The video game world offers many different genres for every type of gamer. Role playing games (commonly referred to as RPGs) have always been a very popular genre, although the classic games from days gone by differ somewhat from those that are played now.
Nowadays, the visuals have been updated to include higher resolution and improved graphics. In the early stages of development, however, two dimensional sprites were used for the characters in role playing games, and basic game play differed as well.
If you are getting interested in reliving the excitement and adventure of old school RPGs (or if you've never even played one before) here are three frequently asked questions you might be wondering about:
1. What Is a Role Playing Game Anyway?
Maybe you grew up playing classic adventure platform games, fighting games or shooters. Those retro games were quite popular in the 90s. However, role playing games, often dubbed as RPGs, are in a class all by themselves. In an RPG, you (the player) assumes the role of a main character, who is the protagonist or hero. You may act on your own or form a group of other party members. Game play is noticeably different from a classic side scrolling adventure.
The game mechanics may vary, but basically the player may use various weapons or magic spells as he or she journeys through an open world or a more linear direction. In order to progress through the story, the player will need to complete various quests and communicate with other characters he or she encounters along the way. These other characters will often provide clues as where to go next. Traveling through towns and dungeons will call for a good deal of strategy. If the player's party takes enough damage, party members could "die", and they might need to be "revived" at a designated place, typically a church.
2. How Does Role Playing Games of Yesterday Differ From Those of Today?
In any role playing game (modern or old school), combat will play an important aspect. These days many RPGs employ the active time battle system. This simply means the enemy will attack without waiting for the player to make a move. However, back in the early days of RPGs, most games utilized the command-based, or turn-based combat system.
In a turn-based retro RPG, the player and the enemies would have turns to make decisions regarding what actions to take in battle. The scenario might play out as follows: The hero encounters an enemy on the screen. Then the scene switches to battle mode. Either the enemy attacks first or the hero and his team get to make the first attack. When it's the Hero's turn, the player decides what action to take, using an assigned weapon from his or her inventory, or a magic spell. Sometimes the player would have the option to "run away", taking no damage, as the battle would end.
Game play was not the only difference in yesteryear's RPGs. The graphics were very different from what is seen in the new generation of games. In the early days of development, classic video game consoles did not have the power to integrate high resolution graphics. Instead, highly pixelated graphics were used. Colors also lacked the vibrancy seen in today's games. While the characters may not have appeared as realistic by today's standards, there was a lot of charm imbued into those retro RPGs, and many gamers still enjoy taking a trip down memory lane to relive the classics.
3. What Various Sub-Categories of RPGs Are There?
Whether you are speaking of retro classic role playing games or the newer generation of RPGs, you should note there are a few sub-categories of the genre. A fan favorite from days gone by (which is still being produced today) is the Japanese Role Playing Game, Commonly Referred to as a JRPG: The JRPG basically tells an unfolding story with well defined game play. These games originated in Japan.
Western role playing games (WRPGs) allow the player to create their own story so to speak, rather than follow a strictly linear path. These games were released to North America and are commonly played in the United States and Canada.
Action role playing games are generally not turn-based. Instead, it utilizes a hack and slash action.
Strategy role playing games (SRPGs) or tactical role playing games (TRPGs) utilizes different game play mechanics as well. Although played similar to turn based games, the strategy/tactical RPG allows players to move the characters during a turn. Often game play will take place a designed grid of sorts.
Now that you know more about classic retro RPGs, you can enjoy your highly acclaimed blast from the past. You can purchase the classics at a local retro gaming store or from specialty dealers online.