Maybe the self-isolation is making me feel nostalgic, but I’ve had such an itch to play the games I used to play when I was a kid. I’ve been a gamer since I was about 8 years old, and I’ve watched the industry develop into what it is now. I’ve played a lot of older games, but that got me thinking – what were some of the rpgs that I missed out on?
As a kid, if I wasn’t racing my siblings in Mario Kart or trying to destroy them in Super Smash Bros., I was playing role-playing games. I’ve always loved a good story and that feeling of being immersed in a fantasy world is probably why I wanted to write some of my own as I got older.
Of course, with respect to other forms of entertainment, art, and narrative, video games are relatively new, so I assign this ‘classic’ status to these games with a grain of salt. Role-playing video games have been around since the 70s, but the ones I’ve listed here are from the 80s and 90s because, in my oh-so-humble opinion, that is where we truly started to see development of the classic rpg genre characteristics and where it started to grow in popularity.
The history of video games is fascinating because it is so recent, but that’s unfortunately not the point of this post. But it’s definitely something I’ll be interested in writing about in the future.
Anyway, on to the list!
Baldur’s Gate (1998)
Now I did try to play this one – my best friend gave it to me many years ago and it remains one of her favourites. But this was a type of game I was really unfamiliar with, and I was in a phase of life where I would throw away instruction booklets and skip tutorials, so I just jumped in. And Baldur’s Gate was not the sort of game where you should do that. I ended up being really confused, and after struggling for a couple hours I ended up getting stuck and that was where my very brief playthrough of Baldur’s Gate ended. Fast forward to 2020, I’m a huge fan of D&D which inspired these games in the first place, and I’m slowly growing to love top-down isometric games. I can thank Divinity: Original Sin for that. There’s an enhanced version available on Steam which is good news for me – this is a game I definitely plan to return to one day.
Secret of Mana (1993)
I only ever played one of the Mana series games as a kid and that happened to be Sword of Mana. It would also end up being one of my favourite childhood games, but I never branched into other games in the series. To be fair, I didn’t really think that Secret of Mana was in any way related – in my mind, the word ‘mana’ was synonymous with magic, and I just assumed it was a different game using the same word. But now I’m older and I know better. Thankfully, a glossy HD remake dropped a couple years ago. Or I could go back and play the original on Android. It’s nice to have options.
Chrono Trigger (1995)
This is one of those games I didn’t know existed until I was much older, and even then I think I confused it for some sort of Dragon Ball spin-off series when I saw the associated artwork. What can I say, Akira Toriyama has a really distinct style! I don’t know what it’s about, but there have been so many games in this franchise, and it ranks at the top of many charts, and there has to be a reason why. Maybe one day I’ll find out what makes this series so popular.
Final Fantasy (1987)
This game marked the beginning of one of the most iconic franchises in video game history – the original Final Fantasy. My first Final Fantasy was actually Final Fantasy VIII for the original Playstation, and while it remains my favourite of the bunch, I’ve become such a huge fan of the series I’d like to go back and play the earlier games as well. I always like to start at the beginning, no matter how ill-advised that might be. I like to see the origins, and see how things grow and develop – I’ve found that deeply fascinating for any series I enjoy. So while I realize that the older games will not be as revolutionary as they were when they were first released, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least give them a shot.
My family were huge Nintendo nerds, and the only reason this one didn’t pass through our household was that we didn’t own a Super Nintendo, and instead skipped straight from the classic console to the Nintendo 64. When I look back it was a real shame – there were a lot of amazing games that came out for the Super Nintendo and Super Mario RPG is one of them. I did get to play a bit of it for a few hours at a friend’s house one day, but that’s about it. It was probably my first real introduction to the rpg genre, and I loved every second of it. I definitely want to go back and play it through properly one day.
I want to hear from you!
Are you a gamer? What sorts of games do you like to play? Were there any classics you’ve missed out on? Some classics you would recommend? Or do you like your role-playing to be strictly tabletop? Let’s chat in the comments!