It?s a question almost as old as the original game itself. Is The Legend of Zelda a role playing game? Yes. No. Well?kinda? All three are actually correct if you look at it, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would say, from a certain point of view.
Of course The Legend of Zelda is an RPG. The setting of the game, Hyrule, instantly invokes a fantasy RPG setting. Maybe it?s due to games like Final Fantasy and Suikoden, but fantasy settings have usually had an RPG-like feel to them. There is also an epic quest for the hero that is fundamental to all Zelda games just like in any RPG that you find. At their core, RPGs? quests for their protagonist drives the story along. And everyone agrees that Zelda?s storyline is one of, if not the most important element to the game. Players also ?level up? Link?s weaponry in order to battle increasingly difficult bosses as the game goes on. Taking all of these thing into account it becomes increasingly obvious that The Legend of Zelda should be considered an RPG.
The Legend of Zelda is most definitely NOT an RPG. There is no actual leveling up of the CHARACTER. Besides an optional name change, there is also no customization of the character at all, either at the beginning of the game nor during the game. If one thing has taught me over the years, it?s that all RPGs allow players to customize the character through the process of ?leveling up? as the character gains experience throughout the game. This fundamental element is totally missing from the Zelda games. Even Nintendo refers to The Legend of Zelda as an Adventure game. If they don?t consider The Legend of Zelda to be an RPG, why should we?
The Legend of Zelda is actually a hybrid of RPG and Adventure game. A genre unto itself, so to speak. By combining elements from. RPGs and a handful of other game genres and then wrapping it all up in a shell of awesome characters and story, The Legend of Zelda defies such labels as RPG or Adventure. To put it quite simply, it?s a Zelda game. Nothing else really needs to be said, because players know exactly what it entails and that?s good enough for me.