Action-adventure games combine elements of their two-component genres, typically featuring obstacles that must be overcome using a tool or item as leverage. Action-adventure games tend to focus on exploration and usually involve item gathering, simple puzzle solving, and combat.
One of the first action-adventure games was the Atari 2600 game Adventure (1980). It was directly inspired by the original text adventure, Colossal Cave Adventure. In the process of adapting a text game to a console with only a joystick for control, designer Warren Robinett created an action-adventure game by incorporating action arcade game elements.
The action-adventure later became an established genre with Shigeru Miyamoto’s The Legend of Zelda (1986), which became a success due to how it combined elements from different genres to create a compelling hybrid, including exploration, transport puzzles, adventure-style inventory puzzles, an action component, a monetary system, and simplified RPG-style level building without the experience points. The game was also an early example of open-world, non-linear gameplay, and introduced innovations like saving on battery backup. It became one of the most influential games of the 8-bit era, inspiring action-adventures like Metroid and RPGs like Final Fantasy. Zelda has since remained the most prolific action-adventure game series through to the present day.