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Recommendations for Mega Drive JRPGs


Protocol Penguin
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I’ve played many, many JRPGs for the Super NES, but in all these years, I’ve never played any for the Mega Drive – for me, the Mega Drive was always an action and arcade system.

 

So, are any Mega Drive JRPGs worth playing in the space year 2021?

 

(I notice that the Sega Mega Drive Classics compilation has Beyond Oasis, Phantasy Stars II, III, IV, Shining Force I & II, Shining in the Darkness and Sword of Vermilion in it, and the Nintendo Switch Online service has Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force. Some of these are worth playing, surely?.)

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Note that the Shining games are turn based story led strategy games and SITD is a dungeon crawler. Beyond Oasis is kind of a Zelda-lite made by the Streets of Rage devs. They all have passionate fans but I've struggled to get into them.

 

Lord Monarch gets left off lists like like probably because an English translation for it is still quite a new thing, but it's a real-time castle-based strategy game that has no peer. Literally the most sustained engaging fun I've ever had on the system. An easy 10/10.

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Shining Force 1 & 2 are brilliant games, but there's practically no RPG elements to them - you level up, but other than when to promote a character to a new class you have no control or choice over their development. They are tactics games first and foremost and fundamentally you've seen all there is during the first battle - the combat never changes and you don't get loads of skills to play around with. I do love them though. 

 

SITD is more RPG-ish, in that battles are turn-based, but again it is very slight and not what I would go to particularly if I wanted an RPG fix. 

 

I always felt the MD lacked 'proper' RPGs outside of the Phantasy Star games (which I never actually played); the SNES was a much better option in that respect.

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Phantasy Star II, III and IV are still fantastic. I completed them all fairly recently.

 

Shining in the Darkness is also good, but not *as* good.

 

Beyond Oasis *cough* STORY OF THOR *cough* is not good. Or a JRPG. It's a frustrating action game which is more like something half way between Zelda and Golden Axe than any sort of RPG. Looks great, plays like arse.

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I've got to recommend Phantasy Star IV and the Shining Force games for RPGs. They're fantastic. For action RPGs, definitely Soleil and Landstalker. Landstalker has some pretty hard isometric platforming but once you get your head round it it's great times.

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