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Ack
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How did you get into RPGs?

by Ack Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:31 am

Hey guys, after some ongoing discussion in the RPG Progress Report thread, I suddenly became curious as to how we all got into the RPG genre and what games served as the gateway.

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My earliest RPG was actually a roguelike for the computer released in 1989 called Castle of the Winds, a game that I have more than once threatened folks here with. I actually discovered it around 1992 or '93. Developed by pretty much one guy, it was one of my first forays into PC gaming and my first real exposure to RPGs. I played the hell out of it and beat it numerous times, but it gave me an appreciation for roguelike design, early RPG mechanics, and a rudimentary understanding of character builds because the game allowed the player to learn new spells on leveling. I spent a lot of time figuring out my spell progression.

About a year after that, I discovered Dragon Wars at a friend's house. I played a lot of it and appreciated the expanse it offered me, which was leaps and bounds over the randomized but still limited dungeon design of CotW. That said, being about 8 years old, I never really understood what I was doing in Dragon Wars and never got very far, and it helped foster the idea that WRPGs were insurmountable. Still, I was already playing gloriously violent FPS by this point, so the first person view was a definite benefit.

And then I discovered JRPGs surprisingly late with Final Fantasy VI, which completely blew my mind in terms of story presentation. I went to visit a friend who was playing it, and I sat in awe on his couch watching battles unfold with glorious artwork and amazing music in front of me. I rented the game a short while later and suddenly became hungry for the genre as a whole. Thankfully a friend in middle school in the late 1990s was heavily into RPGs, and his family had collected a bunch for the SNES. I borrowed heavily from him, beating only a couple but getting a taste of the SNES Final Fantasies(including Mystic Quest), the Breath of Fires, Lufias, Secret of Evermore, and so on. I think it annoyed him a bit that I was borrowing all of these, but truth be told I was having such a good time that I didn't care.

From then on I mostly stuck with JRPGs, every now and again branching out to hit up a WRPG on the PC. Diablo was a lot of fun, and Baldur's Gate came for free with a new PC my mother purchased. I somehow got my hands on a copy of Akalabeth for free(I think it was on a PC Gamer disc of old DOS games or something), as well as the entire Exile series(Escape from the Pit, Crystal Souls, Ruined World, and Blades of Exile), though I was never any good at them. I even had the PC release of Final Fantasy VII before eventually getting my hands on the PS1 version...though while playing these, I was also heavily into PlayStation RPGs such as the other Final Fantasies(Tactics included), Parasite Eve, Breath of Fire III, Star Ocean: The Second Story, Xenogears, Wild Arms, Legend of Legaia, Chrono Cross, Legend of Dragoon, Lunar, and so on. I also took an interest in MMOs around this time and jumped into the likes of Asheron's Call, Everquest, and Ultima Online from time to time.

Unfortunately the wondrous exploratory days of my youth had to end at some point, and my attention moved away from the genre during my time in college. I suddenly felt they were too long when there were so many other games to try out. That's not to say I gave up entirely on the genre, but for years the only RPGs I played were mainly PC games, such as Titan Quest, a little Neverwinter Nights here or there, the occasional Elder Scrolls...that kind of thing. Things stayed this way all through college and grad school, and I didn't really sit down and play another RPG again until late 2011. While a lot of other things were going on in my life, I got sucked into a copy of Temple of Elemental Evil I had picked up somewhere for dirt cheap. I beat it right before some stuff happened that caused my whole world to collapse, and once again my interest in RPGs was entirely squashed...for a while.

The summer of 2012 brought me back however, thanks to a surprising choice: Wild Arms 3. I hadn't played a JRPG at this point in close to a decade, but it was sitting in my collection, and I just felt that I needed to give an RPG a go. And I ended up having a blast. I don't know why it was WA3 that brought me back, but suddenly I felt a voracious need to return to a genre that both gave me a nostalgic vibe and could challenge my critical thinking skills. In the years that followed, I've conquered numerous titles that I had tried before but left unbeaten, making up for 20 years worth of unfinished games. I rediscovered something I hadn't realized I had lost, and my interest only continues to soar to new heights. I'm returning to long forgotten classics and seeking out lesser known gems hidden away in game libraries that I never before had known existed. I'm also challenging myself, with a goal to beat all of the NTSC-U SNES RPGs as well as many others in the genre.

I like to think at this point that I'm pretty knowledgeable and have a lot of experience under my belt, though I know there are some folks who just blow me out of the water. But I'm enjoying my exploration and trying to find the positive qualities in all of what I play. Plus I'd like to be considered an old hand at this genre, the kind of guy others look up to or seek out for advice. And I really hope that what I play inspires some of you other guys to go play for the first time or perhaps return to and reevaluate. Talking about this is a lot of fun for me.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by noiseredux Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:49 am

this is a great thread, and it's now got me thinking a little harder. My knee-jerk reaction is to cite either Final Fantasy or Dragon "Warrior" as my first RPG. In my mind, I played them both the same year. I got DQ for free from Nintendo Power. I'm not sure which I played first, but I'm pretty sure it was DQ.

HOWEVER... while those are definitely my first JPRG's, I'm now not so certain they were my first RPG's period. I was a fan of pen and paper stuff most likely prior. Which would make sense as it explains why DQ/FF appealed to me right away. And my memory says that I had played some sort of RPG's on PC first. I need to do a little mental digging on this.

BUT, you reminded me of something awesome that I want to research a bit here. In the early 90's I had some kind of game creation program that - at least per my memory - was explicitly meant for creating RPG's. The name escapes me, though. The details are fuzzy. It was most likely a DOS program, though.

The reminder excites me though because I know for a fact that I have at home a 3.5" disk that has some files on it from a game I was working on back in Junior High using this software. I'm wondering if maybe file extensions or some other clue on that disk will reveal what this software was, and perhaps I'd even be able to find out how far along my little game had made it.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by MrPopo Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:54 am

I remember as a kid going over to other kids' houses and seeing them play Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy IV, but it was always brief snippets. The first RPG-esque game I ever played myself was Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on the NES. That said, the RPG elements were quite light in the finished game. It wasn't until the SNES came out that I really played RPGs. I'm honestly not sure what was the first one I played, but the one that sticks out in my mind is that I read a really good article on Final Fantasy VI and it got me interested in the game, so I rented it and fell in love with it. But around that time I also had a buddy who would bring over Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger and I would alter purchase those. So I'm not sure which of those SNES RPGs was my first.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by alienjesus Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:57 am

I...guess I'll talk about the 5 games that got me into the genre the most? There may be others between these, but these are the significant factors for me:

Pokémon Red
Like the vast majority of people my age, I went crazy for Pokémon when it hit. I watched the show, bought the cards, collected the stickers, blahblahblah. And of course, I played the game. This was my first RPG, I would've been about 9? My friends all played it before me and I wanted to get the game, join in and trade with them. I think the big factor for me was that this was the first game I could play with my schoolfriends and not just my family when they would visit. Anyway, it was great and although I didn't think of it as an RPG, it was my first foray into the genre.

Actually, this is pretty significant too - the gameplay of RPGs was never really something I thought of as notably different to other games. Games were games to me back then, and I wouldn't have even thought about not playing a game because it wasn't an action title, as long as it looked like a cool premise/world/character.

Golden Sun
Probably a weird second game in the genre (besides, y'know, the other Pokémon games) but I bought a GBA with my birthday money the year it came out. I didn't have too many games for the system (pretty much just Mario Kart if I recall correctly) so I was looking out for something new. I read a review of Golden Sun in a magazine, said 'hey, that looks cool' and went out and bought it the next day. That's basically how I used to buy games back then - I'd make snap decisions which game I'd spend money on after reading a review that made it sound cool. Anyhow, this was my first more conventional JRPG and what really opened the genre to me as something I actively would look to play

Final Fantasy IX
I played this at a friends as I didn't have a PS1. I palyed it on his PS2 and played it for hours, which frankly looking back was pretty rude of me, playing a single player game on his console whilst at his place :lol:. All of my RPGs had been on handheld, so althought it sounds stupid as it was a previous gen game at the time, seeing all the FMVs and big presentation and grandeur of this game blew me away. I knew I wanted something like this on my Nintendo systems.

Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
This was my next RPG. After being stupidly excited to hear Nintendo would be getting Final Fantasy games again, I bought this on release to tide me over until Crystal Chronicles (lol). Anyway, I was obsessed. I put hundreds of hours into the game, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that I've played this for over 1000 hours. I have a completed file with 300 hours on the clock and I've beaten the game a dozen times at least. This was the start of my love of strategy games which only deepened a few years later when Fire Emblem came out and I played that one even more than this.

Tales of Symphonia
Last one for the list. Back in the day I used to buy a magazine called Nintendo Official Magazine. It has all the reviews etc I liked to read and buy games based on. Every now and then though, I would branch out and also buy a copy of a magazine called Cube. Cube came with 2 discs on every cover - one with cheats for a few gamecube games (a cut back Action Replay disc) and one with trailers and interviews about upcoming games.

Anyway, this issue had cheats for Crystal Chronicles which I was struggling with (single player...) and I thought it'd be cool to at least see what was coming up. But the trailer disc I ended up being obsessed with - it had trailers for Billy Hatcher, Baten Kaitos, Tales of Symphonia and Harvest Moon. Baten Kaitos looked like the game I'd been waiting for - Final Fantasy on Nintendo. But the Tales trailer, whilst way less impressive (it used game graphics, no FMV) had awesome music and looked super fun, so I got that too.

I reckon I played about 23 playthroughs of that game in around 2 or 3 years. It's weird to think, but this is the game that really pinned me down as a big RPG fan really. I'd loved RPGs before this, but this is the one where I went 'I want more'.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by ExedExes Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:20 pm

Since RPGs seem to be a hot topic of discussion everywhere here lately, why not?

My first was Dragon Warrior since the first issue of Nintendo Power I got after finally getting an NES in 1989 had a special strategy guide. I rented it and there it began. Later on when NP did the strategy guide as a monthly thing, the next one was Final Fantasy.

That was all I did until I got a PC and saw Castle of The Winds myself a few years later. I will agree that it's one not to be missed and now that it's completely free worth checking out.

I also enjoyed Robin Hood on the NES even thought it wasn't really an RPG. I did a speedrun of it recently and completed it in just over an hour.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by Exhuminator Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:22 pm

Good read Ack.

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I'll try to stick with key RPG games and times that matter. After 33 years of playing games, I'm sure I will forget plenty of things. This is not a definitive gaming history for me, just trying to stay with RPGs here. This will be messy...

Well my first video game RPG experience was playing Dungeon Master in 1987 on a family friend's PC. I didn't finish the game, only got to spend a few hours with it. I really liked it, but at 8 years old, I was a little out of my element. So there's my first WRPG.

My next RPG experience was playing Phantasy Star in 1988, a gift from an uncle. (At 9 years old I had asked for a Master System instead of a NES.) Phantasy Star blew me away, it was freaking phenomenally amazing at that time. I spent about a year and a half playing it off and on until I beat it in 1989 at 10 years old. This was without any aid at all, but I had a lot of free time back then. So there's my first JRPG. (I had access to Miracle Warriors but didn't get far in it.)

In 1990 I played Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy on NES, borrowed from friends. Compared to Phantasy Star I thought those games were inferior junk and didn't get far in them (I don't think that now). All the same, 1990 is when I first experienced both of those venerable franchises from their very first entries.

In 1991 I got a Sega Genesis of my own (I'd already been playing my cousin's a lot). With that came Sword of Vermilion and Phantasy Star 2. I beat both of those games that year and loved them very much. I got Phantasy Star III on release day and beat it within two days of owning it. Over the 90s years I rented and collected other Genesis JRPGs. Unfortunately I didn't own a copy of Phantasy Star IV until 1999, but it was still ball burstingly awesome then.

From 1991-1993 I started messing around with DOS WRPGs and played a lot of stuff, most of which I can't remember. D&D Gold Box games were a highlight, and Ultimas, but I just can't remember everything I played. I never beat any of the DOS WRPGs I played though, I'd always just run out of steam and move on. Other than the Ultima Underworlds of course, those were too good to ignore.

In 1992 I got my first SNES, which opened the door to glorious SNES JRPGs. I think the first I played on it were Final Fantasy Mystic Quest and Final Fantasy IV. It wasn't long before I was mowing the shit out of lawns to finance buying as many SNES JRPGs as I could. I was that kid who bought Final Fantasy VI on release day for $74 (nearly $100 in today's money). I mainly played SNES JRPGs during the mid 90s. I should mention that around 1992ish is when my parents stopped buying me games, and I had to buy them myself with whatever money I could scrounge.

The mid 90s though, like 1994-1996, I was nearly exclusively a DOS PC gamer. Beating many many DOS games. I still played SNES occasionally, but this was one of the points of my life where PC was dominant for me. Stuff like System Shock, Privateer, Bioforge, Dark Forces, Quake, Syndicate, Heretic, Doom II and on and on kept me very busy and content. I tried some early Elder Scrolls games but they just were not for me.

By the late 90s, say 1997-1998, I was not into gaming as much as I used to be. I was too busy trying to get laid :lol: and goof off with friends doing non gamey stuff. So I missed the PS1 launch and its own JRPGs. I wouldn't have had the money to indulge in it anyway.

I played Zelda: OoT in 1998, but didn't beat it at that time (beat it many years later). I remember thinking it was "OK". I was not blown away by it even during its time. (I had however, been blown away by SM64 two years earlier.)

So, I didn't buy a PS1 until 1999, and then I started messing with PS1 JRPGs. Some of the first PS1 JRPGs I remember beating at that time were Symphony of the Night, Mega Man Legends, and Vagrant Story. But I missed out on TONS of PS1 JRPGs what with being late to the party.

But, from 2000-2006, I was almost solely a PC gamer again. It was another golden age for the platform. I mean, I did beat the occasional 8 and 16-bit JRPG via emulation during that time, don't get me wrong. But I was far more interested in PC FPS gaming at that time. Which means I was all about first person action RPGs on the PC. So if you count Deus Ex, Arx Fatalis, System Shock 2 and such as RPGs, then yeah I was RPGing as such. I messed with the Infinity Engine games during this time as well, but didn't finish any of them. I did however finish Fallout circa 2001 and LOVED IT. It's still my favorite WRPG. I tried Morrowind but couldn't get into it, which I think was more my fault than the game's. I want to give it another shot someday.

In 2007 I was getting burned out on PC, so I went and bought an OG Xbox, GameCube, and PS2 all in one month. :lol: I started collecting games like crazy for all those. Of course this meant my eyes were opened to the insane amount of JRPGs I missed on PS2 alone. And that's when I started playing stuff like Final Fantasy X, Shadow Hearts, and some others. THE GLORIOUS SMT: NOCTURNE

In 2007 I also bought a DS, and beat some of its RPGs as they've released over the years... like some of the Dragon Quest games, Front Mission, and Zelda games (don't tell Popo I called them RPGs).

In 2008 I had a spurt of PC RPGing again. Beating S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Fallout 3 for example. Also the Ys PC games which are bomb ass.

In 2009 I got into PS1 JRPGs for a bit again. Beating BoF3 and Lunar Silver Star, and others I'm forgetting.

In 2010 somewhere along here is when I started really getting into KING'S FIELD and my life was changed forever (for the better).

In 2011 I got into PSP gaming, and have been playing PSP RPGs from time to time.

In 2013 I got into 3DS and Vita, and have been tapping those RPGs from time to time.

In 2014 I finally bought a 360 and PS3, and now have access to all those RPGs.

I'm sure I'm forgetting tons of things worth noting. The short of it is, I've been RPG video gaming since the late 80s all the way to today.

I don't plan to stop unless I have to. I still deeply love RPGs of all sorts of genres. But I do have a massive amount of them unplayed yet owned. It's not a matter of not wanting to play them, it's simply a matter of free time and energy. I have a lot of responsibilities and interests outside sinking my head in games for hours and hours on end. Still, I've got a copy of Rogue Galaxy sitting on my PS2 shelf that's been sitting there since 2007. Now multiply that example by a couple hundred and there you go. And that's not even to get into the emulation only stuff I want to play! All I can do is play them one by one as I have time to do so.

I apologize for how haphazard all that was.
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by Sarge Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:08 pm

I suspect my story isn't very different from others. The game that really got me into RPGs was Dragon Warrior... but I don't believe it was the first RPG I played. No, that honor actually goes to the venerable C64, where I played Phantasie and The Sword of Fargoal (oh, yeah, and Questron!) at my aunt's house. Phantasie, in particular, held great appeal for me.

As an avid reader, I was already attracted to games that had more reading than most, so RPGs were a natural fit. That they also had lots of numbers and math, relatively speaking, just pushed them into must-play territory even more. I valued RPGs above all other genres. I still have a little bit of that mentality at times, but I have a much greater appreciation for more immediate games now, as well.
Last edited by Sarge on Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by SNESdrunk Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:13 pm

Fun reads all around here

My childhood friend and I started off on the wrong foot. We rented Final Fantasy II (IV) shortly after its release, because the screenshots looked cool and it had a sword on the cover. We had zero frame of reference for RPGs, so when we turned it on and sat there, and read... and read... and read some more, we just got angry. "How is this even a game??" We turned it off and didn't touch it again.

Fast forward several years to Chrono Trigger. I had a better idea of what RPGs were at that point thanks to Nintendo Power and cursory glances at other games. But that first Chrono Trigger rental... I wish I could go back in time and live through that again. I remember turning on the game at around 7:30 PM and got so sucked into the game, I played all the way up to when you get to the End of Time for the first time. I glanced at the clock after saving and I couldn't believe it was nearly 1 AM. It felt like maybe an hour went by at most. I was hooked.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by BoneSnapDeez Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:15 pm

To make it brief......

For as long I remember I had been interested in medieval fantasy, swords & sorcery, and so on. As a young kid I was pretty obsessed with the first Zelda game. I'm not sure why I never got into 8-bit JRPGs back in the day, they must have not been available locally to rent or buy.

Once I got a SNES I started making purchases based on what looked intriguing in Nintendo Power and most of these were JRPGs - Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy VI, EarthBound, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, etc. It didn't take long to decide that this was my favorite genre. Later in high school (junior year or so) I finally started playing WRPGs via the Ultima Collection.

I wasn't really into the 5th generation when it hit. Instead I opted to turn to emulation to play the 16-bit gems we never received in the US (like Final Fantasy V).

I took a very long hiatus from gaming during college and my early 20s. As I got back into the gaming scene as an adult I was pleased to see that many of these modern GBA/DS RPGs played like the retro games from my youth. Eventually I got into retro gaming proper and started to work backwards to discover series like Ys, Xak, Lufia, The 7th Saga, Brandish, Phantasy Star, and so on.
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Re: How did you get into RPGs?

by MrPopo Thu Mar 03, 2016 1:18 pm

ExedExes wrote:I also enjoyed Robin Hood on the NES even thought it wasn't really an RPG. I did a speedrun of it recently and completed it in just over an hour.

Any particular tricks in that game? I know the army fight when you first encounter Guy can be skipped with a speed potion and rapidly pausing, but can any of the others? How do you quickly get through the duels?
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