In a genre where so many games attempt to copy one another, an original game goes a long way. This year there were quite a few RPGs unlike anything else on the market. The question is, what makes these stand out from the crowd and why?
Knights in the Nightmare is truly a genre-spanning title, which should surprise no one who has followed Sting's games. It requires quick reflexes and actually puts the DS touch screen to use in a good way along with eschewing the usual methods of JRPG storytelling for something less direct and far more interesting. The DS's touch screen has been justifiably decried as gimmicky in the past, and some games still use it poorly. Knights in the Nightmare delivers an experience that requires the touch screen to work, and does it well. Rare indeed is the RPG that demands reflexes befitting an action gamer, yet this game successfully meshes the choices and story RPGs offer with the sort of combat found in a 2D shooter. Never known for playing it safe, Sting broke boundaries with this game. Among the most polarizing titles of the year, Knights in the Nightmare still defies description and definitely demands to be considered the most original RPG of 2009.
Take one fashionable Goddess of Time, a Hero who pokes his enemies to death, a Princess with a curfew, and a "sexy" Evil Lord, sprinkle in some blown up pixelated graphics along with four different game modes, and you have the addictive drug known as Half-Minute Hero. Half-Minute Hero is proof that you can take the JRPG genre, strip it down to the barest of bones, and create not only a fast paced experience, but something that is fresh and entertaining. The game will make you laugh, cry, and even keep you playing when your arthritis is telling you enough is enough. With its witty dialog and its bold statement of thirty second quests, Half-Minute Hero is a memorable title that sticks to its guns to create one of the most hilarious RPG experiences to date. Just don't forget before crossing the swamp to wear your cool hat!
How many other RPG out there encourage embracing death like Demon's Souls does? The game is hardcore and you will die... a lot. The best part is that Demon's Souls is fair about it. Yes, you will have to progress back through the area where you were too careless, but any items you happened upon along the way are maintained. The entire game is a learning experience, so those without patience and a capacity to learn should not apply. If that wasn't original enough, the game features passive multiplayer functionality. Players can read warnings and tips from other players, can watch replays of how they died, can join other players for a cooperative session, or even invade the world of others. All of these features band together to make Demon's Souls one of the most original RPGs of 2009.
by Sam Marchello, Mike Moehnke, Michael Cunningham