Ten Great Retro RPGs
The role-playing game (RPG) genre has gotten awfully crowded in the past few years which is why there are thousands of games that are now shifting to different genres of the games. If you are one such player looking for different games then you can try BandarQQ for that and explore different online and offline games. It could be that a new one is developed literally every week; of course, the best ones are the oldies, particularly on the consoles. While I would love to rank them in order of greatness, from one to 10, it’s impossible, so I suggest you play them all.
Lunar: Silver Star Story (Playstation)
Based on Lunar: Silver Star for Sega CD, this is my favorite “Japanese” RPG. It’s not that the story is unique — that couldn’t be further from the truth — but it’s how well the story is told. The game is long enough to let things develop fairly slowly, giving the player more time to grow attached to each of its quirky, lovable protagonists.
The battle system isn’t thrilling but bosses offer a good challenge. Its graphics are very old-school; the audio is a rich collection of orchestrated themes and a few vocal songs, beautifully performed. The Playstation version’s full-motion video serves the story well and bestows emotion to scenes that would have lost their impact without the video.
Shining Force II (Genesis)
Often called the best RPG on the Sega Genesis, SFII is a tactical role-playing game, and quite different from the Final Fantasy series. While the story and in-town sequences work like any other RPG, SFII’s battles take place in a large map with varied terrain. The player moves his characters across the battlefield and engages the enemy army when in range.
It’s an easy game to win, its story is unimpressive and the anime-styled graphics are decent, but it’s the fun, unique battle system that holds everything together. Getting a new character on your team means new tactics, and forming the best possible army is riveting, if unnecessary.
FF One (NES)
How could this one not make the list? It practically created the console RPG genre! The player controls a four-member party, gives them classes and sets off to literally save a princess.
To this day, people toy with different party setups: what about an all-warrior party, or four red mages? “Challenge” parties are popular creations, such as four nearly useless thieves or four defensive white mages, and solo parties, such as one warrior or one thief, provide the ultimate challenge.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (SNES)
Lufia’s storyline is the game’s main strength, with a few solid twists and some bittersweet moments along the way. The battles are turn-based but intense, and “capsule monsters” you discover can join in the fight.
Another highlight is the soundtrack. Lufia’s music exemplifies Japanese video game music, with its striking yet simple harmonies, infectious riffs, and quick tempos.
Beyond those strengths, the graphics are clean and good-looking, and your characters are pretty interesting. What’s not to like?
AD D; Pool of Radiance (NES)
The console RPG closest to actual roleplaying before Morrowind, PoR lets the player create a party, equip them and set off to do anything they like. Really, there’s a lot of freedom. You’re supposed to get contracts from city hall, but if you’d rather hang out at the inn and rough up thieves, you’re free to do so. You can even fight guards and break into houses at night, though I’ve never managed to do either successfully.
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Remarkable in every way, I’m surprised that Chrono Trigger wasn’t ported to later systems. The graphics are excellent, and character designs were done by Akira Toriyama, of Dragonball fame. The fantasy/steampunk/time travel set is executed well.
Some puzzles and challenges are borderline ridiculous — does That Damn Rat ring a bell?
The music is gorgeous, wrenching and sad and beautiful, like Bach’s sixth cello suite. Maudlin fools everywhere must’ve gotten a little misty every time they booted this cart up.
Uncharted Waters (SNES)
Set in the early 16th century, Uncharted Waters puts you in the breeches of a young Portuguese sailor. You set out with one small merchant ship, hoping to build it to a mighty fleet.
But what kind of fleet? That’s up to you. A peaceful merchant fleet, a powerful war fleet, and a bloodthirsty pirate fleet are all possible. Uncharted Waters is incredibly open-ended, and while it has a loose, thin plot, you can freely ignore it and obsessively build your fleet.
Magic of Scheherezade (NES)
An interesting Zelda/FF/1,001 Nights hybrid, MoS is a little hard to follow. The weird, disjointed dialogue doesn’t help, nor does the hurried intro. But what does that matter? You’re a Saint beating the tar out of freaky monsters with a magic fairy at your side!
Unless you’re in regular overworld combat, that is, which is where the Zelda-style gameplay becomes familiar, but thankfully not too familiar. It’s also where the game’s trio of classes becomes important. Magicians get a wand that shoots missiles at enemies, while Fighters are better close-up combatants. Saints, well, they don’t get any fancy weapons, just the ability to walk on damage squares without being damaged. Anyone who plays MoS thinking Saints can call on gods to do their dirty work will be severely disappointed.
Other than that, it’s standard RPG fare: a journey from town to town, buy stuff, learn bits of the story and eventually rumble with the boss.
The secret of Mana (SNES)
Before the glut of MMORPGs, there was Secret of Mana. One of the only multiplayer (up to three!) RPGs on any console, it’s a fine hack-and-slash adventure. Real-time battles, augmented by a few role-playing elements, are paradoxically challenging in spite of the cute, anime-monster enemies that look so helpless.
Cruddy audio and confusing menus bring the game down from the level of Chrono Trigger, but when two friends can join you in an RPG and it’s 1994, the shortcomings are easy to overlook.
Star Ocean (SNES)
If you’ve played Star Oceans 2 or 3, you already know the unique real-time battle system. Controlling one character in the heat of combat is daunting, thrilling, and satisfying; unfortunately, the original has a fixed camera, so it’s not quite as frantic.
The storylines in Star Ocean games have always jarred me; it’s not that they are bad, but the space-traveling civilizations coming across fantasy settings is a bit hard to swallow.
All these retro RPGs do something well: Some offer intense battles, others have great storylines, and a few have gripping music and graphics, but none can be put ahead of the others, so I suggest you play them all.