RPG of the Year – 1990

It occurred to me while writing my article way way back about how I’ll remember Final Fantasy that it probably wasn’t fair to leave out so many great RPGs. Then I realized, if I did that, goddamn that would have been a ridiculously long article. Then again, it was already pretty long, so why not figure out which were the BEST. Yes, I realize this would be in my opinion, but at the very least I can highlight them, give a top 5 for the year, and the runner ups.

Before I continue, I am NOT including titles that were released outside America. And yes, that means games like Terranigma, as awesome as that is, will not be included. Nor will titles that have recently been translated officially or unofficially. That might seem unfair, but remember, this is basically a retrospective. If you really, REALLY must know what went on in the magical world of Japan, do your own goddamn research.

There were 21 RPGs released in 1990 that were new, meaning they weren’t ports or remakes (as far as I can tell) or at the very least it was their first time on American soil. Also, this may seem a little biased because I didn’t play that many PC RPGs. Where I’m able, however, I will try the games either in other formats or in the original format, if it will work on my PC before rating. If it will not work, I cannot consider it, but it will be mentioned in the runner up category just in case I’m some giant asshole or whatever.

It should also be noted that at the time of revising this article, I have played all but maybe 1% of the PC RPGs a la DOS Box. One more thing. When able, I will have a youtube link attached to the pics. Let’s get started!

#5 – Phantasy Star 3

This is the only Phantasy Star I really don’t like (though the original is also kinda meh) and yet, it’s still better than most entries on the list. Don’t take that as being a bad year for RPGs, though; it simply means that there were more PC RPGs than anything and while the stories were typically pretty good, accessibility was pretty terrible (not very user friendly), the overall difficulty was usually retardedly hard, and you had to pay extra special attention to EVERYTHING in the manual, game, and whatever else.

The nice part about PS3 is that while it’s not nearly as good as the other PS titles, it’s still got a lot going for it. The plot’s interesting enough, the graphics are nice and vibrant, the music isn’t terrible, it’s fairly user friendly, and apparently you can alter various things via generations of offspring or whatever, which is a pretty interesting concept. Sadly it’s one I probably won’t ever get to because after the interesting starter, the game gets kinda boring.

Honestly, were it not for the fact the other RPGs are mostly PC that are either unplayable or require way too much to get started, figure out, etc., this probably wouldn’t have made the list. Honestly, it was a tough call between this, Ultima 6, Wizardry 6, and Swords and Serpents, but this one had the best graphics, most interesting starter, and was easy enough for most gamers to pick up and play, pushing it just barely into the number 5 spot.

#4 – Dragon Warrior 4

This is yet another one I didn’t play as soon as it came out, so I kinda missed the boat here. I have, however, played the original to a small extent and the DS remake to a larger extent. It’s not a bad game and is a clear step up from the other DQ titles. The plot jumps around quite a bit, which was definitely different considering the time it came out.

There were also various additions such as multiple types of keys, new classes, a chapter setup, more save points, day/night cycles, various vehicles, and much more. Again, I can’t talk about this one too much as I’ve only played to something like chapter 3, but it’s definitely a very fun addition to the DQ series and well worth 4th place. But why only 4th place? Well…

#3 – Final Fantasy Legend 2

For anyone that thinks this is unfair, you’re probably right. Also, I don’t give a fuck. FFL2 was a title I owned and absolutely obsessed on. It’s one of the Gameboy titles I owned that I started no less than 10 times and, you guessed it, never beat. Nevertheless, it’s also one of the most fun GB titles I owned. Funnily enough, I don’t think it’s the plot that won me over as it’s pretty basic.

No, I think a combination of the sheer amount of customization and steep difficulty curve as well as plenty of variety in levels (you get to go to giants’ houses and even inside a human body) is what really won me over. I can’t say this is necessarily the best RPG ever on the GB, but goddamn if it doesn’t come close. I am absolutely stoked about the possibility of getting the remake here in America.

#2 – Crystalis

Second place? SECOND?! What gives?! Yeah, yeah, I know, but trust me…you read ahead, you’ll get it. Crystalis is one of the best action/RPGs EVER. Very simple, fun, and yet challenging, Crystalis wins hands down in terms of plot, fun, and simplicity. I can’t even remember the story right now, but I do remember all the awesome abilities, music, and fast-pacedness of the game.

So again, why second? Ha, well…

#1 – Quest For Glory 2

There is no fucking beating this game in the same year. Quest For Glory is one of the most epic series ever and it’s really sad it ended on such a shitter. QFG2 was also recently remade and it’s definitely worth checking out. QFG, for those that don’t know, is an interesting combination of adventure gaming a la Sierra and RPG concepts. You can select from 3 different classes (or 4 if you can figure out how the fuck to be a paladin), each with different approaches to puzzles, combat, and what have you.

Each game requires you to figure out various puzzles, situations, and all kinds of stuff, just like in a normal adventure game, but with various perks depending on your class. Yeah, there are still some cheap deaths and in the original EGA version of QFG2, plenty of pixel hunting, obscure shit, and specific text commands, and yet some herald it as the best of the QFG series, which is a pretty tall claim considering it’s one of the best adventure and/or RPG series ever.

Runner Ups

It should be understood that not all titles could be played. I really did try, but some of these were either really boring, wouldn’t play at all because they were so old, or just plain weren’t fun. I’m hoping that as this series goes on, these numbers will dwindle until it literally becomes a tough call to figure out exactly which 5 I would choose.

Buck Rogers – Countdown to Doomsday
Champions of Krynn
Darkspyre
Dragon Crystal
Dragon Strike
Eye of the Beholder
Fountain of Dreams
Hard Nova
Keys to Maramon
Secret of the Silver Blades
Sorcerian
Swords and Serpents
Tunnels & Trolls – Crusaders of Khazan
Ultima 6
Wizardry 6
Worlds of Ultima – The Savage Empire

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Filed under Gameboy (Color), Genesis, GotY Series, NES, Nintendo, PC, Retro, Sega, Videogames

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