A computer game where you are in charge of one character, usually someone who has to go around solving a mystery by talking to people and examining their surroundings to find clues. Generally very linear games, which is the main complaint by people who aren't adventure game fans.

My favorite adventure games, in no particular order:
Police Quest
Sam and Max Hit the Road
Space Quest
King's Quest
The Secret of Monkey Island
Blade Runner
Blue Force
Full Throttle
Day of the Tentacle

Adventure is a genre of video games, prevalent since the days of the Atari system and the eponymous game "Adventure", and probably most popular during the era of 8-bit and 16-bit gaming. Like most genre definitions, what constitutes an "adventure" game is somewhat open to interpretation. The adventure game takes in the large middle ground between platformers and RPGs. An adventure game will involve real time movement of a character, but will not primarily depend on rapid reflexes. It will have an inventory of items, perhaps some form of interaction with other characters, and some ability to choose the route your character takes.

This is, of course, a very wide net, and games that could be described as "adventure" games range from Super Mario Brothers 3, which is a platformer with some control over the route and a basic inventory system, to a game like Terranigma,a complicated, sweeping RPG which included some dexterity-intensive real time combat. Within the loose confines of this definition, "adventure" was the default genre during the 8-bit and 16-bit era. Some of the most popular franchises of that era, such as Super Mario Brothers (starting with the third game), The Legend of Zelda, Metroid and Megaman, were all games in the adventure mold.

Adventure games, especially text-based ones, are often known by fans as `interactive fiction'. The first text adventure was ADVENT, also known as `Colossal Caves', by Will Crowther and Don Woods. The physical layout of rooms in ADVENT is based very loosely on the Mammoth and Flint Ridge Cave system in Kentucky; Crowther is a spelunker who participated in the exploration of that cave system.

Probably the most popular series of adventure games is the Zork series, which contains both text adventures (Zork I-III, etc.) and graphical adventures (Zork: Grand Inquisitor, etc). Infocom, the company that released Zork commerically, went on to release a wide variety of other text adventures before eventually going under and being bought by Activision.

Nowadays, there are a number of people writing text-based (and other) interactive fiction which is even better than the old Infocom games. They populate rec.arts.int-fiction. Examples of recent (post-1993) IF that is very good: Jigsaw, Lethe Flow Phoenix, A Change in the Weather, For a Change, Tapestry, and Photopia; the last two are more fiction than interactive, as they have very little in the way of puzzles.

While modern graphical adventure games often have rather linear plots, this is not true for all of the genre. I offer the original Maniac Mansion as a shining example of a good nonlinear game---you can win in a number of different ways, depending on which members you choose for your party. Similarly, Jigsaw is rather nonlinear---while there are a few dependencies among the time periods, they are the exception rather than the rule.

For more information on the new wave of text-based interactive fiction, read rec.games.int-fiction and rec.arts.int-fiction, and perhaps visit ftp://ftp.gmd.de/if-archive/ .

Now Wizards of the Coast has decided that this is a more politically correct way of saying Role Playing Games. So, don't be surprised if you start hearing about the Pokemon Adventure Game and it has nothing to do with the old text adventures. I believe they called the new Dungeons and Dragons (3rd Edition) an Adventure Game. (Don't be surprised if they come up with yet ANOTHER name for it not shortly afterwards, look at collectable card game, trading card game, and now they call it expandable card game.)

TOKEN NPC: The world has been overcome with generic, archetypical evil, and only you, intrepid young adventurer, can vanquish it and return the world to a peaceful state. You will be aided in your quest by the towns' merchants, who are even willing to peddle their wares for a reduced fee (you are saving us from a life of eternal torment, after all). I am able to share with you only three pieces of information: the source of this catastrophic evil is right over there; you can't get to it until you fight all of its minions scattered throughout the world; and the first minion's lair is right over there. Good luck, hero, you'll need it!

DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: As our hero makes his way through the first of INTEGER themed dungeons, he realizes the lack of intelligence of his enemy. Weapons and armor just his size have been left in treasure chests and keys to locked doors abound. Our hero need not be careful; his enemies are apparently deaf. Reinforcements never arrive, and should he become weary, health items are never far.

HERO: I sure wish I had an ITEM. It would make it a lot easier to get...oh, there's one. Sweet!

DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: With his newly acquired ITEM, our hero makes his way to the boss's lair. This boss room, as it were, is inexplicably set up to take advantage of the boss's glaring weakness. This weakness is always related to the recently acquired ITEM. If our hero acquired a ray gun, the boss would only be vulnerable to lasers. Had he found a grappling hook, the boss would either be vulnerable only from a high vantage point or need to be pulled down to the ground.

HERO: Wow, that's convenient!

DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: Our hero uses his ITEM to vanquish the boss, and claims the McGuffin that it was invariably guarding. He also gets a stamina boost, despite the fact that he should be extremely tired after that grueling battle with a boss at least three times his size. Our hero is now transported magically either to the dungeon entrance or the town where the quest started.

TOKEN NPC: If I'm the same NPC that talked to you before, I just remembered the location of the next fiend! Otherwise, I was just walking by and saw some bad things happening over there. Maybe you should go check them out.

DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: This cycle repeats INTEGER times until our hero finds himself at the boss room of the final dungeon. This final battle plays out much the same way as the other boss battles. It just takes longer, the music is cooler, and the final boss doesn't die until you've defeated him a number of times (at least 2). Upon defeating the final boss, I will reward with a final scene, the credits, and maybe a New Game+, but that's all you're getting.

DISCLAIMER: I love action/platform games; they're just really formulaic, and I've been thinking about them a lot lately. My sources for this article are the Legend of Zelda series and the Metroid series.

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