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Feature - Most Underrated RPGs

InstaTrentInstaTrent OpinionatorRPGamer Staff
edited April 2013 in Latest Updates
Too many awesome RPGs are woefully neglected because they've either been released at the wrong time or are engulfed by misinformation. These are some of our favourite RPGs that may have flown under your radar. What are yours?

FEATURE



***Please tell us which RPGs you consider to be underrated.***
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Comments

  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited April 2013
    Of that list, I definitely gravitate toward Strawberry here with Arc Rise Fantasia. Its sad that more people don't give it a chance, because you know what, even you think the localization is really that bad, its funny bad and not cringeworthy bad most of the time. Over the past few years, I'd rank ARF pretty highly compared to it's peers in terms of how much enjoyment it brought.

    My all time favorite underrated RPG has to be Magna Carta 2 though. For some reason reviews I read elsewhere took an absolute dump on the game for the fact that it has an amnesiac protagonist. Never mind the fact that his amnesia is in fact handled fairly decently, or that the story actually has a very interesting cast of villains and supporting villains. The art style and visuals were just fantastic too. I felt sucked in by this world and legitimately enjoyed traveling each area even if only for the landscapes and enemy design. Combat offered a fun combo system with some flashy attacks, as well as interaction with your team by switching to them seamlessly for further links. The ability to customize your character's style was a neat concept as well, and when I played through ARF I felt like some aspects of weapon customization were actually inspired by Magna Carta 2. To be honest it is one of my all time favorite RPGs that everyone either hasn't played or just feels meh about.
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  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Argonauts is trash. I couldn't get through the palace without the game freezing. I even cleared my cache and replayed the entire opening sequence multiple times hoping that would fix things. After three freezes, I gave up. The score it did get is too good.

    The only game I can come up with is Parasite Eve 2. I think way too many people unfairly labeled it as a Resident Evil clone even though it's much deeper and way more complex than those games. Sure, the story is bland, and the early RE style gameplay was never all that great in the first place (still can't believe people want the old RE style over the one introduced in RE4; I can't stand to play the old RE games anymore and I had 2 and Veronica), but there were RPG mechanics, lots of replay value due to the challenge system and the list of unique items you could buy with replay points, weapons you can mod, and some aspects of the story could be altered simply by completing certain tasks a different way (some of them are critical to achieving the best ending). It actually has a good Metacritic rating though so it's not the best example.

    I'm not very good at picking underrated games. There are lesser games out there I like, but I can see why they're considered poor games. I try not to allow my personal feelings for the game to cloud my judgment. For example, I love Mass Effect 3's multiplayer, but I personally score it a 5 out of 10. The core design is fine, but the execution is so horribly flawed it's hard to recommend.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited April 2013
    One underrated RPG I can think of that happens to be a favorite of mine is The Last Remnant...another being Shining Tears.
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  • DarkLancerDarkLancer New Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Hmmm, it's definitely an interesting question defining what is underrated. Based purely on the plain meaning of the word, it means a game that was better than its ratings would indicate. As such, both bad games that were unfairly panned and great games that got solid good reviews would qualify.
    An example of the former would be Ephemeral Fantasia. The game was definitely bad, but not to the degree most people talked about it. Despite having a very confusing method of progressing the story, the story was quite interesting, the characters were really great, and all of them have different but equally effective strategies.
    For the latter type of underrated game, you might have Dragon Quest VIII (in the U.S.). The game did reasonably well, but it was a really excellent game, that should have done much better based on its gameplay.
    As far as getting word out about a lesser known fun game, Jade Cocoon 2 is surprisingly good. It's got some cool characters, who drive what story there is, but it's got a well balanced battle system, where status inducing skills are actually useful without being overpowered, and straight out attack skills are not the end-all of strategy. Normal battles may not be fun, but boss battles and opponent battles both present unique challenges.
  • KaliaKalia New Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Interesting article. There are quite a few titles on this list I'm really happy to see, particularly Dragon Quarter and Arc Rise Fantasia.

    That being said...
    A few short weeks ago, Atelier Ayesha became the fifth game in its series to achieve international publication.
    Surely there have been more than that? Atelier Iris 1-3, two Mana Khemias, Rorona, Totori, Meruru and Ayesha. I count nine. Ten if you include Annie, which was a side game to the main series. I guess you could argue that Iris and the Mana Khemia games don't count because they're quite different, but Gust themselves acknowledge them as part of the core Atelier series (they're numbered A6 to A10 respectively).
  • PawsPaws Purr RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    Certainly that counts titles that were brought to North America, but how many made it to Europe and other PAL territories? I'd imagine that would be the benchmark for international.
  • The Last PaladinThe Last Paladin Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    I definitely agree that Steambot Chronicle is one the best under-rated games I ever played. I still have this urge to want to try Dragon Quarters one day, despite the very mix reviews. One game I am surprise that did not make the list that I truly love but feel is very under-rated is Nier.
  • omegabyteomegabyte He's just this guy, you know? RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    The Last Paladin said:
    I definitely agree that Steambot Chronicle is one the best under-rated games I ever played. I still have this urge to want to try Dragon Quarters one day, despite the very mix reviews. One game I am surprise that did not make the list that I truly love but feel is very under-rated is Nier.
    Believe me, we would have included Nier if it hadn't rapidly achieved cult status after its release. It's very well known in the RPGamer community, so it's hard to call it underrated.
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  • Strawberry EggsStrawberry Eggs The Bemused Administrators
    edited April 2013
    ChickenGod said:
    Of that list, I definitely gravitate toward Strawberry here with Arc Rise Fantasia. Its sad that more people don't give it a chance, because you know what, even you think the localization is really that bad, its funny bad and not cringeworthy bad most of the time. Over the past few years, I'd rank ARF pretty highly compared to it's peers in terms of how much enjoyment it brought.
    I tried not to dwell on the localization issues too much as my frustration over them is somewhat well-known here. I will admit that what most upsets me isn't so much the voice acting and script, but rather how the game went from a competent publisher to, well, Ignition.
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  • watcherwatcher Veteran RPGamer Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Valkyria Chronicles 2 was terrible. It took well balanced mechanics and convoluted them, combined with terrible pacing and the monotonous training battles just made it a slog. What I know of VC3 makes me wish it had made it here.

    Glad to see Dragon Quarter and Romancing SaGa on the list. I also find the early Arc the Lad games aren't mentioned often enough, but they probably don't qualify as underrated.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    Kalia said:


    Surely there have been more than that? Atelier Iris 1-3, two Mana Khemias, Rorona, Totori, Meruru and Ayesha. I count nine. Ten if you include Annie, which was a side game to the main series. I guess you could argue that Iris and the Mana Khemia games don't count because they're quite different, but Gust themselves acknowledge them as part of the core Atelier series (they're numbered A6 to A10 respectively).
    Well, I DID say in the article that Mana-Khemia and Atelier Iris were different series :p I count the DS Ateliers as one branch of the main series, along with the Salburg, Gramnaut, Arland, and now the Dusk series, since they all share the same core concepts and general design philosophy. The two side-games I referred to were the WSC and GBA sequels to the Salburg branch, though I could also have included the GBC pair or the Atelier Lilie spin-off adventure title.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinionator RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    ChickenGod said:
    \My all time favorite underrated RPG has to be Magna Carta 2 though. For some reason reviews I read elsewhere took an absolute dump on the game for the fact that it has an amnesiac protagonist. Never mind the fact that his amnesia is in fact handled fairly decently, or that the story actually has a very interesting cast of villains and supporting villains. The art style and visuals were just fantastic too. I felt sucked in by this world and legitimately enjoyed traveling each area even if only for the landscapes and enemy design. Combat offered a fun combo system with some flashy attacks, as well as interaction with your team by switching to them seamlessly for further links. The ability to customize your character's style was a neat concept as well, and when I played through ARF I felt like some aspects of weapon customization were actually inspired by Magna Carta 2. To be honest it is one of my all time favorite RPGs that everyone either hasn't played or just feels meh about.
    I'm a fan of Magna Carta 2 as well. Disregarding the inappropriate bodily proportions of preteens, I found the graphical style distinctive and the gameplay like a more active iteration of Final Fantasy XII's. However, unless you pay for the DLC weapons, the entirety of the game is pretty grindtastic - making later battles especially frustrating. They don't do an amazing job explaining the finer elements of the combat systems either. Oh, and I'd actually argue that the localization efforts were just slightly above Arc Rise Fantasia's. Bearing all that in mind, it's definitely worth a playthrough from any RPGamer and is usually pretty cheap to pick up.
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  • KaliaKalia New Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Paws said:
    Certainly that counts titles that were brought to North America, but how many made it to Europe and other PAL territories? I'd imagine that would be the benchmark for international.
    I'm pretty sure all of ones I listed except Annie came to Europe.
    GaijinMonogatari said:
    Well, I DID say in the article that Mana-Khemia and Atelier Iris were different series :p I count the DS Ateliers as one branch of the main series, along with the Salburg, Gramnaut, Arland, and now the Dusk series, since they all share the same core concepts and general design philosophy. The two side-games I referred to were the WSC and GBA sequels to the Salburg branch, though I could also have included the GBC pair or the Atelier Lilie spin-off adventure title.
    I know, my point was that they're not different series. :'D I know that Mana Khemia and Iris strayed from the formula a lot, but I think it's hard to argue when the original developer itself acknowledges them as part of the same main series. :P If they wanted the games to be recognised as side series, they'd have made them side series. They did it with the DS titles, after all.
  • GaijinMonogatariGaijinMonogatari RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    I'd actually argue the opposite. The "main" Atelier series is based around the resource management and item synthesis systems, with the story sort of just happening along the way. The games that follow this model all have titles with the same pattern to them. "((name)) no Atelier - ((area)) no Renkenjutsushi" (Atelier ((name)) - Alchemist/etc. of ((area))). Mana Khemia and the three Atelier Iris games break this naming pattern as well as having different gameplay focuses. Yes, they are included in the numbering, but thematically and gameplay-wise they are obviously separate from the main sequence of games.
  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    http://www.at2.metalbat.com/

    Ar Tonelico 2 - I'm not sure if it really counts here, but i'm really excited to play this.
  • DaylightDiesDaylightDies Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Great feature!! I added a few games to my wish list. The only game here I've played was Romancing SaGa, so I read this pretty intently.

    For my underrated RPG, I'd pick Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings for the DS. It doesn't get mentioned in many discussions and it is one of my favorite DS games.
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  • TwinBahamutTwinBahamut Staff Healer RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    watcher said:
    Valkyria Chronicles 2 was terrible. It took well balanced mechanics and convoluted them, combined with terrible pacing and the monotonous training battles just made it a slog. What I know of VC3 makes me wish it had made it here.

    Glad to see Dragon Quarter and Romancing SaGa on the list. I also find the early Arc the Lad games aren't mentioned often enough, but they probably don't qualify as underrated.
    I wouldn't call the original Valkyria Chronicles "well-balanced". It was basically Stormtroopers are good at fighting, lancers are good at killing tanks, and Scouts are good at doing everything essential to actually beating the stage. The more you use scouts, the easier it is to A-rank any stage. I won't defend the pacing or issues with monotony from VC2, though. Just because its underrated doesn't mean its perfect, after all.

    Also, I would have loved to mention Arc the Lad, if I had actually beaten any of them... Yeah, they are deep in my backlog. I kept having a problem with starting the next game even though I wasn't done with the previous, and that led to... problems. I would probably have done a write-up for Growlanser Generations if I had actually managed to beat Growlanser 3 in time (I actually only beat that one for the first time a few days ago). Oh well, I'm at least happy to share my appreciation for Romancing SaGa.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinionator RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    DaylightDies said:
    For my underrated RPG, I'd pick Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings for the DS. It doesn't get mentioned in many discussions and it is one of my favorite DS games.
    Awesome choice! I've only just started playing Revenant Wings, but I'm digging the RTS combat and it's nice to see more of that world.
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  • TheMooseTheMoose Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    I say the most underrated RPG was Suikoden 5.

    Suikoden 5 was a great improvement from its predecessor, Suikoden 4.

    Suikoden 5 also had some great innovative features such as simplified strategic battles, real time duels, great storyline complete with twists and turns, multiple endings (at least 3 endings), just to name a few.

    However, while Suikoden 5 was a major improvement from Suikoden 4 and even Suikoden Tactics (Rhapsodia), this game didn't generate as much sales as expected.

    Too bad that Konami didn't release any Suikoden sequels after Suikoden 5.

    If Konami releases any Suikoden prequels and sequels, which is unlikely now that the Suikoden team is disbanded (could be wrong), here are some suggested locations:

    Suikoden 6 - New Armes, Nagarea, and other Southern Continent countries south of Falena
    Suikoden 7 - Gaien Dukedom and Western Continent
    Suikoden 8 - Harmonia, Kamaro, and Northern Outlands

    Due to lack of news regarding Suikoden - Centennial Tapestry, its more likely that this title will be Japanese exclusive.
  • ChickenGodChickenGod Overdosing Heavenly Bliss Moderators
    edited April 2013
    InstaTrent said:
    I'm a fan of Magna Carta 2 as well. Disregarding the inappropriate bodily proportions of preteens, I found the graphical style distinctive and the gameplay like a more active iteration of Final Fantasy XII's. However, unless you pay for the DLC weapons, the entirety of the game is pretty grindtastic - making later battles especially frustrating. They don't do an amazing job explaining the finer elements of the combat systems either. Oh, and I'd actually argue that the localization efforts were just slightly above Arc Rise Fantasia's. Bearing all that in mind, it's definitely worth a playthrough from any RPGamer and is usually pretty cheap to pick up.
    I'm glad you agree with MC2 Trent, although I can't say I really agree with some of your criticisms. You're probably right that it didn't do a great job explaining the finer details. But grindy and poor localization? One of my main issues with Magna Carta 2 was actually that it was too easy, I distinctly remember only dying once due to not really paying attention to what was happening on the screen. Difficulty is pretty subjective though, so maybe I was just good at it. I don't recall having any complaints with wooden sentence structure, grammatical errors, or poor voice acting either. Lots of people seem have voice acting preferences that are all over the place, but I think the VA in MC2 was a huge step above the Nikos, Ryfias, and other disinterested VAs that made ARF so funny to listen to. Since MC2 is one of my favorite games I'm sure to be biased towards it, so to be fair, my other major criticism of MC2 was that the final dungeon was such a letdown. It was crappy bland place that had no business sucking as much as it did given the location.

    There are some other good picks here too. Nefario points out Ar Tonelico 2, which is definitely a game that people seem to think is more perverted and light-hearted than it really is. Not to mention the crap localization, now there's a bad one. Romancing SaGa on the list is a good choice too. A unique experience for sure, and I think it pushes away the "perfectionist" gamer as well as people who want a more linear story driven experience. Once I finally settled down and used a guide to understand where and when a variety of quests were available I had a good time with it. Would have been even better if random battles didn't have such a heavy influence over whether or not quests would be available or disappear forever.
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  • LordKaiserLordKaiser Gaming Freedom Full Members
    edited April 2013
    WKC2 - Online portion of the game.

    Shadow Hearts 1-3, especially 3 because of not having Yuri

    Wild Arms 5

    FFIX - People ditch it for the visuals but has them actually played it?

    Ys VI Ark of Naphishtim PS2 ver. - It's like Zelda on steroids.

    Front Mission 3 and 4 - Anyone played it?
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  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    TheMoose said:
    I say the most underrated RPG was Suikoden 5.
    I'd have a tough time calling any of the Suikodens (main series) underrated. That series has a crazy loyal following and a ton of them love 5.
    LordKaiser said:
    FFIX - People ditch it for the visuals but has them actually played it?
    I mean you could call FFIX underrated AMONG the FF series, but it sold 5.3 million copies and has a ton of fans so in now way shape or form is it underrated (also it is awesome).
  • TG BarighmTG Barighm Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Front Mission 3 and 4 - Anyone played it?
    Right here. Front Mission 3 is underplayed, but not underrated. It was well reviewed by the few sites that did, and the few people I know that have played it generally enjoyed it. It's one of my all time favourite games.

    I'll give you FM4. It dumps many elements that made FM3 great in favour of being a throwback to the original games. I say that was a mistake, but someone else may feel differently.
  • DarkRPGMasterDarkRPGMaster A Witness to Destruction Moderators
    edited April 2013
    TG Barighm said:
    Right here. Front Mission 3 is underplayed, but not underrated. It was well reviewed by the few sites that did, and the few people I know that have played it generally enjoyed it. It's one of my all time favourite games.

    I'll give you FM4. It dumps many elements that made FM3 great in favour of being a throwback to the original games. I say that was a mistake, but someone else may feel differently.
    I agree with you TG on FM4. I still have not to this day beaten it because it feels like a downgrade from FM3. Maybe one day I'll be able to throw myself at it and play the entire way through...like I did with FM3, where I got EVERY character every possible battle skill they could learn in the game...using multiple NG+ playthroughs (since you can only have this character or that character, and certain parts were only available on certain storylines). Speaking of which, did anybody else like the characters more on Alisa's story than on Emma's?
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  • NefarioCallNefarioCall Member Full Members
    edited April 2013
    Speaking of Front Mission, i still haven't played FM5 ... -_- i suppose 'underrated is the wrong word for that though given every review i can find of it is high praise ... maybe more as underplayed?
  • lolwhoopslolwhoops Member HalifaxFull Members
    edited April 2013
    Under rated game that I'm fairly certain most people haven't played and won't even if I mention it, huh? I'll mention the pair of DS games that were ridiculously fun, having beat the story two times in each game and put about 400 hours total into them: Digimon World Dawn and Digimon World Dusk. Essentially a monster collector RPG that's kind of light on story but heavy on Digital Monster collection and customizing. There's a horde of monsters to get, secret and hidden forms, the ability to have almost every move combination you could want on nearly any Digmon and you can even make rookie monsters (the lowest level of them) have maxed out stats. Online battles were fun (though heavily competitive and usually there would be restrictions on moves), as was online egg making. I got Dusk and Pokemon Pearl at the same time and I couldn't go back to Pearl for a long time because of how much slower the combat felt and how boring the monsters were in general.

    The problem with these two games is they tend to go for a lot now days. If you have an itch for a fun monster collector that's not Pokemon for your DS system(s), they're a lot of fun. In fact, if you ever get them you should let me know and maybe we can hook up for crazy breeding? That sounded better in my head, but I'ma leave it because I find it funny. Even with my backlog the way it is, I still want to play them again.

    This topic makes me want to go back through all my games and see which ones I loved that I don't think enough people played.
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  • NekobasuNekobasu RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    Wheels said:
    I'd have a tough time calling any of the Suikodens (main series) underrated. That series has a crazy loyal following and a ton of them love 5.
    Suikoden fans are the best fans. At the same time, Suikoden V wasn't followed by Suikoden VI. If only we could have convinced everyone who didn't enjoy it that their opinions were misguided and objectively questionable.

    V was my second favorite in the series, and the most refined one in terms of system and translation.
  • TwinBahamutTwinBahamut Staff Healer RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    All this talk about Suikoden and it's almost like some of you are pretending that Suikoden Tierkreis doesn't exist. We did get a Suikoden sequel after V! It was Tierkreis! It's a good game!

    I knew SeventhCircle was wrong when he vetoed my desire to write up Tirekreis for this feature...
  • 7thCircle7thCircle RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    edited April 2013
    TwinBahamut said:
    It was Tierkreis! It's a good game!

    I knew SeventhCircle was wrong when he vetoed my desire to write up Tirekreis for this feature...
    The only negative thing I've ever heard about Tierkreis was that it wasn't named Suikoden VI.
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  • MacstormMacstorm Ysy St. Administrators
    edited April 2013
    The worst thing that happened to Suikoden V was releasing within a week of Kingdom Hearts 2.
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