Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top Five: Console Role-Playing Games

  • Dragon Warrior - One of the first things I remember about Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest in its native land) was not playing the game. Instead what I remember was my school friends taking about their experiences with the game. They made is sound like so much fun: adventuring across the countryside, delving into caves, fighting slimes. And while the I usually build up a supergame in my mind from such desciptions, I found that Dragon Warrior won me over with its unique charm. Even today although the series holds true to its oldest-of-old-school roots, I can still get sucked into a game, menu driven combat and all. All I need is a smiling slime ready to take me on.

  • Jade Empire - Blasphemy time: before this game, I never got why people thought Bioware was so great. Sure, they made Baldur's Gate and Knights of the Old Republic, but I didn't actually like those games. In spite of that, my recently found love for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and other wuxia films led me to buy the game. And thank goodness I did. The mix of action combat with Bioware's high quality storytelling finally clicked in this game. I know a lot of people had problems with the game, but I think they just didn't get it.

  • Mass Effect - If Jade Empire was a promise, Mass Effect is the fulfillment. Everything that I loved about Bioware's prior game was built upon and improved. The epic story comes to one of the most satisfying endings I've experienced in an RPG. The romantic subplot, amazingly, did not make me cringe even though I was playing my usual female protagonist. The combat was exciting and fun. And I loved the update to the morality system. Instead of wavering between stupidly good and stupidly evil, you balance your virtuous or roguish natures. Any nitpicks I have about the game is in comparison to how great everything else is. I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment in this proposed trilogy.

  • Phantasy Star - While everyone I knew was into Final Fantasy, my brother and I were busy playing Phantasy Star. I think we got the better end of the deal. PS on the Sega Master System was a revelation to us. The intriguing mix of fantasy and science fiction completely rocked my younger self. When an early quest sent us to another planet, we were completely hooked. I even replayed this when it was released for GBA several years ago and I still had a blast.

  • Phantasy Star Online - If you think I'm cheating by including a second Phantasy Star game on this list, I don't really care. PSO was a watershed moment for online console gaming and will forever be known for that. But for me, it was a blast to just fire up a character and hack, slash, and shoot my way through waves of baddies, completing quests, and taking down the larger than life bosses. When people say that they would play a single player version of their favorite MMO, this is the game they're thinking of.

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