The Full Wiki

Action role-playing game: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rpg video game.svg
Part of a series on:
RPG video games

Action role-playing games (abbreviated action RPG, action/RPG or ARPG) form a loosely-defined sub-genre of role-playing video games that include some elements of real-time action games.




Classic action RPGs

One of the first games to fuse real-time action with RPG elements was the cult hit Dungeons of Daggorath for the TRS-80 Color Computer. Released in 1982, Daggorath combined a typical dungeon crawl with real-time gameplay requiring quick keyboard presses.

While Western developers continued to explore the possibilities of real-time RPG action, Japanese developers, with their recent interest in the RPG genre, tweaked the formula to create a new brand of action/RPG. The company at the forefront of this was Nihon Falcom.

Falcom's Dragon Slayer, released in 1984, was a simple real-time treasure grab game. However, its sequel, Xanadu, released in 1985, was a full-fledged RPG, with character stats and a large quest. What set Xanadu apart from other RPGs was its action-based combat. The game was immensely popular in Japan, setting records for PC game sales.[citation needed]

The next two years would see the release of games that would further define the action/RPG genre in Japan. Falcom released the first installment of its Ys series in 1987. While not very popular in the West, the long-running Ys series has been very strong in Japan with many sequels, remakes and ports in the decades that followed its release. The Legend of Zelda influenced later games in the action-RPG genre though it was not itself action/RPG since it lacked RPG elements such as experience points. [1] Zelda II also implemented an RPG-esque system with action elements, making it closer to an action-RPG than other Zeldas.

In late 1987, FTL Games released Dungeon Master, a critically acclaimed dungeon crawl game that redefined the genre and set the standard for real-time 3D action/RPGs for the next several years. When released in Japan in 1990, Dungeon Master became the first action/RPG to achieve the number one sales rank in both Japan and the U.S.[citation needed]

1990 would see the release of Crystalis for the NES and also Golden Axe Warrior for the Sega Master System. Both games featured Zelda-like gameplay blended with genuine RPG elements, such as experience points, statistics-based equipment, and a magic-casting system.

Secret of Mana (1993) did not introduce cooperative multiplayer gameplay into the action RPG genre, the earlier Dungeon Explorer did.

Hack & slash

In 1991, Squaresoft released Seiken Densetsu, also known as Final Fantasy Adventure or Sword of Mana in the West, for the Game Boy. Like Crystallis, the action in Seiken Densetsu bore a strong resemblance to that of Zelda, but added more RPG elements. It was the first RPG to allow players to kill townspeople, though later Mana games lack this feature.[2]

Unique among video games are Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993) and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara (1996). These games were released for the arcades, and featured a blending of beat 'em up and RPG characteristics. The games were later released for the Sega Saturn together as the Dungeons & Dragons Collection (1999). Several later beat 'em ups followed this same formula, including Guardian Heroes, Castle Crashers and Dungeon & Fighter.

In Japan on Super Famicom, Tales of Phantasia was released in Japan in 1995, featuring real-time side-scrolling combat mode and an exploration mode similar to classic console RPGs. In 1996, Star Ocean was released that also has real-time combat and classic exploration but features bird's eye view. Namco and Enix did not publish these two titles in America, though some of the sequels were later released in the U.S.

Other action RPGs at the time combined the puzzle-oriented action-adventure gameplay style of the Zelda series with RPG elements. Examples include Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma and Alundra.

The fifth generation era of consoles saw several popular action RPGs, such as Tales of Eternia, Brave Fencer Musashi and Legend of Oasis. All consoles of the sixth generation era have several action/RPGs, such as Sudeki, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, Kingdom Hearts, .hack, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.

First-person view

As a revolutionary step, Blue Sky Productions released Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss in 1992. This innovative game was a technological marvel, using a fully 3D first-person perspective combined with real-time action and a surprisingly deep role-playing experience. One of the game's developers, Warren Spector, would go on to help develop more games combining action and RPG gameplay, such as System Shock and Deus Ex.

Other first-person RPGs include Shadowcaster by Raven Software and id Software in 1993 created with an early version of the Doom engine, The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3 by Bethesda, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines by Troika Games, Baroque by Sting Entertainment and recently Hellgate: London by Flagship Studios which was formed from Blizzard North executives and developers responsible for the Diablo franchise (also supports third-person view).

Diablo, the point-and-click genre

In 1996, a stagnant PC RPG market was revitalized by Blizzard's Diablo, 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.

Diablo's effect on the market was significant; it had many imitators and its style of combat went on to be used by many MMORPGs that came after.[citation needed] For many years afterwards, games that closely mimicked the Diablo formula were referred to as "Diablo clones." The definition of a Diablo clone is even vaguer than that of an action RPG, but typically such games have each player controlling a single character and have a strong focus on combat, with plot and character interaction kept to a minimum. In some examples, non-player characters have only one purpose—be it to buy or sell items or upgrade the player's abilities—or issue them with combat-centric quests. Such characters might only have dialogue relating to their function rather than providing small talk or rumors perhaps unrelated to actual gameplay elements. They also have few or no puzzles, with all problems instead having an action-based solution (such as breaking a wooden door open with an axe rather than having to find its key).

Blizzard later released a sequel, Diablo II in 2000, and it became an international sensation in America, Europe, and Asia. Diablo II's effect on the gaming industry led to an even larger number of "clones" than its predecessor, inspiring games for almost a decade. Diablo III is currently being developed.

Return to role-playing

While most action-RPGs focus on hack & slash while exploring a world and building character stats, some titles contain many dialogue choices with consequences in the game world. Some games such as Star Ocean, Mass Effect, and Fable allow player to make many game-altering choices in dialogues and events. However, a full-fledged dialogue system with highly impressionable NPC as seen in pure PC-RPGs did not appear in an action RPG until the release of Gothic series (2001, 2002, 2006) and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines in 2004. In 2007, CD Projekt's The Witcher increased the amount of world-altering choices in dialogue on par with a classic RPG. A sequel to the classic Fallout, Fallout 3 was made in 2008, showing that the action RPG genere is still vibrant even today.

See also



Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

An RPG that has real-time Action like combat, instead of slower turn-based combat. Different than an Action game with RPG elements because in Action RPGs, things like stats and equipment take a much bigger role.

This article is a stub. You can help by adding to it.

Stubs are articles that writers have begun work on, but are not yet complete enough to be considered finished articles.

This article uses material from the "Action role-playing game" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address