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Thread: You're not an RPG...

  1. #1
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Question You're not an RPG...

    So I was killing some time the other day on my 3DS and decided to browse the E-Shop when I noticed they had an RPG section and I had a few credits left to my name. So I decided to explore a bit and see if anything caught my attention. Now, anyone who has ever browsed through categories on a Nintendo system will know they play loose on some of the category terms, RPGs kind of being one of the most egregious examples. Still, I was kind of thrown off by some of the titles appearing in their list and nearly had a conniption fit when Mario Tennis was suggested. This of course got me thinking because even when I browse Steam or PSN I'll find several titles I wouldn't consider to be an RPG coming up in the suggestions. I often find that most of these companies liken the term RPG to the same standard as Action-Adventure, which is basically the video game equivalent of the terminology Fiction.

    This honestly shouldn't bother me, but the terminology of what an RPG actually is has been a long standing debate on this forum and the gaming community for many years, and it's a puzzle that I find myself coming back to from time to time. How do we actually define the genre and where do we draw the line? Are Visual Novels a sub-genre of RPGs? What about Zelda or the Metroidvania style Castlevania titles? Does it have to adhere strictly to the origin of paper-pencil games like D&D or should we take the term Role-Playing verbatim and thus all games where you play a character can be called an RPG?

    How do you define the genre and what would you consider the definition to be?

  2. #2
    Yes homo Mr. Carnelian's Avatar
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    It's hard to pin down exactly what I mean when I think of the term "RPG", but I know it when I see it.

  3. #3

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    It's hard for me say exactly what the requirements are, but I would generally say it at least has to be stat based in some way and involve stat growth. So visual novels are mostly out. I'd also be disinclined to regard a purely stat based game with no story as an RPG.

  4. #4

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    RPG stands for "role playing game" so I basically think of it as a story heavy game where you take the "role" of the protagonist. Despite this I wouldn't consider most VNs to be RPGs as they lack the gameplay element of the "playing" part of RPG (picking between choices isn't really enough to count as "gameplay" in my opinion; while I love VNs I find them closer to books than games). I would count the Zelda franchise as an RPG though because despite many titles being puzzle heavy the story is still important and there is a combat element to it. I agree with others that a RPG is easier to recognize than explain.

  5. #5

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    Ah, yes. My favorite RPG. Mario Tennis.




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  6. #6

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    There's like... Golf Story? And I recall there being a couple of racing RPGs back in the day. So it's feasible. But I do find it odd how we as a community use action-adventure as a catch-all, but the companies use RPG as a catch-all. I've noticed it myself

    Similar to how originally there were debates on what games should be called fighting games or beat'em up games. Since in both instances you are fighting or beating up people. Even hack'n'slash got debated in the same sphere

    It probably doesn't help that action-adventure games have recently been in bed with RPG mechanics. I remember Saints Row showing up in RPG lists on stores like XBL initially because of this. And people would probably happily argue that Assassin's Creed games may well fit into this category now. Zelda and Dark Souls aren't the only ambiguous titles anymore



  7. #7
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Iíd argue VNs are an offshoot if point and click adventure games actually. Meanwhile, RPGs are games that have some kind of character progression system. And thatís really where I draw the line. So yeah, pretty much all big budget games nowadays are RPGs. But Zelda and Vagrant Story are not RPGs, despite having JRPG/like aesthetics and story structure.

  8. #8

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    It's been awhile, but I'm pretty sure Vagrant Story has character progression? Term's kind of vague I guess but I remember cycling through NG+ and getting more and more powerful on each iteration, so that's gotta count for something. I would consider VS an RPG. It hits enough boxes for me....that was not intended as a pun on the many box puzzles in the game. I generally don't consider Zelda games to be RPGs, because if I considered the limited character progression in those games to meet the standard I would have to consider Megaman X an RPG and that's a bit too much for me.
    Last edited by Lord Golbez; 11-20-2018 at 11:53 AM.

  9. #9
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    You literally only get stronger by crafting equipment. It then gets better at damaging specific types of enemies the more you use it on them, so thatís why youíre stronger on NG+, but itís still not enough for me to classify it as an RPG. BotW has crafting, and yet itís still not an RPG

  10. #10

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    I'm 95% confident that's not true and that I've gotten stronger just running through the game without crafting any new equipment. I'm pretty sure you get other stat boosts through the game which accumulate on multiple times through, whether they be like tabs in Chrono Trigger or something that happens when you defeat bosses, but it's something besides equipment. Of course, even the affinities which grow based on fighting enemy types is probably good enough for me. It's definitely a richer growth system than is present in most Zelda games.

  11. #11
    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    So apparently thereís a stat wheel after boss fights in which you randomly raise a star. But itís still a random and rare enough occurrence that I would definitely not qualify it as a character progression system - especially when your main source of both dealing and protecting yourself from damage is the fear you craft. The game doesnít test how well you can plan your character and grind itís stats - it tests how you can use the materials you scavenge along the way to wreck things better. Itís a survival dungeon crawler, but Iíd never personally classify it as an RPG.

  12. #12

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    Except that if you play through the game several times, which is admittedly a bit cheap and an onerous way of grinding, you can increase those stats substantially. And, yes, it definitely makes a difference in combat. I've seen it. Just the fact that there is a way of grinding stats, even if it's sort of meta because you actually have to beat the game first and then play through it again to do the grinding, is good enough for me. Keep in mind too, that as unappealing as that method of grinding might sound, it's not worthless. The optional Iron Maiden section is considerably tougher than anything in the main game, so grinding that way can help in that area.
    Last edited by Lord Golbez; 11-20-2018 at 02:38 PM.

  13. #13
    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Honestly, I think at this point, RPG elements are so ubiquitous throughout the gaming industry that the term technically no longer works as a genre on its own. It's impossible to get a unified agreement on what an RPG is and it's almost as impossible to explain your definition and give solid reasons.

    For me these days it's just a feeling, I can immediately tell if I consider something an RPG or not, but I have no actual facts to base this feeling on.

    As an example, I wouldn't consider Breath of the Wild an RPG. Why? Is it just because it lacks levels? Horizon: Zero Dawn has levels and stats and skills, but I don't consider that an RPG either.

    Is it the gameplay style then? No, because I consider Deus Ex an RPG, and that plays like a first person shooter. Same with things like Mass Effect, they play like third person shooters but they're still RPGs.

    The focus on story? Nah, there are a lot of dungeon crawling RPGs out there that have little to no focus on story, see games like Etrian Odyssey.

    tldr: I can't explain it, I just feel it

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