Hello, and welcome back to ACoG! This time, I’ll be picking apart SRPGs, and going through what makes them great. And of course, there’ll be recommendations for everybody!
Image from Fire Emblem: Awakening
So, what’s an SRPG?
SRPG is an acronym for Strategic Role Playing Game, a sub-genre that combines aspects of both strategy games and RPGs into one great package. Strategy goes very well with the turn-based nature of RPGs, adding an additional layer of depth to the combat.
They’re actually supposed to be known as Tactical RPGs (TRPG), with Simulation RPG (SRPG) being the Japanese name for them.
The defining aspect of the SRPG is definitely the top-down view of the battle, which plays out over an isometric grid. There are usually a large amount of playable characters, which gives SRPGs a bigger sense of scope, in comparison to normal RPGs. Most, if not all SRPGs, are turn-based, giving players time to strategize, and pave their own path to victory.
The First (?) SRPG
This is The Dragon and Princess, a really really old game made by Koei, way back in 1982. It was a text-based adventure, switching to a top-down view of the battlefield upon entering combat. Now of course, that isn’t an isometric grid, but it had the basic idea.
Read more about it here:
Here, Have Some Recommendations!
Here are some games that I felt were great, and deserve to be played by everyone!
Final Fantasy Tactics - PS1 / PSP / iOS
FF Tactics was a great game. The War Of the Lions port to PSP improved on it so much more. Being the first true SRPG I played, FF Tactics holds a special place in my heart. I was on my FF high, after playing FF XIII, and had decided on playing through pretty much all of them. FF Tactics was something I hadn’t counted on being great. I had been skeptical, seeing how different it was from the other FF Games. But it was amazing.
A robust class system, tons of interesting characters, a FF worthy storyline, bla bla bla.... It was the first taste of the SRPG genre for me. Funny how FF managed to be my first game for both the normal RPG and SRPG genres.
Valkyria Chronicles - PS3 / PC
An amalgam of the SRPG, TPS, and RTS genres, Valkyria Chronicles was also another unexpectedly great game for me. I personally can’t stand FPSs and TPSs, but couldn’t withstand the sheer amount of praise it had heaped upon it by my friends.
Directing such a diverse group of characters through war, and watching them bond is reward enough, and the incredibly fun gameplay just seals the deal. I LOVED the book! It’s an amazing form of hub for the game, and it makes sense too! The feeling you get when you flip through the pages just feels natural.
Fire Emblem: Awakening - 3DS
Fire Emblem is plainly put, a great game. I just played it fairly recently, though I still haven’t finished it because my sister is hogging the DS.
Read more on my original article:
Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten - PS3 / PSVita
All aboard the train to
insanity hell! Featuring funny characters, a nonsense story, and equally nonsense gameplay, the Disgaea series has always (for as long as it has existed) been a staple of the SRPG genre. Throw your characters! Prinny bombs! Tentacle monsters that turn into swords! And did I mention Prinnies?
The PSVita port is great. The SRPG genre lends itself easily to being played on the go, in short bursts, and the included DLC is just icing on the cake.
Again, I shall ask this question, and also put out a reply!
What is an RPG to you?
If you have the inclination to do so, please answer this question! I would love to reads what others think of RPGs, as I love them so much, and of course, recommendations would be great!
After thinking some more on the subject:
- I’m not fond of trying to divide things by WRPGs and JRPGs. Yes, there has certainly been a good amount of historical difference, both in mechanics and graphics, but I can’t say in honesty that they are (or will continue to be) concrete ones.
- Referring to that, however, there is one (historical!) difference I can distinguish right now between the two: The origin of your role. Either one is provided for you (Batman! Cloud Strife and friends!), or you create it from scratch. (though its through the tools provided to you) But beyond that, you often do the same thing. (and of note: I’m not sure if the “openness” of the world is quite as historically-distinct as that definition)
- That same, fundamental thing I mentioned being; You grow into your role. XP. Your digital character arc, in a sense. Not just on your end via memories, but in a persistent, permanent sense on the computing side of things. The Batman becomes more skilled at throwing batarangs, Cloud can summon a growing list of magical aids, and in the Elder Scrolls you pretty-much become a medieval Mary Sue. (unless you decide to ignore things on purpose) I.. kinda spent an unplanned hour or two researching from this point, and I eventually came to this article, with what I think is the most reasonable answer just above the bottom, though the rest is interesting too! (and to think about it, as comparing role playing games to, uh, “role-playing” (like, acting), a character in a story isn’t actually required to grow; a jester in a play can generally be a jerk throughout and gets killed at the end, and the role is fulfilled just the same)
- Also as a side note from that article, The Oregon Trail was created in 1971, a few years before D&D and maybe a pre-Blackmoor, which from what I can tell, was maybe where the XP thing really got a foothold. (although with that linked article before, I guess the consensus was that the idea or proto-concept probably originates from chess and it’s “promotion” move)
....WOW this took longer to type up than I thought. (hope I spell-checked it gud) I need some food... :I - kaploy9
A big thanks to kaploy9 for this awesome reply!
I do agree with most points here, especially the ‘growing into your role’ part. And wow, I didn’t know Oregon Trail had XP points that long ago!
As a final note, I haven;t had time to post much for a long time due to exams, but those have all been handily defeated! Expect a lot more articles in the near and far future!
Check out the Index!