Nostalgic moments with console RPGs
For many years I was not really that much into games. When I got my first PC I was mainly fiddling with software, networking, hacking and programming instead of playing games. This is the tradition up to these days. Yet there are two genres that I have played both for 24 hours straight and almost ruined my school projects. Yet I think all of that m4d gaming was worth of it for various reasons. The two genres I have played in long bursts during my life are console RPGs and 1st person shooters (got my skills playing Quake for several years, I'll tell something about that experience later).
My first console was the now notorious NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). My journey into RPGs started from Zelda and Willow, later followed by the long awaited Gameboy and Super Nintendo, which I remember as the golden age of Japanese RPGs. I also remember the disappointment of hearing of how many great titles went untranslated I had been waiting for. Heck, one of my friends even learned Japanese to play those games imported from Japan.
This guy called Ville really introduced me into the mystical world of Japanese RPGs. He and his family were really all about gaming from my point of view. They owned every single system from the time and I can still visualize the big game cartridge towers in their game room. Everyone was playing from father to son, only the mother was not really into 24/7 gaming. It was the "gaming pit" for me in both good and bad.
The first RPG games which really changed my gaming life and interest in buying games were the Final Fantasy II (FF IV in Japan) and Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2 in Japan), both for Super Nintendo (and both from Squaresoft). I also played some of the PC RPGs like Ultima series and Diablo but never got the same kind of vibes as I got from the orchestrated music, epic battles and complex plots in medieval fantasy settings of the Japanese RPGs. These titles really got me into playing for just one more hour. I think I have so far played through all the great Japanese RPGs released for SNES in the west. I'm in dept to Enix and Squresoft for delivering me with so many great experiences. Still when I'm playing with my Xbox, I dream of experiencing the same again.
In my opinion, the greatest title on SNES was Chrono Trigger by Squaresoft followed by excellent Chrono Cross on Playstation. Breath of Fire series from Capcom was not bad either. Few know that I have hacked together a Finnish translation of Chrono Trigger in the past just for fun, now surpassed in quality by another team...
I totally skipped Gameboy Advance, Playstation and Playstation 2, all which had great Japanese RPG titles and I still regret that move (I was playing Quake at that time ;)). Now I own the Xbox, my one and only evil swing towards Microsoft. It doesn't have any Japanese RPGs but it sure is a PC if you open the cover. If you have the skills you could modify your Xbox to run Linux and alongside with it, all the great emulators to emulate almost every single console available in the past. It's potentially a 100 in one solution (video).
Gamespot is featuring a series of articles about the part of gaming world I really love. Take a look at the history of Square, history of console RPGs and history of Final Fantasy.
I think I'm going to fire my emulator and load some Japanese SNES goodness which never really got through the trans-pacific cracks. Now it's done, unofficially. Nostalgia awaits...