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Best Playstation RPG Games - Square EA Masterpieces (that are not Final Fantasy games)

By Edited Aug 30, 2016 0 0

Square, most famous among videogamers for the Final Fantasy series[1], was a Japanese video game company founded in 1983. It eventually merged with rival Enix[2] (known for the Dragon Quest series), in 2003, to create Square Enix as it is known today. Square EA was the result of a partnership with Electronic Arts[3], so that the company could market its games in North American territory more efficiently. Electronic Arts would also have its own international extension based in Japan, for marketing purposes, called EA Square.

The consequence of this venture was a large number of successful Square games released in the American market like never before seen. Most of these games were RPG titles, a genre which Square has been famous for, that may have been responsible for the jump in popularity of such games as well. Gamers who had been introduced to the revolutionary Final Fantasy VII were branching out to other RPGs, and many of them quickly became followers of the company, for the undeniable quality of its RPG titles, and console games in general.

Xenogears

(1998)

Xenogears
One of the first games, and the very first true RPG at its core, that was released in western territories under the logo of Square EA, was Xenogears. This game came off as a surprisingly good futuristic RPG to casual and hardcore gamers alike. It excelled in every single aspect, and quickly became a legend among RPG legends. Xenogears comes from the same creators of the equally legendary Chrono Trigger, and is often appointed as the best RPG that Square has ever released on the Playstation after the immensely popular FFVII.
Xenogears - PlayStation
Amazon Price: $90.84 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 30, 2016)
Xenegoears takes you to the continent of Ignas, a place long fustigated by wars between two nations. However, one day, the balance suddenly shifts when a third party interferes. The conflicts eventually take on a global scale, revealing secret interests and plots of much larger scale. There are recurring themes in the story and parallels to our own society, religions and history.

The game gives you the chance to control several characters, and features the classic Square turn-based ATB (Active Battle System). There are two types of battles in the game, though. There is a martial arts-based combat system, where you control the character and use different moves. And there's the Gear battle, a larger scale battle scenario that has the character fight inside a Mecha, giving the player different commands and attack choices.

Vagrant Story

(2000)

Vagrant Story
There's something about this game that sets it apart from every other RPG I've ever played. Every gamer is bound to say something like this about a game at some point, mine is Vagrant Story. It was the first RPG I experienced after my introduction to Final Fantasy and role-playing gaming through FFVIII. The difficulty of this game for me at the time became a shock. I couldn't grasp the battle system, didn't understand the mechanics and everything about the gameplay just felt plain awkward! It took me months to truly get into it, and understand that I was before a masterpiece of a game, and one that would forever become one of my favorite RPGs of all time, for its presentation; story line; characters; gameplay and complexity were on a completely different level than anything else.
Vagrant Story
Amazon Price: $79.90 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 30, 2016)
It's very hard to give a glimpse of Vagrant Story's plot without having to write a novel... as its magnitude and complexity could be taken into an epic full-feature film! The game starts by putting you in the middle of a civil war and quickly introducing you Ashley, a Riskbreaker (a sort of a Law force agent). He was sent to Lea Monde, a town of much history in an island surrounded by reefs, in order to capture the preechy young leader of a cult, who is up to no good. Through the events that unfold, more shadowy characters and sinister intricate plots are revealed. There is more to Ashley's character that even he is anaware of, there is more to Sydney's actions than what initially meets the eye, and there is much more to the dark corners and dungeons of the mysterious and dangerous town of Lea Monde.

In Vagrant Story, you take control of Ashley in this strange mix of adventure, action and RPG, where there are no towns, shops, world map or dungeons. The whole map can be considered to be a huge dungeon! The battles are a mix of turn-based and action, where you battle the enemies that you come across in real time. However, when attacking, you bring up the "Sphere System", and time stops for you to choose which part of the enemy you want to attack, within the range of the sphere. After that the battle proceeds, but you can make combos out of your initial attack. With timing, and using different abilities, you can create devastating combos.

You will find much fantasy, adventure, mystery, intrigue, a huge amount of customizable equipment, different magic and much, much dungeon crawling! A hard game to grasp, arguably not for everyone, but one that when fully unwrapped, can let you experience a story like you have never seen before in a videogame, while providing hours of complex and fulfilling gameplay.

Legend of Mana

(2000)

Legend of Mana

Legend of Mana was very well received for its presentation and non-linear gameplay. This game features three different plot lines that can occur simultaneously, and gives the player the ability to determine the course of the story through his actions, a common feature in today's games, but somewhat innovative back then. Legend of Mana is an Action-RPG[4] and part of the Mana series[5], that started on the Game Boy, and created a legacy spanning through various platforms, in diverse formats.

Legend of Mana
Amazon Price: $124.95 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 30, 2016)
The fictional world of Legend of Mana is the same in every installment of the series. In this world, the Mana Tree and giver of life, sealed towns and lands into artifacts, after a war between races, that were seeking the power of Mana for themselves. In present times, it is up to the hero, the player, the task of restoring the world to what it once was.

The action-oriented gameplay of Legend of Mana allows the player to explore dungeons and towns, that vary depending on which artifacts have been placed on the game world by the player himself, through the use of the "Land Make" system. This offers great gameplay interactivity and replay value, as each new run through the game can take a completely different direction.

Threads of Fate

(2000)

Threads of Fate

Threads of Fate is another Action-RPG and probably the "smallest" Square game in this intimidating list of giants. The gameplay is in many ways similar to Legend of Mana, and it also explores with the concept of playing different story lines, as the player can play from the perspective of two different main characters. Threads of Fate is a charming lesser known gem, that ought to appeal to fans of the genre. 

Threads of Fate
Amazon Price: $75.69 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 30, 2016)
The simplicity of the story in Threads of Fate takes the player through a journey of choices and pre-written destinies. There aren't many other greater or thought-provoking themes in the narrative, it's all about the heart-warming tale of finding one's own purpose in life.

The gameplay is quite straight forward as well. Having many similar elements to Legend of Mana, Threads of Fate is action-oriented, gives its two characters different weapons and provides them with distinct abilities. The female lead is proficient with magic, while the male lead can shapeshift into some of the monsters and use their own abilities.

Gameplay elements of both Legend of Mana and Threads of Fate would set the basis for future action-RPGs to come.

Chrono Cross

(2000)

Chrono Cross

The sequel to one of the highest regarded and critically acclaimed Square/RPG/video games of all time, Chrono Trigger, originally released for the SNES[6] in 1995. While incapable of achieving the unreachable status of its legendary sequel, Chrono Cross, by the same creators, received positive reviews for its immersive battle system,  imaginative story line, fantastic visuals and memorable music. Much like Vagrant Story, Chrono Cross certainly pushed the Playstation capabilities to their very limit.

Chrono Cross - PlayStation
Amazon Price: $10.49 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 30, 2016)
Being the successor to Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross would have to have brought an inventive and daring story line, and generally it is accepted that the game succeeded at doing not only that, but also at creating a memorable gaming experience.

You take control of Serge in a tropical world, where at some point, he slips into an alternate dimension. He comes to the realization that some time ago, the universe had been divided into two dimensions, in one of which he had died. Serge proceeds to meet many characters (many of them playable), and with their help, as well as with the opposition of others, he will seek to find the truth about both worlds and his past. Going through twists and turns, different dimensions and parallel worlds; alliances and betrayals, you will embark in one of the most epic journeys you have ever been on.

The battle system in Chrono Cross follows the RPG standard, however with some differences. You travel through the world map by visiting towns and dungeons, but with no random battles at all! Much like Chrono Trigger, enemies are all visible, and battles are triggered upon contact. During battle, you choose actions such as attacking or using Elemtents. Elements take care of every action related to the use of items, magic and abilities, it works in a similar manner to that of the Materia system in Final fantasy VII.
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Bibliography

  1. "Final Fantasy." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "Enix." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >
  3. "Electronic Arts." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >
  4. "Action role-playing game." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >
  5. "Mana (series)." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >
  6. "Super Nintendo Entertainment System." Wikipedia. 30/04/2013 <Web >

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