Impossible Mission

impossiblemission

Epyx
Commodore 64 | Apple II | Master System
Director: Dennis Caswell

Pharaoh’s Curse

pharaohscurse

Synapse Software
Commodore 64, Atari 800
Director: Bob Connell & Steve Coleman

Pitfall!

pitfall

Activision
Atari 2600
Director: David Crane

ROOTS: Taking the platformer beyond the single-screen jungle gyms of the Donkey Kong series, David Crane’s Pitfall turned run-and-jump action into a tool for navigating the vast virtual spaces we saw in the likes of Adventure and Zork, making it one of the most influential games ever.

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Venture

venture

Exidy
Arcade
Designer: Michael Cooper-Hart (uncertain)

ROOTS: Metroidvania games are one part platformer, one part action-RPG. So while Venture may not have the run-and-jump mechanics we associate with the genre, its formative role in the evolution of action-RPGs absolutely gives it a place on this list—it’s a true classic.

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Donkey Kong

donkey kong

Nintendo
Arcade
Designer: Shigeru Miyamoto

ROOTS: The Metroidvania term combines two concepts: Action games and RPGs. But it also merges two franchises whose — Metroid and Castlevania — that revolved around platforming action. And where would platformers be without the influence of Donkey Kong?

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Adventure

adventure

Atari
2600
Director: Warren Robinett

ROOTS: The flip side of the Zork coin: Where that game presented the RPG concept entirely in text, allowing for methodical deliberation between player actions, Adventure played out with real-time action. More compact in nature than Zork, Adventure nevertheless introduced key concepts that would become integral to exploratory action games.

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Zork: The Great Underground Empire

zork

Infocom
Personal Computers
Tim Anderson | Marc Blank | Bruce Daniels | Dave Lebling

ROOTS: An influential work that helped shape the nature and direction of metroidvania game design… and countless other games, as well. While not a metroidvania in and of itself, this essential precursor defined the workings of exploratory gameplay and persistent imaginary worlds.

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