RPG of the Year – 1997

There are only 13 games, but I assure you, these are some BIG games. The other titles are massively overshadowed by the top 5 since the rest range from okay to completely fucking sucks. I would honestly call this the most bipolar year, because you either played a game that was totally awesome or you didn’t and there was very little middle ground.

#5 – Shining the Holy Ark

When I heard Camelot, creators of the immensely successful Shining Force series and later the sorta successful Golden Sun series, was making a first person dungeon crawler RPG, I thought “Oh no, not another Shining in the Darkness!” Good thing I was wrong, though. This is actually a really fun, fast-paced dungeon crawler with highly stylized turn based combat and lots of cool effects.

The story isn’t half bad either and makes you want to keep playing and playing. The only two drawbacks I can think of are there are barely any save points and it’s hard as balls to emulate properly. Why choose emulation? Ha, good luck getting a working Saturn and legit copy of the title, that’s why! Honestly, I’d really love to see this come to the Virtual Console, provided it hasn’t already.

#4 – Diablo

Yes. YESSSSSSSS. Diablo was one of the first RPGs I played for the PC and it’s still pretty damn fun. Sure, the sequel is better, but the original was just plain great. For those that haven’t played Diablo, it’s basically a randomly generated dungeon crawler in the isometric perspective and it’s real time. It’s simple, fun, and frantic. You’ve got to check this one out if you’re one of the few people on the PLANET who haven’t tried it.

#3 – Fallout

Now you knew this was going to make the list, but some of you, I realize, may not have played the original Fallout. Basically put, the original Fallout is more open than what we consider to be open ended today. There are so many ways to “win” or “lose” that it’s entertaining just to start over and play it again and again, just to experiment and see what happens.

The ridiculous amount of complexity, while also switching between turn-based and real time strategy, and how ridiculously open ended this is easily makes this a top pick.

#2 – Castlevania – Symphony of the Night

The top 3 titles were a tough call regarding the order. All 3 of the top titles are “must play” titles, if only for nostalgia’s sake. SOTN is both a blessing and a curse to the series. Some hate it because of what it meant for the remainder of the series and some love it because it was revolutionary in terms of being a true action/RPG without completely compromising on the action front.

Nevermind that it encouraged exploration in terms of being relatively open and, to a degree, involving backtracking. You can level up, equip all kinds of cool shit, and the music…oh the music. The gothic graphics and sound are absolutely fantastic. Really, the only two negatives of this game are the cheezy voice acting and the fact it looks a little dated compared to the newer DS titles.

This game remains a classic and has one of the best soundtracks in gaming history. But what could possibly top these fabulous titles?

#1 – Final Fantasy 7

Nuff said. Okay, well…maybe not. FF7 still remains one of my favorite RPGs of all time, if not my absolute favorite. Squaresoft had some brass balls to go all futuristic/sci-fi with an official entry in the series, do all kinds of beautiful cutscenes and FMVs, and really bank on several untested aspects for the series, and it all WORKED. I’ve talked about this game to such length that the entire Internet sighs and rolls their eyes each time it comes up, so I’ll just say this: take my word for it, you must try this game.

Runner Ups

You want to know which games you should absolutely try on the runner up list here? LoL, Arkania, and VH. The other ones are just alright. I won’t say they’re bad (well, okay, Antara IS bad), but definitely the top 5 are worth checking out.

Albert Odyssey – Legend of Eldean
Betrayal in Antara
Elder Scrolls Legend – Battlespire
Incubation – Time Is Running Out
Lands of Lore – Guardians of Destiny
Realms of Arkania – Shadows Over Riva
Vandal Hearts
Wild Arms

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Filed under GotY Series, PC, PS1, Retro, Saturn, Sega, Sony, Videogames

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