10 Role-Playing Game Series That Need To Make A Comeback
Josh Knowles | On 04, Apr 2013
As a fan of role-playing games, I was extremely fortunate when I was younger. My youth was considered the golden age of the RPG. While Final Fantasy reigned supreme, there was always a smorgasbord of amazing titles at my fingertips. As I grew older, some of these good games got better with age and experiences that could surpass these classics became harder to find. In this day and age, there are only a few games from the successful franchises left standing.
I gave it some thought and realized, “You know what? These 10 RPG series need to make a comeback!”
1. Soul Blazer
This series was one of the reasons Enix (before their merge with Square) was taken seriously at all in the RPG community during the SNES days. Their entire collection consisted of Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia and the never-released-stateside Terranigma. All 3 games had a similar theme: restore the world, fight a cosmic evil and be a pretty kick ass action role-playing game at the same time. In fact, this series may have been one of the earliest successful ARPG games. How awesome would it be to see something like this return to current or next-gen consoles?
This oddly-spelled series (from the days when Squaresoft was still hitting home-run after home-run out of the park) was huge in Japan. Since they have so much history within each game and multiple concurrent story lines, localization was an absolute nightmare. Oddly enough, many gamers from my generation have played a SaGa game and probably never even had a clue. The popular Final Fantasy Legend series for Gameboy, for example, was part of the franchise, re-branded for the U.S. market. Their major claim to fame was the numerous branching story lines that would cause you to come back for multiple playthroughs. Personally, I was a big fan of SaGa Frontier 2. I thought it was really cool how one event changed three generations. This degree of detail is one I haven’t seen very often. I can’t help but wonder if Square-Enix is still holding this card for future play because as far as dynamic RPGs go, SaGa was king.
3. Wild ARMS
When Wild ARMS first showed up on the original Playstation, people were wowed. The series took The Legend of Zelda mechanics, a traditional RPG battle system and a snazzy wild west theme, then bundled them all together with a great story to make an amazingly popular game. Wild ARMS’s biggest issue was that the series saw six separate installments, each losing a bit more of what originally made it great. The last I saw of this franchise, it replaced its combat system with a tactical combat mechanic and a nonsensical story. I certainly miss the days when I was adventuring across the dusty plains and solving puzzles. The ball is in Sony’s court on this one. Question is: Do they feel lucky, punk?
4. Valkyrie Profile
Personally, Tri-Ace’s Norse epic featured one of the most awesome gameplay mechanics throughout the history of RPGs. In the first two games, you play as a Valkyrie who collects the souls of warriors as einherjar. You can only have three active einherjar available at a time, so you have to choose which warriors you want to hold on to and which you would like to send to Valhalla. Each warrior was their own story usually fraught with tragedy and unfinished business, you were tasked with wrapping up as well. All three games were filled with amazing stories and a unique combat system that had you control each of your characters with the face-buttons. While the last game of the series appeared on the DS, it didn’t feature the last of the three Valkyrie sisters, Hrist. Since Lenneth and Silmeria were featured in the first 2 games, it should only be a matter of time before Hrist gets her shot at the Valkyrie Profile franchise.
Politics, revolution, corruption, mystical crystals and 108 different protagonists represented Konami’s epic RPG series’ staple Suikoden. The massive amount of recruitable characters was a challenge that brought many gamers over to check the series out. Even more amazing than the massive cast, each game had a surprisingly emotional storyline that detailed the sacrifices of war, how it affected your characters and how it affected those close to them. Notably, Gremio’s sacrifice in the first Suikoden was one of the most impactful moments in RPG gamers lives before the year 2000. With Konami confirming many members of the Suikoden team are now working on other projects or no longer part of the company, Suikoden may have, sadly, gone the way of the dinosaur.
Another ARPG: The Mana series has always been one that prided itself on a poignant story with beautifully atmospheric music and exploration. Unfortunately, the last time anyone saw this series, it was in the form of Heroes of Mana – which pretty much bombed and caused the series’ fate to be undetermined. The major thing most Mana games had was a robust combat system that not only allowed you to collect and level different weapons but also allowed you to change them out on the fly. As the first few entries featured multiple playable characters, mixing and matching your team’s effectiveness and synergy was always enjoyable. Unfortunately, after the release of the initial title, Secret of Mana, every subsequently released Mana game was given a progressively more critical reception. As the father of the series, Koichi Ishii, left Square Enix back in 2007, the future of this multi-player ARPG is definitely in limbo.
We will never see another Grandia with the spirit of the original series, because, sadly, creator Takeshi Miyaji died in 2011 due to complications from a brain tumor. The five game series was known for the quality of its U.S. voice actors and Mana-like combat in a traditional RPG package. Leveling was much more of a grind and the challenge itself was making sure you had the right tools for the job in every battle you were in. While the parent company, Game Arts, is still alive and kicking, the very critical reception that Grandia Online received (a MMORPG) may unfortunately cause them to think twice before trying for an official fourth game in the series.
8. Chrono Trigger
This is the last Square game, I promise! If you are a fan of RPG games, you have probably heard of the legendary Chrono Trigger or its lesser known sequel Chrono Cross. During a time when turn-based combat was considered a bit of a gamble, considering everyone was using it, these games took an old concept and made it fabulous. Each game has multiple characters who will join your team, depending on which characters are on your team, different attacks could be used as a team. Pretty cool right? The Chrono series also boasts a large assortment of different endings which can be viewed based on decisions made during the story and side quests you completed. While the original game, Chrono Trigger, has had releases on various platforms, talks of any sequels have been coy at best. Shinji Hashimoto, enemy of RPG fans worldwide, was quoted at E3 2009 as saying, “If people want a sequel, they should buy more!” Thanks Shinji.
9. Breath of Fire
Capcom’s magnum opus is considered to be one of the best not-named-Final-Fantasy RPG series ever. The entire series comes from a time where each individual character offered something new only they could bring to the team. The main character, Ryu, eventually gained the ability to turn into all sorts of kick-ass dragons throughout the game and the fusion feature could even allow you to merge existing characters into a more powerful one. There have been five Breath of Fire titles with only the last one being remembered in an unfavorable light. Capcom, however, has said they have no interest in reviving the series at this time. All hope isn’t lost though, as many other smaller developers have reached out to the publisher to inquire about licensing rights. This could either give us hope to see a new game from Capcom or perhaps a better suited studio.
The Mother series is an unfortunate victim of pride and greed. Pride, because series creator, Shigesato Itoi, refuses to port over his final game or allow changes to the earlier games. Greed, because U.S. copyright laws have put so much pressure onto the series that Nintendo itself would rather let it rot than try to repair any questionable content. The series is currently stalled with a trilogy of games that have explored several ideas – ranging from innocence and corruption to technology and social commentary. In each game, you play as a party of four which has to overcome their own insecurities to save the world against otherwordly evils. While the name Mother may not be something too many people are familiar with, the English name for the second Mother title, Earthbound, is something considerably more visible on U.S. shores. The Mother series brought some interesting concepts to the RPG market, including rolling HP bars and visible enemies on the map that could be ambushed. So where does this series stand? Nintendo knows fans want it. Characters from the last 2 games (Ness and Lucas) have been staples of the Super Smash Bros series. I wouldn’t completely count the series out, as Itoi himself has hinted something is heading to Western markets.