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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Lufia & the Fortress of Doom SNES Front Cover

SNES (1993)

The hero Maxim and his group defeat the Sinistrals on Mt. Doom (as portrayed in Lufia II), and all is...

Lufia: The Legend Returns Game Boy Color Front Cover

Game Boy Color (2001) and Nintendo 3DS (2014)

The third title of the Lufia series gives us an entirely new battle and dungeon system. All of the dungeons...

Lufia: The Ruins of Lore Game Boy Advance Front Cover

Game Boy Advance (2003)

The events of this game take place twenty-five years before those depicted in Fortress of Doom. You control a young...

Luminous Arc Nintendo DS Front Cover

Nintendo DS (2007)

Luminous Arc is a strategy role-playing game. The story is set in a world in which there are two groups...

Nintendo DS (2008)

Luminous Arc 2 is the sequel to the original Luminous Arc, but takes place in what appears to be a...

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete PlayStation Front Cover

PlayStation (1999) and SEGA Saturn (1998)

Lunar: Eternal Blue Complete is a remake of the SEGA CD game Lunar: Eternal Blue. Similarly to the remake of...

Lunar: Dragon Song Nintendo DS Front Cover

Nintendo DS (2005)

Dragon Song is an installment in the long-running Japanese role-playing series Lunar. Delivery boy Jian Campbell gets caught up in...

Lunar: Eternal Blue SEGA CD Front Cover

SEGA CD (1994)

This is the original version of the second title in Lunar series.The events of the game take place hundred years...

Lunar Legend Game Boy Advance Front Cover

Game Boy Advance (2002)

Lunar Legend is a version of Lunar: The Silver Star, which contains some of the changes introduced in its remake,...

Lunar: Sanpo-suru Gakuen SEGA Saturn Front Cover

SEGA Saturn (1997) and Game Gear (1996)

This is a side-story, set in the same world as the famous Lunar RPGs: Silver Star and Eternal Blue. The...

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete PlayStation Front Cover

PlayStation (1998) and SEGA Saturn (1996)

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete is an enhanced remake of Lunar: The Silver Star.The remake features 32-bit graphics (as opposed...

Lunar: The Silver Star SEGA CD Front Cover

SEGA CD (1992)

The hero of Lunar: The Silver Star is Alex, a young boy whose ideal is the great warrior of the...

PC-98 (1993)

A long time ago, humans possessed unique power, that allowed them to create wonderful things and to build a highly...

Lunatic Dawn FX PC-FX Front Cover

PC-FX (1995)

In spite of its Japanese origin, Lunatic Dawn is in fact much more similar to very old-school Western RPGs than...

PC-98 (1994) and FM Towns (1994)

Like other Lunatic Dawn games, Lunatic Dawn II is, despite its Japanese origins, an exploration-oriented Western-style RPG. There is no...

Browser (1999)

Lunatix Online: Global Insanity Crisis is an browser-based online RPG set in a mental institution. The player takes the role...

PC-98 (1994) and FM Towns (1994)

The kingdom of Digal was the only peaceful country amidst chaos, ruled by the benevolent king Deneos and his wisest...

Madō Monogatari SEGA Saturn Front Cover

SEGA Saturn (1998)

Madō Monogatari is an RPG featuring the characters and settings from the Puyo Puyo series. You start the game as...

MSX (1990) and PC-98 (1991)

A three-chapter first person RPG that chronicles the adventures of the young apprentice sorceress Arle Nadja with all three chapters...

Game Gear (1995)

The story of Madō Monogatari A takes place at a time between Madō Monogatari I and Madō Monogatari II. Arle,...

PC-98 (1993)

The heroine of Madō Monogatari: ARS is, like in all other games in the Madō Monogatari series, the young apprentice...

SNES (1996)

The game is set in the same universe and shares characters and storyline with Puyo Puyo puzzle games. Unlike Puyo...

Madō Monogatari I Game Gear Front Cover

Genesis (1996), Game Gear (1993) and TurboGrafx CD (1996)

In this game, you play a young apprentice sorceress named Arle. She studies at a magic school, and is about...

Game Gear (1994)

Eleven years have passed since Arle Nadja, magician girl extraordinaire, has defeated the evil as part of her examination in...

Madō Monogatari III: Kyūkyoku Joō-sama Game Gear Front Cover

Game Gear (1994)

You play as the young magician Arle Nadja. One day Arle goes out for a walk and meets a mysterious...

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