#10 Lunar Silver Star Story
Lunar has held a special place in my heart as far as old fashioned gaming for multiple reasons. Graphic wise it was a throwback to SNES gaming with a few enhancements, most noted being the anime cut scenes which happened fairly often throughout. These cut scenes in addition to vividly showing what was happening to the characters also included voice acting which was nearly unheard of for games of its time. Being able to see and hear the characters has a huge impact on game play. The only reason I would not rate higher on the list was the bland battle system, its unfortunately repetitive but don’t let that discourage you from playing an excellent game.
#9 Final Fantasy VII
Those who have played Final Fantasy 7 may wonder why I didn’t rank the game more highly. The most glaring issue I have with this game is probably how much people over hype it. Yes it has many good aspects, a solid battle system, the materia junctioning system was useful for modifying characters to fight the way you want them to, Magic or Physical, obviously certain characters were more predisposed to one or the other naturally, but you had options. The storyline however was lacking, confusing and leaves many questions. The game’s ending left behind so many unanswered points that Square was practically forced into making a CGI sequel of the game years later.
#8 Breath of Fire 3
I just want to say I love Breath of Fire 3, I got into the breath of fire games on the snes and the original game was good…. This game is fantastic though. You as the main character are a dragon, but you also are naturally in the form of a boy. As the game progresses what starts off as an innocent group of kids trying to improve the lot in life of a village escalates to a world rending struggle against a dark goddess. One of my favorite aspects of this game is probably the Gene system, think of it as a sort of gene splicing for dragons, you choose a 3 gene set and you get a special transformation based on which you chose. There are tons of combinations for special transformations and of course there are few duds in there for those who feel the need to experiment. Most of the 15 genes come to you automatically through the storyline however some of the key ones require a bit of looking in unusual places to find shards that contain the gene.
#7 Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger, another Squaresoft title (its almost like Square was good before the merger with Enix, lol). This game has time travel, many many multiple endings, a battle system with combination attacks a frog that needs turned back into a human and the wonderful artistic talents of Akira Toriyama (Heil DBZ!) In addition tho the fantastic battle system and art are multiple musical scores that are very memorable. Unfortunately there is just too much that can be said about this game storyline wise, with a time machine and time gates at your disposal you can change history multiple times over and that’s just with the main storyline, don’t even get me started on the side quests. Overall the only area I felt the game was lacking in was in the personality of some of the characters which is not such a bad flaw.
Now with Earthbound I move away from the mainstream kinds of RPG’s, this is a game designed to have a bit more realism as far as the time period when the game would be happening. There are telvisions, helecopters, submarines, and ATM machines throughout the game. Your weapons? A baseball bat, a frying pan, an airsoft gun and monkish powerhouse named poo… no seriously they auto name him Poo if you dont change it. The game in very many ways is corny… however this in my opinion lends to its charm, Its unlike pretty much any rpg not only of its generation but noone else has really done something remotely similar.
#5 Final Fantasy III/VI
Many of the reasons I liked Final Fantasy 7 so much totally originated in this game. Materia system? I give you Magicite, Final life essences of espers, the summoned monsters from this game, they imbue your characters with the ability to learn all of the magics in the game. Unlike materia however when you learn the new magics you dont lose access to them by switching to a different piece of magicite! Which means any and all characters in the game can learn the most powerful spells to use in the game through a bit of time and effort. Nearly every character in the game has their own sort of hidden story line, meaning unless you actively pursue them, you dont get to see why they are the way they are, whether you’re a gambler who lost your best friend in an airship accident, A treasure hunter who tries cheating death itself to save his first love, Royal brothers who chose the throne through a rigged coin toss or a soldier who survives a mass poisoning, losing his entire family….only to see them one last time getting onto the train leading to the after life, you will feel strong emotional attachment to this game. From the battle system to the people this game has a permanent place in my heart.
#4 Phantasy Star IV
In a generation where the Sega Genesis sucked at everything non sonic came an RPG that rivaled the Final Fantasies of its time. This game has it all, an epic storyline leading up to saving an entire solar system from collapse at the hands of an interstellar being that was sealed away thousands of years ago at the hands of an unknown force. People who haven’t played this game probably think situations like Aeris’s death in FF7 were a new sort of thing in the video game world. Spoilers, your best friend, the person who raised you up to become a hunter (one who fights back hostile monsters for fun and profit) dies from a powerful evil energy, and it isnt a quick death shes in agony for weeks asking only for you to find her longtime friend and wizard Rune. And right as you get him, and the weapon you needed to kill that fucker who did this to her… she takes a turn for the worse and dies in your arms. Pretty heavy motivation to keep going i’d say. The game has a unique battle system using both Techniques which are like spells would be in most games, tech’s are almost all technologically based abilities with few exceptions, to skills which are special attacks ranging from sword attacks, cyborg special abilities and even the lost art of REAL magic. There are special vehicles to travel in, fuck an air ship, you get a land rover, an ice driller a hovercraft and a fucking spaceship that you use to travel between the different planets of the Algo star system as well as its tech satellites. The unfortunate thing about the game was the fact that it came out on Genesis, rpg players had long ignored the genesis due to lack of pretty much any game of that format…. which is unfortunate since both graphically and storyline wish this game easily trumped the Square based titles of the day.
#3 Suikoden II
This game series runs on a unique premise in that much like pokemon there are 108 different characters for you to collect throughout the game. A majority of them are collected through normal game play, some of them have prerequisites in order to be able to recruit them, IE already having a certain amount of people, solving a quest, finding an item ECT. In addition to the 108 characters there are 28 True Runes, think of them as the source of all magical power and life in the world. To be a person who bears a true rune means to hold tremendous powers over life and death, in fact those who hold one no longer age and are, short of being killed by someone, immortal. Bring in the main characters (one you name) and his best friend Jowy. The true rune of the beginning, split into two halves, one of each given to the main character and his friend Jowy, the white shield rune and the black sword rune is one such rune. The game begins with the two of you being members in the Highland youth brigade, think ROTC, not the real army but got some military training. You and Jowy accidently stumble in on the crazed prince of highland and your captain discussing the massacre about to take place, killing all of the kids and blaming the City States for the transgression. Everything that happens from then on is a gathering of people, armies, generals all geared towards taking down the Nutjob prince, Luca Blight. However… once you kill him off (which is not an easy thing to do at all) you find that your best friend who had been at your side is now the new king of highland by marriage…. WTFZ?! so you think everything would be over, well no… turns out the two runes of the beginning are meant to be in conflict with one another until the day when one person joins the pieces. There are multiple outcomes to this game based on the number of people you recruit as well as your final choices of how you feel you should help shape the new nation that gets formed from the aftermath.
#2 Star Ocean: The Second Story
At the beginning of the game you get to choose to either be Claude or Rena, the 2 effective main characters of the story. And while the main storyline progresses very much in the same way no matter who you choose… you get more perspective into the other persons mind by getting to play through on both ends. I strongly suggest trying Claude’s version first, and then trying it out with Rena’s. If you start out as Claude you find yourself a futuristic member of the Earth Federation (think star trek) you’re an ensign and your father is the admiral/captain of the ship you’re stationed on. During an investigation on a strange dead world you accidently activate a device that teleports you instantly light years away to a planet called Expel. Immediately you find a girl who is being attacked by a fairly beasty yeti type monster and like a good boy you rush in to help. You find that normal attacks are ineffective so what do you do…? you use your trusty phaser (again, star trek) to subdue the beast…..this event ends up making rena and pretty much most other residents of the local village think you’re the hero of legend,wielding a sword of light, come to save the world from the ravages of a magical meteor that landed about a year ago dubbed the sorcery globe. And from there on the game just gets better, there are tons of side quests, you get different crafting abilities allowing you to create your own arms, armor and accessories which in many cases can be some of the best you will find in the normal game. In fact if you work at it you can get the best normal game weapon for claude while still on the first disk!. Between the compelling storyline, semi-unique live action battle system, numerous side quests and specialty characters to recruit plus special high level hidden dungeon that you can only reach at the last moment of the game but before you beat it…. This game has a rediculous amount to offer.
Which brings me to my number 1 favorite old time rpg….
#1 Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy 9 has everything i love in a game, characters you feel a strong bond to, for multiple reasons. Mostly because theyre written with a lot of depth. A lot of humor, and a slight bit of perversion, im not talking about anything unseemly, but just the usual dude with a tail mackin on the princess hardcore. The think that makes this the best game choice for me are the villains. Good villains are people you love to hate, and people who give many good reasons to hate them… Starting with Queen Brahne… who wanted to sacrifice her own daughter to get ahold of the summoner’s powers locked within her… We later find out shes been being used the whole time by another guy… Kuja… And Kuja? Yea you’ll love to hate him. And beyond the base story line which is mostly a lighthearted save the princess scenario, you get to find out not only is there way more going on than you initially thought but you get to see each and every characters personal perspectives on things, Garnet’s worries about feeling inadequate and wanting to do whats best for her people to Vivi wondering why he’s alive and wondering how much time hes got left until he “stops” like the other black mages who were manufactured. And i havent even gotten to the battle system, much like final fantasy 6′s magicite learning system this game brings a similar aproach by learning abilities through your equipment, and once again once its learned its permanant. The most important thing to do when you do play this game is remember, Zidane, the main character is a thief…. so you should probably steal from every boss every time….. because chances are good that you will either get a weapon you normally wouldnt get for quite some time later or even many of the unique items are found only by thievery. With so many things going for this title it is easy to see why it above all the rest is my favorite.
Thank you for looking over Rune’s top 10 old time rpg’s and if youve got questions or comments I will get back to you as quickly as possible.