Ahhh, the opening of Final Fantasy, I remember it fondly. Final Fantasy on the NES was the first RPG I ever played, and I look back on it to this very day with a fondness that can barely be described in words. But, I say this with gusto, the NES version of Final Fantasy was HARD. But enough reminiscing, let’s get started.
RPG, as I said before, stands for Role Playing Game (Think Dungeons and Dragons type thing). That is actually where they stem from. Before the days of Pixels and 1s and 0s, there was Pen and Paper. The modern RPG has it’s roots deeply rooted in the pen and paper RPG ala DND. But things have changed drastically since the early days of the RPG.
In the early days, RPGs were purely text based. One of the most well known text based RPGs was a game called Zork. (which can be found here). The entire game based around a single setting. You see a mailbox. What do? Then, the user would input text based around what he wants his character to do (IE Open Mailbox). And thus, the RPG was born.
After the Text based RPG was around for a while, a wonderful thing called graphics was born, and thus began the modern RPG.
What your eyeholes see before you is Legend of Zelda, one of the first graphical RPGs ever, and also a classic that is often played to this very day. This took place on the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) One of the consoles in what we call the 8-bit generation. The graphics are blocky, the narrative is minimal, and the gameplay is simple. Thus is the way of the old school RPG.
As the years passed after Zelda became a hit, the RPG began to grow. Instead of controlling a single character, you controlled the destiny of a party of characters, like Final Fantasy. Plots began to get more involved, instead of continuing your quest just to save the princess, there were galaxies at stake, lives in your hands or even Pokemon to catch! (Yes, Pokemon is considered an RPG.)
Now, lets look at the modern RPG, say, one of my personal Favorites Dragon Age Origins. Instead of the simple “save the princess,” the player is cast in the character of the “Grey Warden.” The player character, through his dialogue choices, is able to shape the way the world sees his character, the way the world reacts to his character, and the way the world is shaped because of the characters actions.
Here’s a good review of the game, that gives a good idea as to how the game works.
And this is how the modern RPG works. Often times it involves the main character working through a storyline, or not, and shaping the dynamics of a world, be it Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic or Elder Scrolls : Oblivion.
One last thing ill bring to light before finishing up: There are really two basic types of RPGs: The Modern RPG and the J-RPG.
J-PRG stands for Japanese RPG, like Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts. The J-RPG is less about the players interaction with the world, and the influence they make, but more about plot. You’ll find that most JRPGs have a very fixed plot with lots of cutscenes, telling the story and showing the various characters. Look at Final Fantasy XIII for example: most of the maps that the gameplay is on are completely linear, meaning the player just moves forward and gets into fights with monsters and fights them, in order to continue the plot. JRPGs focus VERY heavily on characters, and on script. This is where I think part of the artistic value of video games really resides: In characters that make you feel feelings and in plots that make you want to continue playing.
The modern RPG is like I described before. Looking at games like Fable or Fallout, that give the player a lot of freedom to play the game however they want to play it. You’ll find that these games follow less of a set story, feature less cutscenes than J-RPGs and give the player a lot more leeway in how they want to play their lives out. The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, for example, lets the player create a character from scratch, and basically do whatever they want, you could spend 110 hours in-game playing without so much as even looking at the main story.’
But, like most things I will bring up, playing RPGs is a matter of preference mostly. If you like structured story, almost like reading a book or watching a movie, I would recommend J-RPGs (Especially Kingdom HEars, my favortie game of all time). But, if you’re looking for an immersive experience, then I would recommend a modern RPG, like Dragon Age or The Elder Scrolls. Or, maybe RPGs aren’t your thing at all, honestly, you have to like stories to like RPGs, maybe you’d rather just shoot things.
STOP RIGHT THERE, CRIMINAL SCUM!,
PS: This is Stick RPG, a basic RPG playable straight from your Browser! Yaaaaaay! I would recommend trying it out, it’s quite funny.