Earthbound has finally found it's way onto the Wii U. I don't know why it was necessary to include Ness in a dozen spin-offs before we were allowed a chance to play him on the virtual console in his original adventure, but whatever. This is a great opportunity for folks that missed one of the best RPGs ever to relive it, and maybe generate some interest so Shigesato Itoi will return and craft us a new one for the modern age.
Until then, it's left me in a nostalgic mood, and I present the five other 16-bit RPGs that deserve to see rerelease.
Flashback Video Game Atlas: Onett
The 7th Saga: Up there on the list of most difficult RPGs from the era was the turn-based 7th Saga. It wasn't a particularly inspired story, just your random quest for magic runes to defeat an evil wizard, but the game was years ahead of its time in some of its innovations. Players got a crystal ball radar that allowed them to see nearby enemies, meaning that you could theoretically avoid random encounters. Plus, in every game one of your fellow playable characters is a randomly chosen traitor, which made for some powerful repeat playing.
There's time travel, a discussion on the cyclical nature of fate and heroes, all in all a very underrated game that most people gave up on because when it was ported to America they made the enemies twice as powerful. The rights should be sitting around somewhere in Enix's file cabinets, all it requires is someone digging it out.
Lufia & The Fortress of Doom: In a weird turn of events the sequel to Lufia was remade into an action RPG for the DS, while the original languishes around still unreleased. That's understandable, as the game was somewhat unfairly blamed for not being as good as entries like Secret of Mana, but the story still has a lot of heart and it boasts one of the best soundtracks you'll hear from that time. It used an outdated targeting system that refused to acknowledge defeated enemies causing you to miss, but it's all worth it all for the twist ending near the 35-hour gameplay mark.Flashback 7 Games We Wish Nintendo Would Give the DS Treatment
Illusion of Gaia: It may go down in history as the single most linear RPG of all time, but it was definitely a unique adventure. Our hero, Will, is tasked with saving the Earth from a rogue comet that periodically attacks the planet to keep it from advancing. He fights the menace with a huge cats of friends (Though only Will and his alter egos are playable), and a truly unique experience point system that you find a lot more in modern RPGs.
Honestly, it's a game that needs a remake more than a rerelease, as many of the artistic concepts it was going for just weren't possible to accomplish in the 16-bit era, but even that aside it's an underground RPG hit that was very different than anything else available at the time.
Shadowrun: Whether you're talking the SNES or the Genesis game (Totally different games) either one was way too ahead of it's time to ever succeed. Both were action RPGs far too close to a tabletop RPG to ever really grab in casual players, yet both also offered an adult cyberpunk film noir style of story that no one had ever attempted in a console game before.
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Thanks to Kickstarter, a double sequel is tying the two 16-bit games together sometime here in the near future, but it would be nice to try out these on the virtual console now that we're all a little older and a little smarter. If these games had been released a couple of years ago they'd have been the indie games of their respective years. SNES and Genesis fans just weren't ready for it yet.
Bahamut Lagoon: The time has come for someone to finally translate this into English. Japan has hogged this title for too long. BL is a tremendous turn-based strategy RPG where you not only send your units against the enemy, but you are accompanied by a dragon that you raise, feed, and make more powerful.
It's never seen official release outside of Japan, though there have been some fan translations. It was made by many of the same designers who worked on Final Fantasy VI, and you can feel echoes of the same plot as you head a resistance against an evil, tyrannical empire. All that aside, you basically play out as an army with living artillery on your side. It's time in America has come.