Exploration, puzzle solving, storey interactions with game characters, and, in action-adventure games, running, jumping, climbing, battling, and other intense action sequences define the computer adventure game genre. Many modern video games, such as role playing games (RPGs) and shooter games, have adventure elements, making classification difficult.
Will Crowther’s Adventure (circa 1975) for the Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-10 minicomputer was the first electronic adventure game. This text-based adventure became the template for later games like Zork (1977), which was written by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for the school’s computer system. In 1979, a group of those students founded Infocom, which ported the game to early personal computers (PCs) and went on to develop a few more text-based adventure games.
Sierra Entertainment was founded by writer Roberta Williams and her computer programmer husband, Ken Williams, who took the next step in the development of the basic genre (1979). Sierra published a steady stream of popular graphical adventure games in the 1980s and early 1990s, starting with King’s Quest (1984) for MS-DOS. The interactive fiction elements in Roberta Williams’ stories enthralled fans, even though the graphics were nothing more than colourful static images that players could “point-and-click” on to load text or other screens. Space Quest (1986), Leisure Suit Larry (1987), and Police Quest (1987) were the company’s other best-known titles, all of which spawned several sequels for play on a variety of computers and home video consoles. Pure adventure games became less common when more sophisticated computers and video systems became available. However, Brderbund Software’s Myst (1993), a hybrid adventure game with complex puzzles, was the best-selling PC game of the twentieth century, and it and its sequels sold well on various computers and video consoles. Graphic-based adventures, on the other hand, did not completely disappear from the scene, and LucasArts practically characterised the genre in the 1990s. The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), Sam and Max Hit the Road (1993), Full Throttle (1994), and Grim Fandango (1995) were all part of a series that featured witty dialogue, clever puzzles, and striking visuals (1998).
The first action-adventure title, Atari, Inc.’s Adventure (1979), was released for the Atari 2600 home video console and was loosely based on Crowther’s text-based game. The game was played in top-down mode, and players could hold and use objects without having to type commands.
With the release of Nintendo Co., Ltd.’s The Legend of Zelda (1986) for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the success of the action-adventure genre skyrocketed (NES; 1983). The game and its sequels are now among Nintendo’s best-selling video games across all platforms. Similarly, Brderbund’s Prince of Persia (1989) popularised the action-adventure genre on PCs, and sequels for most video consoles have been released. Lara Croft, the star of Eidos Interactive’s Tomb Raider (1996), which was first released for the Sega Corporation’s Saturn (1994) console, is perhaps the most recognisable action-adventure heroine. It and its sequels were developed for PCs and the majority of video game consoles. Lara Croft Tomb Raider (2001) and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2001) were also released, both starring Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft (2003).
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