The basic idea behind this blog is to play through the RPGs on the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo), and the PC Engine, in Japanese release order.
I try to update at least every Saturday or Sunday. I am now doing two blogs, and sometimes I am playing a strategy RPG on my other blog. In this case, I will make a short post about some other retro game that I'll just play for one session (1-2 hours). These will tend to be forerunners of games that I'm playing here, or a game for a different system that came out around the same time as the games I'm playing.
Which games to play
My preliminary list of games is as inclusive as possible, but I will be skipping a number of games. I will definitely play a game if it was not officially released in English, if it's not a port/remake, and if I haven't recently played it. Otherwise I might skip it.
(3/10/18): I'm clarifying the above, although it's basically just defining what I'm already doing. For each game I ask three questions: Was it officially released in English? Is it a port or remake (particularly of a computer game)? Have I played it before?
If the answer to all three is no, and there is no translation patch, I will suffer through the game to the bitter end. If there is a translation patch, I may give up if the game is on the extreme end of the crappiness scale or I'm just really not enjoying it at all, but I consider this a last resort.
If the answer to any question is yes, I can skip it. If I choose to play it, I can stop playing at any point, for any reason.
For non-SFC games, I will stop playing each one after a week unless I have a specific reason to continue (e.g. it's a good game; it's a famous, well-liked game; I'm going to play a sequel to it).
What is an RPG?
Generally I feel like I know what an RPG is, and I think that CRPGAddict's definition works pretty well -- a game that has character development, combat at least partially based on stats, and inventories that aren't just for puzzle solving.
For console RPGs I think further clarification is needed for "Action RPGs" and "Strategy RPGs" since there are many action and strategy games that incorporate RPG elements but don't really seem like full RPGs. Here are my definitions.
For an action game to be considered an Action RPG:
- It needs to have statistic development with more than just life and magic (this excludes the Zelda games)
- It needs to have safe places like towns (this excludes the later Castlevania games)
- It needs to have some element of exploration, not just stages.
It needs to have a narrative you play through, not just an end goal (this excludes Koei's Romance of the Three Kingdoms games) It needs to have individual, named characters that you can develop, not just generic troops (if both exist that's fine).
(2018 update: I will no longer be playing SRPGs on this blog, those will be on my companion blog, This Map is Completed!)
In theory, it would be great to play through all the games on a real console without ever using a walkthrough. However, I'm not doing this. Using a console makes it harder to take screenshots and introduces the risk of component failure or save deletion. Also some of the games are very expensive and hard to acquire. Finally, this just makes the whole project take a lot longer, and I'm not sure that the gains from doing that are worth the increased tedium and boredom.
I'm playing everything on the bsnes MT emulator, a fork of the recent bsnes that adds a few useful features. I'm using an Acer Spin 3 laptop with a Dualshock 4 controller via bluetooth.
Now what about emulator features like fast forward or save state? In my initial version of these rules, I forbade myself from using these unless the games were really bad, and even then I waited a week of play before I used them. However, after a few years of doing it this way I realized this week of waiting wasn't really necessary -- I made these rules back when I thought the overall quality of the games would be much higher than it actually is.
I now make very liberal use of fast forward in all but the best games. My use of save states is still fairly limited, but I do use them freely in crappy games and I don't always wait a week before using them. Cheat codes I still rarely use, though. I only use them in the worst games, and almost entirely to get around excessive forced grinding. I always say in the post in the few cases where I used cheat codes.