All too often, great video game franchises fall by the wayside. Changing tastes of the video game buying masses shift trends and as developers scramble to create new titles to sate hungry gamers, great series are left forgotten.
Role playing games, as genres go, have seen many of their best entries lie dormant for too long. After the golden era of SNES, PlayStation and PlayStation 2 RPGs, the past generation of consoles left much to be desired for fans of the genre. While 2014 and beyond looks to usher in a RPG revival, many of the genre’s best and most unique franchises have been abandoned.
The franchises listed below represent what were once the kings of the role playing genre that truly deserve to continue soldiering on. Sadly, for many of these games, the chances of a new release are virtually non-existent. Take a look below at the five RPG franchises that deserve a second chance.
5 – Suikoden
The Suikoden series has never been afraid to stand out as far as RPGs go. Instead of featuring a few main characters, each Suikoden title featured 108 recruitable characters, gut-wrenching stories and castle-building subplots that could easily eat away at hundreds of additional hours.
The original Suikoden was released stateside in 1996 for the PlayStation and the series hit its stride three years later when Suikoden II was released. Suikoden II’s massive success earned the series much attention – with many going so far as to say that Suikoden II was one of the greatest games of all time – and with the additional attention, the franchise soldiered on; releasing three more mainline entries and numerous spinoffs.
Sadly, later releases in the Suikoden franchise were less than stellar and Western interest in the series began to wane. The once great, sweeping epic of a series has been largely ignored for years. Despite a lack of attention, if Konami made a vested effort to release a new Suikoden title that truly returned to the expansive root of the series, there is no doubt the franchise could be restored to its former glory.
4 – Breath of Fire
Capcom’s Breath of Fire franchise is one of the definitive names within the JRPG world. Starting with the 1993 SNES release of the original Breath of Fire, five more titles were released throughout the years, each building and expanding upon its predecessor.
Breath of Fire III, the 1997 PlayStation RPG, combined a rich world and tremendous characters with traditional turn-based combat to create one of the hallmarks of the PlayStation’s library, earning the franchise an all-time high boon to popularity.
Sadly, after 2002’s Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (the fifth and final Breath of Fire release to date), the series has lain dormant. The series’ fall is partially related to Capcom’s markedly different direction in Dragon Quarter, eschewing many franchise staples and favoring new innovation.
Breath of Fire is slated to get a sixth release, although the possibility of the storied franchise returning stateside is seems slim. Capcom’s long history of shelving various IPs is an unfortunate indication that Breath of Fire has taken its last breath.
3 – Shadow Hearts
The three Shadow Hearts titles will be forever remembered as some of the most unique RPGs in the PlayStation 2’s massive library. Featuring an alternative spin on world history, the Shadow Hearts games presented bleak worlds fraught with magic and demons, interspersed with real-world locations and characters.
In addition to the unique settings of the Shadow Hearts series, the games also featured gameplay mechanics that helped the titles stand out from the other RPGs available at the time. With a timing based combat system and Sanity Points that had to be managed less party members went berserk and the player lost control of them, Shadow Hearts games had plenty of features that engrossed gamers.
Unfortunately, since 2005’s Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Sacnoth (renamed Nautilus) was disbanded, forever closing the book on one of history’s most unique RPG franchises.
2 – Dark Cloud
Developed by the venerable team at Level-5, Dark Cloud and Dark Cloud 2 were a veritable RPG hodgepodge that brimmed with creativity and personality. By combining roguelike exploration and world building elements, the first Dark Cloud found a huge audience that only expanded with the release of 2003’s Dark Cloud 2.
While not direct sequel (Dark Cloud 2 was released as Dark Chronicle in Japan), Dark Cloud 2 built upon the already great foundation of its predecessor and featured some of the most remarkable RPG visuals of its time. Featuring a world that was tremendously well realized and deep crafting mechanics, many RPG fans still consider Dark Cloud 2 as one of their favorite titles.
Despite eager cries for a new Dark Cloud title from fans, Level-5 has been quiet in terms of the franchise’s future. Among numerous rumors that a Dark Cloud 3 may happen, nothing substantial has come through since 2009.
1 – Legend of Dragoon
While other entries on the list have more than one game in their respective franchise, the PlayStation 1 epic, The Legend of Dragoon, is perhaps the most desired RPG series that deserves a comeback. Released in 2000, the sheer scope of The Legend of Dragoon seemed unfathomable at the time and the game’s world and characters were so masterfully created that players were instantly swept up within mere moments.
The Legend of Dragoon’s combat innovation allowed for party members to transform into the titular Dragoon form – sprouting wings and the ability to unleash powerful attacks. These powerful – and beautiful transformations – allowed The Legend of Dragoon to stand out in an era where Final Fantasy was king.
The lengthy tale of The Legend of Dragoon has left players wishing for more even close to fifteen years after the game’s initial release. Sadly, The Legend of Dragoon 2 seems as though it will never happen, as Sony’s President of SCE Worldwide Studios confirmed that a sequel was in preproduction but scrapped shortly thereafter.
It seems that The Legend of Dragoon’s fans will have to wait indefinitely until they can don wings once more.
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