With so many RPGs having released in the last year, and with Swords of Ditto and Guacamelee 2 releasing soon, we decided to look back at 2D RPGs, and list off some of our favourites!!
Man, I feel like I’m drawing a blank when it comes to 2D RPGS. I mean, I think Symphony of the Night can be considered an RPG. And if so, that’s probably my favorite for tightness in gameplay and aesthetics alone. Stardew Valley is one I’ve been playing lately and still going strong on it. Pokemon is obviously an easy pick so I’ll just mention briefly that Soul Silver is my favorite of all time in that series. I still love Pokemon even though the series is getting rather… shit.
One of my favorite series of games of all time has to be the Megaman Zero series. It can’t really be considered an RPG at all but it does have some RPG elements in it such as Cyber Elves. But yea, just wanted to give that amazing series a shout out. That’s all from me!
Damn, I was going to talk about Dragon Quest IX here, but I’ve just remembered that it was actually one of those DS titles with 3D graphics so poorly rendered that everyone looked like their face was constructed out of cardboard cutouts and eczema. Ah well.
So instead, the best Pokemon game. Not the one with the flashiest graphics, or the most nostalgia, but the actual best one. I speak, of course, about Pokemon Heartgold.
Heartgold and Soulsilver were the best in the series, hands down, for two reasons: firstly, they are the only games in the series that made you feel like you were on a journey with your own personal team. Every single Pokemon in the game could follow behind you, and every time you reached a landmark, your whole team would gather for a photograph. Crucially, this wasn’t some sudden teleportation into the void dimension like you get in modern pokemon games (Although they are still pretty damn cool), but rather a constant presence by your side on your journey. And, secondly, that journey was long. as. HELL. Twice the size of any other game, meaning that by the time you face Red atop Mt. Silver- which is the greatest fight in video game history if you ask me- your team was at the highest tier of their power. You truly felt like you and your friends- because that’s who they were, your friends- had conquered the greatest challenge in all the land.
Also holy shit, Voltorb Flip.
I have never really been a big fan of a majority of 2D games as I grew up, often opting to splash my cash on a mediocre 3D game above a stellar 2D one.
This was until very recently and I have found more love in the 2D genre than it’s 3D counterpart for a lot of things.
Over the past few years I sunk countless hours into Rogue Legacy, Bastion and The Binding Of Isaac – Recently however I have ventured into the world of Hollow Knight.
Let me be the first to say that, as a huge Soulsborne fanboy, I can often be incredibly critical when it comes to Soulslikes – Salt and Sanctuary being one of the biggest misses for me that I just don’t get the love for.
But Hollow Knight adds just enough cartoonish charm to have become one of my most loved games in the past few years, there is something in it that is both incredible nostalgia and something new that keeps me coming back for more. The difficulty curve JUST steep enough to keep me interested whilst the world is bleak enough that I fall in love again creating my own tales of the titular hero.
Pokemon Blue, POKEMON BLUE. This game (as I’ve said before) is the reason I’m as a passionate a gamer as I am and really opened my world to how awesome and involved and thought out a game could be. Not only is there nostalgia but it still holds up, massively, plus it’s the only game I’ve completed half a dozen times. BTW Squirtle 4 lyf.
Another shout out to Zelda: Link’s awakening. This was a game I played just after Pokemon and really made me aware of more mature games and again it’s a solid game.
To me, 2D RPGs encompass a large number of different titles, from Metroidvanias, Tactics games or even more abstract titles – To me, however, one 2D RPG / Metroidvania that I’ve utterly fell in love with is Muramasa: Rebirth – I fortunately got this game for free through PS+ one month, and lordy me did it entrance me – Mixing the extremely tight, combo-based gameplay and beautiful hand-drawn style of Vanillaware’s other titles into a masterful Metroidvania, Muramasa sunk many, MANY hours of my life adventuring through Feudal Japan in search for legendary blades and slaying various Yokai.
The game features four massive DLC expansions focusing on brand new side stories with fresh gimmicks to spice up gameplay, with one character being extremely weak and only able to use farm equipment, with another being an extremely agile catwoman that acts much like Spectre Knight from the equally excellent Shovel Knight.
Muramasa Rebirth holds the silver crown of 2D RPG goodness for me… Only just beaten by other Metroidvanias like Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin / Symphony of the Night / Aria of Sorrow / Dawn of Sorrow / Order of Ecclessia / Circle of the Moon… But of course I couldn’t put that down as Salman already mentioned Symphony of the Night.
Damn you Salman, damn you!!
My choice has to be Pokemon. Any of the titles in the first three generations could be valid individual picks, but taken as a whole, they represent both the traditional 2D RPG design space (Stats, levels, multiple party members, and so on) and the flexibility offered by an innovative idea. For someone genre-blind (Such as a ten year old with a Gameboy in the late ‘90’s who has never heard of Japan) Pokemon is an entirely unique product with depth of play and a touch of the mystical and mythical to inspire the imagination. Later generations of the series improved upon the gameplay and graphical fidelity, but even without the nostalgia-goggles, there’s something to the rough-and-clunky nature of the early games which has been lost, not just in the franchise, but in the genre as a whole.
A picture of a wine-glass is a picture of a wine-glass, but an inkblot? An inkblot can be anything.