The Legend Of Zelda has held the hearts of many. It continues to find a new audience with each game that is announced, shown, and release. The quality is has held for years continues to bring countless players of all ages to it. Rather you love it or not, its staying power has proven how important the franchise is to the video game community. Just like Metroid and Mario, The Legend Of Zelda franchise can change hearts, views, and personal video game journeys you go on.
So why is the notion of the game not being a RPG is important to people who want to classify it as that? A lot of modern players didn’t grow up with the gold cartridge. When it came to role playing, it was either The Legend Of Zelda or Phantasy Star. Yes, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior (Quest in Japan back in the day) came along also but most of the known games was between those two. FF and DW were bigger in Japan and lesser known here. Those games really didn’t take off until Super Nintendo (and in my opinion, Dragon Quest didn’t take off until Dragon Quest VIII).
The Legend Of Zelda isn’t the turn base, level grind, stat changing, equipment shop wearing in each town, most would consider as RPG. The Legend Of Zelda is a Action RPG that does equipment and quest by exploring and gaining heart containers to live longer. Getting items for Link through progression and going through the dungeons with no explanations but subtle hints on where to find them and access them. Some consider this as Adventure but in those days, Adventure meant text games or puzzle solving to gain a item to solve another puzzle through logic. Every game you played on the NES and Sega Master System was a adventure. Look at Wonder Boy In Monster Land. That could be considered as a adventure game but it’s more like a platformer due to its linear nature.
The Legend of Zelda at that time was widely known as a Role Playing Game no matter what it was defined as. Metroid was the Adventure game. Baseball, Golf, and Tennis was the Sports games. Heck, Kung-Fu was known as Fighting! It doesn’t change the fact that series isn’t a RPG. If you want to define it was a Adventure game, be my guess. The title Adventure can mean many things in the gaming world. Just remember though, it’s just a title.
I, myself, grew up with the game. I grew up knowing and claiming it to be a Role Playing Game. For me personally, it will always and remain that way. I see Metroid as a Adventure game because of exploration and finding which items solve the puzzles in a logical sense for me to progress. It didn’t have to be about weak spots and since the game really doesn’t have text in it, there was no story I had read and create.
Same for the Legend Of Zelda. It will always be the action RPG that progress, told a story, and use mechanics that traditional RPG’s or JRPG’s for some, did differently. Each iteration uses that same formula and from time to time, will change it up. As long as the series continues to grow and bring players back, the genre of it doesn’t matter.