Pang Man Enters The Freezer Again To Talk About All The Brilliant Influences That A Lot Of Us grew Up With Which Means That We All Love The Role Playing Game Genre
Hopefully When We Mention Fighting Fantasy You Will Know Where The Pang Man Is Going With This One......
Let's Hear What The Main Man Has Got To Say On All this........
"I am a huge fan of RPGs.
From the early days of Phantasy Star on the Sega Master System to the Final Fantasy series on the PS1, PS2 PS3 and XBOX 360, there have been many great games in the genre.
When I think of RPGs –I think of epic quests, immersive storytelling, awesome battles (magic and weapon based) as well as open worlds to interact with and explore.
The best RPGs have also produced some of the most memorable characters in gaming history. Characters who grew with the story and who we grew to love.
So with that in mind, I thought I would have a look back to reminisce about not only the games themselves but what influenced my love for of the genre.
So let’s start with what influenced my love for of the genre. What first piqued my interest as a kid was a cartoon made in the 80’s called Dungeons and Dragons:
Dungeons and Dragons
It was about 6 school friends (Eric the cowardly Cavalier, Presto the Magician, Hank the Ranger, Shelia the Thief, Diana the Acrobat and Bobby the Barbarian) who were transported via a magical fairground ride into a fantasy world of dragons and magic.
The show followed their attempts to return home (not sure if they ever made it back in the end?) and avoid losing the magical weapons (Shield, Magicians hat, Bow, Invisible cloak, Staff and Club) that were given to them by the cryptic Dungeon Master.
The show incorporated many of the elements we see in games today such as magical weapons, a memorable villain (Venger), dragons (Tiamet) and teamwork in battle to overcome adversity
Another huge influence was the Fighting Fantasy books written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone (@ian_livingstone)
These were interactive novels such as Deathtrap dungeon and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain in which you were the hero or heroine of the story and could make choices which would influence the outcome of the adventure.
For example you might come across a sleeping dragon sitting upon a mountain of treasure and be asked to decide to:
Attempt to steal its treasure? Turn to 263
Attempt to slay the dragon whilst it is asleep? Turn to 28
Wake the dragon up? Turn to 401
Sneak quietly towards the exit on the other side? Turn to 112
Depending on your choice, you would then go to the appropriate page reference and see what fate had in store for you.
I found these books fascinating as this multi choice format meant the story could go down multiple branching paths, some of which had alternative endings (including death).
As a teenager I bought virtually every instalment in the series and eagerly looked forward to each new release.
RPG games today incorporate many of the same ideas today, for example epic quests, branching storylines, alternative paths to achieve goals, puzzles as well as turn based combat.
Another TV show with RPG/fantasy elements was called Knightmare
This was a children’s programme shown on ITV in the late 80’s. Knightmare involved a team of friends trying to successfully navigate traps and enemies and puzzles in a virtual reality blue screen dungeon.
One of the 4 team members would don a helmet (which impeded their vision) whilst the 3 others would have to then guide that player through vocal instructions.
Spells could be cast by spelling (for example “Spellcasting Fire, F-I-R-E!”) and directions could be given by instruction (“turn left, walk forward, stop” etc).
The show was hilarious as poor instructions, directions and decisions would often lead to death.
Today, dungeons, treasure hunting and puzzle elements are often seen in games such as The Legend of Zelda and The Elder Scrolls games.
Japanese Anime also contributed to my interest in fantasy and RPGs.
In the early 90’s it was extremely difficult to get anime in the UK.
Fortunately a company called Manga Entertainment began to release videos (usually dubbed in English) of some of the titles around at the time.
One example was an anime called RG Veda.
Although not critically acclaimed, I loved the storyline and incorporation of magic, prophecy and cool character designs.
Later other companies would follow suit in bring anime to the western world and soon we were able to get hold of great sword and sorcery titles such as Claymore and Record of Lodoss War.
Today there is a huge overlap between anime and the gaming world.
The Dragons Quest games are illustrated by Akira Toriyama who is the creator of Dragonball Z, whilst many games are based on an anime/manga themselves.(E.g. Naruto, Death Note etc)
So those were the key influences which steered me towards an interest in fantasy and in turn a love for RPGs.
In a future instalment I hope to cover the RPG games that I loved the most growing up. Thanks for listening!
Pang Man "