Hello and thanks for reading my List of 10 RPG(ish) Video Games that Deserve Modern Sequels. I had to stop somewhere, so there are plenty of other games deserving of sequels that didn’t make the list. Just off the top of my head, here’s a few: Lunar, Lufia, Vagrant Story, Ogre Battle, Alundra, Azure Dreams, Dark Cloud, Earthbound… Earthbound! Why didn’t I think of that earlier? Well, in any case, on to the list!
Developed and published by Squaresoft for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Perhaps this one is a little too obvious. People have been screaming for another game in the Chrono series for quite some time. While I loved Chrono Cross with its parallel dimension crossing cast of 45 playable characters and its incredible soundtrack, it failed to really deliver as a true sequel to Chrono Trigger. There’s just something about the original game; between its characters, its music, its battle engine, its storyline and it’s fantastic use of time travel, all of the pieces come together to form a true classic among JRPGs. Rumors of a sequel titled Chrono Break have come and gone, so I can only hope that the stars align and another game is developed in this illustrious series.
Developed by Quintet and published by Enix for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
I want to call Actraiser an action RPG, because that’s the feel that I get while playing it, though that may not be a fair description. At first glance, Actraiser seems like nothing more than a simple side-scrolling action game with a sword swinging hero cutting his way through bad guys, avoiding traps and fighting bosses. But following the conclusion of the first level, the game abruptly switches genres. The player is suddenly in control of a little angel that has to guide a fledgling village to grow its population, destroy monster lairs and become prosperous. Receiving offerings from the villagers, the angel acquires items that can be used to help the village or to strengthen the avatar for the action levels. The player can even cast miracles such as rain, earthquakes and lightning strikes. So yeah, it feels like an RPG, even though it really isn’t.
More importantly, somehow it all just works. The action levels are challenging without becoming overbearing and the village growing god simulation is a lot of fun, and provides a welcome change of pace. Also, I have to mention the absolutely amazing soundtrack, which is one of my all-time favorites. If only there was a sequel!
Oh wait, there was one. But Actraiser 2 abandoned the god simulation aspect of the first game entirely, so it really was “nothing more than a simple side-scrolling action game.” Here’s hoping we see a proper sequel to Actraiser someday, complete with a little angel to guide the people.
Soul Blazer is another game that is more than it seems. At first glance, it appears to be a simple overhead dungeon crawler, but things get interesting once the player destroys his or her first monster lair. As a monster lair is destroyed, the soul within is released, and it is restored to the world outside. Thus, piece by piece, a village is formed, and becomes full of plants, animals, people and other objects, all of which the player can communicate with to learn the history of the land and to progress the storyline in a very RPG-like manner.
I became fairly addicted to Soul Blazer. It’s one of those rare games I can play over and over again. I’d love to see a direct sequel to this game, complete with overhead dungeon crawling and slowly forming villages. The closest thing to it I’ve played since is Dark Cloud and its sequel—a series which deserves an honorable mention on this list by the way—but they weren’t quite Soul Blazer.
Speaking of sequels, there were two other games also developed by Quintet which could be argued are related to Soul Blazer. Both Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma have many similarities to Soul Blazer, including the general theme of restoring life to the world, similar lore, and a recurring character in the form of a dog named Turbo. However, officially, the games were never confirmed to be any sort of trilogy.
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
I know I’m kind of cheating with this one because the Zelda series is alive and well, but hear me out. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link deserves a sequel! To this day it is the only game in the series that features a side-scrolling Link that gains levels like in an RPG and explores dungeons Metroidvania style. I know I’m in the minority here, but it is my favorite of all the Zelda games.
I love the way Link controls in Zelda II, especially when fighting Iron Knuckles. When fighting an Iron Knuckle, Link has to attack either high or low depending on how the enemy is holding its shield, but with a well-timed jump attack, Link can strike the middle where the Iron Knuckle can’t defend. Part of what is great about these confrontations is the weight that the player can feel in every attack. It’s a combination of how the enemy is pushed back if its shield is struck and the sound effect that can be heard while it happens. The player gets so used to the sound and feel of deflected attacks that when (spoiler alert) the final battle comes against Dark Link who seems to be nothing more than shadow, it is the absence of that sound and weight that makes the battle so intense.
Link also gets some handy abilities like the downward thrust that lets him stab enemies that are low to the ground, the upward thrust for reaching flying enemies and spiders and a variety of magic spells. Oddly enough, if you want to play a version of Link that is similar to Link from Zelda II in a modern game, your best bet is Super Smash Bros.
As much as I love the other games in the Zelda series, Zelda II is still my favorite. I know it’s unlikely that we will ever see side-scrolling Link and Metroidvania dungeons again in a Zelda game, but I can still hope, can’t I?
Secret of Mana
Developed and published by Squaresoft for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
When you think of a multiplayer action RPG, what is the first game that comes to mind? Diablo? Phantasy Star Online? For me, it’s the second game in the Seiken Densetsu (Mana) series, Secret of Mana, which is odd, considering it’s really a single player game for the most part.
When second and third party members join the hero, second and third players can join in to control them instead of the A.I. (using a multitap in the case of 3 players). The result is a very fun multiplayer experience. Sure, it has its issues, like how if any player accesses their inventory the game is paused for everyone and other minor quibbles that modern game design would never allow. But putting those issues aside, it’s just a lot of fun to play Secret of Mana with friends. Teamwork between real players allows the party to stunlock enemies and complete combination attacks that would otherwise rarely occur with A.I. controlled party members.
It also helps that even as a single player experience, Secret of Mana is fantastic. The game is chock-full of creative enemies and locations, and the soundtrack is unbelievable. I love the electronic drum-kit and slap bass sounds that are used in many of the tracks and how effective the music is in enhancing the emotional aspects of the storyline.
But why is Secret of Mana on this list when there have been products released in the Seiken Densetsu series as recently as this year? Well, frankly, it’s because none of the recent games have been any good. The game that was released this year in Japan is Circle of Mana, and it is a card battling game for iOS and Android that is a far cry from the action RPG roots of its predecessors. Dawn of Mana was the last true sequel in the series and was actually titled Seiken Densetsu 4 in Japan, but it felt nothing like the other games in the series and was absolutely thrashed by reviewers and fans of the series alike. And Seiken Densetsu 3 was never even officially translated for English speaking gamers, so the only way to play it in English is via a fan translation. It seems unlikely that we’ll ever get a great sequel for modern platforms, but nevertheless, I’m waiting for one.
Developed and published by Konami for the Sony PlayStation.
Can you believe it’s already been 7 years since Suikoden V? Granted, Suikoden Tierkreis was released for the Nintendo DS in 2008, but it definitely wasn’t the Suikoden VI fans were waiting for. It’s been so long since a major release in the series that fans have formed the Suikoden Revival Movement, a Facebook community dedicated to the revival of the series with goals such as the English translation of Genso Suikoden Tsumugareshi Hyakunen no Toki (a PlayStation Portable game that was released in 2012), the release of all of the Suikoden games on PlayStation Network worldwide and of course, to encourage Konami to develop Suikoden VI.
If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, Suikoden is simply a great series of JRPGs. The games in the series typically involve stories of war between countries with the main character(s) responsible for gathering the 108 stars of destiny (characters) to form an army. Gathering these characters is a lot of fun, and as they are gathered, they each contribute something to the main base (usually a castle), such as an item shop or blacksmith, so it is also fun to see how the base develops throughout the game. The characters are usually pretty interesting, and there are some great recurring characters that appear throughout the series. I also really like the battle engine used throughout most of the series, which is fast paced, with multiple enemies and characters capable of attacking simultaneously to keep things moving along.
I always include a couple of the Suikoden games when I think of my favorite RPGs of all time. I loved the original and Suikoden II. Suikoden V was also a brilliant return to form after Suikoden IV, which I found disappointing, and Suikoden III which—though it had its good points—felt disconnected from the first two games. I wish the Suikoden Revival Movement the best of luck in encouraging Konami to develop Suikoden VI.
Breath of Fire
Developed and published by Capcom for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
My introduction to the Breath of Fire series came when Squaresoft decided to take a chance and publish the Capcom developed SNES RPG in North America. I am assuming that it is because of how well the game performed that Capcom decided to self-publish the later games in the series in the West. Over the years they released 4 sequels with the most recent, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, having been released on PlayStation 2 in 2002.
It was the early games in the series that were my favorites. They were quite traditional turn based RPGs in many respects, but they also innovated in several ways. When the original Breath of Fire was released, world maps in RPGs were a place of travel and random encounters, and little else. Breath of Fire spiced things up by giving most of the characters abilities that could be used on the world map, such as hunting wild animals. The characters could also use special abilities to solve puzzles, and there were some fun mini-games as well. I loved running a shop in the underwater city for example.
Still, games have come a long way since then, and the older Breath of Fire games don’t wear their age well when played today. But to me, that’s all the more reason to bring on a sequel! One of my favorite things about Breath of Fire is all of the cool races that exist in that universe. The protagonists are usually members of the Dragon Clan and can turn into dragons in battle. Then there’s the Wing Clan, a race of winged people that can fly. There’s also a race of bipedal fish called the Manillo, a race of cat-people called the Woren, a wolf-like people called the Forest Clan and many other interesting and creative races. I’m ready to spend some more time exploring that universe! Breath of Fire VI please.
Update: Looks like Breath of Fire VI was announced, but it’s not quite what I had in mind.
Developed by Tose Software and published by Jaleco for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for this, but I’d love to see another game similar to the only Pinball RPG I can think of, Pinball Quest. Now, before I get ahead of myself, I just want to admit that Pinball Quest isn’t the greatest game ever made. It isn’t even the second best game ever made, or the third, or the thousandth. But it is a game with a unique idea: combining pinball with an RPG.
The main character in Pinball Quest is—you guessed it—a pinball. And like in most games released in 1989, there is a princess who has been kidnapped by goblins that needs to be rescued. In order to rescue the princess, the player must play a crude version of pinball in which there are enemy monsters acting as gatekeepers that must be destroyed before the brave pinball can go on to the next level.
In between stages, the player can purchase upgrades from a shop using a currency earned by defeating monsters. There is also an option to attempt to steal an item from the shop. Upgrades can improve the paddles or provide free stoppers to prevent the ball from falling down into an earlier level when a ball is lost. That, by the way, is the source of challenge in Pinball Quest. Anytime the pinball falls down, the player has to replay the previous stage again. With enough failures, it’s possible to fall all the way back to the first level from the last level.
Obviously a direct sequel to Pinball Quest is fairly unlikely. Though the developer, Tose, is still making games, they haven’t created anything related to pinball since Pinball Quest itself. And beyond that, I don’t particularly want a direct sequel to Pinball Quest. With all of today’s technological advancements, I want another developer to take a crack at combining Pinball with an RPG. And lo and behold, I may not have to wait that long! Rollers of the Realm appears to be just that, and is scheduled for release this year. Hope it turns out good! It’s currently pending approval in the Greenlight program on Steam, so go and cast your vote if you want to play it as much as I do!
Panzer Dragoon Saga
Developed by Team Andromeda and published by Sega for the Sega Saturn.
I don’t think anybody was expecting an RPG to be the followup to the rail shooter games Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei, but I suppose stranger things have happened. What was surprising was that when Panzer Dragoon Saga was released, not only was it an RPG, but it was also a fantastic one. Panzer Dragoon Saga features a dark storyline set in a post-apocalyptic world and an exciting cinematic battle engine where turn based combat takes place in the air, with the player controlling both the human protagonist, Edge, and his dragon. It received fairly unanimous approval by fans and critics alike.
And yet it came at the worst possible time. The Sega Saturn was at the end of its days, and the world of gaming had its eyes focused on the Sony PlayStation. Only 30,000 copies of Panzer Dragoon Saga were ever produced for North America, and the game now sells for over $300 on eBay.
It seems next to impossible that we’ll ever see a sequel. Team Andromeda was dissolved after the release of Panzer Dragoon Saga, and though some of the staff went on to work for Smilebit (now Sega Sports R&D), there hasn’t been a peep about a Panzer Dragoon title since Panzer Dragoon Orta was released in 2002 on the Xbox. Personally, I’d be happy enough just to see a rerelease of Panzer Dragoon Saga, but while I’m dreaming, I’ll dream of a sequel too.
Developed and published by Sega for the Sega Master System.
I honestly never played much of the original Phantasy Star, but I played the heck out of its three sequels on the Sega Genesis, and they were a large part of why I became addicted to RPGs to begin with—along with Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, of course. But while Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy each have sequels still being developed, Phantasy Star hasn’t received a proper sequel since Phantasy Star IV in 1993.
That’s 20 years! What’s the hold up, Sega? I mean, I know you’ve been pumping out Phantasy Star Online titles for the last 13 years, but those do not scratch the itch! A proper Phantasy Star game is a story driven single player JRPG with tons of vehicles, great characters, multiple worlds and brutally challenging dungeons. Phantasy Star V is long overdue.
I hope you enjoyed my list! If you haven’t already done so and you are interested in the series, head on over to the Suikoden Revival Movement page to show your support. Also, I’d love to hear what games would be on your list! Let me know in the comments below!