RPG DNA: Games That Shaped Us

There’s something I think we as RPG fans can all relate to – whether you are a recent convert or have been in the trenches of the genre your entire life – that being a set of games that have shaped our tastes. While both the titles responsible for introducing us to the genre and our personal favorites are certainly among such a list of games, it doesn’t inherently mean that these are the best games ever made, or even good games for that matter.

However, the ones responsible for sculpting our RPG preferences over the years are likely the ones we have devoted our attention to the most, so I thought it would make for an interesting article if I shared some of the games that shaped my own RPG interests. But don’t let the buck stop there – please be sure to share your own story down in the comments below.

River City Ransom (NES)

This is what started it all for me, folks. Little did I know that renting an obscure beat-em-up RPG from my local Kroger would turn into a lifelong love for RPGs. If you haven’t played this game before, you might like to know that it is available for free as part of the Switch Online service, and if you’d like to know more of my thoughts about it, my review can be found here.

Final Fantasy IV (II – SNES)

While River City Ransom introduced me to the RPG genre, Final Fantasy IV made me adore it. I can’t tell you how much allowance I spent on renting this game as a kid, before my parents surprised me with a copy that they purchased through mail order years later. I must have played from the beginning to Cecil’s transformation about 1000 times back then, but I didn’t care. It also marked the start of me taking notice of soundtracks in RPGs. Rest assured, I will be covering this game should it ever make its way to the Switch, but in the mean time feel free to make fun of my “hot take” of it from almost a decade ago.

Final Fantasy VII (PS1)

So far, we’ve learned what introduced and made me love RPGs in the first place. Next in line is Final Fantasy VII, which blew my previous RPG expectations completely out of the water. While certainly not the best game in the series, it undoubtedly was the springboard for the franchise’s overwhelming popularity and success in the late 90s. With this game set to arrive on Switch sometime in 2019 (hopefully soon), you better believe one of us nerds are going to cover it.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night showed me that I could enjoy games outside of the traditional JRPG. This game masterfully blends RPG elements with your standard Metroidvania map progression system. Although Symphony of the Night is a very easy game, it remains one of my favorites of all time due to the influence it has had on my gaming life. That said, I’d love to play this on the Switch, but I won’t get my hopes up for it.

Diablo II (PC)

Blizzard’s Diablo II was the first time I’d experience a game online with other people, and was also responsible for my love of numbers in RPGs. The amount of variety available in gear and their associated stats / modifiers was enough that the whole item comparison moments could be considered a mini-game in itself. Not for the faint of heart, but for those that really want to get invested in the gear side of RPGs, look no further. I’m really curious to see how this aspect works in Diablo: Immortal. What, do you guys not have phones?!

World of Warcraft (PC)

Diablo II would be the beginning of a temporary end of my relationship with console games, with World of Warcraft serving as the final nail in that coffin. I gladly spent hours behind a keyboard almost every day for over a decade playing the juggernaut MMORPG. While my interest in the MMO genre as a whole has waned in recent years, I’ll never forget about what World of Warcraft taught me: the love of playing RPGs with others.

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (PC)

Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Oblivion single-handedly broke my World of Warcraft addiction, if only for a short time. It taught me that a MMO-sized adventure was possible within the confines of a single player environment. I still find myself going back to this game every few years to experience the iconic Bethesda “jank” in all its glory. With Skyrim’s success on the Switch, perhaps we will one day see this game on the platform as well.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Breath of the Wild is a very special game to me for many reasons. First, it is responsible for resurrecting my love for console gaming after it being dominated by the PC scene for the better part of two decades. Second, it brought my wife back into gaming, and she now has almost 400 hours into the title. Lastly, it taught me to appreciate the “RPG-lite” – that games don’t have to be overflowing with intricate RPG systems for me to naturally put dozens, if not hundreds of hours into them.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this article on the games that shaped my RPG tastes, but I’m curious as to what your story entails. Please feel free to share your comments below.

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