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Gamespot - Greates Game Series of The Decade

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You know its going to be Final Fantasy that is going to win, a series that I thought was average at best, the Linear Gameplay in every single installment left me thinking the game was playing me. Even the venerable Wasteland on the Commodore 64 in 1982 had an open ended world where the actions you made changed the game-world permanently (in fact, it deleted it off the floppy disk!), now there was a game with vision.

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Admittedly, Final Fantasy, esp. the sixth and seventh games look to have great storytelling. Then again, I never played any of them, only experience with Square RPGs being The World Ends With You and Chrono Trigger (both good games, but I doubt that they even qualify for the list). However, I seriously don't think that FF as a whole is higher than Ultima (the father of modern RPGs), Deus Ex, Morrowind, the Witcher series  - I mean, my reaction to seeing FF6 as the top RPG of all time (according to IGN) would be the same as Gopher's.


What would be the best series in my opinion? Well, it would be a three way between Ultima, Elder Scrolls, and Fallout. All are really well done and influential series.


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As a series, I can think of a lot of valid candidates, oddly, I remember distinctly the Elder Scrolls not being particularly successful as RPGs go back in the day of Daggerfall. I remember playing this Ultima Underworld want-to-be with its generic random dungeons and thought, dang this is buggy as hell and the graphics weren't even very good and the combat was dodgy at best. I remember Wizardry being way better and even the Might & Magic series being more popular. The problem with M&M was that in later installments of the game, they failed to innovate and smooth out gameplay, it just got bigger, more complicated and you had to be more dedicated than the previous installments which made the series as a whole less and less approachable for all but the most die-hard fan. Of course the success of the Heroes of Might & Magic, made that company lose its original vision of the game's roots. To tell the truth, I still like the multi-character party for the RPG genre. Makes more sense really, especially coming from Pen & Paper RPGs.


The Elder Scroll as an influential series really didn't occur till the release of Morrowind, in which finally technology was able to catchup to the game creator's vision of the game world that they created back in Daggerfall. If nothing else I will give Kudos to Bethesda for their voracious tenacity with sticking with this franchise for as long as it did and bring it back from the brink of Oblivion (pun intended). Now its their biggest cash cow.


But during the 90s, when you compare the Elder Scrolls to the 2D hand-drawn graphics of the games that use the Baldur's Gate infinity engine, Planetscape: Torment anyone? The early ES games were subpar in its execution in my opinion. Those infinity engine games were a piece of work, that worked well with the existing technology and I still remember opening my 6 disc copy of Baldur's Gate and thought wow(!) and when I loaded it, it totally freaked me out. It was engaging and gorgeous and in the end help kick start the RPG modding craze.


Going way back (beyond the criteria of the referenced poll), I think games like the Bard's Tale and its various clones like Eye of the Beholder should get a mention, these were the Skyrim of its day and introduce tonnes of budding geeks to computer RPGs especially in Western Countries. I still fondly remember my master monk that would kick anyone's butt unarmed. Wasteland, as I mention before was simply visionary and its scope compares well with Fallout New Vegas & Skyrim especially if you consider that it ran on a Commodore 64. It was an amazing achievement. Brian Fargo deserved the recent success of his kickstarter for its official sequel and is a testament of Wasteland's importance in the RPG genre. It's spiritual sequels in the Fallout series, especially the early installments I think still pales in scope when compared to the original grand-daddy of this sub-genre. The storyline for Wasteland and its in-game execution is simply amazing and very detailed, the use of verbose battle descriptions is simply legendary. Wasteland and Pirate on the C64 are my favorite game experiences of ALL TIME bar NONE!


One of my favorites of all time was Dungeon Master on the Amiga 500, now that was an awesome and beautiful RPG, not very grand in scope but was simply the distillation of all the best pseudo 3D dungeon crawl.  Too bad as a series it fizzled out because of the limited scope of the system and dungeon crawl.  But its execution as a game was simply elegance personified and even after all these years, its clean graphics and UI design is still beautiful to my aging eyes and its UI has been emulated by countless games there after.  Not to mention that it was moddable, before the word "mod" came into popular vernacular.


Ultima had a great start but between you an me Ultima IX totally destroyed the series' credibility. No doubt that its earlier games were the most influential RPGs of their time though. The high point of this series for me was Ultima underworld, an off shoot of the main series and the innovations in game play at the time is only rivaled by System Shock whose gameplay and interactivity with the game-world is astounding even today. Its relative obscurity from the main stream is the only reason System Shock isn't on more "Best Games Ever".


I live in Hong Kong now (having been bought up in Australia for much of my childhood) and find that Asian countries are heavily influenced by Japanese Culture and because there are some overlapping characters (words) between Chinese and Japanese and a general lack of English literacy in the 80s and 90s meant that Japanese RPGs are the top dogs here. So I understand the popularity of the JRPG, but I think its due to the limited exposure Asians have to the hardcore western RPG genre. JRPGs are more about following the story as it emerges during the gameplay, the gameplay allows some character generation and development but not to the extent of Western RPGs and you tend to get hand-hold more so through the character development during the game. Also decisions in JRPGs tend not affect the main storyline (even though many western RPGs are guilty of this as well... Skyrim anyone -,-) and the storylines tend to be linear and the gameplay mirrors this as well. So I find JRPGs lack exploration during gameplay, they are more about exploring character abilities as they develop whilst sitting back and watch the pretty cutscenes. Hopefully games like Skyrim will bring more exposure to the RPGs I like here in Asia and in the end I think the Elder Scroll deserve a place in the upper echelon of games that matter. As for a Top 10 position, even with my professed love for the series, I think there are many competition that I think influence the industry more and I haven't even started to talk about all the other genres that are not any less significant (for example: Dune II followed by Command & Conquer that kicked of the massive RTS craze that is still with us now and what about Diablo, love it or hate it, its formula may not work as well as it did back when it first came out, but boy was this game influential and fun). These polls is a prime example of when democracy can fail and become a popularity contest.


Now, Get off my lawn!

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I am sure there is some rose color tint to my glasses with Wasteland and I probably had a much more vivid imagination back in the 80s, but **** yeah, give it a try. Maybe I will do a Let's Play on it one day.


I had this great Walkthrough (commercial book) back in the day, it was the first every walkthrough book I ever bought but it was also the best written walktrhough I've ever read, it read like a novella and had a blue-print style. I still have it back home in Aus somewhere, I think its worth a bundle now, super rare!

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