User review spotlight: Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (DOS)

Role-Playing (RPG)

Description

Role-playing video games are descendants of pen-and-paper RPGs. In those games character development is the main driving gameplay mechanic. Typically one or more characters are created and shaped by the player, then embark on a series of encounters that increase the inventory, wealth, or combat statistics of said character(s).

A role-playing game is not just any game in which the player "plays a role", i.e. controls a character and participates in exploration and narrative. Rather, the defining characteristic of role-playing games is player-dependent character growth. A role-playing game can be seen as such when player-controlled characters become stronger ("levels up") because of the player's actions (usually depending on experience points received for vanquishing enemies), rather than being upgraded automatically as dictated by the storyline. The degree of the player's involvement in shaping the characters may vary considerably: some RPGs offer vast customization possibilities, while others tend to simplify and even nearly automatize the process.

Traditional RPGs have turn-based combat and a fantasy setting (Wizardry series, Ultima series, Roguelikes, etc.). Later, other settings were introduced, and many RPGs - such as Diablo - began favoring action-based combat. In these games, Action is used as a modifier to the RPG genre.

By the late 1980's, the genre has been distinctly split into two main sub-genres: Western and Japanese (sometimes called console-style) RPG. Western RPGs typically favored free exploration and player-made decisions, while Japanese RPGs focused on following a linear story line. Japanese RPGs also tended to retain simple turn-based combat mechanics, and in many cases also random enemy encounters.

In many early Western RPGs the player was given the option to create an entire party of characters (usually up to six). Ultima games introduced the possibility of recruiting initially non-playable characters (NPCs) with their own personalities from the game world into the party. Beginning with Phantasy Star, Japanese RPGs followed this template and even elevated it to their cornerstone mechanic.

Late 1990's saw a "RPG revival" in the West. Fallout greatly expanded the usage of non-combat statistics and moral decisions during gameplay, while Baldur's Gate popularized real-time party-based combat.
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Finding Eden Windows Front Cover

Windows (2011)

In the beginning of Finding Eden, two girls start to talk about reality. One of them was unconscious, and when...

Fire Emblem Game Boy Advance Front Cover

Game Boy Advance (2003) and Wii U (2014)

The rightful heir to the throne of Rikea is finally returning home after many years lost to her people. But...

Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi Nintendo 3DS Front Cover

NES (1990), Wii (2009), Nintendo 3DS (2012) and Wii U (2014)

Dark Forces have attacked the land of Aritia. You're controlling some of the members of the Aritan's forces that escaped...

Fire Emblem Awakening Nintendo 3DS Front Cover

Nintendo 3DS (2012)

Chrom is the prince of the Halidom of Yilesse. A chance encounter with an amnesiac strategist leads him and his...

Game Boy Advance (2002)

Fire Emblem: Fūin no Tsurugi is the sixth entry in the Fire Emblem series, and its first handheld installment. The...

Fire Emblem Gaiden Nintendo 3DS Front Cover

NES (1992), Wii (2009), Nintendo 3DS (2013) and Wii U (2014)

In a coup d'etat, a general deposes the king and it's up to a young hero, Alm, to join up...

Fire Emblem: Monshō no Nazo Wii U Front Cover

SNES (1994), Wii (2006) and Wii U (2013)

A remake and expansion of the first NES/Famicom Fire Emblem, Marth must face the betrayal if Hardin and an old...

Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance GameCube Front Cover

GameCube (2005)

Path of Radiance is the first installment in the Fire Emblem series to have 3D. Set on the Tellius continent,...

Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn Wii Front Cover

Wii (2007)

The sequel to 2005's Path of Radiance and the tenth game in the Fire Emblem series, Radiant Dawn takes place...

Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu Wii U Front Cover

SNES (1996), Wii (2007) and Wii U (2013)

The fourth installment in the popular strategy series, set in the continent of Jugdral, southeast of Akaneia. The game's first...

Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon Nintendo DS Front Cover

Nintendo DS (2008)

A second retelling of the original Fire Emblem on the Famicom, Shadow Dragon utilises the Nintendo DS online options in...

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones Game Boy Advance Front Cover

Game Boy Advance (2004), Nintendo 3DS (2011) and Wii U (2014)

Eight hundred years ago, the sacred stones were used to defeat the Demon King. Sealing his soul inside the stones,...

Fire Emblem: Thracia 776 SNES Front Cover

SNES (1999), Wii (2008) and Wii U (2013)

Thracia 776 continues the Fire Emblem story with a midquel or a "meanwhile" setting. The events transpire during Fire Emblem:...

Fire King DOS Front Cover

DOS (1990) and Commodore 64 (1989)

The city of Stormhaven Bay was once enjoying prosperity, protected by the balance of four elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and...

Fire Woman: Matoi-gumi PC-FX Front Cover

PlayStation (1998) and PC-FX (1996)

The protagonist of this game is an exchange student who just got transferred to the Shirosagi high school. Upon his...

PC-98 (1988) and Sharp X68000 (1989)

The land of Logris is home to many races and nations: humans, elves, dwarves, centaurs, and others. It is divided...

PC-98 (1993)

Out of Chaos, Earth and Heaven were born. The spirits were the first sentient race to appear in the Heaven,...

First Queen II: Sabaku no Joō PC-98 Front Cover

PC-98 (1990) and Sharp X68000 (1992)

The second entry in First Queen series is set in a pseudo-historical environment, based on real world countries at the...

PlayStation (1996) and PC-98 (1994)

The land of Logris was originally inhabited by elves, dwarves, and other magical creatures. When the humans arrived, the cultural...

SNES (1994)

Ornic Senki is a remake of First Queen. The game retains the basic gameplay and the story of the original....

TurboGrafx CD (1993)

Flash Hiders is an anime-style 2D fighting game with a distinct RPG slant. The game has a heavy focus on...

Flatspace Windows Front Cover

Windows (2003) and iPhone (2009)

Flatspace is a game in the veins of Elite/Frontier etc, although with a bit of the roguelike-Game approach. Gameplay strongly...

The Fleet iPad Front Cover

Browser (2012), iPhone (2012), Android (2012) and iPad (2012)

The Fleet presents a SF epic of loss and retribution with all of the juicy stuff: alien invasion, military command,...

Windows (2005)

Flyff is a fantasy MMORPG set in the lands of Roika where all characters can move about by flying. Shade,...

NES (1990)

The game is about a team of superheroes called the Flying Warriors who have to fight a demon before he...

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