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 Xbox, not surprisingly saw no Japanese development. Every game listed below was produced in English Speaking countries, mostly Canada actually. The style is noticeably different, but the quality is equally incredible. The strive for realism by Western developers can be seen in each of these entries. Although the lack of humor is equally as prescient.
1. Elderscrolls IV: Oblivion – The Xbox 360 has some serious horsepower. Not only is there room to spare, but the graphic output is insane at time, and what better way to show this off than with an Elderscrolls game. Monstrous, huge worlds in which you can freely roam wherever you want and interact with your environment. This game is huge and intense. Hundreds of hours can be spent just wandering around and completing a main quest. As for getting the rest done. Who knows how long you could spend on there.
2. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – Star Wars games were starting to get a bad rap for a while, until Bioware arrived with the first full fledged Star Wars RPG. Built on the click and wait action of the D&D ruleset games, KOTOR was a brilliant game that took Star Wars fans back a few thousand years to the height of the Jedi/Sith wars. It also had one of the most surprising and amazing endings in any game..ever.
3. Elderscrolls III: Morrowind – And another Elderscrolls game. This one was equally as huge as its sequel, and had just as amazing graphics for its time. Elderscrolls truly stretches the imagination in terms of open world RPG exploration and making a game that will take a long time to finish. A truly wonderful game.
4. Jade Empire – Set in a fictional ancient China, Jade Empire comes from the makers of Knights of the Old Republic, and while not nearly as large in scope or length, the game utilizes an array of different combat styles and elements that make it sheer fun to play. It’s shorter and simpler than the original games from Bioware, but they make up for it with the attention to detail and the battle system upgrades.
5. Fable – Touted as an amazing achievement in world interface, Fable turned out to be a little bit of a letdown. It was smaller, shorter, and less engaging than what was claimed, but it was still a solid, fun game to play. Starting as a bland adventurer you could become either entirely good or entirely evil through the actions committed during a quest. The characters are generic, the quests forgettable, but the options given to play through them all are still fun. The ending however leaves something to be desired, and they could have done with a few more reasons to openly explore. For a sandbox RPG, it was surprisingly linear.