Few would argue that #FinalFantasy is currently the king (or queen) of mainstream traditional #RPGs. The series spans several decades and is still going strong with the latest upcoming installment #FinalfantasyXV, which looks set to flip the gaming mechanics of the RPG genre on its head in the best possible way.
While there are plenty of awesome, smaller, indie RPGs, the Final Fantasy franchise has not had many direct competitors of a similar stature for a while now. So I think it's time we dig deep into the treasure trove of old RPGs and give Final Fantasy something to worry about. In no particular order, here are five fantastic RPG franchises that can do just that, but first they're going to need a few #PhoenixDowns.
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5. Breath Of Fire
A pointy-blue-haired protagonist named Ryu, a winged princess, an anthropomorphic cat man, and a crap ton of dragons. If that doesn't ring any bells, then you sound like one of the unfortunate many who missed out on the amazing RPG series Breath of Fire.
Debuting in 1993, with its traditional turn-based RPG gameplay, #BreathofFire relied on its engaging story and gimmick that allowed the player to morph Ryu into different dragons and to fuse with other characters. Subsequent standalone sequels would improve on gameplay, while reimagining the same characters, similar themes and environments in each installment.
After the fifth installment made dramatic changes to the series, the game was received poorly by fans and the series faded into obscurity. Although a recently released mobile sequel, Breath of Fire 6, certainly implies that there is still some spark left for the franchises long overdue return to form.
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4. Radiant Historia
Chrono Trigger might have set the bar for time traveling role-playing epics, but few have ever raised that bar as much as Atlus's Radiant Historia. A 2010 #NintendoDS handheld exclusive, Radiant Historia was an unexpected sleeper hit that took a very different approach with its story and revamped turn-based gameplay.
Set in a #steampunk-inspired world, Radiant Historia presented a nonlinear time traveling adventure requiring you to play through two parallel timelines with branching paths to solve puzzles. It was unusual, albeit fun. Check out the trailer below.
This nonlinear approach when combined with its unusual combat and grid-based RPG mechanics made Radiant Historia stand out in the world of role-playing games. Unfortunately, no sequels were developed, but who knows what Atlus might have up its sleeves for the future?
3. Skies Of Arcadia
Originally a #Dreamcast exclusive in 2000, Skies of Arcadia might be best remembered for its annoyingly high encounter rate, which slowed the progress of the player. But those who battled through it were treated to a fun adventure that featured both ground and aerial airship-to-airship, turn-based combat. Fortunately, a 2002 port to the #GameCube would fix the encounter rate issue.
Skies of Arcadia was a very colorful, Jules Verne-inspired #anime-themed RPG. The overworld had you traverse the skies in an airship piloted by the sky pirate protagonist Vyse and his crew. In truth, the ground combat was your standard turn-based affair — but the airship combat is what really made this game shine.
Despite its cult following and the subsequent rerelease on the GameCube, Skies of Arcadia never truly got the sequel it deserved. Although, not without a lack of trying on #Sega's part.
RPGs traditionally have a limited cast of supporting characters for the player to utilize. Released first in 1996, Suikoden took a slightly different approach to this trope, with each game offering up to 108 additional characters for players to discover. See that cute dog over there in the corner? He's in your squad now. Like the cut of the innkeeper's jib? He's hired. You get the idea.
When not allowing the player to collect party members as if they were Pokémon, the #Suikoden series is known for its deep, story-driven narrative, spread across five main titles (and several spinoff games as well). Boasting a six-party battle system with 108 unique characters per game to choose from, Suikoden was on a scale so grand that no other RPGs could compete with it at the time.
Check out the rarely seen trailer below for Suikoden V.
1. Golden Sun
The #GameBoyAdvance has always been a handheld system awash with RPGs, from Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire to new installments of Pokémon. However, in 2001, for those who wanted something a bit more original, Golden Sun was a fresh-faced IP that quickly established itself as the benchmark for quality RPGs.
A turn-based RPG at heart, #GoldenSun effortlessly infused elements from other video game genres, with the player often having to solve puzzles in dungeons by utilizing character-specific abilities. Some of these puzzles involved collecting hidden #Pokemon-esque creatures called Djinn. These little scamps could be equipped to the appropriate character for extra abilities in and out of combat.
Ultimately, #Golden Sun's combat, puzzles and Djinn-catching gameplay were melded seamlessly into what is still one of the most engaging and rewarding RPG experiences. Golden Sun would have a direct sequel on the GBA in 2002 and another in 2010 on the #Nintendo DS. Despite the third entry Golden Sun: Dark Dawn ending on a cliffhanger, there has been little to no talk of a fourth installment.
While the aforementioned titles saw more success in Japan than in the West and the East, the times are always changing and though we joke that the Final Fantasy franchise needs to be dethroned, the success of Final Fantasy XV could very well open the doors for these and other RPGs to make a return.
Think any of these RPGs are worth bringing back? Maybe you have a better one in mind? Sound off in the comments below!