The Dude’s High 5s: Old School RPGs


I feel like I haven’t done a video game themed High 5 in forever.  For those of you who are on my XBL friend’s list, you’ve no doubt noticed me delving back into the land of Skyrim.  With other games out on the market, what has me constantly going back to the world of the Elder Scrolls?  Well, in short, I love RPGs.  They have forever been my favorite genre of game to play.  So submitted for your approval, I present my favorite old school RPGs.

(Old school will be understood to be games originally released for the SNES/Genesis and previous)


5. Secret of Mana (SNES – 1993)

Secret of Mana.

Secret of Mana was one of the first games that I ever played where I was awed by the art style.  I was 12 when the game was released, and didn’t play it until I was about 14 or so.  Back then I had no appreciation for such things.  However, even an ignorant little brat like my past self could not ignore how hauntingly beautiful this game was.  I am afraid to attempt to replay the game as I don’t know if it would hold up.


4. Eye of the Beholder (DOS – 1990)

Eye of the Beholder.

I’m gonna let you in on a little secret.  Just between us though, okay.  The Dude, when he was a mere Dude-ling, used to pen and paper (I wanted to write PnP, but apparently that is now a term to describe the homosexual lifestyle known as Party and Play).  Eye of the Beholder was my first foray into the video game world of Dungeons and Dragons.  Needless to say, the game blew me away.  Looking back, it’s your typical dungeon crawler.  It leads you through the sewers of the troubled town of Waterdeep searching for an ancient evil.  The thing that hooked me was creating characters.  I love the character creation process, and back in the days of “Here’s your hero, now go save the world”, I wanted more.  Eye of the Beholder gave me that.  I could make an evil party.  I could make a mix of men, women, Dwarves, Elves, Halflings and gnomes.  I was defined only by my imagination and not by the game; a revolutionary concept to my underdeveloped brain.


3. Phantasy Star II (Genesis – 1990)

 Phanstasy Star II.

Phantasy Star II was the game I played to death.  I was the SEGA kid.  So I didn’t have all the cool games on SNES that my friends did.  Eventually I would own both a SNES and a Genesis, making me one of the lucky few who could choose.  The game itself was far ahead of its time.  It was one of the first 16-bit games released in the US, and dealt with complex concepts before any other games did.  Looking back, Phantasy Star II was not geared towards kids like Final Fantasy was.  This game also caused a childhood trauma to me as I couldn’t wrap my mind around the concept of permanently killing a companion.


2. Chrono Trigger (SNES – 1995)

Chrono Trigger.

I cheesed the hell out of this game.  This was the first game I bought used. This was also one of the first games to use the New Game +.  So, my first play through, I was using capped characters with epic gear.  I have subsequently redeemed myself and beaten the game on my own since them.  There are so many iconic moments from this game; going to the future, Chrono sacrificing himself, Magnus fighting Frog, forging the Masamune, and so on.  Chrono Trigger was also revolutionary for having not only multiple endings, but multiple ending based on when you took on the last boss.  From being able to bungle into Lavos in the first 5 minutes, to grinding for 60+ hours only to face him in an epic showdown for the battle for the future.


1. Final Fantasy III (SNES – 1994)  

Final Fantasy III.

To be fair, I love Final Fantasy II just as much as I love FFIII.  I have just chosen FFIII to represent the series.  I don’t really have to explain this one, do I?  The cast is amazing, the quest is epic, the villain is detestable (and wonderful), the Esper system is great, the world of ruin is haunting … truly one of the most important games ever.


So what old school RPGs get you folks looking for your old systems?