I think I should start making a list of all of these PSX RPG articles, just so that everyone can easily jump between them. But either way, today we are going to be continuing a series of articles that started at some point last year. However, today is also the point where I change things up a bit; I’ve been trying to sort professional and stiff with my posts, but honestly, it’s a bit tiring… It’s also not me.
So, I’m throwing that all out of the window and from now on, I’m just going to write the way I would talk. Thus, welcome to the new, more relaxed and (hopefully) more entertaining 16-Bit Dad, as we take a look at yet another 7 PSX RPGs that everyone should play!
Let’s start of this list with a game that I’ve seen mentioned a few times in YouTube videos, but one that I don’t see spoken about much at all on the likes of Twitter; Grandia. Developed by Game Arts, who I have to say are absolute geniuses when it comes to amazing RPGs (they made the Lunar series, after all), Grandia was released on the PlayStation in 1999, 2 years after it’s Sega Saturn release. At the time, I was a budding little anime lover who could easily be drawn into something as long as it had hints of anime style. That was how I picked up Grandia; the cover art.
The mixture of fantasy and so-called “emerging technology” really hit it off with me, harkening back to my love of Wild ARMS and Final Fantasy. However, when I actually started playing the game, I was pleased to see that Grandia offered more than a slight nostalgia-trip brought on by the world design. The combat, especially, was something very different to what I was used to at the time. The sliding bar at the bottom right with the turn order meant that I could plan out my strategies better, but also that I needed to pay more attention that in other RPGs. Also, whilst it’s a minor thing, the camera’s movement during a battle made it feel far more intense.
Oh, and the soundtrack manages to switch between amazing and downright weird all the time, which makes it incredibly amusing. Overall, Grandia is a great alternative RPG compared to the big names out there, and I’m planning to go back to it very soon, too.
6. Breath of Fire 3
Now, I could have included both Breath of Fire 3 and 4 in this list, but I wanted to keep it to just one game per franchise, per list. So, for this list, I have decided to go with Breath of Fire 3. Even though the fourth game is (arguably) the more well-rounded game, Breath of Fire 3 tops it for me as one of the key PS1 RPGs out there. The 2D sprites on a 3D world are all beautifully animated and still look great today. Oh, and the music is just outstanding. The composer, Akari Kaida, did a truly awesome job at putting together a memorable and emotive soundtrack that I can still listen to today!
The story and characters, whilst better in Breath of Fire 4, are all well fleshed out with personalities, which only adds to the immersion of the game. Set over two different periods of time, you get to see how the characters grow and develop as the game progresses, which I’m surprised to say isn’t actually that common in RPGs for the time… Strange, don’t you think?
5. Shin Megami Tensei if…
Well, I mean, we’ve already had Persona 2 on the other lists, so it was only a matter of time before another Shin Megami Tensei game appeared. Shin Megami Tensei if… is a PSX RPG that was only released in Japan, unfortunately. That meant that, as a kid, I didn’t actually get a chance to play the game. However, as I grew up and became able to play imported games through a variety of methods, I finally gave Shin Megami Tensei if… a try. Retaining the creepy nature of the Shin Megami Tensei games, as well as the first person dungeon crawling aspects, this entry in the franchise continued to live up to the previous entries.
I won’t lie, though. It will take some getting used to if you’ve only really played more traditional PSX RPGs. The combat and movement are all very different from what many people would expect. However, don’t let that put you off. Once you’ve nailed the gameplay ideas and mechanics, you’ll be in for one hell of a treat!
4. Mega Man Legends
Next up, we have a game that, in its franchise, was one of the lower selling entries. However, Mega Man Legends is actually a surprisingly fun game. When I first played it, I went in expecting to dislike the game. The idea of Mega Man in an RPG-style game was a bit off-putting. Yet, here I am, including it on this list! Why?
Well, the game hasn’t aged brilliantly in terms of graphics, but the gameplay still holds up as it did at the time. Overall, Mega Man Legends is a relatively wholesome affair compared to most of the games I play, meaning that it is also very easy to get into. This action RPG is light-hearted, entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable, which are all of the criteria that Mega Man Legends needs. If you’re looking for an RPG that doesn’t need incredibly political plots or demons destroying all life on the planet in order to be fun, then you really should try Mega Man Legends.
3. Legend of Mana
Moving on to the next entry in this ever-growing list of PSX RPGs, that has now gotten so long over 4 posts that I largely forget what I’ve already included, we have Legend of Mana. The more commonly known entry in the “Mana” series (called Seiken Densetsu in Japan) is Secret of Mana, which was the second entry in the series. Legend of Mana is actually the fourth game to be released in the series (the third was only released in Japan).
This game came out during the time when seeing Squaresoft on the front cover of a game meant that you were in for one hell of a great ride. Legend of Mana lived up to that mentality completely, having me hooked from start to finish. I wasn’t a big fan of action RPGs at the time, preferring more traditional turn-based ones. However, there was just something about Legend of Mana that buried its claws into me and wouldn’t let go.
What was really interesting about Legend of Mana at the time, especially for someone like me who was used to RPGs with massive yet focused plots, was the lack of an overarching storyline. Rather than featuring one massive quest for the characters to undertake, Legend of Mana features a bunch of smaller questlines and story arcs for you to follow. These all eventually lead into the final story arc, creating a very unique way of telling an RPG story.
2. Threads of Fates
Earlier on, I said that 1999 was the year in which I could be captured purely by a nice piece of anime style cover art. Well, that’s what first caught my attention when my mother’s boyfriend gave me an imported copy of Threads of Fate. The cover art looked so good that I just had to try it out. However, because it was an action RPG and I was still not really accustomed to them, I didn’t play it for long and it was soon lost to time. I have no idea what happened to that copy of the game.
I’ve since matured (a bit) and tried the game again, and I was pleasantly surprised. It certainly isn’t the best action RPG out there and does has a number of flaws. However, Threads of Fate is most certainly enjoyable, and that’s kind of the point of a game, really.
The fact that, once again, it was made by the geniuses at Squaresoft meant that it was almost certainly a good game. That’s why I had to try it again. The different skills that the two main characters have also means that you get a variation in gameplay depending on who you are controlling!
1. Brave Fencer Musashi
And so we come to the end of yet another list of PSX RPGs, and we are ending with both another Squaresoft game and another action RPG. Considering how I’ve been saying that I didn’t really get action RPGs as a kid, it is funny how many of them I now really enjoy playing. It almost feels like I wasted my time as a kid… Especially when it comes to Brave Fencer Musashi. You see, whilst I loved anime covers, Brave Fencer Musashi’s cover just looked too childish for the young me. I wanted to play adult games, to prove that I wasn’t a kid anymore. It’s funny how I regret that now; I missed out on some amazing games.
Brave Fencer Musashi is an action RPG which a very interesting art-style and gameplay that, honestly, does remind me of the Legend of Zelda quite a bit. It’s not a Zelda clone, per se, but definitely has similar vibes in terms of base gameplay. What makes it stand out, however, is the twin sword combat system of the game. One sword is simply a sword, whilst the other can be imbued with magic.
This creates a novelty to combat, which makes the constant killing of enemies a lot more fun than it sounds.
And That’s All Folks
There goes yet another list of PSX RPGs that everyone should play. If you are a fan of RPGs and haven’t tried any of these out (or the others listed here, here and here) then you really ought to go and do yourself a favour; play these games!
Are you an RPG fan? Are there any games you want for yourself? Let me know in the comments below.