Written 6-13-13 (original draft 8-19-04)
*edit 8/16/13: At the end of this list you will see that I've been playing more RPGs lately and plan to make this list much longer. I have added both a poll of what I should play next, and a comment box. I strongly encourage you argue the case for your favorite RPG(s), and I might get around to playing it/them. I openly invite discussion and controversy, so feel free to tell me why my list sucks in the comments ;) I would rather have such discussion on a video game forum or message board, but facebook has pretty much killed that form of social networking. Oh and firefox adblock users will have to enable htmlcomment box for the comments to work (if you find a more accessible script, please let me know!). Anyway... On to the list!
40. Exodus Ultima
I remember buying this game dirt cheap from a friend, because from the cartridge art, I knew it had to be an RPG (or maybe a really lame adventure game)! And it was, and a difficult one at that. I didn’t play it all too much, mainly because I didn’t really know or care about where I was supposed to go. It was pretty fun though for the most part; I liked how you could create your entire party’s character class, and I also thought the battles were fun (kind of like a really primitive strategy RPG). But the best part of this whole game (well, the little I played), was that you could attack the innocent townspeople, and then get attacked (and killed) by the village guards. And it’s almost as fun as doing the same thing in real life.
So there was a time during the PS 1 era where I had to play as many strategy RPGs as I possibly could. And so, I found Kartia. Not the greatest of its sub genre, but enough to satiate my lust for all that is strategy RPG. I remember being particularly fond of the terrain altering spells and the “paper, rock, scissors” hierarchy of the various phantoms you can create and use in battle.
38. Final Fantasy X
This is a good RPG by any standards, but for a Final Fantasy game, I thought it was a pretty big letdown and a step back in the series. Sure the storyline was alright, and the characters were cool enough (both huge parts of what make RPGs great), but the actual game itself seemed a bit lacking. Or maybe it just isn’t my “style” of RPG... For one thing there was never any real exploration in it, you were just moved from point to point in the storyline, with no world map (until really late in the game, and it is just a list of places...) to look for secrets in, and no side quests (until very late in the game again). And then there are the battles, which are just against the same few monsters in every area, with only changes in color and stats. This isn’t a game I’d play twice, and as you can probably guess, I skipped Final Fantasy X-2. Now that all of that is said, there were some good points to the game. The characters were all very interesting with a lot of well... character. The musical score and graphics were top-notch as well.
37. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords
The first half or so of this game was great, but it looks like they either ran out of a budget or were rushed into a release date, because the last half of the game doesn't seem... finished. That being said, it was still a lot of fun to play overall, and there were some great lightsaber upgrades!
Remember all of those comments you’ve heard saying this game was just an “interactive movie” or “one really long cut-scene separated by a few ‘dungeons?’” Well, those comments were true! Now that doesn’t necessarily mean this game isn’t worth playing, as the cut scene heavy plot line is really good. It seems a lot of people these days don’t really want to “play” there games anymore, and will settle with this nonsense. Now what there actually is in this game of battles, dungeons, etc is all pretty fun. Not put together very well though... For example, at the very end of the game, I was STILL using the same attacks I had at the game’s beginning. They were just damage upgraded versions of the same thing... Really, I shouldn’t be able to defeat the last boss with skills I used to defeat the first one. That is just poor game design. And the mech battles... weren’t just a “step down” from Xenogear’s (which were actually good), but they were more of a “fall backwards down the steps and hit your head on rock bottom.” Really, why are my characters causing more damage than the “doom robots” they command from time to time!? Don’t even use the robots when you play the “game,” they’re a waste of time. Like studying for that Algebra test you know you are going to fail anyway, yep. Now there are hoards of anime fans out there that will constantly try and defend this game, but there isn’t really much of a difference here between this game and the movies they watch... With all of that being said, I probably will still buy the sequel; I’m a sucker for a good story even if I have to play a not-so-great game to get it. And in spite of all of these overwhelming criticisms... I still loved the game (I know I know, it sounds like I hate it).
35. Final Fantasy VIII
I have a kind of love-hate relationship with this game... (a very physical relationship too). The graphics and kind of “sci-fi/fantasy mixed” theme made this game feel a lot more “real” than most RPGs. Even though it has its share of sorceresses, knights, and mutated winged beasts. I really liked some of the characters too, most notably Seifer (who I wished would have just killed Squall and taken his place as “main character”) and Edea, but the others get pretty annoying. Now the plot in this game is great... that is until a little over half-way through, when it is abandoned completely (excepting in the ending of course), and replaced with one of the lamest and sappiest love stories ever. It made me want to cry... Not in happiness over the characters’ love, but because I was in a state of revulsion over the retardation of it. Not that I hate love stories in games, but the “oh my goodness I fell out of a spaceship, come save me while a goofy love song plays in the background!” is pretty lame. Really, if I’m on a spaceship, and my “lover” falls out, I’m going to scream “woman overboard,” throw her a floatation device (good luck using that in space!), and then let her fend for herself as I fly in another direction. I’ll send roses later... And a nice card, something special like “I think you’re far out! ... in space.” Or “remember my name, because you’ll be screaming it later... too bad you're in space and no one can hear it!”
34. Grandia 2
This RPG isn’t really for everybody. But I think it had a lot of charm that warrants play. Sure the main character is pretty annoying, but the supporting ones are all good, especially the “Wings of Valmar” chick. Multiple personalities are always funny in a video game... I liked the battle system of this game a lot too, which is why I think this game is a bit underrated. These days most RPG players are stuck on the whole “epic story and awesome visuals” concept that they don’t even care whether or not the game is fun to play, and that makes me sad (cry for me). Anyway... The battles are set in almost the same perspective as Star Ocean’s, only they aren’t “realtime” per say. There is a little bar on the screen that shows in what order the players (and enemies) are going to attack, and then you can set up attacks that may interrupt the enemy’s attack. Sound stupid? Well, play the game and you will see that it works well.
Though this game kind of has a cult following, I thought it was just an above average RPG experience. I really liked that the game had various battle systems (I especially liked the side scrolling army verses army affairs), but there were way too many characters to recruit (108 total I think) to properly flesh out their stories. The cool “build your own castle ‘game’” was a lot of fun though!
32. Final Fantasy IX
I liked this game a lot when I played it, but nothing about it was overly memorable. The male villain wears a thong, the black mage Vivi is gonna die, chocobos like to dig holes in the ground... and that’s about it. I did like it a lot better than VIII though. I with more modern Final Fantasies would return to their roots like this, but I guess that's the niche the Chrystal Chronicle games are meant to fill?
31. Shining Force
Unfortunately, I never got to enjoy this gem back in the heyday of the Sega Genesis, and was forced to play it through for the first time on the Wii Virtual Console. Although a certain amount of the game's “magic” is taken away when played on such an emulator, it was still a blast to play, especially whilst inebriated with my roommate who actually did play this one in its heyday! One of these days I'll play the sequels (spoiler alert, they're not on the list).
Next 10! (30-29)
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