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Monday, May 20, 2024

My Top 100 RPGs (as of May 2024)

  1. Earthbound
  2. Legend of Zelda: a Link to the Past
  3. Ultima VII: the Black Gate
  4. System Shock 2
  5. Suikoden II
  6. Fallout: New Vegas
  7. Chrono Trigger
  8. Ultima Underworld: the Stygian Abyss
  9. Final Fantasy Tactics
  10. Illusion of Gaia
  11. Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium
  12. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
  13. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
  14. Planescape: Torment
  15. Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
  16. Fallout 2
  17. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
  18. Grandia
  19. Terranigma
  20. Undertale
  21. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
  22. Persona 4 Golden
  23. Dust: An Elysian Tail
  24. Deus Ex
  25. Deltarune
  26. Final Fantasy VII
  27. Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar
  28. Baldur's Gate III
  29. The Legend of Zelda
  30. XCOM 2
  31. Final Fantasy IX
  32. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
  33. Divinity: Original Sin II
  34. Dark Cloud 2
  35. Starflight
  36. Star Control II: the Ur-Quan Masters
  37. Baldur's Gate II
  38. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne
  39. Final Fantasy V
  40. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
  41. Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete
  42. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age Definitive Edition
  43. Hades
  44. Startropics
  45. Mother 3
  46. X-COM: UFO Defense
  47. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero
  48. Ikenfell
  49. Paper Mario: the Thousand-Year Door
  50. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
  51. Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
  52. Super Mario RPG
  53. Phantasy Star II
  54. Dragon Quest III: the Seeds of Salvation
  55. Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  56. Persona 3 Reload
  57. Shadowrun: Dragonfall/Hong Kong
  58. Ultima Underworld II: Labyrinth of Worlds
  59. Final Fantasy XII: the Zodiac Age
  60. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
  61. Panzer Dragoon Saga
  62. Yakuza 0
  63. Suikoden V
  64. Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
  65. Phantasy Star
  66. Valkyria Chronicles 4
  67. SaGa Frontier
  68. The World Ends With You
  69. Sweet Home
  70. Slay the Spire
  71. Ultima VII Part 2: the Serpent Isle
  72. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game
  73. Diablo II
  74. Prey (2017)
  75. Breath of Fire
  76. Betrayal at Krondor
  77. Shadow Hearts: Covenant
  78. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
  79. Symphony of War: the Nephilim Saga
  80. Shantae and the Pirates' Curse
  81. Mega Man Legends
  82. Transistor
  83. Heroes of Might and Magic III
  84. Ys III: the Oath in Felghana
  85. Horizon's Gate
  86. Grandia III
  87. Castle of the Winds
  88. Trials of Mana 2020
  89. Xenosaga (Trilogy)
  90. Valkyria Chronicles
  91. Final Fantasy III (1990)
  92. Ys IV: Dawn of Ys
  93. Crystalis
  94. The Guardian Legend
  95. Grandia II
  96. Wartales
  97. Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
  98. Shantae and the Seven Sirens
  99. Etrian Odyssey Untold: the Millennium Girl
  100. Phantom Brave

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Princess Maker 2

Brought to us by Gainax (yes, the same company known for producing high-profile anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Gurenn Lagann), Princess Maker is certainly an interesting game for a number of reasons. The story opens with your character vanquishing a demon and earning the gratitude of a kingdom that had fallen to pride and sin.  That, however, is not the focus of the game; the narrative then cuts ahead several years to a time when the protagonist is bestowed a child of the gods, whom they then must raise from the ages of ten to eighteen.  To that end, you schedule her to take on jobs for income, undergo schooling and undertake tasks like errantries, combat challenges and other random events to raise some stats and lower others; a format that would later be copied by the Monster Rancher series of games.  There is also a yearly festival to test out her skills in art, cooking, combat or dancing (earning prizes if she wins), and you can also take her on vacations or just give her some spending money to lower her stress and make her less resentful toward you (which can result in her becoming a delinquent).  Once eight in-game years have passed, the sum of her experiences and stats are added up and you're given one of 74 potential endings. These range from becoming an artist, a bounty hunter, a prostitute (yes, really) or even the literal devil, with the most difficult one to achieve being the eponymous Princess, which requires a lot of currying favor and building connections with nobles and royals, not to mention training in elegance, glamour and dancing.  While there are some traditional elements in the game, mostly in the form of occasional combat challenges or errantries (playing out like a miniature dungeon), the focus here is really on playing a role - being a father and trying to shape your virtual daughter's future by maintaining trust and helping her build life skills.  The execution isn't flawless, with many of the jobs and schooling sessions having much greater benefits than others, and changing from the default diet plan doesn't seem to have much benefit at all, but it's a unique enough game to be worth a try regardless.  Even back in the '90s the game caught the attention of western publisher Intracorp, who had fully translated and planned to publish Princess Maker 2; unfortunately they went out of business before the game could be released, but a mostly-finished prototype was leaked online and quickly became the most widely distributed version of the game.


Developer: Gainax
Publisher: Gainax, Microcabin
Released: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004
Platforms: PC-98, MS-DOS, FM Towns, PC Engine, Sega Saturn, 3DO, PC, Playstation 2

There is also a remaster of the game on Steam called "Princess Maker 2 Refine", though I have not played that particular version.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Kingsvein

The fourth tactical RPG by developer Rad Codex, and rather than being a mostly linear dungeon crawl or an open world experience, this one goes more for a Baldur's Gate feel, having the player explore large maps with numerous hidden secrets and peppered with occasional battles. There is also a slight metroidvania bent, in that you can venture into an area and reach a new area in an adjacent map by unlocking a door or clearing a path beneath it, and you can collect items or abilities to do things like freeze water or smash down thin walls.  The core combat experience is largely unchanged, albeit with a new set of classes and races to choose from to take advantage of the new, subterranean setting.  Classes include dual-wielding Dragoons, trap-laying Fangers and the Swarm's Eye, a ranged attacker that summons insects to damage and distract enemies.  Another new mechanic is that you get a Mount - one of your character can hop aboard your wyvern to shield themselves from harm and take advantage of the wyvern's extra move range, although due to the fact that they cannot utilize any gear, they tend to be the first to fall in battle as enemies will almost invariably target them by preference.  One also has the ability to craft weapons, gear and augmentations from raw ore and even melt down redundant ones into raw materials for later use, which is quite nice.  The story is fairly threadbare but you do get bits of lore from "fireside chats" - as you rest and recoup strength at your hideout you will sometimes get drawn into a conversation where your characters talk about their pasts.  Unfortunately the game also feels much smaller than Horizon's Gate, with only a few screens to explore and a limited amount of experience to be had, so careful party planning and making every point count is a definite must here.  Yes you can venture out of the main area and fight randomly-generated battles on the overworld, but this just amounts to empty grinding and you're still restricted from revisiting fields repeatedly to level up, so it only helps to a point.  The core tactical action is still strong and the character building has that satisfying Final Fantasy Tactics mix-and-match bent, but it's just not as engrossing an experience as Horizon's Gate was.


Developer: Rad Codex
Publisher: Rad Codex
Released: 2024
Platform: PC