games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Abandoned RPG Franchises

February 14, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to talk about abandoned or forgotten RPG franchises. I have two requirements here, 1. That the series in question had to have at least two games come out in America in a physical form. So…no Mother/Earthbound. And 2. The franchise had to be dormant for at least 5 years, at least when it comes to American releases, and re-releases don’t count. A few honorary picks would be Lunar, the Chrono series, and Breath of Fire. With that said, let’s begin:

#8: Wild Arms

Wild Arms actually follows closely with Suikoden as there being 5 games in the primary franchise, 2 on the PS1 and 3 on the PS2, as well as having a handheld game that no one cares about. Although while Suikoden was more magic-based, Wild Arms was more steampunk, or at least robotics based, which was a good hook for a RPG. The only game I really managed to play though was Wild Arms 3, which I enjoyed, but don’t remember a ton about. As compared to other games on this list, you can at least get one of the Wild Arms games, Wild Arms 3, on a modern console, with a PS2 port of it being on the PS4.

#7: Advance Wars

Between the two, I focused much more on the Nectaris series much more than the “Wars” series, even though Wars is technically older. Wars got good though when they came out with Advance Wars for the GBA, and the sequels for DS. The game was still a grid-based tactical game featuring various military hardware. However, the series did boast some great personality and story which actually made you involved in what was going on. It wasn’t until Advance Wars: Days of Ruin where the RPG elements came into their own, with units being able to gain experience in battle and such. Out of any other franchise on this list, Advance Wars is the easiest to bring back, since the studio is basically a second party Nintendo company, and the game mechanics could be easily converted to work on the 3DS, or even mobile phones. I doubt we’ll get either though, since Nintendo seems to have forgotten that it exists.

#6: Tomba

Really, the first Tomba game is amazing, even to this day. It’s a quirky mashup of platformer and RPG, with the look of a platformer but the quest log and mechanics of something more RPG-driven. Tomba 2 went in a more 3D direction, which was a bad move, but still had just enough going for it to be decent. I’d love it if someone could resurrect this franchise, especially now given how good 2D art can look on modern machines. At this point, I’d even settle for a Tomba 1 HD copy. You hear me, Gio Corsi? That’s the only game you need on your list.

#5: Jade Cocoon

Jade Cocoon is basically anime mixed with Pokemon, before that was really a thing. It had the trappings of a typical anime game, including some work by a big Studio Ghibli guy. It had a somewhat generic hero, evil infecting the world, etc., but the gameplay was turn-based, and you captured monsters of different elemental affinities to fight for you. The neat thing Jade Cocoon introduced was mating your creatures, which is something that pre-dated Pokemon by at least a year. Also, it had a pretty good soundtrack, at least the first game.

#4: Vampire: The Masquerade

The original Vampire: The Masquerade game, Redemption, is pretty rough by today’s standards. It had a decent word, but combat could be messy with AI problems, and it focused too much on it. Bloodlines is a different story as it is still fondly remembered by people, with great characters and some nice vampire roleplaying, even if it was rushed out the door and it barely could be initially beaten. With the low sales of Bloodlines though and the shuttering of the studio, no new Vampire games have come out. Now though, Paradox Interactive technically owns the Vampire property, so we’ll see if they can manage to come out with another game based on it.

#3: Shadow Hearts

Shadows Hearts was a cool JRPG series that was set in the early 20th century, which is a pretty unique time frame for an RRG franchise. In the first two games you played Yuri, a shapeshifting “rude” hero, and in the last game you played as Johnny, a young private detective. The Shadow Hearts game used the Judgment Ring system, which involved you pressing the button at the right time to critically hit your enemies. Lost Odyssey used a similar system, which makes sense, given that some of the same people worked on both properties. There’s no chance in hell Shadow Hearts could ever come back, but I’d be happy with the entire franchise being put on the PS4 in a slightly updated form. If not the entire franchise, than at least Shadow Hearts: Covenant.

#2: Parasite Eve

Billed as the first “Cinematic RPG”, Parasite Eve 1 took the production values Square was known for at the time, and transferred them to the real world, as you played Aya Brea to stop an infection from Eve in New York City. Parasite Eve 2 went a tad more action-RPG oriented, and the story went slightly off the rails, but was still a very fun RPG. And…The 3rd Birthday basically crapped over both games’ legacies by having some frankly bizarre gameplay and one of the most convoluted stories in a Square game which is really saying something. While this series isn’t quite as dead as others on this list, the chances of another Parasite Eve game, at least a console version, are slim to none.

#1: Suikoden

Yeah, it’s Suikoden at number one, really how could it not be? While Suikoden 2 remains one of the best games ever made, the entire core franchise of Suikdoen was a solid series, with the low point arguably being 4, and even that wasn’t that low, just weird. The other four games would probably go ranked as 2, 5, 3, and finally 1, at least in terms of quality in descending order. The franchise was known for good characterization, having 108 characters to collect, and (most of the time) having good turn-based action, and a ton of side activities for you to do. Even if Konami still existed as a game company, they had no interest in actually continuing the franchise, with the last console game being Suikoden 5 in 2006, and the last actual Suikoden game being Tierkries, which actual Suikoden fans having little love for. The only way Suikoden comes back now is in the form of a Pachinko machine, which is all Konami is good for anymore.

For comments, list which RPG franchises you miss and why.

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