The Angry Gamer – Swords and Sorcery

Am I the only one who’s nostalgic for the classic RPGs of old? These days, RPGs are so graphically intense and FMV-driven, it sometimes seems that developers have lost sight of what made RPGs such a powerful draw in the first place: the solid combat system derived from the original tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. Instead of all the crazy modifiers brought up in the newest flashy RPGs (-10 Leaf Defense! Guard Cancel Stick Attack! +25% Homoeroticism!), we get the basics. +1 Attack. -1 Defense. You get the damn message. If you want to kill a monster, you don’t casually swipe at it while charging up some ultimate attack that completely offsets the balance of the game; in the old-school RPGs, you stabbed the living shit out of the enemy until it croaked. And you’d better have some solid strategy in mind, or the thing will kill you.

I understand that changing technology means that RPGs will evolve, and I have no problems with this. Some of my all-time favorite RPGs are from the modern era, like Valkyrie Profile, Wild ARMs, and Xenosaga. All of those feature some of the fluff and flash. But I still can’t help but love the classics; my favorite old-school RPG series has got to be Dragon Warrior, bar none. I played through all four of the original NES ones a few times, and enjoyed every second of the grueling combat and simplistic story. Big deal…it was the old cliché of “young hero must save the kingdom from evil demon lord,” but it worked. No Limit Breaks. No Final Strikes. Just hack, slash, heal, and fight some more! Dragon Warrior is known as Dragon Quest in Japan, and its popularity there far exceeds that of the US. Not only did they get more games in the series, but they’ve gotten a lot more of the spinoffs, including the very cool Slime Morimori Dragon Quest: Shougeki no Shippo Dan, starring the much-loved Slime enemies from the regular games! At least Enix decided to give us Dragon Warrior VII in the fall of 2001; it sold relatively well in the US, but in Japan, the game outsold everything else, including any Final Fantasy game. That’s pretty damn impressive, considering what the game looks like! In an age of graphics over gameplay, Dragon Warrior VII looks like shit. Crappy 3D graphics, poorly animated 2D sprites, and so on. But how does the game play? See, that’s where the magic lies. DWVII has an incredibly deep combat system; hell, you don’t even get a sword for the first hour or so of the game! You want to hunt Slimes? You’ll be doing it with your bare hands! This is the real charm of the game. You want something flashy and loaded with innuendo? Play that FF trash. You want something more rewarding? Go with Dragon Warrior.

We need more RPGs like this. Enix saw fit to rerelease Dragon Warrior I & II and Dragon Warrior III on the Game Boy Color, but who wouldn’t want a GBA overhaul of Dragon Warrior IV? Or more importantly, a collection of the the games we missed? Just give me Slime Morimori Dragon Quest and I’ll be happy…