Sword of Vermillion
For this game we are going all the way back to 1991 to my personal pick of the Sega Genesis RPGS, Sword of Vermillion.
You are the Prince of Excalibria and must fight to rid the land of Vermillion from evil reigned upon it by King Tsarkon.
SOV was a really odd concept for an RPG. A first person perspective game that had horizontal combat sequences. That was until you fought a boss, in which it turned to a side scrolling action game. Oh and when you are in a town, then it switches to a typical top down RPG style. Tiring huh?
Well actually it wasn’t. SOV did have a lot of problems. The combat sequences were quite repetitive as was some of the dungeon scrolling. But the changing play style actually kept it really interesting. Interactions with people were brief but useful and navigating the twisting, turning maps had a real fun puzzle element. To aid you, it did come with a whopping 106 page instruction and hint book though.
I believe it may have been the first RPG I ever played and thus it has to be on my list of the Sega Genesis RPG top five.
Phantasy Star IV
Phantasy Star IV is the final game in the Phantasy Star quartet released for the Genesis. At the time it had high expectations after episode III had been poorly received.
The game is set in the wastelands of Motavia, once a thriving planet. As a hunter, you are investigating a spike in bio monster activity and get pulled into a plot involving an apocalyptic cult.
Phantasy Star IV elaborated on previous installments by adding a number of new features. Japanese style animation cut scenes gave more depth to the narrative along with an extended script. The turn based combat was also enhanced with the addition of combination techniques in the turn based combat system.
Reviews for IV were also mixed though it did arrive at the same time as Final Fantasy V on the SNES so had some stiff competition. However, over time the true genius of the game has came to be truly appreciated.
Landstalker is one of the best looking Sega Genesis RPGS on this list. An RPG come platform adventure game, it oozes charm and character.
It’s full title is Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole and it is a pretty good indicator of how wacky the plot is. Firstly, your given RPG name is Nigel. Secondly, you are 88 years old though your sprite looks about 12. After this it is pretty much a story of attempting to find King Nole’s treasure, though the amount of twists and turns in getting there are a little disorientating.
Regardless of the convoluted plot, the gameplay is pretty great. The enemies are varied, dialogue with NPC characters is perfectly balanced between just enough and too much. Nigel himself is also extremely likeable which all adds to a really engaging RPG adventure.
Shining Force 1 and 2
Sega Genesis RPGS are summed up by the next series and we actually could not decide between either of these titles. As such this inclusion is a two in one.
You are Max, a hero who must prevent the opening of the shining path and the rebirth of the Dark Dragon. In the sequel the protagonists are Sarah, Bowie and Chester who must attempt to seal away the demon Zion.
In term of gameplay neither games are that different from the other and both are as equally enjoyable. Both use a top down typical RPG layout, with opening dialogue boxes and maze likes forests and towns to explore. Combat is turn based and you get a cool animation cut scene whenever an attack takes place.
In Shining Force two graphics are slightly improved with what seems like a more vivid colour palette and the addition of detailed character portraits when dialogue takes place.
The series was so popular it has had multiple sequels and remakes on verious consoles. If you want to do them in a sequence, start with Shining in the Darkness from 91.
Beyond Oasis/Story of Thor
Known as Story of Thor in Europe, this game came pretty late in the life of the consoles, arriving in Christmas 94. As such, it really pushes the system narratively and graphically.In fact it was actually billed as the largest adventure game ever on the console.
The game concerns two amulets, one that can summon evil and one that can summon four good spirits. Your task is to travel the land of Oasis and gain the means necessesary to summon the spirits, thus vanquishing the evil ones.
For someone looking for a bit more action as opposed to turn based RPG games, Beyond Oasis is more or less a sidescrolling beat em up with RPG elements. You slash, kick and punch your way through a myriad of enemies instead of selecting from menus, which is refreshing. Your character gains new abilities as you progress but it does offer less choice compared to turn based games.