There is nothing like a good role-playing game. A game where you can get lost for sometimes 1 to 2 work weeks’ worth of time leveling up your character, exploring exotic worlds, and basically living a story that is more complex than the best movie you’ve ever seen. I will not try to persuade you that I am the most knowledgeable or experienced RPG fan as I have only played one Final Fantasy game for a few minutes, I am not well versed on classic Chrono Trigger. Even modern RPGs like The Elder Scrolls or Fallout series have escaped my time and attention. While I may not have experienced some of the classics, the following role-playing games are some of my favorites and in many ways at least some have helped redefine the genre over the years.
Playing RPGs on my Sega Genesis back in the day was not something that I did. As a result, I missed out on the excellence that was the Phantasy Star series. With the Sega Dreamcast, I was firmly indoctrinated into the world of RPGs by the time that Phantasy Star Online (PSO) was on the horizon. As an introduction to the world of MMORPG’s, PSO was the smoothest online experience that I ever had with a dial-up modem. The gameplay may be basic by today’s standards, but it was revolutionary in the way it allowed players from all over the world to connect and communicate in this online world. I was even more taken aback by how fun it was to play offline. Playing this game on my Dreamcast and then on my original Xbox, allowed me to fully explore the nuances of this action-based MMORPG. As a result, I developed not just a deep love for the genre but also a deep love for PSO. That is why when the sequel was finally announced to be coming out on Xbox One, I literally screamed like a schoolgirl.
Evolution: The World of Sacred Device was literally the first role playing game that I ever played. Evolution is a dungeon crawler that featured simple mechanics, excellent character design, and fun gameplay that really drew me in. It was not a super long game, but it was long enough to capture my attention, make me care about the characters and thoroughly enjoy the 20 to 30 hours that I put into that game. in the game you play as Max Launcher and his merry band of companions using technology called Cyframes. As far as the plot goes, you are exploring ancient ruins and of course there is a conflict with an evil entity which results in you ultimately fighting the big bad at the end. It was a simple paint by numbers RPG that was fun to play and had me eagerly awaiting the sequel that came out a few years later. Evolution 2: Far Off Promise continued the story from the first game and featured remarkably similar gameplay. While it didn’t innovate on the first it was still just as fun as the original to play and to finish. They both whet my appetite for more RPG’s to come.
If Evolution was the series that was my gateway into RPGs, Grandia II To this day it is every Star Wars fan dream game. I remember distinctly picking this one up in July 2003 and playing it endlessly over the next couple of months. I was captivated traveling across the different star systems to the different worlds, deciding to go light side or dark side, and ultimately meeting my match with Lord Malik. It took me months to figure out how to defeat him, and when I did it was one of the most satisfying game experiences that I have ever had. is the game that made me fall in love with them. For its time, this RPG featured a battle system that was innovative and a story that touched on. It’s the story of Ryudo on the typical RPG hero’s quest is nothing new, however the gameplay and even the story itself keeps a player involved, excited, and always second guessing as to what will happen next. This is another game that I played on the Dreamcast but also it was released on the PS2. It ultimately had a remaster on the PS4 and Switch (can we please get a on the Xbox?). If you have not played this gem of an RPG and you are an RPG lover this is one that I suggest you pick up and play through. You will not be disappointed!
It is utterly amazing that almost 20 years after the release of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) that is still regarded by many as the absolute best Star Wars game to have ever been created. The reason why this is the case is because this was the 1st and still the best Star Wars game that actually gave you the player the chance to decide light side or dark side with real consequences to the story. The title developed by BioWare, is still to this day known as one of if not the best title that they have ever created next to Mass Effect. What they did with KOTOR set the stage for all their RPGs that came afterwards. Not just a testament to what BioWare started, but KOTOR showed the rest of the world that western RPG’s could deliver. The battle system was amazing but more importantly this was the first immersive Star Wars experience that fans and non-fans alike really were able to sink their teeth into. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great Star Wars games before KOTOR, but nothing sunk you into the mythology of the old republic, gave you a story did rivaled the original trilogy, and actually allowed you to decide if you’re going to be a Jedi or Sith.
To this day it is every Star Wars fan dream game. I remember distinctly picking this one up in July 2003 and playing it endlessly over the next couple of months. I was captivated traveling across the different star systems to the different worlds, deciding to go light side or dark side, and ultimately meeting my match with Lord Malik. It took me months to figure out how to defeat him, and when I did it was one of the most satisfying game experiences that I have ever had.
The Dreamcast was a system that was ahead of his time. Many of its classic games like Shenmue and PSO are discussed as being revolutionary to the industry. While I agree with many of these arguments, in my opinion Skies of Acadia is one of the most underrated gems that came out on the Dreamcast. While it boasts a somewhat traditional turn based battle system, Skies of Arcadia is a game that features addictive gameplay, but also a storyline and character development that is some of the best I’d seen up until that point in time in any role playing game. Plus, who does not want to play as an air pirate and have battles in midair with your pirate ship? It was an amazing game to play and I really wish that Sega would re-release it to be played on modern consoles. I don’t care about a remaster just re-release the game Sega!
Microsoft tried to go big with JPRGs at the dawn of the Xbox 360’s life with the release of Lost Odyssey. Joining forces with Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and his Mistwalker games to create a new RPG experience that would appeal to gamers in both the east and the west. Lost Odyssey follows the story of Kaim an immortal who has lost his memories (yes very original I know). While the game did not feature groundbreaking mechanics, it was one of the premiere RPG experiences for not just the 360, but arguably for that console generation. If you have an Xbox One (or Series S/X), you can still download it as it is backwards compatible.
These games have given me some of my best RPG experiences of all time. However, that does not mean that I am not having new RPG experiences every day. I am currently playing Star Wars Knights of the old Republic 2 and have decided to play Final Fantasy 7 for the first time. Let us also not forget that game of Jade Empire that I have been working on for the past few years. With these three titles alone, my RPG game card will be quite full for a long time.
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