Elemental Challenge Day Eight: Adventure

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It’s Day Eight and it’s time to talk about something truly magical: adventure games.

Essentially the basic archetype for almost every game, the adventure is a classic storytelling motif that has endured for generations. In gaming, the adventure is a broad term often used in tandem with other genres (action adventure, point and click adventure, etc.). The adventure genre’s relationship to stories from antiquity isn’t characterized only by the precedent of quests in medieval tales and ancient myths, but the genre in gaming is often used to adapt these fables and literary narratives as well. Adventure games focus on story, exploration, puzzle-solving, item acquisition, and the singular journeys of their protagonists, told in some very creative ways. In their purest forms, their popularity has waned but thanks to the silent protagonist quirk of many games, adventures become even more immersive than in other media. If literature is about putting yourself into the shoes of people you’ve never met and you’re nothing like, then adventure games provide that same sense of projection and are therefore significant in the history of storytelling in gaming.

Below are some of our favorite adventures…

 

FF3-NES-Summoner2.png The Green Screen Mage

The opening song in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker still brings a smile to my face instantly. Exploring the world, defeating enemies, solving puzzles, random side quests. The making of a great Zelda game, and, while Breath of the Wild is good, I would argue the best Zelda game. If not for little Link’s sassy face alone.

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blackmage The Black Humor Mage

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is the dictionary definition of action-adventure. I got to play this game on my Wii with the GameCube Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition (thanks, Nintendo), and I loved this game so much. I was glad to play a classic, and I can see why it is held in so high regard.

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mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

Sherlock Holmes Crimes & Punishment. It is the best example of a new age mystery/adventure game that I am aware of and is a true delight to the fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s works. The cases are genius, the puzzles and riddles are achievable but not too easy, and the storyline is very Sherlockian and enjoyable. it did a great job of not being so dense that you just want to give up and play something else, while still being challenging enough to keep your interest. (Honorable Mentions – The Last Door, The Wolf Among Us, Terraria)

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spoonybardmageright.jpg The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

I have to choose Zelda, but which one? I’ll go with the NES classic, as my uncle helped me through it so it was a bonding experience, and helped me develop into the kickass gamer I am today.

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FF3-NES-Geomancer1 The Five More Minutes Mage (Gamegato)

In the personal verdict on my Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker review, I said that it was my first and only Zelda game. But so far, it’s been great and gotten me hooked on the Zelda series.

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finalfourteenthmage.png The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)

The Last Guardian. I spent so many years waiting for this game and despite its many flaws I still really enjoyed it. When the game worked right the interactions between yourself and Trico were amazing. The way Trico responded to the environment around it was fantastic. Playing with chains, pushing catapults and being scared of water just to name a few. The ending of The Last Guardian was the only game to ever make me cry. In my defence I was heavily pregnant at the time!

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HandheldMage1  The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

I struggled with thinking of a selection for this genre, but the answer that kept coming back to me was the Tomb Raider reboot. I’ll admit the story is terrible, but the action and drama is immense, you really feel you’ve been on a journey by the end.

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 The Rage Mage

What about the game that started this genre: Adventure? I mean, it’s in the title. All you need are undefined blocks to tell a story. Everything else is fluff and fan fiction.

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rmage2.jpg The Well-Red Mage

So clearly the Legend of Zelda series has a sizable presence on today’s challenge, and not without reason. For many of us, it’s the franchise we think of when we think of the adventure genre. I waffled between naming The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (my favorite title in the series) or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (a very close second and a much broader and innovative game). On the one hand, nostalgia is a powerful pull. On the other, we’re talking Game of the Year material. How am I supposed to decide! Well, in the end, a future category in this challenge will decide for me. I’m shelving the sprawling and adventurous Breath of the Wild for now… but I’m also going to have to shelve the haunting, monochromatic dreamscape that is Link’s Awakening, as well, unfortunately.

That’s because my answer changed at the last minute. I’m going to name Shadow of the Colossus as my favorite adventure title. By now, everybody should at least know about this work of art. The announcement of its remake was one of my favorite moments at E3 2017 because this was really an unforgettable experience. As an adventure, it’s lack of dialogue allows the player to get sucked into its world and the decaying mind of its protagonist. It just dawned on me that (SPOILERS for Shadow of the Colossus and The Last of Us) Wander’s corruption was very much akin to Joel’s from the ending of his game since they both gave up their humanity, their souls, for the ones they “loved” but one sacrifice resonated with me and the other repulsed me, the one was tragic and the other was petty, in my opinion. Why? I’ll have to give this more thought. That’s what these games are all about. A few honorable mentions go to Grim FandangoOkamiAbzû, Terraria, Ico, Another World, Crystalis, and Maniac Mansion.

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The adventure may be over for today but a new challenge begins tomorrow! Whatever could the next genre be? As always, share your favs in the comments below and let’s learn about more new games together!
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45 thoughts on “Elemental Challenge Day Eight: Adventure

  1. Since it looks like Zelda is under adventure genre, that is the only choice I could possibly make, since it’s also one of my all-time favorite series! If we’re throwing in point-and-click adventure, which doesn’t seem like the case, I would totally also pick Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney! It’s also one of my huge favorites!

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  2. Ask me a year ago, and I’d have said Zelda, though I’m not sure which one I’d pick. Ocarina, Twilight Princess, and Majora’s Mask are my three favorites (story and watch wise at least), but now that I’ve played Journey, I have to give that as my answer.

    Journey and “adventure” are nearly synonymous, and the game exemplifies everything about that genre. Silent protagonist, expansive world, mysterious circumstances, and interpretive narrative. It’s also an adventure for your mind!

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        • Wrong, madam! Wrong! Under section 37B of the contract signed by you, it states quite clearly that all offers shall become null and void if – and you can read it for yourself in this photostatic copy – “I, the undersigned, shall forfeit all rights, privileges, and licenses herein and herein contained,” et cetera, et cetera… “Fax mentis, incendium gloria cultum,” et cetera, et cetera… “Memo bis punitor delicatum!” It’s all there! Black and white, clear as crystal! You stole Fizzy-Lifting Drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get… NOTHING!!! You lose! GOOD DAY, madam!

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  3. When I think adventure I often think of point, and click adventure. And I have to give that to Maniac Mansion as well. But not the NES version. It was heavily censored so the innuendo jokes are gone, and the gore is cut down. Go with the Commodore 64 version instead. Visually it’s pretty much the same, but with none of the content cut out. Plus you get that awesome, unique SID music. The only drawback is the insane price online these days. Still, should you find one at a garage sale for cheap, pick it up.

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    • Yay! One of my favorites! Every time I think about “getting stuck” in a game, I remember playing Maniac Mansion as a kid. Unfortunately, that had to be the NES version. I bought a floppy disk with MM on it in some game store somewhere as a kid because I loved it so much but I didn’t have a computer to play it on for years, and then I eventually lost the disk.

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  4. I nominate Okami on the Wii. I would suggest one of the Legend of Zelda games, but I will use it in a more appropriate category. The most noticeable aspect of this game is the vivid visual style, which I initially found blinding, but became accustomed to it. I enjoyed the huge location of the game and found the designs of the setting was interesting, which used large fields, dark forests, tall mountains, dense cities, ornate palaces, coasts, etc. It was enjoyable to explore the game and it used a very tangible sense of accomplishment (with ruined shrines displaying areas of demonic possession and, following a battle, the area instantly becomes more luscious and natural). The story was also interesting, the game begins with the player helping another character defeat a monster threatening a village, but, following the defeat of each monster, the player was led to another location, threatened by another demonic monster, to make it peaceful. The characters featuring in the game were also quite interesting, such as an unconfident warrior, a possessed priestess, a misunderstood Queen and the warrior dogs. The puzzles were interesting, with the Wii remote allowing the use of brush techniques that allowed the player to complete challenges in interactive ways, and appeared unexpectantly.
    I have heard of the Shadow of the Colossus. I was amazed by the size of the monsters in the game. How is the decaying mind of the protagonist shown in the game?

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    • Okami is a really great game, and one that helped define the Wii era for me. It was one of the games that was better on the Wii than the PlayStation since you had the built-in motion controls. I won’t spoil Shadow of the Colossus for you. You’ll just have to play it for yourself and experience what happens to the protagonist with him. 🙂

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  5. I’m bad at this whole genre thing, since I tend to confuse my games with my books and think “fantasy” exists as a genre in video games. But I digress.

    So… while I love me some Ocarina of Time, I’m going to go with Metal Gear Solid 2… and/or that whole gosh darn series.

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  6. The Longest Journey. Great characters, great story, excellent wit, smart puzzles (although some definite head scratchers in the vein of Monkey Island). All around super fun and with two great sequels to boot.

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  7. Truth be told, I almost elected one of my first games, The Legend of Zelda: Story of Seasons as my choice for this category. Zelda does fit the description of an adventure game, after all, but like Sublime in the comments above, I’ve always thought of it more as an RPG than anything else (which it might or might not be!). Because of this, I’m choosing a different game. Two Brothers. It’s a fantastic little game with great mythology, fun graphics, and interesting play dynamics. It really put my brain to the test to navigate one brother with my left hand and the other with my right.

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  8. Lesseeeeeeee… Oh! I know! Long before I had my own PSP, I would borrow my brother’s. A lot. One that he had on there was called Cave Story, and I fell in love with it soon enough. (First time I played it, I was up until like three in the morning. I totally slept through class the next day.) I never did get to try the remake, though that’s still on the to-do list if I can ever work down this backlog of mine. I won’t lie, I did about ten playthroughs of it before I ever figured out I was getting the ‘okay’ ending. And then it took me another five ‘good’ endings to realize there was a side quest and a ‘best’ ending. I liked Cave Story so much, though, that I really didn’t mind all of those attempts. (The steps required for the best ending are insanely hard to ever think of on your own! I wonder how people ever found them.)

    Nowadays, there’s the remake, plus a lot of custom or expanded versions, and honestly I’d recommend anybody who loves platform/shooter adventures try at least one of them. It’s a very rewarding experience, no matter how teeth-gnashingly difficult the (actual) final stretch can be.

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    • Hey thankts! It’s nice to get some info on Cave Story. I saw the remake released for the Switch just the other day and I was curious about it, but not enough to make me buy it on the spot. Your recommendation has renewed my interest in it, though.

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  9. Hmm … I wasn’t sure what sort of game you meant initially, largely because I’ve seen people describe point and click games as adventure recently. If we were heading that way, then either Discworld 2: Missing presumed, Sam N Max or Monkey Island 2. Judiging by the entries above though, i’m going to say … Alundra on the PS1. I had so much fun with that thing 🙂

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  10. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    The Legend of Zelda almost took every spot in the Adventure genre today, and I wasn’t even aware that most people classified it into that genre! I believed it to be more of an Action RPG or a Hack & Slash. Otherwise it would have most definitely made my number one slot with the Windwaker. However with my classification of the genre I had to go with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishment. Visit the page and join the conversation!

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      • Ah yes that makes more sense I went straight to thinking of point and click type Adventure games. Action Adventure sounds like the best description for them. I’ve always wanted to play shadow of the colossus, I have always heard great thing about it.

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        • Ah my friend, I’m sure you would love Shadow of the Colossus. What a work of art! It’s funny, going back to the adventure thing, I can’t actually think of a specific adventure game that isn’t fused with another genre, except for maybe the original Adventure?

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  11. Interesting, you can see by my choices that I had a completely different idea of what an Adventure game means then most the other mages today. If I personally had the LOZ classified in this genre I would totally have chose it as my number one and probably the Windwaker just like 5 More Minutes & Green Screen. I have the Legend of Zelda under Action RPG but could also see some elements of Hack & Slash or I guess Adventure as well.

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    • Zelda is a series which combines many different elements, in its purest form in the first game I’d consider it a majority adventure title but then the second game added RPG elements, and so on and on. These are all pretty loose fitting descriptions and categorizations, thankfully, plus at least now you can save Wind Waker for a future entry? I’m not sure if you did or not. I think Adventure is a category that bridges into other genres a lot and it’s pretty broad on its own, so it’s tough to nail down.

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      • Yeah it’s helpful to talk about what the different genres really consist of and what makes the games a part of it. I think that my line of thought is part of it but I completely left out the action Adventure side in my thinking. I have Grim Fandango on Steam I really gotta install that and check it out when I get the chance.

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        • Grim Fandango! *swoon* I knew nothing about that game when I went into it but what an amazing game. I played the remaster a little while back and it was very memorable. It was an instant classic for me. Just make sure you use a guide, sparingly, but you’ll need one a dozen or so times. Those obscure puzzle solutions!

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  12. I always considered adventure games to be of the point & click variety, so my choice is easily Day of the Tentacle. I’m not a big P&C fan, but the humour in it was spot on at the age I played it. Plus time travel!

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    • LucasArts had some great humor and Day of the Tentacle is the sequel I’ve never played to one of my favorite games, Maniac Mansion. Have you played that one? Point and clicks don’t hold up too well today in the internet age with solutions to puzzles at your fingertips, but at least there’s that charming jokiness about them.

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      • I played Maniac Mansion in Day of the Tentacle (which was a really cool inclusion).
        I kind of like having solutions available for puzzles, at least it prevents hours of being stuck. It turns them more into walking simulators if you follow them too closely, but if you set yourself a rule that if you haven’t got a clue what to do after 10 minutes or so of experimenting then you’re allowed to look it up then it keeps the game aspect and maintains the flow.

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