Best NES JRPG...by today's standards?

#1 Edited by MormonWarrior (2570 posts) -

I've been looking into getting a NES and some games I have a fondness for. In my experience, an awful lot of the 8-bit JRPGs (Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior) are pretty basic by even the most lenient modern standards, or even the standards of the 16-bit era that came after.

I know the games were really revolutionary and important at the time, but is there any one JRPG that has withstood the test of time better than the others? Final Fantasy is extremely grindy and basic, and the little I've played of the first Dragon Warrior makes me think that it'd require heavy nostalgic glasses to appreciate much. I'd love some suggestions. The genre as a whole tends to age a bit more poorly than, say, Super Mario Bros. 3.

#2 Posted by groin (846 posts) -
#3 Posted by ThunderSlash (1682 posts) -

Dragon Warrior III is pretty sweet. Granted I only played it when it was remade for the Gameboy Color around 10 years later. But if that version was similar to the NES version, I'd say that it is a pretty deep and content packed game NES standards. Hell, I'd say that it probably has more content in it than most JRPGs that came out last gen.

#4 Posted by MrCHUP0N (246 posts) -

If you haven't jumped into Final Fantasy III remakes and know Japanese (or other Dark Arts), that on NES is pretty in-depth for an 8-bit game. Dragon Warrior IV has a good reputation.

You might find some gems in this list:

http://www.listal.com/list/rpg-world-nes-edition

I remember enjoying Little Ninja Brothers, myself.

#5 Posted by psylah (2170 posts) -

What are "today's standards"? Because JRPGs aren't that great this generation.

#6 Edited by TheMasterDS (2049 posts) -

@psylah: Probably means like as good as Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Paper Mario 64/Thousand Year Door, Mother 3, that sort of level of quality. Also maybe Pokemon. And no, I don't think there is one. Games only got good with the advent of the SNES and even then they only got great midway into the generation when the first game I ever played was released.

#7 Edited by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -
#8 Posted by groin (846 posts) -
#9 Posted by Kidavenger (3531 posts) -

I'm going to vote for Faxanadu just because

#10 Edited by Illuminosopher (321 posts) -

@thunderslash: Yep I would have to echo this, Dragon Warrior III is the only one that comes to mind.

Unless you want to count the Zelda games as JRPG.

#11 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

@thunderslash:

I think a lot was added for the GBC version (which is based more on the SNES version than the original NES version).

#12 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

Final Fantasy 1, 2, and 3.

#13 Edited by GERALTITUDE (3228 posts) -

If you thought FF and Dragon Quest were too basic there is literally nothing on that console you will enjoy, so far as JRPGs go, since those two franchises were far and away the most forward thinking at the time, and the most modern of the bunch now.

Maybe I'm ignoring something, but I doubt it. Ultima.. not so great... King's Quest... not so great...

Anyways, there's a really handy guide to JRPGs on the NES here: http://nesguide.com/genre/roleplaying/

Has images and descriptions of a good 20-30 games.

#14 Posted by cmblasko (1193 posts) -

Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest 3. I would say Destiny of an Emperor but its inventory management is awful.

#15 Edited by Illuminosopher (321 posts) -

@geraltitude: Looking at that link the game Uncharted Waters looks like it might have something going for it.

#16 Posted by Lyisa (343 posts) -

I probably played more Final Fantasy than any other nes game so I'll go with that. Its fantastic.

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#17 Edited by MormonWarrior (2570 posts) -

@psylah: Probably means like as good as Earthbound, Chrono Trigger, Paper Mario 64/Thousand Year Door, Mother 3, that sort of level of quality. Also maybe Pokemon. And no, I don't think there is one. Games only got good with the advent of the SNES and even then they only got great midway into the generation when the first game I ever played was released.

Yeah, I tried to make that clear in the OP. I think Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, and other such games from the mid to late 90's totally age well for the genre, but the early 8 and 16-bit games really don't. Sorry if I was unclear. JRPGs are a little dire nowadays, with the rare Persona or Xenoblade Chronicles exception.

#18 Edited by Viking_Funeral (1767 posts) -

Final Fantasy was basically the top of NES rpgs in North America. Dragon Warrior was okay. I can't remember any others actually being released.

You can get a lot of translations of Japanese NES rpgs through... means... but they're not for people that don't have a serious appreciation of the era. Mother is good. Final Fantasy III has the first job system, but otherwise is very similar to the first Final Fantasy. (FF2 is the typical weird experiment so many NES franchises went through at the time.) That's about it. Dragon Quest IV might be good, but I have no personal experience.

#19 Edited by KaneRobot (1541 posts) -

Dragon Warrior III & IV.

The first two were ok for the time but don't hold up as well. The first one especially can get ultra-grindy.

#20 Posted by frankfartmouth (1016 posts) -

They're all going to be grindy and basic by modern standards, just some a little less so than others.

By far my favorite of the 8-bit JRPGs was Phantasy Star. I think it holds up much better than the rest. It has 3D dungeons (sort of), better graphics, great sound, and a more sophisticated story than most of its contemporaries.

Maybe spring for a Master System too? They can't be much off of ebay.

#21 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3228 posts) -

@geraltitude: Looking at that link the game Uncharted Waters looks like it might have something going for it.

Yeah actually it looks pretty cool. Seems like a unique setting for the time. Wonder if it was any good?

#22 Edited by Illuminosopher (321 posts) -

@geraltitude: I also have to say look at all that fantastic box art ... man if only all those games were as good as that art.

#23 Posted by Belegorm (399 posts) -

@illuminosopher said:

@geraltitude: Looking at that link the game Uncharted Waters looks like it might have something going for it.

Yeah actually it looks pretty cool. Seems like a unique setting for the time. Wonder if it was any good?

I never played the console versions of any of the Uncharted Waters games, but they're all supposed to be pretty decent, and the PC version of Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons was fantastic. Still one of my favourite DOS games from when I was younger (really needs a gog.com release). The Uncharted Waters games are Koei games, but are like the most un-Koei like games ever. Here's something on the game:http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/276/Uncharted+Waters+2+-+New+Horizons.html

As for favourite NES RPG... I only played FF1 which I enjoyed, but I did see my friend play Faxanadu and that looked pretty awesome. Also Zelda 2 is very RPG-ish.

#24 Posted by edsone (244 posts) -

Dragon Warrior III & IV.

The first two were ok for the time but don't hold up as well. The first one especially can get ultra-grindy.

Hard to find a better answer I guess. I also go with DQIII and IV. I can still play both and have a blast.

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#25 Posted by ArbitraryWater (11625 posts) -

The closest thing I can think of is... maybe Final Fantasy III? I've only played the DS remake, but I imagine the NES version is probably okay. Still super grindy though.

#26 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@edsone said:

@kanerobot said:

Dragon Warrior III & IV.

The first two were ok for the time but don't hold up as well. The first one especially can get ultra-grindy.

Hard to find a better answer I guess. I also go with DQIII and IV. I can still play both and have a blast.

These would be my answers, too. Both took the franchise in really interesting directions.

#27 Edited by BillyMaysRIP (175 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx: FF1 is not good by today's standards. It's full of things that were cool in its time, but have completely all of its flash. A lot of things are broken, the progression of the game is obtuse and non-nonsensical, and at the end it's just a slog. When it first came out, it blew my mind - but looking back, it doesn't hold up well.

FF2 was better, but oh gawd that ai was baaad. Also really isn't a good game by modern standards.

FF3 was also better and added that job-changing thing. My memory of it is kind-of ruined by the fact that it never came out over here in the US until that DS version.

Dragon Warrior 3 was probably the best of the time - huge leaps and bounds over the rest of the series, so would recommend that.

Other interesting RPGs are Crystalis and Destiny of an Emperor. They're both pretty damn good. Crystalis has fantastic graphics and a really cool story, and Destiny of an Emperor is a pretty deep and interesting game.

For lighter action RPGs, I would recomend Little Ninja Brothers, Magician, Faxanadu, and Mother. None of them are your traditional JRPGs, and are much less dry than FF or Dragon Warrior. Mother is EarthBound for the NES, but hey it's still great.

My favorites were always Ultima: Quest of the Avatar and The Bard's Tale, two games that were really cool.

(I ended up playing a whole lot of Phantasy Star and Shining Force because of the fact that it took sooooo long for FF and Fire Emblem to come out over here and I was sick of staring at those games in magazines.)

#28 Posted by Original_Hank (105 posts) -

Is River City Ransom an rpg? Cause I pick that.

#29 Posted by AltonBrown (950 posts) -
#30 Posted by Random45 (1139 posts) -

I don't think there are any good NES JRPGs. The first really good Final Fantasy game was 4, and that was on the SNES. I just can't imagine there being any decent JRPGs on the system due to the hardware limitations and lack of space on the NES cartridges.

#31 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

Hydlide

@psylah said:

What are "today's standards"? Because JRPGs aren't that great this generation.

The average JRPG on the PS3 is about as good as the average JRPG on the PS2, there's just 20 times as many JRPGs on the PS2 so there's also 20 times as many great games.

#32 Edited by AltonBrown (950 posts) -
#33 Posted by egg (1455 posts) -

absolutely no game with randomly triggered encounters shouild be chosen for this.

That should be the very definition of "by today's standards"

RTE's were funny back then but 25 years later they are not funny anymore, in fact now they are kind of sad.

#34 Posted by Sinusoidal (1417 posts) -

@frankfartmouth said:

They're all going to be grindy and basic by modern standards, just some a little less so than others.

By far my favorite of the 8-bit JRPGs was Phantasy Star. I think it holds up much better than the rest. It has 3D dungeons (sort of), better graphics, great sound, and a more sophisticated story than most of its contemporaries.

Maybe spring for a Master System too? They can't be much off of ebay.

Yesyesyes! Phantasy Star is easily the best 8-bit JRPG. Except for some of those later dungeons. Holy fuck, get out the graph paper if you ever want to get the Laconian Shield (or is it the Armor that sits at the bottom of the pit-trap/dead end filled dungeon?) Unfortunately, PS1 is probably the only JRPG worth playing on the Master System. Though you could also check out Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap which is probably my favorite 8-bit game period.

#35 Posted by Juno (44 posts) -

The multiple suggestions of Dragon Warrior IV are well placed. I think this is the best DW offering on the NES, had some fun characters and situations to deal with.

#36 Posted by ThunderSlash (1682 posts) -

@video_game_king: Huh? I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. There was a lot of content in that GBC cartridge.

#37 Posted by Slag (4244 posts) -

Well the SNES is undoubtedly the golden age of 2D JRPGs . Fwiw I agree with those who say the Dragon Quest/Warrior 3&4 games hold up as well as anything.

I will say I think Shadowgate holds up pretty well, but it's more of an adventure game than a true RPG.

Always had a soft spot for Hydlide, Faria; A World of Mystery of Danger! and Faxandu but I haven't played any in over 20 years....

#38 Posted by 9999dmg (132 posts) -
#40 Edited by crithon (3126 posts) -

I'm a late comer to Pokemon, but my first reaction was "This is dragon quest." That series holds up really well. Go for DQ3 or 4.

But I mean a lot of NES RPG is experimental and not a lot continued later series, SNES was the biggest jump in just innovation in that genre. Half the time it's interesting ways to play in a very action packed game. Like River City Ransom and Zelda 2. Because in the SNES era, FF4 is the game that's most like a modern RPG.... but now that's different since everyone is so open minded what they like in this genre.

#41 Posted by GERALTITUDE (3228 posts) -

@belegorm said:

@geraltitude said:

@illuminosopher said:

@geraltitude: Looking at that link the game Uncharted Waters looks like it might have something going for it.

Yeah actually it looks pretty cool. Seems like a unique setting for the time. Wonder if it was any good?

I never played the console versions of any of the Uncharted Waters games, but they're all supposed to be pretty decent, and the PC version of Uncharted Waters 2: New Horizons was fantastic. Still one of my favourite DOS games from when I was younger (really needs a gog.com release). The Uncharted Waters games are Koei games, but are like the most un-Koei like games ever. Here's something on the game:http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/276/Uncharted+Waters+2+-+New+Horizons.html

As for favourite NES RPG... I only played FF1 which I enjoyed, but I did see my friend play Faxanadu and that looked pretty awesome. Also Zelda 2 is very RPG-ish.

oh hey thanks for that link - Uncharted Waters 2 looks real interesting. I think I'll have to play one of these game snow. The art is so awesome. Apparently there's a bunch more of these games in Japan but the sequels never made it here?

@geraltitude: I also have to say look at all that fantastic box art ... man if only all those games were as good as that art.

Totally. I'm constantly disappointed by games inability to mimic that art style. You know we have cartoony games and hand drawn games - I guess Banner Saga is as close to that 70s/80s style we're going to get for now. But ah yes, the lost art of box art.

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