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Really great 2D RPGs of olde

harvestharvest By birthright,a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
edited January 2008 in Games and Technology
(I was a Nintendo/C-64 child. This means I don't know shit about Sega games.)

TL;DR 2d RPG/Action RPGs are fun, why don't we talk about that.

Back in the day, you know, we didn't have three dees. We only had two, and they were awesome. Lots of people started on Dragon Warrior because Nintendo was awesome and gave it away with new Nintendo Power subscriptions for a while. Not long after, Final Fantasy came out and was even awesomer. A lot of 8- and 16-bit RPGs took their cues from these two games. These games were heavy on the numbers and combat was handled through menus. After the first installment of each, storytelling started to become a focus as well.

At the time there was another genre of game on the 8-bit platforms labled Adventure. This included Metroid and The Legend of Zelda, and was different from the RPG in that combat happened in real time and the player had direct control of the hero's actions instead of choosing from a menu. These games had a strong focus on exploration and collecting artifacts to build your power and less on story. Nowadays we put these games in a kind of limbo action-adventure-rpg zone, and Adventure game are ones where you click on stuff and read text.

There were some early genre benders near the beginning too. Like a fusion of Zelda and Dragon Warrior, Crystalis was a sublime combination of exploration, magic, action, and win. Lots of people to talk to, tons of places to explore and upgrades to find and some truly epic bosses puts Crystalis in a position to lord over similar games that came afterward. Similarly Rygar, which combined elements one would find in Metroid and 2D action gaming with some RPG-based ideas like stat-building and leveling up occupies an important position in the heredity of modern games.

Moving ahead generations we see the extension and refinement of these basic genres into masterworks like A Link to the Past and Secret of Mana. Final Fantasy 4 and 6 showed American audiences a new depth of storytelling on consoles, and a new level of stat whoring. The Lufia games managed to pack some strong emotional ammunition into those old cartridges alongside venerable gamplay mechanics.

Now, I think I've played all the great 2D RPGs for the Nintendo consoles, but I hope I haven't. I hope y'all write some that I haven't heard of or haven't played. There's a used game shop nearby that sells carts from the 80s and 90s and I'd love to spend my Christmas money there.

Assume that I've played the mainstream games from Squaresoft. From Enix I played the likes of Soul Blazer and Legend of Gaia(?). I played Lufia 2 a ton. I loved Super Mario RPG. My memory fades though, and I can't remember everything anymore. All for the better though because that means I can replay what you suggest here.

So. On to wallowing in nostalgia and maybe finding something new to play. What were the standout RPGs/Action RPG games of the 8- and 16-bit eras? Why are they great and what can someone expect if they played them for the first time today?

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harvest on
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Posts

  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Beyond The Beyond

    Zombiemambo on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Beyond The Beyond

    What's that?

    harvest on
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  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    http://www.mobygames.com/game/nes/crystalis

    Crystalis was a good NES action/rpg game.

    Edit: Haha the Japanese name for it was "God Slayer". I wonder why they had to rename the game for the States... hmm..

    urahonky on
  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Earthbound and Crono Trigger are not mentioned

    Macro9 on
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  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    Beyond The Beyond

    What's that?

    One of the worst RPGs ever made. I was hoping someone would pick up on it before anyone asked what it was.

    Zombiemambo on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Earthbound and Crono Trigger are not mentioned

    No, they aren't. I didn't mention everything awesome or totally sweet, I figured someone would but give a little more about why they're awesome.

    harvest on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    From Enix I played the likes of Soul Blazer and Legend of Gaia(?).

    I think you mean Illusion of Gaia, which is one of my most favored action-RPGs ever.

    Secret of Evermore's also good(Secret of Mana made more west-stylized, basically), but that's a very love-or-hate title.

    Dragon Warrior was my first RPG, but the Lunar games changed everything for me.

    They were for the Sega CD, but they were basically 2D in presentation; they just had voice acting, cutscenes, and CD audio backing it up.

    cj iwakura on
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  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Explanation is not needed. If you like old school 2D RPGs and haven't played both of them you have failed humanity.

    EDIT: Like cj said Lunar games are nice. Hunt down the PS ones if you can.

    Macro9 on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    Beyond The Beyond

    What's that?

    One of the worst RPGs ever made. I was hoping someone would pick up on it before anyone asked what it was.

    Wasn't that 3D? It's also for the Playstation, so I think it's a little ahead of the era in question.

    cj iwakura on
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  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Explanation is not needed. If you like old school 2D RPGs and haven't played both of them you have failed humanity.

    EDIT: Like cj said Lunar games are nice. Hunt down the PS ones if you can.

    Saturn version is better, from what I hear.

    Zombiemambo on
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  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Explanation is not needed. If you like old school 2D RPGs and haven't played both of them you have failed humanity.

    EDIT: Like cj said Lunar games are nice. Hunt down the PS ones if you can.

    Saturn version is better, from what I hear.

    A matter of opinion. You can't go wrong with either.

    Macro9 on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Explanation is not needed. If you like old school 2D RPGs and haven't played both of them you have failed humanity.

    EDIT: Like cj said Lunar games are nice. Hunt down the PS ones if you can.

    Only if you can't get the Sega CD versions. I could go on for paragraphs, but the remakes changed a lot, most of it for the worse.

    A good amount of story elements removed/altered, and both of the remakes are ridiculously easy compared to the originals.

    The dungeons were cut down to a quarter of their size, no random battles(this might be a blessing for some), etc.

    But yeah, if the PSX remakes are the only way, it's better than not playing them at all.

    cj iwakura on
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  • Zephyr_FateZephyr_Fate Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Tales of Destiny II :P

    Zephyr_Fate on
  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I only mentioned it because most people have PS2s and not Saturns/Sega CDs

    Macro9 on
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  • -SPI--SPI- Osaka, JapanRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Yeah Illusion of Time/Gaia was good, although I never finished it. I have it saved in the boss rush esque part in the tower of Babel. I'm not sure if I loved or hated the raft section, because they really made it felt like you were lost at sea for weeks.

    I absolutely loved Breath of Fire 1 and 2. Especially 2 when you find shamans and then combine them to transform your party members into more kickass forms.

    -SPI- on
  • ZombiemamboZombiemambo Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Breath of Fire 2 was incredible. So was 3, and it remains as one of my favorite JRPGs of all time, but it's technically a PSX game.

    Zombiemambo on
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  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I remember how I neglected poor little Peco only to power level him end game and make him an uber onion.

    Edit: He was nice to hybrid with too.

    Macro9 on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I never actually finished BoF 1 or 2, but 3 was great. Momo = killing machine.

    I should start/finish 4 one day.

    cj iwakura on
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  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    harvest wrote: »
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Earthbound and Crono Trigger are not mentioned

    No, they aren't. I didn't mention everything awesome or totally sweet, I figured someone would but give a little more about why they're awesome.

    Earthbound is awesome because it's got such a consistent, awesome sense of humor that doesn't make it any less moving or dramatic?

    INeedNoSalt on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    What's that RPG for the GB/DS that looks like a complete rip off of like 5 classic SQ games? It looked interesting, and I remember it got a publisher a couple of months ago.

    Found it! Project Exile
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=PioZ3ievw-c

    I think the only thing that isn't "inspired" by classic Square RPG's are the character's portraits, and they're the worse part of the game.

    Kyougu on
  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    cj iwakura wrote: »
    I never actually finished BoF 1 or 2, but 3 was great. Momo = killing machine.

    I should start/finish 4 one day.

    I could never finish 4. That same old wander in pseudo 3d part frustrated the shit out of me. I could never find my way. Every FAQ I consulted led me no where.

    BoF 5 is awesome as well, but that doesn't meet the reqs.

    Macro9 on
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  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Haha this game looks sweet http://www.affinix.com/projects.html

    Too bad it's 7 years late.

    harvest on
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  • RaslinRaslin Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    What was that one SNES rpg... terra something? That was good fun.

    Also, boo for nobody mentioning EVO.

    Raslin on
    I cant url good so add me on steam anyways steamcommunity.com/id/Raslin

    3ds friend code: 2981-6032-4118
  • Macro9Macro9 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Terranigma?

    Macro9 on
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  • cj iwakuracj iwakura The Rhythm Regent Bears The Name FreedomRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    One of the few bragging rights PAL gets over the US.

    cj iwakura on
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  • RaslinRaslin Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Macro9 wrote: »
    Terranigma?

    Aye

    Raslin on
    I cant url good so add me on steam anyways steamcommunity.com/id/Raslin

    3ds friend code: 2981-6032-4118
  • harvestharvest By birthright, a stupendous badass.Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Not fair :(

    harvest on
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  • Fig-DFig-D Tustin, CA, USRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Yeah, I enjoyed Terranigma a LOT more than Soul Blazer or Illusion of Gaia. Find a way to play it, and do so.

    EDIT: Ya know what, just go here hit the sort button next to "Platform(s)" and play every game that says Super NES next to it.

    EDIT EDIT: Oh God, except for that King Arthur & the Knights of Justice videogame. Burn it with fire. But everything else from Enix on the SNES is a pretty safe bet.

    EDIT EDIT EDIT: In fact, play all Super Famicom games that didn't get released in the US by Enix too. Wonder Project J (not really an RPG, more Pinocchio-Sim than anything else, but hey, still good)was way ahead of it's time and Violinist of Hameln was really fun and lively. And then there's the first Star Ocean game... just play all this shit, I'm tired of making edits :P .

    Fig-D on
    SteamID - Fig-D :: PSN - Fig-D
  • -SPI--SPI- Osaka, JapanRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    The gameplay in Terranigma was a lot more interesting than the previous "Soul Blazer series" games. I need to go back and play it again, because at the time I don't think I really followed the storyline very well.
    "OK, so I'm in a fantasy underground world and now I'm raising continents. Wait, I'm ressurecting the earth's plantlife? Ok. Sure, whatever. What the... Evil Spanish Vampire queen? Wait, Modern Day tokyo is under attack? What the hell is going on?"

    -SPI- on
  • CantideCantide Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Kyougu wrote: »
    What's that RPG for the GB/DS that looks like a complete rip off of like 5 classic SQ games? It looked interesting, and I remember it got a publisher a couple of months ago.

    Found it! Project Exile
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=PioZ3ievw-c

    I think the only thing that isn't "inspired" by classic Square RPG's are the character's portraits, and they're the worse part of the game.

    They're not just reusing fonts, sprites, and tiles - there were whole areas in that trailer that I recognize from FF VI, Chrono Trigger, and others. And yet... I really want to play it. They've successfully tricked my brain into thinking that because the graphics are the same as the old SNES classics, the quality will be the same too. Well played, Studio Archcraft, well played.

    Cantide on
  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Cantide wrote: »
    Kyougu wrote: »
    What's that RPG for the GB/DS that looks like a complete rip off of like 5 classic SQ games? It looked interesting, and I remember it got a publisher a couple of months ago.

    Found it! Project Exile
    http://youtube.com/watch?v=PioZ3ievw-c

    I think the only thing that isn't "inspired" by classic Square RPG's are the character's portraits, and they're the worse part of the game.

    They're not just reusing fonts, sprites, and tiles - there were whole areas in that trailer that I recognize from FF VI, Chrono Trigger, and others. And yet... I really want to play it. They've successfully tricked my brain into thinking that because the graphics are the same as the old SNES classics, the quality will be the same too. Well played, Studio Archcraft, well played.

    Yeah, I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and stating they are "inspired' by those RPG's, instead of downright stealing...but there's just so many things that look lifted directly from those games. Battle animations look exactly like CT to me for example.
    I'm curious how far this game will get before they get a call from Square's lawyers

    Kyougu on
  • DisruptorX2DisruptorX2 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I thought this thread was going to be about real RPGs.

    Anyone here who's beaten Pools of Darkness is hardcore, I died on the second random encounter. (ran away from the first)

    DisruptorX2 on
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  • Fig-DFig-D Tustin, CA, USRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I thought this thread was going to be about real RPGs.

    Anyone here who's beaten Pools of Darkness is hardcore, I died on the second random encounter. (ran away from the first)

    Oh, you and your DOS shenanigans.

    Honestly, I didn't play any RPGs on PC until 1997, so most everything before then is unknown to me.

    Fig-D on
    SteamID - Fig-D :: PSN - Fig-D
  • gamer-girlgamer-girl Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Lunar Lunar Lunar Lunar Lunar

    Also Secret of Mana... or was it Legend of Mana? I forget.

    And there was some RPG that I feel incredibly nostalgic for and for the life of me I will never figure out what game it is. It's 2d, it had a desert and I needed to stand on the runes or something in various places around the world... sigh... when I'm rich & famous I'll buy all the SNES 2d RPGs and play them all until I see the one I'm nostalgic for.

    And it's a bit later, but yay Alundra!

    gamer-girl on
    ^^^ http://www.gamer-girl.org, for developer interviews and fresh reviews ^^^
  • Fig-DFig-D Tustin, CA, USRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    gamer-girl wrote: »
    Lunar Lunar Lunar Lunar Lunar

    Also Secret of Mana... or was it Legend of Mana? I forget.

    And there was some RPG that I feel incredibly nostalgic for and for the life of me I will never figure out what game it is. It's 2d, it had a desert and I needed to stand on the runes or something in various places around the world... sigh... when I'm rich & famous I'll buy all the SNES 2d RPGs and play them all until I see the one I'm nostalgic for.

    And it's a bit later, but yay Alundra!

    Secret of Mana, Legend of Mana was the one on PSX that I really enjoyed but some people bash on.

    Oh, and the other one you talk about does ring a bell... now it's gonna bug me too. Was it a JRPG? Square, not Square? Did you play it on your legit US or European SNES or through... uh... other means in which Japanese games not released in the states may have been played?

    Fig-D on
    SteamID - Fig-D :: PSN - Fig-D
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Castle of the Winds.


    I barely remember it, I think it was awesome.

    L|ama on
  • UltravisitorUltravisitor Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I enjoyed me some Lufia

    Ultravisitor on
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  • The Cheshire CatThe Cheshire Cat Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    -SPI- wrote: »
    The gameplay was a lot more interesting. I need to go back and play it again, because at the time I don't think I really followed the storyline very well.
    "OK, so I'm in a fantasy underground world and now I'm raising continents. Wait, I'm ressurecting the earth's plantlife? Ok. Sure, whatever. What the... Evil Spanish Vampire queen? Wait, Modern Day tokyo is under attack? What the hell is going on?"

    I don't think it really made any more sense than that even if you're really, really paying attention. Still a great game though.

    The Cheshire Cat on
  • Salvation122Salvation122 Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    I'm pretty sure Ultima V came out for the NES.

    The graphics are absolutely abysmal - like, I'm pretty sure they were 8-color - but the game itself is a classic. If you're willing to play PC games, I personally prefer 6 and 7 just because they've got VGA graphics. The Ultima games are well-known for the size and openness of the world and the depth of the storytelling. Eye of the Beholder and the Xeen games are also old-school PC AD&D-based classics, very very heavily in the hack & slash mode.

    Salvation122 on
  • Fig-DFig-D Tustin, CA, USRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    -SPI- wrote: »
    The gameplay was a lot more interesting. I need to go back and play it again, because at the time I don't think I really followed the storyline very well.
    "OK, so I'm in a fantasy underground world and now I'm raising continents. Wait, I'm ressurecting the earth's plantlife? Ok. Sure, whatever. What the... Evil Spanish Vampire queen? Wait, Modern Day tokyo is under attack? What the hell is going on?"

    I don't think it really made any more sense than that even if you're really, really paying attention. Still a great game though.

    I really didn't, but it was fun.

    Fig-D on
    SteamID - Fig-D :: PSN - Fig-D
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