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Yeah. I agree generally with the P&P mechanics. I don’t have much to add there.

So I’ll talk about the weirdness of sub genres and hybrid genres that often share the same names… as well as some widely held misconceptions about the genre due to naming conventions, like the misapplication of the RPG label to other genres (mainly by Nintendo fans during the N64 and Gamecube eras… I generally hung around Nintendo communities back then), and also the popularization of the term “JRPG” during the PS2 era.

While Dragon Quest is often considered the first RPG, there were games before it that used to used alternative means to simulate mechanics. The early Wizardry games used written commands instead of menu selection and such, and they also used out-of game manuals to describe the story - some people get confused thinking Dragon Quest lifted the mechanics off of Wizardry because they played the Japanese remakes/remasters of Wizardry that replaced the original mechanics with those from Dragon Quest; menus, HP, and such. For example, if you played a gaming console version of Wizardry, it wasn’t the original, but a Japanese remake. Also, it’s worth noting that Wizardry is WAY bigger in Japan than anywhere else. Anyway, the point being that Wizardry falls in the early phase of RPGs, while Dragon Quest 1 was probably the first feature complete RPG. If you know punk music, Wizardry is Velvet Underground, Ultima is the Stooges, Dragon Quest is like the Ramones, and Dragon Quest 3 is the Sex Pistols - the console remakes of Wizardry are like if the Ramones covered Velvet Underground songs. If that makes sense—to explain a little, The Stooges and Velvet Underground came about earlier, and are often considered punk or proto-punk because of the similarities, but The Ramones were really the first to put the full package together, and The Sex Pistols are the ones that gave it the coat of paint.

And while some like to pretend that RPGs in Japan are a different genre, they’re not. This is both a false distinction and an oversimplification. Mechanically, non-Japanese developers took a lot of inspiration from what Japanese devs were doing, and vice versa. There are a variety of different flavours of RPG in every country. It’s an oversimplification because everywhere RPGs are made there are wide varieties of flavour—particularly Japan, because the genre is traditionally much more popular there, almost as popular as the rest of the world combined—sometimes more, depending on the period. Japan also hybridizes more genres, including genres like pro-wrestling and baseball, and that was by the 1980s - another thing: many western pro-wrestling games are actually created by Japanese devs using western licenses: this even includes the N64’s Wrestlemania 2000, No Mercy, and the PS2’s Def Jam Vendetta.

I’d also say Strategy-RPGs Action-RPGs can be both a hybrid genre and a sub-genre.
For example: Fire Emblem games, particularly the older ones are more of a hybrid genre being that their core mechanics and experience are made up of elements of strategy games and RPGs - but a game like Final Fantasy Tactics or Lunar SSS are more like RPGs that have battle systems involving strategy. The distinction being that the strategy elements in those games are a part of the RPG battle system. Fire Emblem is a much deeper strategy game, and like strategy games you will probably lose several characters over the course of the game, and they will be replaced by fresh characters later on. Later FE games kinda got rid of the strategy elements and don’t even properly balance for them anymore - so I’d say the Awakening and onward series is less a hybrid and more a sub-genre of RPG.

With action RPGs, Witcher 3 is more of a hybrid Action-RPG while something like Secret of Mana is a sub-genre. The reason being that the action elements hold almost no consequence in Secret of Mana, it’s really an RPG where you just occasionally hit the weapon button when the meter fills. In Witcher 3, the action elements are quite important for the battles.

Games like Zelda and Illusion of Time are solid action-adventure games. I’ve seen them described as RPGs, but this largely came as a console wars response to the “N64 lacks RPGs” criticisms during the 1990s, and claimed that action-adventure games were in fact RPGs, so that they could say Ocarina of Time was an RPG like Final Fantasy 7, Suikoden, and Xenogears. People went so far as to say “Metroid is an RPG because it’s a game where you play the role of Samus” - which, if true, expands the definition of RPG so far that it becomes meaningless, because then almost every genre would be an RPG.

Although, during the NES/SNES era there was no mistaking Legend of Zelda or Link to the Past as RPGs - Adventure of Link was considered a hybrid action RPG because Link had HP, MP, and leveled up with experience points. In fact, the confusion was around RPGs like Secret of Mana, which was clearly an RPG, but most people weren’t familiar with RPGs using action mechanics at the time, so it was kind of wrapped in under the greater “Epic” category, that was a 1990s marketing term for fantasy and scifi games, especially RPGs, adventures, action-adventures—although, sometimes games like Story of Seasons on SNES (then localized as Harvest Moon prior to the localization team hijacking the Harvest Moon branding).

I describe myself as a little dose of toxic masculinity.