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Thread: Is The Legend of Zelda an RPG?

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Smile Is The Legend of Zelda an RPG?

    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?

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    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.


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    Sh♥tposter Extraordinaire Jinx's Avatar
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    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.
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    Taking care of business Cid's Knight Bubba's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
    Action game with RPG elements.
    Pretty much this. You could say it has puzzle elements too.
    Last edited by Bubba; 10-02-2017 at 08:22 AM.

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    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    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.

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    Watching from the Stars Sephiroth's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by Sephiroth; 10-01-2017 at 09:19 PM.

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    When there's a TOP RPG List then all of a sudden it is.





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    Ghost of Christmas' past theundeadhero's Avatar
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    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.

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    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    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.

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    Nah, very few of the elements of tabletop role-playing are there, excepting II and BotW.



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    Watching from the Stars Sephiroth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    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.
    Last edited by Sephiroth; 10-02-2017 at 04:37 PM.

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    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sephiroth View Post
    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.

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    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sephiroth View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    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.

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

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    Watching from the Stars Sephiroth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
    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.
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