Monday, April 28, 2014

Departing 1990, Embarking upon 1991!

Another year of gaming passes by on this blog, and while it's taken more than a year in real-time to get here, I have high hopes things will eventually even out. I'm ready for those dreams to come crashing down we enter a year with more games than all previous years combined.

First, let's look back at the year of games we've passed. All-in-all it was a seminal year. Final Fantasy was surprisingly fun, less grindy than I remembered. Phantasy Star II on the other hand was the biggest let down of a sequel, and the largest single grind (discounting Wizardry due to perma-death). Standing just over Wizardry in my list of games I'd rather not play again, I can only hope both series rebound soon.
1990 RPG of the Year! (Source: Time Warp Gamer)
In case you hadn't noticed (and honestly why would anyone), I updated my main list with a couple new tabs. Game Rankings is a list of previously played games in the order I enjoyed them most and with some weight for replay value (given infinite time). Also, I added a Cuts tab to keep track of games I've cut since Google changed the way hidden rows work. Used to be drag-highlighting would capture them when copied. I think it makes the list cleaner while preserving the full list of considered titles.

Back to the games; I think most surprising was Super Hydlide. Little Ninja Brothers was a bit disappointing, but I chose to make that harder on myself (will not make that mistake in the sequels). Shattering my childhood memories, I can't express how underwhelming Dungeon Magic turned out. Unsurprising to most I'm sure, Ultima: Quest of the Avatar takes the prize for best 1990 game by a wide margin. A lot of replay value there, and so much room for optimization. Overall a solid year. We'll see how the games stand the test of time as we explore 1991.

Welcome to 1991, all the games I'll play in chronological order (includes approximate release of new systems)
I meant to have more than just game postings on the site to add some history. That was before I realized how much time it takes to write up posts. So, I've decided to take the time now, during these game year posts, to expound on a few ideas. This year is especially significant as it's the first year we really see the first surge of console RPGs. Currently I'm on track to play through 26 games, which is more than I've played during the life of this blog. I really hope it doesn't take another 3 years.

In 1991 the US saw the release of two new consoles. The Game Gear was released to compete with the Game Boy, but late to market once again Sega couldn't compete with the install base. Even with technical superiority, color display, and wider grip, the system never found a foothold in the US. It did however feature a handful of RPGs (all first party), one of which was released the same year. The SNES was also released the same year, and was big news. I recall my parents bought the console during the first week as a bribe for my brother to do better in school. He did, we got the system, and then he reverted to his old ways. That's another story though. The first year for the SNES offered a good selection of RPGs, and one specific title that blew away all others.

Enough small talk; on to the games! I'm hoping to avoid situations like Ultima IV's initial lack of noting the SMS port by addressing nuances of the games here. Apologies in advanced for the weird spacing. Blogger is very temperamental about where it wants to place images next to text.

Original Titles
(Source: GameFAQs)
Crystal Warriors - Here we have our first (or second) Game Gear title. Developed and published by Sega, it seems they were trying their hand at a Fire Emblem clone. Watch for precursors of the Shining Force series. This title was released on Nintendo's 3DS store, so that's where I'll be playing it once I get a 3DS capture capable system. For those interested, I'm going to order it from the website here: (no affiliation).

(Source: GameFAQs)
 Dragon Crystal - Our second (or first) Game Gear title comes quickly on the heels of the last. Dragon Crystal is a spiritual sequel to Fatal Labyrinth. This title is available on the 3DS, and it gives me a good excuse to purchase one. It's a simple graphical rogue-like. That means I could beat it in a couple of hours with extreme luck, or days with very poor luck.

(Source: MobyGames)
Fatal Labyrinth - So, how does a title released after the initial release of Dragon Crystal become the first game? Through the magic of the Internet. Sega Meganet was an online service for the Mega Drive (Japan/Brazil exclusive). This game is a remake of a game on that system. This and Dragon Crystal are the first rogue-likes for the blog. I'll be playing this on Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection.

(Source: GameFAQs)

Faria: A World of Mystery & Danger - From the future developers of Lunar and Grandia, Game Arts presents an action-RPG similar to The Magic of Scheherazade or Crystalis. This is a title I've heard very little about, and its rarity has made it a bit hard to come by. Also, it seems the year may be wrong; the copyright in the game and manual say 1990, but most sites claim a date of June 1991, so I've stuck with that. Just note, this may be in the wrong year.
(Source: Game Boy Database)

Final Fantasy Adventure - Not a sequel because this is actually the start of the Seiken Densetsu series. Even though it piggy-backs off the Final Fantasy name, it sets itself apart as an action-RPG. It's known as Mystic Quest in Europe, not to be confused with Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for the SNES in the US (aka Mystic Quest Legend in Europe).
(Source: Retronomizer)

Magician - Another forgotten gem from my youth, at least in my eyes. This was a fun game where you take on the role of an apprentice wizard just starting out. First quest? Destroy the evil sorcerer endangering the land. Don't worry, all apprentice wizards do this and mostly come out alright.
(Source: MobyGames)

Rings of Power - Naughty Dog strikes again, this time they're doing it on a console. Rumor has it that after a meeting with EA to discuss their next game after Keef, they saw the console for the first time and were completely enamored. The rest, as they say, is history. Yes, I know about the hidden intro screen.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - A licensed title for the film, I take on the role of Kevin Costner as he stars and acts while on set... no wait, I'm just playing a "Robin Hood"-like character detailed as an 8-bit sprite. The game seems to follow the general plot, although some points of the story were changed to make it more violent. I'll be playing the NES version over the Game Boy for what I hope are obvious reasons.
(Source: MobyGames)

Shining in the Darkness - I'm fairly sure this was my first experience with a 16-bit RPG. I remember having a sitter, and they brought over a Genesis. I remember an RPG and an ice hockey game. I don't clearly remember the names; however, I can't figure any other game that fits the time frame. Maybe a scene from this will jog my memory. Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection once again proves a great value.
(Source: MobyGames)

Sword of Hope - This is the first time we see a blend of RPG and adventure genres; control of the character is through an ever present menu of directional arrows, look and use commands, and simple turn based combat with experience and levels.

(Source: MobyGames)
Sword of Vermilion - This was truly the era of experimentation. The view changes radically from top-down towns and battles, to first-person exploration, and finally to side-scrolling boss battles. I'll pick up the WiiVC version, as I found some reports that the port to the PS2 compilation has sounds issues.

(Source: MobyGames)
Uncharted Waters - A series that walks a fine line between role-playing and simulation. The genres already blur close enough that I often wonder where the divide lies. My plan is to play the SNES version of the game, but I'll take some time to check it out on the NES (and Genesis) in my final rating.

(Source: MobyGames)

Warsong - Also known as Langrisser, this title seems to be Sega's first answer to Fire Emblem (followed by Crystal Warriors and Shining Force). Like Fire Emblem, character units die permanently. I don't have much knowledge beyond this, except the battles look slow with the number of troops available in each one. I've been a bit jealous that Shen Nung over at Inconsolable has been able to enjoy Fire Emblem on the NES. It's truly unfortunate that series didn't make it over to the US until much later. Next to RPGs and puzzles, the strategy genre didn't really hit me until I got my hands on games such as Ogre Battle and Vandal Hearts. I'm looking forward to this and all other games like it.

(Source: Games Database)
Dragon Warrior III - Who would imagine we're four years into console games in the US, and already have two series on their third games. I'm going to play this on the original NES because, well, the GBC resolution sucks. The SNES version wasn't officially translated, and my preference is always a console over a handheld.

(Source: Yesteryear Gaming)
Final Fantasy II - I feel reminding everyone that this is actually Final Fantasy IV is like beating that proverbial dead horse, but I suppose it should be said (done). I plan to play the SNES version over the PSX one because well, that's the only remake I don't own. Actually, I recently sold the cart for this to pay for some other upcoming games, and bought the digital version for the WiiVC. It's also been remade for the GBA, and a couple of Japan exclusive releases.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Final Fantasy Legend II - The SaGa series continues with the second installment. Although I played the first extensively, I never got into the others, so this will be a treat. I hope they've done some balancing to the classes to make the monsters a little more useful. As far as I know, the Game Boy version is the only one.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom - Have I mentioned how much I enjoy a compilation like Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection? I really hope this entry addresses much of my complaints, but from what I hear this may very well be the worst of the series. At least I can look forward to the the fourth installment. The idea of playing through heirs is intriguing enough that I've been meaning to play this; although, I couldn't bring myself to playing through without playing the series in order. I'm sure others can relate that feeling.

(Source: Encyclopedia Gamia)
Bard's Tale - This year takes us quickly from single to double digit ports on console to date. I suspect I'll enjoy Bard's Tale as much as Wizardry, but I wouldn't mind the game changing my mind. NES is the only version available, and the only Bard's Tale to reach a console. Oh yeah, definitely building up those expectations.

(Source: MobyGames)
Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday - I've heard this is one of the better ports of a PC game. The Genesis only received this first installment from the series, which is unfortunate since it seems like a well-made game. I'm interested in seeing how it compares to Chet's recent take on the PC version. I skipped reading those articles to avoid potential spoilers. I have to skip a lot of his articles.

(Source: MobyGames)
Cadash - It's strange to have this game on here. Stranger still, I plan on playing the Arcade version instead of the TubroGrafx version because, well, I didn't have the console at the time I made the purchase I did. I could have gone with the Genesis version, but from what I've read it's inferior in every way. As it happens, the arcade version was released on Taito Legends 2 for the Xbox. Now, while it was released only outside the US, the Xbox isn't region locked, so I'll be enjoying my copy through a long convoluted chain of events. I'll check out the others versions as well, but the main differences I've heard about are a timer (to eat quarters in the arcade version) and limited character selection on Genesis. It's also been said the difficulty was reduced on the console ports. I imagine it's a short game, so three times through shouldn't take long.
(Source: Retro Game Cases
Rotated with LunaPic)
[No affiliation with either]
Drakkhen - Ported twice over (once to DOS, and then to console), we review the SNES version of this hidden gem. Yes, rough; true, buggy; realistically, not so good; a gem nonetheless. At least there are gems in the game, and it did manage to spawn a console only sequel. Maybe it did better than it was remembered.

(Source: GameFAQs)
Faery Tale Adventure - Chet couldn't stand the game, so I must surely beat it to redeem him and prove to everyone open plains and wooded glens really are bleak and desolate. I'm not sure of differences between PC and console, so I hope readers are able to fill in the gaps. Genesis ports of RPGs have yet to fail me. Chet will eventually enjoy the sequel, which sadly failed to reach the console market.

(Source: MobyGames)
Heroes of the Lance - I'm not sure if it's eager fear, or dreaded anticipation, but I'm glad I get to tackle this as the first game of 1991. The NES version promises a blast from the past, as I recall renting this and becoming absolutely lost. No manual to assist me, I'm fairly certain I didn't get more than a few screens in. According to this is a short game (less than 5 hours), and I may complete it in a single sitting. This may be the first uncut game to get a single posting, although two with a rating.

(Source: MobyGames)
Lagoon - More childhood nostalgia waxed over this game so often that it shined as a hidden gem on the SNES. Ignore the naysayers, pure enjoyment was had when I rented it. I can't remember why I liked it so much. Maybe it was the jumping animation. This was a port not from a US PC, but a Japanese computer.

(Source: MobyGames)
Might & Magic: Gates to Another World - Ah, the sequel to Might & Magic. I... I remember it the first like it was next year ... wait a minute. Is this right? How does Might & Magic II come out on Genesis a year before Might & Magic 1 comes out on NES? I feel sorry for anyone playing through console RPGs chronologically that also have a nagging inkling to play series in the proper order; this will bug you constantly, but I will have to live with it. I only hope there are no large spoilers.

(Source: MobyGames)
Starflight - If it's good enough for Chet, then it's good enough for me. Of course, I failed to use that argument with Pirates! below, so I'll go on to say there are crew members and they have stats. Those stats tend to increase (I'm not sure how yet), and there's a huge open world (many worlds) to explore. There seems more RPG material than I would have suspected when I first heard of the game. Once again, the sequel failed to appear on console. Wish me luck.

Quick! Without scrolling up, how many box covers above contained a dragon? It's probably more than you remember.

Expected Cuts
ActRaiser - Waves of nostalgia fill me when I think of this game. I think I'll play through it at the time I cut it, but it's really not an RPG. A brilliant blend of simulation and action is undeniable.

Battlemaster - I nearly let this one slip by. SeedyGamer suggestions rarely make the cut, so I felt sorry for the game; however, there's nothing redeeming about it. It's a purely action game with an inventory.

King's Bounty - The game that spawned a series. Heroes of Might and Magic is a great series I hear, but they aren't featured on the blog either (unless I miscalculated future cuts).

Mysterium - This is a game, I think. I actually played through it after I determined it would fall very short on my scale. It has no character levels, equipment based combat, and level-by-level puzzle design. I honestly can't recommend it to anyone, anywhere. Of course, that means I'm going to do a speedrun for it soon.

Neutopia II - The sequel does little to add features. Instead it polishes (ever so slightly) what it accomplished. I actually did a blind race (racing a game never played before) of the first, and I think I'll do the same for the second. It's at least enjoyable enough for that.

Pirates! - I don't have the same love Chet does for this game. Potentially due to the differences of the port, but I'm just not connected. While Chet chose to include this edge case, I'm going to have to cut it. Don't worry, we get to be pirates in Uncharted Waters (and its sequel coming later [New Horizons]).

Rolan's Curse - I haven't played it, but from what I can tell it's about as basic a Zelda clone as one can get. Another potential candidate for playing through quickly to get a feel for the game. It also spawned a sequel we'll get to another year.

Times of Lore - As much as I'd love to include the game, I just can't manage to convince myself it's worth it. I may do a longer than normal cut write-up, but this isn't deserving of more than one post on this blog no matter how much I played it.

Tombs & Treasure - It's fitting this is last. As far as edge cases go, this is teetering in limbo, and I really want to push it off one way or another quickly. I don't own it, so if I were to play it I'd need to pick it up quickly (or play it online like at [no affiliation]). There's some talk of experience points for the characters and levels to gain, but I don't see evidence of that. I'd like to know anyone's thoughts on this and the other games expected to get cut. Later Edit: I've decided to include this game.

This surge of titles doesn't last long, but is fairly well sustained for the next five years. I have nothing but speculation as to why. The addition of disc-based systems may have increased the expectation for larger games, which took longer to produce, included more risk, and generated more false starts. Nearing the end of the 16-bit era, 1996-7 saw the steepest decline, and may have meant the end for such titles if not for the release of and subsequent fervor surrounding Final Fantasy 7 (as well as Pokémon the following year). I'm not sure how much credit we can really give to FF VII for saving the genre, but two years after it's release the number of titles to consider each year jumps from 20 - 30 to a steady 40 - 50 (actually rising to 70 some years). That's come down recently, but is still stronger than the mid-90s.

It could also have been growing pains. So many disc based systems failed to gain a market share during this time that it may have scared people off from committing to a mutli-year project until one took the lead. Development costs increased during this time from what I hear. Of course, once the PlayStation came out on top, it was soon flooded with plenty of RPGs. This trend followed Sony into the PS2 era.

Well it's quickly getting to that time in the blog. Prices for carts, discs, and manuals I can't find online are on the rise. So, in order to keep up with that I need to lighten my load a bit. It's not much currently, but I'm selling off a good portion of the games I've played so far. Crystalis is the only game I've sold so far. Here's the full list of games I'm planning to put up:
  • Destiny of an Emperor
  • Dragon Warrior
  • Dragon Warrior II [no battery save]
  • Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements
  • Faxanadu
  • Final Fantasy
  • Final Fantasy Legend
  • Little Ninja Brothers
  • Magic of Scheherazade
  • Super Hydlide
  • Swords and Serpents
  • Ultima: Exodus
  • Ultima: Quest of the Avatar
  • Willow
  • Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord
I haven't listed them on ebay yet, but that's where they'll go eventually. I tend to list everything with reasonable shipping and start all auctions at 99 cents. Before I get to that though, I'd like to give back a bit to you, the readers. If you're interested in getting one of the games above, email me and I'll include your name in a random drawing during the first stream of Heroes of the Lance (May 12th). I'll pull a name (or number corresponding to a name), and you'll select a game (I'll email the winner, and announce it if they're okay with that). Depending on how this goes I hope to do it again, at the end of every gaming year. Edit: no one showed interest, but I'm not sure why. I may try again next year.

And with that, we're off to another exciting year of RPGs.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Uncharted Waters was easily the most difficult game I had for my SNES back in the day, simply because it was my first KOEI game I ever played. I found the game to be very enjoyable when I came back to it years later as an older and wiser gamer. The game takes some questionable liberties with geography, which is surprising for a game based on sailing around the Earth, but I think it's a good game nonetheless.

    The SNES version has vastly improved graphics and sound over the NES version, but the SNES port of the game introduces a completely pointless 'town' screen to wander around in, whereas the NES and PC version have you highlighting the various buildings in town to visit. The reason I point this out is that you save a LOT of time with the NES/PC version over the SNES/Genesis version with the town function.

    The sequel, New Horizons, is universally praised as One Of The Best Games Ever, but I never really understood that since the economic model of the sequel is utterly broken and extremely easy to exploit. It takes a lot of the challenge the game might have had. Not as much fun for me.

    1. I actually don't see a difference between the NES town and the SNES town. Maybe it's a PC thing with its mouse support. I did read the same about the sequel. We'll get there eventually.

    2. Ugh, my mistake. I somehow mis-remembered the NES version as having the same town system as the PC version, but the NES and SNES ports share the same pointless walk-around system. Bah, I still maintain that the PC version is the best version.

      The PC version of New Horizons is pretty different from the SNES version, but you'll get there eventually.

    3. no worries. I'm sure the PC version is the best version for many games. A lot of titles get shoehorned into a console with an obscene number of menus. We'll see how the game turns out.

  3. Looking forward to seeing a lot of games in this upcoming year, and will probably play along with a few of them too.

    I remember playing Rings of Power with an old friend of mine, I don't think we ever completed it. I will have to see if it lives up to my memories!

    1. Rings of Power is one of the more highly anticipated titles for myself. I just hope I don't get utterly lost as I hear there are clues given that aren't repeatable.

    2. We had a notebook filled with clues and locations of things. It helped quite a lot, and I imagine that you'll need to keep more detailed notes than we did!

    3. Well, I do take extensive notes throughout these games, and I have videos of the game to fall back on. I should be fine.

  4. I recently tried to play through Uncharted Waters (Genesis), but it's just so damn difficult. Even once I got the hang of manipulating supply and demand it just seems like my ships were constantly sinking. As far as "sailing simulations" go I much prefer Pirates! Gold!.

    Also have to say I love the idea of playing through an RPG collection chronologically. You really get a feel for the evolution of the genre through the years. NES is one of favorite systems in particular because it seemed like there were very few hard and fast definitions at that time. Developers experimented a ton with different mechanics and consequently you ended up with games like Scherarazade that were a real modge-podge of gameplay elements.

    1. I haven't tried Pirates! Gold before (turned off by the NES port of the first game). Maybe I'll give it a go when I have a chance.

    2. Your ships will sink if you take them too far from shore with a captain too inexperienced for the class of ship. A level 1 Captain sailing, say, a Galleon, will last all of about two seconds in a storm, but he'd do fine (and level up) in a beginner's Latin Carvella along the shore.

      New Horizons is a lot more unforgiving in this way, possibly due to how much easier it is to make money and buy huge ships. Something like 90% of the sequel's ship list is utterly pointless.

    3. @Zenic

      I kind of got into the series backwards, started with the Xbox version, loved it, realized I had the Genesis version and turned out I liked that one as well. I haven't gone as far as the NES version yet, just can't imagine the game translating well to 8bit.

    4. @Raifield: Ah, that's what the levels are for. I wondered what sailing level could possibly help (faster movement is all I could figure). I think I have the manual, so I'll be sure to read up on what levels allow me bigger ships.

      @Daria: well, if you want to understand my apathy to the series you should try it out. I'll re-evaluate the game for the Genesis when it comes up in a couple gaming years.

  5. Throwing out a few comments on games from the list that I've played...

    Dragon Crystal & Fatal Labyrinth - both of these are brutal, as roguelikes go. They're not like Nethack, where a knowledgeable player can consistently finish the game - RNG is extremely punishing (go down stairs to the next floor, find yourself boxed in by dragons).

    I beat both of them by cheating with save states; there's a built-in save-state option for playing all games in the Ultimate Genesis Collection, and for all Virtual Console games on the 3DS. It was still frustrating and required many, many reloads. I sincerely hope you'll consider this an allowable option, since beating either game "legitimately" could potentially take hundreds or even thousands of attempts.

    Shining in the Darkness - a classic, if very short dungeon crawler. The character Pyra is also playable in the Dreamcast RPG "Time Stalkers", which was much more fun than reviews give it credit for.

    Sword of Hope - a little bit grindy, but not unbearably so.

    Dragon Warrior III - once again, I suspect your desire to experience it on the NES will jack up the required grinding to finish this game. I strongly recommend the GBC remake for everyone else reading this blog.

    Half the fun of DW3 lies in figuring out which classes you want to use. Are you going to name characters after readers of your blog like the Addict sometimes does?

    Might & Magic II - don't worry about chronology too much; MM2 is set on a different world from MM I, although both worlds do exist in the same universe. It's possible to completely miss one of the only threads of series continuity, if you don't have a cleric in your party (all classes have a class-specific quest).

    1. Thanks for the comments.

      I'll consider save-states if they start to run long. What 'long' means in each case will depend on how much I'm enjoying the game. I haven't needed it yet though, and I hope to continue that trend.

      I don't know about the grinding, DW II wasn't too bad about that. Overall time was about what I expected. I've named characters after readers before, could do that again. Since you asked, the hero will be Victar, unless you'd like a different class.

      I appreciate the reassurance for Might & Magic. I'll probably have a cleric, but I haven't checked out the character classes. I tend to like trying them all out in a single party (or at least as many as I can).

    2. The GBC version of DW III limits names to four characters in length; I'm not sure about the NES version. But whether my name is abbreviated or not, it would truly be an honor.

    3. Looks like NES is the same way, at least in the combat display. If so I'll just drop the vowels, so VCTR.

  6. I enjoyed Fatal Labyrinth the last (and first) time I played it... right up til the point the game just didn't spawn the stairs I needed to reach the next level. So I'm going to echo the suggestion to use save-states, just a precautionary measure.

    I also love Shining in the Darkness. I'm not big on dungeon crawls usually, but SitD has a ton of charm and humor.

    1. I hate games that have bad seeds. Seems like such an easy thing to check when testing:

      1) Are there stairs to the next floor?
      2) Is there a path to those stairs from the starting location?

      Pretty simple. Nearly the exact same thing happen to me when I was playing through Dark Angel: Vampire Apocalypse (I've currently marked it to be cut, but may include it to rip into with examples of how bad it is). Apparently there's a single RNG seed that will spawn a wall that blocks the exit. This happened to me on the equivalent of floor 240 out of 300. No way to fix it, never played the game again.

      I'll take your advice and keep safety save states for this type of issue.

      I'm sure I'll find Shining in the Darkness enjoyable. I remember liking the bit I played before. I may still have my map of the first dungeon area and the lower level. I think I had just received a key for a locked door before I stopped. I'm looking forward to completing it this time.

  7. Looks like a fun list--should be a great year. I'm looking forward to games I've never played, like Magician, Faria and Rings of Power. Good luck!

    1. The good definitely outweighs the bad, and I'm looking forward to playing them all honestly (yes, even the ones I'm dreading).

  8. The Langrisser games are great. I much prefer them to Shining Force/Fire Emblem, though I probably prefer Tactics Ogre/FF Tactics to both. Still though, lots of fun. You're right that there are lots of units to control, which is both the biggest strength and probably the biggest issue of the series. How you feel about that will probably determine your overall feelings about the series.

    Unfortunately, none of the sequels came here in any official capacity. It's sad, as they're much improved. Langrisser 2 and Der Langrisser are both amazing.

    1. Turn-based strategy addict needs to start a blog and play both PC and console games. I think the genre is more solidly defined that a list would be easier to compile. Even adding RTS games would be fairly easy to accomplish. I have no idea how the quality of most of the games are though as I skipped most as a kid (really hard to get into those kinds of games when you're renting games without manuals).

    2. If I had the time, haha. As for Langrisser, I know it doesn't mean much, but another sorta chronogaming site, Brad Hates Games, played through all US Genesis games and ranked the top 50. Warning (Langrisser) was ranked third.. even though they had never heard of it before and generally disliked JRPGs. The game surprises people with its quality. It's also made pretty high rankings on some other Genesis lists.

      Of course, it's far more strategy than RPG. The sequels have more RPG elements, but I could see the first even being cut from your list.

    3. For someone who claims not to like RPGs, he has a lot in his top 50 list. Rings of Power, Sword of Vermilion, Shining Force, Warsong, and even Light Crusader make an appearance. I don't understand his dislike for picking actions from a menu (seems to be his main argument), but I'll have to read through his Phantasy Star and Final Fantasy articles. Thanks for the resource.

    4. Honestly, I think it's pretty arbitrary. I also got the sense from a recent post that they actually like FF6.

    5. It looks like his main complaint comes from the lack of depth in combat, which I can understand. It's really a missed opportunity for many games that fail to add a bit of strategy to combat. When the best option is often to just attack until you need to heal, repeat ad nauseam, it gets tiring and I often wonder why developers didn't capitalize more on other options. Personally, I don't have a problem getting through a game where that's the case (e.g. Double Dungeons). I can't speak for Brad, but I interpret the complaint as a backlash to lost potential. I haven't heard anyone have a problem with games that only have a jump button.

      His take on FF6 seems to be that he enjoyed it despite the fact it has a mindless combat simulator. I'm fairly sure he's oversimplifying the matter as I recall hardly ever using the attack command, but again, there was always a clear "this attack is best" option in every battle. After reading his article on the game, I think it's the lack of spatial strategy that he feels is missing from most RPGs. The lack of direct control over characters in combat is another.