We absolutely love RPGs here at Elder-Geek. Thanks to the massive delay in Alpha Protocol‘s release, you may be getting the itch to play even more quality RPGs. After all, Dragon’s Age will only tide you over for a little while. Here they are again in no particular order: Ten More RPGs That Are Still Worth Buying… And Playing.
Planescape: Torment (PC)
Following the success of Fallout and Fallout 2 and using a modified version of Bioware’s Infinity Engine from Baldur’s Gate, Black Isle developed and Interplay published Planescape: Torment in December of 1999. The game was a massive hit among critics and gamers and has been hailed as being one of the best RPG’s ever created, but at the time of its release, it fell short in terms of sales. Putting you in control of the Nameless One, a comparatively evil character considering the standard protagonist of many RPG’s, you were allowed to shape his journey as you saw fit. One of the many innovations was the fact that your character was immortal and had led past lives. Upon dying, you’d be resurrected but some character in the world would perish, leaving his spirit to seek revenge upon you. Remembering a past life would yield new insight into the plot and new skills. If there ever was a more underrated and underplayed RPG, it is Planescape: Torment. Unfortunately, copies are quite rare and unlike many of its contemporaries, it has not seen a reissue in the decade since its original release.
Seiken Densetsu 3 (Super Famicom)
Once upon a time, developer Squaresoft (now Square Enix) had the Midas touch.
Seiken Densetsu 3 (“The Legend of the Holy Sword 3″) is considered by many to be superior to its predecessor, Secret of Mana (known as Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan). The story was lengthy but rewarding. It also gave players a huge range of classes to modify the six main characters as the game progressed. Sadly, the third title in the Mana series was never localized. Featuring a similar real-time battle system with multiplayer capabilities and the ‘ring’ inventory system, Seiken Densetsu 3 also had a time progression element where certain skills and abilities would be enhanced at different times.
The game was met with excellent reviews and in 2000, a fan translation of the ROM into English was released on the internet. So there’s no excuse not to play it.
Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Cube)
The makers of this one definitely played some Final Fantasy X during dev time because the battle system is practically identical but that’s not exactly a bad thing. You play Berethor, a Gondorian soldier who, en route to meet Boromir in Rivendell, is attacked by Ringwraiths and promptly saved by a female elf named Idrial in true Arwenian fashion. You’re then guided through the events of the trilogy by cutscenes narrated by Gandalf the Grey, which will lead you to all of the hot spots seen in the movies and have you interact with all of the main characters. The experience is best described as a voyeuristic ‘behind-the-scenes’ type venture that allows you to see the fellowship’s journey from a slightly different perspective. If you’re in need of a Middle Earth fix and would care to sate your desire for a solid RPG at the same time, then look no further.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II (PlayStation 2, Xbox, Game Cube)
Do not attempt to compare these two titles to their PC counterparts for to do so will result in immense disappointment. Instead, treat them as a pair of standard hack’n’slash console RPG’s. Both have relatively simplistic combat systems but both allow for a degree of customization. The original has you beginning your quest in the heart of Baldur’s Gate, allowing you to choose the Human Archer, Elf Mage, or Dwarf Fighter. Each has a distinct play style and some unique quests, as well. Upon completion, you can play through the game again on Extreme Mode by using one of your pre-existing characters and doing so will unlock the legendary drow elf, Drizzt Do’Urden (you are not geeky enough unless you know this name and the fear it instills into the hearts of the wicked in the Forgotten Realms). The game ends on a cliffhanger and the sequel picks up immediately afterwards. In addition to bringing the overarching story to a close, Dark Alliance II gives you more playable characters, more side quests, and an item modification/creation system. Both titles are excellent for console RPG’s and if played with a friend, they’re even more enjoyable.
Lufia and the Fortress of Doom and Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals (Super Nintendo)
Imagine being an RPG on the SNES. Now imagine being an RPG on the SNES that wasn’t developed by Squaresoft. Right about now you should be imagining Lufia and Lufia II, a pair of fantastic RPG’s developed by Neverland and published by Taito (Lufia) and Natusme (Lufia II). This is one series that was forgotten pretty quickly, despite having sequels on the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance and it’s truly a shame because they were fantastic games. In the first title, you play the hero on a quest to rid the world of evil with three fellow travelers, one of whom is the titular Lufia, your childhood friend and love interest. It’s not exactly the most original approach but there’s a reason it’s standard. You’ve got monsters, caves, prophecies, and kids with crazy colored hair. The game takes place about a century after four warriors vanquished the evil Sinistrals. And naturally, the Sinistrals are back, leaving four more warriors to vanquish them again. The only design flaw I can detect playing it so many years later is the fact that if two characters target an enemy and the first one kills it, then that second one is gonna swing at the air. Lufia II puts you in the shoes of the original four warriors during the rise of the Sinistrals and is very similar. Either way, both games are excellent and if you ever find copies for reasonable prices, get them. Or if whoever owns the rights would give us a collection or at the very least a PSN version or PSP/DS remake, then that’d be fantastic.
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PlayStation 2)
You might as well just put every Atlus RPG on this list because the sheer number of titles that they bring over from the land of the rising sun is baffling. The most well known titles in the Shin Megami Tensei series are those in the Persona sub-series, which rose popularity with the release of Persona 3, Persona 3 FES, Persona 4, and Persona PSP. Released in 2004, Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne, the third official title in the main Shin Megami Tensei series is definitely one of the best RPG’s ever created. But it’s not for everyone. Unless you’re willing to invest at least 80 hours of your life in a philosophical storyline with an emphasis on the occult and demonic, then don’t bother. But if the heavy anime-style plots and characters of the Persona series are unappealing, then Nocturne is the perfect alternative. And it’s recently been reissued so you can find this brand new for $29.99 at many stores.
Final Fantasy V (PlayStation, Gameboy Advance)
Yep, believe it or not, a Final Fantasy title qualifies for this list. But not just any FF, Final Fantasy V was never localized and only saw a US release on the PlayStation Final Fantasy Anthology in 1999; a full seven years after its original release. It was later ported to the Game Boy Advance alongside IV and VI. The game has many standard elements of the series with 22 classes to choose from and the Active Time Battle system controlling the combat. You’ve got five playable characters with a four character party system, one of whom is the tomboyish Faris, who Yoshitaka Amano says is one of his favorite creations next to Terra from VI. And while there have been waves of rumors about DS and PSP remakes of the game, if you really want to play it, Final Fantasy Anthologies is readily available brand new for under $20 and you get Final Fantasy VI with it as well so there’s no reason not to.
Odin Sphere (PlayStation 2)
Sometimes described as a painting in motion, Vanillaware’s 2007 PS2 RPG, Odin Sphere, is one of the most unique RPG’s of its generation. With the gameplay of a side-scroller and the advancement of a typical RPG, it’s about as far away from turn based as you can get before going all-out action RPG. Featuring an excellent storyline and gorgeous visuals, it’s one of the many gems on the PS2 and definitely an RPG you might have missed.