B.1 GAMEPLAY 16-BIT

 Intro

RPG Games are played because of various reasons. The plot and the fate of the characters is one of the carrots that pull us into finishing the game. But there is other carrot that is essential: gameplay. RPGs are usually looong games, and developers must create new problems or give the player a broad set of choices in order to entertain him/her until the very end. In Japanese-style RPGs, the gameplay haven't changed much, but there is an evolution from the very first games to the actual ones.

This is the second part of a series that review the innovations that every mayor japanese-style RPG introduced into the genre. This particular appendix will cover the 16-bit games, created for machines such as SNES and MEGADRIVE/GENESIS.

This guide will only cover "basic" CRPGs, not strategical and arcade ones. Games like "Terranigma", "Shinning Force", and others, are outside the scope of this document.

 Games

Phantasy Star II - 03.21.1989
(Party): Not all the party can be used at the same time, and some of the members are optional.

Phantasy Star III - 04-21-1990
(Party): The party changes entirely over the course of the game (different generations).

 Final Fantasy IV - 03.??.1991
(Combat): Active Time Battle (ATB): Attack turns depends on the speed of the combatants, and the player can choose the attacks while the combat is taking place.
(Combat): Special attacks and party members with special abilities (sacrifice HP for hitting, berserk, cover, throw, jump).

 Dragon Quest V / Dragon Warrior V - 09.27.1992
(Party): Monsters are able to join your party.

Final Fantasy V - 12.06.1992
(Level Up): Ability system: Avatars can transform into a certain classes (i.e. thief) which modifies their base stats, and allow them to earn ability points. Those ability points give new techniques, and those techniques can be transferred later to the "base class", allowing an avatar to have white magic and black magic (for example).
(Level Up): Your avatars are able to learn the magic casted by the enemies.

Breath of Fire I - 04.03.1993
(Party): The main avatar is able to transform itself into other beings (e.g. dragon).
(Quests): Hunt (Fishing, Hunting).
(Quests): Party members do special abilities while in the field - for puzzle solving and sidequests (flight, disarm, travel underwater, break walls, dig).

Lunar: The Silver Star - ??.??.1993
No improvements.

Lufia & The Fortress of Doom - 06.25.1993
(Field): Ships can go underwater - new places to explore.

Phantasy Star IV - 12.16.1993
(Combat): Spells from different party members can be combined to create more powerful spells.

Final Fantasy VI - 04.02.1994
(Combat): More special attacks (near-dead attacks).
(Level Up): "Items" (Espers, or some weapons) allows avatars to learn spells. If an avatar fights with an esper equipped, it receives some stat bonus, and will slowly learn new spells.

Live a Live - 09.??.1994
(Party): The game is based on "episodes": The party is only reunited (for a veeeery short time) in the end.
(Party): Read the mind of other people!.
(Combat): The situation of the characters in the grid is very important on the fights (attack ranges,...).
(Quests): Try not to be seen... you can complete a section with "no" fights.
(Quests): Set up traps for incoming enemies.

Breath of Fire II - 12.02.1994
(Quests): Create you own town!
(Quests): "Train" your characters (i.e. with shamans).

Lunar 2: Eternal Blue - 12.22.1994
No improvements.

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals - 02.23.1995
(Party): You are able to obtain and train (i.e. feeding them with weapons) special monsters.
(Combat): Enemies appear on the scenario.
(Combat): The more hits you receive, more power you have for using special techniques.
(Quests): Special cave: 99 levels (created "on-the-fly"), players can only get items and no experience.
(Quests): Complex puzzles.

Chrono Trigger - 03.11.1995
(Combat): Fight enemies in the same world map.
(Quests): Replay the game - and beat the final boss earlier for extra endings!
(Quests): Side effects (actions in one part [past] changes the shape of other locations [future]).

Romancing SaGa III - 11.??.1995
(Combat): Formations determine the stats of the party and possible magic spells that the party can use.
(Combat): If a character is defeated (HP=0) many times in the course of a game, it dies permanently.
(Quests): Open Game: You can attempt any quest at almost any time (does not mean that you can complete the quests at any time...).
(Quests): Rule your city-state, fight other armies,...

 Dragon Quest VI / Dragon Warrior VI - 12.09.1995
No improvements.

Tales of Phantasia - 01.??.1996
(Combat): Arcade-style combats.
(Field): Food is used for incrementing automatically the HP of your party while walking.
(Items): Normal Items can be also upgraded.

Super Mario RPG - 03.09.1996
(Combat): Magic points are shared by all the party.

Star Ocean - 07.30.1996
(Level Up): Skill system: Avatars gain SP through combats, and the player spends SP over the skills. As a result, new abilities (usually non-combat related) appear (such as Item creation, weapon making,...), or/and the avatar win certain bonus or combat bonuses (i.e. counterattacks). This skill system is limited by the "natural talents" that every avatar has (if you have no sense of taste forget about cooking).
(Quests): Private actions: Develop the relationships between members of your party.
(Items): Items can be created by the player.

 Summarize

 Party:
  • Not all the party can be used at the same time, and some of the members are optional.
  • The party changes entirely over the course of the game (different generations).
  • Monsters are able to join your party.
  • The main avatar is able to transform itself into other beings (e.g. dragon).
  • The game is based on "episodes": The party is only reunited (for a veeeery short time) in the end.
  • Read the mind of other people!.
  • You are able to obtain and train (i.e. feeding them with weapons) special monsters.
 Combat:
  • Active Time Battle (ATB): Attack turns depends on the speed of the combatants, and the player can choose the attacks while the combat is taking place.
  • Special attacks and party members with special abilities (sacrifice HP for hitting, berserk, cover, throw, jump).
  • Spells from different party members can be combined to create more powerful spells.
  • More special attacks (near-dead attacks).
  • The situation of the characters in the grid is very important on the fights (attack ranges,...).
  • Enemies appear on the scenario.
  • The more hits you receive, more power you have for using special techniques.
  • Fight enemies in the same world map.
  • Arcade-style combats.
  • Magic points are shared by all the party.
 Level Up:
  • Ability system: Avatars can transform into a certain classes (i.e. thief) which modifies their base stats, and allow them to earn ability points. Those ability points give new techniques, and those techniques can be transferred later to the "base class", allowing an avatar to have white magic and black magic (for example).
  • Your avatars are able to learn the magic casted by the enemies.
  • "Items" (Espers, or some weapons) allows avatars to learn spells. If an avatar fights with an esper equipped, it receives some stat bonus, and will slowly learn new spells.
  • Skill system: Avatars gain SP through combats, and the player spends SP over the skills. As a result, new abilities (usually non-combat related) appear (such as Item creation, weapon making,...), or/and the avatar win certain bonus or combat bonuses (i.e. counterattacks). This skill system is limited by the "natural talents" that every avatar has (if you have no sense of taste forget about cooking).
 Quests
  • Hunt (Fishing, Hunting).
  • Party members do special abilities while in the field - for puzzle solving and sidequests (flight, disarm, travel underwater, break walls, dig).
  • Try not to be seen... you can complete a section with "no" fights.
  • Set up traps for incoming enemies.
  • Create you own town!
  • "Train" your characters (i.e. with shamans).
  • Special cave: 99 levels (created "on-the-fly"), players can only get items and no experience.
  • Complex puzzles.
  • Replay the game - and beat the final boss earlier for extra endings!
  • Side effects (actions in one part [past] changes the shape of other locations [future]).
  • Private actions: Develop the relationships between members of your party.
 Field:
  • Ships can go underwater - new places to explore.
  • Food is used for incrementing automatically the HP of your party while walking.
Items:
  • Normal Items can be also upgraded.
  • Items can be created by the player.

 Thanks

Rpgclassics.com - Information
Gamefaqs - Walkthroughs
RPG Gamer - Screenshots
Mobygames - Information and Screenshots