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View Full Version : Is The Legend of Zelda an RPG?



Wolf Kanno
10-01-2017, 03:20 AM
Why or why not? The topic has gone on for years but I'm curious to know why some people feel it is an RPG while others don't agree. What sets it apart from a typical RPG and what does it have in common with the genre?

Darth Ganon
10-01-2017, 05:55 AM
Zelda II is. The rest, no.

From my point of view the term "RPG" defines the genre of video games that has a stat/level up system, often more story and character driven than others.

If we're going to label Zelda as an RPG because we play the role of Link then everything from Banko-Kazooie to Mega Man X is an RPG.

Jinx
10-01-2017, 06:18 AM
Action game with RPG elements. I think it gets lumped in with RPGs a lot because they have decent stories with intricate lore, so the world is often very involved, if not the main character. That said, the narratives themselves are usually fairly barebones, so no. Not RPG, but more of an RPG than a lot of games.

Bubba
10-01-2017, 07:42 AM
Action game with RPG elements.

Pretty much this. You could say it has puzzle elements too.

WarZidane
10-01-2017, 09:44 PM
Nope.

Basically, the way I see it, there are certain core aspects to the RPG genre, and if a game has enough of them, it's an RPG.

Take for example Deus Ex, it has enough of these aspects to qualify as RPG even though it's also an FPS. It has a heavy focus on story, character customization through skills/augmentations and, like other western RPGs, a big focus on the choices you make and how you interact with NPCs.

Zelda on the other hand, does not have enough of these core aspects. Breath of the Wild comes closest and I can see why people would try to argue it's an RPG, but it's still not one IMO. Never mind any of the other Zelda games with even fewer RPG elements than BotW.

Sephiroth
10-01-2017, 09:54 PM
It is an Action-Adventure RPG. Its own subclass of the RPG superclass.

You get invested in a - though granted, sometimes sparsely told - story of classic Role-Playing Games: A fairytale based on "saving the world and saving someone in danger" while getting thrown in a big fictional world where you are supposed to live through that journey with your avatar, your "link" to the game. Zelda has really everything necessary for an RPG, also from a gameplay perspective that rewards you in multiple ways. The reason why it does not feel like other RPGs is because is just not on the same subclass branch. ALso the line between genres sometime blurs so I guess sometimes it is okay when some games have exceptions in them.

Final Fantasy XIII was called a "genre straddler" by Yoshinori Kitase in 2009. And it still has its place as an RPG. Zelda very much also has its place as that. Just because it is an Adventure game does not exclude it as a Role-Playing Game. And not getting experience points for combat is no good way of differentiating. There are multiple games that have story and stats and are hardly Role-Playing Games.

It is a wonder that Twilight Princess got in my top 5 considering it only consists of Final Fantasy and Nier. But Twilight Princess has enough RPG in it for me to love it that much.

maybee
10-02-2017, 04:43 AM
When there's a TOP RPG List then all of a sudden it is.


https://images.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=http%3A%2F%2Fs3.r29static.com%2Fbin%2Fentry%2F6c0%2Fx%2F1280716%2Fimage.png&f=1

theundeadhero
10-02-2017, 05:25 AM
Strictly by the definitions created in the eighties to define games, its an action-adventure game. It doesn't fall into any part of the rpg definition.

Fynn
10-02-2017, 09:09 AM
Nope. The core element that makes an RPG (any type of experience system) is missing. While we're at it, Vagrant Story also isn't an RPG.

Laddy
10-02-2017, 02:30 PM
Nah, very few of the elements of tabletop role-playing are there, excepting II and BotW.

Sephiroth
10-02-2017, 05:32 PM
Nope. The core element that makes an RPG (any type of experience system) is missing. While we're at it, Vagrant Story also isn't an RPG.

If that were the real deal tons of games that are no RPG at all would be RPGs. And Zelda at least rewards you, works with different damage formulas, guard formulas/ways to increase/decrease that gives you more hearts. In other words, you do not level up but everything necessarily associated with that is in it. As in other games. So this whole stat thing just because two variables are missing is very questionable in the first place. And then it has the other stuff that RPGs are also known for.

Del Murder
10-02-2017, 07:11 PM
It is an Action-Adventure RPG.
Yeah I'll go with that one too. It's all three of them. Maybe it's a subclass or whatever, but I'm not into that stuff. This is video games, not living beings on planet Earth. We don't need a bunch of complex classifications.

In the end, Zelda is awesome regardless of what category it is in.

WarZidane
10-02-2017, 10:47 PM
Nope. The core element that makes an RPG (any type of experience system) is missing. While we're at it, Vagrant Story also isn't an RPG.

If that were the real deal tons of games that are no RPG at all would be RPGs. And Zelda at least rewards you, works with different damage formulas, guard formulas/ways to increase/decrease that gives you more hearts. In other words, you do not level up but everything necessarily associated with that is in it. As in other games. So this whole stat thing just because two variables are missing is very questionable in the first place. And then it has the other stuff that RPGs are also known for.

Would you consider Megaman X an RPG then? You get different powers with different damage formulas, you have a way to get more health. :p

I don't think a game needs an experience bar to count as an RPG, I'll agree on that part.

Sephiroth
10-03-2017, 09:47 AM
I don't think a game needs an experience bar to count as an RPG, I'll agree on that part.

I think I have never played Megaman for more than 10 minutes in my entire life but the game at least differentiates with its different playstyle. Just how Dirge of Cerberus gave Vincent a level and opportunities to become stronger but the playstyle itself makes it a 3rd person shooter "that has some slight RPG elements like heavy story focus for a shooter and getting stronger".

But the point I am trying to make is, a leveling system/growth system in RPGs always is manifested in very very different ways. It is not always the classic "EXP -> Level Up" and also not always the characters themselves get stronger with their own level up but through the enhancement of their equipment (e.g. Lightning Returns or Crisis Core, latter one has a level for Zack but it is almost completely insignificant because his accessory and Materia Fusion is what actually makes him stronger). Why not break it down to what is truely there all the time? "Progress means getting better". And Link also does have that. He gets better. Hell, Triforce of the Gods/A Link to the Past even literally makes Link's swords one sword with different levels by giving them a number, while story-wise we know that the Starting Sword has nothing to do with the Master-Sword itself. And the games have a playstyle that reminds enough of other RPGs (The old ones are much like Secret of Mana or Terranigma, the 3D ones have enough RPGs with their playstyle to be compared to than I can count). And, and, and ...

I am not arguing here that Zelda is an RPG because it has a growth system, I am arguing that if a growth system matters it would still not be excluded but I cannot agree in the first place that this is the "have it or begone" factor.

Edge7
10-05-2017, 12:56 AM
Nope. The core element that makes an RPG (any type of experience system) is missing. While we're at it, Vagrant Story also isn't an RPG.
Wait, but Vagrant Story does have an experience system? It's a game where you tactically have to consider type advantages and disadvantages as well as the effects different equipment have on you combat capabilities (heavier equipment makes you more likely to miss, for example). Buffs, debuffs and status effects are all instrumental to success. How is that not characteristic of an RPG?

On the other hand, the only growth in Zelda is from collectibles you discover through exploring the world. Combat isn't based on statistics, but rather on timing and enemy types. Many Zelda games treat combat more as solving a puzzle with the enemy in question than most RPGs (hit the glowing weak points, wait for the wolfos to turn around, hit the penguins from ALttP with hookshots, or the giant skeletons with bombs).

To clear the air, I define an RPG as "a game in which combat is heavily influenced by different numerical values and status effects".
Such numerical values typically include Physical and Magical Attack and Defense, Dexterity or Accuracy, SOMETIMES a Luck stat, and maybe other varying factors.

Fynn
10-05-2017, 09:16 AM
Nope. The core element that makes an RPG (any type of experience system) is missing. While we're at it, Vagrant Story also isn't an RPG.
Wait, but Vagrant Story does have an experience system? It's a game where you tactically have to consider type advantages and disadvantages as well as the effects different equipment have on you combat capabilities (heavier equipment makes you more likely to miss, for example). Buffs, debuffs and status effects are all instrumental to success. How is that not characteristic of an RPG?


Still, Ashley himself doesn't grow. You make him stronger against enemies by constantly forging new stuff from what you find. It's a survival game. Just because the battles are tactical doesn't make it an RPG, imo.

Edge7
10-05-2017, 05:58 PM
I forgot that experience only gives Ashley new abilities, not any tangible growth ^^;

Still, it's obvious that we have different ideas of what an RPG is, so I won't try to change your mind. I'm just happy I got an elaboration!

Sephiroth
10-05-2017, 06:20 PM
To clear the air, I define an RPG as "a game in which combat is heavily influenced by different numerical values and status effects".
Such numerical values typically include Physical and Magical Attack and Defense, Dexterity or Accuracy, SOMETIMES a Luck stat, and maybe other varying factors.

And Zelda as well as tons of other games also have that - that it does only happen through equipment automatically contradicts the state of official RPGs as RPGs. Whether it is 1 or 2 stats less or not. People are trying to define an RPG so heavily focused on stats and stuff and cases that suddenly other RPGs also are no longer part of the pattern.

WarZidane
10-05-2017, 11:43 PM
In truth the argument is kind of pointless because people have their set definition of what is and is not an RPG, and nobody's going to convince them to change their definitions.

It's also why I usually try to stay out of "is Zelda an RPG" discussions, though I also usually fail at this :p

theundeadhero
10-06-2017, 12:31 AM
If we get to make up our own definitions, instead of using the ones defined by the people who define what the genres are, then I'm going to argue that Contra is an RPG. Because fuck you.

Laddy
10-06-2017, 04:34 AM
There are a lot of RPG's that don't use Experience systems, but their goal is a clearly-defined progression, perhaps through equipment, skill points, etc. I'd argue Vagrant Story rather cleverly uses these systems and is an RPG consequently.

In most entries barring II and BotW, Zelda isn't an RPG because new gameplay elements are usually handed to you more or less as the plot allows it, Link can choose to forego his skill in weaponry to be better at say, diplomacy? Stealth? Not really. There's elements there, but there's no way to really translate a majority of Zelda's elements to a tabletop role-playing game. Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy were inspired by Ultima, The Bard's Tale, and Wizardry and all five of these series were love letters to D&D, so even though a lot of their mechanics might not be as transparent as in D&D, they're built on a foundation on simulated dice rolls, skill checks, initiatives, etc.

EDIT: I would not be opposed to someone calling Overwatch an Action-RPG for this reason, every ability and weapon has clearly defined damage outputs that can interact with other abilities and criteria and knowing how they interact is not unlike a highly streamlined set of dice rolls and essential to getting good at the game.

Sephiroth
10-06-2017, 10:07 AM
...
In most entries barring II and BotW, ...

Breath of the Wild is Zelda's already existing RPG gameplay The Blunt Edition. Everything you could qualify BotW an RPG for already exists in one form or the other in other Zeldas. The Stamina bar as in Skyward Sword, the different and also improved gear, et cetera, et cetera.