This site is made up of two separate projects originally hosted on separate sites, but combined into one here. Both are under the label of “chronogaming” — that is, trying to play some set of games in the order they were originally released.
1. Super Famicom RPGs
The original project was to play all the Super Famicom RPGs that had not been officially released in English. I did not attempt to define RPG, and I compiled my master list from a variety of sources.
Currently I am playing the games on an Acer Spin 3 laptop, using the bsnes-MT emulator with a DS4 controller. My rules for the playthrough are as follows:
- How long to play each game? If a game has an official release in English, or if I’ve played it before, I can approach it however I want (including skipping it entirely). If a game has a translation patch, I may skip it if it’s especially bad or not fun. If there is no patch, though, I have to play it to the end. As of yet I haven’t had to violate this rule although a few times I’ve come close.
- Walkthrough use – I do not have a “no walkthrough” policy. Generally I try to use a walkthrough for instructions for how to play the game; major secrets like “good” endings, bonus dungeons, or hidden characters; and lists that give stats for weapons, items, spells, etc. However, if the game is especially bad I will sometimes follow a walkthrough step by step to finish it.
- Emulator features use – I make heavy use of emulator speedup; originally I was avoiding this to a certain extent, but now I use it even on good games. Save states I tend not to use except on bad games. Cheat codes I try to avoid as much as possible, although I will use them to speed up grinding (when it’s absolutely necessary), and in some cases I have used them on exceptionally bad games.
1a. PC Engine RPGs
I grew annoyed at how many early RPGs seemed to be worse adaptations of games that were for the PC Engine, so I started playing those too. In the end I’m not sure I should have done this, but as I’m writing this I’ve completed almost all of them. My standards for these games are much looser than the SFC ones; I often only play them for a few hours before moving on.
2. Strategy RPGs
This is my favorite type of video game, and I’ve always wanted to play more.
What qualifies as an SRPG
The definition of an SRPG or TRPG is elusive, and especially with older games you see a lot of disagreement on what qualifies. The following definition is not intended to be absolute, it’s just a description of the type of SRPGs that I personally like to play. For me, there are two things that an SRPG needs to have:
1. A narrative. That is, the game can’t just have an end goal (as in Nobunaga’s Ambition or Romance of the Three Kingdoms). This also excludes games that have campaign modes which are just a series of maps with no narrative framework or connection between the maps. “Play major battles of World War II” would not count here either. The story doesn’t need to be deep, but it has to be there.
2. Individual characters that can be developed by the player. At least some of the player units need to be individually named characters with some kind of presence in the story. Generic troops are fine as long as they’re not your whole force (Ogre Battle, for instance, has a mix). This also excludes some of the SD Gundam G Generation games because the story characters aren’t actually in your squad, and the named characters you recruit for your permanent squad are not in the story.
The “development” part means that you need to be able to level or grow your characters in some way — traditionally that’s an XP level system, but other ways are possible. It doesn’t count if everyone gets stronger just by completing maps, in a fixed way that means every player has exactly the same squad on any given map.
A few additional small points:
- Standard RPGs with battles on a grid (e.g. Ultima III) do not count. Neither do games with card systems like YuGiOh.
- I’m only doing console games, although that includes ports of computer games.
- I’m only doing Japanese games, so no Heroes of Might and Magic or the like.
Now, these rules are really just guidelines — I may skip a game if it technically qualifies but still doesn’t really seem like an SRPG to me, or if it actually doesn’t qualify but I just want to play it (e.g. the Atelier games, which are more like “simulation” RPGs, and Sakura Taisen).
Here’s a list of games current through 2019, although it has a number of gaps, particularly in the later years.
Unlike my companion Super Famicom blog, I will be playing games that were officially released in English. However, I will play all games in Japanese.
There are a large number of remakes and ports of these games. The general principle is that I will play the original version of the game, unless a superior port was released around the same time and without major changes. A good example of this is the PC Engine version of Langrisser, which is the same as the Mega Drive version but with better quality music and some voiced cutscenes. On the other hand, the DS version of Fire Emblem 1 is 18 years later and introduces significant gameplay and graphical changes.
I will be playing these games (at least in the early stages) on the most accurate emulators I can find, which are the following:
- Mesen (Famicom)
- Sameboy (Game Boy)
- bsnes-mt (A fork of higan/bsnes)
- Genesis Plus GX (Mega Drive/Game Gear/Mega Drive CD)
- Mednafen (PC-Engine, Saturn)
- Duckstation (Playstation)
I will use the speedup/fast forward functions to deal with unskippable battle animations or long enemy turns, but I will not cheat with save states……most likely.
My general practice for playing SRPGs is to use walkthroughs for factual information (hidden stages, recruitable characters, good endings, etc.) but not for strategy information (which units are the best to use, which enemies to watch out for or what techniques to use to beat them, which route is the best, etc.). This does sometimes warp the experience a bit because occasionally there are hidden characters or items that break the game, but on the whole I have more fun playing the games this way.
How long to play each game?
In theory, I would like to complete each game. However, there are two instances where I might abandon a game:
- I’ve played the game for a week, and it’s a bad game.
- Many of the games, particularly early ones, have no way to go back to previous maps or to grind levels. So it’s possible to play badly and get to a point where you are going to have to start the game from the beginning. If this happens, I may either abandon the game entirely, or put it aside and come back to it after a few more games.
In principle I’m only going to play each game once, even if it has multiple paths or endings. Depending on the game, though, I might play multiple routes, or I might play a second route when I reach a remake of a game (e.g. play one path on Der Langrisser and another path on Langrisser II for Playstation).