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Action-adventure game

Action-adventure game

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Encyclopedia
An action-adventure game is a video game that combines elements of the adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 genre with various action game
Action game
Action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes diverse subgenres such as fighting games, shooter games, and platform games, which are widely considered the most important action games, though some...

 elements. It is perhaps the broadest and most diverse genre in gaming, and can include many games which might better be categorized under narrow genres. The first known game in this genre is the Atari 2600
Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

 game Adventure
Adventure (Atari 2600)
Adventure is a video game for the Atari 2600 video game console and is considered the first action-adventure game. Its creator, Warren Robinett, also introduced the first widely-known Easter egg to the gaming world.-History and design:...

(1979).

With the decline of the adventure game genre from mainstream popularity, the use of the term (and the hybrid term "action-adventure") has been more liberal. It is not uncommon for gamers to apply the term "adventure" or "action adventure" to describe the genre of fiction to which a game belongs, and not the gameplay itself.

There is a distinction between thematic genres and gameplay genres, as in this case they have very different meanings and etymology. "Adventure" is a reference to Colossal Cave Adventure
Colossal Cave Adventure
Colossal Cave Adventure gave its name to the computer adventure game genre . It was originally designed by Will Crowther, a programmer and caving enthusiast who based the layout on part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky...

and has no thematic or narrative meaning nor any connection to adventure movies. Similarly, while action games usually do have violent themes similar to action movies, this is not a requirement.

Action-adventure is a hybrid genre, and thus the definition is very inclusive, leading it to be perhaps the broadest genre of computer and video games. Typically, pure adventure games have situational problems for the player to solve, with very little or no action. If there is action, it is generally confined to isolated minigames. Pure action games have gameplay based on real-time interactions that challenge the reflexes. Therefore, action-adventure games engage both reflexes and problem-solving, in both violent and non-violent situations.

Definition


An action-adventure game can be defined as a game with a mix of elements from an action game
Action game
Action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes diverse subgenres such as fighting games, shooter games, and platform games, which are widely considered the most important action games, though some...

 and an adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

, especially crucial elements like puzzles. Action-adventures require many of the same physical skills as action games, but also offer a storyline, numerous characters, an inventory system, dialogue, and other features of adventure games. They are faster-paced than pure adventure games, because they include both physical and conceptual challenges. Action-adventure games normally include a combination of complex story elements, which are displayed for players using audio and video. The story is heavily reliant upon the player character
Player character
A player character or playable character is a character in a video game or role playing game who is controlled or controllable by a player, and is typically a protagonist of the story told in the course of the game. A player character is a persona of the player who controls it. Player characters...

's movement, which triggers story events and thus affects the flow of the game. Some examples of action-adventure games include The Legend of Zelda, God of War
God of War (series)
God of War is a series of action-adventure video games based on Greek mythology.The main trilogy—God of War I, II, & III—in the series were developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division , with Ready at Dawn Studios developing the PSP and Javaground the mobile phone installment...

, and Tomb Raider series.

Exactly when a game stops being an adventure game and becomes an action game is a matter of interpretation. There are quite a few disagreements in the community and in the media over what actually constitutes an action-adventure game. One definition of the term "action adventure" may be '"An action/adventure game is a game that has enough action in it not to be called an adventure game, but not enough action to be called an action game." In some cases an action game with puzzles will be classified as an action-adventure game, but if these puzzles are quite simple they might be classified as an action game. Others see action games as a pure genre, while an action-adventure is an action game that includes situational problem-solving. Adventure gamers may also be purists, rejecting any game that makes use of physical challenges or time pressure. Regardless, the action-adventure label is prominent in articles over the internet and media. The term "action-adventure" is usually substituted for a particular sub-genre due to its wide scope.

Sub-genres


Although action-adventure games are diverse and difficult to classify, there are some distinct sub-genres. Popular sub-genres include:
  • First-person action-adventure, which make use of first-person shooter
    First-person shooter
    First-person shooter is a video game genre that centers the gameplay on gun and projectile weapon-based combat through first-person perspective; i.e., the player experiences the action through the eyes of a protagonist. Generally speaking, the first-person shooter shares common traits with other...

     gameplay, forgoing constant action in favor of important adventure game elements such as environmental problem-solving and a complex plot. These are sometimes called Real-Time Adventure games or RTAs for short. A notable example of this is Metroid Prime
    Metroid Prime
    Metroid Prime is a video game developed by Retro Studios and Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube, released in North America on November 17, 2002...

    and System Shock
    System Shock
    System Shock is a first-person action-adventure video game developed by Looking Glass Technologies and published by Origin Systems. Released in 1994, the game is set aboard the fictional Citadel Station in a cyberpunk vision of 2072...

    .
  • Third-person action-adventure, in which gameplay is in the third-person. Notable examples include games like Rune, Severance: Blade of Darkness
    Severance: Blade of Darkness
    Severance: Blade of Darkness is a 2001 3D fighting third-person PC action-adventure game created by Rebel Act Studios and published by Codemasters. The original subtitle in direct translation from Spanish is Blade: The Edge of Darkness...

    and the Grand Theft Auto
    Grand Theft Auto (series)
    Grand Theft Auto is a multi-award-winning British video game series created in the United Kingdom by Dave Jones, then later by brothers Dan Houser and Sam Houser, and game designer Zachary Clarke. It is primarily developed by Edinburgh based Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games...

    series.
  • Hack and slash
    Hack and slash
    Hack and slash or hack and slay, abbreviated H&S or HnS, refers to a type of gameplay that emphasizes combat. "Hack and slash" was originally used to describe an aspect of pen-and-paper role-playing games , carrying over from there to MUDs, MMORPGs, and video games in general...

    , which incorporate action-adventure exploration with combat systems similar to beat 'em up
    Beat 'em up
    Beat 'em up is a video game genre featuring melee combat between the protagonist and a large number of underpowered antagonists. These games typically take place in urban settings and feature crime-fighting and revenge-based plots, though some games may employ historical or fantasy themes...

     or fighting game
    Fighting game
    Fighting game is a video game genre where the player controls an on-screen character and engages in close combat with an opponent. These characters tend to be of equal power and fight matches consisting of several rounds, which take place in an arena. Players must master techniques such as...

    s. Examples include Devil May Cry
    Devil May Cry
    is an action game developed and published by Capcom, released in 2001 for the PlayStation 2. Although it is the first game in the series of the same name, the events in Devil May Cry are second in the series storyline's chronological order, taking place after Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening and...

    , Onimusha, the 3D Castlevania
    Castlevania
    Castlevania, known as in Japan, is a video game series created and developed by Konami. The series debuted in Japan on September 26, 1986, with the release of for the Family Computer Disk System , followed by an alternate version for the MSX 2 platform on October 30...

    games, and God of War
    God of War (series)
    God of War is a series of action-adventure video games based on Greek mythology.The main trilogy—God of War I, II, & III—in the series were developed by Sony Computer Entertainment's Santa Monica division , with Ready at Dawn Studios developing the PSP and Javaground the mobile phone installment...

    .
  • Isometric platform games, which feature freely explorable environments with three-dimensional gameplay and two-dimensional graphics using an isometric projection.
  • Sandbox
    Open world
    An open world is a type of video game level design where a player can roam freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in choosing how to approach objectives...

    , which focus on nonlinear gameplay in an open world. Notable examples include The Legend of Zelda
    The Legend of Zelda
    The Legend of Zelda, originally released as in Japan, is a video game developed and published by Nintendo, and designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka. Set in the fantasy land of Hyrule, the plot centers on a boy named Link, the playable protagonist, who aims to collect the eight fragments...

    , CotD and the Grand Theft Auto
    Grand Theft Auto (series)
    Grand Theft Auto is a multi-award-winning British video game series created in the United Kingdom by Dave Jones, then later by brothers Dan Houser and Sam Houser, and game designer Zachary Clarke. It is primarily developed by Edinburgh based Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games...

    series.
  • Platform-adventure games, which emphasize both exploration and puzzle solving, but also feature traditional platform game conventions. The most famous games of this type are the "Metroidvania" games.
  • Stealth games, which emphasize avoiding detection by enemies rather than engaging them in direct combat, leading to a greater emphasis on exploration and puzzle-solving than other types of action games. A prime example of this is the Metal Gear
    Metal Gear
    Metal Gear is a series of video games.Metal Gear may also refer to:*Metal Gear , bipedal tanks appearing in the Metal Gear series-Metal Gear video game series:...

    franchise which helped establish this sub-genre.
  • Survival horror game
    Survival horror game
    Survival horror is a subgenre of action-adventure video games inspired by horror fiction. These games make the player vulnerable by providing them with less ammunition and fewer heavy weapons than other action games...

    s
    , which emphasize "inventory management" and making sure the player has enough ammunition and recovery items to "survive" the horror setting. Survival-horror is a thematic genre with diverse gameplay, however, so not all survival horror games share these features. The Resident Evil franchise popularized this sub-genre and stands to date as the most popular franchise of its kind.

Gameplay



Action-adventure games are faster paced than pure adventure games, and include physical as well as conceptual challenges where the story is enacted rather than narrated. While motion-based, often reflexive, actions are required, the gameplay still follows a number of adventure game genre tropes (gathering item
Item (game)
In pencil and paper games and computer and video games, an item is an object within the game world that can be collected by a player or, occasionally, a non-player character...

s, exploration of and interaction with one's environment, often including an overworld
Overworld
An overworld is, in a broad sense, an area within a video game that interconnects all its levels or locations. They are mostly common in role-playing games, though this does not exclude other video game genres....

 connecting areas of importance, and puzzle-solving). While the controls are arcade-style (character movement, few action commands) there is an ultimate goal beyond a high score. In most action-adventure games, the player controls a single avatar
Avatar (computing)
In computing, an avatar is the graphical representation of the user or the user's alter ego or character. It may take either a three-dimensional form, as in games or virtual worlds, or a two-dimensional form as an icon in Internet forums and other online communities. It can also refer to a text...

 as the protagonist
Protagonist
A protagonist is the main character of a literary, theatrical, cinematic, or musical narrative, around whom the events of the narrative's plot revolve and with whom the audience is intended to most identify...

. This type of game is often quite similar to computer role-playing games.

They are distinct from graphic adventures
Graphic adventure game
A graphic adventure game is a form of adventure game. They are distinct from text adventures. Whereas a player must actively observe using commands such as "look" in a text-based adventure, graphic adventures revolutionized gameplay by making use of natural human perception...

, which sometimes have free-moving central characters, but also wider variety of commands and fewer or no arcade game elements and are distinct too from text adventures, characterized by many different commands introduced by the user via a complex text parser
Text parser
In an adventure game, a text parser takes typed input from the player and simplifies it to something the game can understand. Usually, words with the same meaning are turned into the same word and certain filler words are dropped .The parser makes it easier for the game's author to react on input...

 and no free-moving character. While they share general gameplay dynamics, action-adventures vary widely in the design of their viewpoints, including bird's eye
Bird's-eye view
A bird's-eye view is an elevated view of an object from above, with a perspective as though the observer were a bird, often used in the making of blueprints, floor plans and maps.It can be an aerial photograph, but also a drawing...

, side scrolling, first-person, third-person
Third-person shooter
Third-person shooter is a genre of 3D action games in which the player character is visible on-screen, and the gameplay consists primarily of shooting.-Definition:...

, over-the-shoulder, or even a 3/4 isometric view.

Many action-adventure games simulate a conversation through a conversation tree
Conversation tree
A dialog tree or conversation tree is a gameplay mechanic that is used throughout many adventure games and role-playing video games. When interacting with a non-player character, the player is given a choice of what to say and makes subsequent choices until the conversation ends...

. When the player encounters a non-player character
Non-player character
A non-player character , sometimes known as a non-person character or non-playable character, in a game is any fictional character not controlled by a player. In electronic games, this usually means a character controlled by the computer through artificial intelligence...

, they are allowed to select a choice of what to say. The NPC gives a scripted response to the player, and the game offers the player several new ways to respond.

Due to the action-adventure sub-genre's broad inclusive nature it causes some players to having difficulty finishing a particular game. To compensate for this lack of the player's ability, companies have devised ways to give the player help, such as helpful clues, or allowing them to skip puzzles outright.

History


The history of the action-adventure genre began with the text-based Colossal Cave Adventure
Colossal Cave Adventure
Colossal Cave Adventure gave its name to the computer adventure game genre . It was originally designed by Will Crowther, a programmer and caving enthusiast who based the layout on part of the Mammoth Cave system in Kentucky...

(1976), which was the first adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

 ever created. First written for the PDP-10
PDP-10
The PDP-10 was a mainframe computer family manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation from the late 1960s on; the name stands for "Programmed Data Processor model 10". The first model was delivered in 1966...

, it was later ported to countless other platforms, including the Atari 2600
Atari 2600
The Atari 2600 is a video game console released in October 1977 by Atari, Inc. It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in...

 video game console
Video game console
A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or customized computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to display a video game...

, on which it was renamed to Adventure
Adventure (Atari 2600)
Adventure is a video game for the Atari 2600 video game console and is considered the first action-adventure game. Its creator, Warren Robinett, also introduced the first widely-known Easter egg to the gaming world.-History and design:...

(1979) and contained graphical elements. In 1978, a programmer for Atari
Atari
Atari is a corporate and brand name owned by several entities since its inception in 1972. It is currently owned by Atari Interactive, a wholly owned subsidiary of the French publisher Atari, SA . The original Atari, Inc. was founded in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. It was a pioneer in...

, Warren Robinett
Warren Robinett
Joseph Warren Robinett, Jr. is a designer of interactive computer graphics software, notable as the developer of the Atari 2600's Adventure — the first graphical adventure video game — and as a founder of The Learning Company, where he designed Rocky's Boots and Robot Odyssey...

, was given the task of transferring Colossal Cave Adventure to the Atari 2600. With the new iteration, Atari planned to allow the player to fight in combat, thus leading to the first action-adventure game. Later, Silas Warner
Silas Warner
Silas Warner was a game programmer and the first employee of Muse Software. Among other games, he created Castle Wolfenstein and Beyond Castle Wolfenstein....

 arrived at Muse Software
Muse Software
Muse Software was a software and computer game publisher and developer for the first generation of home computers. They first published for the Apple II, and later expanded to the Commodore 64, Atari, and the IBM PC....

, where he developed Castle Wolfenstein
Castle Wolfenstein
Castle Wolfenstein is an early stealth-based action-adventure shooter computer game developed by Muse Software for the Apple II. It was first released in 1981 and later ported to DOS, the Atari 8-bit family, and the Commodore 64.- Description :...

, an action-adventure game that would inspire iD Software
Id Software
Id Software is an American video game development company with its headquarters in Richardson, Texas. The company was founded in 1991 by four members of the computer company Softdisk: programmers John Carmack and John Romero, game designer Tom Hall, and artist Adrian Carmack...

 to create Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D
Wolfenstein 3D is a video game that is generally regarded by critics and gaming journalists as having both popularized the first-person shooter genre on the PC and created the basic archetype upon which all subsequent games of the same genre would be built. It was created by id Software and...

. According to Roe R. Adams (who worked on the Wizardry
Wizardry
Wizardry is a series of computer role-playing games, developed by Sir-Tech, which were highly influential in the development of modern console and computer role playing games. The original Wizardry was a significant influence to early console RPGs, such as Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. ...

series of RPGs
Role-playing video game
Role-playing video games are a video game genre with origins in pen-and-paper role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons, using much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. The player in RPGs controls one character, or several adventuring party members, fulfilling one or many quests...

), early action-adventures "were basically arcade game
Arcade game
An arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars, and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, and merchandisers...

s done in a fantasy
Fantasy
Fantasy is a genre of fiction that commonly uses magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. Many works within the genre take place in imaginary worlds where magic is common...

 setting," pointing to Castlevania
Castlevania
Castlevania, known as in Japan, is a video game series created and developed by Konami. The series debuted in Japan on September 26, 1986, with the release of for the Family Computer Disk System , followed by an alternate version for the MSX 2 platform on October 30...

, Trojan
Trojan (video game)
is a side-scrolling action game produced by Capcom originally released as a coin operated video game in . The arcade version was distributed in North America by Romstar. A home version for the Nintendo Entertainment System was released during the same year. The original coin-op version is included...

and Wizards & Warriors as examples.

The action-adventure later became an established genre with Shigeru Miyamoto
Shigeru Miyamoto
is a Japanese video game designer and producer. Miyamoto was born and raised in Kyoto Prefecture; the natural surroundings of Kyoto inspired much of Miyamoto's later work....

's The Legend of Zelda (1986), which became a success due to how it combined elements from different genres to create a compelling hybrid, including exploration, transport puzzle
Transport puzzle
Transport puzzles are logistical puzzles, which often represent real-life transport problems.-Description:In transport puzzles you move persons and/or objects through a given landscape. As in rearrangement puzzles, no piece is ever lost or added to the board...

s, adventure-style inventory puzzles, an action component, a monetary system
Monetary system
A monetary system is anything that is accepted as a standard of value and measure of wealth in a particular region.However, the current trend is to use international trade and investment to alter the policy and legislation of individual governments. The best recent example of this policy is the...

, and simplified RPG-style level building
Level Up
Level Up was a UK children's TV programme that was broadcast on CBBC. It was launched on the 3rd April 2006, replacing Xchange. The show was an hour long and during the school year broadcasting from 7:30am until 8:30am...

 without the experience point
Experience point
An experience point is a unit of measurement used in many role-playing games and role-playing video games to quantify a player character's progression through the game...

s. The game was also an early example of open world
Open world
An open world is a type of video game level design where a player can roam freely through a virtual world and is given considerable freedom in choosing how to approach objectives...

, nonlinear gameplay, and introduced innovations like saving
Saved game
A saved game is a piece of digitally stored information about the progress of a player in a video game. This saved game can be reloaded later, so the player can continue where he or she had stopped...

 on battery backup. It became one of the most influential games of the 8-bit era
History of video game consoles (third generation)
In the history of computer and video games, the third generation began on July 15, 1983, with the Japanese release of both the Nintendo Family Computer and Sega SG-1000...

, inspiring later action-adventures like Metroid
Metroid
is an action-adventure video game, and the first entry in the Metroid series. It was co-developed by Nintendo's Research and Development 1 division and Intelligent Systems, and was released in Japan in August 1986, in North America in August 1987, and in Europe in January 1988...

and RPGs like Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy
is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and is developed and owned by Square Enix . The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science-fantasy role-playing video games , but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise...

. The action-adventure game genre has gone on to become more popular than the pure adventure game
Adventure game
An adventure game is a video game in which the player assumes the role of protagonist in an interactive story driven by exploration and puzzle-solving instead of physical challenge. The genre's focus on story allows it to draw heavily from other narrative-based media such as literature and film,...

s and pure platform
Platform game
A platform game is a video game characterized by requiring the player to jump to and from suspended platforms or over obstacles . It must be possible to control these jumps and to fall from platforms or miss jumps...

 action game
Action game
Action game is a video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes diverse subgenres such as fighting games, shooter games, and platform games, which are widely considered the most important action games, though some...

s that influenced them.