Well, Final Fantasy XV got delayed. Honestly, I’m totally fine with Square Enix holding off releasing the 15th game in the Final Fantasy saga. Or is it the 17th? It’s getting hard to keep track on how many Final Fantasy games there have been. Besides the officially numbered entries, we’ve also got the sequels within the sequel like Final Fantasy X-2 which had Yuna dressing up in various outfits. There are also the side story type games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Dissidia. We also now have the cinematic entries like Final Fantasy: Advent Children and the recently released Kingsglaive. It’s getting kind of hard to track it all!
While it’s great that Final Fantasy has lasted this long and Square Enix still sees the franchise profitable enough to make new entries, I feel that it’s greatness has overshadowed a myriad of other lesser known RPGs. Final Fantasy is great and all but let’s not forget there are other Role Playing Games out there! In fact, there are already a bunch of fantastic RPGs that have been forgotten, Let’s go look a five of my favorite RPGs that people seemingly overlook these days.
1) Parasite Eve
Let’s start off this list with a Square Enix RPG that’s not Final Fantasy! Parasite Eve is actually more of an action-RPG much in the same vein of The Legend of Zelda. But, like the game’s story, Parasite Eve is a little more complicated than that.
It’s actually hard to pin down what the Parasite Eve series is all about as they change the gameplay mechanics in each entry. The first game plays like a tactical RPG where you have to run around and wait for your turn to attack. The second one plays more like a Resident Evil clone but you can get better equipment and armor to improve your stats. The third one, named The 3rd Birthday, changes things up once again as it becomes a straight up 3rd person shooter with only a few RPG elements. In all honesty, I’m not even sure if The 3rd Birthday is canon anymore.
With that being said, I actually have to say my favorite entry in the series was the 1st Parasite Eve. The battle mechanics did take some time getting used to but, once you did get the hang of it, it becomes a blast to take on the mutated monsters. If Square Enix does decide to make a new entry to the series, I hope they use the “classic” version of the battle system.
I was late to the entire Lunar experience as I didn’t play the original Sega CD versions of the game. However, I started playing the series when Working Designs totally revamped the entire first two games and ported it over to the PlayStation. I’m so glad I did!
Well, to say that the Lunar series has been forgotten would be kind of misleading. The first game, Lunar: Silver Star Story, is an excellent RPG and has actually been remade several times on different devices; you can even get it on the Apple iStore right now. And the third game, Dragon Song, was actually released a decade ago on the Nintendo DS.
However, as successful as the series has become, the series has definitely stagnated. I mentioned they kept on releasing Silver Star Story on different platforms, right? Well, it seems like that’s all they’ve been doing! Lunar: Eternal Blue, the second entry to the Lunar saga, only got released on the PSN fairly recently. And they still have to translate Magic School Lunar! for the English speaking crowd! What a missed opportunity!
3) The Legend of Dragoon
There’s no denying that Final Fantasy VII was the game that brought the lowly RPG into mainstream consciousness. Because of that one game, there were a whole lot of RPGs that suddenly started popping out of the woodwork. To some, Legend of Dragoon was just one of those games that tried to capitalize on Final Fantasy VII’s success. But for others, like me, Legend of Dragoon was something much more than a Final Fantasy clone.
Unlike most games that were trying to ride the RPG bandwagon, Legend of Dragoon looked fantastic! The graphics may have been a notch higher than even Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VIII… and that game had excellent character models! The story was actually really well thought out. It may be a little bit overly complex but, in retrospect, Legend of Dragoon may have been just ahead of its time because, soon after than, video game stories and plots started getting more and more convoluted!
But what made Legend of Dragoon so memorable for many was the battle system. It was a turn based system akin to other JRPGs but it wasn’t like you were just sitting down and watching things unfold. There was something like a quicktime event where, with the right timing, you can inflict just a little more damage and start combo links. The enemy can try to counter but you can also perform a reversal when that happens. This kept all the battles fresh and exciting. It was actually a joy to get into random encounters because of how the battle system was executed in the game.
Despite the game selling well and getting decent reviews, Sony never produced a sequel to Legend of Dragoon. I know there are still some holdouts, hoping for a Legend of Dragoon 2. Maybe someone needs to start a Kickstarter campaign?
4) Skies of Arcadia
The Dreamcast was Sega’s last hurrah into the console development world. It’s a shame, really, as the console had a good library of fun and eclectic games. There was the catchy Space Channel 5 series (which does need to come back in some form or another), the weird and somewhat disturbing fish raising (?) game Seaman and the very first open world game (at least I think so) Shenmue. The Dreamcast also had one of the most unique JRPGs of all time, Skies of Arcadia.
Skies of Arcadia definitely doesn’t feel like a traditional RPG! While most RPGs will take you to medieval kingdoms, futuristic worlds or even the present day, Skies of Arcadia takes place in a world that’s totally different. It’s kind of a mix of the past and the future but you have to traverse the planet on an airship as all of the land masses are floating in the sky!
This opens up Skies of Arcadia to different kinds of gameplay styles. There’s the traditional dungeon exploring and character combat. But there are also aerial ship-to-ship combat as well. The ship battles are actually more tactical than the regular character battles as you have to plan out moves in advance. It looks really boring if you’re not playing it but, if you’re into really strategy games, the air battles in Skies of Arcadia are just a hoot!
Sega, I’m glad you’re making a new Shenmue game… but can we also get a new Skies of Arcadia game as well?
5) Megaman Legends
I wonder how many people who played Marvel vs Capcom 2 and 3 know where Tron Bonne came from? For those who aren’t in the know, Tron Bonne is kind of the arch rival and sort of love interest of Megaman in the Megaman Legends series. And if you haven’t heard of Megaman Legends, boy, you missed out!
Megaman Legends tried to be the Legend of Zelda for PlayStation console owners. Well, the games didn’t really achieve the level of success as Nintendo’s franchise but it did have a decent enough following. The gameplay wasn’t all that hot, to be honest, as Megaman controlled like a rather agile tank, but a tank nonetheless. Like other action-RPGs, you do have to level up Megaman’s equipment to be able to beat the harder dungeons and bosses.
But the gameplay wasn’t what made Megaman Legends great; it was its overall presentation. The graphics were really great, especially for the PlayStation. Each character had a really cartoony look that suited the rather pre-teen feel Megaman Legends exuded. The voice acting was really good (I loved the woman who did Tron Bonne’s voice as she was spot on in capturing the character) and the writing highlighted the humor and lightheartedness. The game is on the PlayStation Store now. If you can spare the $10, get it. It’s worth it!
I just had to add this to the list because, among all of the RPGs I’ve played on the PlayStation, Xenogears has to be my favorite. Not Final Fantasy VIII. Not Lunar: Eternal Blue. Not Megaman Legends. Not Parasite Eve. Hands down, Xenogears is the best RPG the PlayStation ever pumped out.
We’ll never get a second Xenogears. I have to just accept it. The same people that made the game have already moved on to make other JRPGs such as Xenosaga and Xenoblade Chronicles, which are tied to Xenogears in one way or another. But there was just something special about Xenogears. It was an epic adventure that just so happened to weave in a fantastic narrative with philosophical elements and great characters. Xenogears had fantastic characters designs, cool looking mecha and beautiful backgrounds.
It’s a one-of-a-kind game and I feel kind of depressed that today’s gaming generation are overlooking it.
What’s your favorite forgotten RPG? Let me know in the comments section below!