Since Wikipedia’s a fuckhead, there are some titles I missed. Further, since there were a lot of games that were GREAT that came out certain years, some titles got overlooked that I thoroughly enjoyed and felt needed highlighted. These…are those games. Yeah, no super awesome intro, but it is what it is and I’m sure you’ll agree, these games are bitchin’.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES)
So a lot of people didn’t like this one, and…h-hey…where are you going? SIT YOUR ASS DOWN!! Look, I know…I get it. This is considered one of the weakest FFs ever, but there were a number of things I liked about it, so listen up. Firstly, this was one of the first RPGs I ever played that didn’t have random encounters. Now, I never understood the point of that and never really minded random encounters, but hey, it’s nice sometimes.
Second, this one was more puzzle based, which was interesting because really, FF was never about puzzles or structured their dungeons to be more than mazes. This one took the FF series in a slightly different direction by offering almost Zelda-like puzzles at times that were usually resolved by jumping, doing sliding puzzles, and even using different weapons outside of combat for Zelda-like uses.
You could also switch your life display to be that of either numbers or an actual life bar, which I thought was pretty cool. The music was also more modernized, featuring rock-like tracks more often. And finally, the two coolest things I thought it had were the ability to save anywhere and the ability to restart ANY battle. If you haven’t caught it already, this is basically what EVERY modern RPG is doing these days…and this little badboy did almost all of them FIRST.
So go on and hate! I’m sure I didn’t change your opinion of this game any, what with the mediocre graphics, very few allies, meh story, and only having two people in battle at a time, but come on, it wasn’t THAT bad!
Jade Cocoon (PS1)
When people think gathering monsters to fight other monsters, usually people think Pokemon or possibly some of the Shin Megami Tensei titles. Some people might even think Digimon or possibly Yu-Gi-Oh. Me? Well, I’m no different…but one title I often mention that no one else seems to know of that I truly enjoyed was Jade Cocoon (and it’s sequel is pretty good too).
What really separates Jade Cocoon from some of the other titles mentioned is the fact that you’re a hunter and this is a more tribal experience. That and you actually have to beat up the monster in question, often with the hunter rather than a monster, then trap them. Now so far, this is still sounding very close to Pokemon, but stick with me…I’m about to turn it around.
You can also fuse monsters together. Yes, yes, I know…Shin Megami Tensei. Shut up. ANOTHER major difference here, however, is that the resulting monster is ACTUALLY made up of the previous monsters, not just within the same derived classes or whatever a la Shin Megami Tensei. If the box is to be believed (and I’m reciting from memory because I don’t officially own it anymore), there are literally HUNDREDS of combinations as a result.
The music and graphics aren’t bad either. Honestly, this is one game that, if a big enough budget was put into it, could easily give Pokemon a run for its money.
Thousand Arms (PS1)
What do you get when you mix a dash of date sim, oldschool RPG, and a heavy helping of often times super pervy humor? Thousand motherfucking Arms, that’s what. If you haven’t tried this title, I feel bad for you. Really, I do. At first glance, it doesn’t look like much. The in-battle graphics are alright and the out of battle graphics are passable at best. However, the game shines in virtually every other respect.
There are some great tunes, the cutscenes are well done, and the voiceover work is pretty good overall. The combat system is actually pretty good and quick, though it does take some getting used to. And of course, there’s the date sim parts. Basically it works out like this. You can go on dates with the girls in your party. Increasing their intimacy levels means being asked tougher questions and being put into tougher scenarios in order to win their affection.
There is a purpose to this other than “lol i’m a lady killer.” See, you need “inspiration” while forging weapons. You can forge a weapon up to the level of the character in question, however, the actual technique and elemental effectiveness will only increase if the intimacy level is raised. In other words, if you want more powerful spells and techniques, you better get to work going on dates ASAP!
And really, it all works out because the scripting is done pretty well with only a few “wat” scenarios given and lots of great voicework. It’s an incredible JRPG that, again, really only lost out on the top 5 spots because the top 5 games that year were just THAT good.
Once again, when people think open world games that don’t suck, they typically think of Elder Scrolls and Fallout. These are actually very good examples…but it’s a shame more people don’t know about the Gothic series. The Gothic series is an interesting one in that it’s almost always obscured by greater games trying to achieve the same purpose and almost inevitably, the games are absolutely riddled with glitches that have to be washed out with a series of user-based fixes later.
That said, even the original Gothic had the interesting concept of having an outdoor prison completely taken over by convicts with all kinds of monsters hanging about, several gangs and sects, and just in general being epic and massive. There are so many optional things you can do and places you can go in this game it makes it easy to get lost, killed, sidetracked, and fully immersed to the point you just don’t want to stop playing.
The controls could be better, as could the graphics, and the glitches are definitely prevalent at times, but make no mistake…this is an excellent game. If only a better studio could take over the design process of this, it would be the next game of the year, I’m certain.
Persona 4 (PS2)
…Even just watching this movie again caused so many memories to flood back I feel like I have to play it RIGHT NOW. Let’s put it this way…if you liked Persona 3, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t play Persona 4. Furthermore, if you TRIED to like Persona 3, but couldn’t because there were too few save points, you felt it was too hard, you didn’t like how cheap some of the dungeons were, you felt there were too few checkpoints, or you didn’t like how you didn’t have absolute control over all of your party members, then worry not, for ALL of these issues were addressed and taken care of.
Virtually everything people complained about in Persona 3 was taken care of tenfold. More savepoints, better checkpoints, lots of great support skills, the ability to take full control over all characters in combat, no dumb “tired” status, more stuff you can do in a given day, many tasks allowing you to beef up multiple things at once and MAKE MONEY doing most of them, interesting new system for unlocking new equipment, great mission system, and a really fun mystery plot.
Actually, if there are really only two reasons I can think to NOT play this game. One, you don’t like grinding. And really, if you’re playing a Shin Megami Tensei title, you already know what’s up. Two, if you like a DARK storyline. Sure, it’s a murder mystery, so it’s a little dark, but it’s kept fairly lively by the plot, characters, etc. Persona 3 was MUCH darker and thought probing.
Even so, Persona 4, in my opinion, is the greater of the two and one of my all time favorite RPGs that I love coming back to every so often. That’s about it for this time. I hope you enjoyed the read!