Today, we are going to take a look at some more classic RPGs from the Super Nintendo stable. At The Old School Game Vault, we are fond of RPGs and it would make us happy if you the reader can discover some of the games that gave us so many happy memories growing up.
Without further ado, let us begin.
Final Fantasy 3
Final Fantasy 3 according to canon is one of the most epic RPG stories ever told. A tale of great personal sacrifice and struggle, FF3 draws you in with its powerful, emotional narrative.
It might have some of the tropes we have come to associate with RPG games of its kind – the bad guy wants to become a god and burn down everything that exists, and the protagonist is a green-haired hero who has a mysterious heritage that predisposes her to take up the challenge of defeating the evil boss.
Through several side quests, NPC trials – Terra and her quest to regain her humanity, Celes’ struggle with dark depression and the villagers who just want to live in a place where the soil and water isn’t poisoned, FF3 packs a lot of mature lessons into the story. One of the best parts of this game is the number of options you have. You can freely switch between characters who already have a default vocation or speciality. You can build this party up however you like – a mix of spells and attacks or a magic monstrosity that can annihilate large demons in a second.
Final Fantasy 2
FF4 (released as Final Fantasy II for American audiences) is another classic Final Fantasy game. It features a great soundtrack, rich storyline and deep, engaging characters that you will fall in love with.
You play as Cecil, a Dark Knight who has lost your position in the airship force because you had ethical issues with the King asking you to slaughter innocents. The game is Cecil’s journey of discovering himself and eventually saving the world. You’ll also meet a lot of interesting characters like Kain and Rosa along the way.
FF2 makes impressive use of the SNES MIDI chip, with over three dozen beautiful tracks ranging from pulse-pounding battle scores to melancholic tracks like Edward’s solo on the harp. The dungeons you’ll go through in this game are fairly standard, but they’re a lot larger than the previous generation of consoles. It’s a great looking game with colorful sprites, well-animated battles and impressive spell effects.
At over 25 hours of gameplay, this is a must-have for RPG fans.
Chrono Trigger represents a landmark for the SNES. Widely lauded as one of the most unique RPG games to ever hit the console, it showcased a level of polish that was unheard of. Designed by some of the best RPG minds in the industry, Chrono Trigger still stands the test of time as a fun adventure that can be revisited repeatedly.
Incorporating time travel into the plot in an interesting way, Chrono Trigger gives a new spin to the travelling and monster-killing that you’ll have to do. The battle system, which is a new take on the “Active-Time-Battle” system seen in the Final Fantasy games, is enjoyable and unique. You’re now able to perform special moves called Techs and even combine with a couple of your party members to perform a triple combo Tech for maximum carnage. You’ll also be able to see your enemies before you’re drawn into a battle, so you can decide whether you want to fight them or sneak on by.
Graphically, Chrono Trigger is just spectacular. The Mode 7 graphics pop off the screen, and the level of detail is absolutely amazing. Developer Square once again proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in RPG gaming. If you’re a fan of RPG gaming, go play Chrono Trigger!
Secret of Mana
As we’ve mentioned before, Square really knows what they’re doing when it comes to RPGs. Secret of Mana is yet another smash-hit offering from the creators of countless RPG classics and features an epic story that highlights the balance between good and evil and how it tilts one way or another depending on what situation you find yourself in.
The combat in Secret of Mana is real-time, an interesting departure from the turn-based combat that most games in the Square stable featured. You fight monsters with a wide variety of weapons, ranging from spears to different swords. You also have a charge system – if your weapon isn’t at 100% charge, it won’t do as much damage. After you have made a strike with a weapon, you need to wait before it recharges to inflict maximum damage. This mechanic adds a fun strategic element to the combat that is really highlighted when you come up against the game’s many bosses.
The game features a long and meaty campaign that will give gamers many hours of entertainment, and the 16-bit graphics make the world of Secret of Mana a joy to behold.
Earthbound is one of the many games in gaming history that wasn’t really appreciated until years after its release. The juvenile marketing campaign that Nintendo undertook for promoting this game certainly didn’t do it any favors.
In a world populated with super-serious storylines for RPGs, Earthbound was a fun departure. It featured interesting combat (auto-win against weak enemies, no randomized enemy encounters and a hit-point system that gave you a chance to heal yourself after receiving what would’ve otherwise been a fatal blow) and a challenging difficulty statement.
Earthbound’s story starts off innocuously – you are Ness, a young kid who meets Buzz-Buzz, a time-travelling fly that warns Ness about a future full of gloom and destruction. Ness must now find three other kids who must help him with this quest, or all is lost. The game is filled with moments of irreverent humor that keep things interesting in an otherwise straightforward tale of friendship and camaraderie.
It is a unique take on the RPG genre that still has a dedicated fanbase. If you’re curious, give Earthbound a try and find out what the hype is all about!
Super Mario RPG
Before developers Squaresoft and Nintendo famously fell out during the mid-90s, they managed to create one last amazing collaboration – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
Super Mario RPG isn’t the ‘deepest’ game in the vein of Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 6, bit it is an important game for several reasons. For one, it introduced the ‘timed attacks’ concept that has since become a staple of games. During combat, Mario and his friends are able to use the A key at the right time to blunt the impact of an enemy attack. You can also press the A key at strategic moments to increase the impact of your magic spells. Different enemies have different tells for when they’re going to attack and understanding these tells to respond in real-time is what makes combat so much fun. You’re rewarded for being vigilant, and battles feel like a complex dance, rather than just a collision of sprites.
Another overlooked aspect of Super Mario RPG is how many gamers it introduced to the RPG genre. The moustachioed plumber is one of gaming’s most recognizable faces and putting him in a game virtually guaranteed that many people would pick it up. The combination of Nintendo’s strengths with Square’s RPG prowess creates a heady mix and gamers who haven’t had the chance to play this game should definitely check it out.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals was one of the lesser-known RPGs on the SNES, but you can safely say it was one of the best. Not only does Lufia 2 have an incredible combat system, but the story of the game is one of the best around. Combine this with a stellar soundtrack and there’s plenty of smiles all around.
Exploration and combat are fairly standard, however, Lufia 2 twists things up by offering plenty of puzzle rooms, some of which are quite the brain-twisters. Another unique aspect of the gameplay is that you have the ability to spawn a capsule monster. There are seven of these spread throughout the game’s world and once you spawn them, they will remain in your party forever. What’s more, these monsters evolve like Pokemon and in their final forms are formidable allies in tough combat situations.
Breath of Fire II
Breath of Fire 2 is another entrant into a long and hallowed line of story-driven RPGs on the SNES. An epic quest that you must navigate through a top-down interface with quirky characters, plot twists and turn-based battles punctuate this game.
Breath of Fire 2 features a challenging difficulty, and several dungeons that you venture into will feature overpowered enemies that will shut down your adventuring real quick if you aren’t careful. In addition, the game delivers hints through dialogue and character interactions that may not be very obvious when you’re first playing through the game. You may have to fire up a web browser occasionally to understand what the game wants you to do.
Even with the occasional hiccup, Breath of Fire 2 is a solid RPG experience that is highly recommended if you’re looking to kill some hours on a lazy weekend.
Secret of Evermore
After the success of Secret of Mana, Squaresoft decided to put a sequel in the hands of an American development team. The result was a distinctly American sequel that may have put off some JRPG fans, but still contained enough surprises of its own to make it a worthwhile play.
Secret of Evermore continues the action-RPG gameplay mechanic of Secret of Mana and even improves on some aspects of its predecessor. You start off with a flimsy bone as your weapon against the great unknown but quickly upgrade to newer and more powerful ones. Like Secret of Mana, the trick to combat is swinging your weapon at the right time and waiting for it to recharge fully to strike again.
Secret of Evermore introduces the ‘Alchemy’ concept which allows you to combine multiple ingredients into a magical potion. There are plenty of potential combinations that you can craft and will need to especially as you come up against tougher enemies towards the end of the game.
Illusion of Gaia
Soul Blazer was an underrated RPG gem which combined standard RPG gameplay with basic town-building elements but didn’t find too much commercial success. With Illusion of Gaia, Enix revisited the formula with a few small twists.
This time around, the quest is a fairly standard “young hero saves the world”. You play as Will, the son of a famous explorer who inherits a magical flute that allows him to enter portals where he communes with Gaia, the Earth Spirit. She sends Will on a quest to gather several artefacts that have been scattered around the world. You’ll visit locations inspired by real-world places like Angkor Wat and the Great Wall of China.
In each time you journey through, there are hidden places where you can find Red Jewels. There are about 50 of these to collect in the game, and upon collecting all of them you’ll have access to a bonus dungeon. Finding all of these gems is easier said than done however because there are points in the quest where certain areas become inaccessible permanently.
One of the more entertaining action RPGs on the SNES, Illusion of Gaia is a fun time for gamers of all skill levels.
Hopefully, you enjoyed the walk down memory lane as we talked about some of the most iconic RPGs video games to grace the SNES. These games featured epic storylines, deep and intriguing characters and gameplay mechanics that kept players interested for dozens of hours.