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What are the best NES RPGs without counting Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior?

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Just like the title says, I'm wondering what you think the best RPGs are for the NES other than Final Fantasy or Dragon Warrior. Was thinking about starting one of the AD&D or Ultima carts but I know there are others.

 

BTW - how is the experience playing Ultima on the NES compared to an 80's computer?

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I'd avoid Pool of Radiance on NES, it's a pretty awful version of the game.

 

Ultima Exodus and Quest of the Avatar are both fine ports.  Exodus is a very faithful port of the PC version with charming graphics and a great soundtrack.  There are some changes here and there, but nothing too drastic.

 

Quest of the Avatar is less faithful a port, but close enough in my opinion.  The major losses for this version are loss of the keyword-based conversation system, and a slightly simplified quest (less info/items to gather).  However, it actually gets rid of a lot of the more annoying stuff in the PC version:

  • You can target any enemy with ranged weapons
  • No food to track
  • Smaller party makes combat quicker
  • Final dungeon is done with just a single character, much less annoying

I'd rank these Ultima games (but NOT Warriors of Destiny, it's horrible) up with Dragon Warrior II/III and Final Fantasy as the best RPGs on the system.

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On 11/15/2021 at 1:24 AM, SlidellMan said:

There's Konami's Lagrange Point, which is a Sci-Fi game with VRC7 FM sound.

SlidellMan, what are your thoughts on this one?  It seems interesting, but I've never given it a try.

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Oh, I thought you had played it, since you were suggesting it as one of the best on the system.  Never mind! :)

Edited by newtmonkey

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If I (and I am here) stay in the bubble of my own region, that would exclude some Japanese gems.  Ultimately, Ultima and the D&D games are about it, along with Ghost Lion I've read some nice stuff about.  RPGs are kind of strange on the system, a bit too early to get the goodies so it's more of the crusty computer draw a paper map style stuff to not get lost style of choices.

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15 hours ago, newtmonkey said:

Oh, I thought you had played it, since you were suggesting it as one of the best on the system.  Never mind! :)

Just watched a little bit of playthrough.  It seems to be the NES cousin of Phantasy Star, except that the spell tech names clue you in to what they do.

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Assuming we're sticking to turn-based RPGs:

 

The subject matter of Destiny of an Emperor may lead you to expect a Koei-style sim game, but it's 100% RPG and plays very well. There's a nasty bug that can crop up later in the game, which is the one big downer, but it's easy to avoid. That's probably the best NES game released in North America that hasn't been mentioned yet.

 

I haven't played too many others (except games that have already been named like Ultima III/IV and Bard's Tale). I think the Wizardry port is supposed to be decent but I've never played the original on computer, and on NES I've only played Knight of Diamonds (the "sequel") ages ago.

 

If we go out-of-region and into fan translations and prototypes, Musashi no Bouken is a very decent Dragon Warrior clone. And of course there's Earthbound aka Earthbound Zero, quite a nice game indeed.

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8 hours ago, thegoldenband said:

Destiny of an Emperor

That is a very good game. Though there was a section that with Sima Yi that wiped the party unless you input a button combo to counter it. In the days before the internet I was stuck there and shelved the game for years until we got the internet and found out what the code was. Same with Startropics, we only had the cart and not the letter with a needed code in it to continue on.

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Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.

 

It is much more difficult but with online help (walkthroughs and maps), you'll have an advantage.

 

My favorite quote from that game?  "Cheap apostates!  Out!"

18-wizardry-proving-grounds-of-the-mad-overlord-gameplay.jpg

Edited by 7800Knight
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Sid Meier's Pirates! was released on the NES in 1991, after being available for home computers for years.  This was a favorite of mine; while it is not a standard fantasy RPG, it has strong role playing elements.  You can be a pirate, a privateer for a nation or a pirate hunter.  You can recruit big or small crews, get different ships to use, pick a talent at the start of the game, hunt for treasure and even get married.

 

 

16-sid-meiers-pirates-gameplay.jpg

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36 minutes ago, neogeo1982 said:

That is a very good game. Though there was a section that with Sima Yi that wiped the party unless you input a button combo to counter it. In the days before the internet I was stuck there and shelved the game for years until we got the internet and found out what the code was. Same with Startropics, we only had the cart and not the letter with a needed code in it to continue on.

Strange, I beat Destiny relatively recently and don't remember needing to consult a walkthrough to do so. Startropics, yes, that one is deliberately impossible to beat unless you have the letter (or help from a third party).

 

Aha, I looked at a FAQ just now, and I see that in Destiny you do at least get the code in-game from talking to the right person. And there was a bit too much of that in the game -- events that don't get triggered until you scour the countryside for just the right dialogue. Still, I enjoyed it a lot -- enough to beat it multiple times, which is rare for me and RPGs. But beware that bug!

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Romance of the Three Kingdoms 1+2.  The koei games are different and not traditional jrpgs but really fun if you are willing to spend the time to figure them out.  1 is actually pretty unbalanced, but it's still my favorite for nostalgia reasons.  Unchartered waters is a bit more typical and is good as well, I only played and loved the SNES version myself, but apparently the NES one is a good version as well

 

Also second the wizardry series.  The third one was released only on famicom, but it's one of the few famicom carts that actually has an english option right in the menu.

Don't get the map from the internet though, mapping out the games is like 90% of the fun, once they are mapped there isn't alot left to do in my opinion

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We had fun bitd charting out maps on graph paper playing Swords & Serpents.  Not sure how well it holds up now though.  Hydlide and Faria are decent too.  If you are emulating or using a repro cart, Earthbound Zero is a good one.

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6 hours ago, glazball said:

We had fun bitd charting out maps on graph paper playing Swords & Serpents.  Not sure how well it holds up now though.  Hydlide and Faria are decent too.  If you are emulating or using a repro cart, Earthbound Zero is a good one.

The biggest annoyance of S&S is that it requires 5 separate passwords:  1 for the world state, and 1 for each of the 4 characters.  Hacking the password system was also a challenge because it also seems to apply sanity checks on top of the usual checksum system.  So you can't rewrite your characters to be max OP, only mostly ;)

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On 1/19/2022 at 1:14 PM, glazball said:

We had fun bitd charting out maps on graph paper playing Swords & Serpents

😂 we  did the same thing with Nes Bards Tale. It was fun back then but I don't think I'd do it again.

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There are some pretty good NES RPGs that were translated.  Lagrange Point and Just Breed were probably the nicest looking graphically.  Glory of Heracles 2, Juvei Quest, Silva Saga and Chronicles of Radia are also pretty good.

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On 11/25/2021 at 11:50 PM, 7800Knight said:

Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.

 

It is much more difficult but with online help (walkthroughs and maps), you'll have an advantage.

 

My favorite quote from that game?  "Cheap apostates!  Out!"

18-wizardry-proving-grounds-of-the-mad-overlord-gameplay.jpg

This is one I recommend. I've been playing Wizardry 1 since its inception, and the NES version is just a great version IMHO. I also recommend Ultima: Exodus. Again, another game I played from its inception way back in the day and the NES version is, once again, great. 

 

:D

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