It was a disservice for this RPG/hacknslash to be lambasted by some as being too similar to Diablo 2, because while it shared some of the same gameplay elements, the various effects, time cycles, and ragdoll physics made it a different game. Featuring gods and monsters pulled from Greek mythology, the game was varied, colorful and most of all, fun. Any gameplay issues which kept one from enjoying their adventure were fixed with the release of the Immortal Throne expansion, and due to the inclusion of a game editor players were blessed with the Lilith mod which added a new world and 150 hours worth of gameplay.
29. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Developed by Square for the SNES way back in 1996, this action role-playing title was a first for the Mario series, in that it deviated from platforming gameplay. As players set about to defeat Smithy and restore pieces of the Star Road, the Shigeru Miyamoto produced game would be one of the last Mario titles released for SNES. The game was lovely with its 3D rendered graphics, loaded with humor and a worthy farewell to a much-loved system.
When we talk about Shadowrun we’re talking about two games; there are quite significant differences between the SNES and Mega Drive releases. In either case, you’re looking at an isometric RPG similar to the original Fallout games, for example, but with a carefully recreated cyberpunk atmosphere. The new game successfully captures its spirit, but can’t recreate the feeling of firing up a cartridge-based console and finding a very adult thriller.
Christ. Where to begin. Pokemon in and of itself isn’t your typical RPG. In fact, it could be considered its own genre. It’s confusing, really. Is it a collection game? A fighter? A roleplaying game? Is it all of the above? Sure is. How many times have you chanted “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” when playing as a Pokemon Trainer? How many of the 719 revealed species of Pokemon have you caught? How many iterations of the game have you owned on how many different handhelds? We bet your walls as a kid were peppered with pictures of the various creatures, and your drawers stacked with Nintendo magazines with these critters gracing the covers. We bet you watched the anime, wore Pokemon-themed undercrackers, and pasted your Pokemon puzzles together and framed them. Pokemon is ingrained into the video game hive-mind as much as fight or flight to animals in acute stress. 4000 years from now when aliens from a far off galaxy visit the ruins of our civilization, they will undoubtedly run across something Pokemon related, and wonder if these were some sort of strange gods humans worshiped. In truth, some did.
It’s impossible to pick just one of the many excellent Suikoden games, although a quick vote highlighted Suikoden 2 as a firm favourite. With Pokemon-like collecting and levelling in a gorgeous fantasy world inspired by classical Chinese mythology, Suikoden is absolutely jam-packed with great characters, smashing writing, and enough traditional JRPG action to satisfy the most fervent fan.
25. Demon’s Souls
Brutal. Dark. Frustrating. Infuriating. Spectacular. There are just some of the adjectives which come to mind when reminiscing upon From Software’s first Souls entry. Considered rather niche at the time of its release thanks to a gloomy, dark fantasy setting, combat variation and high level of difficulty, the RPG became so popular it paved the way for a fantastic spiritual successor: Dark Souls. That in and of itself adds more legitimacy to the game’s inclusion on this list, not to mention it’s still holding up well five years later in both gameplay and graphics.
24. Neverwinter Nights
If you only know BioWare for KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age, you might not understand why there was so much excitement when that last franchise was announced. With Baldur’s Gate BioWare cemented a reputation for quality fantasy RPGs, but with its second go at the Dungeons & Dragons license it set new standards for characterisation, storytelling and player freedom. The Aurora toolset and a prolific fan community meant the adventures never had to end.
23. The Bard’s Tale
Not to be confused with inXile Entertainment’s worthy action-adventure title, the 1985 version of The Bards Tale is still discussed in reverent and hushed tones in dark corners of internet saloons. For its time, it was a more than capable competitor to the Ultima juggernaut gracing the majority of desktops. The dungeon crawler had some of the hardest enemies for its time, was vast in scope, and was graphically stunning for the Commodore crowd. A best of RPGs list wouldn’t be complete without it.
22. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
You certainly can’t fault Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for lack of content; it goes for days. A hell of a lot of fuss was made over the creative team behind this passion project, but Todd McFarlane, R.A. Salvatore and Ken Rolston aside, where Reckoning really shines is the fluid combat system. RPGs are rarely this responsive and fun, no matter how often the word “action” is tacked to them, and almost never where attached to such a rewarding amount of customisation. Ignore all the silly elf jabbering and go fight some monsters – I promise you it’s worth it.
21. Might and Magic 6: Mandate of Heaven
The best entry in the series since Might and Magic 3: Isles of Terra, MM6 gave players free-roam over fully explorable maps, climbable mountains, and the choice between real-time or turn-based combat. It was the first game in the franchise not to offer a race choice other than human, but it still had a nice class and skill-based system in place, the latter of which became rather restrictive with later entries. The game was also rather long with well over 100 hours of gameplay, and while it could become rather tedious, it was still one of if not the most solid entry in the series.