Retro Videogame Recommendations

List of Retro Videogame Recommendations written, compiled, and curated by Greyor Last updated 28 Mar. 2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS

0.0. FOREWORD

N.B. & DISCLAIMER: Many of these are JRPGs or Japanese-only games, and will require a translation patch to make them playable in English. ROMHacking.net links are included, but you'll have to find the ROMs yourself; no links are provided here for that.

In this document, I've provided a fairly comprehensive roundup of NES/SNES games that I think are worth playing, or at least historical curiosities. These are games I love and think you may love as well. I hope that you find this useful in your own gaming.

I initially posted this on PrivacyTools.io's pastebin (http://bin.privacytools.io/), but soon I was pointed to here as a more apt medium for this post.

I may end up adding a PSX/PS2 section to this down the road, but it's taken me 2-3 hours to put just this document together with these two systems. Perhaps I'll add Game Boy as well. Later on, though.

Please feel free to comment with suggestions, thoughts, &c.

Happy gaming!

0.1. LICENSE

This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. From https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/: “You are free to: Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms. Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use. NonCommercial — You may not use the material for commercial purposes. ShareAlike — If you remix, transform, or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license as the original.”

0.2. CONTACT

Feel free to find me on Mastodon: http://freeradical.zone/@greyor

1.0. TOOLS

For ROM patching, I recommend the following utility: Floating IPS (FLIPS) (Windows, Linux; CLI on OS X): https://www.romhacking.net/utilities/1040/ * Note that the version linked above is old; see Github for source to pull and compile a fresh copy: https://github.com/Alcaro/Flips * I tend to pull from git and compile every once in awhile on Linux; best IPS/BPS patcher I've ever used.

I also really like NSRT (“Nach's SNES ROM Tool”), which will let you add/remove headers and check CRCs on SNES ROMs. I haven't yet found a tool nearly as good for NES ROMs. * NSRT can be found here, for multiple platforms: https://www.zophar.net/utilities/snesaud/nsrt.html

For many PSX games (and later systems), I'd recommend xdelta3, as many patches come in that format. * Xdelta3 can be found at: https://github.com/jmacd/xdelta (If you're on Debian or *buntu, simply drop to a terminal and type `sudo apt install xdelta3')

2.0. NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (NES) GAMES

2.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

2.2. NES FAN-TRANSLATIONS (you may have never heard of any of these!)

Chaos World (JP, 1991): Ridiculously hard JRPG. I'd like to spend some more time with it, but haven't gotten very far. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3907/

Columbus: Ougon no Yoake (JP, 1992): Really bizarre, insanely hard NES JRPG set around the time of Columbus. Haven't really done much with it but apparently it's worth a play. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1285/

Cosmic Epsilon (JP, 1989): Strange space shooter. Makes me think of Space Harrier. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1354/

*Cosmo Police Galivan (JP, 1988): Space-themed, side-scrolling action RPG. No idea how it is yet but it looks promising. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/109/

Crystalis (JP, 1990): An excellent NES RPG. Set in 199X, you emerge from what appears to be a cryosleep vault after a worldwide cataclysm of sorts (implied to be nuclear war). It's kind of a mixture of Final Fantasy and Zelda (not quite like Final Fantasy Adventure, though, which is similar). There are elements, and sword powerups, and lots of lands to visit. It is mercilessly hard at times, though, but is very generous about saving and teleportation. Highly recommended.

Special note on this: the game was called *God Slayer: Haruka Tenkuu no Sonata (“God Slayer: Sonata of the Distant Heavens”) in Japan, and with Nintendo of America's strict guidelines on no religious symbolism, &c., &c., we lost out on the original intent of the game. See https://legendsoflocalization.com/game-localization-and-nintendo-of-americas-content-policies-in-the-1990s/ for a fascinating read on these policies. The RHDN link I'm providing is to a decensored, restored God Slayer retranslated into English. You can easily find the English version, but this will be better. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3793/

Elnark no Zaihou (JP, 1987): Also known as Treasures of Elnark, this is an RPG. That's about all I know about it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2062/

Esper Boukentai (JP, 1987): As RHDN says, it's a strange mixture of platformer and RPG. Haven't tried it yet as my RPG backlog is insanely long right now. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1580/

Esper Dream 2: Aratanaru Tatakai (JP, 1992): It's a bookworm's dream of an RPG! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1045/

Final Fantasy: Everyone's probably played this game, and here's a nice new translation by ChaosRush (2019). – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/4868/

Final Fantasy II (JP, 1988): Can't say I've played this one yet, but it is apparently decent. I have Final Fantasy Origins for PSX, and only played FF1 on there. However, ChaosRush put out a nice translation update in 2016 of the older Demiforce translation. Worth a try. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2656/

Final Fantasy III (JP, 1990): One of the lesser-known Final Fantasy games; I grew up thinking that FF3 on SNES was the 3rd game, but of course it is FF6J. FF3J has an early version of the Jobs system that would be perfected in FF5, and the story is fairly compelling. Many will have played FF3J on Nintendo DS, which I hear is a decent version, but I have a soft spot for the NES. You have your pick of a few translations, but here is my suggestion: * Patch the ROM with the Neill Corlett/Alex W. Jackson (AWJ) 1999 translation (not perfect, but it works fine): https://www.romhacking.net/translations/141/ * Patch the already-patched ROM with Silent Enigma's “Battle Interface Upgrade,” which will remove a number of annoyances from the battle system: http://silentenigma.site88.net/ff3/ff3.html

If you're interested in a better translation, though, do check out ChaosRush's 2019 translation: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/4760/ (I just don't want to give up the battle interface enhancements, which apparently aren't compatible with ChaosRush's translation)

Getsu Fuuma Den (JP, 1987): Action platformer. Looks fun but no idea how it plays. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3482/

Grand Master (JP, 1991): Strange Zelda clone that seems ridiculously hard so far. I grew up on the NES, but I worry that maybe, even with save states, I don't have the skills or fortitude to play these games any more. Games have gotten so much easier these days. Worth a play. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1540/

Higemaru Makaijima Nanatsu no Shima Dai Bouken (JP, 1987): An island-based Legend of Zelda-style action RPG (wonder if this is a relative of Marvelous?). Should be fun. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1278/

Indora no Hikari (JP, 1987): Another strange Zelda clone; “The Light of Indra” in English. Really hard game as far as I can tell. Also, the ROM is ridiculously hard to patch; from the instructions, “Use a program such as NFlate to expand the PRG-ROM from 128KB to 256KB (or use a hex editor to manually insert the extra 128KB just before the last 16KB of the original ROM data).” NFlate wasn't very easy to use, so I think I ended up using dd in a shell. All I know is that this may not be worth the trouble, but if you're interested, check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3153/

Kanshakudama Nage Kantarou no Toukaido Gojuusan Tsugi (JP, 1986): Platformer where you kill ninjas and others and you're trying to save your love, apparently. Sounds bizarro. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/894/

Karakuri Kengou Den Musashi Lord: Karakuri Jin Hashiru! (JP, 1991): An action RPG. This apparently has a Game Boy port as well, but the NES one is better from what I've heard. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2056/

Lagrange Point (JP, 1991): This is a fascinating-looking RPG set in space and made by Konami. They don't make 'em like this any more, or rather, maybe this was a jumping-off point for games like Star Ocean vel sim. I've only played through a bit but think it has real promise. Definitely check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2294/

Matendouji (Conquest of the Crystal Palace) (JP, 1990): Looks like a fun, strange action game. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1646/

Moon Crystal (JP, 1992): Bizarre Castlevania-style platformer. Definitely worth checking out. Reminds me a lot of Castlevania 2. Note that the developer is Hector, who published the absolutely lovely Ihatovo Monogatari, which I'll mention in the SNES section below. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/189/

Mouryou Senki Madara (JP, 1990): Ridiculously hard JRPG by Konami. Haven't played much as I have a lot of RPGs I am currently working on, but I think it's promising. Japan really kept a lot of fascinating games there, and I am astounded that a lot of these never came Stateside. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1047/

Ninja Rahoi (JP, 1990): Also known as Ninjara Hoi, this is apparently a “wacky Japanese RPG.” Sign me up! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2239/

Otaku no Seiza: Adventure in the Otaku Galaxy (JP, 1991): An otaku-themed RPG (also cheekily called “Nerdulus”). Sounds really strange and fun, but it's got mixed reviews on RHDN. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/4971/

Romancia (Dragon Slayer Jr.) (JP, 1987): This sounds like a quaint and fun JRPG. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1264/

Stardom Warriors (JP, 1989): Also known as LaSalle Ishii's Childs Quest, this is a weird RPG where you play as a Japanese pop idol group and have to navigate the ups and downs of fame. Definitely a unique idea for an RPG! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5321/

Sweet Home (JP, 1989): This game basically kick-started the survival horror genre, and is a direct precursor to Resident Evil. It's also insanely difficult. Basically, you're exploring a haunted house in Japan, with ghosts and other terrors trying to kill you. I've never been able to get very far in this, but I acknowledge it's a great game. Reminds me a lot of the Fatal Frame games, too, but on NES. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/222/

Armed Fantasy Dragon Villgust (JP, 1993, Kouryuu Densetsu Villgust Gaiden): I actually haven't played this yet, but am really excited to check it out, as well as its counterpart on the SNES (see below). Apparently it's based on an anime & manga. Looks like a great oldschool JRPG. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3863/

Youkai Douchuuki (JP, 1988): This is absolutely bananas. It's a platformer where you're a soul travelling through the Japanese underworld. I haven't been able to get very far, but it's totally worth checking out for how insane it is. This translation is apparently retranslated from a Spanish localization, FWIW. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/4353/

3.0. SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (SNES) GAMES

3.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

3.2. SNES FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Alcahest (JP, 1993): Strange, medieval fantasy-themed action JRPG. I played through a decent amount of it so far and have enjoyed it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/278/

Ancient Magic: Bazoo Mahou Sekai (JP, 1993): This little game really grew on me. It's a quaint little RPG about a boy going to magic school to become a wizard like his father. The world is actually rather large, and has a day/night cycle, which actually prevents you from entering certain towns at night (guess that's similar to Simon's Quest a bit?). High encounter rate, which means I've run away from battles a lot, but it's still very fun and worth a play. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1575/

Aretha (JP, 1993): I am sure I will enjoy this fun-looking JRPG whenever I get around to playing it. It looks like a pretty standard JRPG, and the graphics seem nice. Haven't heard anything bad about it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3836/

Aretha II: Ariel no Fushigi na Tabi (JP, 1994): Just released in 2020, this is the sequel to Aretha. Looking forward to playing it as well. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5420/

Brandish 2: The Planet Buster (JP, 1995): I tried getting into this. It's an isometric action RPG and just isn't very fun, but YMMV. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1442/

Chrono Trigger (US, 1995): An excellent RPG where you travel through multiple time periods trying to save the world! If you haven't heard of this, I'd be really surprised. This is in the fan-translations section because I've found that, while the US localization was good, updates are even better. There are a ton of these on RHDN, but my preferred version is the “Doctor L Relocalizaton,” which is a bugfix for a retranslation done by “Doctor L.” – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3072/ * If you want Doctor L's original retranslation, check here: http://www.romhacking.net/translations/1258/

Dark Half (JP, 1996): Couldn't get into this at all, but if you like strategy RPGs, you may love this. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2344/

Dark Law: Meaning of Death (JP, 1997): Apparently it's the third in a loose trilogy (cf. Soul Blazer/Terranigma/Illusion of Gaia, as the page says). Late-state SNES games are pretty cool (see Rudra no Hihou below!). I tried this and really couldn't get into it, especially the strategy RPG-style battles. But the first part, where you're doing some farming, was really lovely. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/307/

DoReMi Fantasy: Milon no DokiDoki Daibouken (JP, 1996): I really, really enjoyed this game. It's like Kirby, Yoshi's Island, and whatever other platformer you love. Stretches of it had some really amazing visuals and music too. I played it through pretty quickly. Definitely check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1192/

Dual Orb II (JP, 1994): Apparently this game is decent at least. No idea about the first game, but this one is translated. I'm enjoying it so far but have barely gotten into it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/345/

Far East of Eden Zero (JP, 1995, Tengai Makyou Zero): This game has been a “white whale” for emulator developers and translators for ages, mostly because of the special chips on the SNES ROM. Famed emulator developer byuu found a way to support the chips, though, in his emulator higan/bsnes, and this translation is the culmination of hours and hours of effort. The game is a nice, fun, SNES JRPG with a good deal of humor and comic relief, and is set in what seems to be medieval Japan. Check it out, if only for the rarity of the experience outside Japan. Note that these patches will work with SNES9X, but I'd recommend higan/bsnes. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3243/

Final Fantasy IV (JP, 1991): One of my favorite Final Fantasy games ever, and actually the first I ever played. Basic save-the-world story, but you go to all sorts of different places (underworld; moon; &c.)! Well worth playing. I liked the original translation okay, but I think that this retranslation is really nice. Note that it is applied to a Japanese copy, too, which automagically decensors it from the US localization changes. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2623/ * For a weird, unique experience, check out FF4 Free Enterprise, which lets you apply all sorts of random hacks: http://ff4fe.com/

Final Fantasy V (JP, 1992): I loved FFV when I played it on PSX as part of Final Fantasy Anthology. Bizarre game spread across different dimensions, with a cool jobs system and a really fascinating story. I found a retranslation of it that is really nice and even fixes some bugs. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3499/

Final Fantasy VI (JP, 1994): One of the best Final Fantasy games ever made, IMHO. High technology fused with magic! Steampunk! Airships! All the things that make Final Fantasy a great series. I've looked at a lot of retranslations, and my favorite is the “Ted Woolsey Uncensored Edition.” It keeps a lot of the nuance and fun of the original Ted Woolsey script, but restores elements censored in the US. Again, everyone has different tastes on this, and there are a ton of FFVI translations, but this is my favorite. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/1386/

Fushigi no Dungeon 2: Fuurai no Shiren (JP, 1995): This is apparently a roguelike RPG for SNES. Sounds fun! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/483/

G.O.D.: Growth or Devolution: Heed the Call to Awaken (JP, 1996): This is a late-stage SNES game, and really one of my favorites. It is set in modern times, starts in Japan, and eventually takes your party all over the Earth. I don't think I have seen a sadder story in an RPG than this, or at least haven't very often. The writing is crisp, funny, and touching at the same time. I thought it had a great story, and it's really worth the many hours' play you will get from it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3515/

Ganpuru: Gunman's Proof (JP, 1997): This game is ridiculously fun. It's basically a Wild West clone of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It's an action RPG with all sorts of guns, and reminds me a lot of Link's Awakening too. Seriously, go play it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/622/

Gulliver Boy (JP, 1996, Kuusou Kagaku Sekai Gulliver Boy): This game is absolutely bananas. It's set in Renaissance times, and you are fighting against the might of Spain. Loved it! It's sort of an action RPG/platformer. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/365/

Hero Senki: Project Olympus (JP, 1992): Sounds like a fun JRPG! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5323/

Hourai Gakuen no Bouken!: Tenkousei Scramble (JP, 1996): Sounds like a weird RPG set in high school. Wacky. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1607/

Laplace's Demon (JP, 1995, Laplace no Ma): Really strange, Lovecraftian horror-style RPG. Haven't gotten very far in it but would definitely play more. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/308/

Lennus II: Fuuin no Shito (JP, 1996): Haven't played this JRPG yet but definitely would like to. No idea about the first game being translated or not. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1332/

Lufia & the Fortress of Doom (US, 1993): Here is a nice bugfix/enhancement for this oldschool RPG. Pretty standard RPG fare, but fun. I'm somewhere in the game but have no idea what to do now — one of the dangers of playing old games and not tracking your progress. The US version is fine, but this provides some fixes if you're interested. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/2744/

Madou Monogatari: Hanamaru Daiyouchi Enji (JP, 1996): I guess this is part of a series that's also on Sega Genesis and such. No idea what to expect from this game but it's a JRPG! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/386/

Magical Pop'n (JP, 1995): Frenetic, fast-paced platformer. It's pretty fun so far but I haven't gotten too far into it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/660/

Magna Braban (JP, 1994): Tried to get into this JRPG and really, really didn't like it, but YMMV. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/388/

Majuu Ou (JP, 1995): This had a very Castlevania-style vibe, but I also thought of Altered Beast. Yeah, Castlevania x Altered Beast is a good way to describe this. I played through it pretty quickly and had fun! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/649/

Marvelous: Mouhitotsu no Takarajima (JP, 1996): Another great late-stage SNES game, also reminiscent of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I've only played through a bit of it so far, but it's pretty fun. You play as a group of 3 kids trying to protect their island from pirates, and explore the secrets on the island. It has a lot of humor and playfulness to it so far. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2558/

Princess Minerva (JP, 1995): This game is pretty comedic and ridiculous at times, but basically gives you a party of 9 super-powerful women who are fighting to protect their kingdom. It is pretty light-hearted overall and just fun, and has an absurd amount of fan-service. Apparently it served as a prequel to an anime that came out later. Well worth checking out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3355/

Radical Dreamers (JP, 1996, Nusumenai Houseki): A fan-favorite fan-translation of the game that is largely a prototype/precursor of Chrono Cross (PSX). Fun, visual text-adventure game with multiple endings that follows Kid, Serge, and Magil (= Magus!) as they fight their way towards the Frozen Flame. Well worth playing at least once, and one of the first ROM hacks I'd ever heard about. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/403/

Secret of Mana (US, 1993): A fun action RPG that is pretty much universally beloved. I've had trouble getting into it myself but enjoy what I've played so far. This relocalization has bugfixes and decensoring, but I've noticed some graphical glitches that are problematic. If you're interested in checking it out... – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4324/

Seiken Densetsu 3 (JP, 1995): This is the third game in the Seiken Densetsu series (Secret of Mana being Seiken Densetsu 2). Haven't played it yet but hear it's great. I think this was just recently finally localized in the US on the Switch, IIRC, so that might deprecate this. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/440/

Slayers (JP, 1994): Based on an anime/manga with the popular character Lina Inverse, apparently this game is great. Had no idea there was an RPG based on it. Enjoy. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1494/

Song of the Angel (JP, 1994, Tenshi no Uta: Shiroki Tsubasa no Inori): I absolutely loved this JRPG gem for the SNES. It has a great story, tons to do, great music, and grinding is actually pretty fun. You can even parley with the enemies and build up that skill. It has some really nifty, unique features that I haven't really seen elsewhere. Do check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/822/

Star Ocean (JP, 1996): Another great late-stage SNES game, never released Stateside until on the PSP as Star Ocean: First Departure. Really enjoying the game and it has a sci-fi vibe that is pretty cool. Great music also. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/452/

Stories of Ihatovo (JP, 1993, Ihatovo Monogatari): I can't say enough how much I love this game. Based on the stories of environmentalist, poet, and author Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), this game is an adventure RPG set in the fictional Japanese area of Ihatovo. The area is based on Iwate Prefecture in Japan, where Miyazawa spent most of his life. The game has a really lovely, rustic, inviting atmosphere, and you really start to care about the people you meet and interact with. There are no enemies in the game, no combat, just exploration, talking, gathering information, and helping people. I absolutely loved this game and would happily play it again. After I learned about the game, I read many of Miyazawa's stories and really enjoyed them as well. Don't be thrown off by the slow pacing of the game, it is well worth playing. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/4116/

Tales of Phantasia (JP, 1995): Released just before Star Ocean, and developed by basically the same team, this is an excellent action RPG. The Tales series has a ton of games in it, apparently, but I've only played this one. Check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2335/

The Magical World of Wozz (JP, 1995, Choumahou Tairiku Wozz): One of the best RPGs, period, I've played in years. You play as three kids from Earth who were transported through a magical portal to the MAGICAL WORLD OF WOZZ. Great graphics, great music, and there is a crafting and vehicle-building system that is really fascinating. I had a great time playing through it, and was sad to reach the end. Play it!! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/689/

Treasure of the Rudras (JP, 1996, Rudra no Hihou): This is one of Squaresoft's last RPGs for the SNES, and one of the last SNES games in general. This reminds me a lot of FFVI and some of the best Square RPGs, and has influences from Indian mythology, among others. Apocalyptic countdown to the world ending. Crazy stuff and very fun. Great soundtrack. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/669/

Treasure Hunter G (JP, 1996): Another late-stage SNES game by Square, this time a strategy RPG. Well worth checking out, and tons to do. It wasn't my thing but you might like it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/490/

Villgust (JP, 1992, Kouryuu Densetsu Villgust: Kieta Shoujo): Haven't played this game yet but it should be good. This is the SNES sequel to the earlier NES game (see above). – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/494/

Wonder Project J: Kikai no Shonen Pino (JP, 1994): This sounds like a really strange RPG. Apparently you are a human controlling a robot and issue commands to the robot. I don't know what to make of it, but it was made by Enix, and they made some generally-amazing RPGs back in the day. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/497/

4.0. GAME BOY (ORIGINAL) (GB) GAMES

4.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

Great Greed (US, 1993): Known in Japan as Bitamīna Oukoku Monogatari (“Vitamina Kingdom Story”), this RPG is environmentally-themed and seems interesting so far. I haven't played much of it, but it's a little-known gem. Not sure if there's a fan-translation out there, but there is an English localization, so yeah. I have no idea why it is called Great Greed though.

Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters (US, 1991): A Game Boy sequel to the original Kid Icarus. I've tried to play through some of this but wow, like the original, it is ridiculously difficult.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (US, 1991): A Game Boy sequel to the original Metroid. This game is ridiculously difficult as well. I think they did a re-release of this on either the 3DS or the Switch but can't remember.

Mickey's Dangerous Chase (US, 1991): I used to play this all the time as a kid. It's one of the typical Disney platformers, and really difficult at times, but I got endless enjoyment out of it back in the day.

Pokemon Blue/Red/Yellow: I would like to check these out as I hear they're great. I'd really like to check out Lavender Town, too, as I hear it's really creepy (at least the theme).

Super Mario Land (US, 1989): One of the first games released for the Game Boy. I was about to say the pack-in game, but that was Tetris. This game is still great, but there are some problematic things about it (especially the Chai Kingdom music, which is very stereotypical Asian-sounding music). For a great podcast on the problematic stereotypes of “Asian” music in games, check out Singing Mountain's episode The Problem with Chai Kingdom (https://singingmountainpod.com/episodes/37-chai-kingdom-asian-cliche)

Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins (US, 1992): The followup to Super Mario Land. There is actually a really nice upscaled, reimagined “DX” version on RHDN that is worth checking out: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/3784/

Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3 (US, 1994): Wario is the star of this game! Super weird.

There aren't too many more I'd like to recommend here for Game Boy, but there are a few fan-translations.

4.2 FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Cave Noire (JP, 1991): A Game Boy roguelike. Worth checking out! – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1707/

Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru (JP, 1992): Also known as For the Frog the Bell Tolls, this is an action RPG for Game Boy. I am not sure if I can get into the battles, as they're kinda strange and really random. It has a Link's Awakening vibe overall. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1623/

Kininkou Maroku Oni (JP, 1990): AKA Oni Chronicles -Genesis-, this is a RPG for Game Boy. I don't have a lot of info on it, so check it out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2295/

5.0 GAME BOY COLOR (GBC) GAMES

5.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare (US, 2001): Apparently this is a reboot of the original Alone in the Dark. Might be interesting.

Hype: The Time Quest (US, 2001): Sounds like a weird time-traveling RPG. Not sure if this will be as a good as Chrono Trigger (few things are).

John Romero's Daikatana (EU, 2000): Apparently entirely different from the FPS original, and more of an action-adventure game. Sounds like it might be worth playing.

Magi Nation (US, 2001): Weird RPG based on a collectible-card game (think Pokemon).

Metal Walker (US, 2001): Apparently another Pokemon-style RPG.

Power Quest (US, 1998): A RPG/fighting mashup.

Quest: Brian's Journey (US, 2000): I think this is related to the absolutely horrible N64 RPG Quest 64. Hopefully it's better.

Revelations: A Demon Slayer (US, 1999): GBC remake of the Game Boy game, which is apparently the first in the Megami Tensei Gaiden: Last Bible series. Hopefully it's good.

Survival Kids (US, 1999): Konami RPG that sounds a lot like the SNES JRPG Marvelous. (There is a sequel in the fan-translations section as well).

The Nations: Land of Legends (EU, ???): I don't know what to make of this RPG but it's cool so far.

Wario Land II (US, 1998): Really weird followup to Wario Land. I put this in the GBC section; it was originally on Game Boy but has a GBC enhanced port.

Wario Land 3 (US, 2000): Followup to Wario Land II.

Winnie the Pooh: Adventures in the 100 Acre Wood (US, 2000): Sounds like fun.

5.2. FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Grandia: Parallel Trippers (JP, 2000): A side story to the Grandia games on PlayStation, apparently. Worth checking out. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1649/

Nushi Tsuri Adventure: Kite no Bouken (JP, 2000): AKA Fishing King Adventure: Kite's Adventure, sounds like a fun RPG. I guess there is an earlier game in this “series” on the NES as well but not sure about it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1570/

Survival Kids 2: Dasshutsu! Futago Shima (JP, 2000): sequel to Survival Kids on GBC. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2330/

Sylvania Families: Otogi no Kuni no Pendant (JP, 1999): Sounds like a fun, cute little RPG. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1068/

6.0. GAME BOY ADVANCE (GBA) GAMES

6.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

Castlevania: Circle of the Moon (US, 2001): I remember playing this on the console itself way back when. It's pretty fun like most Castlevania games.

Metroid Fusion (US, 2002): Great GBA Metroid game. Definitely play it.

Metroid: Zero Mission (US, 2004): A remake and remaster of the original Metroid. This is my favorite way of playing the original Metroid, as they really polished it up and made it more accessible.

6.2. FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Meisou no Rinbukyoku (JP, 2004): AKA Fullmetal Alchemist: Stray Rondo, this is a RPG based on the anime/manga somehow. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2882/

Magical Vacation (JP, 2001): This sounds like a great RPG. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2662/

Mother 3 (JP, 2006): A Japan-only sequel to the SNES classic EarthBound (aka Mother 2). Haven't gotten around to playing it yet. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1333/

Oriental Blue: Ao no Tengai (JP, 2003): No idea what to expect from this JRPG. Looks cool though. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/2035/

7.0. SEGA MASTER SYSTEM GAMES

7.1. FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Phantasy Star (JP, 1987): This game (and series) is apparently fantastic. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/1069/

8.0. SEGA MEGA DRIVE (GENESIS) GAMES

8.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

Ecco the Dolphin (US, 1992): I've only played a bit of this but it's pretty cool so far. Great soundtrack as well.

Ecco: The Tides of Time (US, 1994): The sequel to Ecco. Haven't played it yet.

Shining Force (US, 1992): I think this is a sort of strategy RPG but not sure. I've played a little of it. Apparently the series is great.

Sonic the Hedgehog 1/2/3: Any of the Sonic games are great. I recently played through 2 and loved it.

Sonic 3D Blast (US, 1996): Strange 3D version of Sonic. Worth a play.

8.2. FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Madou Monogatari I (JP, 1996): Sounds like a fun dungeon-crawler JRPG. Apparently it's part of a larger series. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5388/

Phantasy Star II (JP, 1989): Sequel to the original. Sounds great. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/72/

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom (JP, 1990): Another sequel and sounds great. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/3549/

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium (US, 1993): Another sequel. Apparently this relocalization is great. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4171/

9.0. PLAYSTATION (PSX) GAMES

9.1. OFFICIAL ENGLISH LOCALIZATIONS

Alundra (US, 1997): Haven't checked this one out yet but it's a classic.

Azure Dreams (US, 1997): Sounds like another great PSX RPG.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (US, 1997): This is a RPG/platformer hybrid version of Castlevania and I took way too long to play it finally.

Chrono Cross (US, 1999): Fantastic sequel to the SNES classic Chrono Trigger. The fanbase was split over this one but I really love it.

Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (US, 1994): Fighting game, pretty fun.

Disruptor (US, 1996): strange FPS. Haven't played too much of it. It has really cheesy, laughable live-action cutscenes in it.

Einhänder (US, 1998): A weird side-scrolling space shooter by Squaresoft!

Final Fantasy VII (US, 1997): I absolutely love this game. I'll link a fan-translation/relocalization down below as well if you're interested.

Final Fantasy VIII (US, 1999): Another excellent entry in the FF series. Not everyone likes it but I really enjoyed it; it didn't hurt that I was 15 when this came out.

Final Fantasy IX (US, 2000): I honestly haven't played this, and it's kind of the “black sheep” of the series. Or at least one of them.

Grandia (US, 1997): I hear this game is great but haven't played it yet.

LSD: Dream Emulator (JP, 1998): One of the weirdest games I've ever played. The creator based the game on themes from a dream journal he kept for 10 years or so. It's wonderful and terrifying and amazing. The wiki at https://dreamemulator.wikia.com/ is well worth checking out if you're playing through it. I think they also have a link to a PDF of the book it's based on as well but not sure.

Lunar: Silver Star Story (US, 1998): A remake/remaster of Lunar: The Silver Star (1992, Sega/Mega-CD). Many purists say this remake is a poor localization of the original, but I have nothing to compare it to, so I really enjoyed it.

Lunar: Eternal Blue (US, 1998): A remake/remaster of the game of the same name (1995, Sega CD). Great game as well.

MDK (US, 1997): Strange third-person shooter game. I played it on the computer, and the PSX version is fine too.

MediEvil (US, 1998): A medieval swords & sorcery, undead-themed platformer. I remember playing a demo and really enjoying it. It's pretty fun.

Metal Gear Solid (US, 1998): Great PSX continuation to the Metal Gear series.

N20 (US, 1998): A tunnel shooter game with a great soundtrack. Loved this back in high school.

One (US, 1997): Really weird third-person shooter.

OverBlood (US, 1997): Sci-fi-themed survival horror game. Sounds great.

OverBlood 2 (US, 1998): Sequel to the above game.

Suikoden (US, 1995): One of my favorite RPGs, based on the Chinese novel Water Margin (aka Outlaws of the Marsh, or Shuǐhǔ Zhuàn). It's a SNES-style RPG and has a cast of 108 (!!) characters, most of them playable! – Here is a bugfix patch from RHDN: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4405/

Suikoden 2 (US, 1998): The excellent sequel to Suikoden. – Here is another bugfix patch from RHDN: https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/4398/

Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness (US, 1996): This game sounds great. It's an RPG where you set up traps for NPCs.

Threads of Fate (US, 1999): Action RPG by Squaresoft. I liked it when I was younger but played it recently and wasn't as enthused.

Valkyrie Profile (US, 2000): Norse mythology-themed RPG where you play as a Valkyrie. I've played some of this and really enjoyed it so far. It's also a tri-ace/Enix production, so it's solid.

Wild ARMs (US, 1996): SNES-style, oldschool RPG with sci-fi and Western themes. Great soundtrack, great game.

Wild ARMs 2 (US, 1999): Haven't played this yet but would like to!

Wipeout (US, 1995): Cool PSX racing game that I liked a lot back in the day.

Xenogears (US, 1998): I absolutely love this RPG. Classic Squaresoft. Sci-fi, giant robots, religion, nanotechnology, it's got everything! The Xenosaga series on PS2 are “spiritual successors,” as is the Xenoblade series.

9.2. FAN-TRANSLATIONS

Brave Prove (JP, 1998): No idea if this is good or not, but I'm up to try it. – RHDN URL: https://www.romhacking.net/translations/5340/

Mizzurna Falls (JP, 1998): An open-world adventure game. There's only an unfinished English translation available at https://cdromance.com/psx-iso/mizzurna-falls-english-patched/

THE END (for now!)