After suffering through a wealth of lackluster releases and uninspired ports, there were those who were just about ready to give up on games that told tales of heroes, and stories of emerging evil. Then, in rather grandiose fashion, companies like Bioware and Bethesda did their part in revitalizing the genre by modernizing settings and granting players a measure of choice. Others followed suit, and even the much maligned JRPG is enjoying a revival of sorts – the critically acclaimed Xenoblade Chronicles comes to mind as a more recent example. Amid this revival the top-down 2D RPG – that sparked the popularity of the genre in the first place – had been all but forgotten. That is until now.
There are many noteworthy aspects of the recent indie revolution that has swept the gaming world , and I can say without trepidation that the emergence of teams who long to create old-school RPGs is one of them. Typically shied away from due to high production costs and long development times, RPGs were among the few genres that indies were not fully exploring. But thanks to the recent surfacing of alternative funding models, mainly in the form of crowd funding, more young visionaries are able to gather the resources they need to create expansive worlds, pixelated heroes and turn-based mayhem. Does that mean that they’ll be able to automatically transform their newly acquired funds into gaming gold - absolutely not, but at least they’ll have the opportunity. So, rather than take a look at games like Wasteland 2, which we assume is going to succeed, we examine some of the potential up-and-coming stars and gauge their chances of glory.
Boot Hill Heroes is a game that isn’t necessarily trying to break any new boundaries, but will likely provide a nostalgic, yet fresh, experience for RPG fans both young and old. Set in the Old West, which is a bit ironic considering that it resembles a JRPG, Boot Hill Heroes is clearly inspired by the cult classic SNES game Earthbound, but does just enough to differentiate itself as something unique. Better yet, it appears that the game is well into its production phase. It therefore comes as little surprise that the aptly named Experimental Gamer has raised over 200% of its funding goal with over two weeks left to go.
Unemployment Quest is nothing more or less than what it claims to be: a very retro, exceedingly simple old-school RPG about a very modern issue. Give the developer credit, he has no qualms admitting that the game will be rather short and created with third-party software, proving that a personal idea, realistic goals and commitment can go a long ways towards success. Unemployment Quest has already amassed over $5,000 – far more than its modest 1k goal.
Legend of the Time Star looks like a serviceable ARPG, but due to the lack of in-game footage I’d be hesitant to donate. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork looks fantastic, the music sounds appropriately epic and the presentation is well-done, but $57,500 is a lot to ask without seeing a single combat sequence. That and the estimated release date for the game is two-and-a-half years from now. I can appreciate conservative estimates, but that seems like an awfully long time to wait for a promised gift.
And then there is Echoes of Eternia. Well, apparently a lot of people believe in this team because they’ve managed to pull in over $40,000 ($10,000 initial goal). And with good reason. The early sprites of the game look beautiful. In so long as Ryan is able to procure a great programmer and evolves past RPG Maker (which I hear he plans to do), he should be able to pull off an excellent, Chrono Trigger-like game. Heavens knows, the indie game community is certainly behind him. I wish him the best of luck – the game certainly has promise.
Shameless plug: Look for an RPG developed by my team to hit Kickstarter later this week. Cheers.