The fantasy genre has always held particular sway over various corners of geek culture. (In fact, some might say that J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' trilogy gave birth to what we consider fandom today.) Ancient lands populated by fearsome beasts, wizards, warriors and mystical objects have provided fertile landscapes of escapism for countless books, movies, and, of course, video games. Fantasy has set the stage for some of the most popular gaming franchises around today, from the 'Dungeons & Dragons' inspired origins of 'Final Fantasy' and 'Dragon Quest,' to the orcs and elves of 'World of Warcraft
' and the 'Elder Scrolls
' series. Today, we'll delve into dank dungeons, climb gargantuan beasts, and slay countless enemy hordes in a quest to quench our thirst for fantasy gaming.
' puts players into the metal boots of a knight charged with defending himself against ever deadlier waves of enemies. Using the arrow keys for movement, space bar for attacking, and the Z and X keys for weapon selection, players must defeat deadly bats, dragons, cyclops and other beasties. Aiding knights in their task are a variety of weapon-based power-ups, from tridents to swirling fireballs, as well as health-replenishing hunks of meat and score-improving coins. Thanks to the game's cute pixel graphics and great chip-tune soundtrack, dodging the scores of enemies and magical projectiles, spears, and boulders is an exercise in pint-size fantasy fun, not futility.
' takes its inspiration from 'Shadow of the Colossus
' (which we consider to be one of the best games ever made, so certainly not a bad start), somehow managing to transplant that game's humbling sense of scale into two-dimensions. Players are made to destroy the Great Golems of Old, a difficult feat due to the fact that said golems are of mountainous size. In order to defeat them, players must first scale them, which involves daring 'leaps of faith' between rocky outcroppings, vines, and platforms found growing upon the golem's hides. (Hint: the way forward is often the way back.) The game's incredibly fun, death-defying platforming levels (thankfully made stress-free due to prodigious checkpoint placement) successfully convey the tremendous magnitude of the golems. (Level three features one of the longest freefalls we've ever encountered in a game.) Players never quite get a full view of what they're climbing until they've reached each beast's head and ended its life with a swift sword attack.
'Great Dungeon in the Sky'
'Great Dungeon in the Sky
' combines RPG and platforming
elements with a 'Pokemon'-esque character collection mechanic and slathers it all in an appealing 8-bit aesthetic, creating a game whose whole is far greater than its constituent parts. You begin by choosing one of nearly 400 (yep, four hundred
) unlockable characters -- each with their own unique traits and weapons -- to use in your quest to defeat four dragons (and one ultimate baddie) found interspersed throughout the titular Great Dungeon. The arrow keys dictate movement, and the Z, X and C keys trigger weapons and other abilities. (Adventurers can place ropes and climb them, Yeti Mages can freeze their enemies, and Tabby Cats can, well, bite.) The dungeon itself consists of a series of short, cavernous, platform-based sections filled with a plethora of enemies, each of which becomes a playable character upon defeat. While level layouts often repeat themselves, the ability to change characters between each section provides an addictive impetus to keep playing. (It's easy to forget the end goal of the game when collecting and playing as new characters is as fun as it is.) Great Dungeon also offers some fun replay rewards, such as an "HD" mode, as well as the ability to unlock even more.
'Synopsis Quest Deluxe'
'Synopsis Quest Deluxe
' is a humorous send-up of classic 8- and 16-bit console RPG tropes. The game is broken up into a series of 25 mini-games which lampoon gameplay elements from Japanese console RPGs (such as the 'Final Fantasy' and 'Dragon Quest' series'), while also combining to form a classic 8-bit inspired fantasy odyssey. Mini-games range from merely creating your character, to "acting like a hero" (where players must ransack a young boy's home, and steal everything that isn't nailed down, as is traditional for console RPGs). Those familiar with the material that 'Synopsis Quest' mocks will find much to enjoy, although for those not in on the joke, we suggest playing through some classic 'FF
' and 'DQ
' iterations first.
One word can be used to describe 'Epos
': epic. 'Epos' is easily one of the biggest flash games ever made, a grand-scale RPG that tells the tale of former soldier Tradda d'Bolve and his quest to hunt down a rogue admiral. The story plays out upon an expansive world map, where players can travel linearly between various points of interests, such as shops, inns and battles. Battles are where the majority of the gameplay takes place, as players manage skirmishes against a variety of creatures in the manner of a traditional RPG (taking turns to choose whether to attack, defend, or use magic, skills or items). Battles earn you experience points as well as talent points, which can be used to upgrade character attributes and specialty skills, respectively. The game's mechanics are truly as deep and expansive as any 16-bit RPG; for those jonesing for an epic RPG fix but unable to bring their DS to work, 'Epos' does the trick nicely.