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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Game Center CX: 3-chōme no Arino Nintendo 3DS Front Cover

Nintendo 3DS (2014)

3-chōme no Arino is the third game based on the popular Japanese television show Game Center CX (a.k.a. Retro Game...

Game of Thrones Windows Front Cover

Windows (2012), Xbox 360 (2012) and PlayStation 3 (2012)

Game of Thrones is a role-playing game based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R....

Game of Thrones: Ascent iPad Front Cover

Browser (2013) and iPad (2014)

In Game of Thrones Ascent, the player takes the role as a noble house in Westeros. It is based on...

Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall - Blood Bound Windows Front Cover

Windows (2012) and Xbox 360 (2012)

Beyond the Wall is the story DLC for Game of Thrones. Set 10 years prior to the events of the...

Game of Thrones: Dog Pack Windows Front Cover

Windows (2012), Xbox 360 (2012) and PlayStation 3 (2012)

Dog Pack is downloadable content (DLC) for Game of Thrones. It offers two skins for Mors’ dog - the God’s...

Game of Thrones: Weapon Pack Windows Front Cover

Windows (2012), Xbox 360 (2012) and PlayStation 3 (2012)

This DLC for Game of Thrones offers a number of unique weapons with advanced characteristics. The weapons are available at...

NES (1992)

This is a sequel to the first Ganbare Goemon Gaiden (side-story) RPG. Goemon, a cunning thief and an avid treasure...

Ganbare Goemon Gaiden: Kieta Ōgon Kiseru NES Front Cover

NES (1990), Wii (2012) and Nintendo 3DS (2013)

This is a semi-humorous Japanese-style RPG set in medieval Japan. It tells us about the adventures of Goemon, the noble...

Game Boy Color (1999)

Another RPG title for the Ganbare Goemon series. Once again you take control of the wily adventurer Goemon and his...

Ganbare Goemon: Sarawareta Ebisumaru! Nintendo 3DS Front Cover

Game Boy (1991) and Nintendo 3DS (2012)

First portable title in the Ganbare Goemon series which tell the wacky adventures of the mystical ninja Goemon as he...

Game Boy Color (1999)

A unique entry in the Ganbare Goemon series, Tengu-to no Gyuakushu! doesn't place you in the shoes of the wily...

MSX (1988), PC-88 (1987), PC-98 (1988), Sharp X1 (1987) and FM-7 (1988)

Gandhara refers to the capital of the Kushan Empire, (today's Pakistan and Afghanistan), founded in 1st century BC, whose rulers...

Gangland Windows Front Cover

Windows (2004) and Macintosh (2005)

The story begins when Chico Mangano dies by a gunshot. There were witnesses who saw Chico's three brothers kill him.Their...

Gangsters 2 Windows Front Cover

Windows (2001)

Joey Bane has a score to settle... His home, Temperance, is no longer the same in the age of Prohibition,...

Gateway to Apshai Commodore 64 Front Cover

Commodore 64 (1983), ColecoVision (1984) and Atari 8-bit (1983)

Turmoil rocks the land and the only salvation lies in the magic of the Temple of Apshai. Unfortunately the location...

Gateway to the Savage Frontier DOS Front Cover

DOS (1991), Amiga (1991) and Commodore 64 (1991)

The party of adventurers has just escorted a caravan from the dwarven-ruled citadel Adbar to the city of Yartar. Now...

Gdleen SNES Front Cover

SNES (1991)

Ryu is the captain of a spaceship, who left Earth to explore far away planets. But one day something goes...

Linux (2002), Windows (2002) and Macintosh (2002)

GearHead is an anime-inspired roguelike taking place in the far future following the aftermath of a cataclysmic conflict between the...

FM Towns (1994)

Gekirin is a self-described "RPG without a story". The player takes the role of a nameless male adventurer in an...

DOS (1988), Amiga (1988), Apple II (1988), Apple IIgs (1988) and Macintosh (1988)

The first playable version of the GemStone series, as GemStone I was a prototype only, GemStone ][ is an early...

Windows (1998) and Macintosh (1998)

GemStone IV is a high fantasy game set in the world of Elanthia. Originally offered on service providers such as...

Geneforge Windows Front Cover

Windows (2002) and Macintosh (2001)

The Shapers are the most powerful of the magical guilds, and you have recently been accepted as an apprentice. With...

Geneforge 2 Windows Front Cover

Windows (2003) and Macintosh (2003)

Geneforge 2 is an isometric role-playing game that puts you in the role of a Shaper. Shapers are like conjurers,...

Geneforge 3 Windows Front Cover

Windows (2005) and Macintosh (2005)

This is the third installment in the shareware Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software. In this fantasy RPG, you once again...

Geneforge 4: Rebellion Windows Front Cover

Windows (2007) and Macintosh (2006)

This is the fourth installment in the shareware Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software. Geneforge 4 is an isometric RPG with...

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