Tag Archives: Role Playing Games

Throw Back Thursday – The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (DX)

Zelda-LA-logo

This week, I’m going with a portable game that has some real depth to it. Released in June of 1993 The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening is the fourth game in the series and the first portable game in the franchise as well as the first to have a story unrelated to the main plot of the franchise as well. It started as a experimental unsanctioned project, to see just what the Original Game Boy’s hardware could do, after hours by programmer Kazuaki Morita after hours. As time went by other staff members joined in in what some at Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development saw as a “After School Club”. After the launch of “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in October of 1991 Director Takashi Tezuka asked for official permission to develop a portable game. With a 8 dungeons, 2D and over the top 3D game play elements, and a open world that seems almost as big as the SNES’s, there’s plenty to make you want to play this title even when your not on the go.

ZeldaLAworld1

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

This game’s opening cinematic has link on a ship in the middle of a fierce storm when suddenly the ship is destroyed. Link wakes up in a strange house and is greeted by a girl named Marion. You learn you are not in Hyrule but the Island of Koholint. He learns that the only way to leave the island is to wake the Wind Fish, but the Nightmares are trying to keep it asleep and will do anything to stop you from collecting the 8 Siren Instruments that can awaken it. Game play has that standard top-down perspective mostly but has has segments on side scrolling, jumping, and swimming. You’ll play mini games of grab-claw, fishing, and trading goods. There are lots of secret caves, and even cameo’s from other Nintendo characters. There’s actually more to this game than most NES games of the time. In the DX color remake of this title there’s a secret dungeon that can give you a new tunic with different powers and ever a camera shop for use with the Game Boy Camera and Game Boy Printer if you have them.
ZeldaLA-world2

HOW DOES IT PLAY?

It plays great and remarkably like the SNES Zelda, which is incredible considering the limited power of the original Game Boy. You are able to map any piece of equipment to the A or B button, which makes it easy to customize the controls and some interesting combinations (Bow and Bombs button’s pushed together makes exploding arrows!). While this can make for a lot of menu swaps because of only having two buttons, it does give you time to think to and pauses the game, which is always a important feature on a portable game. The dungeons have a good amount of variety for only a few shades of grey, (the DX version color adds even more to the experience) and can provide a good challenge even for experienced Zelda players. Overall this is plays just as you would expect from a Zelda title. So get out you 3DS or check that dusty closet box for your trusty old portable and give this Zelda a play through, because with all the rush of this season a great handheld game is perfect for a quick fix on the go.

LONG-TERM EFFECTS ON GAMING

When this title came out, most Game Boy games were good solid games but nothing that would stick with you, but this games showed that even the low powered Game Boy could deliver a game that always made you wanting more. The game repetitively appears “Top Game List” and “Best Of” list for Zelda, Game Boy,  Portable,  Nintendo, and even Greatest Games for the last 15+ years and I expect will continue to do so.  I still enjoy this one as my favorite of the portable Zelda titles, which is a impressive list on its own. With few games on the original Game Boy that are must-haves, this is first on the list and one of the most original and unique games for the system.

So get out you 3DS or check that dusty closet box for your trusty old portable and give this Zelda a play through, because with all the rush of this season a great handheld game is perfect for a quick fix on the go.

Throw Back Thursday: Final Fantasy VII

WHAT IS THIS WEEKS GAME?

FF7logo

In my first game in this set I’m going to cove one of my favorite games of all time. The Final Fantasy franchise as a whole is quite amazing. Every game is set in its own world and with its own story despite being numbered as a sequel. The franchise has always done that, but there are subtle carry overs from one game to the next, using every thing from mythologizes of mid-evil Europe, ancient Asia and the middle east, to even modern day pop culture and even the developers personal life’s. All these aspect have been forged together by the incredible talent of the franchises developers to make some of the best RPG franchises in the gaming industry and beloved by gamers for more than 20 years of gaming.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

Final Fantasy VII has you playing as Cloud Strife, a mercenary-for-hire doing a job for the environmental group Avalanche in the super city of Midgar. He is a cold and carefree ex-member of SOLDIER, a Special Forces Group of super soldiers the work for the giant mega corporation Shinra Inc. Shinra rules the world by controlling the worlds energy supply, Mako, which Avalanche claims in killing the planet and also control the worlds only military and weapons production. Cloud got the job from his childhood friend, Tifa Lockheart, Owner of the 7th Heaven Bar and Avalanche’s HQ in the Sector 7 slums under Midgar and friend of Avalanche Founder Barret Wallace. Shinra pumps the Mako out of the planet and uses it to make electricity and weapons that give the users magical powers. The first several hours of the game takes place in Midgar where you’ll meet plenty of interest characters before taking you to the open world where the game really takes off visiting Cloud’s and Tifa’s home town, a abandoned space rocket, ancient pyramid, meteor crater, ninja village, casino suspended over a prison, a reactor that had a meltdown, and that’s not even every place you visit. You’ll meet the Shrina Company’s President, a mad scientist, a pimp, serial murderer, Materia thief, fly a air ship, dress like a girl, defend a bird nest from the army, travel with a talking wolf, stop a runaway train, steal a submarine, and meet something akin to a vampire. That’s all just crazy cool fun in my book and just a sample of whats in the full game.

FF7midgar FF7rocket

HOW DOES IT PLAY?

The games battle system is a combination of two different system. First is the ATB (Active Time Battle) from previous games in the series. The ATB system was in the first game but has changed slightly with each incarnation, this is one of the primary ways the the franchise changes with each game. The original Final Fantasy uses just the ATB system with each party member having unique ability’s. Final Fantasy II, III, and so on changed slightly with each new release. Final Fantasy VII’s unique hook is the second part of the combat system, the Materia System. In the game you collect or buy small colored gems called Materia, that you equip to you party’s weapons and defensive equipment. As you find and buy better gear, they usually have more open slot to equip Materia too. The Materia itself gives the character that equips it different ability’s, like casting various magic spells, specials skills like steal, or ability’s like a boost to their HP or summoning mythical beings for powerful attacks. But its not just that simple a system, Materia can level up itself from fights with AP points earned. This will give you access to even more powerful spells, skills, and eventually it will master and create another piece of the same Materia. The most powerful Materia in the game can only be found so to get more of it you have to master it. Also some weapons in the game have really high stats but have little to no Materia slot or will have plenty of them but will earn no AP for the Materia equipped. There is a weapon for each party member in the game that has really high AP growth, but very limited slots to equip Materia in, so save them for use later when you have the better Materia you want to duplicate. There is a slight effect to you characters stats with Materia equipped, so you have to watch it otherwise you’ll handicap a party member with slow speed, low HP/MP or other affect depending on the type of Materia used. Compared to some of the older franchise’s games, and even some of the newer ones, it is much easier to pick up and learn and more rewarding to master with no one ultimate setup.

FFVIIcombat FFVIIequipMenu2

LONG-TERM  EFFECT ON GAMING

Final Fantasy VII was one of the first smash hits for the original PlayStation and opened many gamer’s to Role Playing Games for the first time. It was instrumental in the rise of Sony in gaming, showed the future of cinematic cuts scenes in video games when done right, was the second highest sell PS1 game and the highest sell game in its franchise. With a massive production cost of $45 million dollars in 1997 (that’s $67 million by today with inflation) this game easily becomes one of the first big budget games of the 1990’s. It was the first game in the franchise to have a direct sequel to its story, has had the most sequels to it in the franchise, a full length feature film (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children), and to date has made Square Enix more than 790 million dollars. It won more than a dozen “Game of the year” awards in 1997, which is amazing considering it came out during a transition time when games were going from 2D to 3D. When the title started production in 1994 it was suppose to be a 2D RPG on the SNES (Super Nintendo), then the development team decided to push the technology of the time, very aggressively, which had them making a 3D title on what was supposedly Nintendo’s newest and most powerful console. But when Nintendo announced that their new Nintendo 64 was going to be a cartridge based system at a time when CD’s were suppose to be the future, Square Soft had already made a game so large it wouldn’t fit on a cartridge and they weren’t even done with production yet. This may seem like the obvious choice now but prior to 1997 most CD based console games were jokes at best and Nintendo ruled the game industry with a iron fist instead of making games and console based around crazy gimmicks.

Final Fantasy VII is a must play for anyone that likes Role Playing Games and is still consider one of the greatest games of all time by many. I personally still play this game once a year and just never really get tired of it. So I hope you get on your Steam profile, or PlayStation Network and download this gem of gaming past and you’ll understand all the hype that was generated by the announcement of a remake of what is possibly the Best RPG video game of all time.

Top 10: Classic Role Playing Games

Massive worlds, sinister villains, and  epic storylines, for gamers that wanted incredible story and not just running around shooting everything, or tired of collecting hundreds of the same items you had one choice; a role playing game. This list of games represent some of the best RPG’s and some of gamings most beloved classic franchise. Story and imagination are at the top of their list. I also tried to pick titles with the most fun gameplay, but be warned, grinding was just part of the genre when these were made. As a “Classic” list, I’ve limited this list to the 32 bit era (PlayStation, Sega Saturn,) and earlier. One game per Franchise rule in place.

DWnes

Number 10 –  Dragon Warrior/Dragon Quest (NES/GBC)

This isn’t the first console RPG, that title goes the “Adventure” on the Atari 2600, but this was the first console RPG to become popular and helped to bring JRPG’s to the west. It was even given away for free to new subscribers/ renewed subscribers of Nintendo Power when is came out. Game play is simple, graphics a little plain but classic. The story is inspired for its time and the puzzles are easy enough to figure out, ” just talk to every villager in the town you discover next. There are more interesting games in the franchise, but the first one keeps me coming back. It also inspired a rival company that was almost bankrupted to dump all their money into one last game, their final fantasy if you will… It’s not too difficult or expensive to find a NES copy but the GameBoy Color version has 1 & 2 on it for about the same price averaging about $20.00.

ESA-pc
Number 9The Elder Scrolls: Arena (PC-DOS/PC)
One of only a few western made RPGs on this list, this game gives you that great first person perspective and a great feel likes it in 3D. Technically games like this are not 3D games but they do a great job of giving that “real” effect unlike most games of this period. This is the first of the Elders Scrolls series and was way ahead of its time.The story is that Emperor Uriel Septim VII has been imprisoned in another dimension, and impersonated by Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn. During his usurpation of the throne, Tharn is unable to corrupt his apprentice, Ria Silmane, and murders her. Ria is able to hold herself together long enough to direct you on how to escape from a slow death in the dungeons. Afterwards she appears to the player during dreams. The primary quests requires the player to obtain various artifacts. This culminates in the player assembling the Staff of Chaos and battling Tharn in the Imperial City. It’s a very different gameplay experience compared to most of the games on this list and a must play for new Elders Scrolls fans. You can download this from the elders scroll website, but you’ll need a emulator program. Thats a lot easier than finding a old gaming PC’s or even parts can be a massive task, let alone a original CD with Key Code. They let you get this gem for the low price of: FREE
Fallout1-pc
Number 8Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (PC-DOS/PC)
A games in the wastelands of America after WW3?! SWEET!  This has all the Fallout series staples, a karma system, freedom of choice and destination, S.P.E.C.I.A.L., and the Pip Boy 2000. The Story is that in Vault 13, the water recycling and pumping machinery of the vault malfunctions. With 150 days before the Vault’s water reserves run dry, the Vault Overseer tasks you with finding a replacement part. Your choices and action will determine a lot in this game, giving it a ton of replay value. It has that Isometric view for the game play and you’ll even meet some characters that appear in future Fallout titles. Pick it up and be surprised by how little, in some ways, this franchise has changed over the years. I would get this on off of Steam, they have it for just $10.00.
Diablo2-pc
Number 7Diablo II (PC/Mac)
A hack and slash RPG adventure that takes place after the end of the previous game. In Diablo, a unnamed warrior defeated Diablo and attempted to contain the Lord of Terror’s essence within his own body. Since then, the hero has become corrupted by the demon’s spirit, causing demons to enter the world around him. There are 4 Acts that have you journeying down into a goth inspired hell dungeon. Items in this game are generated randomly, making this a very Gear-centric game. You’ll find yourself backtracking a lot just to try and find that piece of equipment with 1 more spec point, or of a better grade. With 5 character classes, plus 2 more from expansions, and the secret level with the infamous Hell Bouvines, this game will keep you hooked for a long time. Diablo 2 is advailible on the Battle.net shop for about $10.00
SuperMarioRPG
Number 6Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars (SNES/Nintendo Virtual Console)
Yes, some may find it hard to believe but this does constitute a RPG. It was a joint venture between Nintendo and SquareSoft (now Square Enix), plus a pleasant surprise in that the story that doesn’t follow the standard JRPG format. The sprites don’t hold up well to the passage of time, (characters look a little ruff), but it still holds the charm and just plain fun that Nintendo games are so good at holding onto. You might be better off getting this one as a download on your Wii though, a SNES copy can be very difficult and expensive to obtain with physical cartridges by themselves regularly at or over $50.00 and with the box and book about $100.00

LunarSSSC

Number 5Lunar: The Silver Star Story (Sega CD/Playstation)
One of the first RPGs to have in game video cutscenes and  a trickly little stat system that it IMPOSSIBLE to just level up and overpower the boss’s. What it does is takes your strongest characters current key stats (HP, MP, Speed, Atk, Def, Magic) and multiplies them by 7. The gameplay itself is straightforward, the story has that typical JRPG thing, “young boy leaves home on adventure, evil threaten the world and he decides to save it” thing. But that not all there is to it, there’s great variety with your companions and their own stories going on, wonderful music, great dungeon/world design, hidden easter eggs for those willing to look, and even some musical videos. This game was ahead of its time on the Sega CD with its limited hardware, so I recommend the the Playstation version because it was completely remastered and redone. Just be warned, both version are rare and expensive, with price varying greatly between $30.00 – $70.00 for the Playstation version and as much as $100.00 for a Sega CD copy.
ZeldaALTtP
Number 4The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES/Nintendo Virtual Console)
This is the Zelda game that defined and continues to do so with the 2D Zelda games. With a massive world, lots of dungeons and tons of secrets to find, and simple yet challenging combat, this is a must play for Zelda fans and RPG players. The story is that princess Zelda is in danger (again) and needs a hero to save her. That’s when your uncle leaves you in the house in the middle of a rainy night telling you to stay in bed…. No joke, that’s the start of the game. So you do what any kid would do, run out into the night, find your uncle dying (apparently from a bat) where he gives you his sword and tells you to save the princess. This game almost never gets old to play. Finding a SNES copy can be hard and expensive, with good condition cartridges easily beginning around $25.00 and going as high $50.00. I recommend getting it for your Wii/WiiU from Nintendo’s Virtual Console.
PokemonOriginal
Number 3 Poke’mon Red/Blue (GameBoy)
I shouldn’t have to explain to much here, but just incase, you choose one of three starting creatures, called Poke’mon, and then start out on a journey to collect all 8 gym badges and win the world championship. Along the way you battle a Poke’mon gang thwarting their dreams of world domination, compete against you childhood rival, and try to collect all 150 pokemon in the world. There’s a wonderfully simple, but masterfully complex gameplay mechanic to the battle system. There’s that feeling of a real need to catch them all, and lots of exploring to do. There is even a way to catch the REAL Mew in some INSANELY exacting method that wasn’t discovered till a few years ago. I can’t tell you how many time I replayed this game. It’s just really fun. NOTE: If you want to play them both, I recommend 2 GameBoys and a link cable plus one of Red and Blue, that’s if you have to Catch Em All. A nice cartridge can got between $20.00 – $30.00
ChronoCross
Number 2Chrono Cross (Playstation/PSN)
Wait, don’t get angry yet. Let me tell you why I picked Chrono Cross over Chrono Trigger. Chrono Cross has aged beautifully for a PS1 game, you don’t have to know the story from Chrono Trigger to understand what’s going on in this one as its a independent story. There’s enough hidden quest and secretes to keep you busy for quite awhile too.. In this game you travel around a Island chain trying to find Lynx and the Frozen Flame while switching between parallel universes while you try to figure out what’s actually gone wrong with the world. There are over 100 companion characters to recruit in this game, most of them very interesting, and to get all of them take 3 playthroughs. The combat is a mix of something new and more of the same as the way JRPGs go from this time and the make of your party can greatly affect the combat and dialog of the game too. Chrono Trigger is a classic RPG and game overall, but I personally think Chrono Cross did it better. You can find this for about $30.00 to $40.00 or as a download for $19.99. Let the hate mail begin.
Honorable Mentions – Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Final Fantasy VI, Shining Force, Phantasy Star IV, Lunar: Eternal Blue, Dragon Warrior 3, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Valkyrie Profile, Grandia.
FF7
Number 1Final Fantasy VII (Playstation/PC/PSN)
This one might also get some hate mail too but it wasn’t a easy pick being the RPG monster that the Final Fantasy franchise is as a whole, I had to pick Final Fantasy VII for my number one classic RPG because it was the first games in that genre to become a massive sales hit. For many gamers of that time this was there first time playing a role playing game. Also take note of a couple of extra details, it has the most direct spin off games, a movie, and is currently getting a complete remake for newer console and new gamers. The story is a roller coaster ride, first your part of a environmental group trying to save the planet from a giant evil company that rules the world. Then your after your arch nemesis to save the world from him. Then you’re saving yourself…. There’s a love triangle going on, and your companions have their own crisis’s going on you have to deal with too. Your companions have a great diversity to them, the music is amazing, the combat system is easy to pick up, yet hard to master, and it offers a great amount of customization with a massive amount of side quest and 2 of RPGs hardest optional boss battles. The overworld graphics haven’t aged as well as some of the other games from this time, but that has its own interesting side story caused by the changing technology of the time, CD vs cartridge, and Squaresoft had already committed to CGI cutscenes and CD audio when Nintendo announced that their new Nintendo 64 would be using cartridge…. Findling it for PS1 isn’t too hard and the cost is about the same as on Steam or PSN of about $20.00.