Return to Your Roots

Chrono Trigger, classic SNES RPG stuff

The Legend of Zelda. The Final Fantasy series. Chrono Trigger. The Phantasy Star series. The Shining series. Unless you seriously hated console RPGs, it’s likely you’ve had at least a passing encounter with some of these giants of the genre. As the console generations advanced, so too did the scope and presentation of the humble RPG. Sometimes it wasn’t so successful – anyone remember Virtual Hydlide on the Sega Saturn? I do, because it’s one of my nostalgic favourites. I’m pretty odd in this respect; the game was universally panned. How about Final Fantasy VII, arguably the most successful RPG, like, ever? Moving towards the modern era, genre lines blurred, and so were born the action/RPG hybrids. These were titles like Hybrid Heaven on the N64, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance on the PS2/Xbox/GC, or more recent games like Fallout, itself a reimagining of the 1997 isometric RPG of the same name.

So what happened to your classic, 16bit-esque gaming experience? Til recently, sorry pal, you’ve been relegated to second-hand eBay bargains, or emulators and ROMs, replaying classic games of yore. That’s no bad thing, sure, since you’ll save a packet over us modern suckers. And then, when I was idly grazing on the interwebs like the broadband bovine I am, two things happened that flipped history on its head. 

Number one — the console RPG rebooted. Yes, studios are mining the past. Just like the Boy and his Blog reimagining (which does look totally adorable), or the reboot of Silent Hill, Japanese dev From Studios has reset the whole genre with their, ahem, ‘tribute’ to Zelda, 3D Dot Game Heroes. Two points:firstly, watch this trailer and tell me it’s not a Zelda game dragged into hi-def 3D and sewn, Frankenstein’s Monster style,onto Sony’s PS3. Secondly, watch it again, look me in the eyes, and tell me with a straight face that it is not TOTALLY AWESOME. You can’t, because it is totally, totally awesome.

This game, not so good. I love it, though...

Number two — remember the feeling of unwrapping a shiny new Genesis/Megadrive game? Go on, squeeze your eyes closed, clench those fists and really think about it. I bet you can smell it now, feel the anticipation and the butterflies in your stomach as you plug it in and turn the TV on… Well, you’d better drag that console out of the loft and plug it in. They’re making frikkin’ RPGs for it again! It’s big news. There’s one title you might have heard of. It’s called Beggar Prince and it was first released in 2006. Developer Super Fighter Team took a little known — and buggy — Taiwanese RPG and gave it some serious love and attention. The result is something to behold: it’s immediately identifiable as a late 16-bit era game, and because of that, is gorgeous. I know we’re all guilty of looking at the past with rose tinted glasses, but you look at these screenshots and tell me you’re not getting your wallet out right now. I know I did.

Super Fighter Team aren’t the only studio to be developing for a dead platform, though. One of the games I’m most excited about right now is by an unknown and unproven developer called Watermelon. Dubbed as "the first all new game to appear on the Sega Mega Drive / Sega Genesis and Sega Mega CD / Sega CD this millenium" Pier Solar was begun as a fan project by members of Sega homebrew forum, Eidolons Inn. It’s been in development since 2004, and from the look of it, it’s just about done. Again, the game features some beautiful 16-bit graphics, and it’s clear just how much this has been a labour of love for the team. Initial commerical signs are good too — the European release has sold out, with limited numbers of the Japanese and American allocations remaining. So if you like the look of it, pre-order now, and you should have it by Christmas (since I’m a bit of an RPG fanboy, as you may have noticed, I went for the Japanese edition… Otaku much?)

It’s going to be an expensive time ahead for me — both in terms of cash, buying a PS3 in order to play 3D Dot Game Heroes on its release, and in terms of my free time — remember how long it takes to get through even one of these bad boys? If you know of any other old/new titles, across any of the consoles, let me know. I might just have to get my credit card out again…


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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