10 arcade games that inspired today’s RPGS


When one thinks of an arcade game, the images of flashing screens, gamepads, and players gathered around fighting against each other are usually the ones that come to mind. While traditional contenders like Galaga, Pac-Man, Where Dig-dig are all great, sometimes players want something a little more adventurous.

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At first glance, features like character classes, weapon upgrades, and branching paths may seem more comfortable in RPGs than arcade cabinets, but that wasn’t always the case. . Many arcade games have helped shape the RPG genre fans know today. While the arcades themselves can be relics of sorts, they have helped usher in a new genre of gaming.


ten Glove


Considered by many to be the grandfather of the dungeon exploration genre, the original Glove brought the action and adventure of things like Dungeons and Dragons DM screens and directly on arcade screens. Players would choose their heroes, then set off into the dungeons in search of loot and glory.

There are dozens of titles that take inspiration from this arcade classic, including the iconic Diablo franchise, but it’s never a bad idea to get back to basics. Whether you’re traveling solo or with a full party, it’s a game that maintains its RPG influence across the board.

9 River City Ransom


River City Ransom Alex in NES Town

While not a cabinet title, there’s no denying that NES beat-em-ups arcade action and vibes, or its RPG elements. Take a handful of items from titles like Renegade, River City Ransom may lack swords and sorcery, but its food and item mechanic to boost stats is certainly an RPG flavor you’ve seen before.

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It’s the combination of action and strategic grinding that gives it the rank of RPG. While this might seem a bit simplistic compared to some games that followed, it did help give the genre a bit more oomph.

8 Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game


Pilgrim Scott game

An honorable mention, but that goes hand in hand with Ransom River City, this cult beat-em-up has more than a few Easter eggs and references from the realms of retro-gaming, arcade RPG included. Players rely on power-ups and collectibles to help develop Scott, Ramona, and the rest of their 16-bit companions.

It has the familiar side-scrolling style, but with a conscious gamer touch that blends genres beautifully. In addition to the stat boosting elements, the game features a variety of weapons that would be comfortable in a number of arcade-adventure titles.

7 Golden ax


Summon Golden Ax Dragon

by Séga Golden ax wanted to mix the hard hitting action with the fantasy of Conan the Barbarian. The result was this brawl with dwarves, warriors, mystics, and screen-erasing spells that made the title a standout entry into the arcade genre.

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Although the developer would continue to create titles like Streets of Rage, this fantastical beat-em-up had all the questing and looting fun of a typical RPG, but with a hardcore mashed up approach to its combat. With four entries in the main series, there’s no denying its popularity.

6 Gate of Destiny


Gate of Doom title in standby mode

Over the years, dungeon arcade bots have started to take more and more shape as the fully visualized versions that gamers know today. Gate of Destiny Where Black seal was one of those instances where an isometric action game turned into a shameless RPG.

With characters like the fighter, ninja, wizard, and bard, player classes would definitely be right at home in any modern hack-and-slash title or D&D campaign. Here, players have followed the age-old adage of looting dungeons for loot and clashing with 16-bit fantasy creatures. A slightly more refined version Glove, but the one who had his regular players.

5 Cadash


Cadash Demon Battle Sequence

Cadash This is where things start to get interesting as the hybrid styling incorporates not only the RPG but also a side-scrolling platformer. Like many games on this list, the title asks players to select a character from a list of fantastic characters before embarking on an action-packed quest.

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In order to progress, the game had an element where players had to accumulate their money, skills and magic to further strengthen their character. Interesting in concept, although slow burning, it’s a retro game that could definitely use a reissue.

4 Magic sword


Magic Sword Arcade Game Boss Fight

Magic sword is an action platform game, clear and simple, but it has several characteristics of traditional Western RPGs that cannot be ignored. It has a group of adventurers, a fantastic setting, weapon upgrades, and the character progression represented by a climbing tower.

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If He-Man met Conan, that would be the result. As a Thor hero, the game features levels filled with monsters to kill, traps to avoid, and fellow adventurers to acquire in this arcade adventure.

3 King of dragons


Side-scrolling beat-em-ups were fertile ground for fantasy games in the ’90s, but Capcom King of Dragons was essentially the entry-level game for the genre. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun, but players would venture out on a regular basis.

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It had the standard fighter and magic user classes against orcs, dragons, etc., but it also had a sprawling map of varied environments, tons of treasure, and a surprising amount of replay value. It might not be complex, but it’s still a satisfying experience.

2 Knights of the Round


Lancelot on horseback from Knights of the Round

Knights of the Round was essentially King of Dragons but with an Arthurian theme. It had similar mechanics and character evolution, but also included mounts and more humanoid bosses. Still, the results of this RPG beat-em-up were pretty magical.

As Arthur, Percival or Lancelot, players have been tasked with saving the kingdom from the hordes of evil armored enemies. Although it lacks magical spells, it has a very enjoyable swordplay that is not often seen in the genre.

1 Dungeons and Dragons: Tower Of Doom / Shadow Over Mystara


Of course, any game bearing the seal of Dungeons and Dragons must take the lead in billing. Not only did the tabletop RPG inspire two arcade titles, but they brought a system of magic and combat that fits perfectly into a side-scrolling RPG.

The game had everything one would expect from a D&D game, including diverging paths, enchanted items, familiar monsters, and various character classes with their own strengths and weaknesses. It was a lot more RPG than beat-em-up, but it’s not like there were any formal complaints.

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Split image from Fallout 3, TES Skyrim and Star Wars KOTOR video games.


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