Okay, so I decided to begin my Retro-RPG conquest with four titles. Two of which are for SNES, one for Genesis and one PSX. So here we go.
The first one is one I’ve played before and definitely one of my favorites of all time. Good ol’ Final Fantasy VI.
As much as I’ve posted about this before, it’s been awhile since I actually played through it and it was my desire to sit down and play it again that inspired me to tackle a whole list of RPG’s anyway, so I figured it should be in that first batch. I’ll be playing the original US localization (when it was dubbed Final Fantasy III) so the nostalgia rush should be bigger. Let me just list a few things I remember liking about it and still do:
1. There’s such a large cast of characters and for the most part each has their own character arc and chance to shine in the story. The story itself starts out with the character, Terra (Tina in the original Japanese version), who’s lost her memories and is a Magitek warrior who’s been infused with the power of magic to serve the Empire of Gestahl. The story begins like it’s just going to be another “chosen hero of fate,” like other RPG’s who meets a cast of supporting characters along his/her journey. But Final Fantasy VI goes many different directions. In fact, as big of a role Terra herself plays in the story and how she figures into the events and world, once you reach a certain point, it’s not very certain who the main character really is as you end up playing through the game as several of the characters who appeared they were merely supporting characters for Terra’s story yet now sort of take the reigns of the plot themselves, sometimes pushing Terra herself into the background or out of the story altogether at the time. In many cases, this would be a flaw, but in FF6, it really isn’t, it allows for the game to be more story driven and creates a wealth of character dynamics, which was very different in a game for its time and in many ways I don’t think other Final Fantasies have managed craft such a plot in such a manner so well since.
2. One of the reasons I’m skeptical of any attempt to remake the game is because the game already takes great advantage of the 16 bit format to produce this beautiful Renaissance look and you can tell that in many ways by how the game was drawn that it wasn’t just accommodating itself to the 16-bit system and 2D graphics because that’s all that was available, but rather it was MADE for them. And so I don’t know if a 3D remake with different textures would “feel” right. Though I wouldn’t say it’s impossible to make a beautiful 3D remake of this game, especially after seeing how they made Kefka and Terra look in Dissidia and how they did Ultros and Typhon’s appearance in Final Fantasy XIII
3. While there is a point where you can level up the characters to pretty much the exact same if you have enough time and patience, for most of the game, the characters possess their own unique skills as part of their class. They only start to become clones once the Esper system kicks into full gear and that’s only if you have enough espers and spend hours upon hours grinding each character with every Esper. And people shouldn’t really knock the Esper system for this I think. The Esper system, first of all, laid the foundation in many ways for the later Materia and GF systems of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII respectively. Plus, people should keep in mind that back in the day, the idea that you could teach all of your characters, regardless of class the same magic if you wanted to and were willing to put in the effort was actually innovative and not something you normally saw in RPG’s. In many RPG’s, characters had set classes and as far as magic went, what magic they could learn or had was determined by their class. In Final Fantasy VI, while you had those class only skills, when it came to magic, the esper system offered a lot of customization that was mostly unheard of. And while it is a little primitive now, it can still be fun to use.
I am pretty sure the game will entertain me just as much now as it did back in the day, if not by having the most advanced then at least with its story and characters.
The second game I am playing is Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. This game I haven’t really played before. I think I tried it once and then put it down, but I figured I’d go back to it again and actually try to beat it. It’s kind of a tactical RPG for the Super Nintendo, developed by Enix and released in 1993.
First of all, after playing a little of it, let me just say that it starts off a little slow and you don’t really control the characters as much as you control set the tactics by which they operate automatically when facing an enemy. You occasionally intervene using tarot cards to cast magic to aid in victory or resetting the tactics appropriately for the unit engaged in combat. The game is much more about knowing when to fight, when to retreat, when to use the right tarots at the right time and learning to flank oncoming enemies. You play the game as yourself and the game offers you options, both random and preset to change the course of the game’s (admittedly straight forward) story. From what I’ve read, the game offers 13 different endings with a variety of other ways to alter your game path. That’s pretty impressive for a console RPG back then and along with other roleplaying games released on Genesis and Super Nintendo, shows some of the new directions video game RPG’s were taking during this time away from just simple dungeon scrawls with the same four or five classes. So far the game has me intrigued and hopefully the pay off will be worth my time.
The third game is for Sega Genesis and one I chose, not because I’ve played it before or haven’t played it before, but because it is a game I remember watching others play before and which I loved doing so. The game is Phantasy Star IV. I remember very little of this game’s actual story or its gameplay, but there was a time I recall when I was younger when one my older brother’s played through it and we would read the dialogue together. It’s a game I fell in love with, but I don’t remember why because I was still very young at the time. I think it’ll be fun to see just why I did like it so much and if it can still capture my attention. It’s pretty much listed in all the lists I’ve seen of the best Genesis games or roleplaying games, so I have no doubt it’ll at least be worthwhile to play through it.
The final game in this first batch is none other than Legend of Mana. I remember I beat this once when I was younger, but much like Phantasy Star IV, I don’t remember it that much. I can’t really say much on it because of that, so more detailed thoughts will have to wait until my next entry. What I do remember enjoying though is the plethora of characters the game offers. My brother and I loved Secret of Mana when it came out so I recall being thrilled about this game even though some reviews of it weren’t too favorable. We’ll see if it holds up.
Okay, for those who actually pay even the slightest attention to my blog, the last stretch of November and the whole of December is going to be a busy time for me as far as this blog is concerned. For starters, I’m think of a name change to the blog itself. I’m not sure what to, but I’ll be sure to keep followers posted on that when I do think of something.
Though Jinora will likely forever remain the mascot of this blog because of reasons. As to content, this holiday season I have a few things in store for my followers which I hope will be of at least some interest.
The first thing is going to be my retro RPG review series. Inspired by some other bloggers, I have decided to play through a list of classic role playing video games and provide reviews and updates on my progress in each one. The list is very extensive so I will be playing about two or three at a time and each post in the series will contain about three reviews/commentaries, one for each game. This way I keep the amount of posts in the series shorter and less numerous and therefore easier to catalog. The games I will be playing and the systems I will be playing them for are thus:
Breath of Fire
Illusion of Gaia
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Final Fantasy IV, V & VI
Secret of Mana
Secret of Evermore
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Tales of Phantasia
Live a Live
Lufia 1 & 2
Shin Megami Tensei
Ultima VII: The Black Gate
Dragon Quest V & VI
Shining in the Darkness
Shining Force 1 & 2
Sword of Vermilion
Phantasy Star II, III, IV
Legend of Dragoon
Star Ocean: the Second Story
Front Mission 3
Tales of Eternia
Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX
Final Fantasy Tactics
Breath of Fire IV
Wild Arms 1 & 2
Suikoden 1 & 2
Legend of Mana
Dragon Quest VII
Lunar Silver Star Story Complete
Tales of Destiny
I will start with at least one game I have played or have beaten before for the sake of nostalgia and for the sake of familiarity, but many of these games I have not tried myself before yet I remember watching others play or have heard many good things about them. So it should be a fun experience. I will be making use of strategy guides to an extent as I play through these games mostly for the sake of being able to complete them faster. I hope nobody looks down on me for that. Once I have finished this list of older RPG’s, my hope is to post more about recent ones because I do believe there are also many gems still in the market today. I’d like to start after this on all the PS2, Dreamcast, XBox and Gamecube titles. I generally refrained from putting into my list Gameboy and Game Gear titles and focused more on console titles from 1992 and up to 1998/1999.
I should also note that I intended to add to my list several games for the Sega Saturn, but there are a couple issues with this. One is that Sega Saturn emulation for PC’s is still not very good and so I decided it might be best to resort to using my actual Sega Saturn console to play games. Unfortunately I have none of the physical copies of the games on my list of Saturn RPG’s. Since it would take me some time and money to hunt down these games (not to mention I may need to replace my Saturn console…again) I decided that I would instead I may as well, once this process is complete, devote a separate series entirely to the Sega Saturn, its history and its library of games because, honestly, I think the Saturn deserves a little love of its own.
As far as cartoons, anime, and comic related stuff goes, for those who gave a shit, I made a post a couple weeks ago where I posted a pic of my haul from a local convention, which included many VHS tapes of classic anime. I figured since I’m doing this retro RPG thing, I may as well do the same for many of the series and/or movies I acquired. So, while it may be a bit of work, I intend to do a post on each series represented in my collection. The ones I was already acquainted with will be easier, but I think I will focus on those anime in the collection which are more shorter and more stand alone, the feature films and OVA’s. Since most of those are ones I haven’t seen before but were generally aware of, it should be refreshing. I’ll also be posting more comic reviews as well. I intend to have an ongoing series for The Flash and to post reviews and comments on other more obscure manga or comics I find in addition to more mainstream or current stuff. There are a couple recent anime series I’ve been keeping up with that I’m dying to post more about too.
Some other side notes, I am also working on two other blogs. One is a personal journal of sorts for my poetry, stories and essays. The other will be a music blog featuring recent and classic album reviews and other assorted music related opinions. I won’t be posting much about these on here so if you are interested, please PM me and I’ll be sure to remember to give you the links when they are finished if I haven’t jotted you down already.
I’d like to finish this post with a thank you to my followers and would like to wish you all a happy Thanksgiving as well.