The Japanese RPG market exploded in the 32-64 bit days, blowing out with a new game seemingly every week. You can blame Square for that one, bringing to the stores amazing game after amazing game, which immediately spurned every other company to release whatever dreck they could muster to keep you pumping money into their pockets. Nowadays there are hundreds of options out there, and the Japanese market isn’t the only one around. North American companies have their own answers to the RPG boom and now it’s a veritable flood of options. Here are the top five for each option you’ve got.
The Gamecube got shorted on the RPG options, much like its big brother the N64. Nintendo lost a lot of their clout with the RPG crowd when Squaresoft jumped ship in the 90s and they’re still trying to earn it back…so far to little success. But, the future looks bright, as Square Enix is finally producing games for the Big N, and Nintendo’s own work includes more forays into the RPG market. Here’s hoping for more, because the Wii is perfect for the format.
1. Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess – The newest Zelda adventure, Twilight Princess, is by far the best reason to own a Nintendo Wii. The game is a masterpiece on almost every level, to the point I’m almost willing to call it the greatest game ever made. We’ve heard this a lot, that this game is the greatest. That it surpasses what Ocarina accomplished 8 years ago. And as my own favorite game, it’s hard to ever put anything above Ocarina in terms of scope, depth, and innovation. No need to go into detail. Read my review of it here for more thoughts on why it’s so amazing.
2. Tales of Symphonia – The first really good RPG for the Gamecube, and still one of the only ones really. The newest entry in the hugely popular (in Japan) Tales saga, Symphonia was a huge, fun, well told game. The characters were fun, the battle system is one of the best around, and the action was fully inclusive and crafted a long game. Symphonia was the Gamecube owning RPG fan’s one saving grace.
3. Skies of Arcadia Legends – Originally released for the Dreamcast, Skies of Arcadia was given a second life on the Gamecube, again fated to anonymity due to the failure of the console. This is a great game. It tells the story of two sky pirates who must traverse the sky ocean and save the world from a shattering war and so on. You attempt throughout the game to build your pirate rank and build up your ship. It was one of Dreamcast’s must have games and the same for Gamecube. Unfortunately so few actually had it, and now it’s not exactly easy to find.
4. Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker – The infamous Wind Waker. Nintendo’s foray into cel shading and the horrible foray into ocean mechanics. This game is still amazing. It’s Zelda afterall, but it’s flawed on more than the basic levels. It’s hard to get around. The ocean is huge, and the game is short. But the parts you play, in between sailing around Hyrule are beautiful and incredibly fun.
5. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door – The Big N rounds out the five with another in house effort. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door was a return to the Paper Mario fun they coined in the N64 days, this time around with the RPG elements the game seems to work best with. Incredibly easy yes, but fun as hell at the same time.