Which Console Had The Best RPGs? (Part 1)

Throughout the years there have been many video game consoles that were home to some fantastic RPG experiences. All of them told incredible stories featuring memorable characters, had fun game play mechanics and immersed you in their wonderful worlds. Now, while there are still great RPGs found on modern consoles and handhelds, there are three systems from the past that will always be remembered as the best.

The following articles will discuss why the Super Nintendo, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 are home to the greatest collection of RPGs. From the child-like innocence and fun from the SNES era, to the coming of age and philosophical PS1 games, to finally the mature and polished PS2 selection, RPGs have changed over the years but still managed to capture the imagination of players around the world.

The Super Nintendo (SNES)

The greatest attribute of RPGs on the SNES was the fact designers needed to use the full extent of their creativity to get around hardware limitations and as such the players were free to use their own imagination to heighten the experience. Designers were challenged, but never restricted and the result was some of the most simple and ingenious game design, such as Chrono Trigger.

The art style and use of sprites gave the RPGs of this era an endearing personality. They felt like whimsical storybooks, set in enchanting fantasy castles, steam punk cities or desolate futures. Look at the magical world created in Secret of Mana. Without the use of voice acting, characters personalities were shown through their actions, usually with comical exaggerated expressions, adding to the charm.

Without the need to create realistic graphics and presentation, more effort could be focused on making the game play deep and fun. Worlds were enormous and exploration was high, battle systems were intuitive and innovative and playing never felt like a chore. It allowed RPGs to be epic adventures in their purest form, without the need for convoluted extras.

Lastly, the music was built around strong melodies and was imperative to the experience. It was needed to add depth to the characters and enhance important scenes. This meant many soundtracks were full of creative arrangements, catchy melodies and memorable songs. Despite their simplistic nature, soundtracks such as Final Fantasy VI have yet to be surpassed.

RPGs on the SNES featured some of the most impressive and masterful adventures. The best of the best include: Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy IV, V and VI, Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, Terranigma, Star Ocean, Breath of Fire II, and many more.

There is more to come as the next articles will present the case for why the original PlayStation or PlayStation 2 was the king of RPGs.



Filed under Chrono Series, Editorial, Final Fantasy Series, Mana Series, Terranigma

4 responses to “Which Console Had The Best RPGs? (Part 1)

  1. I pretty much missed all the SNES RPG’s. I guess I wasn’t aware of their existence at the time. I need to catch up someday. The only thing like an RPG I have on the SNES is Illusion of Gaia, which I think is kind of like an RPG, but not quite.

    • Illusion of Gaia is indeed a fun game and probably could be classified as an RPG. Good luck on catching up on the SNES games. I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on the PS1 and PS2 articles. Thanks

  2. twelve

    I have a sneaking suspiscion that the Dreamcast is not gonna be mentioned here? Id agree it didnt have a lot of quantity when it comes to RPG, but it did have the masterpiece Skies of Arcadia which many people hold as one of the best JRPGS ever.

    It would be interesting if you would later continue to write a part 3 about jrpg:s on the current gen consoles, in some sort of “what went wrong”-perspective.

    Anyway, good read.

    • Unfortunately I never owned a Dreamcast and despite my attempts I have yet to play Skies of Arcadia. I have heard great things about it and really what to play it someday. Perhaps you could write a guest review?

      Part 2 and 3 will talk about the how RPGs evolved on the PS1 and PS2 and show the massive collection of fantastic games they provided. Good idea talking about current generation consoles, stay tuned I’m sure that will be coming up soon!

      Thanks for your great comment!

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