Role Playing Games. Games, impossible to define, and yet one of the most popular genres on today's video gaming market. What makes a game an RPG? Like I just said, impossible to define. Well... it WAS impossible to define. Now anyone could define the RPGs of the future: Publicity and Graphics. Now, before you go and say, "Oh no! Not another one of those Final Fantasy 7 bashing things again! Don't they ever take a break!?", give me a chance to speak my opinions. First of all, this editorial is not based on Final Fantasy 7 and it's movie-like sequel, Final Fantasy 8 (although, with a little bit of inspiration, I could hum a few bars). No, why put more spotlight on Square's 'marvels'? This editorial, my friends (and/or enemies), is about those RPGs out there that would revolutionize the RPG market 50 times over, if only they had the chance.
My favorite RPG of 1999, possibly one of my favorite RPGs of all time, is simply yet another game listed on store shelves, beside the "golden-embossed movie"... er, uh, video game, called Final Fantasy 8. My favorite RPG of '99, you ask? It's Suikoden 2. Why? Because--although missing a perfect translation (my only problem with it)--it was a TRUE sequel, had an extremely deep storyline, and many, many plot twists (damnit Jowy! Get your Highland praising arse back over here!). It was the perfect RPG: Beautifully composed music, traditional Suikoden battle system with added features, plentiful amount of plot-twists and story development, easily executed gameplay, moderate difficulty, etc. So, what's wrong with this perfect game? If you're an avid RPGer who knows what an RPG is all about, you'll notice nothing wrong with this game (except for the poor translation in some areas), but if you're new to the market, the first thing you'd notice, is... *deep breath* it's not 3D!! Oh no! I think I'm going to have a heart failure! Sorry, over-dramatic moment there.
If you have the patience to play an RPG from beginning to end, you'd know that an RPG is not made of graphics. You make a DAMN good storyline, then back it up with graphics. Never should graphics make an RPG. Oh wait, I'm wrong... that was YESTERDAY's RPGs. Today, RPGs are simply another excuse to use kick-ass graphics. Well, that is shameful. Let's have a little moment of reminiscing, shall we?
*slowly fades out, and three TVs arise from the ground, showing scenes from Final Fantasy 1, Dragon Warrior 1, and Phantasy Star 1. In Final Fantasy: Fighter, Thief, W. Mage, and Bl. Mage are battle a group of imps. Fighter swings his rapier from across the screen and injures an imp, killing it. Thief swings his dagger at a now-vanquised imp, therefore doing nothing useful. W. Mage casts Cure on the poisoned Thief. Bl. Mage casts the very powerful LIT 3 on the remaining imps, killing them all off. In Dragon Warrior: Blue Armored Nameless Hero wanders around until a square swirls onto the screen, revealing the evil enemy, Red Dragon. Red Dragon blows fire on the Nameless Hero, causing the screen to shake, and damage to be sustained. Nameless Hero casts HEALMORE on himself, sealing his wounds. The battle ensues. In Phantasy Star: Alis, Odin, Myau, and Noah travel between the planets of Dezoris, Palma, and Motavia battling the evil slimes and other various creatures, preparing themself for the showdown with Dark Falz, in which they can fully utilize the power of their Laconian equipment. TVs gradually turn to black, and the TVs return from whence they came*
Bring back memories? Those were the old-school RPGs. Pure and simple storyline. No flashy graphics to make your eyes spin (although back then, those graphics were the cream of the crop). Simple games, made great primarily because of their storyline, secondarily because of their graphics. Whatever happened to those days? Well, if you want to speak logically, they got... ugh... "revolutionized." From simple Fighter to complex Cloud and Squall. >From Nameless Hero to.... uhh... more nameless heroes? (sorry, I haven't played any Dragon Warriors since #4) From Alis to Alys. (heh... damn those true sequels! They're killing my argument!) Anyhow, what I'm getting at is that the "revolutionized" RPGs of the future, are nothing but Publicity and Graphics! Whoa, whoa, whoa.... what? You say I haven't said how publicity played a part in today's RPGs? Aw, damn, I thought it was obvious! Oh well, guess I might as well as make it clear.
Publicity, one of today's many evils. Well, not really, they're actually very useful, but is that necessarily a good thing? Not all the time. Sad enough as it may seem, people today are abusing publicity by using it to get people to buy things! Oh wait... that's the purpose behind publicity... damn! Uhh, I mean, you didn't see that! Publicity is useful to advertise a product, but is really quite shameful when the advertisements are better than the product. People are too easily turned on by flashy lights nowadays. The FF8 commercial contains no scenes of the actual gameplay, just movies from the game. And then--I can't believe they did this--they concluded the commercial with the words: "Final Fantasy 8, coming to a home theatre near you!". OH MY GOD! They just indirectly called FF8 a movie! In other words, don't expect a great game, just expect a lot of beautifully rendered movies that probably belong in an actual movie and not in a video game, nonetheless an RPG. Why are movies a bad thing? They're not, but when they cleverly disguise a movie as a video game, don't come crying to me that you fell for it. When you want to buy a video game, do you buy it for the purpose of playing it, or watching it? Think about that. Oh yeah, and while I have the chance to add a little system bashing, think of the DVD player that the PS2 is coming with. Let us not forget that a video game console is made to play video games, not movies, and if you just realized that now, I have no sympathy for you.
Enough beating around the bush! RPGs are video games, movies are not. RPGs are video games, commercials are not. RPGs are video games, flashy lights are not. RPGs are video games, graphics are not. RPGs are video games, and damn good ones at that! A game without a storyline (at least, not a good one) is not an RPG, and will never be considered RPGs. While you're being lured into the trap of publicity and flashy lights, you're missing out on some kick-ass things, such as RPGs. If you want an RPG, do me a favor, and buy a real RPG. If there's a game labelled RPG, and you've never heard much about it, buy it! Looks are always deceiving, and it's only the insides that count. Didn't you learn anything from your mother?! Now get off your arse, stop reading what a 14 year old has just written in complete boredom, and remember: Have fun!
To conclude, I will list off truly awesome RPGs that are nothing but a name nowadays, and hopefully spark some memory in you: Shining Force (I, II, CD, Sword of Hayja), Phantasy Star (I, II, III, IV), Final Fantasy (I, II, III, V, Legend II, Legend III, MQ), Shining in the Darkness, Dragon Warrior (I, II, III, IV), Traysia, Beyond Oasis, Crusader of Centy, Ultima (I, II, III, IV, V, VI), Chrono Trigger, Illusion of Gaia, Secret of Mana, Crystalis, Soulblazer, Sword of Vermillion, Dark Wizard, Lunar (SS & EB, for Sega CD), Popful Mail, Vay, Exile, Might and Magic (I, II, III), The Magic of Scheherazade, Super Mario RPG, Breath of Fire (I, II), Earthbound, Zelda (I, II, III), Buck Rogers, King's Bounty, Landstalker, Light Crusader, Shadowrun, 7th Saga, Arcana, Dragon View, Drakkhen, Equinox, Ys (I, II, III), Terranigma, Secret of the Stars, Secret of Evermore, Crystal Warriors, Defenders of Oasis, Robotrek, Paladin's Quest, Lufia, Lagoon, Inindo, Harvest Moon, EVO, Dragon Crystal, Actraiser, Faria, Little Ninja Brothers, Super Ninja Brothers, Bard's Tale.
*phew* That's quite a list from off the top of my head! If you own at least ONE of those games, I suggest you pop it into your Genesis/Sega CD/Super Nintendo/Nintendo/Game Gear and play it all over again, and see what REAL RPGs are.