Sunday, June 23, 2019

A slight change in S.O.P. and a request for advice


Half a year ago, having finally caught up on the 1980s (sort of), I announced that my "new new plan" would involve alternating entries on two "current" (now 1992) titles while occasionally--every fifth entry, roughly--reaching back to my backlist for a "surprise" entry. Said backlist consists of:

  • Games that I didn't learn about until after passing their respective years
  • Games that I abandoned too early and may want to take another look at (note that this is not the same thing as "games that I didn't win," although there's certainly a bit of overlap)
  • Games that I originally couldn't find, or couldn't configure properly, for which new information has come to light
  • Games in non-Latin alphabet languages that I might technically be able to play because they don't have a lot of text in the first place
  • Games in non-Latin alphabet languages that have since been translated
  • Games that I originally rejected as RPGs but may be worth taking a closer look at
  • Console games, which aren't technically a part of the official list, but we'll talk about that in a minute

Excepting the last item, this list has over 100 titles, so the size is not trivial, and while it's safe to say that most of the titles are "minor" and no one would raise a huge fuss if I never played them, we're all aware that some of the best moments on this blog have come from an analysis of a mostly-forgotten RPG.

The problem with my "new new plan" is that by relegating these games to the occasional "surprise" posting, I've saddled myself with the burden of trying to finish them in a single entry. Having to stretch to multiple entries and yet not thread them in my "Recent, Current, and Upcoming" list just generates confusion. Or, at least, I feel like it does. Some of the games are quite long, and I need the freedom to stretch them over multiple sessions, just like a 1992 game. One consequence of this problem is that I've spent a lot of time on titles like Camelot (1982) and Danger in Drindisti (1982) but haven't posted anything about them simply because I haven't won them yet. Another consequence is that I've been prioritizing "quick wins" to the exclusion of more interesting titles.

Thus, I'm changing course a bit. There won't be any more "surprise" entries except when I cover a special topic that isn't directly about one game. Instead, every third game listed in the "Recent, Current, and Upcoming" list will be from the backlist, allowing me to explore them in as many entries as necessary. In drawing entries from the backlist, I'll probably alternate between chronological order and complete randomization. Otherwise, it'll be nothing but Crystalware titles for the near future.

Now, let's talk about console games. I've promised for years that I would be open to exploring some of them. In particular, I want to cover the ones that A) had the most influence on PC RPGs, B) had the most influence on those in group A, and C) contrast the most with the typical PC RPG. If it's a "good" game, that's icing on the cake, but that isn't a key criteria.

My question for you is: assuming that I only cover, say, 5-10 console games from the 1985-1992 period, which are the most important in satisfying the criteria of A, B, and C above? I drafted what I think is a decent list, but I'll temper it with whatever feedback I get in this entry. I'm sure there will be a lot of it. Keep in mind that I still need to be able to read the text, so there's no point recommending text-heavy Japanese games that never got a western release and English translation.

Thanks as always for your continued support and patience as I constantly tweak things. Even though I expect a lot of discussion on this entry, it doesn't count as a "real" entry, and you can expect the next posting on Darklands on Tuesday at midnight.

154 comments:

  1. I'd suggest the NES port of "The Bard's Tale", just so you can contrast it with the original PC versions. The first FF and Dragon Warrior/Quest games are probably a must just because of their heavy influence on JRPGs in general as well as how much they drew from Wizardry and early Ultima. Crystalis for the NES is a gem, a bit more action oriented, and an enforced grind mechanic that is it's main flaw.

    There are also ports of Might and Magic and several Wizardry titles for the NES, and Ultima Exodus. The Master System has Ultima 4 as well. Might and Magic 2 got ported to the Genesis and SNES, though I'm not sure on year (pretty sure the MM3 and Ultima 6 SNES ports were past 1992 though). I wouldn't play them through, but it might be worth checking out just to contrast the PC versions, again.

    Phantasy Star 2 might fit in your year range, but I'm not sure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As an aside, Phantasy Star 1 almost definitely is in your year range, and is also definitely influenced by Wizardry. Master System release, so probably not the easiest to find in the US.

      The Gameboy has ports and original Wizardry games, but they were Japanese-language only, so you'd have to find a translation.

      Delete
    2. I can't imagine playing games like Wizardry or Ultima on a console. Just painful.

      Delete
    3. Some of them work. Ultima 4 on the Master System is particularly good.

      Delete
    4. Eh, Wizardry isn't much different to play than Final Fantasy on the console. You navigate menus with the control pad just the same. The main differences is inputting text like character names; that is a pain.

      Delete
    5. Phantasy Star 1 definitely qualifies, I would say, since it was influential on console RPGs and still inherited a lot of olschool CRPG mechanics. ROMs of the original, and emulators for the console are easy enough to find. Of course, with many of these console games Chet might want to get fan translations of Japanese versions,as they are sometimes superior.

      The SNES ports of the old Wizardries are better in their original Japanese Super Famicom versions, for example, as the American releases were censored due to Nintendo America's family friendly policy (half-nude female monsters were covered up, any references to killing enemies or your own characters being dead were removed and replaced with "defeat", any vaguely religious words were removed (clerics got a different name, words like holy and unholy in spell and monster names changed, etc)). I imagine it's similar in other NES and SNES RPGs.

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. I don't think there's much point to covering the console ports of Wizardry, Ultima, Might & Magic, etc. since all of them are simply the same exact game with a user interface adapted to the gamepad. If our host is only going to cover less than ten console RPGs, it would be travesty to waste those precious few slots on ports of games already covered in full.

      Phantasy Star 1 is an excellent pick, and covering Dragon Quest 1 and Final Fantasy 1 is almost mandatory so that these tremendously popular series get their acknowledgement. Shin Megami Tensei is a great, very influential choice (I don't think there is an official translation, but there is a fan-made one).

      Delete
  2. My $.02 for the 5 console games from that period:
    1. Dragon Quest (the NES version, since the MSX computer original is Japanese only IIRC) - seminal title, largely inspired by two series you covered so far (Ultima+Wizardry). Was the basis for pretty much 90% of Japanese console RPGs.
    2. Final Fantasy (again, NES is translated, MSX version isn't) - despite what you might think of the name looking at recent entries in the series, the first game is pretty much Japanese take on a AD&D campaign (down to using scans from the monster manual as enemies). Also, was developed by an US-Iranian programmer, Nasir Gebelli.
    3. Phantasy Star (Sega Master System) - not as influential as the two above, but still an extremely solid dungeon crawler, which released roughly at the same time as Final Fantasy did. Should give you a broader view on the genre, since it's rather different than the two above.
    4. Final Fantasy II (NES) - the NES game, not the SNES game with the same title that's actually Final Fantasy IV. Although it wasn't officially released in English until the Playstation remake, there's a fan translation available for the NES version. Despite the name, it's a starting point for the SaGa series of games, which are pretty much the most cRPG like from the whole Japanese slew of RPGs (maybe not counting the Wizardry sequels/clones they kept pumping out for years after Sir-Tech shut down). Game's designer Akitoshi Kawazu has been designing extremely weird RPGs ever since that game released.
    5. Shin Megami Tensei (SNES) - again, no official version til the IOS port in 2014, but there's a competent fan translation. Non-linear dungeon crawler with monster recruitment (think Pokemon, but with various deities/gods instead of made-up monsters, and 6 years before Pokemon released). Strong emphasis on alignment (chaotic/neutral/good), which is something you should be familiar with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is pretty much the list I would propose, other than FF2, which doesn't play like the SaGa games at all and is pretty much an evolutionary dead end. SaGa 1/The Final Fantasy Legend would be better.

      But what I really think should go in that slot is Fire Emblem. The story of JRPGs isn't complete without SRPGs, and Chet likes tactical combat. And there's none of the SD sprites that he's complained about in other Japanese games. I think he might actually like Fire Emblem.

      Delete
    2. Same here. Looks like a competent list to me.

      Delete
    3. Thats's a good list, though I would swap out FF II (NES) for FF II/IV(SNES) because it inroduced the ATB Battel system or FF V because it introduced the job system, both influencing the whole series in various ways. I would also add Shining Force and/or Fire Emblem as well as... "Just Breed" an obscure but solid and somewhat unusual Tactical RPG for the NES. That one fits well into category C...

      Delete
    4. Fire Emblem is one of the few Japanese RPGs I also like, because of the great tactical combat. But it feels a lot more like a strategy game than an RPG due to the amount of units you command.

      Delete
    5. I would agree with this list as well, though the original Shining Force game is one that I think really is the start of the strategy rpg hybrids in English since the first few Fire Emblems weren't translated originally.

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. Sorry for the deleted posts, I had some technical difficulties.
      I second this list with the additions/swapping out of ff2 in the posts above me. And in my opinion there is no point in playing console versions of crpg you already covered. Of course they might differ somewhat from their computer originals, but I question the value of discussing the specific system dependent differences of titles we already read about when you could better spent your time on titles you and some of us don't already know.

      Delete
    8. @Bakuiel: Warsong was released at least a year before Shining Force.

      Delete
  3. Oh, man, here comes the flood! I think the obvious choices are:

    • Dragon Warrior (definitely 1, probably 2 or 3 as well)
    • Final Fantasy (1 and 4 would be the straightforward picks)
    • Phantasy Star (definitely 1, probably 2 as well)

    Some others you might consider:

    • Tower of Doom (Intellivision, maybe the earliest true roguelike on a console? I'd love to see you cover this but though it's definitely an RPG I don't know if I can justify it under your criteria, and your colorblindness will have a major effect on your experience of the game)
    • Sweet Home (Famicom, translation patch is available, very early survival horror RPG)
    • Fire Emblem (Famicom, extremely influential series of tactical RPGs, but I haven't played it enough to opine beyond that)
    • Sword of Vermilion (Sega Genesis, very hyped early RPG for the system, pretty good case study in some of the issues facing console RPGs at the time)
    • Cosmic Fantasy 2 (TurboGrafx-16, brought animated/voiced cutscenes to Western audiences)
    • Shining Force (Genesis, foundational tactical RPG)
    • Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD, probably the first well-known console RPG on a CD format)

    As for the Zelda series, I don't think it qualifies as an RPG under your rules. Same with Faxanadu, Rygar, etc. There were tons and tons of NES/Famicom games that included RPG elements when that became fashionable, but most are action games at heart.

    I feel as though I'm overlooking something obvious, seminal, and Japanese, but that's what I've got right now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thought of one more: Wonder Boy in Monster Land, which is an arcade port and was also ported to various computers. I think the console versions are best known, though. The whole world of "arcade RPGs" is a curious and interesting one.

      Delete
    2. (To be clear, WBiML was originally an arcade game, and it's the Sega Master System version that I'm suggesting here -- though it's also present on at least one other console, albeit under a different name and with a total reskin...)

      Delete
    3. I think Shining in the Darkness is more RPG-y than Shining Force, though I thought the latter was more fun to play.

      Delete
    4. WBiML got a lot of computer ports, but its not an rpg (no character creation, no level up or stats)

      Delete
    5. Shoot, stmp, you're right. I find it so easy to get WBiML mixed up with other games in the series because of the weird naming conventions, multiple reskins, different spin-offs, etc.

      Delete
    6. @X: I really liked Shining in the Darkness and agree that it's 100% RPG (i.e. in a more clear-cut way than Shining Force), but I don't know that it was influential except as the first game in the Shining series. Still, I'd gladly suggest it.

      Delete
    7. not to say that WBiML isn´t an excellent game but it is not for this blog.... and I just want to say that if you choose to play some console games then FF1 DQ and Phantasystar is where its at, maybe look at fire emblem or shining force to get a feel for TacticsRPG.

      Delete
    8. Yeah, I just completely misremembered how progression in WBiML works. (I guess another game in the series is more RPG-like.)

      What's the first arcade game that would qualify under the Addict's rules, I wonder? Gauntlet Legends is an obvious candidate, but there must be earlier examples that would work. I can't remember how Willow or Cadash handle progression...

      Delete
    9. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is probably what you're thinking of.

      One of the best games of the 80s and has enough RPG credentials to play, but I'm not sure how significant it is in RPG lineage.

      Also has a recent and fantastic port to PC.

      Delete
  4. In my opinion, consoles didn't receive decent CRPG exclusives until the Xbox, or the PlayStation at the earliest. And I'm a console gamer, but consoles weren't on par with PCs in terms of CRPGs until the PS1, or even original Xbox (though the PS2 had some potential that was rarely tapped).

    Maybe you'll like the primitive CRPGs (mostly JRPGs are late ports of western CRPGs) more than I did, but if you end up disliking them, I suggest you ignore console games until such time as exclusive non-JRPGs appear.

    Also, Legend of Zelda isn't a CRPG. Zelda II is, but that's the only one. Only reason people say Zelda is a CRPG is because it kinda sorta looks like contemporary JRPGs, I guess?

    Anyhow, I'm sure you'll agree with me on this: no point playing a console port of a PC game you already played, unless you seriously want to compare game ports.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In the Gold Box games, the party can earn experience when they find treasures. Earning experience and levels translates into more health points and more skills, but it is very uncommon to raise the six numeric attributes/statistics.

      The many Legends of Zelda remove the "experience/level" middle-man: when Link finds a trasure, it translates directly to health points (heart containers) or skills (special items).

      The Legends of Zelda are simply "role-playing games without experience points".

      Delete
    2. It's tough to regard "hearts" as true character development, but anyway, using my classification doesn't LoZ fail the second criteria? I believe success in combat is all about controller skill and not at all about characters skills or attributes.

      Delete
    3. the zelda series is good and well worth playing but none of the games will fit in on this blog even the second one is still just an adventuregame without any real rpg elements

      Delete
    4. Zelda is the most important action/adventure series. It's really only relevant to RPGs in the sense that it informed some of the action/adventure aspects present in many action RPGs.

      Delete
    5. 1 heart container = 4 health points.

      Yes, the several Legends of Zelda fail the 2nd criterium, as much as the majority of action-role-playing games. The "Zeldas" are still much better than "Icon: the Quest for the Ring" and "The Seven Spirits of Ra".

      On a second though, why bother with Console role-playing games? This is the blog of Computer role-playing games.

      Delete
  5. I definitely recommend looking at Final Fantasy I, and then at least one other Final Fantasy game from later in the series. Very few people are as extensively familiar with CRPGs of the era as you are. The people who lived through it lived in an era of little consensus as to what the "big games" were and largely played whatever looked good in box art, and the people who came after rarely look back because of compatibility issues in getting old games running that just don't exist for things like movies and books. So far as recording things for posterity goes, there are shockingly few people who have the expertise in western CRPGs of the mid-80s that you do, and who could provide the perspective on how Final Fantasy emulated that genre, what it changed right off the bat, and how it continued to drift and evolve into the distinct JRPG genre over time. Even considering that you're flying completely blind on the destination of that journey - the point when JRPGs are a fully distinct genre with little overlap with western RPGs - there's not very many people who could give an analysis rooted in thorough knowledge rather than incidental encounters with even the western starting point of that journey.

    Some other JRPGs for console might be similarly worth a look, but I don't know enough about their early entries to say whether they're similar enough to western RPGs from the outset for your perspective to be particularly valuable in a "preserving knowledge for gamer posterity" kind of way. It'd still be fun to watch you wander around as a stranger in a strange land, sure, but we get that periodically out of the standard PC lineup anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Final Fantasy is interesting here because it originated something that is almost wholly exclusive to JRPGs: visible party members in turn-based, non-tactical combat. Any game that has that kind of combat screen feels like a JRPG, even made by westerners.

      Delete
    2. Actually stepped pyramids, Phantasie, which came out in 1985, had visible party members in combat on a non-tactical screen. FF1 came out two years later.

      Delete
    3. As well as the Black Onyx series.

      Delete
    4. stepped pyramidsJune 24, 2019 at 3:22 PM

      I struggled with how to phrase that and ended up a bit broader than I intended. I'm specifically talking about the "football match" model of having characters face off and do animated attacks. Phantasie fits that description, Black Onyx doesn't. But it seems more likely that Final Fantasy was the influence on later JRPGs, not Phantasie. (The combat in Phantasy Star II and Final Fantasy Legend III looks like Phantasie, though.)

      I do wish more western RPGs had been influenced by Phantasie, though...

      Delete
  6. I think the ones that had the most influence on PC RPGs aren't things you have reached yet, like the SNES Final Fantasy games, Chrono Trigger, and Earthbound. Not necessarily the commerical stuff, but if/when you get to RPGmaker, other makers and fan games, most of them will be influenced by some combination of those three.

    My vote would be for the early entries in Phantasy Star, Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy and Megami Tensei. (not Shin, Megami Tensei is the one on the NES that was based off a book) I also wouldn't mind seeing Tower of Doom or Sweet Home, but those are more artifacts that didn't expand into other, different series. Tower of Doom being just a really neat thing for the time, like Utopia, and Sweet Home is one of the first survival horror games.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hadn't thought about Earthbound -- the Famicom game would be eligible for the named time frame, and there's an English-language prototype (the North American release was canceled at the last minute) which actually plays better than the Japanese version since you can move much faster on the overworld. Whether the Famicom game itself was influential I'm not sure.

      Fair cop on Tower of Doom being an artifact. I guess one additional point would be that it's an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game in all but name (Mattel closed when the game was in development and INTV couldn't afford the AD&D license), and completes the informal trilogy of which the Addict's already reviewed the first two games.

      Delete
    2. I don't think as many people played Earthbound Zero as they did Earthbound. From what I've heard it has mostly the same kind of elements as Earthbound, just dialed lower.

      Oh, was it supposed to be a AD&D game? That makes sense from what I remember. Makes more sense than how it was stuck on the Intellivision Lives! compilation, which was next to Thunder Castle. Ugh, Thunder Castle...

      I wanted to make this point in my original post, but I forgot. One thing I'd like to see is console and portable spin-offs of computer series. The console-exclusive Wizardry games, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance, and those portable Ultima games. I don't think any of them are recent though, except the Ultima ones.

      Delete
    3. "Earthbound Zero" does have an official English version nowadays, as "Earthbound Beginnings" on the Wii U Virtual Console. The aforementioned prototype is mostly identical as far as I'm aware.

      Delete
  7. Eh, it's not like there's a deadline. Take all the time you need. Multiple posts, who cares? We just read the entries, I don't think anyone cares about the taxonomy of posts.

    You're really opening up a can of worms with this console business. For some reason, there are posters who don't really care about anything but seeing you play games that they know. Then they love to come into the comments and drop spoilers.

    FWIW, I played Phantasy Star and rate it as an RPG. Vurrr-y Japanese, though, which means lots of inscrutable moments. My favorite one here. It is what it is: you're a teenage girl going on a long journey through monster-infested lands in an attempt to rescue a cute talking cat, find a legendary warrior and assassinate King Lassic of Algo. Back in the day, I actually won it, which I was always proud of as lots of games you never finished. Zillion too. Maybe it was the Sega Master System that was the trick.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I wouldn't mind you adding Warriors of the Eternal Sun to the 1992 list, it would be interesting to see how much (if any) Westwood had to dumb down D&D to make it work on a console.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a strange game. It's recognisable as D&D but the way it's presented is odd. You wander around the map but then switch to tactical view when in combat, except when in a dungeon, where everything is first-person. It feels like a couple of different games bolted together.

      Delete
    2. Seconding this, because it's a western CRPG with the official D&D license, and it was a console exclusive. Fascinating little game.

      Delete
    3. It's a shame that one didn't turn out better because I really like the Mystara hollow earth setting.

      Delete
    4. WotES is also the only Dungeons & Dragons game as far as I know (i.e. not AD&D). Perhaps worth playing for that reason.

      Delete
    5. Order of the Griffon is another one.

      Delete
  9. There's a lot of places you can go if you open the console game floodgates, but I think sticking to a very small sampling of significant trailblazers like those mentioned above is a good first step. You'll be bumping into the first of the western-made CRPGs inspired by console RPGs (Anachronox, Septerra Core) around the time you'll be playing the likes of Final Fantasy VII - provided it counts, as a contemporaneous port.

    Not to pile on even more work, but there's a couple other categories worth considering:
    D) Japanese CRPGs that received console ports, where those console ports were the only version that saw an official localization (or sufficiently decent fan translation). This happened a lot with Falcom, e.g. the first The Legend of Heroes game or Ys III: Wanderers of Ys. Gamepad controls might be a bit awkward, but not as awkward as trying to translate all that kana from the original version(s).
    E) Console games very clearly inspired by CRPGs. These might include a throng of Japanese Wizardry spin-offs, but also odd cases like D&D: Order of the Griffon, the GBA Eye of the Beholder (which has Gold Box combat for some reason), the SNES-only Drakkhen sequel Dragon View, either of the 16-bit Shadowrun RPGs, the Ultima: Runes of Virtue console-only spin-offs, or Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Please never allow anyone to convince you to play Ultima 7 on the SNES :P

      Delete
    2. Runes of Virtue has little character development, no stats for combat, and a minor inventory system. It has more in common with Zelda games than Ultima.

      Dungeon Master: Theron's Quest adds nothing to the Dungeon Master series. It's a remix version of levels from previous Dungeon Master titles under the guise of a prequel.

      Delete
    3. I mostly brought those up because they're weird console off-shoots of franchises Chet's already familiar with. DM:TQ may not have a lot of original content, but it has a remarkably unusual way of delivering that content to the player.

      Given how poorly the U:RoV games tend to rate on top of their action-adventure format, you're right that he's probably safe skipping those (and, it perhaps goes without saying, almost any direct console port of a CRPG prior to maybe the PS1 era).

      Delete
  10. The earliest console RPG to CRPG influence I can think of is Final Fantasy VII to Septerra Core. FFVII really made console/Japanese RPGs blow up on American shores, which is most relevant to you because I imagine even if Japanese home computer games ripped off the NES/SNES Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, I'd imagine you'd have a hard time reading them.

    Also, is this Crystalware game on your list? It was just rediscovered in November:
    https://atariage.com/forums/topic/285364-i-found-an-old-crystalware-game-treasure-island/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FF7 has a computer port though so it'd be on the Addict's list already (not even a "package up the roms with an emulator" type deal).

      Delete
  11. Destiny of an Emperor on NES should be on the list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thought about Destiny of an Emperor too, though I'm not sure how much of an impact it made. Fun game, though.

      I suppose it could be a good way to address all the Three Kingdoms titles that proliferated in the coming years (not just the Koei games, but other series as well).

      Delete
    2. It was my first introduction to the Three Kingdoms. I eventually picked up the books thanks to playing the game.

      Funny enough, it jilted me out of a long period of time when I was working crud jobs and not completing my CS degree, because I realized I didn't want to be like Liu Bei, always waiting and never taking action and having life pass him by. Now I have my CS degree and a high paying software engineering job.

      My dad read the books too and was inspired to apply for the branch manager position at his work that he got. His favorite character was Zhang Fei, who went from being a hot-headed impulsive loudmouth to a rather cunning tactician who used his own reputation to lead enemies to underestimate him.

      Delete
    3. Interesting! My own introduction was via Romance of the Three Kingdoms for NES, followed by Destiny of an Emperor -- followed as an undergrad by some awkward but fruitful exchanges with a Chinese professor who initially couldn't make heads or tails of my mangled pronunciations (after all, no one in my small town knew it was "Tsao Tsao", not "Cow Cow").

      Delete
  12. I agree Dragon Warrior I-III should be on the list, and Final Fantasy I. My only caveat is I would not blame you if you play the modernized versions. The NES versions are very VERY grindy and FF in particular is loaded with bugs and poor interface design.

    Dragon Warrior is available for download from the Google playstore, in fact, for android phones and devices. (As Dragon Quest). The translations are much improved as is the interface and game pacing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Although I agree that reducing grind would make for a BETTER game in many cases, I don't think it would be a very accurate experience.

      Considering that grinding gold and xp is practically the only gameplay consideration in DW1, I think it would defeat the purpose.

      Delete
    2. As I'm sure anyone else would agree, Dragon Warrior 1 and Final Fantasy 1 are musts from the category B list. Final Fantasy begat the genre's popularity in the west, and Dragon Warrior begat Final Fantasy (as well as countless games not quite as successful outside of Japan).

      But to appreciate their influence, you'd need to play the somewhat ramshackle NES versions. If your goal is to trace the DNA of console-oriented JRPGs, then it would be counterproductive to play versions that had been revised decades after the influence of the originals had already been felt.

      In fact, even the NES version of Dragon Warrior is years removed from the original, and has some features added to it which make it slightly anachronistic viewed as a 1986 game. For instance, the Famicom original has Ultima-style iconographic sprites, while the NES version upgrades them to a four-direction walking animation, as in Zelda and Final Fantasy.

      Delete
    3. Dragon Warrior is definitely on my list. It is a grindy game, though. Emulation helps a lot. Last time I played it at either 1.5 or maybe 2x speed, which cut way down on playtime. It's turn-based, thus totally safe to speed up.

      Delete
    4. The problem with FF1 on the NES is that the bugs are just terrible. They render several spells useless, alter the balance of spell vs. weapon power, make one class redundant, and that's coupled with an insanely long grind time for money and experience.

      Dragon Warrior has a similar problem with the grind. I played and won the Android/ioS version in a day, and it was honestly enjoyable. The original game in contrast took FOREVER to advance in, and harshly punished you if you tried to explore even a little beyond boundaries. I can't see Chet putting any substantial time into something that was geared for a child with endless patience.

      Delete
    5. It's true that FF1's magic system is bug-riddled, but I didn't find that it got in the way of completing the game when I was a kid (I don't think I even noticed that there were bugs), and it didn't take me that long to beat. Compared with some of the roadblocks the Addict has faced, it's a minor blip, and I think it's worth experiencing the game as it was released.

      And yeah, emulation at 2x speed or faster is a boon if you're willing to do that. Since the Addict is indifferent (at best) to the music, and the combat in DW1 and FF1 is completely turn-based, there's no reason not to crank things up.

      Delete
    6. Oh I would highly recommend turning all music off. Total Salt and Pepper Diner horror otherwise.

      I won FF1 as well, but I had the Nintendo guide to follow which told me what level to reach, what spells to avoid, etc. Didn't we all? The Addict avoids those and I think the gameplay would suffer accordingly.

      Delete
  13. I would like to suggest one of the Megami Tensei titles. The first one (Digital Devil Story) for the NES is Japanese-only but not text-heavy; however, it is close to impossible to finish without a walkthrough due to obscure puzzles and levels which are unfairly difficult to map. The game introduced (to my knowledge) the monster-fusion mechanics in RPGs. A better alternative might be Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei for the SNES, which includes a remake of the first and second games in the series.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I don't have much to add to the suggestions here. I would have a look at the main franchises: Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, Phantasy Star, Megami Tensei.

    It's worth looking at some of the Ultima ports; as others have mentioned above, the Master System version of IV is considered quite good.

    The Legend of Zelda isn't an rpg, as others have said, but I do think there's an argument to be made that it does emulate the play of an rpg, in an abstracted form. In D&D for example, clearing a dungeon of monsters and treasure gives experience points that then enable character improvement; in LoZ you clear a dungeon, which in most of the series gives Link a new ability or weapon, plus an extra heart for the health bar. I think that's analogous to new character abilities and new levels/hit points, but I don't know if you'd consider that worthy of discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Besides the obvious ones that have already been posted, I'd mention Castlevania II: Simon's Quest - one of the originators of the "Metroidvania" genre, and the more RPG-heavy of the two.
    There were also two Shadowrun games, for Nes and Sega Genesis respectively, that are worth checking out for being the only computer adaptations of the hugely popular PnP system up until Shadowrun Returns was released in 2013. The Genesis game is also a Western-style CRPG for all intents and purposes (open world, character generation, non-linear plot) and is a fairly faithful recreation of the PnP ruleset.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't care much about console games, especially as far as JRPGs are concerned. The Shadowrun SNES game is the one exception. I think it's one of the coolest settings besides World of Darkness, and as you said there are absolutely no PC games for it until 2013. Makes it somewhat unique as a game, though I can't tell if it had any influence on PC RPGs, besides being heavily referenced in Shadowrun Returns.

      It's a 1993 game, though, and wouldn't qualify for the backlist.

      Delete
    2. Except this one.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shadowrun_(2007_video_game)

      I think the 1994 Genesis Shadowrun game is the better of that era though.

      Delete
  16. Japanese role-playing games?

    Since you love character creation, go for "Dragon Quest 3" (localized as "Dragon Warrior 3") and "Final Fantasy 3" (fan-made translations can be found). Most Japanese role-playing games give you a ready-made character to get into the game as soon as possible. The two titles I mention here allow for a system akin to an "unlimited dual-class". Furthermore, "Dragon Quest 3" (the Game Boy Color port) features a character creation reminiscent of "Ultima 4" for the hero, and reminiscent of "Dungeons & Dragons" for the party members.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I forgot to specify: I was writing about "Final Fantasy 3" for the NES/FamiCom. There exist a "Final Fantasy 3" for the Super NES, but it is a localization of "Final Fantasy 6".

      Delete
    2. Final Fantasy 3's take on experience levels via the creation of a 'job' system probably means it's required playing.

      Delete
  17. My vote is for tackling the Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy games, but at least the first two of each which had real (Japanese-only) computer releases. Avoid the remakes when you can (using fan ROMs of FF2, for example) since they tended to adjust experience and gold levels to make them easier.

    Beyond that, it depends on how complete you want to be.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As a fan of your "new new plan" I'm excited to see the"new and improved new new plan" turns out.

    I like how you're still polishing your approach after all this time.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I would like to put in my 2cents worth:

    1. The grind! many of the JPRG's are very "grindy", the time you'll need to play a lot of these games...

    and 2. The save system: I would suggest that you use an emulator so that Chet can "redo" portions of the games without having to go back to the beginning. So many games had one save slot. I know Wizardry(PC) did as well but the save system was a point of aggravation for me. Chet will be able, like PC versions to use Save States.

    Finally, I would suggest that you can use the console RPG's as a sort of appendix when you finish:) the published list.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Having never played a console RPG (the last console I owned was the vintage Atari 2600 from 1979-1984!) I can't say much there, but you have made many people happy with the decision to add some console games, and I'll be happy to see what they are like.

    As for the rest of it, as long as you are turning out posts, we'll all be reading them!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I never look at the 'upcoming' list, so everything is a surprise for me!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Because of the nature of console RPGs (JRPGs), I don´t think they are worth your time. Nevertheless, I would suggest taking ahead classics like Final Fantasy 6 (1994) and Chrono Trigger (1995). For now, getting the first Final Fantasy would be enough. As an out of the scope suggestion, I would take the first Legend of Zelda and maybe Legend of Zelda 2, since it is a more RPG one, although with an unforgiving difficulty. I liked the Simon´s Quest (Castlevania 2) suggestion too, even though is hard to complete. Both sequels tried to reinvent themselves as a sequence (in a way to present "what happens after you killed your big nemesis" question) and gameplaywise in a time it was ok not to build a franchise like hamburgers.

    ReplyDelete
  23. My 2 cents:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Devil_Story:_Megami_Tensei -- collecting monsters before pokemon was created.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phantasy_Star_II -- epic story, science fiction, serious themes, strategic battles, this was a big release in its time.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelda_II:_The_Adventure_of_Link -- The first Zelda didn't have much of a storyline/plot. This one was arguably the first one that did. A hybrid of rpg, platformer, and action.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xanadu_(video_game) -- Possibly the first true action rpg.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Quest_III -- DQ is as venerable a series as Final Fantasy. Lots of good reviews for this one.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ys_I_%26_II -- This is another plot heavy RPG in a series that has endured to this day. It is an action rpg as well.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Fantasy_IV -- If you only have to play one final fantasy game that existed at 1992 or prior, then this is the one to play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Addict has played Xanadu and Ys I, hasn't he?

      http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/search/label/Xanadu

      http://crpgaddict.blogspot.com/search/label/Ys

      Delete
    2. I'm trying to imagine Chet attempting and then writing a post about Zelda II. I mean, he frequently talks about his limited dexterity, and this game was too hard for many console gamers. I can't say I wouldn't enjoy reading it, but it doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

      But more importantly, even though it has RPG mechanics grafted onto it, the action gameplay is so central to the game that I don't think it should be considered an RPG.

      I recently argued that Star Control 2 should be considered an RPG, and part of that is because the action parts of it are somewhat auxiliary to the rest of the game, and that allowed for it to provide an RPG experience. But that's not the case for the Zelda games.

      It's another good example of why the question of what is an RPG needs to go beyond just experience points and levels.

      Delete
    3. I was trying to keep it to titles that had been released 1992 and prior. Action RPGs in general could be considered to be a walking contradiction.

      Delete
  24. I don't think playing console ports of already covered games would be a good use of your time. Yes, they are different, but almost always in a (very) bad way. Translating an Ultima or Might and Magic or Bard's Tale to a D-pad a two buttons is a battle no one can win, not to mention the cuts these game got due to memory constraints in both gameplay and sometimes storytelling as well. It would be nice for someone to document these differences in an exhaustive manner, but that would require an enormous amount of time when you are still far away from Lands of Lore.

    The thing is, covering the console-exclusive RPGs would probably necessitate some rethinking of your "what makes an RPG" ruleset, as after the extreme success of DQ in Japan, pretty much every genre started to incorporate RPG elements, not only action and strategy games, but even racing games and visual novels.

    I think adding a rule zero, like Asimov with the Trevize-axiom, would be good: it's an RPG, if the designers wanted to make it an RPG first and foremost. Otherwise you'd be flooded with an enormous amount of (usually very interesting) RPG-adjacent games. Wikipedia's list for example covers everything that has leveling or HP or non-puzzle type inventory. Getsu Fuuma Den is not an RPG.

    That said, here's a list of games that should nicely fit your category C (everyone already mentioned the big ones):
    -Lagrange Point (fully fanslated): one of the best sci-fi RPG's of the era, I would argue that it's a better game that Phantasy Star I or II.
    -The Magic of Scheherazade and Crystalis (both released in English): for the people that love to say that Zelda is not an RPG. These are two cool Zelda-like games with full RPG elements.
    -Exile (released in English): a fantastic historical RPG about a Syrian Assassin, the Grail, the Knights Templar and also Cambodia, Japan and everything in between.
    -Metal Max (fully fanslated): an RPG after the end of the world, in a Mad Max-like environment. Cars, monsters, nonlinearity. Fantastic.
    -Emerald Dragon (fully fanslated): probably the best unknown (in the west) console RPG from this era.
    -Cave Noire (fully fanslated): a fantastic roguelike, and one of the best non-firstparty games on Game Boy.
    -46 Okunen Monogatari (fully fanslated): the best game about evolution.
    -Romancing SaGa (fully fanslated): simply a cool JRPG.
    -Mother/Earthbound Beginnings (released in English): probably the worst-known Nintendo-gem.
    -Sweet Home (fully fanslated): as many people already mentioned, a horror RPG.
    -Sword of Vermillion (released in English): run of the mill story, very good action-y gameplay.
    -Xak 1-2-3 (all fully fanslated): these are not extremely special games, but it would be nice to have some detailed English playthrough.

    Unfortunately loads of fantastic Japanese games were never translated, especially the Tengai Makyou series.

    If you want to cover strategy RPGs, Destiny of an Emperor (and its fanslated sequel), Warsong (the first Langrisser game in camouflage) and Just Breed (fanslated, not sexual in any way).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a site that documents some of the changes in Might & Magic ports. The short of it is the NES/SNES ports of M&M1-3 are actually good. https://web.archive.org/web/20170918093147/http://www.hardcoregaming101.net:80/mightandmagic/mightandmagic.htm

      And for Ultima: https://web.archive.org/web/20170918093110/http://www.hardcoregaming101.net/ultima/ultima.htm

      Delete
    2. Just to expand a bit on one of those... There are actually two games in the 46 Okunen Monogatari (46億年物語) series. So to avoid confusion:

      The one subtitled The Shinkaron (THE進化論---yes, "THE" is apparently part of the Japanese title) was released for the Japanese PC-98 computer in 1990. It's a console-style game with exploration and menu-based combat very much like Dragon Quest.

      Then they remade it in a completely different genre (side-scrolling action) and with a largely different plot for the Super Famicom under the title Harukanaru Eden e (遙かなるエデンへ). This one did get localized and released for the SNES as E.V.O.: The Search for Eden.

      And then, many years later, the original game, The Shinkaron, was fanslated and released as E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution. The official translation of Harukanaru Eden e is generally regarded as pretty bad ("Brosasaurus"?), but it hasn't (yet...? ;-) ) been fanslated.

      Just adding this, because the various titles of both games often get used a bit inconsistently, which can cause confusion.

      I'd also point out that I don't think either game really counts as a CRPG under the Addict's standards... in both games, you do accrue "experience" and use it to improve your character, but there's no real inventory system separate from that. The Shinkaron is very RPG-like than Harukanaru Eden e in look and feel, though.

      Delete
    3. >The official translation of Harukanaru Eden e is generally regarded as pretty bad ("Brosasaurus"?), but it hasn't (yet...? ;-) ) been fanslated.
      I've played the original version of the game, and the official translation isn't really "bad" outside of the fact that it gets the names of pretty much everything dead wrong. Considering the game is intended to be at least somewhat educational, this is absolutely a bad thing (and while stuff like "brosasaurus" is pretty easy to just correct in your head, the game throws tons of primordial fish and other long extinct species at you that Joe Average has never heard of, so when you run into something the translation calls "Profasu" you probably won't just immediately realize it's actually supposed to be "Protophasma"), but I wouldn't say it's something you should write off the entire translation as.

      Delete
  25. As far as whether or not a given console game is a CRPG or not, I would use this test: Do you consistently have to rely on manual dexterity with a controller in order to advance the game? If the answer is yes, then it's an action RPG, and NOT a classic CRPG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, this gets at what I was mentioning above.

      Some action and dexterity shouldn't be disqualifying (Dungeon Master, Ultima Underworld, Morrowind), but once it gets to the place where the action is the central mechanic (Zelda II) then I think it makes sense to put it in another category.

      Delete
  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Shin Megami Tensei games are definitely worth checking out--particularly in light of your finding CRPG economics important enough to have a GIMLET category for.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Man you just opened a can of worms with this post. So, here are a list of games that I think are at least worth playing for how much they influenced the industry including Western RPG's themselves.

    1. Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest 1 -8
    2. Final Fantasy 1 - 9, Skip 2 though
    3. Shin Megami Tensei 1 -4
    4. Zelda 1 and 2, just for adding acton gameplay into RPG's later on
    5. Chrono Trigger, I highly recommend this one
    6. Phantasy Star 1-4
    7. Legend, Secret, and Trials of Mana, another important one
    8. Xenogears
    9. Grandia, Personal favorite of mine
    10. Mother series, especially 2 and 3

    That's it, those are the quintessential RPG's from Japan that are on consoles. You could also check out the Mario ones as well, but those are slightly different even if they are a load of fun.

    That's all I got for now

    ReplyDelete
  29. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Probably should play one Fire Emblem game at some point. They're big in Japan and it had a profound influence on the tactical RPGs on Japanese PCs. The arcade game Tower of Druaga gets a lot of props as a very early action RPG, but I can't recall if that's a far reaching claim.

    ReplyDelete
  31. There's various ports of Ultima and console-exclusive spinoffs, but from what I've seen they aren't really RPGs.

    I'll throw in another vote for Final Fantasy 1, and add that I feel Final Fantasy VI is where JRPG conventions really start to diverge from traditional CRPG ones.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I wouldn't mind if you stayed true to your original plan as a CRPG addict and not CRPG+JRPG addict ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you Finn but it looks like we're heavily outnumbered...

      Delete
    2. He isn't covering JRPGs in the same way he's covering CRPGs, he's covering a handful so he can witness the important evolutions that ended up pollinating CRPGs.

      Delete
  33. Oh awesome, really excited you'll be taking a foray into some home console titles! I'm looking forward to hearing what you make of them. As with Cloudy Mountain and Treasures of Tarmin on the Intellivision that you already covered, many home console developers were consciously trying to replicate the experience of playing a home computer game on systems with much less processing power and fewer inputs. Some of the design challenges produced some remarkable innovations!
    In particular, I think you'll really appreciate just how artfully the Japanese RPGs combine the lineages of Ultima games (tile worlds, story and character driven) with Wizardry style games (menu driven and stat heavy combat with spells).

    If I'm reading your request right, it sounds like you're less looking for the best ever RPGs from that period, or even the most interesting, but those that are most influential and most in conversation with computer RPGs. My recommendations below are based on that. That means passing up some games that are great on their own. The SNES in particular has many, many amazing RPG games. But while many of them are utterly superb, they aren't necessarily lastingly influential (like Rudora no Hihō, Lufia, Tales of Phantasia, Live a Live, and so on. God, so many great RPGs!).

    Sequels: An issue I think you'll run into is a number of games fall into series with many installments in the period you're interested in (there are 6 main line Final Fantasys in that period, for example). Typically the "best" of a given series is not the first. But I'd make an argument for playing the first titles, not the best. The series originators are usually the most innovative, whose sequels improve upon a formula established at the beginning. So if you're interested in influence and historical legacy, I'd go for the 1st game in a a series. Or just play them all, of course!

    Lastly, I'm excluding ports. Almost every big CRPG hit had a console part, and most are just pale imitations and I think don't merit much of a look if you've played the original. A few are interesting (the NES ports of Ultima IV and Wizardry I in particular) and I think you'd do a great platform studies comparison versus their originals, but I'm not sure they'd be worth playing in their entirety.

    Also- playing foreign language games is much easier on consoles due to the ability to easily patch in translated text. Most prominent Japanese games have translation patches.

    [Splitting into multiple replies since I hit the comment character limit, whoops!]

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Legend of Zelda (Famicom FDS/NES, 1985) - While fans today will debate if Zelda is an RPG, the designers at the time were explicitly trying to recreate the experience of various MSX and PC-88 RPGs (In particular, Hydlide, Dragon Slayer & The Black Onyx) for a console audience, as a launch title for the Famicom Disk System. Rather than making sacrifices in order to translate a slow and text-heavy genre onto a platform ill-suited for it (like most of the others on this list actually) Miyamoto and team tried to make an RPG that played to the strengths of the platform. The decisions they made to accomplish that are fairly remarkable, and the result is a pretty singular game. One of the most popular and successful games of all time, it would be difficult to understate its influence, particularly on the generation of designers who encountered it as their first RPG. English-version released in '87.

      Dragon Quest (Famicom/NES, 1986) - Yuji Horii basically invents the JRPG here, and virtually every other console RPG is an attempt to build on (or cash-in on) the innovations set out by Dragon Quest. Drawing direct inspiration from both Ultima and Wizardry, it establishes so most of the primary genre conventions. An enormous success (due in part to the excellent art from Dragonball creator Akira Toriyama), Dragon Quest is the quintessential console RPG. While Zelda might be more influential on games overall, I'd argue Dragon Quest has had the most direct influence on RPGs specifically of any console title. Released in English as "Dragon Warrior" in 1989.

      Final Fantasy (Famicom/NES, 1987) - Of all the Dragon Quest clones, Final Fantasy is the best executed and most polished. It doesn't actually do anything that new really, but it refines so many of the genre conventions that it's second only to Dragon Quest in terms of the influence it has on subsequent RPGs. For understanding anything that comes after, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are both a must. It had an English release in 1990.

      Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei (Famicom/NES, 1987) - Along with Phantasy Star, this is one of the more CRPG-like of the early console RPGs, and really feels like a contemporary MSX game. Notable for its dark modern setting that mixes demons and fantasy elements with sci-fi. It has a unique mechanic where you can recruit demons you fight, and various systems which interact with your recruited/summoned party members, elements of which prefigure Pokémon. It has a huge family of sequels and spinoffs that follow it as well. Japan only, but with a good fan translation patch available.

      Phantasy Star (Sega Master System, 1987) - Also an attempt to cash-in on the market that Dragon Quest created. It started out as an Ys port, but became its own thing in development, and has a distinct sci-fi fantasy setting that sets it apart from the usual fare. It's one of the more faithful adaptations of CRPG-style gameplay into a console setting (requiring building in onboard battery to allow saving). One of the biggest hits on the Master System, it was extremely influential, on a host of other RPGs, not to mention its own MMO descendants. Its sequels II and IV, both on the Mega Drive/Genesis, are very highly regarded. All entries in the series had Western releases in English.

      Sweet Home (Famicom/NES, 1989) - Translates an array of different RPG elements (top-down tile based exploration, random encounters, first person battle perspective, story cutscenes) into a relatively non-linear, survival focused RPG. It's an impressive blend of different elements. It was hugely influential in the establishment of the survival horror genre. It was one of the primary referents for Resident Evil, which started out as a remake of Sweet Home. Japan only, but with a good fan translation patch available.

      Delete
    2. Mother (Famicom/NES, 1989) - A strikingly unique game that puts the gameplay of Dragon Quest into a modern setting. It's set in a oddball version of suburban America, a sort of version of hometown USA filtered through Japanese impressions thereof. While it seems a light parody at first, it has a remarkable depth under its humor. It's minimalist art style, unique theme and depth of characterization all stem from being conceived of and written by someone from outside of games, Shigesato Itoi, today a philosopher and essayist, then an advertising copyist. It's an absolutely beloved title, and while it lacks obvious direct influence, it's a favorite of many subsequent designers. Japan only, but with a good translation patch available. The more usual recommendation here would be for its sequel, Mother 2 / EarthBound for the SNES (1994). It's the more polished game, and more famous in the West. I'd play them both, but if you're only going to do one, I'd actually go with the original, even though EarthBound is maybe better made.

      Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light (Famicom, 1990) - The genre progenitor of the Tactics RPG, Fire Emblem was attempting to combine the RPG genre with the tactical combat genre (Famicom Wars in particular). We've already seen a few computer titles in this vein (Wizard's Crown), but Fire Emblem really brings together the positioning and chess-like combat of a tactics game with the stat-driven and story focused aspects of an RPG. It casts a long shadow, not only on its own 15+ descendants, but on other TRPGs like Tactics Ogre and Disgaea. Japan only, but with a good fan translation patch available.

      Fatal Labyrinth (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1990) - I don't think this had much lasting influence necessarily, but it's a notably early attempt to bring a roguelike to consoles. It tackles the genre in a similar way to the later Mystery Dungeon series, and it employs many of the design conventions that modern indie roguelites use as well. It had an English release in 1991.

      Shining in the Darkness (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1991) - A rare example of the first person dungeon crawler on a console, it's much more closely in the Wizardry line than is typical for console RPGs. It's a faithful adaptation of those conventions, like a menu town, menu combat and resource and stat management. It's an important one since it was one of a few handful of these games released in the PAL region: Nintendo wasn't as popular in Europe, and many of the RPGs listed here never received PAL releases, or did so very late. Sega had a larger presence in the European market, but fewer RPGs and fewer still that it localized. The English release is from the same year.

      Shining Force (Mega Drive/Genesis, 1992) - Another genre-establisher for the tactics RPG subgenre, the Shining Force series combines RPG conventions with turn-based tactical combat. The Fire Emblem series and Shining Force series would both borrow from and influence eachother, and while Fire Emblem is of more historical interest, it's interesting to play them both. It is nominally a sequel to Shining in the Darkness, but is completely different in almost every way. Had an English release in 1993.

      Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD, 1992) - One of the few killer apps for the Sega CD add-on, Lunar was made as an attempt to elevate the storytelling in console RPGs, and had an unusually large writing team and resultantly dense script. Even its English translation is well regarded, atypically for this era. English release in 1993.

      Delete
    3. Romancing SaGa (SNES, 1992) - A sort of spinoff of an early Final Fantasy spinoff, the SaGa series is interesting for combining some traditional RPG mechanics with a non-linear open world. It's also very character-driven, there are 8 main characters, and who you select determines a number of story elements, who else you can recruit, etc. Has some other interesting mechanics as well. Subsequent SaGa games further develop many of these elements, it's worth a look for its uniqueness. Japan only, but with a good fan translation patch available.

      Breath of Fire (SNES, 1993) - I'm tempted to leave this off the list for being merely excellent but not influential, but I think it's had a mark and it has many successful sequels as well. It's a conventional RPG, but has a number of interesting party mechanics, like characters transforming, or using powers out of combat (like the TM/field moves seen later in Pokémon). Had an English release in 1994.

      Final Fantasy VI (SNES, 1994) - While Final Fantasys 2 through 5 are all great and interesting, 6 is the only sequel I'd recommend here in its own right. FF6 is often considered the best traditional JRPG from this period, hugely successful and influential. Formally it isn't doing anything all that new. But it is supremely well executed, with a deep story, a sprawling world and sidequests, and a huge cast of characters (the most number of playable party members of any Final Fantasy), all of whom have associated stories and quests. Released, confusingly, as "Final Fantasy III" in English in the same year.

      Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (SNES, 1995) - A great tactics RPG that established the genre conventions for isometric terrain with heights (instead of top-down tiles seen in earlier Fire Emblem/Shining Force games). Deep gameplay and a famously dense and dark story with multiple endings. Has a lot of influence on subsequent games, most obviously in Final Fantasy Tactics. Japan only, but with translation patches available.

      Chrono Trigger (SNES, 1995) - A perennial favorite, and often on best games ever lists. Great characters and a fun time-travel plot with many nonlinear segments. As an RPG it has a number of interesting formal innovations- combat is a turn-based hybrid but with a positioning element, a spell system that depends on which characters are in your party and where they're positioned, and largely replacing random encounters with map visible enemies. While not directly influential (there aren't many games exactly like it), it's hugely popular and beloved. Had an English release the same year.

      Pokémon Red and Blue (GameBoy, 1996) - I'd really make an argument for going a year out of your way for this. Pokémon is fascinating as an RPG, taking a great many genre conventions and tweaking them for something really unique. The main mechanic of the player character not being the one who fights and gains experience, but the sort of coach (or owner? or slave-driver?) of the party works really well, although it has precedents (Megami Tensei, Robotrek), it's executed so well here. And the rock-paper-scissors elemental system is clear and pronounced. All in a modern-day yet still fantastical setting. And it shows that RPG's formal conventions (text heavy, menu-driven combat, stat based progression, etc) can be universally appealing if well executed and with a resonant theme. Had an English release the same year.


      Can't wait to see you tackling some of these! And if you have any trouble finding any, or run into issues with translation patching, I'd be happy to assist.

      Delete
    4. This is a good and well-justified list with which I largely agree (the last few entries postdate the Addict's current period of scrutiny, but will be useful later on).

      Fatal Labyrinth is one that I was on the fence about suggesting, but it and its sister game Dragon Crystal are short roguelikes that would make for good "one-and-done" blog posts.

      In general I think console roguelikes will make for some of the least frustrating/alienating experiences for the Addict, since grinding is almost nonexistent, cutesiness is minimal, and they tend to be short.

      Cave Noire, recommended by another poster, is a neat little game that can be played fruitfully for as little as five minutes. It's not clear to me how influential it was, though it's certainly slick.

      Delete
  34. i´ll chirp in and say Phantasy Star and Chronotrigger as console rpgs that really stood out for me. Maybe Zelda as well, even if it was more action-like.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't know if it would be the best game for your goals, but the NES port of Ultima: Exodus would be an interesting study in how a western CRPG got adapted to Japanese tastes and the requirements of consoles. It's a pretty true adaptation of the game, and I believe it was pretty well-known in its own right, unlike the later Ultima ports. Supposedly there was a huge amount of Ultima-related material licensed and published in Japan coinciding with its release.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Long time reader, first time commenter here.

    I would say for the purposes of this blog the Dragon Quest series and Shin Megami Tensei series are good choices. They represent two of the major types of console RPGs as I see them: Ultima descendants and Wizardry descendants.

    The Dragon Quest series would be interesting to go through since through it you will see the steady evolution of console RPGs from Ultima based to their own kind of game style. The first one is worth playing to see the beginnings of this divergence. The second one is the hardest of all Dragon Quest games, even in the remakes that have lots of quality of life changes it is difficult and sometimes tedious to play. Dragon Quest 3 is the best selling and one of the highest regarded in the series. If you only played one console rpg I would make it this one: it still has many familiar mechanics of Ultima-based crpgs like classes, having to talk to kings and queens, and collecting doodads to defeat an evil wizard, but it also has a fun character development system where you can change their classes once they reach a certain experience level, but they retain most of their stats giving an element of strategy when you change their classes. It also has a game world that is fun to explore , and very original enemies that have fun art. The remakes have a better experience curve that cuts down on the grinding but also adds mechanics like a character personality that governs stat growth, so it depends how purist you want to be. I will say that the NES localization of the Dragon Warrior series is done in a tortured faux-elizabethan style that is pretty grating. The remakes have a much more natural translation. These games would suit your exploration and story preferences.

    The Shin Megami Tensei series are more of a Wizardry branch - difficult first person dungeon crawlers where you can recruit enemies. There is often an element of role-playing in these encounters; sometimes demons just want money, sometimes they want you to have a certain alignment and sometimes they want you to perform feats of daring for them. The enemies are often taken from mythology and religion. I haven't played the original personally. These games would probably fit your mapping, difficulty and npc preferences.

    I also agree with the people suggesting Fire Emblem. Obviously it will be awhile before you might get to it if you even want to play it, but the fourth game in the series is very unique and a little heavier on the rpg elements, since every character in your army has their own personal wealth and the characters can fall in love and marry if they do battle or heal or share items with each other enough. Japanese SRPGs have lots of character development options, good tactical combat and often some of the better stories in the jrpg world. If you want a truly interesting experience play Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, which has a complicated alignment system that rivals Ultima IV in how well it captures the logic of the world it tries to represent.

    This may be a controversial opinion but the original Final Fantasy wouldn't be a good fit for this blog. It is largely a Dragon Quest clone, and the enemy list is taken straight from the D&D monster manual which is rather boring. The Final Fantasy series doesn't come into it's own until the fourth game, at which point it has left behind the influence of crpgs almost entirely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd be really interested in seeing Chet's take on an Ogre Battle game.

      Delete
    2. I would actually agree that Final Fantasy II or Final Fantasy III (Japanese naming, the Famicom games) would be a better fit for the blog than the original Final Fantasy. FF1 is an odd duck out from the rest of the franchise as noted, mostly a derivative product of Dragon Quest and D&D that doesn't really do anything innovative, it just retreads old ground with pretty good polish.

      By contrast, most of the things that today are strongly identified as core elements of the Final Fantasy franchise originated in either FF2 (chocobos, story progression styles, various naming conventions) or FF3 (moogles, job systems).

      Delete
    3. Addendum that I forgot to note: The major relevance of such things to the blog will, of course, inevitably be their influence on Final Fantasy VII, which is probably the ur-example game for the Addict's first category (console RPGs which strongly influenced the PC market).

      And FF7 is already on Addict's list, anyway, thanks to Eidos.

      Delete
  37. Although I understand that you want to have more variety in games and a more comprehensive view of the universe of games, I would also prefer that you remain faithful to computers, at least until the arrival of Windows95, that is, until 1995-96.
    But it's your blog, and the choices are yours...

    ReplyDelete
  38. Good news! You don't have to review any console games because your readers just reviewed them all for you in the comments!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not a question of how each of us reviews the game. It's a question of how low on the GIMLET scale they will score.
      (I imagine quite low, actually, especially in the interface category)

      Delete
  39. Miracle Warriors. Which was Japanese PC based but was only ported to America on Sega Master System.
    And I do want to echo Phantasy Star I and II.

    ReplyDelete
  40. It's almost becoming overkill at this point.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I've got two deep cuts, which I don't really expect Chet to seriously consider, but might be worth it for some of the readers.

    1. Genghis Khan on the NES. It's mostly a strategy game, but it does have RPG elements. You play a warlord out to conquer either east Asia or all of Eurasia. You have personal stats which can be trained, and there are options where you can have stat-based one-on-one combat with other generals instead of putting your armies to war on a strategic battlefield. Your delegates (family members and trusted generals) have stats of their own. There's also a good economy (lots of trading), and empire management. It's a little clunky on the interface, but I've always loved it.

    2. My screwball, dark-horse nomination is: Baseball Stars. Yes, it's mostly a baseball game. But every single player has a collection of stats, which can be upgraded with money earned by winning games. Players have batting, fielding, and also prestige. Pitchers have an additional six stats for pitching ability (speed, endurance, amount of left and right curve, etc.) Your starter team will be full of barely competent schlubs, and it's a struggle to win against the wimpiest opponents. But after upgrades, or dropping and creating new players, you can build a powerhouse capable of beating the greatest all-stars.

    As far as I know, there are few games out there like it. I don't know if it ever fed back directly into the RPG world, but tons of people would have played it at one point. And besides, how often do you get a chance to work something like baseball into the mix between Ultima Clones?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This makes me think of World Court Tennis on the TurboGrafx-16, which is a genuine hybrid between a tennis game and an RPG. It even looks like Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest, of which it's obviously a spoof.

      It either fulfills Chet's criteria or comes very close, depending on how comfortable you feel calling a game of tennis "combat".

      BTW I think the Koei strategy games have pretty much been ruled out, which probably seems like the right call for Chet, but I haven't tried the one-on-one combat mode you mention in Genghis Khan. I think that showed up in later ROTK games too, right?

      Delete
    2. World Court Tennis and Final Lap Twin do not have character stats, it's all equipment based, and aside from that equipment there's no inventory to manage.

      Delete
    3. I couldn't remember whether you leveled up in World Court Tennis or not, but you're right -- your skills are based on your equipment. There are quest items that affect gameplay, but true, there's nothing like healing potions in the game. In truth its RPG status is pretty borderline (at best) but the game sure does go a long way to make itself look like one!

      I don't know Final Lap Twin except by reputation, i.e. as another bizarro hybrid.

      Delete
  42. If you're looking for a good contrast to the roguelike genre that has been featured several times already, Shiren the Wanderer would probably be a great pick.

    ReplyDelete
  43. I'll put in my vote for Final Fantasy Tactics. Great, small scale tactical battles, deep character development that isn't just stat boosts but also career oriented. Your PCs can change jobs as they train in their current one leading to all sorts of evolution and paths. There's a wide array of magic, skills and equipment to use. There's a huge monster list ranging from the mundane to one of a kind boss enemies. Animations of attacks and spells can be breathtaking. Battlefields vary in size too and they're fully rotatable. Slug it out in tight streets and hallways or pull sweeping maneuvers in wide open space.
    If the addict enjoyed the battles of the SSI Gold Box series he's likely to enjoy FF Tactics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What? All I get is a bunch of links to some Aphex Twin singles and -7.

      Delete
    2. I believe Tristan is noting that the Addict asked for games released between 1985-1992. (BTW, that's a nice Aphex Twin compilation.)

      Delete
    3. Yeah, the meaning dawned on me when i came back to the blog. FFT still has a great combat system that fans of the SSI gold box games would probably enjoy.

      Delete
  44. If I were to list 5 JRPGs from that era I'd both like to see you play and have some importance, I'd probably have to go with Dragon Quest 1, Final Fantasy 1, Mother 1/Earthbound Zero, Fire Emblem, and Dragon Quest 3

    ReplyDelete
  45. Five console RPGs you should play?

    a) Final Fantasy.
    1987, Japan, Famicom.
    1990, US, Nintendo Entertainment System (first English release)
    The US release has some minor changes from the Japanese due to censorship issues, but it's close enough that you should play that version and then look up and write about the differences.
    This is the prototypical JPRG of the era and the first entry of a hobby-defining franchise. In many ways it's to JPRGs as D&D is to Western RPGs - this linking archetype behind everything that comes after.

    b) Dragon Quest
    1986, Japan, Famicom
    1989, US, Nintendo Entertainment System
    Dragon Quest technically predates Final Fantasy, and for a long time has been a bigger franchise in Japan, though overlooked in the west. However I (personally) think Final Fantasy is the bigger influence on JRPGs, with its traditionally greater depth of mechanics and of story. Still, Dragon Quest 1 is a historical landmark - and it's short. Like, finish it in a single day short. I played the Android version, which is a *really good* port, and very true to the original but with quality of life improvements. You're probably going to want to play the original, though, given your priorities.

    c) Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light
    1990, Japan, Famicom
    This mix of tactical RPG combat with character interaction and story gives birth to a whole subgenre of Japanese tactical RPGs that eventually includes Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, Shining Force and Disgaea. The difficulty here is that the original game has never been released in English in its original form. Fire Emblem Shadow Dragon (2008) is an excellent remake but not what you're after. You'd need to play it with an unofficial fan translation patch, which brings its own issues in terms of having an "authentic experience".

    d) The Legend of Zelda
    1986, Japan, Famicon
    1988, US, Nintendo Entertainment System
    Is it an RPG? Debatable. Is it the prototypical and iconic title that the Japanese fusion of RPG and action elements revolves around? Absolutely. It's probably fair to say that anyone designing action games that combine exploration, inventory items, and character progression has Legend of Zelda in mind.

    e) Your choice of the first three Phantasy Star games.
    Phantasy Star I (1987, Sega Master System)
    Phantasy Star II (1989, Sega Genesis)
    Phantasy Star III (1990, Sega Genesis)
    The first game is one of the first RPGs I played, and I love it to death, but I can't say it's super original. It fuses an overworld game comparable with Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest with 3D blobber-dungeons that are graphically amazing for their time. You can get out your mapping paper.
    Phantasy Star II emphasises the series' science-fiction trappings, and is the favourite in this franchise for many people.
    Phantasy Star III features a branching storyline set over multiple generations which results in a range of very different endings and final boss battles.

    Runners up:
    * You've already played Hydlide and Ys, so I skipped those.
    * Digital Devil Saga Megami Tensei (1991) is a contender, but no official English release, plus it's not really a very good game. Mostly of interest in understanding the very influential franchises that derive from it today.
    * Shining in the Darkness (1991) is a 3D dungeon blobber that you can map. Later entries in this franchise abandon the format in favour of tactical grid battling.
    * Final Fantasy IV (1991) - The Final Fantasy franchise grows up and develops the characters and story it will become known for.
    * Dragon Quest IV (1990) - The Dragon Quest franchise grows up, and veers into being narrative-driven and experimental for a couple of games, starting with this one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shining the Holy Ark brought back the first-person dungeon crawling for one installment.

      Delete
  46. Even though it's not from the early 80's to mid-90's Suikoden 1 and 2 are a must. It's has a army battle system much like Disciples of Steel did.

    ReplyDelete
  47. The only console RPG from that era I think is worth playing today is Final Fantasy IV (released on the SNES in the US as Final Fantasy II). It certainly didn't influence any western RPGs, and I don't think any JRPG would until the late 90s. I guess it'd be a good one to play that meets criteria C, as it's the first RPG I can think of that attempts a cinematic story with cutscenes and visual storytelling with sprites, which was extremely different than what any CRPGs were doing at the time (and it nails it, IMO, much better than even later JRPGs were able to)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Final Fantasy VI is pure gold, though!

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. @Giauz The time period he requested is 1985-1992. FF6 came out in 1994.

      Delete
    4. @matt I missed that. Doh!

      Delete
  48. Console RPGs (barring PC-to-Console "ports") fall into a few main branches. If you're considering a "taste-test" of the grouping, it would be ideal to either focus on the first of these branches, or take one or two games from each. If you go this route, and decide the experiment is worth continuing, it will be necessary to revisit as more "branches" get added in later years.

    Personally, I'd put these branches as follows:

    1. Dragon Quest/Final Fantasy. Despite the differences between the two franchises, these share a lot of game design and themes, and this is probably the most robust branch. Dragon Quest 1 and 2 are playable only for historical reasons - DQ1 is little more than a proof-of-concept with little actual meat to it, and the latter third of 2 has almost unplayable difficulty due to the playtest running out of time. The rest of the games in the two franchises are all worth playing.
    "Sampler" list: DQ1 and III, FF IIj and V.
    "Focused" List: DQ1, IV, IV, FF I, II, IV, IV

    The Hydelide/YS branch. You've already dipped directly into this one, and I'm not particularly fond of it. Mentioned only for the sake of completion.

    The ARPG branch. This includes a few RPGed sequels (Zelda II, Castlevania II), as well as dedicated examples such as Faxandu. These are mostly action games with RPG elements (similar in some ways to the previous branch, but different enough to be seperate). I personally wouldn't bother with these too much, but they do have historical interest due to the now-common blending of RPG elements into other genres.
    Sampler games: Zelda II, Faxandu
    Detailed games: Zelda II, Faxandu, Castlevania II, Crystalis, StarTropics

    The oddball branch: This is more of a catchall branch for games that really did their own thing in style or mechanics. In the time range you've specified, this is mostly for the Phantasy Star series and MOTHER (AKA Earthbound Zero), although you could include Swords and Serpents in the group as well, which is (AFAIK) the only wRPG developed by an American company for a console.

    The "Forbidden" branch. The defining theme here is that these games were never released in the US because they could not be reconciled with Nintendo Of America's strict censorship policies. The most notable ones from the period are Sweet Home (which involves a mansion filled with zombies, ghosts, and other horror staples - never released because it is very gory), and the Megami Tensi franchise (which revolves around demon summoning and binding, and incorporates elements from several religious - never released in the US because it revolves around religious elements, which NOA prohibited).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swords and Serpents was the first, but not the only wRPG developed outside of Japan as a console exclusive.

      Delete
    2. That would be why I included the "AFAIK". I've never heard of any, but I'm not surprised to hear that more exist.

      Delete
    3. Right, just letting you know there's more.

      Delete
  49. Please play Final Fantasy III and VI. I've been begging for years!

    ReplyDelete
  50. 1. FINAL FANTASY TACTICS (PS1)
    Like a lot of people, I'm voting for this one, mostly because your perspective would be invaluable. FFT is very much like "Gold Box but through next-gen JP eyes". You control an entire party, everyone levels up, there's a grid with tactics, there's segmented initiative. The AI is also really good - if you do play this, I highly recommend putting half or more of your own party on "auto-battle", because the engine will often use skills that are surprisingly useful or because the computer is much faster at figuring out turn-order-with-segments.

    2. SAGA FRONTIER (PS1)
    The opposite side of the Final Fantasy coin ... out of all the SaGa games, the first Frontier 1 is what I would charitably call "crazy". A bizarre mishmash of tropes all jammed into the same engine whether it makes any sense or not. The problem with this recommendation is that it's easy to make this game much, much harder on yourself, since you can pick from seven protagonists, and each one varies wildly in difficulty. I'd recommend starting with T260 (the robot), then trying Riki (the monster), and then probably going straight to Blue (the most difficult, since his quest is to learn every single magic spell, which requires the most questing; but he also gets teleporting.) This game hearkens back to the golden age of PC gaming where everything was thrown into the pot, and games could be weird, funny, and unexpected. After this, most JRPGs fall into a big hole of samey-ness.

    3. WILD ARMS (PS1)
    If Saga Frontier was the last wackiness, then Wild Arms might be the first conventional. This game has the unfortunate timing to come out about the same time as FF7. Wild Arms is the last gasp of the 16-bit era (tile graphics, top-down views, turn-based combat) with last-minute efforts to make it a 32-bit title (3d monsters, Redbook audio, limited FMV). It's also relatively simple as JRPGs go: you only have three characters, each with an easy-to-use special ability, so it's not overwhelming and the game is relatively short. Again, I'd be curious about your unique perspective, because many of the reviews contemporary with the game missed the nuances of the games' mechanics.

    4. CHRONO TRIGGER (SNES)
    A lot of people are recommending this, and with good cause. If you only ever play one console RPG from the 16-bit era, it should be Chrono Trigger. Its story is straightforward without being boring, the twists and turns are fun without being insulting or arbitrary, there's sidequests and a compelling main quest, and the mechanics are crunchy while not being baroque.

    5. SECRET OF MANA (SNES)
    This game recently got a hi-def remake, and it's adorable. It's a lot like Zelda if it were made more complicated, but it still has some of that young adult charm that makes it fun. Barely an RPG by your standards, though.

    OTHER NOTES:

    STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC got a lot of praise, and it's ostensibly an effort to put a tabletop game onto a computer. But technically, this had a Windows release simultaneous with the Xbox one, and thus it's technically a computer RPG.

    MORROWIND: Ditto.

    A lot of people are recommending EARTHBOUND or MOTHER. My two cents is that while those games are charming, they are very grindy, and a lot of their humor comes from inverting the JRPG tropes found in Dragon Quest. It would be like playing a comedy Bard's Tale that kept making fun of Wizardry with 4 groups of 99 barbarians over and over again — this might be "funny" if you knew what they were parodying, but it's still not fun to play.

    DRAGONSTOMPER: A bizarre RPG for the Atari 2600, requiring a cassette peripheral. All input is handled by a one-button joystick.

    TREASURES OF TARMIN: Wait, you did this already. Okay, I'm done. :)

    Whatever you decide, it's always great to read what you post. Thanks again for doing what you do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh one last mention for SWEET HOME (NES). Often described as an inspiration for Resident Evil, this is really a JRPG where the party has to split up a lot, which makes inventory puzzles a big pain. A technical achievement for the limitations of the console, and a bit more interesting its peers.

      Delete
  51. Pick your poison https://vretc.neocities.org/img/charts/RETRO_JRPG.png

    ReplyDelete
  52. For the console games I can suggest a strategy to better tie-in them with the main CRPGs. Select one game from the each year from 1985 to 1992, considered best and/or most influential in that year. Play it and compare it to the CRPGs from that year. On one hand, it will be interesting to read how console games measure against CRPGs. On other hand, it can give you better perspective on development of console games, than if you just take some of the best games and play them in more loose chronological order.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Thanks, everyone. I think I have what I need from my question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will finally check out Final Fantasy III (Famicom), right? It introduced the highly influential 'Jobs System' that so many JRPGs would homage. The other thing I really liked about the game was finding all the hidden treasure.

      Delete
  54. I guess you had to remove your Shin Megami Tensei rule prior to this. End of an era.

    ReplyDelete
  55. 1. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
    2. Final Fantasy 3/6 (SNES)
    3. Phantasy Star 2 (Genesis)

    I also liked Faxanadu (NES) - different from these others, but close to Zeliard and others you have played.

    ReplyDelete
  56. It would be interesting if you did a sort of retrospective post about games you have beaten that appear as console ports. Both Buck Rogers Countdown to Doomsday and Starflight had Genesis versions. Both change key aspects of the original but are nonetheless fun. Also, a comparison of Final Fantasy 1 on the NES vs. Phantasy Star 1 on the Master System. Though only two days separate their release they are very different games whose legacies would influence the RPG genre forever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel like any comparisons would turn into the same discourse about how they're simpler or lesser interpretations of the original. From what I've experienced, I wouldn't recommend any console port to Chet.

      Delete
  57. Late comment, mostly to say that this is a great thread, with tons of good information and recommendations for someone not familiar with console RPGs.

    You are lucky to have such dutiful commenters, Chet; try not to crush our childhood memories too much when reviewing some of these games :)

    My recommendation would be simply the Final Fantasies with an English release on NES and SNES (1,4,6) and Chrono Trigger, as the more popular titles in the West, and as such those that have likely had more influence on CRPGs developers (it's hard for me not to see such influence on later Bioware games such as KOTOR or Mass Effect).

    Overall they are a decent sampler of a genre that evolved pretty much in parallel to CRPGs, while having its own unique identity.

    I would stay away from ports of CRPGs on console; they all range from mediocre to godawful.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I'm also late to the discussion, but will chime in anyway. Along with so many others, let me also nominate Final Fantasy I and Phantasy Star I and II. Not sure about these games impact on CRPG's, but their influence in exposing a new audience of console players to the RPG genre was huge. (They turned a whole generation on to the RPG, which could have arguably led quite a few people to check out CRPGs. It was the first RPG I ever played through, and turned me on to video game RPGs in general on both console and PC platforms.)

    (If you play through FFI, I think you need to play the original NES version for the proper difficulty level and 8-bit art and sound that's period appropriate.)

    I think Phantasy Star II is noteworthy as an RPG that introduced a distinctly Japanese (and cyberpunk-y) feel to the RPG audience. PSII was probably my first exposure to manga/anime style, and the first JRPG I ever played.

    Side note: If you had more time (which I know you don't) to explore early console RPG's, there's a very odd, early RPG called Rings of Power I wanted to mention that was put out by Naughty Dog and EA for the Sega Genesis in 1991. Almost nobody remembers it, but I was one of the few who owned and played through it as a kid when console RPGs were still fairly rare.

    ROP feels like an unpolished, DIY CRPG game. There's a quest path to follow, but the game has open world exploration. Quite a bit of the game dialogue and interaction involves philosophical discussions by people of various societies each with their own unique outlook on life (you can feel the influence of Ultima IV). There's also quite a bit of oddball humor dialogue options reminiscent of CRPGs. It's one of the strangest and most unique console RPGs I've ever played through. (1993's The 7th Saga for the SNES being another really oddball console RPG that is bizarre and seemingly impossible. I never made it through that one.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember Rings of Power well and I was going to mention it. It's an interesting rpg in terms of structure and I'm not sure there's been anything else like it on consoles.

      Delete
    2. More for what it tried to be, it's easily one of my favorite console RPGs. It's rough though, especially combat.

      Delete
  59. Dragon Quest 1-4. None of them are particularly long by the standards of this blog but they're especially interesting to analyze because you can see the evolution of the console RPG away from its roots in Ultima and Wizardry year by year (DQ1-3 each had just a single year between them, and then DQ4 came after a two year gap) as the designers gain more skill and confidence, sort of like Robert Clardy.

    By DQ4, they've firmly established the JRPG as a separate sub-genre from western CRPGS, while you could slap an overblown title like "Rise of the Dragon Lord" on DQ1 and it would pass for a western Ultima-Wizardry hybrid.

    Besides, DQ1 & 2 had same-year MSX (the Japanese equivalent to Commodores and Spectrums) releases anyway, so they meet your criteria for inclusion on the regular list.

    ReplyDelete

I welcome all comments about the material in this blog, and I generally do not censor them. However, please follow these rules:

1. Do not link to any commercial entities, including Kickstarter campaigns, unless they're directly relevant to the material in the associated blog posting. (For instance, that GOG is selling the particular game I'm playing is relevant; that Steam is having a sale this week on other games is not.) This also includes user names that link to advertising.

2. Please avoid profanity and vulgar language. I don't want my blog flagged by too many filters.

3. Please don't comment anonymously. It makes it impossible to tell who's who in a thread. Choose the "Name/URL" option, pick a name for yourself, and just leave the URL blank.

4. I appreciate if you use ROT13 for explicit spoilers for the current game and upcoming games. Please at least mention "ROT13" in the comment so we don't get a lot of replies saying "what is that gibberish?"

Also, Blogger has a way of "eating" comments, so I highly recommend that you copy your words to the clipboard before submitting, just in case.

I read all comments, no matter how old the entry. So do many of my subscribers. Reader comments on "old" games continue to supplement our understanding of them. As such, all comment threads on this blog are live and active unless I specifically turn them off. There is no such thing as "necro-posting" on this blog, and thus no need to use that term.

As of January 2019, I will be deleting any comments that simply point out typos. If you want to use the commenting system to alert me to them, great, I appreciate it, but there's no reason to leave such comments preserved for posterity.

I'm sorry for any difficulty commenting. I turn moderation on and off and "word verification" on and off frequently depending on the volume of spam I'm receiving. I only use either when spam gets out of control, so I appreciate your patience with both moderation tools.