Let's talk about games! Our games, other people's games, triple-A and indie.
So let's kick this off by discussing our favorite Action RPGs..... OTHER than Zelda! (devilish smile).
Or you can try to define RPGs / Action RPGs, but that's a Sisyphean
task (yet one which gives me fiendish analytical pleasure). You could make arguments that all kinds of games are "action" + "RPG" but I would tend to say that "Action RPG" should (or at least usually does) refer to Zelda-likes: action games, usually top-down in view (but not always), with some degree of character progression, usually requiring inventory item use, and manual exploration (no point-to-point map navigation). But most importantly these mechanics occur in a true action-game mode: you press an action button that has an immediate, direct effect - unlike Diablo-likes which are more indirect and timer-driven. But you could sort of extend that definition to Darksiders (which I think is valid) and even Borderlands (less so, it's a *shooter* first and an RPG second... but it does have "action" if you wanted to stretch it). As with all definitions of multi-faceted subjects, there is really no clean way to divide up genres in any strict way.
Some of my favorite Action RPGs:• Rolan's Curse (GameBoy) - probably the first action RPG I ever played. It's like a very slow Zelda, but I really like the fact that you only have 2 inventory slots for weapons / items. There weren't many to choose from, but my favorites (and I would grind and hunt to get them) were the magic rod and the crystal, both projectile weapons. The music is
actually really good, too.• Final Fantasy Adventure (GameBoy)
- This is actually the first (gasp!) Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu) game. And... probably the best. I went on a podcast last night and (another gasp!) said that I thought SNES SoM had not stood the test of time extremely well. But FFA really made me fall in love with giving players all kinds of weapon types. The Flail was awesome. I need to go back and play that soon.• Lunar Knights (Nintendo DS)
- By Hidea Kojima of all people! Sequel to the 2 Boktai games on GBA (GameBoy Advance). The graphics are really great and interesting - pure top-down tileset, but at a 45-degree angle. I haven't gotten super far in the game, and all of the crazy systems are a bit off-putting at first, but it's a really solid game with amazing art.
Interesting list of Action RPGs appears on this site run by Jeremy Parish (ex-EGM and 1UP). Most inclusions I agree with, some I do not. http://www.telebunny.net/toastywiki/index.php/TwoD/ActionRPG