Wikipedia has a list of tactical RPGs that seems fairly comprehensive although it doesn’t have all of the games on my list. It does have some games I didn’t catch that I later added, but I keep forgetting which years I’ve checked so I want to start making a list of what I’m rejecting and why.
This list is through 1996. At least for now I’m only playing games that were originally released in Japan for a console, so that excludes some of the games already. As a quick review of my criteria: the game has to (1) be based around a series of fixed maps rather than random battles, (2) have unique characters that you can develop rather than just generic troops, and (3) have a developing storyline rather than just a frame narrative.
Please let me know if I’ve mistakenly excluded a game by my own criteria (not whether you personally think it’s an SRPG).
Bokosuka Wars (1983, FC port 1985) – Nobody considers this an SRPG; some say it lay the foundation for the SRPG genre but I’m a bit skeptical of this. I feel like Fire Emblem drew its main inspiration from games like Daisenryaku and Famicom Wars, and I’m not sure that either of these games are all that indebted to Bokosuka Wars. I think maybe we can say that it had certain elements that would later be in the SRPG genre, but I’m not sure if it deserves credit for starting the genre.
Moryo Senki MADARA (1990, FC) – One debate that often occurs among SRPG fans is about games like this. The game is basically a standard RPG except that when you get in a random battle, the battles take place on a grid with some strategy elements. For me, these are not SRPGs (thus criteria 1 above).
Bahamut Senki (1991, MD) — MADARA is an example of a game that’s too far to the RPG side, and this is an example of a game that’s too far to the strategy side. There are a number of games that are sometimes considered SRPGs that (to me) are basically strategy games instead. This has only a frame narrative rather than a developing story (criteria 3) and is almost entirely generic characters (criteria 2).
Chaos World (1991, FC) — I don’t understand why this is on the list. It’s just a normal RPG with an auto-battle system.
Crystal Warriors (1991, GG) – I may have wrongly skipped this game. It’s the forerunner to Royal Stone, which I did play. I believe I cut it because it didn’t look like it had a developing story. But there might actually be one, just a very thin one.
Master of Monsters (1991, MD) – Same deal as Bahamut Senki.
MT: Last Bible (1992, GB) – This seems to be another mistake on wikipedia. Another Bible is an SRPG but this is just a standard RPG.
Dark Wizard (1993, MD-CD) – I actually started this game, and it’s possible that it technically qualifies. It did not feel like SRPG to me, though (it felt more like a Bahamut Senki type game). In the end I skipped it because it seemed very long and slow moving, and it’s available in English.
Super Barcode Wars (1993, SFC) – I think this is another Bahamut Senki situation. However, even if it does qualify, it can’t really be played the way it was intended to play because no emulator supports the barcode scanner peripheral that was made to go with the game.
BB Gun (1995, SFC) – No developing story.
Kou Ryuu Ki (1995, SFC) – Rise of the Phoenix in English. This is another type of difficult game for me to assess because it has a storyline in a sense. But I don’t think it fits criteria 1.
Monstania (1996, SFC) – This one is so close that it might be an SRPG, my question is whether it qualifies for criteria 1. In the end I decided to skip it because I will end up playing it anyway on my other blog.
Treasure Hunter G (1996, SFC) – Same comment as for Monstania.
In the future I’ll include Wikipedia entries in the previews of each year.
In addition to the above, I have two games that I missed on my first go through — The Hybrid Front, and Nage Libre. I’m going to do Nage Libre when I reach that point in my SFC blog. I will get to the Hybrid Front eventually; right now I’m not in the mood to go back to a Mega Drive game.