by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
So I guess the salt mines are a popular tourist location. It’s with that in mind I sat down today with my top scientists and came up with the (in my estimation) worst RPGs of all time. The ones that were the most disappointing, had the worst plot twists/game mechanics/were just all around awful. There are some honorable mentions though. Like Quest 64. It was barely an RPG! It had no save points, and it was an RPG on the Nintendo 64. It had absolutely no redeemable qualities, but I did not play more than about 15 minutes of it, so I could not justify it being on this list. Everything on this list I have played a physical copy of in my life, and they left an indelible mark on my soul. Another honorable mention is Final Fantasy 8. I know, I know. So many people love this game. It had incredible, unique systems, from Junctions and GFs. I loved it. Until I got to Disc 3. The storyline “swerve” made my blood boil and I will never forget how it made me feel. I actually threw it out of the window of my home in High School, into the street. Whizzed through the air like a frisbee made of garbage.
Other notable ones were Friday the 13th, honestly, either one. They aren’t traditional RPGs, more Survival Horror. But Friday the 13th from LJN was a style of RPG, playing various characters, saving people while trying to survive Jason and his Mother. The map didn’t make sense, there were unavoidable hits, the map didn’t make sense, it was hideous and frustrating, and the map didn’t make sense. Seriously, you could be walking east, only to find you were walking north. This was actually a very difficult list to pair down and rate because there are some insanely bad games, but many of them I did not play. Like Custer’s Revenge, Ogre Battle 64: A Person of Lordly Caliber, and Plumber’s Don’t Wear Ties. Seriously, there’s some real trash out there. I’m willing to bet at least something on this list won’t be agreed with, but that’s okay. Let the salt and bad memories flow!
5. Breath of Fire 4: This one was almost tied with Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter/5 because they were both pretty equally terrible. But Breath of Fire 4’s greatest crime is coming after Breath of Fire 3. The first three Breath of Fire games were gorgeous, intense, and incredible stories. Then … Breath of Fire 4 happened. It was boring, easy, and while it was still pretty to look at, it was nothing compared to its predecessors. Overall, Breath of Fire 4 is not the worst, but it’s the least-best of its entire franchise. It wasn’t bad, just … very disappointing. I’d never pick 4 over 2 or 3, not in a hundred years. I feel like 3 was the plateau, where the series was as good as it was going to get. Each subsequent game just got worse, and worse, and worse. It also had one of the worst camera controls in any game I’ve played. It was just dreadful. Breath of Fire 4 had a great deal of promise, but when compared to the other games that came before, it just seemed like a serious step-down.
4. Suikoden Tactics: I love the Suikoden franchise. It’s based (loosely) on the Chinese Novel Shui Hu Zhuan also known as Water Margin. It’s one of the great Chinese classics and follows the tales with 108 heroes, and that’s what you get in most of the Suikoden games. An epic, oft-overlooked story with an incredible combat system and a ridiculously fun Rune system. There was no need to change the Suikoden franchise into a SRPG/Tactics game. The actual stage maps weren’t so bad, but again, it’s definitely a case of having a good thing, then mucking it up. The story didn’t make a bit of sense to me (which apparently, you had to play Suikoden IV to get it. Up, until that point, I had only played through III). Many of the battles felt incredibly unforgiving and frustratingly difficult, unless you spent a lot of time grinding and leveling everyone. Even then, like in Final Fantasy Tactics, the main fights level with you. This game just kept reminding me that I’d rather be playing Final Fantasy Tactics. I might enjoy it more if I had played Suikoden IV, or not been familiar with the franchise as a whole, just taking it as an SRPG.
3. Final Fantasy Tactics: Advanced: So many of these games simply don’t live up to their predecessors. Another prime example of this is FFTA. God, did I hate this. Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my favorite titles of all time, with a gripping story about the hazards of religion and being overzealous, of mercenaries, gods, and men. Everything about it compelled me and drew me in and I spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours playing it, trying different teams and combinations, despite only having one story to play. But FFTA was childish, silly and boring. FFT was about the hazards of being a human, about the difficulties of religion, love, and betrayal. FFTA was Yay friendship! The two just don’t compare on any level. The only positives were 1. Moogles were awesome and 2. Still Moogles. I thought the “Judge” system was interesting, but it was incredibly frustrating, forcing me to play in ways that I had no desire to, or did not have set up yet, such as “No Melee Characters” on a map where… guess what, I only had melee characters. The things that make FFTA better are 1. Less Linear, and 2. You can take it with you. But even then, that doesn’t work since FFT: War of the Lions is on mobile/PSP/Vita. It’s like going from The Wheel of Time or Game of Thrones, then reading Hop on Pop afterward. It had cool ideas with incredibly clunky inception. And starting the game with a snowball fight? Ehh …
2. Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero: Far and away the worst idea in the entire Mortal Kombat franchise. Well, the idea is awesome. Going through the backstory of Sub Zero? An action-RPG side scroller where you play as one of the coolest Mortal Kombat characters? In particular, the N64 version is far worse, since it didn’t have the power to have the admittedly awesome cutscenes on the PSX version. Maybe “awesome” is a bit generous. . .It’s a shadow of what it could have been. A pale shade, an imitation of a Mortal Kombat game. It was a fool, a fool in man’s shoes. The controls are the absolute worst, the difficulty spikes in crazy, unforgivable ways. Trying to use the special moves is laughable at best, and the combo system may as well not even exist. Almost everything gets blocked or dodged, and having to unlock Sub Zero’s moves, while a cool concept, is really frustrating in the early going. Hell, it’s frustrating forever, because this game is just actual garbage given shape. I love the idea, and as a kid, I was a big MK fan. I wanted to know more about the characters, and if they had tried it with better technology/a better idea of what a video game is, it could have been glorious. I could not believe how terrible and stiff the controls were. In addition, having a Run button (because MK3 had one) was such a bad idea. Is it so hard to double-tap to run? Is it really? There are positives, at least. The blood and gore are still there, and the sound effects are the same awesome Mortal Kombat effects. But the enemies made no sense, and were often generic or boring. If this was your first experience in Mortal Kombat, you probably wouldn’t have a second.
1. The Legend of Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon: Oh. Dear. When I was a kid, my stepfather worked at Brendles, and they had a Phillips CD-I unit, where I could play lots of the games while I waited for him to get off work. “Lots” again is a bit of a misnomer. But I did play Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and I even played it before I played my favorite Zelda (Link to the Past) because I didn’t have an SNES quite yet. I didn’t own A Link to the Past until adulthood but thank god for friends. So, Wand of Gamelon. I had to pick between the three CD-I games, but since I only played this one for any real length of time, it gets the nod for worst RPG of all time. But what’s so bad about it? First of all, the CD-I isn’t even really a gaming machine. It’s a CD player with graphical designs. The art for the cutscenes was creepy and nightmare-inducing. But you could play as Zelda! As a sidescroller with Zelda as the main character, I was pumped. Until you know, I played it. The controls actually worked pretty well as far as I remember, but having to jump with up, that was no good. Not to mention, pinpoint, perfect accuracy is needed for everything in this game. There were no real major villains except, I guess their poundland, garbage version of Gannon. Which you throw an object at him to kill him.
It’s not even a fight! The item screen is blood-boilingly angry, and this isn’t a tribute or a love letter to the Legend of Zelda franchise. It’s a “Dear John” letter. It’s a “We need to see other people”. A “I’m divorcing you”. It’s an insult. I don’t know what they were thinking, but it clearly wasn’t “We need to make a video game”. From requiring all those damn ropes and lamp oil to walking down and up platforms, side to side, in a side-scrolling game, to having maps that don’t make sense (not being able to figure out what you can walk through/past, jump on, et cetera). The sound effects are tripe, the enemies are generic and disappointing, nothing about this is worth it. Nothing. It has no redeemable features whatsoever. It is far and away the worst RPG, if not one of the worst games that has ever been produced. I hesitate to even call it a game. I played it because I had nothing better to do at the time. Though in all honesty, that time would have been better spent using the CD-I Encyclopedia disc. At least I’d learn something more than disappointment.
What about you guys? Worst RPGs of all? Let me know!