The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages/Gameplay
The Legend of Zelda series is officially an action-adventure game. Still, it features all the aspects of a role-playing video game. This genre is characterized by three aspects:
- Text rich: the character has to interact and dialogue with non-playable characters in order to advance in the game; it would be nearly impossible to complete the game if it was in a language the player is unable to understand.
- Freedom of exploration: the character can freely backrack to any previous location at any time, and has a certain degree of freedom as to which dstination to choose next (following the hints from dialogue is generally best).
- Permanent upgrades: the character has some attributes (Hearts/HP, Sword level/attack, etc.) that receive permanent upgrades; unlike most role-playing games, attribute growth is independent from any experience point, that are actually absent from the game.
The lack of experience points has some advantages compared to American role-playing games: no need to spend long time grinding; less sharp differences between "early" and "late" monsters give more freedom of exploration; a character described by less "numbers" (the attributes) is more realistic.
In particular, The Legend of Zelda would correspond to the Japanese RPG sub-genre, that is more focused on plot development (i.e. the "text rich" aspect), and where character development (i.e. the "permanent upgrades" aspect) is secondary.