Tag Archives: roleplaying games

An Ode to my Favorite RPG’s

I’m very picky when it comes to role-playing games. There are very few that really catch my eye and spark my interest. I’m not quite sure what it is about most RPG’s that turns me off, but I know that I don’t typically care for the genre in general. Anything that is too heavy on the RPG elements is unappealing to me, so is pretty much any Japanese RPG. There are a handful that I have played and enjoyed though, prompting me to create this list in their honor.

These seven RPG’s stand out as some of the best games in their genre, to me. When the “what’s your favorite RPG?” debates take place I always bring up the following games due to their ability to entertain me and hold a place in my mind as quality games. To kick of this list, which is in no particular order, I am choosing one of my all time favorite video games…

Dark Cloud:


Dark Cloud is an action RPG that was released exclusively on the PlayStation 2 back in 2001. It’s set in a fantasy world in which the player assumes control of a young boy who is trying to restore the world and stop and evil genie. The coolest part of this game was collecting Atla, orbs which reside in dungeons which contain parts of the areas around the game, and rebuilding the villages. You could technically place this stuff anywhere around the town if you wanted, but each villager needed to be placed in a certain area or next to a specific landmark for the area to be completed, which created a very neat in-game dynamic. It was a really cool concept as far as story and game mechanics went. Gameplay-wise it was a dungeon-crawler/hack-and-slash, the main character uses swords but as you progress through the game side characters with other types of weapons are picked up and may be controlled in the dungeons. One of the more memorable features was having to watch the ‘health’ of your weapons, the more they were used the more worn they would get, if they broke then they were gone forever. If you had a high damage sword with lots of upgrades and it breaks, you were basically out of luck. No joke.

Fable 2:


While I also enjoyed Fable 3 more than most people did, I think Fable 2 was the better game of the three main games in the Fable series. Fable 2 was a sequel to Fable and was released in 2008 as an Xbox 360 exclusive. One of my favorite things about this game was the ability to be good or evil, morally. It was one of the first games I had ever played where I could make choices like that and they actually impacted the game for better or worse. I found the storyline to be particularly enticing, as well. I really loved the introduction in which you play as the main character, but when they were a child. Living in poverty with you sister you have to collect enough coins to buy a “magical box” from a man selling trinkets on the street. After acquiring the box and wishing that they could live in a castle, they are awakened in the night and escorted to Castle Fairfax. After some intense stuff, the game begins with the main character as an adult. The gameplay was also another key point to this game, the mixture of gun and sword play was brilliant and with a little magic here and there, the game was downright entertaining.

Mass Effect Series:


I hope this choice didn’t surprise any of you at this point. The first Mass Effect game was released back in 2007 (on my birthday, oddly enough) as an Xbox 360 exclusive. It has since become available on the PC and the PlayStation 3. Each game is the epitome of action RPG and from the first game to the third and final game the series grew and evolved, becoming more perfected with each release. Following  Commander Shepard on his or her journey to stop the Reapers, players meet and interact with a plethora of unique and interesting characters, form relationships and bonds, make game altering choices, and kick a whole lot of Reaper ass along the way. One of the main things about the Mass Effect series that makes it so great is that you make the game uniquely yours. You and another person can play the same game at the same time and still be taken in very different directions. There are tons of options and choices to make, each affecting the game series as a whole and individualizing each player’s experience. The gameplay is also very enjoyable, the introduction of biotic and tech powers that are unique to the series make the gameplay more than just a point and shoot experience. Everything about these games make them great, it’s pretty simple.

Pokemon Red/Blue:


Pokemon Red and Blue were the first installments in the Pokemon video game series, released in North America in 1998 for the Gameboy. I purchased a Gameboy for these games alone and don’t recall ever playing much else on the handheld system. The Pokemon games feature a classic RPG system that is, for the most part, still a part of the series today. You take on the role of a new Pokemon trainer as he starts his journey to be the very best, like no one ever was. His ultimate goal is to catch all the Pokemon (this was back in the days when there were only 151 to catch) and make his way to the top by beating every Pokemon trainer. You must train your Pokemon and establish an efficient team, which makes the game a little tricky. As you know, each Pokemon type has a strength and a weakness so you have to keep a good team with you to be an effective trainer. The Pokemon series kicked off with two of the best video games out there, and to me these are the only two video games that matter in the Pokemon video game series.

Final Fantasy VII:


Ah the memories. Final Fantasy VII is the only game in the Final Fantasy Series that I like and is also the only JRPG that I enjoy. It was originally released back in 1997 as a PlayStation exclusive. It was also released later on the PC as well and is available as a “PS Classic” title on the PlayStation 3. Final Fantasy VII features classic turn based gameplay and vast exploration. Taking up four discs on the original PlayStation version, it was pretty massive game for it’s time. One of my personal favorite things about this game is the characters and setting. It was one of the first games I ever played in which I really cared about the characters and their stories, and Sephiroth is still my all time favorite video game enemy. I suppose that is what sets it apart from the other games in the series for me, since I honestly don’t care much for turn based combat on average. A lot of what I love about this game is nostalgia, as well. We all have those games that we grew up playing that hold a special place in our hearts, Final Fantasy VII is one of those games.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning:


Despite all the issues surrounding this game, I enjoyed it. Kingdoms of Amalur (KoA) was released on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC in 2012 and falls into the action RPG and hack-and-slash genres. Allowing you to create your own character and carve your own path, KoA had a great base and featured many entertaining elements. The gameplay was very cool, you could choose the type of weapons and armor you use and wear, respectively, as well as use magical powers in combat. The more interesting part was the upgrade system, as it was rather in-depth. First of all you can choose your fate which offers up extra powers and abilities. Ability/weapon upgrading allows you to have a more personal control over your play style, for instance you can spec combat prowess and magical skill to become a battlemage or focus on stealth to be a rogue. The three main paths (combat, stealth, and magic) can be mixed together or focused on alone, and combination has special perks and upgrades of their own. It’s a really fun game that features enjoyable gameplay and memorable characters, the storyline is also really cool and can last for quite sometime if sidequests are included.

The Elder Scrolls Series:


Like with the Mass Effect series, it’s difficult to choose just one game in The Elder Scrolls series as my favorite. Albeit the only two I have played are Oblivion and Skyrim, but regardless it’s hard to choose. The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was the first game that I played in the series, releasing in 2006 on the Xbox 360 and PC then later on the PlayStation 3. Something about it drew me in and I ended spending massive amounts of time playing it resulting in my very first “100% achievement score” on the Xbox 360. The combat as well as the setting and storyline are probably the key factors of it’s appeal to me. Skyrim was released later on in 2011 on the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Skyrim is another great installment in The Elder Scrolls series for similar reasons, including setting, storyline, and combat. Plus, how can you not like a game in which you fight and kill dragons? As far as Bethesda RPG’s go, I’m all about The Elder Scrolls and not some much into the Fallout series. The detail put into making such expansive world and unique races and characters gives these games an edge and earns them a place on list of best RPG’s.


Well those are my favorite RPG’s, and the only RPG’s I truly enjoy. What are some of yours? I’m sure that some of you are really into RPG’s since it’s a popular genre, so which do you consider to be your favorites?

Why tabletop roleplaying beats video games any day

You know what one of my fondest teenage memories is? It’s that time my friends and I made our way to a forgotten mountain town, where we saved the villagers from two minor gods battling over the divine resources the town held. After convincing the deities to call it a truce, we helped fortifying the town to defend from an army that had been chasing us through half the country. We erected a temple that channeled the divine energy of the place, trained the villagers, gave the town an actual wall and faced off against a host of highly skilled killers. Once all of this was over, a dark secret of one of my friends was revealed, but that’s another story.

Of course, the above anecdote didn’t really happen. At least not in this world. It did however happen in the world of the minds of my high school friends and I, as we played one of our sessions of Exalted. Back then, Exalted and a slew of other tabletop roleplaying games drew me into a hobby that is still a part of my life. To this day, not a single video game has come close to the wonders I experienced in games like Dungeons & Dragons, Vampire: the Masquerade and even indie titles like Fiasco. As fond as I am of the digital arts, my love for the “mind’s eye theater” will always be stronger. Why? Well, sit down at my table, roll that d20 in front of you and compare it to your Lore skill. If you succeed, the Dungeon Master will tell you all about why the pen and paper are mightier than the console and controller. Yeah, that roll will do.

First of all, no matter how open the world of a game like Skyrim will be, it will never be as open as the world that you imagine. In tabletop roleplaying games, the players decide the boundaries of their world, while in a videogame, the developer makes that call. You want to go beyond the great ocean? Too bad, there’s nothing there! In a pen & paper RPG, the players could set out to find a distant land there, without buying an expansion pack you’ll be waiting for too long. Sky’s the limit, and you’ll never hit and invisible wall.

Second, it’s the best co-op multiplayer game out there! You don’t need to by your own copy of the game, you can play it both local and online, and there are no weird connectivity issues. Tabletop RPG’s combine elements of good old fantasy action games with cooperative storytelling, and I haven’t seen a single video game yet that tries to do that.

Last but not least: your mind is the best engine ever. Don’t you just hate frame drops, or a gaming rig which decides to implode the day that new badass game hits the shelves? Well, don’t fret, ’cause tabletop RPG’s run on your powerful internal piece of hardware called your brain, and that takes more than a hot summer day and some weak parts to overheat! Sure, modern engines and the right hardware can render some pretty images, but nothing can create more visceral, personal and touching vistas than your own mind. It becomes even more powerful when you build that image together with friends, adding layer upon layer of images, blending together to create epic, dramatic and plain beautiful sights.

Don’t get me wrong: I love video games. However, I think that no matter how advanced they become or how complex they will be, they will always have limitations, while my fantasy will not. Sitting together with friends, as we pierce together a tale of heroes, monsters and dramatic choices will always be a creative and emotional experience video games just can’t provide. That’s okay though. After all, they are different media with different goals, but I know which one I choose when I want to tell my own story.

Don’t worry video games. It’s not you, it’s me. I just need a d10 and a natural 20 from time to time.