by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Editor’s Note: These are not games that I think “Suck”. They are games that I do not think are enjoyable, or are the weakest in their franchise.
“Best” and “Worst” are pretty dangerous opinions to throw around, but that’s what I’m here for! Even the best RPG franchises of all times have duds. Whether these games are forgettable, terrible, or are just designed poorly, that’s up to interpretation. So today, I’m going to talk about the worst entries into some of the most beloved franchises of all time. I’m focusing on games I’ve actually played though because otherwise, this list would be far more interesting. So this means there are a lot of franchises that would get me hatemail are pretty safe. The Tales franchise is safe, since I’ve only played about three of those, and I mostly enjoyed what I played. The entire Neptunia series is safe, which is good because I don’t think I’d be able to choose a worst, based on what I’ve seen. I’ve never played Virtual Hydlide, but if I had, it would be on this list without a doubt.
This is again, not necessarily “garbage games”, though some certainly are. This is simply a list of the worst, most disappointing, or most forgettable games in some of our favorite franchises. There are some “honorable” mentions though. Dragon Quest VII, for example, is my least favorite in the entire franchise. That stupid game with its stupid boat and map made my blood absolutely boil. I also wanted to avoid the mainline Final Fantasy game. That’s a contentious piece that would be an article all on its own. I was tempted to put the more recent Fire Emblem games on here, solely for the “Hey, you have to buy both games! And we included an easy mode!” because that’s something that is not meant to be in Fire Emblem. I get it, though – it’s to help get a new audience into an ultra-challenging franchise. I also left mobile remakes off, because that would be again, a whole list unto itself. Without further ado, let’s get started!
5: Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (Playstation 4): For what it’s worth, it was a terribly hard choice to pick between Star Ocean: Till the End of Time and this one. My only real major gripe with “Till The End of Time” was the crafting/science system though. I enjoyed Integrity and Faithlessness at first because the combat was pretty enjoyable. But what it turned into was a long, slow, boring walking simulator. It was Lord of the Rings without the charm Tolkien provides. None of the characters felt like they had any depth, which leads to its greatest crime – it’s just not interesting. Linear games don’t bother me, because most of my favorite RPGs of all time are fairly linear (most of the Final Fantasy games, as prime examples). But the world felt empty and devoid of emotion.
4: The Final Fantasy Adventure (Mana Franchise, Gameboy): Squaresoft was a much different place in the 80s/90s. The Japanese office didn’t seem to have a whole lot of faith in their franchises coming to America. Whether it’s the truth or not, it seems like they just thought we were too dumb to get into their “complex JRPGs”. I mean they made Final Fantasy Mystic Quest as “Final Fantasy USA” after all. Final Fantasy Adventure and Legend were two Final Fantasy Gameboy series that were a part of the Mana and the SaGa franchises respectively. We eventually did see more of the Mana series after Secret of Mana, but that didn’t happen until the Playstation. We missed out on several hits in the series. The Final Fantasy Adventure mostly suffers from being boring and having a pretty lackluster translation. That’s not uncommon in these older RPGs, but The Final Fantasy Adventure could sadly never live up to its big brothers, Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3. The actual design of the game felt uninspired, and the puzzles ranged from insanely easy to “Why must I suffer, Lord?”. This is an entry that isn’t exactly awful, definitely bland when compared to the rest of the series.
3: Unlimited SaGa (SaGa Franchise, Playstation 2): The SaGa franchise is not one known for holding your hand. Brutally difficult, the games in this series tend to offer a quality narrative alongside terrifying difficulty. Even the Final Fantasy Legend games on Gameboy, for all of their garbage translation, were memorable and fun. Unlimited SaGa has to be the worst of the bunch. I loved the idea of having a 7-character narrative that’s supposed to converge at the end to give you that payoff you are craving in this story, but getting there is absolute, 100% not worth it. It felt more like a board game, and the Luck mechanic was absolutely terrible. It has a terrible UI, and the difficulty scales in ways that are obscene even for the SaGa series. Part of a game’s difficulty should not be that the UI is a clusterfuck. I love SaGa, and even owned Unlimited SaGa. But that was money I wish I could get back from EB Games.
2: Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter (Breath of Fire Franchise, Playstation 2): Ah yes, the game that murdered the Breath of Fire franchise in its sleep. I’m not really a big fan of genre shifts in a franchise where they aren’t needed. Breath of Fire was already a fantastic turn-based RPG series, with some of the best games in their particular points in history (Breath of Fire 2 and 3 anyone?). Why was the series shifting towards a Survival/Tactical RPG? Was that really all that necessary? Sure, the Dragon System was probably well and truly played out by then, but I imagine the fans of the series were totally fine with that (I was. I liked the changes made between 1, 2 and 3). Any RPG that takes a second playthrough to simply enjoy it is not worth my time. That’s a lot of what I hear from people who like it that I’ve talked to. “Once you get to the second playthrough, you appreciate it and it’s a lot of fun” is the long and the short of it. These changes were altogether not enjoyable. Then there is the issue of the Save Tokens, which were needed to save your game. Though you could always soft-save, which would be deleted when you loaded it, that’s just complicated for no real good reason. I believe this Save Token system varied in other regions, where there would be no soft-save, so you could only use Save Tokens (but there were more in the game). I love Breath of Fire, but Dragon Quarter was change for change’s sake.
1: Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals: Sure, the Lufia title on GBA was forgettable and bland, but Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals was more change for change’s sake. I could make a whole separate list on unnecessary genre shifts, but Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals is the least enjoyable out of anything on this list for me personally. Lufia is a series I fell in love with from the moment I played Lufia and the Fortress of Doom. Of course, I wanted a Lufia 2 remake/remaster/re-release in some fashion, but changing it to a single-character action-RPG where you can tag in the other members of the party? Turning this puzzle-centric turn-based RPG into an ARPG/top-down platformer? This is among the worst ideas I’ve seen for any RPG franchise to date. The actual gameplay was fine though – this game would not feel so offensive if it weren’t labeled as a Lufia game. Just create a new world/lore for it, and I probably would not have complained. That’s the worst part, that the actual gameplay wasn’t bad! When I heard a new Lufia game was on the way, a re-imagining of one of the classics, I was incredibly excited.
What about you guys though? What are your least-favorite RPG entries of all time? I’m curious to see what let you down!