Hah. I knew this subject would pop up sooner or later, and I jumped at the opportunity to let everyone know what I think.
First, let's set things straight just so my opinion isn't completely
ignored by some people. If it means anything to you, I've been playing RPGs for years now, since the days of the NES/Famicom. I'm the co-founder of another great RPG site (still in production) like RPGFan, called RPGurus (www.RPGurus.com.. yeah, it's a shameless plug,
but... err.... uhh.. anyways) ...so, again, if that means something and credits something to my opinion, read on.
Graphics matter in RPGs. A lot. Graphics matter in almost every game. I know I'm going to hear ignorant responses like "Oh, they didn't used to matter" or "They put too much time (esp. Square) into graphics" ...that's crap. Yes, crap. Do you really think Squaresoft didn't put as much effort into games like Final Fantasy II and III for SNES? Oh, I remember getting Final Fantasy III. I WAS AMAZED by the graphics, and I'm sure you were too. Just because they can make graphics more realistic means they put too much effort into it? That's a load of crap from old-school gamers who just want to whine and complain. Every company put as much effort into the graphics department back then as they did now. What do you want them to do,
DELIBERATELY make games with the graphics engine of Final Fantasy II? That would be absurd! I'm sure it would jog a few happy memories, but that's like a car company building a car that only goes 20 miles per hour, top speed. Get it?
Graphics can also make or break a game, even an RPG. Look at Final
Fantasy VIII; I love the game, but without its sharp visuals, the game would be much more lackluster. It's "Artistic", something we're seeing more and more in games today, thanks to the improved hardware. Graphics matter when I can see someone crying and it looks real; seeing four blue pixels drop to the ground certainly does not have the same effect.