Ghetto Gamer guest Kyle Glatz preaches his favorite Sega Genesis RPGs.
The Sega Genesis console doesn’t always get a fair shake when compared with the SNES, especially when it comes to their RPG game collection. Sure, you can fawn over The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past or the Final Fantasy series, but those games owe a lot to the Sega Genesis RPGs that paved the way for them. In fact, many of them are simply better than the ones released on SNES in terms of gameplay, and for their contributions to the genre.
That’s why we’re going to look at these 5 Sega Genesis RPGs that prove it was the better console for RPGs.
1. Sword of Vermilion Gets the Ball Rolling
Nobody will pretend that Sword of Vermilion was the best RPG ever made, but it really showed what the Sega Genesis games were capable of giving their players. The 16-bit graphics were a little crude and even the cover art was kind of boring, but there was still a lot of good to be found.
Interestingly, unlike many other Sega Genesis RPGs, Sword of Vermilion featured action-based battle sequences. Rather than being turn-based, you had to run to enemies and strike them down with your sword or cast magic to stop yourself from being overrun by the numerous monsters.
The bosses were tough and rewarding, even if the story never really struck a chord. Still, it’s impressive that all this was included in a game released in 1989.
2. Shining Force II Makes Tactical Combat Practical
While games on the SNES were still fumbling around in the dark with their attempts at an RPG with tactical combat, Shining Force II was making huge strides in the genre. The combat system was complex enough to provide a challenge but not so much that new people couldn’t understand the game.
The amazing combat, along with a rich story and fantastic music, was the centerpiece of this game. That’s not even to mention the unique class system that had your characters ascend into a more powerful version of themselves at level 20. This is the game Fire Emblem tried to be, and it would not be surpassed until Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.
3. A Real D&D Choice: Might and Magic II: Gates to Another World
Translating D&D to a video game is no small feat, but it was crucial to the Sega Genesis RPGs as well as the genre as a whole. Might and Magic II accomplished this in impressive fashion, giving their players the one thing that all RPGs need: meaningful choices in terms of characters, actions, and approaches to the game.
Even before you leave the main town, you can be accosted by thieves and monsters that make you use each of the characters you created to survive.
The game teaches you about the necessity of party balance, stat distribution, and much more while giving you a massive world to explore. The Wizardry series that was ported to the SNES might be prettier at first glance, but Wizardry can’t hold a candle to this game.
4. Beyond Oasis Combines Action and RPG
Beyond Oasis combines action, RPG, and exploration into one amazingly fun game.
In this title, you’re a man who finds a magical armlet that allows you to summon powerful elemental spirits. You use these spirits to fight against foes as you make your way to stop a sorcerer who is using his magical armlet for evil.
The mechanics of his game are more similar to those seen in The Legend of Zelda games. You’ll cast magic, solve puzzles, and navigate a patchwork of settings that make up the overall game map.
Beyond Oasis got swallowed up in the hype of the SNES, but it was an action-adventure RPG that showed Sega Genesis was still a system with a few tricks up its sleeve as late as 1995.
5. The Best of the Sega Genesis RPGs Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
The Phantasy Star games, especially part II and III, were probably the most significant games in the RPG genre at the time they were released.
They carried the torch of the NES RPGs, making improvements in gameplay, graphics, story, and music. By building on those elements, the series maintained the interest of the players and kept their expectations high.
It’s no exaggeration to say that games like Phantasy Star IV made RPGs the way they are today. That’s not even including later titles like Phantasy Star Online.
As the best of the Sega Genesis RPGs, Phantasy Star IV showed the full power of the system. The music was memorable in a time when most games sounded like they were synthesized in the 1980s, and the graphics were actually good enough to make enemies look scary, raising the stakes of every battle.
Speaking of battles, the attack macros that allowed two or more characters to combine skills to devastate enemies was unique and beautiful. The story had twists, turns, heartbreak, and calls back to earlier games in the series.
Phantasy Star IV won’t make any short lists for the best RPGs of the 1990s, but it should.
Sega Genesis RPGs were better.
While the SNES had better games series, the Sega Genesis had better RPGs.
Not only did the Genesis do more to keep the genre alive, but the system expanded RPGs into many different directions and did so with great success. With amazing titles like the ones we’ve looked at here, it’s hard to argue that the SNES was the RPG machine that it is often considered. That title still belongs to the Sega Genesis.