Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New Master Game List ("What is a CRPG?" Revisited)

There was so much discussion on my master game listing posting over the last few weeks that I decided to take the time to review the list. I ended up cross-checking it against numerous sources (MobyGames, Wikipedia, GOG, a couple of independent sites) and updating it through the end of 2011. I also tried to nail down the specific release dates for the games. The result was a new, updated Google spreadsheet. I did my best to eliminate MMORPGs with no single-player mode and collections, but a few might have sneaked by.

The list now has 1,155 games. I will not, of course, be playing all of them. A game appears on my list if anyone lists it as an RPG; whether I play it will be determined by whether I think it's an RPG when I reach it.

In one of my earliest "special topics" postings, I asked "What Is a CRPG?" I covered a few definitions from elsewhere on the web and offered some of my own suggestions (many of which helped inform my GIMLET a few weeks later). The various definitions on the web are mostly similar. Three key points that show up repeatedly are:

  • That the player "plays a role" does not make the game a "role-playing game." There are plenty of shooters and adventure games in which you "play a role." The "RP" part of "CRPG" doesn't derive so much from the presence of role-playing so much as seeing CRPGs as a direct adaptation of pen-and-paper RPGs.
  • Player-driven character development is a key element. As MobyGames's glossary puts it, "a role-playing game can be seen as such when player-controlled characters become stronger because of the player's actions rather than being upgraded automatically as dictated by the storyline."
  • Combat is driven by probabilities and statistics rather than player skill or speed with the controller. Granted, some action RPGs include skill and speed as an element, but almost all of them depend at least partly on statistics derived from inventory and attributes.

In a 2007 posting on Armchair Arcade, Matt Barton tackled the question by looking at many games that we call "RPGs" and analyzing them for their common characteristics. He didn't come to a final "definition," but that wasn't really his purpose. Instead, he listed 12 characteristics common to "RPGs" but suggested that a game need not have all of them to fit within the category. This approach informs my own. I'm not looking to establish absolute criteria but rather a set of shared characteristics that a game must have "most of" to appear on my list. In a posting on War in Middle Earth, I distilled my own list down to three items:

1. Inventories not dependent on puzzle-solving. This term confuses some people, but I don't know any other way to say it. Here, I'm contrasting CRPGs to adventure games, which have "inventories," but the items you pick up are meant to be used in some way at a particular location to advance the game. CRPGs, on the other hand, let you load up your inventories with weapons, potions, scrolls, and other items to use whenever you want.

2. Player-driven leveling and development. It's "player-driven" if the player can exercise some choice on how fast to level (e.g., "grinding"), how to improve the character (other than through inventory improvements), or both.

3. Combat based at least partly on probabilities and statistics, as derived from character attributes, as I discussed above.

Games only need have two of these three elements for me to consider it a CRPG. Plenty of games only have two. Galdregon's Domain, which I just finished, didn't have any leveling and development. Wizardry IV did, but it wasn't player-driven. Paladin didn't have any player-controlled inventory. Starflight's combat was all based on your aim and ability to hit the SPACE bar at the right time. But each of these games had the other two.

Aside from the question of whether a game is an RPG, there are a few other reasons I might not play it:

  • I can't find it. It's only happened a few times, but sometimes a game simply no longer exists anywhere.
  • Technical limitations keep me from playing it. DOSBox has been a god-send, but I worry that when I get into some of the early Windows games, I'll run into a host of tech problems.
  • The game is only available in a foreign language, and I can't make heads or tails of it. I tried gamely with Le Maitre des Ames and Tera, but I didn't finish them despite knowing a little French. My list has a lot of Japanese and Chinese games that I have put there optimistically, but I can't say for sure what will happen when I reach them.

That said, I continue to welcome your comments on the master game list, particularly on the following issues:

  • A game that I'm missing. I've discovered there are a lot of independent games that don't show up on any of the existing master lists. I welcome their inclusion, but please ensure that they meet two of the three criteria above.
  • Games on the list that don't meet two of the above three criteria. I might not delete it immediately just on your say-so, but I'll make a note of it, and if I get multiple comments on the same game, I'll investigate and make a decision.
  • Corrections to release dates. This has been a huge pain in the neck. For many of the 1990s games, the original release dates have been lost. The release date I care about is its original platform. If the DOS or Windows version had a different release year, I note it in the adjacent column.
  • Your opinions on expansions and DLCs. This has also been a huge pain in the neck. Generally, I have listed them as separate games if they are meant to be played after the main quest and introduce significant new plot material. I have listed them with the original game if they just offer upgrades or side-quests within the main plot. But in doing either, I'm relying on MobyGames's or Wikipedia's descriptions, so it would be good to hear from people who have actually played.

In the future, I might expand the list with other columns such as the publisher and such, but I've been working on it too much lately, so I think I'll leave it as it is for now. Thank you all for your contributions!


  1. I would not separate Deus Ex: HR from it's DLC Missing Link. The DLC takes place in the middle of the story line.

    E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy is not much of an RPG, although it does have pretty extensive levelling. It doesn't have inventory and no stat based combat if I remember correctly. It was a while since I played it and I never got very far since it kept crashing. It is also server-based, so chances are pretty high that you never will play it anyway.

    Spellforce-series is a bit odd since you more or less have two genres merged in the same game (RTS + RPG). There are about half levels that emphasise RTS more and other half more RPG. And the RPG-levels are pretty boring, IMO.

    1. Awesome. That bit about Deux Ex is just what I was looking for. Sometimes it's hard to tell from the online description. I've combined them.

      I'll hold on to "E.Y.E." for now (in all likelihood, I'll die before I get to it).

    2. EYE's combat is affected by your character stats, but like a lot of other things about the game (which is really strange even before you deal with the iffy translation from French), it's not entirely clear by how much.

    3. Actually, it also has an inventory, but said inventory is mostly about weapon loadout (which is fully customizable). There are also research and cybernetic augmentation systems that are really poorly explained but would probably constitute RPG-ish character advancement.

  2. Hi. First of all, let me say that while this would be my first comment around here, I've been reading the blog for a while now, catching up from the start. And I must say, it has been really, really enjoyable, and you've been doing some excellent writing. I really admire your dedication to play all these old games I wish I had the drive to play myself but probably never will as I consider myself too much of a spoiled brat with more recent games, in terms of controls/interface, if not graphics and such.

    Here's some comments on some games from the list, hope you find them helpful when you reach around to those parts.

    Disciples III: Renaissance & Disciples III: Resurrection - I don't think Ressurection has an English release at this point, but it could very well receive one by the time you get around to that year :). On the Disciples series as whole, not a whole lot of RPG elements, heroes and units gain xp, there's inventories and whatnot, the story is semi descent, but there's nothing really beyond that. Combat is TB though and can be fun. Btw, it's strange you have both Disciples 3 on the list, but not Disciples:Sacred Lands (1999), Disciples II: Dark Prophesy (2002), Disciples II: Galean's Return (a compilation of the first 2 expansions, Guardians of Light and Servants of the Dark) (2005 for the compilation, but both of these exp. packs were out in 2003) or Disciples II: Rise of the Elves (2003). If you bother with the series, I think the gog release of Disciples 2 has bundled all of the expansions with the original game.

    Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II -- Retribution Spore
    Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II
    Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II - The Rise of the Witch-King
    Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne
    Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos
    Imperivm III: The Great Battles of Rome (a standalone expansion pack to Celtic Kings: Rage of War)
    Celtic Kings: Rage of War
    I believe all of these are pure RTS games, nothing remotely RPGish about them, except maybe the presence of hero units which can gain some levels over a path the player has little choise in

    Warlords: Battlecry I, II, III - again, RTS games, but there is a much bigger presence of the hero, who is persistent between all maps. The first two have pretty fun levelling options which many an RPG could envy (in my opinion), with skills, spells, stats and whatnots available for purchase at level up. The last one not so much.

    Warlords IV: Heroes of Etheria - mostly the same it's RTS siblings, but with turnbased and not so rich in hero development. I've heard the earlier games are good, with Warlords III being probably best of the series, but never tried them.

    Knights of Honor - not even remotely RPG. It's a strategy game, reminds me of Civilization but in real time. It is good and fun though.

    1. Warcraft III has hero units that gain levels and have inventories. However, it is indeed a RTS.

    2. Glad to have you with me, LelqTian. Thanks for all the comments.

      As I responded to someone else, I think I'm going to adopt a policy of keeping a game on my list if it has ANY of my three elements, but make a note to evaluate it myself when I get there. As for why I had the third game but not the other two, it was simply because MobyGames listed the third one as an RPG but not the first two. DId anything change in the gameplay that would justify this variance?

      I made notes on all the others. I've LOVED all the Warlords games, so I'm going to hold onto them using my justification that I can break the rules whenever I want.

      I guess a key question is whether I should regard a "hero unit" as a persistent character that makes the game enough of an RPG to play.

    3. Hero units were a new addition to Warcraft 3 and the previous games don't have even remote RPG elements.

    4. Dawn of War II's singleplayer campaigns play a lot like Warhammer-themed Diablo, if you controlled four characters/squads in those. They've removed most of the RTS elements (though Retribution does let you build support squads and vehicles), and each of your heroes have skill trees to go down as they gain experience over the course of the campaign. There are also randomized equipment drops in addition to mission-specific rewards.

    5. If you liked warlords you should try heroes of might and magic when you get to that. Not really a crpg but a strategy game set in a crpg world with crpg elements. Also with your love for might and magic you may have a good amount of fun with it.

    6. Your list of three characteristics that CRPGs share has a weakness in that it is exclusive - it tells you what games are probably not RPGs. But there are games, like let's say Warcraft 3, that contain all three elements:
      1. Non puzzle based inventory - six item slots but still.
      2. Player driven hero development - simple one: you pick skills on lvl-up, statistics increase automaticaly.
      3. Combat based on statistics - each hit deals random damage in given range relative to statistics and multiple combat modifications are in action.
      Despite that Warcraft 3 in definitely an archetypal RTS game with RPG elements that are important but don't affect gameplay radically.

      My point is don't worry about games you will blog about around 2072. Sometimes games are only dressed with CRPG elements while still being purely adventure/shooter/strategy/whatever. Sometimes games that were not adverised as being an RPG can in fact count as one. And sometimes the genre borders are so blurry that any discussion about it is strictly academical.

      Keep the master list as it is (if someone claims it's an RPG it might be true) and just use common sense when approaching a dubious title. When a game does not play like RPG it is not one. Period.

    7. Pssst, Walen; Want to help me preserve Chet's brain in a tank, so he can keep playing until 2072? I'm sure he won't turn into the homicidal dictator of the world or anything like that.

  3. Heroes of Might and Magic - again, it's a turn based strategy. I've read of your desire to go through it, as some parts of it have some story crossovers with certain Might&Magic titles (starting with MM6) in which case you should consider playing HMM2 and 3, I don't think IV has anything do with any of the MMs, except maybe remotely with IX. I also don't remember HMM1 having any story whatsoever, but I could be wrong. HMM5 or 6 have nothing to do with the rest of them. In any case, I think they were many ones missing from your list, so here's a full one of just the HMM series :
    Heroes of Might and Magic : A Strategic Quest (1995)
    HMM2: The Succesion Wars (1996) with expansion the Price of Loyalty (1997)
    HMM3: Restoration of Erathia (1999) with expansions Armageddon's Blade (1999) and The Shadow of Death (2000)
    HMM4 (2002) with expansions The Gathering Storm (2002) and Winds of War (2003)
    HMM5 (2006) with expansions Hammers of Fate (2006) and Tribes of the East (2007)
    Heroes Chronicles (2000)- is a series of standalone games, consisting of 8 campaigns each along 5 retail releases and 2 downloadable episodes. It is viewed quite poorly due to the publisher obvious attempt at money grabbing, and are generally thought to be just not worth the bother. Only mentioning them since I think I saw them in the list, btw, I believe all of them were recently packaged by gog in a single release, if you decide to bother.
    Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes
    Puzzle Chronicles
    Puzzle Quest 2
    Puzzle Kingdoms
    Puzzle Quest: Galactrix
    Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
    These are all puzzle (mostly connect-3, Bejeweled style with some variations) hybrids with different degrees of RPG elements. The best and most RPG like is PQ Challenge of the Warlords, which is almost a proper RPG with puzzle matches in the place of combat. Most of the rest are not worth it, the RPG element becomes extremely diminishing, including both "proper" Puzzle Quest sequels, Galactrix and PQ2.

    Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates - MMO puzzle game, with extremely shallow RPG elements, if any.

    Weird Wars: The Unknown Episode of World War II - I haven't heard of this one actually being released, anywhere.

    Progress Quest - I don't think this one even qualifies as game, but see for yourself at

    Tower of the Sorcerer - More of a puzzle game, I remember playing a demo of this sometime ago. There isn't an inventory, any character development beyong picking up basic equipment, like a sword/shield/armor and stat increasing gems or story to it. It was fun though (goes to search if its even available online).

    FastCrawl - while a fun game, it has very basic like dungeon crawling features, maybe even shallow even. There's no level up, character generation or real progression, dungeons are 3 lvls deep. If you do check it out and like, there's a series of web-ware games that were inspired by it and greatly expanded on it - the first is called Monsters' Den, with 2 sequels so far, Monsters' Den : Book of Dread, and Monter's Den Chronicles.

    I hope you find this post helpful.

    1. On the puzzle games, I had some qualms accepting MobyGames's designations, but I thought I'd see what a puzzle/RPG hybrid looked like and then delete the remainder if I didn't like it.

      Progress Quest is the oddest thing I've ever seen. I think someone referenced it before, but I didn't bother to check it out back then. An amusing diversion, but it's gone.

    2. Hmmm. On second thought, that'll help increase my "won!" percentages. Maybe I'll keep it.

    3. I preferred IdleQuest to ProgressQuest... "Game" where you might get as quest to find ancient puppy can't be all bad.

    4. Progress Quest doesn't have an ending. You should start it now and check in on it at the end of every year. ;)

    5. Progress quest is worthy of an entry by you. I believe it started as a dig at many of the grindy time wasting elements prevalent in crpgs, as well as the trend to make everything so easy you cant lose.

      At the very least I would like to hear your thoughts on "what they are trying to say" and what it says about us who are addicted to these games in one way or another.

    6. And I read this right after I add the comment to the last post. I really should read all posts before I comment but by the time I get to the end I forget so many things I wanted to say earlier.

  4. Regarding release dates, it's almost impossible to find reliable dates for old games. Several sites have databases, but often they just give a date of January 1 or December 30 when they don't know the excact date. Other sites seem to just list random dates. The years will be correct, though.
    In some cases Wikipedia or MobyGames will list specific dates, and in my experience these dates are correct, since they correspond well with ads and reviews from old magazines.

    Since I'm also playing games chronologically I have also made a list, but much shorter, both because I'm not crazy/immortal enough to want to play _all_ games, and because I think it's no point making a list for the 1999 games when I'm still only in 1992.

    I posted my chronological play list for 1989, based on data from Wikipedia, Moby, actual game file dates, and ads, news and reviews in CWG, but ultimately you ignored it, so I'm not sure excactly what you are asking. Will you accept only 100% certain release dates?

    1. I'm not sure I "ignored" it so much as I wasn't convinced that ads and reviews were good indicators of release dates. I've noticed that sometimes CGW reviewed games up to a year after their releases. While I don't need to be 100% sure about the date, I'd like to at least be 75% sure about the month.

    2. I wasn't able to get reliable dates for calibrated nuclear sources, where age is very important (as the radiation decays over time, so you need to know the exact date it was calibrated on). When I looked up the date it claimed (June first 197-something) that was a Sunday. No one is going to be at work calibrating nuclear sources on a Sunday.

  5. I think it's best to not to separate addons, expansions and DLC's that add something into main game world or update gameplay rules and options of the original. I would separte only "standalone" addons, which can be played, enjoyed and rated even without reference to original game (like Neverwinter Nights addons), and addons with caliber of full sequel, with too much complexity and length to be considered "another one chapter" of the main game (like Awakening addon for Dragon Age).
    I can not imagine Diablo 2 and Lord of Destruction expansion as separate games, same with, for example, addons for Baldur's Gate games. Playing those games without sparating them from their addons will show you the whole picture of the final version of the game.

    Anyway, it's just my opinion. Cheers.

    1. That's essentially what I was getting at. I think we just disagree as to what games ought to go into the former list. Since Awakenings and Throne of Bhaal both introduce new rules, allow you to re-create your main character, and have more than 10 hours of gameplay, I see them more as brand new games than simply "add-ons" to the existing game.

      I haven't played Lord of Destruction, so I can't offer any opinion on that. It is more like Throne of Bhaal or more like the Hellfire expansion for the first Diablo?

    2. Well, I've not played Throne of Bhaal, so I can't adequately address that comparison. The comparison between Lord of Destruction and Hellfire is a reasonable one; both add new levels, classes, equipment, and mechanics to the original game. However, I would class Lord of Destruction as much larger in scope than Hellfire, and the levels it adds complete the story (sort of...) that was left dangling a bit in Diablo II.

      It's reasonable to treat Lord of Destruction as a separate game, although I'm not sure if it has ten extra hours of gameplay in the new areas (it's been a while, so I don't recall how long it all takes). At the same time, it always felt like it made Diablo II what it should have been at release.

      One point that may factor into the definitions is that the new levels are not separately visitable from the start, but open up to a character after the character has completed the levels from the main part of the game.

    3. Expansion packs could be thought of as add-ons, which generally add more of the same content, like Throne of Bhaal or the various NWN/2 expansions and premium modules and adventures and most of the DA/2 DLC. The other type are add-ins, that expand the game area/world but add other, often major improvements over the base game, like Tales of the Sword Coast, Hellfire, Lord of Destruction and the rest of them DA/2 DLCs, like Shale.

      In regards of the list, I don't generally think that an expansion pack or DLC requiring the base game should be listed separately.

    4. I'd vote for the "Standaloness" and "Lenght" factors to count in for separate listings., and LelqTians distinction between add-in and add-on is great to start with.

      For example, Wikipedia says: "If installed during an ongoing Baldur's Gate game, Tales of the Sword Coast will seamlessly blend into the main story line." That's not standalone (add-in), while Throne of Bhaal would more as it happens after the main quest (add-on). Same thing for Diablo: Hellfire should be part of Diablo, Lord of Destruction could be separate.

      But in all cases, there's two important debates here: on interface/mechanics and on story. On interface/mechanics, frequently add-ins "fix" issues or add new mechanics, items, raise level caps, etc. Counting these in might change your review of the original game which would have had interface quirks, unbalanced gameplay, less variety, etc. But then again, patches frequently do that too, and you would't want not to play the latest patch, right?

      On story, DLCs/expansions that "complete" the main story (ToB, LoD) or add side quests (Dragon Age 2 DLCs) are just usually a disguised way to ship the game separately for marketing reasons (same for MM4/MM5 as discussed below).

      MY SUGGESTION: I think you could simplify all that by setting on to play "Game of The Year" editions that include all patches, fixes, DLC and whatnot. Or the equivalent of what a GoTY would have been back then for games like Baldur's Gate. That means playing the "FINAL" version as probably intended originally by the developpers.

      Throne of Bhaal and Lord of Destruction should thus be considered "part" of BG2 or D2 as they could have very well been just another Chapter/Act present in the original game. DA:Awakening is more an example of a true separate standalone, which happens in areas totally disconnected in time/space from the main quest and cannot affect it in any way, and it's long enough to be a game by itself.

  6. From your upcoming games:

    B.A.T. is borderline. It's an adventure game, really. There is no xp gaining if memory serves and no character progression. But I do suggest you give it a try. It has statistics and well, it's an interesting, if for no other reason just because of how oblique it is. Perhaps not worth six hours of your time. But then again, you can beat it in that timespan (the true sign that something is not really an rpg imo).

    Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess: as much as I like it and would be interested to see you tackle it, it's an adventure game. There are no stats, there is no percentage based combat, there are no inventory items that aren't adventure game puzzle related. I want you to play it, but you're not the Cooky French Adventure Game Addict.

    Girlfriend Construction Set: not an rpg in any case. Do a post on it just for some impressions on this possible early example of the recurring computer geek (asperger?) fantasy of tailoring an imaginary girlfriend piece by piece so she is *safe* and *understandable*, perhaps? You're going to see a lot of that coming from Japan later on.

    Prophecy: Fall of Trinadon is arcadey but it's an rpg. Lite, though. Great EGA graphics on that one. I remember being stopped by the copy protection. Perhaps in the years since the necessary documentation has surfaced on the internet.

    That's my two cents for now. When, after a few months, you've caught up to that point, I'll research and/or try to remember about the then upcoming games.

    1. "the true sign that something is not really an rpg imo."

      Time has nothing to do with being a true RPG or not. I believe Fallout can be beat in under an hour if you know what you're doing.

    2. Morrowind is something like 10 min, if you speedrun it.

    3. There's a crazy 8 min speedrun of Chaos Strikes Back too I recently saw. Maddening, google it (not for our Addict of course).

    4. There's a difference between a quick game in which you essentially experience the full gameplay, and a game that CAN be won quickly if you know exactly where to go. Still, with the exception of simple arcade games, there's probably a minimum amount of time that ANY game can last to be a truly good example of its genre.

    5. I did some more research and CotSFMP is gone. MobyGames used to list it as an RPG, but someone removed that designation, and everything I've read confirms your description. This moves Magic Candle even closer. I'm going to hold on to GCS for now, for the reasons you say.

    6. "I believe Fallout can be beat in under an hour if you know what you're doing."

      Less than 10 minutes, if you know what you're doing + get lucky.

  7. While I love the game, I wouldn't call Warhammer: Dark Omen a crpg. All the gameplay consists of rts-battles. Your regiments do gain experience, and can have their armour upgraded. You also get access to numerous magic items (and most regiments can be outfitted with one or two, if I recall correctly). So I guess there is a kind of inventory-management, and combat, being based on the Warhammer rules, is definitely a mix of skill (tactics) and numbercrunching.

    It's a highly enjoyable game, but you have no real choices about development or what to do. Occasionally you can choose whether to fight an extra battle or not, but that's about it. Worth playing, but not a crpg, although technically it might fulfil two of your criteria.

    I never played it, but I imagine the same goes for the game's predecessor, Shadow of the Horned Rat. Not sure though.

    1. I'm going to hold onto it for now, but I made a note about your comment for when I reach it. I think I'll avoid deleting anything unless it clearly doesn't have ANY of my three criteria. Otherwise, I'll wait until I play it for a bit to evaluate.

    2. Definitely one of the better RTS's of the day. Horned rat was also a lot of fun at the time, but for me dark omen improved a lot. Not a CRPG though.

    3. Good idea I think, and of course it's your judgement. It's definitely worth playing the game, and the first few battles will not take long and should give a sense of whether you will play the game "for real", when the time comes.

    4. As I noted below, the biggest controversies so far seem to revolve around the line between RTS and RPG. I'm just going to let things lie as they are until I play a few.

  8. I have to agree with Lelq, As fun as warcraft is it is no RPG. Although you would be hard pressed to get closer to an RPG and still have a good RTS game. You can upgrade units, but that is an RTS thing and options are minimal.

    To be honest I think you should skip the console style japanese rpg's that are in the vein o the older super nintendo final fantasies. They are a dime a dozen for the most part. I think that they kinda don't fit into your true theme of Crpgs because they were made for consoles and they just lack something that makes games like wasteland and ultima special.Up to you of course :)

    HAPPY 4th! bet u wish u were here in Naw'lins ;)

    1. I'll play those first few console-style RPGs and see how it goes.

      I'll be in NOLA in about 11 days if you want to buy me a drink.

    2. Love to but I'm back in Baton Rouge right now. If your ever here, however, I bar-tend at a place right off I10 in BR next to that water park Blue Bayou. Smallish Mexican Rest. I'll do better than buy you a drink :)

  9. BAT - adventure
    Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Princess - adventure
    Dragons of Flame - action
    Romance of the Three Kingdoms - strategy
    Midwinter - kind of an action-adventure
    Sword of Aragon - strategy
    Sword of the Samurai - bit like Pirates(not surprisingly a Sid Meier related game too)
    Bandit Kings of Ancient China - strategy
    Circuit's Edge - I would say it is an adventure game, but I don't remember exactly
    J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Vol. I - action-adventure
    Dragonstrike - kind of a dragon flight sim
    L'Empereur - strategy(bandit kings,romance of and this are all koei strategies)
    Moonstone - action
    Operation Europe - strategy
    Genghis Khan - one another Koei strategy
    Syndicate - action - strategy
    Stronghold - strategy
    Dark Legions - strategy
    Langrisser/Warsong - strategy-rpg series, same game different name. More of a strategy game imho
    X-Com series: strategy
    Breach series: strategy
    Dragon Lore: series: adventure
    Warhammer games are strategy games
    Incubation: strategy
    Imperium Galactica: space strategy
    Hexen 2: shooter
    Incubation: strategy
    Warlords series: strategy, first was the strategy game of the year 1990 in CGW
    Jagged Alliance series: strategy

    1. Sword of Aragorn is a fantasy wargame, but it also has characters, character classes, leveling (both characters and soldiers) and items to equip. It qualifies as a CRPG on all three of Chet's criteria.

      J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Vol. I is defintely a CRPG, and not Adventure or Action.

      I agree about Midwinter and Warlords (at least the first one is just a basic wargame) not belonging on the list.

    2. X-COM: UFO Defense - it's on the list, but it's obviously more of a strategy game than anything else. If anyone would ask me, I'd say it's a real time strategy game with turn-based tactical combat. However, I've played it recently, and I can confirm it meets all three criteria as listed by the CRPG Addict:

      1. Inventory - each of the members of the squad(s) used in tactical combat has an inventory. Items are purchased, gathered during missions or created in the player's workshop(s).

      2. Player-driven leveling and development - each of the members of the squad(s) have base attributes that improve over time and the player has a level of control over this: attributes can be improved during missions depending on the roles you employ them in, how well you use them and how much you use them. They don't level-up in the traditional way, but they do increase in rank (as in military rank) depending on performance.

      3. Combat based at least partly on probabilities and statistics, as derived from character attributes - this one is particularly true for X-COM: UFO Defense. Combat in this game is pretty much exclusively based on this (and player skill, of course).

      Having said this, CRPG Addict will decide if he thinks this game is worth playing under his criteria. However, if he does decide to cover the game in this blog, then I'd say he should also try (or at least take a look at) the other games in the series, which are not on the list. My experience with them is much more limited - I played them a little bit a very long time ago, but I'm pretty sure they also fit each of the 3 criteria as outlined above. I'm talking about Terror From The Deep and Apocalypse.

      Also, as far as I recall, the Jagged Alliance series fits all three criteria for pretty much the same reasons as the X-COM series. Again, it's not something I'd consider describing as an RPG, but if the shoe fits... unfortunately it's been a long time since I've played any of them, so I can't really go into detail.

    3. We've discussed that game, heavily.

    4. Feamatar, I do appreciate the comment, but without more to go on, I need to hold onto those games. I can't tell if you mean that they're PRIMARILY those alernate categories or SOLELY those alternate categories. I do want to play hybrids.

    5. Reading the discussion about X-com, I think there might a problem with the criterions: based on them, Company of Heroes should be in your list (units get experience, you can pick up items and damage is partially random). Warcraft 3 is in it already, although it's obviously a RTS game.
      I mean, X-com is a fantastic series and you should try it for your own pleasure, but isn't there enough games on the list already?
      I think it also makes the comparison with other games very difficult using your rating system.

    6. From Feamatar's list, my recollections:

      Romance of the 3 Kingdoms, Bandit Kings of Ancient China are province and army based strategy games, from what I recall from advertisements. You may want to look, but I would be pretty sure their aim was not RPG but grand strategy. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms series is still going today(part IX or so?).

      Dragon's of Flame I had mentioned previously myself- by your categories above it may qualify. Limited inventory (weapons, occasional potions and scrolls), combat it side-scrolling arcade style.

      Sword of the Samurai from old reviews I read sounds very much like Pirates!; both by same creator.

      Dragonstrike- dragon flight sim is pretty accurate from the ads and reviews I recall; the most inventory would be weapon upgrades.

      Hexen 2: 3-d shooter, Hexen 1 was very close in engine to Doom with a fantasy makeover. Improvement is solely in collecting items.

      Jagged Alliance may qualify in the same vein as X-Com; you hire mercenaries with different stats, train them, equip them, and give them orders.

    7. I really think Sword of the Samurai should be played. There's Character development, albeit in a limited way.

    8. Hexen II: Reading the descriptions, it sounds like the first game was a straight FPS, but the second introduced some RPG elements in which you choose classes and level up. I'd like to check it out.

      The line between strategy games and RPGs is going to be a huge issue throughout the years. I'll save decisions on these until I've played a few.

      Sword of the Samurai: I'm intrigued, as it's a Sid Meier game. I'll check it out at the end of 1989.

    9. Oh, my mistake. I thought you were saying I should add it. Didn't realize it was already there. Missed Kellandros's comment.

    10. Sword of the Samurai is not to be missed.

    11. Circuit's Edge has stat-based combat, random encounters, inventory that's not just for puzzles, and various things you can do that help build the setting and have nothing to do with the main plot. It also has an original storyline penned for the game by the author of the books it's based on, George Alec Effinger's Budayeen novels. It's pretty rad.

    12. I also agree about Midwinter.
      No point in keeping action-adventures on the list, you already have so many actual RPGs to play.

      1. Inventories not dependent on puzzle-solving?
      There's no inventory at all.

      2. Player-driven leveling and development.
      All recruits have different attributes, but they do not improve. There's no leveling.

      3. Combat based at least partly on probabilities and statistics?
      Not really. It is slightly based on those attribs, but depends far more on player skill.

      I think Edge Magazine summed it up well:
      "Midwinter was 400 square miles of almost total white emptiness – no narrative beyond the manual, no missions, no NPCs to talk to, no hidden packages to collect. And yet it’s an experience in which the tension never drops, where character is conveyed with subtlety and charm, where the sense of freedom never falters, where skill and strategy go hand in hand."

      It is a classic, but from an another genre.

    13. You know, I just finished reading that Edge article, and the whole time I was thinking that while the game sounds incredible, it doesn't sound like my kind of game--which would make sense if it isn't an RPG.

      MobyGames doesn't list it as such; rather, it's Wikipedia that insists that it is. Having received three "non-RPG" votes, I'll toss it, but anyone feel free to offer the alternate perspective.

  10. and there are many other games on the list that are not RPG

    for example: DTM Race Driver, alias Toca race driver, c'mon. Who would ever consider that as an RPG...

  11. row 106: Romance of the 3 kingdom : Strategy: No inventory, leveling is non player based (you train leader with money and time )

    I'll like to see you come up with a solid definition of what a crpg is. May be I have one rule to help: If you can skip almost alltogether one of your two criteria it is not a crpg.

    row 386: Birthright the gorgon alliance, is straight from the pen & paper D&D game Birthright. You can extensively explore dungeon , get better item and level up in a D&D fashion. OR you can skip all that , and even just have a auto-resolve on the outcome of the whole dungeon exploration.

    ie 2:
    Not in your list is Princess Maker 2 ( It's exactly the same. You can explore extended map, find new gear, level up the way you want, OR just skip it all.
    In both case, if you skip the exploration, gearing and leveling will come from other means.

    Hope it help refine your rules.

    1. I'm glad someone already mentioned Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance; I've played fairly recently and I still have it installed so I could probably go on for quite a bit about it.

      In the traditional sense, it's not an RPG. I'd call a turn-based strategy game with real time tactical battles. However it has a lot of RPG elements in it and it can definitely be role-played.

      You play as a regent of a faction of your choosing; each faction has two predefined regents to choose from, but it is possible to create your own with a separate editor. The regent has D&D style attributes, a race and an alignment (lawful good, true neutral etc). The regent can also hire or otherwise acquire additional 'lieutenants' which also have the same type of attributes, race and alignment. The ultimate goal is becoming the ruler of the entire land which is achieved by gathering a certain amount of points during the campaign through various means - gaining territory, winning battles, forging alliances, etc.

      The most obvious RPG aspect is that the regent can also embark on adventures. You form a party (of 4 maximum) lead by the regent to perform what's essentially a dungeon quest. The goal is usually to find an item that will help you during your campaign - something that boost your stats, gives you a new magic ability or otherwise helps you during the game. You have an inventory, you cast spells, the regent can level up, you fight tactical battles based on stats, items and rolls, you cast a variety of spells. Hell, that's an RPG if I ever saw one. However this part of the game is purely optional. You can do it, some of the quest can give you dramatic advantages in the actual campaign, but you don't have to do it if you don't want to.

      However there are RPG elements that seep into other aspects of the game. Diplomacy is influenced among other things by the regent's alignment - it's easier to forge an alliance with another regent of the same or similar alignment. The regent has 'regency points' which are used to perform certain action during the campaign turns. Their number can be improved during the campaign - you essentially 'buy' regency - or it can be boosted by items acquired during adventures.

      The magic system is ever present in the game; the regent and his lieutenants can cast spells on various provinces in the strategic 'world view' and new spells can be acquired during adventures (eg. bless, summon skeletons). During the tactical battles between armies, the regent/lieutenants can cast spells or use magic items on enemy units (eg 'turn undead' or 'neckless of missiles') if their present in that particular battle.

      Bottom line: the truly RPG style adventure mode is not necessary, but it can affect the whole game and is a part of the experience and there are some other RPG elements in other parts of the game. Personally I don't very much care about the adventure mode, 'cause it's buggy and not fully fleshed out, but that's another story. Oh, and sorry for the long post.

    2. ...and for the crappy grammar. It's really late over here :)

    3. Ooli, isn't my definition exactly what you said? I said it has to have two of the three elements.

      PM2 isn't on the list because it never had a PC port (at least, not that I can find).

      No apologies necessary for length, Giuseppe. That actually sounds like a really cool game. I guess if RPG-style play is an option, I want to keep it on the list. Overall, I want to err on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion.

    4. Princess Maker 2 is an interesting case. There's a PC port, but it was never officially published: it was cancelled, but then someone leaked the finished version.

      It's now widely available from various abandonware sites.

  12. @feamatar
    Many of those belong on the list, if you consider the criteria.

    Jagged Alliance, for instance:
    1) Inventories not dependent on puzzle-solving? Check. Guns and other weapons, armor, tools, etc.
    2) Player-driven leveling and development? Check. The mercs level up and have skills and attributes.
    3) Combat based at least partly on probabilities and statistics? Check. Turn-based combat, based on those attribs.

    Then again, games such as Age of Wonders fit the same criteria and aren't listed. Maybe it should be, especially since it's Master of Magic clone and that's listed... *shrug*

    As for Toca Race Driver? It's character and story-based, I'm not surprised some folks call it an RPG. Doesn't fit the criteria though, unless you equate acquiring and upgrading cars to an inventory.

    Btw, I think ZZT doesn't belong on the list. It's basically an ascii-based game-engine. There were tons of player-made adventures, most of which have vanished off the net by now. Some of the later ones had RPG elements modded in, but not the original adventure.

    1. Another one that doesn't belong:
      Star Control, 1990. First game of the series. 2-D space combat with no RPG elements.

      The sequel, however, took those battles and built an actual Starflight-style RPG/adventure around it.

    2. One more thing. I noticed that Shining Force II (2011) is listed... It was originally released in 1993/1994 JP/US for Sega Mega Drive.

      Steam re-released it (and other games in the series) last year 'for Windows', but it's actually an emulator pack. Does it still count as a PC release...?

    3. Race Driver 2 was the first having a story element, if I remember correctly.
      Sometimes It is tough to decide what makes an RPG.

      I can easily compare Jagged Alliance to the Gold Box games, but there are more options on how you play in Gold Box games.

      Can we consider games like Dungeon Master or Might and Magic or Diablo games roleplaying games?

      Is being a role playing game only a word for trickery with numbers?

      I think role playing games should mean more than that. Playing characters with personalities for example.

      Ohh and the best example on what is a role playing game and what is a game with slight rpg elements:
      Just Compare Fallout to Fallout Tactics

    4. Jagged Alliance is normally refereed to as a tactical RPG. I can't wait to see the Addict spend 6 hours redoing the first mission of JA:UB, and if he beats it, tell me how.

    5. I admit I thought it was questionable when I put the racecar driving game on there, but I thought, damn, if this is true, this'll be the only example we have of an RPG/racing hybrid. Again, erring on the side of inclusion.

      Zaltys, I think I put SC on the list because I knew I'd be playing its sequel and wanted to evaluate the original. I've made a note based on your comment.

      I don't really have experience with emulator packs, but if it's playable on my laptop without a lot of screwing around, I'm happy to play it. Plus, who knows: It's a 2011 game. Maybe a proper PC version will be released in the coming years.

      Feamatar, look at my posting about the difference between a "role-playing game" and a game in which you "play a role." I can't imagine anyone that doesn't consider DM or M&M RPGs. The designation of "RPG," at least as far as computer games, has more to do with history than with actual "role-playing."

    6. I thought you play the games based on their original release dates, instead of the PC port release date? I mean, you already played Pirates and that didn't get a PC version until 1993.

      The first Shining Force was released in March 1992, so if you go by that date it's actually pretty high on the list. The PC port is identical to the original (since it's emulated). It is, however, only available on Steam - but the emulation is fully automated and doesn't require any more work than pressing 'Play'.

    7. I refreshed my memory about ZZT: it is indeed a game creation system. I played a few games, most of them were basic puzzle/adventures.

      The only actual stat is Health and there's no inventory. Just a counter for Ammo, Torches, Gems, Score and Keys. But many games use those in unusual ways: for instance, in Dragon Woods 'Score' is basically money that can be used in shops to buy other stuff.

      The sequel, MegaZeux (aka MZX, released in 1994), improved the scripting and allowed for more RPG elements.

      ZZT still has a cult following. Here's a link to the game database:

      If you still want to try it, I'd recommend Dragon Woods or Ned the Knight. Out of the ones that I played, those were closest to CRPGs.

    8. Anon, you're right, I do play based on the original release order. I wasn't saying that I'd move the game to a later date if it got a PC release; just that it might be easier to play. MobyGames didn't have anything about a Steam release of the original game, so I didn't know it was there. I've added it to 03/21/1992.

      Thanks, Zaltys. I made a note of those titles.

    9. I think you chenged gears a while back from doing the date the game was ported to DOS to doing it at release date time. I remember it in the discussion of Moria as you couldn't find a dos version till the 90's even though it was released in unix around 83.

      I am not sure how many games you pushed to the dos release date on your list, but I do not think it is to many to backtrack too is you are so inclined.

      In the case of moria I would recommend you try it earlier than 92 as you are already seeing some growth of the roguelike genre that goes beyond the elements rogue implemented. It is very much rogue but with a town on top and adding the ability to grind because going up and down stairs makes a new level with items and monsters. So If you push it to far out of its time it will be harder to get a feel on what it improved over rogue, and how other roguelikes improved on it.

    10. Shining Force predates Shining Force 2, and is also an RPG, but does not seem to be on your list. Like Shining Force 2, you can easily find it available to play via emulator.

      Interestingly, both of those games are strategy RPGs, but are in fact predated by yet another game called Shining in the Darkness, which is a Wizardry-style dungeon crawl. It's a little simplistic as those games go, but it has charm. I'd suggest adding that to the list as well, if you're planning on hitting all the console releases that are easy to play with emulator.

    11. I believe they were added because they are available on Steam. It seems all three are available (only Shining in the Darkness is missing from the master list) as well as Phantasy Star II - IV (all of which are missing).

  13. IMO, Dragon Strike is not a RPG. It's a flight simulator with some fantasy trappings.

    Here's a detailed explanation why, so that the Addict can decide once and for all if it's a CRPG.

    1-Combat: you fly your dragon, flight-sim like, and mostly try to shoot enemies with your dragon's breath, or ram them with your lance.

    Once in a blue moon, if you miss your ramming attempt, your dragon will claw or bite the enemy, and your knight will swing with his sword. Those attacks are random (or if they aren't, they're not something you actually want to use, as they do paltry damage compared to your lance or breath weapon)

    By the same token, the enemy might bite you - this may actually kill the rider.

    There might be a random element to the damage, but you don't get to see how much you do. You don't have stats besides HP, either. On the other hand, you have two HP meter: one for the dragon, one for the rider. If either drops to nothing, you lose.

    The dragon has a ton of HP, the rider a small amount. The dragon can take a few shots, but if the rider is hit by enemy dragonsbreath, he dies.

    2-Advancement: You're going to get some items as the game progresses, at the end of missions. They're fixed, not random.

    Technically, you can also get dragon upgrades (from Bronze to Silver to Gold) but it's actually just a storyline fork / difficulty level adjustment. (That is, the dragons may be more powerful, but if you elect to take the Silver Dragon, you get different missions than with the Bronze, so you don't actually gain visible power from the upgrade.)

    In fact, you actually have to give back items to gain upgrades, so you probably get weaker as you upgrade your dragon.

    3-Inventory: basically, you have three types of items: Flight Aids, Healing Ointment, and Bonus Gear. You earn them at set intervals, after missions. The Ointment is consumable, the rest permanent, but at some junctures you have to lose some items to upgrade dragons.

    Flight aids include a radar, an arrow that points at the closest enemy, that sort of stuff. Basically, it makes the action gameplay easier. You actually start with said radar and arrow, and they're the only non-healing items you'll actually hesitate to give for dragon upgrades.

    The ointment heals damage on either you or the dragon. You get a few from the start and earn some in missions.

    Bonus gear include an upgrade to your almost never-used sword, a protective cloak which reduces the damage taken by your rider from dragon's breath from "Ludicrous Overkill" to "I guess slightly less overkill", and perhaps other stuff. Since you can't see your stats, you have to guess at their actual power. IMO, it's just stuff the game gives you so you don't have to pay ointment for upgrades.

    Hopefully, this'll help remove one game from the list. :)

    1. This is exactly the kind of detailed description I need to make a decision. Unfortunately, you made the game sound kind-of awesome. That, coupled with the fact that it's an SSI game set in the AD&D DragonLance campaign setting means that I at least want to check it out. I've made a note to check out your comments when I get there, though. Thanks!

    2. Oh man that game was great. I agree that it's not much of an rpg, but really worth playing, especially considering the setting I think.

  14. Wow. Lots of comments on this posting.

    For everyone claiming that a particular game falls into another category (RTS, FPS, Adventure, etc.), keep in mind that there are such things as hybrids. Please state explicitly that you don't think the game has at least two of my three criteria, and that it cannot under any means be played as an RPG. Otherwise, I'm going to assume that you mean it's PRIMARILY some other category and keep it on the list until I have a chance to investigate it myself.

  15. Let's troll a little, this discussion is way too constructive :).
    As an "historical" tabletop RPG player, I've actually always denied the "RP" element to computer games. To me, they're adventure games with character development.

    Tabletop RPGs put role-playing at the core of game mechanics, this being made possible through human interaction as the possibilities of imagination are basically infinite.
    Legends mention Gary Gygax explaining that "dice are used to make noise behind the DM's screen" and some games have no random elements (Nine princes in Amber for instance). Focus is on "acting" like your character and story-telling.

    In computer games, you can only do what the developpers thought of, and none has ever only tried to allow real personality development.

    Anyway, my point was only to note that the "RPG" name use for computer games had primarily marketing purposes, to draw a certain kind of customers.
    So designing your own category of games you want to play, whatever you call it, shouldn't be a problem...

    1. I actually fully agree with you, except the bit about "RPG" being a marketing designation. I think this genre came to be called "RPGs" because it was an easy shorthand for something like "adventure games using the types of character attributes, combat rolls, and other statistics drawn from tabletop RPGs" (though if anyone thinks we ought to call them "AGUTCACROSDTRPGs," you heard it here first).

      I honestly think it's a bit odd that tabletop RPG players enjoy computer RPGs, but I guess you would if it's the more left-brained stuff that appeals to you.

  16. I started cross-referencing the master list with the games that I've played. I don't see the following on your list. My memory is bit vague, but I think they may fit at the criteria:

    The Immortal (1990):
    I don't remember much about this game, but as you can see the screenshots, there's at least a rudimentary inventory and combat. Seems a lot like an inferior version of The Summoning..

    Centauri Alliance (1990):
    Lesser known game from the makers of the Bard's Tale. Those screenshots make it seem like an obvious RPG, though again, I don't remember much about it.

    Beneath Apple Manor (1983):
    One of the oldest roguelikes, largely forgotten and might not be available anywhere anymore...and since you've way past 1983, I guess you should just skip it?

    That's only up to 1990, I'll check the rest later.

    1. Centauri Alliance is defintely a CRPG, but it was only released for the Apple II and Commodore 64.

    2. Thanks for the correction.
      My Google fu failed me: it was listed as PC compatible on several sites, but now that I checked again...those weren't exactly reliable sources.

    3. No DOS release for BAM as well, although I suppose someone probably made an unofficial DOS port somewhere along the line. That might be fun to check out in the future as a pre-Rogue roguelike.

    4. Actually...
      Home of the Underdogs says this about BAM:

      "One of the oldest Roguelike RPGs in existence, Beneath Apple Manor is a very rare IBM version of the Apple II game of the same name which was designed by Don Worth and published by Quality Software way back in 1980. This IBM version was released in 1983, and has now been released into the public domain - thanks to Don Worth himself who was kind enough to send us the original game on 5.25" floppy for us to crack, and put on this site - as well as his homepage."

      However, both of the links are dead. :|

    5. Immortal is an action-adventure. It has an inventory, but combat relies on timing blocks and weapon strikes. There are no character statistics, aside from health, and I don't recall the wizard upgrading his weapon.

  17. OT: A message to all CRPG Addict fans (like me):

    I love old school CRPGs like most of you (I suppose). Brian Mitsoda (main designer/writer of Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines) is trying to bring new blood to the genre with his upcoming game Dead State.

    What is Dead State? Basically, imagine Fallout 1&2 in George Romero's zombie movies setting.

    The game is funded with kickstarter: the campaign is almost over and it really needs everyone's help to reach the higher stretch goals. We are really close to a great success and that would speak a lot about the potentials of such games.

    Here's the link:

    Take a look and give it a try.

    Thanks in advance,

    1. I have been following this game development since it was called ZRPG and it has great promise. I would also recommend having a look

  18. The Immortal is nothing like The Summoning. It's got RPG aesthetics and trappings, but it's an arcade-puzzly-adventure game. It's worth playing just for the absurd amount of different ways you can die in it. I do not remember there being any level progression in it.

  19. Regarding the early Windows games; VMWare and Virtual PC both support Windows 95/98/ME. So if a particular game won't boot up in Windows 7, you'll probably be able to run them in a virtual machine.

    1. yeah, but you don't get 3d support under win9x in vms, and there are other issues as well. Unfortunatelly.

  20. Hello there :)

    This is my first post here - so I'd like to thank you, CRPG Addict, for your blog. It's nostalgic & informative & great fun! :) I sincerely doubt that any mere mortal can truly accomplish the quest you have set yourself - but good luck! :) And the quest is probably it's own reward anyway. ;)
    Concerning your list I think I can chime in and try to clear up a few points:

    - Dark Legions:
    I love this one. The game is full of great details and can be very entertaining ... but it is not really a role playing game. It's basically fantasy chess with arcade combat. There is no campaign - just a series of battlefields. However, the units do have a number of different stats such as damage, armour, life or speed that play a large role in the combats and can be modified by equipment that you purchase before the battle and freely distribute between your units.
    That, however is virtually the only form of character development (though, technically, you can 'level up' a vampire, by creating an army of thralls, each of which enhances your life regeneration).

    A real time strategy game. You gather artifacts to defeat the evil Leviathan, but I think they were basically just keys that open the next level. Admittedly your warriors can level, but this is pretty primitive. They get better at killing enemies by killing enemies.

    Wheel of Time:
    As much as I love this game (it's a really intelligent fantasy first person shooter) this is definitely NOT a role playing game by your criteria. No statistics, no leveling, no inventory beyound the usual shooter stuff (keys, ammunition etc.).

    Warcraft III:
    I have to disagree with those who complain that this is not really a CRPG. Well ... in a way. Of course it's predominantly a real time strategy game. But the RPG aspect is quite pronounced. I think it fulfills every one of your requirements (though sometimes barely).
    It has leveling - and you can choose between different abilities (which is very important, although the choices are limited).
    It has an inventory - which may contain artifacts for puzzles, but mostly is filled with stuff that you could find in many roleplaying games. Healing potions, scrolls, armour, weapons ... There are also shops where you can spend your money to get more. In the expansion, you can even let your workers build shops. ;)
    Some levels are more rpg-ish than others - they even include dungeons with puzzles.
    Furthermore you can actually have quests that are not essential to completing a mission but may provide artifacts or experience. Each campaign has a protagonist that is basically your temporary hero. He - and other heroes he meets along the way - keeps his inventory, experience and abilities from mission to mission. Some even return in the other campaigns. (Besides the expansion has an entire campaign that concentrates on the role playing elements and is basically a CRPG).

    Sorry - I love to write about this stuff. I know that most of this is still far in the future of your list. :)


    1. I really appreciate your perspective. I won't delete anything unless there's honest controversy.

      WOT might be a game I just play anyway because I'm curious to see how it adapted the books. I'm going to reserve the right to play non-CRPGs now and then if I have a good reason (e.g., Pirates!).

    2. Where do I have a game called Leviathan on the list?

    3. To CRPG ADDICT:
      Concerning you remarks about Wheel of Time:
      It's a bit tough for me to decide whether I should recommend the game to a fan of the books. I've read that quite a number of fans were disappointed with it. You have to realize that it is some sort of prequel - set before the return of the Dragon Reborn and containing mostly characters specifically created for this story.
      The game is recognizably set in the Wheel of Time universe - but has taken quite a number of liberties with it. E.g. inquisitors as ter'angreal wielding White Cloak elite fighters (though the Whitecloaks there are supposed to be a rogue faction).
      On the other hand it is a very beautiful game and the way the different spells interact is very clever and satisfying. (Dropping trollocs down chasms or into magical minefields is great fun).

      Concerning your question about Leviathan ... Sorry - you have it listed under Tone Rebellion. I knew it only under the title: Leviathan: Tone Rebellion (apparently it was also sold as just Tone Rebellion). It's a pretty weird real time strategy game.
      You send your armies of little jellyfish-like creatures in levels that look like an alien aquarium against nefarious tentacles - while hearing very relaxing music. Great for meditating, I suppose. :) I once played a multiplayer match with a few friends and one of them fell asleep.

  21. Circuit's Edge is pretty cool, but its pretty much a text/graphic adventure. It completely fails 1 and 2, and probably 3 as well.

  22. Looking over the new list...

    Rance: Hikari o Motomete is another Japanese porn game. As are the sequels, also on the list. No official english versions, although some have fan translations. Info at the VisualNovel Database. Incidentally, I took a quick look through that site. Weeding out the Japanese-only games, the not-RPGs, and the porn, there are a few possible additions to the list:

    --Galaxy Angel Series (way too many sequels to list here.)
    --Kamidori Alchemy Meister (may or may not be porn; 2011 in Japan, with 2012 fan-translation)
    --Loren the Amazon Princess (american indie, 2012)

    And, come to think of it, I have a pair to add myself:

    --Cute Knight (American indie, 2007. Has a deluxe version with added content.)
    --Cute Knight Kingdom (Sequel to the above, 2009.)

    If you decide you want to do the porn after all, I can add a few more titles from the VNDB, plus a few more personal faves. You'd be easily forgiven if you don't have the stomach for the subgenre as a whole, though; the rabbit hole goes very, very deep, and honestly there's not much of real interest down there.

    Regarding Might and Magic: World of Xeen: I have not played it, but what I heard was that Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen (M&M 4 and 5, respectively) are essentially two halves of the same game. Each is a standalone game, but if you install both to the same machine, you can transfer your party back and forth from one to the other at will, and this also unlocks extra content. World of Xeen is a later bundle that includes both games, so you probably want that.

    Spiderweb's Avernum games, at least the first 3, are remakes of their earlier Exile games. (And currently being remade again for the third time. Dead horse, much?)

    Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall is the sequel to Thunderscape, which for some reason is listed after it on the list.

    On Neverwinter Knights (BioWare version): The game and it's sequel both had a lot of fan-created adventures. If you're interested, Neverwinter Nights 2 Vault has a more-or-less complete list, but as you can see from that link, that's another rabbit hole...

    Nethergate: Resurrection is a remake of the original Nethergate

    Lightning Warrior Raidy is listed a year after its sequel. The confusion is probably due to the fact that it's a Japanese game re-released in America by jlist/Peach Princess. It's also another porn game. ^_^ The original is a respectable (although quite easy) first-person dungeon crawl. The adult content, however, is kinda... out there. I have not played the sequel, although it was apparently a much more ambitious effort on the gameplay front.

    Molten Core was an April Fool's prank from Blizzard, that someone decided to take a step further. Whether that means anything to you, I dunno.

    A few "Not an RPG" comments:

    --Veil of Darkness is an adventure game.
    --Unless I miss my guess, Hero Quest is the adaptation of an old D&D-like board game.
    --Azrael's Tear is an adventure game with no RPG in it.
    --Sacrifice is real-time strategy.
    --Tower of the Sorcerer is... strange. The best description I can give of it is a puzzle game disguised as a resource-management game masquerading as an RPG. Worth a look just for the uniqueness, though.
    --GUN Is an action game; the "RPG elements" consist of completing optional side-missions for stat bonuses.

    1. I don't have any particular urge to play hentai games, but neither am I a prude. I figured I'd check out one or two just to get a sense of the genre. The key questions is whether they include pornographic scenes as part of an otherwise-interesting gameplay or whether the games are primarily ABOUT porn.

      Given that I can't really stand anime, though, I don't think I'll add any more to the list.

      I think the language issue is going to be a bigger problem. Despite my best intentions, I suspect you'll see a "English-only-unless-I-feel-like-making-an-exception" addition to my rules after a couple of attempts.

      Cute Knight sounds like absolute torture to me, but I've added it to the list for 2005 (Wikipedia says the "Deluxe" version came out in 2005).

      I'll make a decision on MM4/5 when I get there. Part of me wants to play it as the players originally saw it; the other part of me says I should play it as modern players are likely to approach it.

      The World of Aden games are listed in that order because I have them alphabetically by year (just so it will be easier for people to find things). When I actually reach a specific year, I'll re-order them into a play order, like I did for 1989.

      I read about Molten Core, but I figured if it's a game, I'll play it.

      Notes made on many of the others. I really appreciate the thoroughness.

    2. I actually just finished World of Xeen today. As you say Bellos Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen are essentially standalone games, but also can be combined, enabling you to go back and forth between each game world.
      The actual game calls itself World of Xeen once both the games are installed.

      The way I played it was I had both games installed as World of Xeen all the time, but played the content of each of them separately. A year or two ago I played through Clouds of Xeen and the beginning of Darkside, then a few days ago I continued my game and finished today.

      What World of Xeen has, in addition to the ability to switch back and forth, is a final main quest once each of the games has been finished. This quest then requires you to visit areas of both the games.

      It felt quite natural, I think, to play them mostly separately, but being able to return to the areas of Clouds when I felt like it while playing Darkside. And pretty much, I imagine, how it would have been originally. I don't think there's necessarily any conflict between playing it the original way and how a modern player would :)

      It's a great game, but personally I needed a break between the two segments.

      The whole package is part of the Might and Magic 6-pack on GOG, including the (fanmade?) extra (standalone) adventure Swords of Xeen (which I have not played).

    3. Some insight into hentai RPGs:,32/section,222/

    4. Veil of Darkness does have non-puzzle inventory stuff, or should I say, it has combat-related inventory stuff, in the form of both consumables and different weapons. The combat is Diablo-style, although it predates it. I do think there's only item-based character/stat/power development.

      It's a decent enough game in all, I enjoyed it back in 2001 when I played it. I'd say keep it on your list and sample it when you get there.


    5. Veil of Darkness is also absolutely stunning as a tallpixel fake-SVGA game. Dreamforge knew what they were doing with that art style, it can also be seen in their eariler titles for SSI that Chet will inadvertantly play, Ravenloft and Mezoberranzan.

      Chet, if you're still reading the comments, I have to say, I am torn, in the end. Yes, some of these games are more adventure than RPG (Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess is an adventure game only) like B.A.T. or Veil of Darkness. But you'll be missing out on a great part of the evolution of the crpg genre if you skip them, as they were infuential in whatever small way and also, thinking like a consumer of 1989, you'd have played that stuff in an instant, no matter how hardcore of a crpg player you were. They may not be according to the letter of the law, your target material, but in the spirit of it, they absolutely are. B.A.T. or Veil of Darkness are games absolutely designed by paper and pencil rpg enthusiasts, systems from that side remain in their games and they're worth your time.

      I'm just saying, when you hear us cry 'it's an adventure game! mostly', err on the side of inclusion. I do not feel similarily for strategy games with RPG elements, however, which is a bit hypocritical of me. I just find the abstracted 'god's view & management' of strategy games completely at odds with the inner party logistics of a real crpg. If your dudes die in a strategy game, you just spawn more in the base. What's the difference from the Wizardry meat-grinder, then you might ask and the question would be apt. I'm not sure. I'm just not feeling anything rpg-ish when I play Warcraft, whereas B.A.T is just an unorthodox, rules-lite rpg if you look at it from a certain vantage.

    6. "If your dudes die in a strategy game, you just spawn more in the base."

      Tat's how it works in fe. X-Com, but there are many exceptions.

      Jagged Alliance? There's a limited number of mercs (especially the good ones) and each has their own personality. Their own attributes and inventories. Once they're dead, there's no replacing them. How exactly is it not an RPG?

      Age of Wonders? You create your own character then take him through a long campaign, all the while gaining levels and gathering equipment.

      Master of Magic? Less so, but there's still limited number of heroes. All of them unique...and no way to replace them if they die, unless you know life magic and can resurrect them.


    7. @Equalan,

      World of Xeen should absolutely be played together. There are many dungeons on Cloud of Xeen which cannot be entered without a key on Darkside... you kind of not play the entire content if you don't join them.

    8. On Cute Knight-

      That may give a better summary and reasons to try it for a bit at least (50+ endings, good dungeon delving, and a more complicated alignment/resource system). I haven't played it myself though, but probably will once I clear my own backlog.

    9. On XCOM: It can be played RPG if you use little imagination. See Big Red One for inspiration how Sarge leads his cadre through war. Reinforcements come and get killed and without even bothering to remember their names. Having names on troops makes miracles.


      Comment #29 by felicity describes a lorn game with a really fun-sounding combat system. Further down on #44 Raghar suggests a fan translation that removes much of the sex. I believe I found a site to download it once but never did and I don't know how the game actually looks. However, the combat definitely sounds like some of the most interesting I have ever read about.

    11. I'm curious to read more about the history of MM4 and MM5 and how they were released. Was the first truly released with content not playable until a year later, when the user would buy the second?

    12. Helm, don't worry. I will err on the side of inclusion. And I'm not deleting anything just because it's PRIMARILY some other genre.

      On the other hand, based on my initial experiences with B.A.T., if you think I would have really missed out on something special if I hadn't played it, I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree.

    13. I would have to do more research, but I think that the "content" itself was not present in MM4 when it was released, only placeholders. For example, in MM4 you would have a tower standing in the wilderness (and appearing with a precise name on the paper map that came with the box), but you could not enter it. The actual levels inside those towers shipped with MM5 (but you had to have MM4 to play them). You can see this by casting a Town Portal when in one of those "unlocked" areas, the game gives you towns on the Darkside even if you're Cloudside.

      So it's not MM4 which was released with unplayable content unless you waited for MM5, it's MM5 which cointained unplayable content unless you had MM4.

      If someone has better info and I'm wrong here, please correct me :).

      PS: Note that when you play the "World of Xeen" you actually get 3 endgame cutscenes which bring you back to the main menu and you have to "reload" your save to continue: for the "Cloud" main quest, for the "Darkside" main quest and for the "World" main quest. Kind of ruins the immersion...

  23. I've tried to fill in original release dates as far as I could. Find the result (for now, up to the end of 92) with some additional comments here:
    If a 1/1/199x date is in italics, it means the game has actually been released in January. Hope it helps!

    1. HUGE help, trudodyr, but can I ask: where did you get this release information?

    2. I have several stacks of old German gaming magazines from the 90s at my parent's house. Those have preview sections that list the release dates for upcoming games. Between that and the date of the eventual reviews, I think you can extrapolate the release month with a fair amount of accuracy. While leafing through the magazines, I've also stumbled upon a few exact dates scattered throughout.
      This method has the disadvantage that freeware and more obscure releases are sidelined, and then there's also the problem that not all CRPGs were released in Europe (or at a significantly later date). If you still deem this helpful to your cause, I'd be happy to continue to scour those back issues.

    3. I don't really trust review dates, but specific release dates listed are better evidence.

      It helps me order the games in a particular year. I wouldn't consider that benefit significant enough for you to waste a lot of time going through magazines, but it's up to you. If you add any more, can you bold the ones you changed?

      I'll incorporate the ones

    4. Sure, all changes (now up to the end of 94) are bold. I'll try and update the list continuously.

    5. I'm updating mine based on yours, and I really appreciate it. I note that you corrected the date on Castle of the Winds. When I first checked, MobyGames has it as a 1989 game, and Wikipedia lists it there, too. Since then, MobyGames has been updated to 1993 but Wikipedia hasn't. Since I've got 2/3 sources saying 1993 now, I'll update it to that date.

    6. 1993 would probably be right, as it used native windows 3.X widgets, and Windows 3.0 came out in 1990, and Windows 3.1 came out in 1992. However, the creator has a facebook page and email address, and I've actually emailed him before thanking him for making such a fun game, and gotten a response. It wouldn't be hard to ask him.

    7. I've hit the end of my magazine stash, it petered out towards 1999.

    8. I really appreciate the effort. I know that must have taken a long time. I incorporated your edits. Deleted a couple of online-only games, added notes to others.

  24. WTF? Blogger has whacked my post three times! >_<

    1. Sorry about that. When it does that, the posts go into my spam folder, and I generally see and approve them a couple days later. Your first posting is now shown above.

  25. I can't get the reply button to work today, so I reply this way instead.

    Regarding ads and reviews. I looked up the dates for Exile I and II yesterday, and Mobygames had reviews for those games that are several years later. But they at least indicate a "no later than" date.

    About some of the games on feamatar's list:

    Stronghold - The 1993 game (on your list) might have CRPG elements (Wikipedia says it is a mix between SimCity and D&D). The 2001 game (not on your list) is most definitely a pure strategy game - it is the 2001 game that is on GoG for example.

    Midwinter - I remember playing that one. I remember going around in some snowmobile, not much else except that I had no clue what to do in the game.

    Jagged Alliance - It leans more towards turnbased strategy than RPG, but I think it is enough of a RPG to remain on the list.

    @TheAlmightyGuru: I think 16-bit Windows 3.11 games are going to be a much bigger problem than Windows 95 games. On the other hand it might be possible to run 3.11 in Dosbox.

    1. Thanks. I'm not going to delete anything where there's a controversy. I'll just evaluate it myself when I get there.

    2. Probably wise (and now the reply button works again for some reason ...).

  26. Also, a question regarding point 3: "Combat based at least partly on probabilities and statistics, as derived from character attributes". How should this point be regarded if there is no combat in the game, but other things you do such as dialog, etc. is based on probabilities and statistics as derived from character attributes?

    If this is accepted, then we come dangerously close to The Sims and similar games. On the other hand if it is not you might miss out on some nice non-combat games.

    1. I think what we'd consider an "CRPG" without combat would be pretty rare, but if it doesn't have it, then it doesn't meet the third point. So it would have to still have the first two elements for me to consider playing it.

      Do simulation games typically allow leveling and inventories? If so, you're right: I'm going to need to come up with some more criteria.

    2. Leveling of stats and abilities has become fairly common. Inventories not quite as much, but plenty of simulations involve collecting items that may not have a functional use. In The Sims, just think of everything you could possibly buy for a house, plus clothing.

  27. Just noticed ZZT is on the list and, as others have already said, it doesn't really belong there.

    I'd still advise to give it a look, though, since it's something truly unique - it's basically a game maker with a (very) primitive OOP language. It's primitive because, for instance, there are no variables and only 10 "flags" can be used at the same time - this doesn't stop you from creating quite complex "worlds" with it, though: you just have to be creative and work around its shortcomings (as many fans have done throughout the years, often with very impressive results).

    Megazeux, on the other hand, introduced a much more complex editor and some games made with it are truly mind-blogging (hell, someone even created a FIRST-PERSON RPG!)

    1. For ZZT, I thought I'd do what I did with Adventure Construction Set and play an example of a game that was created with the kit at the time.

    2. Yeah, I too think it'd be best to do that. I wouldn't recommend playing one of the stock adventures, though, since they are nowhere as advanced as other more modern "worlds" (actually, with some exception, the stock worlds are all pretty lackluster).

      (is there a way to edit an already posted comment, by the way?)

    3. I don't think so. I wish Blogger had better forum features, but alas.

  28. Also,

    Legend of the Red Dragon II: New World - this one is a graphical mud and it's meant to be played online. It's one of those "door games" which were very popular when BBSes were still around (ages ago) - the first LORD is probably THE door game for most people.

  29. Some other things I found while going through the list:

    You have listed both Avernum and Avernum 2 as 1/1/2000. I think one was release in the spring and the other in the autumn. Can be good since you don't want to play both in a row I think. Also, don't confuse Avernum with the 2012 remake of the same name by the same company (the first Avernum already being a remake of Exile).

    Row 631: Sting! - I guess it is this game you refer to: ? Also known as Der Clou 2! That is not an RPG, it has an inventory, but it is more (but not completely) puzzle based inventory. It is a pretty interesting game though, where you play a thief (with accomplices) that try to rob different places in a 3d person perspective where you make a recording of how you want your characters to move during the whole mission and then you enact that recording and see if things went well (i.e., you weren't discovered). I can't see that it has any of your 3 criterias though.

    I agree with LelqTian regarding Knights of Honor. It's a strategy game that does not fit your criteria.

    Row 837 - Facade: It is not an RPG. There is no combat, minimal inventory (puzzle-based) and no character attributes. It is a graphical interactive fiction that more or less only consist of dialog and character interaction. You play the role of a person that gets invited into to a couple as single guest where you get to try to reconcile (or permanently wreck) the relationship of the couple. Even if it is not an RPG, it is still a really interesting game and I highly recommend to play it.

    That's enough from me I think. I'll have a recheck next time you go through your list. :-)

    1. I'm going to re-order all the games in every year based on release date and some other factors. Right now, they're alphabetical ot make them easier to find.

      Read up on The Sting!. MobyGames revoked its RPG credentials at some point. It's gone. Deleted Facade, too. It sounds like a simulator of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

    2. But 'The Sting!' has strong paper and pencil rpg heritage. It is a game about planning heists and robberies. There are stats, there is progression. There is inventory that has to do with the operations. If you replace 'heists' with 'dungeon expedition', it's D&D. It's a real shame to not try it. It's not an adventure game in the sense that it has no linear dictatorial plot, just a series of robberies at different sites which the player has agency over. I don't know if there's an adventure end-game, as I never finished it. It's tough! The player can choose which site to hit and in which way, at which time of the night to avoid patrols and guards. They recruit people according to their stats and capacity for the sort of hit they want to do. It's charmingly crunchy in that German p&p tradition (you'll see what I mean when you get to Magic Candle and later on Realms of Arkania) and it absolutely is worth your 6 hours or more. And actually I expect you to get hooked and want to finish it.

      It's not a fantasy rpg. But if sci-fi themed rpgs count, then why not other niche themes?

    3. It feels more like a board game than an RPG to me. It's not an adventure game, no, but neither is it an RPG (actually I think it defies all the tradiditional computer game genres).

      "If you replace 'heists' with 'dungeon expedition', it's D&D. It's a real shame to not try it."

      Eh, no, you go about your heists in a completely different manner.

      "They recruit people according to their stats and capacity for the sort of hit they want to do."

      Yes. But all characters has fixed stats if I remember correctly. They never level. And the stats are all very basic (Carrying capacity, Picking speed, etc.)

      Perhaps, just barely it could be recognized as a CRPG. I woun't be too upset if it is left in the list (it will take a long time before our Addict gets to play it anyway).

    4. I loved the predecessor, The Clue!, and though I'd been tempted getting The Sting! when I've noticed it being on sale it's graphical representation somehow didn't appeal on me. (In the same genre there was Virgin Interactive's Heist, which I bought in years ago hoping it being similar but turned out to be waste of time. Avoid it.)

    5. Is there a functional difference between The Clue! and The Sting! that would make the latter a quasi-RPG but not the former?

    6. Oh, never mind. I just realized I HAVE The Clue! on the list. Okay, The Sting! is back on for now.

  30. Hi, big fan of your blog here, and I've got some insights on some of the games on your master list (up to about 1996, then my eyes started drying out).

    Regarding Iljimae-jeon in 1994, it appears to be a Space Harrier-clone rather than an RPG: .

    UnReal World is a roguelike that is in constant development, so although it was released in 1994 it has many more-recent updates.

    Shannara is a point-and-click; its inventory is definitely a puzzle in itself, and combat is not based on statistics since none of the characters have any of them nor do they develop in any transparent way.

    Some of the games on your list can be classified as strategy, but that depends on how clearly you draw the line since they might fulfill two of the criteria (generally #1 and #3 but not #2 as most of them are mission-driven) but they won't feel like CRPGs. They include (these are all games I've personally played): the Warsong/Langrisser series, Master of Magic, some Koei games (Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Celtic Tales), X-Com, and Jagged Alliance.

    Lastly, here is an English fan-translation of Romance of the Forgotten Kingdom (1995) for your perusal: .

    1. It appears there are two games that sound similar. Iljimae-jeon: Manpa Sikjeok-pyeon is the SH clone, and Iljimae-jeon: Manman Papa Sikjeok-pyeon is an RPG. In all probability, though, I won't play even the latter.

      For UnReal World, perhaps I'll do what I did with NetHack and play successive versions.

      I appreciate the translation link. I've added it to my notes. It makes it more likely that I'll play the game.

  31. I'm perplexed about all of the strategy hybrids. Why not instead devote your time to playing Neverwinter Nights mods, which clearly fit any rpg definition, yet are not on the list?

    1. I might ply some of those mods when I get to it, but keep in mind that it will be in a decade, so who knows what will still be available? No sense trying to gather and list them all now. (Of course, I suppose you could make the same argument for the list in general.)

      I actually really like strategy games, and I recall many for which I could win at least one of the campaigns in an afternoon. So I figure they'll be quick to evaluate.

      But after I've tried a few, if I don't like the way it's going, I'll apply a stricter rule to what strategy-RPG hybrids appear on the list.

    2. Let's say you finish this list, but someone wants to argue that you have not, in fact, played every crpg. I don't know who this person thinks they are, challenging such a legendary feat. But the best argument they could make would not be to wade into a debate on the definition of an rpg. Instead, their strongest argument would be on the ground that you excluded mods, as well as non-PC platforms.

    3. I think that once he finishes the list, we make him start over again with non-DOS games.

      Note; By then I assume the Addict will have one the lottery and be living with his wife in a 16 bedroom home, and able to spend 8 hours a day playing games and writing to a horde of a thousand readers, while typing on a solid-gold keybord, while being brought gimlets by a robot butler.

    4. Either way, not high on my list of worries right now.

    5. I think you're list is reasonable in excluding other platforms and mods, but it seems wrong that at the same time you ARE including so many genre-benders.

    6. The problem is, until I play them, I don't know how much they're bending the genres.

    7. What is this nonsense about how you "actually really like strategy games"? Playing games because you like them is for amateurs. You have a mission, a quest, to play CRPGs!

      I think I've made my point though, so I'll try to stop whining about the strategy titles.

  32. Not to push your list over the edge, but are intentionally excluding browser (flash, java, html5) based games? I have nothing in mind, just a passing thought.

    1. Dear spork man, how many crappy games do you want him to play through? If we did this he'd hit 2005, then have to churn though 4.4 million generic flash RPGs.

    2. I suspect he'd play none; I just wanted it clear. If he did, I'd expect him to adopt a 10 minute instead of 6 hour rule.

    3. I deleted anything that indicated it was an online MULTI-PLAYER game, which I assume almost all the browser-based games are. If that's not the case, I guess I don't see why they shouldn't be on the list, except they probably won't exist when I get to them in 15 years.

      I'm beginning to think it was a bad idea to make a "master list" to begin with. Perhaps I should just create a year-to-year list and evaluate what games are still available at that point. This is all getting very complicated.

    4. I've been wondering if it would be blasphemy to suggest that. It seems to be working quite well for Trickster, though there are far less adventure games a year at the present time then there are CRPGs. I advise you to glance over his postings on the last 2 years and see if that system would work for you.

  33. I remember D.W. Bradley's 1995 FPS CyberMage: Darklight Awaking had a few RPG elements, like an inventory not just for puzzling and character growth through EXP or something similar. It's too long since I played it to remember how strong those elements were, but it might fit as a very light RPG.

  34. Although Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII were released on the PC for Windows, they were direct ports from their console release (Playstation). If you dislike JRPGs, it would make sense to drop these games but add the original Final Fantasy (released in the US in 1990, though published in Japan in 1987), which is far closer in style to Western CRPGs. It can easily be played on the PC using an NES emulator.

    1. The Addict doesn't use emulators. Also he has already played a few JRPGs released for the PC like Sorcerian or Ancient Land of Ys. It would be a bit daft to avoid the Final Fantasy games of all things after you've played less known Japanese games; especially when you aim to be as inclusive as possible in your approach.

    2. Beyond party selection, what is it about Final Fantasy that makes you say it's closer in style to western CRPGs?

      Adding console games with no PC port is a slippery slope that I don't think Chet will go down. As much as I'd like read about his thoughts on console games, I suggest sticking to PC.

    3. Actually Giuseppe, DOSBOX is an emulator.

    4. I think Giuseppe meant console emulator.

    5. I would like him to atleast play through FF7 as it is one of the biggest names in gaming ever (and might be coming to Steam). Also refer back to my post I made discussing the material system here :

      I will make a 'For future reference' reply beneath it so it can easilly be found.

    6. I DISLIKE a lot of things, but I'm trying to do a fairly comprehensive review of the history of CRPGs here, so I'll play FF7 and FF8 regardless.

      As Zenic points out, I had to draw a line somewhere. I'm losing ground year-to-year as it is. But I might allow an exception for a game that seems so influential as FF, just as I did for PEDIT5 and D&D using the Plato emulator. I'll consider at least a "special topics" posting on it.

    7. Yeah, I meant a console emulator. Thanks, Amy K.

  35. Since you don't let linguistic barriers intimidate you, I present couple CRPGS in finnish.

    Hurvana 2 (2009, I believe)

    Hurvana 3 - 10th Anniversary Edition (2010)

    The first website also had few RPGs not mentioned on list among demos and MMORPGs. (

    Abyss: Alpha version
    City Beneath The Surface
    Dark Ages I: Continents
    Dungeon Master Java (1:1 on original?)
    Iter Vehemens ad Necem (IVAN) (
    Magebane 2: Trinity (and maybe more on
    Mysterious Song
    ShadowFlare (
    SoulFu (
    Legend of Saladir
    Unreal World (I don't know if this is the one mentioned on list,
    Wandering Knights (
    ZAngband (
    Egoboo 2.2 (

    Still no Third Courier on list... (baww....)

  36. "Beyond party selection, what is it about Final Fantasy that makes you say it's closer in style to western CRPGs?"
    The original Final Fantasy is a turn-based dungeon-crawler heavily ripped off of D&D (to the point where it features monsters that are staples of D&D such as Sahuagin, mind flayers, trolls that regenerate health and are weak against fire, etc.). Later games in the series drift away mechanically, and more importantly gain the emphasis on predetermined plot and character development that became characteristic of Japanese RPGs.

    "I DISLIKE a lot of things, but I'm trying to do a fairly comprehensive review of the history of CRPGs here, so I'll play FF7 and FF8 regardless."
    I understand, but I'd quibble that a console RPG ported to the computer isn't necessarily a computer RPG.

    I admit my position may be biased as a result of being a fan of the early games in the FF series but not so much the later ones.

    1. The active turn battle isn't much different from the mechanics used in Baldur's Gate (except you don't control movement).

      Final Fantasy has a predetermined plot. There's little variation between two plays, the little there is has to do with the characters' class advancement.

      I agree, the Final Fantasy games become less hands on as most of the plot is given in uncontrollable scenes, and characterization becomes a driving force. There's little choice to change or define who the characters are in the first game. I don't see how that's more enjoyable than characters that have at least some personality.

  37. Because of the presence of non-commercial roguelikes in your list, I'd be remiss if I didn't turn you onto Brogue, imo the best of breed. You might even glance at it a bit early just to get a feel for how far a game can take true color ASCII graphics, random dungeon generation, and tactical gameplay (thanks to incredibly inventive terrain and monster features). I look forward to seeing you play this in several years... hopefully I'll have beaten it by then.

    1. I can't nail down a release date, but all the earliest reviews seem to be from 2011, so I'm going with that. Looking forward to a Scottish roguelike.

    2. Yea, Brogue is worth playing.
      Roguelike genre has boomed in the recent years. You won't get to play them for a long while, but maybe add these to the list too:

      - Lost Labyrinth (2001). One of the oldest graphical roguelikes. Still updated. The old versions might be almost impossible to find.

      - Triangle Wizard (27 Oct 2008). Real-time roguelike, looks like Nethack...but plays a bit like Diablo.

      - IVAN (Oct 20 2001). Finnish roguelike, extremely difficult. You can, for instance, lose limbs in battles. Many claim that it's nigh impossile to finish without cheating.

      - Incursion (Jul 28 2007). Dungeons&Dragons
      roguelike, heavily based on v3.5 d20. Tons of skills, feats and such...also unfortunately quite buggy.

      - Prospector (Feb 18 2009). Science fiction roguelike, with a randomly generated universe and aliens.

      Prospector reminded me of an another game. Project Nomad (1993). I wouldn't quite call it an RPG myself, but it's more so than fe. Toca Race Driver. Hypothetical question: would've you considered Starflight an RPG if there were no crew members?

    3. Some other notable ones:
      Linley's Dungeon Crawl (First: 1997)
      Dungeon Hack (1993)
      World of Arch (1994; I figured anything still updated after 18 years deserves a look)
      Super Lotsa Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic (1998)
      Falcon's Eye (2000)
      Doom, the Roguelike (2002)
      Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (2006)
      Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress (2006)
      Cataclysm (2010?)

    4. Also the copyright on Castle of the Winds is listed as 1989-1993, which is probably where the confusion comes from.

    5. That would make sense on CotW. Zaltys, I added the ones you recommended to check out. On your question, the "crew members" are barely a factor in SF, so yes, I'd still consider it an CRPG, although it's an iffy one.

      Canageek, I had the ones on your list except Cataclysm.

  38. I'm still not certain whether Nomad (1993) belongs on the list. It's hard to classify. Wikipedia calls it a "space trading game", some other sites list it as adventure/RPG or strategy/RPG.

    Considering your criteria? I'd err on the side of inclusion.

    Definitely lite RPG, but very similar to Starflight.
    Exploration, trade and information gathering are major parts of the game and there are even multiple ways to win. It is also notable for a massive amount of dialogue: there's numerous alien races and hundreds of topics to discuss with each of them.

  39. I found two more obscure games from 1990 still missing on your list:

    Dungeons of Doom
    I remember playing it 20 years ago, it is a simple dungeon crawler. I haven't found a copy yet but I am still trying to track one down.

    Dungeon Explorer
    A simple freeware top-down game.

    1. Thanks! Dungeon Explorer is an odd one; MyAbandonWare says the screenshots are "courtesy of MobyGames," but I can't find a mention of it anywhere on MobyGames.

  40. I recommend the game, "Darklands", which is on your list. I am basing this on your love of Pool of Radiance...although Darklands has what I believe is a completely unique character-building system (certainly not D&D-based...more complex with more options).

    Darklands is available on GoG as well, so it is easy to get a hold of a copy!

    There is a lot of breadth and depth in the game, and I have heard others say some of the quests have details randomly generated, and some of the towns have locations randomly generated, so there are differences in the world from game to game, not just in the characters.

    1. Glad to hear it. It's coming up reasonably soon, too.

  41. Also, someone recommended ZZT (which is a game-building system). I would recommend in addition (or perhaps instead) MegaZeux. It is a post-ZZT game creation system that is much better than ZZT, IMHO. Here is a link:

    In particular, I recommend the files by "tromdage", and in particular Zeux 1-5 (with 2, 4, and 5 being the best), as those were the "built-in" games.

  42. Looking at the master list I wonder that it "only" lists roughly above 1000 games. Even if you exclude all non-PC games, there's got to be more clones, home-made or non-english RPGs out there? When I think back to all those shareware CDs... everyone of them containing a dozen crappy RPGs.

    1. These are all the ones I've been able to find using commonly-available resources. I've invited readers to contribute additional games that they think are missing from the list. At some point, though, I've got to say enough is enough.

  43. Regarding your Clouds of Xeen/Darkside of Xeen/World of Xeen debate (Might & Magic 4/5), I'll try to keep this spoiler-free but incentivizing for you to play them together...

    * The games were released separately, but other than initial release, even the makers always release the two together in World of Xeen.

    * There is a separate ending for Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, but there is a third ending (after finishing both Clouds & Darkside) that can only be done if you play both. So, you can't get that final ending unless you play them together.

    * There are some quests in Clouds of Xeen that can't be solved without Darkside also involved. I won't give details as to why, but will just leave it as the game being a more complete experience when played together.

    * Just to reiterate the above, when played together, the game isn't complete until you complete the THIRD major quest and get your THIRD victory sequence...when you have found things on Darkside that help with quests in Clouds (and vice versa).

    Hopefully that is relatively spoiler-free, and yet enough motivation to definitely play both MM4/5 together. Timing-wise, it makes sense IMHO to play with Clouds, since it is obvious Darkside was planned at the same time as Clouds...and because then I can read about your experience sooner. ;)

    1. I just completed World of Xeen myseld, and I definitely recommend installing World of Xeen, but then play and finish Clouds of Xeen before even traveling to the Darkside. The XP you gain on Darkside will ruin game balance if you switch back and forth.
      So I recommend finishing Clouds as a seperate game, then play dozens of other games, and then start Darkside of Xeen using the save game from Clouds of Xeen. Only from Darkside should you switch back and forth between the two game halfs. And for the World of Xeen ending you have to travel back and forth.

    2. Y'all just have to remember to remind me of all this when 1992 comes around.

  44. Thanks for all the insights (and laughs) over the last couple of years. I can't believe this hasn't been raised before, but I can't find it in the comments here or the game list (and it's been bugging me)... Minecraft. It's at least as much of an RPG as other action games that are included, and it seems to meet all of your three criteria. (I'm also a little bit curious to see how it would rate as a CRPG).

    1. I'm glad you like the blog, and I appreciate the comment, though I'm going to need a second opinion on Minecraft. Which of the three core criteria (listed in the right-hand bar) does it have?

      It'll be forever before I get to it anyway!

    2. There are character levels... although if there are stats they're invisible, and if they're used for combat that's again hidden. Massive inventory that's puzzle based. I'd call it a simulation, not an RPG. There are no goals, no story, and no, I'd never call it an RPG.

      Some mods do add more RPG elements, but that would be endless.

    3. Yeah, I wouldn't call the base game a CRPG either. But it does have a goal: defeat the Elder Dragon.

      ...and there are tons of mods, some of which add character classes, stats, stories and such.

  45. You know, not a totally serious suggestion, but based on those criteria, Alien Shooter 2 counts as a CRPG. It has an inventory not related to puzzle solving (mostly weapons, but there are health and support items as well), and your character levels in a way that you can control. There are stats to put points in and one perk allows you to gain levels faster. It doesn't have much random combat, though the combat is somewhat stat based. Problem is nobody in their right mind would refer to that game as an RPG.

    On a completely different note, I'm somewhat curious what your opinion on Pathological would be. I can't justify it being on the list, but based on your posts, it might be something you would be interested in.

    1. If Alien Shooter 2 is the same thing as Alien Shooter: Vengeance, it is indeed listed by MobyGames as an RPG and on my list for 2007.

      I also have a game called Pathologic in 2005 listed as an RPG. The only one called Pathological (2003) is listed as a freeware puzzle game, so I assume you're referring to the former.

  46. Hi, I've been reading your blog for the past few weeks, really enjoying it so far. Have you ever played Quenzar's Caverns? It was the first RPG I ever played (it was on one of those "50 games on 1 CD" things that used to be so prevalent). Old-school dungeon crawler with 81 rooms shuffled about every time you start a new game. It can be pretty brutal but its condensed enough you can beat it in a half hour or so. You can download it here When you get to 1993, I'd love to see your take on it. :)

    1. No! MobyGames doesn't have that one. Thanks for the tip; I'll add it to the list.

  47. While I'd hate to discourage anyone from playing it; Lords of chaos (1990/1991) probably shouldn't be on the list.

    Whilst it is arguably Julian Gollops (x-com) most 'rpg' like title, the DOS version doesn't actually exist. It was announced but never finished.

    I think it was released alongside a spectrum emulator with a load of other roms, so you could argue it has a pc release. There's a few other titles on the list that fall into a similar 'pc version = emulator+rom' category (mainly jrpgs), so it's really down to how you feel about that particular can-o-worms.

    1. Well, MobyGames bears you out. It doesn't list a DOS release. I'm not sure how it got there in the first place. But I might have to rethink the whole DOS-only thing at the end of the year, so I'll keep it there for now.

  48. Hey, I must say I love your blog (naturally), old-school rpg player here as well. Must have played more than 200-300rpgs in this lifetime.. An addict sadly or not, as well.

    1. You might wanna check "Wrath of the Demon" not sure if it should be in your master list or not though. I had it on those large diskettes original like 20+ years ago and never managed to finish it, a hard game though it's practically a strange mix of action-rpg with platforming and adventure-exploration elements.

    2. Looking forward to your "Obitus" (91 game) playing and posting btw. Had played this game at least twice near the end, drawing the map myself etc, but never managed to find out how to finish it, I hope you have better luck... :(

    1. Thanks! I'm glad to have a kindred spirit as a reader.

      MobyGames seems to list Wrath of the Demon as a side-scrolling action/platformer. Does it have character development (experience, levels, increased attributes, etc.), inventory, or stat-based combat?

    2. No, Wrath of the Demon is not a CRPG. I just watched the long play, jumped around a bit through some of the more boring stages, but I don't think I missed anything important.

      No character development, not stat-based combat, and the inventory is limited to keys and three potion types: healing, limited invincibility, and something else that I didn't see used in the video.

      I have a feeling Obitus might not measure up either, but that definitely has an inventory. I just don't know about the other two, and it's on my list too, so I don't want to spoil myself too much with that one.

  49. Rummaging through old disks revealed one forgotten CRPG classic which would deserve to be played. The game is called SpurguX, roguelike from 1987 by Petri Niska (person, not company).

    In SpurguX your character is wino travelling through city in search of bottle of Cognac to quench his thirst, which is located somewhere at Level 50. More verbose description could be found from video's info.

    Character has just three statistics - Hitpoints, experience and alcohol level. You have small inventory (10 items (mostly foodstuff) and booze).

    Amateurish, yes, but spread widely via early 90s era elementary school IT-classes and nowadays enjoying somewhat cult status due juvenile humor and political incorrectness.

    Major catch would be that it's entirely in finnish and even that language is mostly in slang.

    1. Oh, no! I missed a Finnish roguelike in which the PC is a wino! I can't tell you how much it pains me that I've already passed 1987.

  50. I looked over the game list and despite seeing several roguelikes (Rogue, Nethack, Moria, Angband), I don't see one that I feel should be on this list: ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery)

    It's my favorite of the roguelikes I've played (Rogue, Angband, Nethack, Hack, and ADOM), and it has a couple of key features that I think would appeal to you:

    1. An overarching quest that you learn more about as the game goes on.
    2. Side quests including (a)at least one mutually exclusive side quest(you only get access to one of them, depending on a choice, and (b)some options about how you want to complete other quests
    3. Random level generation through most levels, but also a large number of interesting pre-built or semi-prebuilt (half the level might be random, the other half non-random).

    Now, some caveats:
    1. There's a lot more story than Rogue, but this isn't Ultima.
    2. This is a rogue-like, there's a lot of learning by dying. Some of it very late in the game. Some of the custom levels will almost guaranteed kill an unspoiled character on your first visit to them. I can think of two that killed me (before I had ever seen spoilers) where I knew there was something unique and dangerous about the level, but did not know what.
    3. That means it will take a LOT of play time to generate a complete playthrough.

    There's a point that you can get to where you learn a significant bit about the main plot (I think it will be obvious when you get there), that requires a fair amount of time investment to reach but is significantly shorter than winning the game, and, I think, before all or most of the custom levels that are "surprise" lethal.

    It came out in 1994, so it's still ahead of you, although I don't know that you can still get that version. It's less changed than Nethack, but I first played it in 1999 and the version I next played, in 2003, had added a talent system that didn't previously exist, so it has changed some.


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