If our Elemental Challenge thus far were a nine-course meal, then this day would be the meat and potatoes because today we’re going to talk about role-playing games. The term RPG has come to cover a wide range of very different games, especially when you start to meld genres together to create the ARPG, SRPG, TRPG, and so on. For the sake of today’s challenge, and for the sake of simplicity, we’d like to take it back to traditional RPGs. That phrasing is going to mean different things to different people, but we’re not necessarily talking merely along the lines of nostalgia. We’re talking straightforward, long, linear, turn-based, adventurous RPGs in as purest a form as we can get them. Sure, that doesn’t mean “games only before the 00’s” but we’re only human and we’ll get as traditional as we can with our favorites. Games have (rightfully) matured and become more complex as technology has allowed but there’s still a place for some good ol’ role-playing.
Here come the traRPGs…
The Green Screen Mage
Well this is a bit of a simulation/RPG game, but Harvest Moon: Another Wonderful Life. It was one of my favorite games growing up. I spent so many hours growing crops and raising animals to make my farm better, wooing different people in town to get a hubby and a baby, and making all of the towns people love me!
The Black Humor Mage
This game is in my top five favorite video games, and happens to be a traditional RPG, so Chrono Trigger definitely is my favorite in this genre. Fun characters, interesting plot, great gameplay that is somewhat turn-based but also runs on a timer to keep you on your toes. And that music, that absolutely amazing music. It’s my favorite soundtrack of all time, and absolutely takes an already amazing game to a whole new level of artistic value.
The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)
Star Wars KOTOR. The best RPG of all time, if not the best game of all time, there I said it. I played fully through this game on Steam during my honeymoon. It is the most compelling Star Wars story in a game that has ever been made and I really enjoyed the combat and party system. (Honorable Mentions – Dragon Warrior/Quest, Baldur’s Gate, EarthBound)
The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)
Chrono Trigger, hands down. This is not only my favorite RPG, but quite possibly my favorite game of all time. Between the beautiful world, time travel mechanic, cool and memorable characters, tech-based combat system, and mind-bending story, it’s yet to be trumped in my mind in terms of a video game narrative. Why isn’t it included on the SNES Classic!?
The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)
If you exclude MMO’s then Pokémon Silver would be my most played game of all time. I absolutely loved it. It’s my favourite Pokémon game and naturally my favourite generation. Pokémon Silver introduced so many key elements to the series – breeding, shinies, night and day, new evolution methods and many more. There was nothing more exciting than beating the Elite Four only to find that you were now able to go to Kanto and do it all over again!
The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)
Dungeon Master. I’m a complete RPG novice so this Atari ST classic is an easy pick… as it’s one of two traditional RPG’s I’ve played. It’s a great game though -a dungeon crawler with first-person graphical perspective and lots of monsters and stats. It’s a real shame Dungeon Master hasn’t been re-released (there is a SNES version if you can find it) as I think it would still go down well today.
The Rage Mage
You know when you grow up to hate your own parents? Yeah so this is kind of like that. The first Final Fantasy is the worst franchise starter I can think of: a tedious, unbalanced, unfair, unfun, grindy, abrasive, plodding, hideous, brutal, time-travelling 12 Monkeys rip off for introverts without enough friends to play D&D. Only self-obsessed idiots would theme a blog around this game and think it’s #onfleek.
The Well-Red Mage
It does my well-red heart good to see so much love for my favorite game of all time: Chrono Trigger, which crowned IGN’s list of Top 100 RPGs of all time at the #1 spot. This game represents an entire summer vacation for me, the months I spent finding and achieving every one of the thirteen endings. This game is engraved into my DNA, I’ve played it so much. The characters, the eras, the dream-inspired music, the ATB system, the dramatic scenes, the interwoven complexity, the sense of grandeur and wonder. The Kingdom of Zeal, the Rainbow Shell, the Gurus of Time, the Epoch, Lavos, Guardia, the Millennial Fair, the Karaoke Machine Gato, the Black Omen, the Masamune… there’s so much in this game! Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI were the two best reasons to own a Super Nintendo. I’m glad mages before me have paraded this game’s majesty because it truly is an experience unlike any other, possibly the greatest game on the greatest system of all time. In fact, look for an upcoming marathon essay on Chrono Trigger and why I think it’s the ultimate reigning champion of video games in a future post commissioned by @Nintendo_Legend!
Traditional RPGs are my bread and butter. I grew up on them so here are some of my other favorites (some less traditional than others): Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, XI, X, and Tactics, EarthBound, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, I Am Setsuna, Breath of Fire II and III, Illusion of Gaia, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, Secret of Mana, Pokémon Red/Blue, and Chrono Cross (to an extent).
A game about time saves Day Nine, but tomorrow we’ll hit the double digits! Come back for more of the Elemental Challenge in about 24 hours. Now what are your favorite traditional RPGs?