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Thread: Five RPGs that changed your views about the genre.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Smash Five RPGs that changed your views about the genre.

    Had a minor discussion about this the other night that didn't go anywhere, so I figured this would be a better place of discussion. Name five RPGs that changed or defined the genre for you either for better or for worse.
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    Defining and changing are pretty different, but I guess changing is just redefining and defining is before there's something to change.

    1. Dragon Quest/ Dragon Warrior - My first RPG. Defined the basic mechanics of turn-based, menu-based combat, experience, levels, stats - the bread and butter of RPGs.

    2. FFIV - Redefined RPGs as a narrative experience. Beyond having more dialogue than most games of the time due to people in towns who you could talk to, Dragon Quest didn't really set itself apart from the rudimentary use of story present in most games of the day. Much like the little background story found in the instruction manuals of the day, the story of DQ simply gave a reason for the gameplay. Nothing more. In FFIV, there was enough depth put into the story and characters that you would want to play FOR the story, not just that the story gave you an excuse. Other genres remained light on story for the next couple console generations, RPGs were expected to have more story.

    3. FFXII - Changed the genre, IMO, for the worse. While not many games use the same kind of combat system as FFXII, it heralded an era in which traditional turn-based combat has become the exception rather than the rule.

    I don't know about the others. There's lot of directions I could go with this. Difficult for me to decide which ones are worthy of being considered genre defining/changing. Ones I'm considering: Persona 3, FFT, Suikoden, Tales of Destiny (would go with Phantasia, but since it's changed my view, this is the first Tales game I played), SoM, Undertale, probably some others floating around in me head. I'd probably consider Dragon Quarter if I had played it, but I didn't. Maybe Vagrant Story, but it seems too isolated for me to consider it defining/changing.

    Okay, I've decided my last two.

    4. Secret of Mana - Probably my first action RPG (unless you count Zelda, which I don't, because I don't believe Zelda has any more legitimate claim to the RPG genre, action or otherwise, than Mega Man games). Defines the action RPG subgenre for me. Also my first and best multiplayer RPG experience. That represented a pretty significant shift in the genre for me.

    5. Suikoden - This game threw so many new ideas into the mix, I really have to give it credit for changing my view of what could be done in the genre. Let's see. Starting off with 6 person parties and rapid combat, largest battle parties I'd seen in RPGs at the time, but so far still pretty traditional. But then add 3 different types of combat with duels and army battles occurring at special points in the plot. 108 recruitable characters with (I think) over half available to put in your party. Tying the recruitment to the game's ending. Finally, introducing a series in which each new entry expands into new areas of the world while being directly connected in the same world history and shared characters with the other games in the series. Not only is this one of my favorite series of the time, it definitely threw a lot of original or at least rarely seen ideas into the mix.

    Honorable Mentions

    A. FFT - My first and favorite tactical RPG. I've since largely grown tired of the subgenre, but this game defines the genre for me and will always hold a fond place.

    B. Tales of Destiny - What the heck is it? It plays like an action RPG, kind of, but then it has some traditional RPG elements you wouldn't typically see in action RPGs. Random encounters, battle transitions, a world map. SoM only sort of had a world map with Flammie, but not really. This is your standard traditional RPG world map. I think most would agree the battle system makes it an action RPG, but still Tales games are largely their own unique kind of thing.

    (3?) Persona 3 - This changed my view of RPGs because before it I wouldn't have thought I could enjoy this kind of game. It replaced the epic globe trotting of more traditional RPGs, with a more provincial but equally (or even more) expansive calendar sytem that takes you through the events of the year in one location. Actually, this one changed my view enough it probably belongs on the proper list and maybe should replace FFXII there. I'll think about it.
    Last edited by Lord Golbez; 08-20-2019 at 05:29 AM.

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    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    Secret of Mana - My first RPG. If that ain't defining, I dunno what is

    Deus Ex - On top of showing me what a branching narrative, where your choices matter, can do in games, it also destroyed my view of what is and isn't an RPG. Before I played Deus Ex, I'd have laughed at the concept of an RPG that looks like a first-person shooter.

    Ar Tonelico - Not just the genre, but games as a whole really, this is the game (and series) that propelled music in games forward a lot for me. Sure, before playing this I thought theme X from game Y was cool and all, but it became more integral to the experience for me after this game. I also started paying a lot more attention to context, subtext and such in game music.

    I'm not sure I can think of two others besides those. Some of them I'd like to mention but it'd be a stretch to say they actually changed my views on the genre.

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    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post
    Secret of Mana - My first RPG. If that ain't defining, I dunno what is

    Deus Ex - On top of showing me what a branching narrative, where your choices matter, can do in games, it also destroyed my view of what is and isn't an RPG. Before I played Deus Ex, I'd have laughed at the concept of an RPG that looks like a first-person shooter.

    Ar Tonelico - Not just the genre, but games as a whole really, this is the game (and series) that propelled music in games forward a lot for me. Sure, before playing this I thought theme X from game Y was cool and all, but it became more integral to the experience for me after this game. I also started paying a lot more attention to context, subtext and such in game music.

    I'm not sure I can think of two others besides those. Some of them I'd like to mention but it'd be a stretch to say they actually changed my views on the genre.
    I was pretty sure your entire list would be snk games

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    SNK makes RPGs? Serious question to a likely completely facetious post.

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    The Alpha and the Omega WarZidane's Avatar
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    They published Koudelka, close enough!

    My thoughts upon seeing that post went towards Sora no Kiseki/Sen no Kiseki (Trails in the Sky/Trails of Cold Steel) but I can't be sure that's what he meant, maybe I missed the joke too.

    (I was tempted to include them but it's not like they're the first games to do worldbuilding, they're just the first to do it so well IMO)

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    Ah! I see. I wasn't aware of the Japanese name for the games and hence not the abbreviation either. I also figured he would mean the Trails games, but then instead I was thinking "wait, those weren't made by SNK were they?"

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    Radical Dreamer Fynn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post
    They published Koudelka, close enough!

    My thoughts upon seeing that post went towards Sora no Kiseki/Sen no Kiseki (Trails in the Sky/Trails of Cold Steel) but I can't be sure that's what he meant, maybe I missed the joke too.

    (I was tempted to include them but it's not like they're the first games to do worldbuilding, they're just the first to do it so well IMO)
    yes those are definitely the ones I meant. I wanted to use one abbreviation, so TiTS/ToCS just didn't work

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    Untalented Game Designer FFNut's Avatar
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    5. Final Fantasy I
    My first experience with an RPG. Didn’t even know what one was before this.

    4. Final Fantasy VI
    Though my opinion on the game isn’t as high as it once was it had a great story that sucked me in (Until the floating continent) It had a great fleshed out feel and the world changing was mind blowing at the time

    3. Dragon Age Origins
    This was the first WRPG that I really loved. The fact that you could romance or have your fellow adventurers hate you enough to straight up say I’m going to kill you made you really think about them and not just hit a to continue.

    2. Tecmo Secret of The Stars
    This May be the worst RPG ever made. Really try it. It was the first time I remember just not caring what happened to anyone in the story. Infact you find yourself cheering for the villain to just end the pain of this game. It’s bad.

    1. Lufia 2
    It was the first game I played where if you couldn’t use your brains to get through you were going to rage quit quickly. It had fun puzzles that made the dungeons feel less linear.

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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WarZidane View Post

    (I was tempted to include them but it's not like they're the first games to do worldbuilding, they're just the first to do it so well IMO)
    You can totally use them if you want. This thread topic is completely subjective and more about your personal views about RPGs as opposed to just general "game changers". I mean DQ is the granddaddy of them all, but seeing how a lot of people weren't old enough or even born to play it back in the day, means that its impact is more hearsay than actually something a modern player may care about.
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    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    To throw in my own ideas.

    FFVI - The first game that really challenged my preconceived notions of interactive narrative. I'm not a big fan of conversation trees and they tend to pull me out of the narrative, which is why Mass Effect and other Bioware titles don't usually rank high for me in this department as they always feel so artificial to me. VI did a few tricks with this that really surprised me like the Opera sequence and rewarding exploring by having tiny bits of narrative to find. Granted, Chrono Trigger took this idea so much further with the Millennial Fair/Trial sequence, but it really began here with VI catching me flat footed when I discovered that I was actually going to have to participate in the opera instead of being a passive viewer. I feel immersion works better when it's little things and more subtle than just opening up a dialogue box asking you what to do.

    Dark Souls/Symphony of the Night - I have a tough time considering SotN as an RPG but I can't really fault the logic of why people think it is one. Instead I'll say Dark Souls since it pulled the same stunt. These games pretty much solidified how I feel open world design should really work. It's not about a giant sandbox map with the ability to go wherever and farm samey quests. Instead these games have carefully (well mostly) designed maps that are interconnected to make it feel really cool when you've been progressing through some challenging places only to find your way back to one of the earlier stages. I love that interconnected feel and I appreciate that the level design has purpose that still emphasizes exploration without feeling aimless.

    Disgaea - This game completely destroyed my thoughts on grinding and power levels. In many ways, it did to RPGs for me, what Austen Powers did to James Bond in general. Parodied it's biggest cliches to the point of absurdity that made going back to the serious source materials unbearable and silly in practice. I don't really grind anymore in games unless it's for rare drops and even that is something I have a very defined threshold for. This also kind of destroyed over-the-top visual antics for me as well. Characters doing improbably sword works on forty foot tall monsters doing a quadrillion damage just feels silly to me instead of awesome.

    Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne - The game that introduced me to the Press Turn System. In truth the Press Turn system became the golden standard for me when it comes to what I really want out of a combat mechanic. It's fair minus a MC Death = Game Over shenanigans. What I mean is that the mechanics works both ways. Most RPGs have the player characters and enemy characters work on different rules with the enemy usually having a numbers advantage, but the player having a statistical or gameplay advantage. Press Turn works the same regardless of whether you're the player, a regular enemy, a boss, or even a secret boss. The more interesting element of it that I just don;t see in standard RPGs at all is that the Press Turn system offers a defensive game. In fact, most games that feature the true Press Turn mechanics eventually evolve from an offensive game to a purely defensive one. So In stead of trying to increase your number of turns, you build parties that specifically reduce the enemies instead. Can't really name too many games that have such a neat element to it except maybe Bravely Default. The final element I love about it is that the rules are actually really simple. Exploit an enemy weakness or land a critical hit, and you gain a turn. If the enemy resists an attack you lose a turn, and you lose all of your turns if they absorb, void, or reflect your attack. You can have a maximum of eight turns in normal play. After Nocturne, it's strange going into other RPGs that have more elaborate rules and combat systems that don't feel satisfying with the extra elements.

    Chrono Trigger - In terms of overall design, I feel Chrono Trigger is actually a perfect game for the most part. That's not to say its design is everyone's cup of tea, and you're more than welcome to dislike CT's game design if it doesn't fulfill some niche you love, but from a designers point of view, I feel CT is executed well. It has a strong pace, a serviceable battle system that promotes variety and experimentation from the player, an excellent leveling curve that will deter most first time players from grinding, possibly the best collection of side content in any RPG, the game introduces several new elements and mini-games seamlessly into the narrative throughout the game, and it has excellent replay value. Best of all is the game's overall ratio for these elements which give you just enough content to keep you satisfied, but never overstays it's welcome either. CT really exemplifies a less is more approach about content because I still find the game to be one of the most satisfying to complete despite most of its extra content being easily completed in a few hours as opposed to most games trying to stretch their games by more than ten hours with samey bulltrout.
    True beauty exists in things that last only for a moment.
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