Tokyo video game developers Konami sport an impressive back catalog of RPGs for players to discover. Many of their finest RPG efforts over the years have garnered praise for immersive gameplay mechanics, memorable characters, and engaging storytelling.
These games often focus on epic quests, rich and expansive world-building, and tactical combat that keeps players on their strategic toes. Konami’s classic RPGs have garnered a reputation for blending traditional genre elements with innovative, unconventional twists, often providing players with fresh experiences while holding true to the demands of the role-playing scene. Best known for their fantasy efforts, Konami’s impact on the RPG genre over the years cannot be overstated.
Konami: 6 Worst Worlds To Live In
While Konami has made some incredible games over the years, some of the worlds depicted in them would be awful places to call home.
5 Vandal Hearts 2
Excellent Battle Action & Creative Gameplay
- Initial release date: July 8, 1999
- Platforms: Playstation
The second entry in the Vandal Hearts series quickly garnered a reputation for its difficulty. With almost no mercy shown to newbie players, the game’s relentless pace proved to be either a highlight or a hindrance, depending on the gamer’s opinion.
When it comes to gameplay, Vandal Hearts II largely improved upon its predecessor. The strategically-focused battles are bolstered by a wide selection of weapons and armor. In an interesting break from the RPG norm, the game sidesteps the standard set class system, allowing players to change their character’s roles quickly when necessary on the battlefield. Widely praised for its innovative gameplay and fantastical visuals, the one area where the game comes slightly unstuck is the storyline. While the character development is frequently on-point, the core plot never quite reaches the highs of the original. Regardless, its groundbreaking approach to RPG combat and action warrants its classic status.
4 Azure Dreams
A Dungeon-Crawling RPG With Endless, Randomly Generated Maps
- Initial release date: November 13, 1997
- Platforms: Playstation, Game Boy Color
In one of Konami’s most polarizing efforts on the PS1, players get to enjoy a blend of RPG and dungeon-crawling tropes. The game takes place in a fantastical town that manages to profit from a terrifying nearby Monster Tower.
Unsurprisingly, the town has some monster tamers on hand to maintain an element of safety. For players, this is all groundwork for their own venture into the Monster Tower. The tower offers solid replay value, as its randomly generated maps ensure that the area is an ever-changing labyrinth to explore. Along with the obvious presence of monsters, players can also seek out treasure, adding to the dungeon-crawling dynamic the gameplay offers. With colorful visuals, the chance to form charming bonds with friendly creatures, and some town-building aspects to consider, Azure Dreams isn’t Konami’s most complex RPG, but it is one of its most underrated on the entertainment value front.
An Influential Fantasy Narrative That Launched a Beloved Series
- Initial release date: December 15, 1995
- Platforms: Playstation, Sega Saturn, Windows
The original entry in the long-running fantasy series from Yoshitaka Murayama introduced players to the Scarlet Moon Empire. Immersing gamers from the get-go in its well-developed lore, the game garnered praise for its top-notch storytelling.
8 RPGs With The Biggest Active Party Sizes
In RPGs, traveling with a few companions is nothing new. These games, however, up the ante by allowing players to recruit a large party of followers.
Players take control of the aptly-titled Hero, the son of a powerful general in the Scarlet Moon Empire. When the player character’s father hurries off to fight a war, the game’s journey into the ranks of the Imperial Army begins. From there, the scarily powerful Rune of Life and Death comes into play, as the game’s narrative escalates into a dramatic look at the Empire versus the rebellion. The engaging blend of political intrigue, strategic combat, and emphasis on heroism made this a seminal effort at the time of its release. This game laid the groundwork for what was to come from the Suikoden franchise.
2 Vandal Hearts
A Rewarding, Intellectually Stimulating Tactical Adventure
- Initial release date: October 25, 1996
- Platforms: Playstation, Windows, Sega Saturn
This richly-plotted RPG provided one of the most impressive tactical gameplay experiences of its generation. Taking players to a medieval fantasy setting, the game’s challenging, turn-based action is a nice addition to the magic-focused plot.
Players take control of a group of heroes as they embark upon an odyssey laden with revenge, redemption, and betrayal. Along the way, there’s a whole host of strategically thought-provoking, grid-based battle set pieces that demand precise positioning and planning to succeed in. Between its litany of wild, often infuriatingly difficult battles, well-crafted story, and rich fantasy lore, Vandal Hearts quickly established itself as a seminal title in both RPG and fantasy gaming. Visually, the game’s action was groundbreaking for the time, as was its effective use of then-cutting edge 3D ground and landscapes.
1 Suikoden 2
A Complex, 16-Bit Thrill-Ride with a Nuanced Narrative
- Initial release date: December 17, 1998
- Platforms: Playstation, Windows
At the time of its release, Suikoden II was largely dismissed by critics and players alike due to its old-school approach to a 16-bit aesthetic at a time when 3D was booming. Fortunately, in the years since its release, the game has garnered a good deal of reappraisal and a staunch cult following among gamers.
The game focuses on the player character’s quest to discover part of the powerful Rune of the Beginning, an elusive item that makes up the 27 True Runes. The runes are ancient sources of immense, magical power. Here, the Rune of the Beginning serves as the core of the game’s main plot, as the player character and his closest friend find themselves locked into a yin-yang dynamic in which they continuously do battle with one another until the split Rune of the Beginning is made whole again. Sporting strategic combat, a complex and intricate plot, and a great sense of poignancy and emotional depth, Suikoden II is a fascinatingly original piece of RPG gaming.
Upcoming Role-Playing Games People Are Excited For
Some major RPGs are announced for 2023 and beyond, but which upcoming releases have the most hype?