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Looking for some forgotten and underrated RPGs to jump into? We’ve got you covered with the epic list below.
Role-playing games, otherwise known as RPGs, have been around since the beginning of gaming. Allowing players to take on the “role” of a character, RPGs have a leveling/ability progression system, exploration, battles (usually turn-based), and a bunch of side quests that veer off from the main story.
One of the most popular genres of gaming, RPGs have made their mark in popular culture, with many well-known series such as Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls wowing fans with each new release. However, aside from the well-known titles that are getting re-releases and new installments, there are sadly some great series that have been forgotten, either through time, developers disbanding, or a poor commercial release. This list contains the 20 best role-playing games that have been forgotten, but are still worth playing today.
Before we get started, there are a few criteria/notes for picking these twenty games/series:
- Each RPG game on the list must not have a reboot or release or other installment currently on the way (Odin Sphere, for example, may have been “forgotten” a few years back but is getting a rerelease).
- Any spin-off game that is part of a larger franchise that is still ongoing is not considered (i.e. Shin Megami Tensei Digital Devil Saga)
- Games during the beginning of the console era to today are the most considered (1990’s-now)
- These are NOT ranked.
- Forgotten does not mean forgotten by fans. It can mean several things such as the series was abandoned by developers, did not sell well commercially, is not easily accessible, did not receive too much recognition, or was released when other popular titles came out.
Let’s begin. Here are the top 20 forgotten and underrated RPGs:
Platform: Xbox 360
Release Date: 2008
Development hell is always a burden, especially when fans are hyped up about a certain title and then are met with the inevitable fact that it may never release. However, some games still make it out of this “hell”, which sometimes can take a decade or more. This is what happened with Too Human, an action RPG rooted in Norse mythology.
In this title, characters can fully customize their character choosing between “cybernetic” and “human”, the story depicting a struggle between man and machine. Although many people liked the game and said it was an addicting RPG, it’s rarely talked about today, even after being one of the top-selling games during its time. This is probably because all of the unsold copies were ordered to be destroyed by its creators after a horrible lawsuit, making the game nearly impossible to find. It’s not even available at most online stores (you can buy it on Amazon, though), so this game is unfortunately stuck in time.
Release date: 2006
The PSP, Sony’s handheld console, was great for JRPGs, much like the Vita is today. However, as more people were into the Nintendo DS craze, many amazing PSP titles were unfortunately forgotten over time. Jeanne d’Arc, a tactical role-playing game by Level-5, is a reimagining of Joan of Arc’s role in the Hundred Years War, successfully blending fantasy with historical accuracy.
The gameplay and story were very solid and it received very positive reviews. However, it has somewhat been forgotten since its release. Fortunately, those who are interested in the Fire Emblem-like game can purchase it on the PSN Store. Perhaps one day Level-5 can make an entire historical series because Joan of Arc was too great of a character and story to forget.
Shadow Hearts series
Release dates: 2001, 2004, 2006
The PS2, although still one of the best and most iconic consoles of all time, had quite a few underrated titles in the midst of huge, AAA hits. The Shadow Hearts series is no exception, being one of the most underrated titles of all time. The first in the series follows Yuri Hyuga, a “rude hero” who discovers the power to shapeshift into different beings/monsters and is follows a voice that he hears in his head.
The characters, plot, and situations are very hilarious, giving great moments of comic relief between the serious storyline set during the events of WWI. The game mechanics are fun, featuring a QTE based ring for attacks and unique enemies. The second game continues Yuri’s adventures, one of the only sequels that take the bad ending and makes is canon.
Despite this, it is probably one of the best titles in the series. The third game follows an entirely new protagonist, and although the story was not received as well, it still is worth playing. Shadow Hearts is considered forgotten because it never really succeeded commercially, and the development team disbanded, putting the series on a hiatus. However, there may some hope for this amazing series, as the original developer has recently announced that he is working on a new game.
Platforms: PS1, PS2, PSP
Release dates: 1995-2012 (Japan)
Originally released in the era where some of the greatest RPG series were born, Suikoden was one of the most memorable games of all time. The series features an iconic combat system that differed from the usual turn-based combat, having a 6 person team and a recruitment system for the 108 Stars of Destiny.
This series saw five releases in the West, creating a dedicated fanbase. However, since the creator left and the team went to work on other things, the series has been at a seemingly infinite hiatus, some of the later games not even being localized. However, fans are still passionate about this series, even creating a revival movement to bring it back. Luckily, some of the older titles have been put onto the PSN store, but there is still no word on any future releases.
The Last Story
Release date: 2012
In the mid-2000’s, the PSP and PS2 were not the only systems with underrated titles. The Last Story, released on the Wii, was one of the consoles best JRPGs, but lacked the recognition it deserved. Taking place on a fortress called Lazulis, this action-JRPG followed the protagonist Zael and a mercenary group. It featured a great story that differed in style and gameplay than many RPGs.
One of the original writers of Final Fantasy worked on it, looking to create an entirely new experience. Sales were great at launch, even to the point of having to replace a special edition. However, despite its commercial success, the game still is considered underrated for multiple reasons, one being the fact that is a Wii exclusive RPG that many may have passed over due to not owning the console. JRPG fans were probably more likely to own a Playstation as well, especially since many releases were on that. However, like Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story is a phenomenal Wii exclusive JRPG that should not be looked over.
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Release date: 2010
Obsidian Entertainment, a company best known for housing several Black Isle employees, the original creators of the Fallout series and Fallout: New Vegas, also made an action role-playing game that is a very underrated title. This game followed an elite covert operations group, falling into a modern day military plot. Similar to Fallout mechanics, players can place skill points into areas that better fit their play style. The game also features romance, an awesome dialogue system, customization, and many intricate details that make it a great RPG. However, due to having bugs at its release, Alpha Protocol received mediocre reviews and never got the spotlight it deserved. In terms of recognizability and a potential sequel, Alpha Protocol is unfortunately forgotten at this point in time, and it remains one of the most underrated RPGs of all time.
Parasite Eve series
Platform: PS1, PSP
Back when Squaresoft existed, Parasite Eve was released for the original Playstation, having one of the most interesting horror stories and a great female lead. Considered a sequel based on the novel of the same name, after a date night ending up in flames (literally), Aya Brea, a New York cop, must investigate “Eve” a beast who can cause people to spontaneously combust.
After investigating more on the case, the story turns into an amazing biological horror adventure with an intense plot that keeps players interested until the final boss. A sequel soon followed, as well as The 3rd Birthday, a PSP game that although an impressive title, disappointed many with the story. Since then, there has not been much word on whether or not this series will continue, but for now, it’s sitting pretty on our list of the top 20 video game reboots we want to play most.
Legend of Legaia
Release date: 1998
The PS1 era had quite a few amazing RPGs, and for many, this might have been their first. Legend of Legaia is set in a world of humans and Seru, who can join with humans and grant them powers. The combat is awesome, allowing players to input commands before the battle even begins, offering a new mechanic that differed from the other Ps1 RPGs of that time. The game spawned another title set in the same world that released for the PS2, however, neither have seen a digital re-release and the games were never really commercially popular.
Platform: PS1, PS2 (remake)
Release dates: 1996, 2007
Having a Western feel to it, Wild Arms was another Ps1 era RPG that is unfortunately not talked about too much, set in a medieval/ “wild west” setting. In this game, players can control Jack, Rudy, and Cecilia, navigating through American-inspired frontier scenes and villages. A theme of the use of technology is prevalent throughout the entire game, bringing an interesting spin on the traditional fantasy setting.
There were also several puzzles and mini-games included in the release, which some players liked and others did not. Although a series was spawned after the original release, there has not been any releases since the PSP version.
Platforms: PS2, Wii, PSP
Release dates: 2004, 2009, 2011
When looking at the box art, it can easily be mistaken that Phantom Brave may be a Disgaea clone, since the art is very similar and it is made by Nippon Ichi Software. However, that is certainly not the case, as Phantom Brave is its own unique experience, with memorable characters, addicting gameplay, and a creative world. Players can even infuse souls into objects, which is an awesome game mechanic. However, since its release and rereleases, there has not been much word on if the series will continue.
Riviera: The Promised Land
Platforms: GBA, PSP
Release dates: 2002, 2007
Combining a traditional RPG combat with parody, dating sim elements, and likable characters result in Riviera, a very fun “sleeper hit”. Instead of free roam exploration, players were placed in a very linear environment, taking control of Ein, an angel who gave up his wings.
The game, at times, plays like a visual novel rather than an RPG, telling a very interesting story while giving players some options and choices that affect the gameplay. Ein must also choose who to date, which results in different endings. Riviera never really received too much recognition but is still a cult hit with dedicated fans.
Resonance of Fate
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360
Release date: 2010
One of the newer RPGs on this list, Resonance of Fate, developed by SEGA, combines RTS and strategy game elements, making a modern difficult game with a cinematic storyline. It takes place in a futuristic world in a tower named Basel. This structure divides people by social classes, presenting a dystopian society and a unique story. One of the reasons this game never received much spotlight was because of the very steep difficulty curve, frustrating many first time players. Those who spent the several hours playing the game, however, saw it as a more than decent title.
Golden Sun series
Platforms: GBA, DS, Virtual Console
Release dates: 2001-2010
Golden Sun, an RPG released on Nintendo consoles, has a dedicated fanbase but has not seen a release in about 6 years. The first game that is often listed as one of the best RPGs, follows a familiar RPG formula, with a plot involving the prevention/release of alchemy into the world. Many players have praised the combat system. Golden Sun also features puzzles and a Djinn system which involves the summoning of creatures. Although the game is popular among RPG fans, there is no talk of a 4th game as of yet.
Platforms: Xbox 360, Ps3
Release date: 2008
Developed by Namco Bandai, Eternal Sonata is considered one of the most underrated RPGs of the last generation, mostly because not many people talked about it since its release. Players, in this title, can control up to 12 different characters, taking place in musical composer Chopin’s dream world. Although it has its flaws, this game is still a must play for fans of music, classical music, and JRPG fans.
Valkyrie Profile series
Platforms: PS1, PS2, DS, PSP
Release dates: 2000-2009
Despite being commercially successful and receiving positive reviews, not much is heard about the Valkyrie Profile series in today’s gaming world. The series, like Too Human, takes inspiration from Norse mythology. Exploration is almost like a platform rather than moving from area to area in an RPG. Featuring a dark fantasy storyline, the series wowed hardcore gamers and made itself a name in the game industry. However, despite the two handheld releases, there is no word from Square Enix on if this series will have another installment.
Release dates (America): 1987-2012
The Ys series, a very popular JRPG franchise in Japan, does not have the presence it deserves in the West. Although there are a multitude of games available, very few were localized, resulting in fan translation projects and movements for those around the world who were interested in this series. The games feature a main character named Adol Christian, who visits many fictional regions in his adventures. Recently, Ys: Memories of Celceta was released on the PS Vita worldwide, receiving critical acclaim and becoming one of the best RPGs for the underrated console.
Arc the Lad
Platforms: PS1 and PS2
Release dates: 2002-2005
When Arc the Lad first was developed and released, it did not receive a localization at all. However, interested gamers expressed much interest in the RPG series and started a petition which resulted in Arc the Lad Collection to finally be released in America. It received great reviews and a few sequels. However, a final PS2 game was released in 2005, which received average ratings. Although it was popular in the early 2002’s, the series is not often mentioned today.
Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines
Release date: 2004
Not selling well because of stiff competition, this RPG made by Troika Games and published by Activision was released in 2004. Players were able to create a character, choosing between genders, vampire clan affiliations, and customizable RPG elements that made it a unique title. However, this title did not succeed commercially, making it a very underrated game. Despite the problems with glitches, many praised the game as having exceptional writing despite a clunky combat system. To this day, there are still many dedicated fans who play the game, and it is available on Steam.
Skies of Arcadia
Platforms: Dreamcast, Gamecube
Release date: 2001, 2003
Nearly the entire game taking place in dungeon-like areas, Skies of Arcadia involved players traveling from area to area upon completion via airship. The game includes random encounters, traditional battles, and airship battles. The reason that this game is often forgotten is due to its releases on Dreamcast and Gamecube, which were unfortunately not as popular as the PS2 or Xbox. Despite this, the game received very high ratings, with high praise on visuals and listed as one of the top Dreamcast games.
Platform: Xbox, PC, Xbox 360, Mac
Release date: 2005
When thinking of game company Bioware, the first games that may come to mind are Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but what about one of their most underrated RPG series, Jade Empire? This title is a martial arts-based role-playing game in which players can choose the gender of their character, choose from a variety of fighting styles, and engage in real-time combat. Players can also romance NPCs, a popular mechanic that would be present in their more modern games. Although the developers expressed interest in a sequel, it is confirmed that there are currently no plans for a release, despite the critical acclaim.
What RPGs and JRPGs do you miss or consider “forgotten”? Comment your favorites below.