Top 10 Classic RPGs That Are Still Fun Today

best Classic RPGs
Originals with a Timeless Feel

Out of All the RPGs Out There, What About the Originals?

15. Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game (MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, OS X)

Classic Sci-Fi Feel

Fallout: A Post Nuclear Role Playing Game gameplay

This game is considered by some to be the godfather of all classic sci-fi RPGs. In a time where the market was flooded with medieval RPG’s this game hits the shelves and revitalizes the genre. This game started a new era of role-playing, and although it does show its age now, it’s still a game worth mentioning in this countdown.

What makes this game fun:

  • Sci-fi based game that breaks the mold in this genre of video games.
  • The original game that started a massive franchise that still thrives today.
  • It has loads of things to do, a great story, and it even has voice acted cutscenes!

Hacking in Fallout never felt so good!

Fighting off Super Mutants has also been around since the first Fallout game as well. I bet you didn’t know that.

14. Deus Ex (Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Playstation 2)

Deus Ex gameplay

This game is set in the not too far off future, 2052. This game is less sci-fi and more cyberpunk. This is one of the most unique games on this list, considering that this is also a first-person shooter. Without this game, we wouldn’t have the sequels that spawned afterward in addition to half-life and its sequels, on top of all of the counter strike games.

What makes this game fun:

  • First-person elements with a little stealth thrown in for good measure.
  • You can augment your character to become completely invisible or be resilient to bullets.
  • It kind of has a Matrix feel to it which is nice in my opinion.

Advanced combat for its time

Yes, there are swords. Yes, you get to use one too!

13. Planescape: Torment (Microsoft Windows, Linux, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Planescape: Torment gameplay

Now we’re finally getting to some fantasy RPG titles! This game is actually tied into Dungeons & Dragons, even though this is set in the multiverse. It runs on the same engine as the game Baldur’s Gate another D&D game. With the heritage behind this game, you know that you won’t be disappointed.

What makes this game fun:

  • Set in the multiverse of the 2nd edition of D&D.
  • This game has been re-released on current-gen consoles and mobile devices.
  • You are set on your epic quest to discover why you have immortality and how you were most recently revived.

Take a journey with your party and listen to NPC’s talk about war being good for the economy.

When fighting monsters in your D&D campaign gets boring just play this game instead!

12. Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition (Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, Linux, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One)

Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition gameplay

So like Planescape: Torment above this is another D&D based game, but this one is a full-on Wizards of the Coast licensed game. This is a fantastic game that has amazing reviews across the board. It takes place in the different realms of the D&D universe. You can even choose your class as a regular D&D campaign and multi-class into others as you level up. Check out this game today if you love D&D and classic RPG’s.

What makes this game fun:

  • You can become the Lord of Murder if you so desire.
  • It is available on every computer operating system, all phone operating systems, and modern consoles.
  • You can fight the classic monsters from D&D including Basilisks, Mind Flayers, and Beholders!

Always be cautious, here there be dragons.

They also gave you a lot of magic spells to help deal with anything that might get in your way.

11. The Bard’s Tale (Apple II, Amiga, Commodore 64, Apple IIGS, Atari ST, MS-DOS, Amstrad CPC, Macintosh, ZX Spectrum, NEC PC-9801, NES, Microsoft Windows, Xbox One)

The Bard’s Tale gameplay

Grab your party of six and take off on another epic quest to take down the evil wizard Mangar. This game has more dungeon-crawling aspects, not totally unlike a game like Diablo. This classic game has been around since 1985 and is still held in very high regard by the RPG community (it even spawned its own parody).

What makes this game fun:

  • Fight alongside your party to save the world starting in a wine cellar and ending up at Mangar’s Tower.
  • Another dungeon crawler with multiple class options to choose from: bard, hunter, monk, paladin, rogue, warrior, magician, and conjurer.
  • Fight classic RPG enemies from Evil Eyes, Giants, and Balrogs!

You will not see this one coming.

Never underestimate Puck

10. Final Fantasy IV (2007 Remake) (Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows)

Final Fantasy IV gameplay

This is a very underrated game out of the massive list of Final Fantasy games that have been made. This game was originally released as Final Fantasy II on the NES. It is commonly overshadowed by FFVI, FFVII, and FFX. The reason why I put this Final Fantasy on this list over those is that the remake of this game is amazing. It is voice acted and they added a lot of cutscenes including full-motion video. Having those extras seriously helped me to connect with these characters, even the polka dot wearing monk.

What makes this game fun:

  • You can play a Final Fantasy game that has a lot of character development even among minor characters.
  • The music has been remade by the original composer and they even recorded a full orchestral main theme for this version.
  • The combat has a very convenient auto-battle mode for the times when you need to level grind but you’d rather watch your favorite tv show instead.

That, my friend, is the Demon Wall. Good luck and have fun.

A classic line remade for the 21st century.

9. Chrono Trigger (Super NES, Playstation, Nintendo DS, i-mode, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Apple TV)

Chrono Trigger gameplay

Considered by some to be the pinnacle of mid-90’s RPG’s, and some say this is the best one ever made. I won’t make so bold a statement like that, but this is an amazing RPG that sucks you in from the beginning. Made by Square with character designs from Akira Toriyama (of Dragon Ball fame) and some of the music composed by Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy 1-10). With such an amazing group of people making this game you really can’t go wrong. It has an amazing story, with a very high replay value (13 total endings if you include the bad ending). The definitive way to play this game is on the Nintendo Ds, but the mobile version is great as well.

What makes this game fun:

  • Amazing combat
  • Great storytelling with a fantastically dark world to explore.
  • Lots of character development, even among people you wouldn’t expect.

When you fight against Magus let him live, you might really like the outcome…

Now, this guy, you can kill.

8. Earthbound (Super NES, Gameboy Advance, SNES Classic, Nintendo Virtual Console)

Earthbound gameplay

Let me just start off by saying that this game was NOT popular when it was first released. Nintendo had a very strange marketing campaign for it in the US. They kind of pulled some tricks from garbage pail kids with gross looking commercials and ads then gross scratch n’ sniff stickers. Nonetheless, this is a fantastic game with a lot of character and fun. It is set in a world similar to ours and instead of knights and dragons, it has baseball bats and Mad Taxis.

What makes this game fun:

  • A nice change from sci-fi and fantasy to a reimagining of our world.
  • Nothing but a fun time with very little seriousness (which is a nice break from so many hardcore RPGs)
  • Lots of twists and turns in the plot with a very unique final boss that may make you question everything you had done up to that point.

The gang’s all here! Ness and his party of troublemakers.

Of course, you’ll run into people who say stuff like this all the time.

7. Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga (Gameboy Advance)

Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga gameplay

I have so many memories of this game growing up. This is a wonderful game with a nice take on the classic Mario story, with Princess Peach getting kidnapped as usual. Thankfully you can do more than just jump and throw some fireballs. You have Luigi with you this time and he can use lightning powers while Mario keeps his trademark fire powers, oh, and you both get hammers. The combat system is very flushed out and unique.

What makes this game fun:

  • Classic Mario feels with an amazing soundtrack.
  • The game takes place in the Bean Bean kingdom and gives some back story for that kingdom as well as some for the Mushroom kingdom as well.
  • This game has one of the most memorable boss fights in RPG history

Teamwork makes the dream work.

A well thought out battle system can make or break an RPG.

6. Paper Mario (Nintendo 64, iQue Player)

Paper Mario gameplay

If you want to get into RPGs then this is the place I would recommend. I have played this game on and off for about 17 years and it’s still my favorite video game of all time. It is very simple and if you have relatively good timing then you will do very well in this game. It has a partner system that’s very nice and this is a very forgiving game. It doesn’t have any replay value, but the main story is great and the gameplay is streamlined.

What makes this game fun:

  • Simple controls and very few menus to navigate make this an easy RPG to start with.
  • Lots of worlds to explore and lots of classic Mario enemies to fight
  • Quirky and fun with a very satisfying battle system.

Classic Mario baddies to fight.

And of course some new ones as well.

5. Dragon Quest Remake (MSX, PC-9801, Super Famicom, GameBoy Color, Nintendo 3DS, Playstation 4, iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch)

Dragon Quest gameplay

This game was originally localized in the US as Dragon Warrior and they changed the name to Dragon Quest for all the sequels, but even with that decision these games still thrive today. The remake of this game is great, not quite FFIV levels of good, but good nonetheless. This was originally made by Enix, that name may sound familiar. It is the same Enix that merged with Square in the mid-2000’s. They were actually competitors until their merger and their competition improved, constantly trying to innovate and push their own boundaries.

What makes this game fun:

  • A precursor to games like Skyrim with a dragon bent on ultimate power and total destruction, with the main character who starts off with nothing but can defeat the boss in the end.
  • Another game with the artwork done by Akira Toriyama, who always does great work. It’s also instantly recognizable.
  • An RPG that doesn’t pull inspiration from the classic Dungeons and Dragons like most of the others from the same time period.

It’s dangerous to go alone.

A classic enemy from this great RPG, they’re everywhere!

4. Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire (GameBoy Advance)

Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire gameplay

These games mark the third main series release for Nintendo and Game Freak’s Pokemon franchise. These games were really advanced for their time and they were a blast to play. I played the Ruby version so I was taking on the Elite Four with my Groudon and had such a great time doing it. If you haven’t tried either of these games then I would ask you to pick them up, they still hold up well. As a caveat, I will say you could try Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire if you can’t get a hold of these games or a GameBoy Advance and you already have a Nintendo 3DS.

What makes this game fun:

  • A new setting from the previous Pokemon games, new mechanics and lots of new Pokemon.
  • A story that is still relevant today involving environmental activism and everything.
  • The beginning of Pokemon double battles, which changed the series from that moment onwards.

Stay out of the tall grass unless you already have a Pokemon!

Double battles have changed Pokemon forever.

3. Super Mario RPG (Super NES, Super NES Classic, Virtual Console)

Super Mario RPG gameplay

This game is the predecessor to Paper Mario, even though it doesn’t seem like they connect at all. This game was on the Super NES and it has similar mechanics, but there is still a level of detachment between this game and Paper Mario. One major difference between those games is that this game was developed by Square and it has a totally different style. The time-based battle system and the fact that you have partners are where they are most similar, but that’s where the similarities end.

What makes this game fun:

  • The music was composed by Yoko Shimomura who also composed the music for the Kingdom Hearts series.
  • This game has an interesting blend of Mario’s platform-based games and other Super NES RPGs like Chrono Trigger and FFVI.
  • This game also has some puzzle-solving elements similar to something you’d see in the Legend of Zelda series.

This is the first and only Mario game that uses an isometric angle.

The Mario version of the Power Rangers, also, Bowser joins your team at one point.

2. Golden Sun (GameBoy Advance, Virtual Console)

Golden Sun gameplay

This little hidden gem is quite an amazing RPG. This is a very imaginative RPG with psychic elements as opposed to just having magical elements. This is a 2D RPG like the classic Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games I’ve already talked about in this article, and this little game holds its own among these giants. The storyline is great, the battle system is really good, but the only downside is that Nintendo hasn’t done much else with this series besides two sequels and not really anything else to speak of other than cameos in other Nintendo games.

What makes this game fun:

  • Alchemy and Psynergy are the mystical powers in this game as opposed to magic.
  • The elements of earth, fire, water, and wind are instead called Venus, Mars, Mercury, and Jupiter just to change things up a bit.
  • They changed up the party system from most RPG’s and give you four members who are all adept at using each element to stop the main villains of the series from unleashing Alchemy back into the world.

Even though it’s not set in the normal fantasy setting there were some enemies that they couldn’t get away from using.

Members of a local village using Psynergy to move a giant stone.

1. Megaman Battle Network (GameBoy Advance)

Megaman Battle Network gameplay

I know I’ve mentioned several unique RPG’s up to this point in the article, but this one takes the cake. This RPG is set in a world similar to ours, but the actual RPG elements are set on the internet and are fought between computer programs called NetNavis. It also has the most unique combat system relying on cards akin to Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories. If you want something completely different from everything else on this list then check this gem out and all of its many sequels.

What makes this game fun:

  • This is a real-time tactical RPG that will change your view of all other similar games.
  • If you want to play a computer/internet-based RPG then this is the one you need to play.
  • This game also has a multiplayer function not totally unlike Pokemon where you can trade certain items and fight each other’s NetNavis.

The main character of this game: Lan Hikari.

The battle system from Megaman Battle Network.

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Video game a geek culture writer for gamersdecide.com as well as a Quality Manager for Lexicon Technologies for my day job...for now.
Gamer Since: 1996
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