Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Experience Points: 01 Prime 90-93

Experience Points: 01 Prime 90-93

Dawn of the 16 Bit

At the dawn of the 16-bit era the RPG was still a very niche market.  If you had asked anyone I knew what RPG games there were at the time, they'd look at you blankly as the term was more used in PC-gaming circles.  When looking at this early 16 bit era, we see Final Fantasy IV(2 US) get released and set the tone for the entire generation of RPG's.  Its hard to overstate its importance in this era, and can easily be compared to Final Fantasy 7 in opening the doors wider to more releases.  The majority of the RPG's to come in this era only come to NA/Euro after the success of Final Fantasy IV.  These include:
-the interesting, yet flawed 7th Saga
-the overshadowed late NES game Dragon Warrior 4
-the cult hit Lufia & The Fortress of Doom
-the anime inspired and much beloved Lunar Silver Star Story

(pictured: 7th Saga's "mode 7" graphics during battle were impressive in its day)

Another huge influence was The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.  While its debatable if its an RPG, you can not deny that it was the Zelda series that sparked the Adventure RPG sub-genre.  By adding statistics, experience and levels to Zelda the "modern" adventure RPG was made.  Due to Zelda's popularity we got several games we might not have otherwise gotten;
-the rarely mentioned Lagoon
-Euro-stuck Soul Blazer
-the mega popular Secret of Mana.

(The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past)

Tactical RPG's took root in Japan before the 1990's, but we barely got any of them over here.  Technically some of the Koei strategy games were tactical, but they lacked on the story side of things.  In this 90-93 era, there was a new try at getting the US hooked on tactical games.  We got both Warsong and Shining Force given to us.  Warsong was not yet quite as popular, though perhaps more influential in Japan than here.  Warsong was a part of the Langrisser series in Japan, a series that would inspire the creation of Fire Emblem and Shining Force itself.  Its influence would feed directly into Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, and its legacy is continued still today in Japan as the Growlanser series is the Langrisser creator's ongoing spiritual successor series.  It would be past the decade that we would get Fire Emblem, but we did get Shining Force.  Shining Force won this era in tactical RPG's with its anime based graphics and focus on character stories.  Shining Force also added more of the typical JRPG console mechanics, like being able to walk around and speak in towns.  In later tactical RPG's, it would surprise me that it was normal to just have a town photo and explore it through menus.  (Pictured below: Shining Force's battle cutscenes are still beautiful artwork today)

So by and large, that's the RPG exprience that we got over here from Japan.  I will save my experiences and my final thoughts on it for the 4th and final post for this era.  That means we have 2 more posts before the end of the era.  Coming later will be the American RPG scene of this era(there's a dominant sub-genre), and then the stuff that stayed in Japan.

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