You can't have an end of the year award feature without looking forward to the upcoming (current) year. While we were looking back at what we had played throughout the year, we took a minute to glance ahead and select our most wanted RPGs of 2009.
While "BioWare" and "Dragon" might be all some people need to hear to scream "DO WANT," there are deeper reasons for why Dragon Age: Origins is the most wanted 2009 game amongst the RPGamer staff. Returning to the feel of the Baldur's Gate series, BioWare is eschewing its overdone black and white morality system for something more natural. The player's choices over time, including which background you choose for your character, will vastly impact the story, the game world, which NPCs end up in your party, and how the game's events play out. The battle system moves away from BioWare's recent third person shooter systems and back to a tactical system. The setting is high fantasy with dark, mature themes. And the best news? It will come out on the 360 and PS3 in addition to the MMO-specialist: the PC.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride's age doesn't matter as its spiritual and thematic prequel in the Zenithian Trilogy, Dragon Quest IV, was a great title on the Nintendo DS. This game hasn't seen the light of day yet in North America, and since Chapters of the Chosen has already proven that Dragon Quest ages well and looks good on Nintendo's handheld, there isn't a lot of hesitation to get in the way of the excitement for this remake.
One of the most unusual RPGs to grace the PS2 during its lifetime was Vanillaware's Odin Sphere, an unusual, side-scrolling action RPG with a five character story that played out very much like a stageplay. Also, the entire game was done with high-quality 2D images. These weren't sprites; they were highly detailed and utterly gorgeous. The game was a smash hit among RPGamers, but unfortunately had one extremely aggravating drawback: the framerate was atrocious. The popular turn-of-phrase "slideshow" doesn't even do justice to just how badly Odin Sphere's slowdown troubles were. Most people attributed this issue to an insufficient amount of computing power in the PS2.
Coming this year from the same developer is Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Once again, the graphics are beautiful and hand-drawn. However, this time it's on the Wii. With more computing power at their disposal, RPGamer is truly hoping that Vanillaware will be able create another winner, making Muramasa: The Demon Blade one of our most highly anticipated RPGs of this year.
A traditional RPG with a Super NES-era vibe from a North American independant developer? Amidst all the modern 3D games, ports and remakes of old games, Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled will come as a fresh breath to RPGamers craving an original experience inspired by the past. Its retro-looking graphical style intrigued RPGamers since the first screenshots were shown a few years ago. Its strategic, action-packed battle system will keep players engaged, while the numerous skills and equipment will soothe those looking for old school party customization. Add all this to a mysterious and compelling storyline, and you've got a winner for 2009.
by Adriaan den Ouden, Glenn Wilson, Ethan Pipher, Maxime Viventi, Michael Cunningham