Here are some more good/interesting games from (mostly) 1985/86. Platforms are a bit sketchy and this includes a few games with a side-view as well.
1984: Skool Daze (Spectrum)
1985: Back to School (Spectrum) Quake Minus One (C64) Fairlight (various) The Eidolon (various) Koronis Rift (various) Rescue on Fractalus (various) Finders Keepers (various) Spellbound (various) Tau Ceti (various) Hacker (various) Everyone`s A Wally (various)
1986: Into the Eagle's Nest (Various) Spell of Destruction / Wizardry (C64) - not THAT Wizardry Fairlight II (various) Contact Sam Cruise (Spectrum) They Stole a Million (various) Asterix and the Magic Cauldron (C64) Get Dexter (CPC) Knight Tyme (various) Quazatron (Spectrum) Psi 5 Trading Co. (various) Spindizzy (C64) Tracker (C64) Pyracurse (Spectrum) Hacker 2 (various) Bobby Bearing (various) Trap Door (various) Heartland (various)
1987: Infiltrator II (C64) Sindbad and the Throne of the Falcon (Amiga) Stormbringer (various) Cholo (various)
1988: Magnetron (various)
I'm going with the following games/series as the main codifiers for these genres and comparing each game to them: The Legend of Zelda, Ys, Solstice, Landstalker, Metal Gear, Secret of Mana/Seiken Densetsu, GTA and Diablo for Top Down & Isometric Games.
Why do you see Solstice as a formative game? If anything, it is a late entry in a sub-genre that had its heyday between 1984 and 1988. That style was pretty much fully developed with Knight Lore already. Landstalker doesn't really do anything new either, it's basically isometric Zelda. Secret of Mana follows the template created by earlier Action-RPGs like Ys. But I would maybe add a category for the system-driven Action-Adventures which were prevalent on computers in the 80s/90s and are now one of the main ingredients of modern gaming (immersive sims, open world, survival etc.)
Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jul 5, 2020 6:22:10 GMT -5
"Why do you see Solstice as a formative game? If anything, it is a late entry in a sub-genre that had its heyday between 1984 and 1988. That style was pretty much fully developed with Knight Lore already." Solstice seems a lot more well known?
"Landstalker doesn't really do anything new either, it's basically isometric Zelda." Ok so what pre-LS game is basically an isometric Zelda?
"Secret of Mana follows the template created by earlier Action-RPGs like Ys." I'd say not really, since SoM doesn't have bump combat and early Ys doesn't have stamina & charge attack-based combat nor use-based progression for spells and weapons.
Basically I listed the most popular/influential games I could think of, but I might add some games to those lists at some point. Links to developer interviews talking about influences would be useful since popularity is the next best thing but not definitive and after that it's basically observation of similarities that may or may not be coincidental.
"But I would maybe add a category for the system-driven Action-Adventures which were prevalent on computers in the 80s/90s and are now one of the main ingredients of modern gaming (immersive sims, open world, survival etc.)" That's basically three separate subgenres. Maybe I'll add separate pages (and perhaps space combat sims) for those later though after I've made system/platform specific pages.
Cholo, Knight Tyme and Tau Ceti were already listed, and Spellbound on the platform adventure site but I'll check out the others you listed.
Altered Space is actually a pretty rad game. I like it better than Equinox, at least, though it's certainly not as good as Solstice.
Highly recommended underdog of the isometric adventure genre, though.
Also, where IS this full list? I went to the website linked in the OP, but didn't see a list of games anywhere. Is there a different site I should be going to?
Either way, being an MSX-obsessed fanboy, I can't help but name a few MSX titles that definitely belong on this list. Some are probably already on there, but I'd be surprised and impressed if a few of the others I'm listing are. Such as...
Borfes and the Five Devils This game rocks, though it's SUPER hard. 100% Zelda-style adventure, though, that's MSX-exclusive and largely unknown, but totally worth playing, and gives you some serious bragging rights if you can actually beat it (which I have not, as of yet!).
Mashou no Yakata Gabalin / House Based on the horror/comedy movie House from... 1984, was it? This is slightly borderline, since it mixes a couple different genres, but its main gameplay takes place in what can best be described as a giant Zelda 1 dungeon. It's also really good, and has a really dirty trick after its final battle that I greatly respect the programmers for throwing in there.
Rune Worth (series) You probably have the Hydlide series listed, but do you have T&E Soft's followup series, Rune Worth? There were three entries in the Rune Worth franchise (only one on MSX, though), and they're really pretty cool games with a VERY heavy story focus and quite a bit of nonlinearity (including certain obstacles that can be overcome in a variety of ways that greatly change the flow of the story). Gameplay-wise, Rune Worth is clearly inspired by the likes of Ys, though it does away with experience, often making it more advantageous to just avoid enemies than to fight them.
Higemaru Makaijima This is one that I'm guessing you probably DO have listed, since it's also on Famicom -- but if not, you definitely should! This Capcom game (that takes place in the same world as Ghosts & Goblins) is a pirate-themed Zelda-like, except you don't actually get a set weapon of your own. Instead, you can pick up things on every screen, like barrels or boulders, and roll them at your enemies to try to bowl them over. It's an odd system, but it works well -- and it's like Zelda in virtually every other regard, with items you need to acquire in order to proceed, and a continuous storyline that's simple but quite good. Definitely an underrated game!
Silviana Another one you probably have listed, since it's also on Famicom Disk System -- though this is one where the MSX2 version is WAY BETTER than its FDS counterpart, if only because the MSX2 version uses the proper color palette and has genuinely good music, while the FDS version is visually and aurally an absolute MESS. Not a superb game, but it's a fun little Zelda-like with simplified Ys-style bump combat, and it has some plot elements and puzzle solutions that are just... absolutely mindblowingly ridiculous. I still can't get over the way you wind up accessing the final dungeon, as it's just the most overkill solution I've ever seen in any game. Spoiler follows:
The final dungeon is on an island just off the coast of the mainland. But you never get a boat, and you can't swim in this game, so that means it's completely cut off. So how do you get to it? Simple: you get an item that lets you FREEZE ALL THE WORLD'S OCEANS SO YOU CAN WALK OVER THEM AS IF THEY WERE DRY LAND. Absolute madness.
Dungeon Master Not to be confused with the MULTIPLE other games bearing this name, the MSX Dungeon Master by ASCII is a simplified Ys-style game where you control a party of adventurers at the same time, rather than just one guy. Think of it like an overhead-view Sorcerian, but with bump combat.
Roving Planet Styllus Goes by many different translated names, but that's the one that stuck for me. This is a HAL Laboratory game that's a bit borderline, since it's stage-based, but each stage is very much a Zelda dungeon with hidden items and rooms, puzzles, etc. Not a super-great game, but it's interesting enough!
Stone of Wisdom Another Zelda dungeon of a game, this time from Casio. This has a very budget feel to it, but it's honestly pretty OK. Might be a little too simplistic for your list, but it does TECHNICALLY check all the boxes.
Children of the Night Do modern homebrew games count? Because this is a modern homebrew game for MSX and Colecovision, and is an absolutely SUPERB title. You play as Count Vlad Drakul, who's been awakened by Abhraham Van Helsing to help fend off the impending attack of ancient Egyptian god Sutekh, as well as the Nazis, with help from the multidimensional AI computer system known as Athraia that he created. Its plot is bonkers, and involves allying yourself with Cthulhu, the Wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera, and more. And the gameplay is just top-notch Zelda-style action with a really cool weighted ability system. I can't recommend this one highly enough.
Moon Light Saga An MSX Turbo R-exclusive action RPG that was only ever released in limited quantities... I guess? It does seem a full version exists, but I'm not sure if it was ever properly released in stores or just saw a beta release back in the day. Not very good from what I played of it, but it has its fans for sure.
...And I THINK that's all I've got. But hopefully it's something that'll help you fill out your list!
Do modern homebrew games count? Because this is a modern homebrew game for MSX and Colecovision, and is an absolutely SUPERB title. You play as Count Vlad Drakul, who's been awakened by Abhraham Van Helsing to help fend off the impending attack of ancient Egyptian god Sutekh, as well as the Nazis, with help from the multidimensional AI computer system known as Athraia that he created. Its plot is bonkers, and involves allying yourself with Cthulhu, the Wolfman, the Phantom of the Opera, and more. And the gameplay is just top-notch Zelda-style action with a really cool weighted ability system. I can't recommend this one highly enough. "
Sorry no, it's meant to cover the history of the genre. But this game does look great, so thanks anyway.
Why did you not like Moonlight Saga? It does look very good, at surface level.
Is Solstice really a more well-known game? But that's not what "codified" means anyway. Check out this article, quote from the developer: "...Solstice would not have existed if not for the examples set by Knight Lore, etc. I think it stood apart only by being on the NES!" archive.org/details/edgeuk181/page/n89/mode/2up
Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jul 5, 2020 13:31:28 GMT -5
condroid Very likely since it was on the NES, and it has more views on YT. Popularity or fame is absolutely a factor for a codifier but yeah it's obvious that some earlier games influenced it. I haven't played KL much yet and my memory's getting fuzzy on Solstice too, maybe they are similar enough to be interchangeable on that list, but Solstice being more well known seems like a better game to mention.
It doesn't really change what I'm looking for though, which is discussed on the front page.
Zelda is more of a codifier for AA than Knight Lore and LS had some of its own traits besides that as mentioned on the site, seems like one of the more important games to mention. I'd say these games also kept going into the mid 90s at least, or further if you count non-platformers like Diablo, and 3D games that mainly used an isometric perspective like Alundra 2 or Dark Savior.
(The generations or eras are also not set in stone, I'm considering moving back Gen 1 a bit for top down & isometric games. But Zelda 1 is a good starting point still being so well known and well liked.)
Well I just finished adding all those games you mentioned that seemed applicable, though a bunch of them seemed more like outliers or forerunners. I skipped Hacker 1 since it doesn't seem to have any real-time action in a relevant sense.
Knight Lore certainly seems like an important milestone, it did help create a whole subgenre after all. Landstalker could be described as a hybrid of Zelda and Knight Lore, one of the first probably. Therefore alone it deserves mentioning, imo.
Post by ommadawnyawn2 on Jul 6, 2020 6:47:27 GMT -5
Yeah I agree that it's important but so are Adventure, Castle Wolfenstein, Cloudy Mountain, Hydlide, Dragon Slayer and others that most people haven't heard of or don't like as much - I guess I could add some of those too but again, it seems better to mention the most well known examples that also cover most of what those games brought to the table, for a more accessible intro text. If you think it being isometric means it's in a different subgenre to say, Dizzy games (or Citadel, Spellbound, etc.) then I don't really agree with that.
Any thoughts on the layout, definitions or some particular entry so far? For some reason I got better feedback on my metroidvania/platform adventure site.
I will eventually make platform specific pages, and perhaps some subgenre pages like what condroid mentioned as well as a stealth one. Then I can also add timelines or family trees.
I would argue Solstice is actually much LESS well-known than Knight Lore, on a worldwide scale. Basically, if you're from Europe, you're MUCH more likely to know Knight Lore than Solstice. Hell, you're probably more likely to have played Batman, Head Over Heels, Alien 8, or a number of other isometric puzzle platformers over Solstice, if you're from Europe. Solstice was a derivative work, not really a formative one -- and I say this as someone who ranks Solstice as one of his favorite NES games of all time, and who's beaten the game probably 20+ times.
Mind you, I'm very glad to see Solstice get more attention! So I'm not complaining, exactly. I just think it's a stretch to call it codified. It's a footnote in gaming history, at best -- more notable for its music than for anything else.
Why did you not like Moonlight Saga? It does look very good, at surface level.
The only copy of the game I could find to download was its demo, and playing the demo, it was just... very, very clunky. Combat felt imprecise, twitchy, and unsatisfying, and everything just felt really poorly balanced and... amateurish. The best way to describe it is that it felt like I was playing a game made by a very ambitious 12-year-old with ADD.
I played Lumo. I beat Lumo. And then I got rid of Lumo.
It started out great, and I was quite certain I was going to absolutely love it. But after only a short time, it became an exercise in pure frustration. Every room was a platforming challenge designed to cheaply kill you over and over and over again. It wasn't fun -- it was just an obstacle to get through. It reminded me more of Equinox in that regard than Solstice, where Equinox had a lot of rooms that played with perspective or included precision platforming challenges that Solstice never attempted, very much to Equinox's detriment.
Lumo also is extremely linear, but in a really annoying way. Once you've passed certain points of no return in the castle, you can NEVER go back... so if you missed something, you will have missed it forever, or until your next playthrough. There are even minigame-like challenges which you are permitted to play ONCE (or rather, you're permitted to play any mixture of a few of them a set number of times), and then you're sealed off from ever playing them again -- and honestly, the rules of the minigames are a little more complicated than I expected, so I died once just trying to figure out HOW to play them, and then was cut off from ever actually putting that knowledge to good use.
In short, Lumo could've been a superb game, but it represents some of the worst habits of game design from the entire history of the medium IMHO. You know the stereotypes about Euro platformers being unfair and unfun? Yeah... Lumo is the crystallization of that.
I do not recommend it.
If I were to recommend an indie game that was ALSO directly inspired by Solstice, however, I would 100% recommend Alwa's Awakening. It's a much different style of game (retro Metroidvania), but the developers specifically listed Solstice and Faxanadu as among their biggest inspirations for it, alongside Super Mario Bros. 2 (they even named one area "Solstice Mountain" as a tribute to the NES game). And Alwa's Awakening is simply a joy to play. It's not groundbreaking in any way -- it's just fun, and well-designed across the board. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.
It just got a sequel, too, called Alwa's Legacy, which I very much need to play...