer screens without loading times.
In 1988, Telenet Japan's Exile series debuted, and was controversial due to its plot, which revolves around a time-traveling Crusades-era Syrian assassin who assassinates various religious/historical figures as well as 20th century political leaders, 182, 212Times of Lore inspired several later titles by Origin Systems, such as the 1990 games Bad Blood (another action RPG based on the same engine) :183 and Ultima VI: The False Prophet , based on the same interface. :83–84The gameplay of Exile included both overhead exploration and side-scrolling combat, and featured a heart monitor to represent the player's Attack Power and Armor Class statistics. Another controversial aspect of the game involved taking drugs (instead of potions) that increase/decrease attributes, but with side effects such as heart-rate increase/decrease or death. Origin Systems, the developer of the Ultima series, also released an action RPG in 1988, titled Times of Lore , which was inspired by various NES titles, particularly The Legend of Zelda. :
Also in 1989, the enhanced remake Ys I & II was one of the first video games to use CD-ROM, which was utilized to provide enhanced graphics, animated cut scenes,a Red Book CD soundtrack, and voice acting. Its English localization was also one of the first to use voice dubbing. The game received the Game of the Year award from OMNI Magazine in 1990, as well as other prizes. Another 1989 release, Activision's Prophecy: The Fall of Trinadon , attempted to introduce "Nintendo-style" action combat to North American computer role-playing games.
In 1991, Square released Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden , also known as Final Fantasy Adventure or Mystic Quest in the West, for the Game Boy. Like Crystalis, the action in Seiken Densetsu bore a strong resemblance to that of Legend of Zelda, but added more RPG elements. It was one of the first action RPGs to allow players to kill townspeople, though later Mana games removed this feature.Arcus Odyssey by Wolf Team (now Namco Tales Studio) was an action RPG that featured an isometric perspective and co-operative multiplayer gameplay.
In 1993, the second Seiken Densetsu game, Secret of Mana, received considerable acclaim,for its innovative pausable real-time action battle system, and its innovative cooperative multiplayer gameplay, where the second or third players could drop in and out of the game at any time, rather than players having to join the game at the same time. The game has remained influential through to the present day, with its ring menu system still used in modern games and its cooperative multiplayer mentioned as an influence on games such as Dungeon Siege III (2011).
Most other such games, however, used a side-scrolling perspective typical of beat 'em ups, such as the Princess Crown series, including Odin Sphere and Muramasa: The Demon Blade .[ citation needed ]
LandStalker's 1997 spiritual successor Alundrais considered "one of the finest examples of action/RPG gaming", combining platforming elements and challenging puzzles with an innovative storyline revolving around entering people's dreams and dealing with mature themes.
In late 1987, FTL Games released Dungeon Master , a dungeon crawler that had a real-time game world and some real-time combat elements (akin to Active Time Battle), requiring players to quickly issue orders to the characters, setting the standard for first-person computer RPGs for several years. 234–236 It inspired many other developers to make real-time dungeon crawlers, such as Eye of the Beholder and Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos .:
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss , released in 1992, has been cited as the first RPG to feature first-person action in a 3D environment.Ultima Underworld is considered the first example of an immersive sim, a genre that combines elements from other genres to create a game with strong player agency and emergent gameplay, and has influence many games since its release. The game's influence has been found in BioShock (2007), and that game's designer, Ken Levine, has stated that "all the things that I wanted to do and all the games that I ended up working on came out of the inspiration I took from [Ultima Underworld]". Gears of War designer Cliff Bleszinski also cited it as an early influence, stating that it had "far more impact on me than Doom". Other games influenced by Ultima Underworld include The Elder Scrolls: Arena , Deus Ex , Deus Ex: Invisible War , Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines , and Half-Life 2 . Toby Gard stated that, when designing Tomb Raider , he "was a big fan of ... Ultima Underworld and I wanted to mix that type of game with the sort of polygon characters that were just being showcased in Virtua Fighter ." Ultima Underworld was also the basis for Looking Glass Technologies' later System Shock .
The engine was re-used and enhanced for Ultima Underworld's 1993 sequel, Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds . Looking Glass Studios planned to create a third Ultima Underworld, but Origin rejected their pitches. After Electronic Arts (EA) rejected Arkane Studios' pitch for Ultima Underworld III, the studio instead created a spiritual successor: Arx Fatalis .
Action RPGs were far more common on consoles than computers, due to gamepads being better suited to real-time action than the keyboard and mouse. 43 Though there were attempts at creating action-oriented computer RPGs during the late 1980s and early 1990s, very few saw any success. :43Times of Lore was one of the more successful attempts in the American computer market, :43 where there was a generally negative attitude towards combining genres in this way and more of an emphasis on preserving the purity of the RPG genre. For example, a 1991 issue of Computer Gaming World criticized several computer role-playing games for using "arcade" or "Nintendo-style" action combat, including Ys, Sorcerian,Times of Lore, and Prophecy.:
The 1988 Origin Systems title Times of Lore was an action RPG with an icon-based point-and-click interface. Bad Blood , another Origin Systems game from 1990, would use the same interface.The designers were inspired by console titles, particularly The Legend of Zelda, to make their interface more accessible.
The 1994 title Ultima VIII used mouse controls and attempted to add precision jumping sequences reminiscent of a Mario platform game, though reactions to the game's mouse-based combat were mixed. In 1996 Blizzard's Diablo was released and became massively successful. It was an action RPG that used a point-and-click interface and offered gamers a free online service to play with others that maintained the same rules and gameplay. 43:
Diablo's effect on the market was significant, inspiring many imitators. Its impact was such that the term "action RPG" has come to be more commonly used for Diablo-style games rather than Zelda-style games, with The Legend of Zelda itself recategorized as an action-adventure.
Shooter-based action RPGs include Strife (1996), System Shock 2 (1999), the Deus Ex series (2000 onwards) by Ion Storm, Bungie's Destiny (2014), Irem's Steambot Chronicles (2005),Square Enix's third-person shooter RPG Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (2006), which introduced an over-the-shoulder perspective similar to Resident Evil 4 , and the MMO vehicular combat game Auto Assault (2006) by NetDevil and NCsoft. Other action RPGs featured both hack and slash and shooting elements, with the use of both guns (or in some cases, bow and arrow or aerial combat) and melee weapons, including Cavia's flight-based Drakengard series (2003 to 2005), and Level-5's Rogue Galaxy (2005).
Other RPS games include the Mass Effect series (2007 onwards), Fallout 3 and subsequent Fallout titles (2008 onwards), White Gold: War in Paradise (2008), and Borderlands (2009).Borderlands developer Gearbox software has dubbed it as a "role-playing shooter" due to the heavy RPG elements within the game, such as quest-based gameplay and also its character traits and leveling system. Half-Minute Hero (2009) is an RPG shooter featuring self-referential humour and a 30-second time limit for each level and boss encounter. Other recent action role-playing games with shooter elements include the 2010 titles Alpha Protocol by Obsidian Entertainment and The 3rd Birthday , the third game in the Parasite Eve series, features a unique blend of action RPG, real-time tactical RPG, survival horror and third-person tactical shooter elements.
More recent shooter-based RPGs include Imageepoch's post-apocapytic Black Rock Shooter (2011), which employs both first-person and third-person shooter elements,and Square Enix's Final Fantasy XV (2016), which features both hack and slash and third-person shooter elements.
Phantasy Star is a role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Sega and released for the Master System in 1987. One of the earliest Japanese RPGs for consoles, Phantasy Star tells the story of Alis on her journey to defeat the evil ruler of her star system, King Lassic, after her brother dies at his hands. She traverses between planets, gathering a party of fighters and collecting the items she needs to avenge her brother's death and return peace to the star system. The gameplay features traditional Japanese RPG elements including random encounters and experience points. All the characters have predefined personalities and abilities, a unique element compared to the customizable characters of other RPGs of the era.
Ys is a series of role-playing video games developed by Nihon Falcom. The first game in the series, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, was released on the NEC PC-8801 in 1987. Ys games have also appeared on the Sharp X1, MSX2, FM-7, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X68000, Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Famicom, NES, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, TurboGrafx-CD, Apple IIGS, mobile phones, Super NES, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. As of 2017, the series had sold over 4.8 million copies worldwide.
Hack and slash or hack and slay refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat.
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.
Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game company who primarily develop role-playing video games, most notably in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today. They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre, the Japanese role-playing game industry, and the development of the personal computer software industry in Japan as a whole.
Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss is a first-person role-playing video game (RPG) developed by Blue Sky Productions and published by Origin Systems. Released in March 1992, the game is set in the fantasy world of the Ultima series. It takes place inside the Great Stygian Abyss: a large cave system that contains the remnants of a failed utopian civilization. The player assumes the role of the Avatar—the Ultima series' protagonist—and attempts to find and rescue a baron's kidnapped daughter.
Ys: The Vanished Omens is the first installment of Ys, an action role-playing video game series developed by Nihon Falcom in 1987. The name is commonly misspelled Y's due to an error on the packaging of an English-language release.
Hydlide is a 1984 open world action role-playing video game developed and published by T&E Soft. It was originally released for the NEC PC-6001 and PC-8801 computers in 1984, in Japan only; ports for the MSX, MSX2, FM-7 and NEC PC-9801 were released the following year. A Nintendo Famicom version was first released under the name Hydlide Special on March 18, 1986 in Japan; three years later, in June 1989, that version saw a North American release for the Nintendo Entertainment System by FCI, its title having been returned to simply Hydlide. The game sold 2 million copies in Japan, across all platforms.
Legacy of the Wizard, originally released in Japan as Dragon Slayer IV: Drasle Family is a fantasy-themed action role-playing platform game released for the MSX, MSX2 and Famicom in Japan and for the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States. Legacy of the Wizard is an installment in Falcom's Dragon Slayer series, and one of only five Dragon Slayer games that were localized outside Japan. The game was an early example of an open-world, non-linear action RPG, combining action-RPG gameplay with what would later be called "Metroidvania"-style action-adventure elements.
Health or vitality is an attribute assigned to entities such as characters or objects within role-playing games and video games, that indicates their continued ability to function. Health is usually measured in hit points or health points, shortened to HP which lowers by set amounts when the entity is attacked or injured. When the HP of a player character or non-player character reaches zero, that character is incapacitated and barred from taking further action. In some games, such as those with cooperative multiplayer and party based role playing games, it may be possible for an ally to revive a character who has reached 0 hit points and let them return to action. In single player games, running out of health usually equates to "dying" and losing a life or receiving a Game Over.
Xanadu, also known as Xanadu: Dragon Slayer II, is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom and released in 1985 for the PC-8801, X1, PC-8001, PC-9801, FM-7 and MSX computers. Enhanced remakes were later released for the Sega Saturn, PC-9801 and Windows platforms. It is the second in the Dragon Slayer series, preceded by Dragon Slayer and followed by Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia, which, as most games in the Dragon Slayer series, have very little relation with each other.
Western role-playing video games are role-playing video games developed in the Western world, including The Americas and Europe. They originated on mainframe university computer systems in the 1970s, were later popularized by titles such as Ultima and Wizardry in the early- to mid-1980s, and continue to be produced for modern home computer and video game console systems. The genre's "Golden Age" occurred in the mid- to late-1980s, and its popularity suffered a downturn in the mid-1990s as developers struggled to keep up with hardware changes and increasing development costs. A later series of isometric role-playing games, published by Interplay Productions and Blizzard Entertainment, was developed over a longer time period and set new standards of production quality.
Tokyo Xanadu is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom. The game is a part of the Xanadu series, and was developed out of Nihon Falcom's desire to create a game of a different type and setting than their other role-playing game franchises, The Legend of Heroes and Ys. The game was first released in Japan for the PlayStation Vita in September 2015, and worldwide in June 2017. An enhanced version of the game, Tokyo Xanadu eX+, was released in Japan for the PlayStation 4 in September 2016, and worldwide in December 2017, in addition to a Microsoft Windows version.
By borrowing from Atari's action RPG, Utopia created a platformer classic.
Mattel's lineup included the classic action role-playing games Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Cartridge (1982) and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Treasure of Tarmin Cartridge (1983).
It cannot be overstated how influential Hydlide was on the ARPGs which followed it, nor how popular it was on both computers and the Famicom in Japan. But it is imperative you compare Hydlide only to games released that same year, to fully appreciate the merit in its ideas. There were two other similar titles in 1984, Courageous Perseus and Dragon Slayer, and all three vie for position as genre precedent – amusingly, a friendly rivalry even developed with Dragon Slayer's creator Yoshio Kiya, of Falcom, as over the years T&E Software and Falcom competed against each other.
Courageous Perseus is one of the earliest if not the first Action-RPG
[T]here were potions and food to collect as well, making Fairlight an early entry in the action RPG genre seen so commonly today.
It was hailed at the time as having the largest in-game world of any RPG (almost 17,000 screens)...