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Messages - wyldephang

Was it Parasite Eve?
Introductions / Re: Hello from Me
June 27, 2014, 21:12:07 PM
Nathan, you're a lucky man to have a wife that appreciates the finer points of retro gaming. ;) As you start your collecting journey, I hope you relish the opportunity to relive your youth, but also stumble across some new games and make new memories along the way.
Introductions / Re: All Your Base Are Belong to Us!
June 27, 2014, 21:02:12 PM
From one newbie to another, welcome to the forum!  The Mega Drive does have a very dedicated fan base, so I'm sure you'll find yourself at home here.  I suppose I could act the part of the Nintendo devotee if you ever want to have a spirited discussion. ;)
Nintendo Chat / Re: The Nintendo 64 thread.
June 27, 2014, 07:06:42 AM
For a console that lacked extensive third-part support, the Nintendo 64 managed to produce some great titles.  The technical limitations of the cartridge really prevented N64 games from matching the cinematic quality of PlayStation games.  But since everything was accessed from the cartridge, loading times were fast and it was not uncommon for games like Zelda: Ocarina of Time to have vast overworlds drawn and rendered in just a few seconds.  Texture filtering also greatly improved the visuals of the games; it really helped that Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars, for instance, was not a pixelated, blocky mess, but looked and ran smooth.
General Retro Chat / Re: Cleaning Your Cartridges
June 27, 2014, 06:52:38 AM
I once put together a two-part YouTube video on SNES cartridge cleaning, but took it down because I spent most of the time rambling about inconsequential facts while struggling to keep my camera phone in focus.  Yeah, I know, first-world problems. :-

Edit: One thing I might add is that it helps to keep a black permanent marker nearby to touch up faded spots on the label.  I know this is a less-than-ideal way of covering up blemishes, but for my own personal collection, it works just fine as long as the color matches. ;)
Quote from: "TrekMD"Hmm, this should make for interesting discussion.  I'll start by saying that I feel the NES is an overrated console, mostly because people (particularly in the US), see it as the savior of video games and that is an exaggeration.  The console is OK (with flicker being one of its most annoying weaknesses) and it does have an extensive game library but I think it is how it was marketed in the US that led to its success.  It was also helped by the exclusivity of the titles (thank to how Nintendo worked things).  Unfortunately, Nintendo also wanted the console to have unique versions of arcade games and that screwed things up many times where games bore little resemblance to the arcade originals.  Nintendo's commitment to being successful also helped as they were not afraid to add hardware to carts so the system could have better games.

The NES is a natural answer because it was the most popular console (in the U.S. at least) in the '80s and still stirs up strong feelings of nostalgia for anyone who grew up with one.  I find that when gamers in America use words like "old school," they're generally referring to NES titles like Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt.  Some people, clouded by their fond memories of the '80s, might get sucked into thinking that every game on the system was a genre-defining hit.  Sadly enough, as the AVGN so often reminds us, there were quite a few bad, downright unplayable games on the NES.  As time went on, I think Nintendo learned how to better identify great concepts for games and put them into practice.  This is why I feel the Super Nintendo is a somewhat underrated console in comparison to its predecessor.  If I were restricted to owning only one Nintendo machine, it'd have to be the SNES for its enormous library of quality titles.

Quote from: "SnakeEyes"The Jaguar is so overrated by certain parts of its fanbase it borders on delusional.

I think that's true of any niche fan base.  I know of a couple Virtual Boy collectors who would swear on a stack of Teleroboxers that they don't get eye strain after staring at red-on-black wire-frame graphics for more than 15 minutes straight.  The Jaguar has a good number of those loyalists who will overlook the console's faults in order to magnify its strengths, but I think that's a good thing; every console needs a following.
Thank you, Wiggy.  As you can tell, I had to make some important omissions as I wanted to capture the general arc of RPGs in the last three decades, but in a somewhat concise manner.  I feel Zelda, for instance, is one of those games that touches on the surface of the RPG genre, but my history was already becoming verbose and I didn't want to try anyone's patience by making it longer.  Suffice it to say that there is indeed a vast world of RPGs beyond what I was able to mention here, so if anyone feels I missed something, feel free to add it and maybe some pictures as well so we all can benefit from your insight. :)

In addition, I'd recommend checking out games from the following series to get a better idea of the vastness of the genre.  For each game, there's a link to a photo gallery in case you're interested. Harvest Moon, Fable, Mario & Luigi, Ogre Battle, Pokemon, Breath of Fire, Borderlands, Crystalis, Illusion of Gaia, Starflight, Front Mission, Might and Magic, Bahamut Lagoon, SaGa, Rogue, Grandia, Skies of Arcadia, Persona, The 7th Saga, Shadowrun, Parasite Eve, Lost Odyssey, The World Ends with You, Bard's Tale, Wild Arms, and Valkyrie Profile.
Thanks all! Sure, Laird, if you think you could find a place for it, I'd be thrilled to have it featured. :)
[align=center:1w17x7a7][size=140]Console RPGs in the early 2000s[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

[size=80]Final Fantasy X, Dragon Quest VIII[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

The PlayStation era had been a resounding success due to the efforts of those RPG studios who were able to maximize the potential of CD media and its capacity for cinematic storytelling.  As usual, RPG fans were enthusiastic to see the direction Square would take as the series continued on the PlayStation 2.  The first Final Fantasy of this new generation was Final Fantasy X (2001).  Aided by the power of the PlayStation 2, FFX was the first game in the series to utilize actual voice actors, giving each character a distinct personality.  The active time battle mechanic was phased out in favor of a new system which allowed players to swap characters in and out of battle at will.  Leveling up was no longer automatic; instead, skill and stat points were mapped out on a grid, allowing the player to select each attribute individually.  The 2000s also saw the resurrection of the Dragon Quest series, which had actually thrived in Japan through the 1990s, but didn't receive great Western reception until Dragon Quest VIII (2005).  In contrast to the ever-changing Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest returned in vintage form with game mechanics that would have felt familiar to anyone who played the NES games.

[size=80]Kingdom Hearts, Tales of Symphonia[/size]

[size=80]Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

Perhaps one of the more ambitious efforts of the 2000s was the pairing of Disney with Square to make Kingdom Hearts (2002), an action RPG featuring Disney and Square icons in a whimsical fantasy setting.  It was just crazy enough to work, but all of the elements came together to make Kingdom Hearts one of the more memorable games of the 2000s.  Also worth noting is that Nintendo, having neglected traditional RPGs throughout the life of the Nintendo 64, would reenter the picture as a contender in the RPG genre with games like Tales of Symphonia (2003) and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door (2004) on the GameCube.  Both games were praised for their charming, vivid art styles and smooth control schemes, and Paper Mario was lauded for introducing new platforming elements.  Nintendo's Fire Emblem series received its first console localization in the West with Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (2005), filling the void for tactical RPGs on the GameCube.  Overall, RPG studios in the 2000s both respected the traditions of the genre while offering innovations to keep it fresh.  The decade would foster new expectations for RPGs, especially as gamers became aware of the possibilities of online gaming and MMORPGs.  It could be said that after MMORPGs, console RPGs never felt or played quite the same.

[align=center:1w17x7a7][size=140]PC RPGs; MMORPGs[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

[size=80]Baldur's Gate, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls: Arena[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

Throughout the 1990s, while Japanese RPGs flourished on the Super Nintendo and PlayStation, there was an entirely different segment of gamer culture dedicated to PC RPGs.  Recall that all modern RPGs have in some shape or form harkened back to the gameplay principles of Dungeons & Dragons.  But while Japanese RPGs deviated from their roots in CRPGs like Ultima and Wizardry, Western RPG studios never lost sight of the original vision.  This is why games like Baldur's Gate (1998), Fallout (1997), and The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994) evoked feelings of nostalgia for those who grew up during the advent of CRPGs in the late 1970s and '80s.  One thing that set Baldur's Gate apart from, say, Final Fantasy was the presence of avatar-like characters who do not contribute as much to the in-game narrative, but can be personalized to a greater degree.  In a game like Final Fantasy VII, which thrives on sentimental storytelling, these "blank slate" characters cannot provide the emotional foundation to support a sympathetic narrative.  But such characters can be bent in whichever direction the player sees fit, unlike those in Final Fantasy who are more or less predestined to act out certain roles.  This distinction defines how one might look at RPGs from a cultural and practical perspective: heading into the 2000s, Western RPGs continued to allow players to exercise free will over the character's moral decisions and growth.

[size=80]Diablo and Diablo II[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

To this point, role-playing video games had largely built this reputation for lengthy single-player narratives, and it wasn't until Diablo (1996) and Diablo II (2000) uplifted multiplayer RPGs to a lofty stature that the potential for online RPGs was seen.  Equal parts RPG and hack-and-slash adventure, the Diablo games involve a small band of heroes that descend into subterranean dungeons to defeat the evil Diablo and his servants.  Players gain stat and skill points in battle and can spend them freely, developing certain attributes and abilities.  Characters could specialize in melee or ranged attacks, carry swords, axes, staves, and bows, and wear many different types of armor, allowing for a fully customizable game experience.  When one's character was strong enough to fight alongside some friends, one could invite other adventurers into games hosted on servers and take on Diablo as a group.  The worlds are randomized every time a new game starts: sometimes, a player will venture into a dungeon and find a chest full of unique items, and other times, that chest will contain nothing more than some paltry stashes of gold.  In Diablo, the joy of discovery and the temptations of the unknown fuel the player's lust for exploration, and it's even better when enjoyed with a few friends all working together to slay Diablo's hordes of demons and share in the bounty.  Diablo has often been considered to be a borderline MMORPG with the outward appearance of a traditional hack-and-slash adventure game.  Like an MMORPG, Diablo involves a community of millions of players who all feel they're a part of a collective experience.  Online RPGs were starting to reach an unprecedented height.

Indeed, the MMORPG was an important step in the progression of RPGs because it united gamers for a common purpose.  Technically, the MMORPG is a genre all of its own, but for the sake of this topic, I will touch briefly on it.  It could be said that the earliest MMORPGs took root in the form of MUDs, which were hosted on online servers and accessed by ostensibly hundreds of people at a time.  Character information was stored on databases, so that players could return later and level their characters, collect items, and complete quests.  On some servers, I recall that players were even allowed to form alliances and factions, and NPCs could be programmed to respond to player commands.  Closely related to the text adventure genre, early MUDs ran on text-based systems with at most a very rudimentary graphical interface.

[size=80]Ultima Online, EverQuest, World of Warcraft[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

PC technology in the '90s progressed to the point where several thousands of sprites or character models could be rendered at a time.  And with the advent of these new powerful graphical engines came the next step in MMORPG evolution.  The launch of Ultima Online (1997), the pet project of Richard Garriott, was met with much anticipation from RPG enthusiasts worldwide.  Players could interact with each other as they would in a MUD, but now, all battles and character commands were visualized in a rich, colorful isometric fantasy world.  I remember the breathtaking environments of UO with its diverse landscapes, towns, wildernesses crawling with beasts, and player characters and NPCs scattered across every corner of the map.  UO standardized the pay-to-play subscription service still seen in MMORPGs today, and for a short time, UO's grasp on the market went unchallenged until an ambitious group of veteran programmers at Sony's 989 Studios started work on a project that would change gaming forever.

Their project, EverQuest (1999), differed from UO in that it featured third-person gaming in a 3D environment, bringing gamers closer to the action.  EverQuest subscriptions soon overtook UO, and at the height of its popularity in 2003, EverQuest claimed a subscription base of over 450,000.  It could truly be said that gamers were in the jaws of an MMORPG pandemic, but the infection would only become more widespread as the decade marched on.  World of Warcraft (2004), Blizzard's response to EverQuest, launched to universal acclaim and currently serves over 7 million subscribers.  WOW players are invited to join alliances and band together in a fight for loot, experience, and survival.

[align=center:1w17x7a7][size=140]Modern RPGs and beyond[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

[size=80]Final Fantasy XII, Xenoblade Chronicles[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

Modern MMORPGs utilize a real-time battle system that imparts an immediacy of action and pace.  As the genre became more successful, Japanese RPG studios began to incorporate gameplay elements from EverQuest and WOW into their games to keep up with changing gamer sensibilities.  Titles like Final Fantasy XII (2006) and Xenoblade Chronicles (2010) have done away with traditional turn-based combat to maximize the spontaneity of battles and bring greater attention to action rather than strategy.  The same RPG studios have also de-emphasized equipment hoarding and party organization to reduce the amount of time one spends in menus.  Traditional fans have criticized this streamlined approach, but ultimately, it proved to be a wise decision for the developers; Xenoblade Chronicles was a tremendous success, and Nintendo recently announced a new installment in the series at E3.

[size=80]Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Mass Effect[/size][/align:1w17x7a7]

Meanwhile, North American studios like BioWare and Bethesda Softworks continued to publish RPGs developed primarily around Western RPG conventions.  The Xbox, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 were the platforms of choice for such titles as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003), The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (2006), and Mass Effect (2007).  Many of these games began to integrate gameplay elements from first-person shooter games while retaining the characteristic feel and function of an RPG.  Just as the reinvention of Japanese RPGs in the late 2000s rejuvenated the genre, BioWare and Bethesda found great success with their action-based RPG franchises.  The influx of hybrid RPGs expanded the influence and accessibility of the genre, and now, there's bound to be a flavor of RPG for everybody. From post-apocalyptic wastelands to medieval castles, from the gloominess of urban decay to the pomp and pageantry of royal courts, the genre is truly one of the most diverse in gaming today.
[align=center:3joztqie][size=140]The Golden Age[/size][/align:3joztqie]

[size=80]Final Fantasy IV[/size][/align:3joztqie]

The Mega Drive/Genesis RPGs were truly astounding in presentation and polish, but many enthusiasts were anxiously awaiting Nintendo's next effort.  When the Super Famicom was released in 1990, it elevated console gaming to a new height as it featured a larger color palette than its principal competitor and had a powerful sound chip that was capable of high quality sampling.  Suddenly, the bar for console RPGs had risen.  Yoshitaka Amano's artwork for the Final Fantasy games had never looked better on the screen, and composer Nobuo Uematsu penned some of his finest scores with the powerful new sound hardware that was capable of concert-like orchestration.  Final Fantasy IV (1991) was one of the first RPGs to be published on the Super Famicom, and was localized for the Super Nintendo that same year.  This was the first RPG to utilize Square's active time battle system, a variation of turn-based battle mechanics in which turns are decided by a timer.  This sped up the pace of the enemy encounters, making them more frenetic and challenging.  Also, fans saw a noticeable improvement in character design, making the characters themselves more integral to the plot than ever before.

[size=80]Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, EarthBound[/size]

[size=80]Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger[/size][/align:3joztqie]

The period from 1991 through the end of the 16-bit generation would be some of the most fruitful years for RPG production, leading it to be termed the Golden Age of RPGs by many enthusiasts.  There was a great spirit of experimentation among the biggest RPG studios at the time, leading to the creation of games like Secret of Mana (1993), Super Mario RPG (1996), and EarthBound (1994), all of which truly expanded the genre in new directions.  But perhaps the crowning achievement for RPGs in the Golden Age was the duo of Final Fantasy VI (1994) and Chrono Trigger (1995).  Both games are renowned today for their exceedingly high degree of polish.  FFVI refined the traditional Japanese RPG formula to perfection, resulting in some of the most memorable scenes, most relatable characters, and most exhilarating battles in Final Fantasy history.  The game used the same active time battle mechanic as its predecessor, but with 14 playable characters, each with their own unique abilities and last-resort desperation attacks, players had many different options to customize the battle experience.  Chrono Trigger integrated a new style of turn-based combat where character positioning could influence the sway of the battle; it also introduced dual techs, abilities performed by two or more characters acting in unison.  Ultimately, FFVI and Chrono Trigger were shining examples of the genre at its best, and offered definitive closure for RPGs in the 16-bit era.  With the bar set high heading into the next generation, Square knew they needed a stellar effort to meet expectations.

[align=center:3joztqie][size=140]The PlayStation era[/size][/align:3joztqie]

Since Final Fantasy's inception, Square observed a near-exclusive partnership with Nintendo.  So, as the 16-bit generation came to an end, most fans expected that Nintendo would continue to be the company to carry the Final Fantasy brand into the future.  But Nintendo's decision to support the cartridge format posed some interesting problems for Square.  Game cartridges were more expensive to produce, and capable of holding only a fraction of the amount of data that could be stored on CD.  Foreseeing that the next generation of RPGs would have to be more grand and cinematic than ever before, Square decided to partner with Sony, whose CD-based PlayStation made it possible for RPG studios to experiment with full-motion video sequencing and studio quality soundtracks.

[size=80]Final Fantasy VII[/size][/align:3joztqie]

The first game to come from this partnership was Final Fantasy VII (1997).  The best-selling Final Fantasy up to that point, FFVII would be the first RPG experience for many young gamers, so it was integral that the game was designed to make all the core features accessible to first-timers.  The battle system of previous games has largely been preserved, only now players command three rather than four combatants at once.  The desperation attacks of FFVI have been adapted into the limit break system of FFVII, where characters can store powerful moves called limit breaks upon taking damage.  The only way to unlock all limit breaks is by using each character regularly, giving players some incentive to experiment with their party selection.  Altogether there are nine playable characters in FFVII, each of which has an intriguing story to tell and a reason to join the fight.

Many critics noted that the gameplay was one of FFVII's strongest selling points, but the level to which storytelling ascended in FFVII exceeded all expectations.  Characters exude raw emotion as they relate their struggles and reveal their personal scars.  There's a darkness looming over the narrative as the plot engages themes like poverty, famine, and corporate greed.  One popular sequence involves the death of one of the main characters, which resonates deep in the soul of all RPG fans to this day.  FFVII was a great example of how an RPG studio could use good story writing, music, and visual effects to color the emotion of a scene.  It's a testament to the power of the RPG that people are still talking about these scenes today.

[size=80]Final Fantasy VIII and IX[/size]

[size=80]Xenogears, Chrono Cross[/size]

[size=80]Suikoden, Final Fantasy Tactics[/size][/align:3joztqie]

Sakaguchi's masterful follow-up to FFVI received unanimous praise from critics and fans worldwide.  Square would tweak the design for the next game in the series, Final Fantasy VIII (1999), improving the quality of the visuals and FMV sequences while experimenting with some interesting new battle mechanics.  Traditional character classes and nostalgic music were revived for Square's next effort, Final Fantasy IX (2000), which was intended to be a throwback to the early Final Fantasy games, and ended up being a wonderful, symbolic send-off for Square on the PlayStation.  Though Final Fantasy was the dominant RPG series on the PlayStation, many other RPGs managed to leave an indelible impression too.  Xenogears (1998) featured a highly abstract plot involving Freudian philosophy, towering mecha suits, and a hybrid battle system in which players could chain together combos.  Chrono Cross (2000), the anticipated sequel to Chrono Trigger, may have failed to garner the reception of its predecessor, but it was still praised for its soundtrack and visuals, its dual world narrative device, and its refreshing take on turn-based battle mechanics.  The Suikoden (1995) games integrated a more complex rank formation system into enemy encounters, and tactical RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics (1997) were noted for allowing players to move freely on a field and use terrain to their advantage.
I had this idea to put together a collage depicting the evolution of RPGs, but I feel the story of the RPG is as interesting as the games themselves, so I took the liberty of completing a write-up.  Because my history lesson became much longer than I anticipated, this will be a multi-part overview of RPGs from the 1970s to the present day.  It might only appeal to those of you who are interested in RPGs, but I hope everyone will read at least a little, as the genre and the folklore surrounding it have become fixtures of gaming culture.  And for anyone who is new to the RPG, I hope this inspires you to pick up one of these games.

[align=center:1a20w6fs][size=140]Genesis of RPGs; computer RPGs[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

[align=center:1a20w6fs][size=80]Ultima, Wizardry[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

The video game genre known as the role-playing game had its start in the 1970s with tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons.  Computer hobbyists with a passion for D&D would be the first to digitize the rules and make it possible for tabletop games to be played on the computer, but it wasn't until Richard Garriott released Akalabeth in 1979 that the true potential of computerized RPGs was seen.  This is the genesis of the role-playing video game, or CRPG (computer RPG).  Early titles like Ultima (1981) and Wizardry (1981) featured very basic graphical interfaces and ran on a text-based system wherein players would input commands into the console to move around the world, attack enemies, or speak to non-player characters (NPCs).  While crude by today's standards, Ultima and Wizardry offered a lot of variety in how parties could be customized; most of these games featured several different character classes, allowing players to have a fresh adventure each subsequent playthrough.

[align=center:1a20w6fs][size=80]Adventure, Dragonstomper[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

Early on, the games had their greatest success among hobbyists and in university computer labs.  But it wasn't long before the games began to appeal to a wider audience, and even reached Japanese markets for the first time.  Console gamers might have been the next obvious target for the growth of CRPGs in the early 1980s; games like Adventure (1979) and Dragonstomper (1982) for the Atari 2600 tested the waters for the potential of these types of games.  But around this time, the industry was ravaged by the great crash of 1983, and it wouldn't be until a new champion hailing from Japan, Nintendo, emerged that video games would get a fresh start.  We're well acquainted with the success of the Mario games and the Zeldas.  But what some gamers might not know is that the RPG was one of the greatest sources of revenue for video games in Japan.  In fact, the genre spawned Japan's single greatest video game celebrity, Yuji Horii.

[align=center:1a20w6fs][size=140]Early console RPGs[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

[size=80]Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

Horii was a great admirer of the Ultima and Wizardry games, and sought to design a console-based interpretation of his favorite CRPGs that utilized the same gameplay elements, only streamlined for the Nintendo Famicom.  His vision came to life with Dragon Quest (1986), which birthed one of the most successful game franchises in Japan.  Riding on the waves of Dragon Quest was Hironobu Sakaguchi's intended swan song Final Fantasy (1987).  These early Famicom RPGs standardized random enemy encounters, which were generally triggered by a step counter, and a system of leveling wherein experience points were pooled together and multiple stats were raised all at once.  While DQ featured battles in a first-person perspective, FF implemented a horizontal view of the battlefield, allowing players to see every action play out in 8-bit splendor.  More importantly, the Japanese RPGs put a greater emphasis on storytelling; with each subsequent DQ or FF game, the plot would become more complex, more integral to our enjoyment of the game.

[size=80]Dragon Quest III, Final Fantasy III[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

Famicom RPGs arguably hit their peak with Dragon Quest III (1988) and Final Fantasy III (1990).  At this point, it had become fairly obvious that Horii's and Sakaguchi's games were vastly different from each other.  Whereas the DQ games provided fairly consistent gameplay each time around, the FF games introduced radical new concepts in every new installment.  FFII saw the integration of a controversial new leveling system; in FFIII, new character classes (jobs) were introduced, changing the way players approached the game.  This sense of constant reinvention became one of Final Fantasy's selling points, especially as it made a successful transition to Western shores in 1990.  In contrast, Dragon Quest--known as Dragon Warrior in the West--saw dwindling North American sales despite a massive Nintendo Power campaign.  When the 16-bit generation arrived, neither of the two Super Famicom Dragon Quest games made it to Western markets.

[size=80]Sword of Vermilion, Phantasy Star II[/size]

[size=80]Shining Force, Landstalker[/size]

[size=80]Phantasy Star IV[/size][/align:1a20w6fs]

RPGs in the 16-bit generation got off to an auspicious start with Sword of Vermilion (1989) and Phantasy Star II (1989) on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis.  Featuring enhanced music and graphics, the 16-bit RPGs brought a greater degree of artistic verisimilitude to the genre as it became possible to animate characters and articulate emotions in new ways.  Storytelling became more physical and realistic: if characters needed to cry, they could cry; if they needed to slump over in pain, they could do so.  Other prominent Mega Drive/Genesis RPGs include the tactical RPG Shining Force (1993) and the isometric action/platformer RPG Landstalker (1992), but the genre reached monumental proportions with Phantasy Star IV (1993), featuring an elaborate plot, energetic soundtrack, and a cinematic style of storytelling.
For me, it's a toss-up between my two favorites, TMNT and Streets of Rage.  I think TMNT is stronger as a whole, but Streets of Rage II is the perfect beat-'em-up game with a great art style, soundtrack, and tight gameplay.  Turtles in Time is a close second.
That's an awesome collection you've got there. :) I do think the GameCube is an underrated system, especially considering it had to compete with PS2 sales. Some of the more artistically impressive games of that generation are found on the GameCube, like Super Mario Sunshine and Resident Evil. It's also worth mentioning, from a collector's standpoint at least, that many GameCube games have skyrocketed in value. I'm hoping to build my own collection little by little.
Introductions / New member intro
June 22, 2014, 06:26:43 AM
Hello!  I'm a grad school student from Maryland with a love for video games.  I made my first foray into gaming when I was only two years old, playing games like Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man 2.  The passion just grew from there; we got a Super Nintendo in 1992-93, and I started to appreciate the beauty and art of video games.

I learned about RVG from Trek, who referred me here when I inquired about his reviews.  I mentioned to him that I'd like to become involved in submitting reviews to the website sometime down the road.  So, if there are any opportunities to contribute in the way of SNES reviews, or N64 and PS1 reviews, I'm willing to help in whatever way I can.  :1: