With 176 recruitable NPCs that have their own schedules, each encounter is a new journey, a narrative spawning one of the eponymous Radiata Stories. Humorous, charming, with gorgeous cell-shaded animation, this RPG, developed by tri-Ace and published by Square Enix, introduced one of the most revolutionary mechanics in RPGs−kicking. You could kick almost anyone or anything, often leading to duels, sometimes to treasure, and revealing the main character's greatest power: his indestructible feet. Here's what at least one reader had to say:


I'd add one more to the list: Radiata Stories for the PS2. That game was a breath of fresh air. One of the few PS2 original IP JRPGs which got me hooked from start to finish. It wasn't too serious on itself, but it had a lot of touching moments in addition to the humor. Recruiting various characters rocked, and the tweaked Tri-Ace battle system was great to play with. Soundtrack was jazzy and addictive; it's the only Tri-Ace game I know of that wasn't composed by Motoi Sakuraba, but Iwardre still managed to make excellent music for it which rivals Sakuraba's stuff.



The Japanese name for Crystalis was a tad more dramatic than its American counterpart: "God Slayer: Sonata of the Far Away Sky." The main protagonist, Mesia, was a scientist waking from 100 years of cryogenic sleep after a nuclear war destroyed the planet. It was the first exposure to steampunk many had before they knew what steampunk was. While some have called it a Zelda clone, its mix of fantasy and science fiction made it a unique hybrid, just as much inspired by Miyazaki as Miyamoto. Emperor Draygon wanted to take over the "Tower's" weapon systems to control the whole world (or at least what was left of it). He didn't reckon having to deal with the power of a futuristic Einstein who would combine the powers of Wind, Fire, Thunder, and Water to crush him. Don't mess with science.


PresidentObama himself had this to say:

My old school vote would be for Crystalis on the NES. Probably the only Zelda clone I have ever played that was at least as fun as Zelda, if not more so. The game had (for the time) a truly original and compelling story where you explored a land of magic that had come after a land of technology had been destroyed by (it's implied) nuclear war. It also had a really playful sense of humor among all the dark happenings.


Rogue Galaxy

While nothing less than the galaxy is at stake in Rogue Galaxy from Level-5 (the fantastic developers behind games like DQ8 and Dark Cloud), we became addicted to Insectron Tournaments. What was it about those tiny bugs that intrigued us so much? This is an action-RPG, not a turn-based one. So the combat, with customizable weapons and the Revelation Flow system for upgrading abilities, made for a more dynamic type of battle. Jaster Rogue proved RPGs could buck the trend of static fights and go rogue.


Or as Darastryx puts it:

Holy crap I forgot about this game. To this day, one of my biggest regrets is allowing my ex to keep my copy when we broke up, in exchange I got FFXII. Looking back on it now, almost eight years later, I'm pretty sure I got the wrong end of that deal. Because copies online still go for pretty high price. I'm not even sure why I liked it, it was pretty trope-ridden game that played out kind of like Star Wars: A New Hope did. I'm not calling it bad, it didn't really do anything new. But it did do what it did well, and for all of it's tropiness, it was very charming in it's theme and universe.


Skies of Arcadia

Phantasy Star with pirates and airships. Sounds awesome, especially as they're from the same development team. But many found the game to be extremely difficult. To put it more bluntly, it kicked our asses. With numerous random battles and unforgiving difficulty, the main reason this game wasn't on the original list was because we didn't get very far. Time to brush off the old Dreamcast, bust out the memory card, and takes off for the skies one more time in the hopes of getting just a little bit further.


Matthew Eaton

If they just pulled the ship battles from Skies of Arcadia and made that a game, I would be in heaven. That is what really drew me into the game was that nice little wrinkle.


Secret of Evermore

Secret of Evermore is kind of like a mix of Earthbound, Secret of Mana, and a bit of Ed Wood, but even that doesn't do it justice. It's one of the "best boy and his dog" games around. Your canine partner both mauls enemies and sniffs out alchemy ingredients as you uncover a curious conspiracy involving virtual realities. The game is smart enough to poke fun at itself with B-movie references, but has beautiful visuals that make its style very distinctive. We'd honestly like to know more about the Secrets Behind Evermore as it was the only Square game designed and developed in North America.


Matthew Maldonado

Secret. Of. Evermore.



Vagrant Story

The connection Vagrant Story has with the world of Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy: Tactics was why it didn't immediately come to mind when we thought of RPGs that needed sequels. On top of that, Matsuno, director of most of the Ivalice-based Square titles, wanted to create a new type of game that hybridized multiple genres, absorbing RPG elements as much as platforming aspects. Players took notice as the game felt completely original, from its complex combat system where you could target different limbs to its narrative rife with political machinations and, of course, its sepia-toned art style influenced by French architecture.



I wish there was a sequel to Vagrant Story. It was an action rpg from Square with a deep and unique combat system, dark and interesting environments and a great story. Probably my favorite RPG from the PS1. Yes, I liked it more than any of the Final Fantasy games on that platform.


Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic

We used our Commodore 64s for a lot of things — things mostly involving ninjas and the Summer Olympics in which many joysticks were destroyed. What we should have been doing was exploring space. Sentinel Worlds allowed for bringing space raiders to justice. Though, if space exploration was more your thing, apparently you could ignore the plot entirely and spend your time journeying through the stars. This reader has enlightened us:


Here are some classic RPGs from the Commodore 64 era that I loved: Centauri Alliance. Sentinel Worlds. Bad Blood. Space Rogue. Mars Saga.

Some may have had spiritual sequels, but I'd really love a modern take on exploring those specific universes.


Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale

This is the game that made "Capitalism, Ho!" the catchphrase to be reckoned with in 2010. Unfortunately, it was a game we completely missed. It's an idea that's truly fascinating: you're a playable merchant in an RPG, a role usually left to NPCs. There's adventuring, too, and we are reminded of our fondness for Dragon Quest IV's Torneko. We clearly missed something special as per this reader's testimonials:


I'd love another Recettear.

I ended up getting games like Weapon Shoppe de Omasse and Hometown Story. No, no no no no. Argh, they make me want another Recettear.



Never would I (Peter) have imagined I would actually see a game I worked on on someone's wish list for obscure RPGs they'd like to see sequels for. I was beyond thrilled when a few readers mentioned Gladius, the strategy game from LucasArts. I was a technical artist on the game, and it was one of the best teams I've worked with, even though it was more than a decade ago. I loved the variety of characters and creatures, as well as the sprawling narrative. Tactical RPGs were all the rave, and the cutscenes were works of art. I still get a kick out of watching playthroughs of the game as I see many of the characters I worked on. A sequel would be a dream come true.


Alex H

I always loved Gladius from lucasarts. The position strategy was brilliant. And the classes and specific characters. Seriously, if you completed the right side tournament, you recruited a freaking Yeti. Wish I could find a good port, but that really needed a sequel.



Being a Private Eye in the galaxy must be tough. Being a Private Eye down on luck and having to work in the slums of the galaxy must be even tougher. Uncovering a plot that could destroy the universe? Talk about bad luck turned completely sour. This third-person RPG never got the sequel that was hinted at, leaving the universe in complete limbo. Here is a reader who would love to help save it:

Seriously Mike

I would add Anachronox to the list. A great merge of JRPG mechanics and Western storytelling, with a tongue-in-cheek sci-fi setting and a blatant sequel hook in the outro. Sadly, Ion Storm shuttered shortly after releasing it.


Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura

Arcanum sounds like it has it all. Character creation spanning the likes of various races including elves, humans, dwarves, orcs and others. Various methods of gameplay affected by players' choices through negotiation, bribery, theft and combat. All of this set in a fictional world in which the kingdoms are going through an Industrialization Era, with political factions and lands divided. It sounds complicated, modern and ancient all at the same time. As a reader pointed out:



Arcanum. If you are unfamiliar, imagine the original Fallout's set in a Tolkienesque fantasy world during it's industrial revolution instead of the post apocalypse. A key feature of the game was that magic and tech interfere with each other, and it was possible be a master wizard, a gunslinger, a bomb expert, or a mad scientist.


Jade Empire

We need more RPGs with martial arts, with settings that are inspired by Imperial China, and that make use of their own, uniquely-created languages. A game where a light path and dark path may sound really uninspired but instead focuses on the merits, honor and varied interpretations of both of these choices. So, really, why is there no sequel to this yet? It's a sentiment that has been echoed by another:


I'd like to see a sequel to Jade Empire. Or barring that, at least an HD remake.


Last Remnant

Square Enix sure knows how to name their characters. Rush Sykes is one such character, living a world divided into multiple city states and inhabited by four very distinct races. When each city has some sort of ancient, magical and powerful 'remnant' of its own, wars and control of power are not surprising to its narrative. It's a game that some hope will have a sequel - difficult bosses or not:


I loved Last Remnant I would love for SE to do something with it, I found it on steam in a sale and the story, the number of characters, the music, even the new style of gameplay and the world really impressed me more than FF XIII (well except for the mine, it was a little dull, but it was a mine, you can't do much with it...), some boss were maybe a little hard.


Live A Live

Here's a game we've always wanted to play based solely on the fact that Yoko Shimomura composed the soundtrack. Knowing that the game also has seven chapters with unique characters for each and eventually wraps their plot lines together? Well now we want to play it even more! So much so that we would like a sequel already just by reading this passionate response:


One of my favourite RPGs of all time has to be Live A Live, an obscure Japanese gem that never saw a Western release, so I only got to experience it thanks to the tireless efforts of the SNES fan translation scene (Seriously, Gideon Zhi and his Aeon Genesis group basically defined my child/teen years. Thanks, man.). The scope of the tales it told was breathtaking, some of the mechanics were years ahead of their time, and the battles were... well, just okay. Seriously, though, I can count the number of stories that've blown me away like that on the fingers of one hand. It's one of the few lengthy JRPGs I can say I've played to completion more than once. So of course, it didn't get a sequel. Because there is a god, and he hates us.



Oh, the things some games are made of. Opium, silk, arms and everything illegal nice. It's a game where trading in the Far East involved dangers from pirates and hostile forces sent out by astute businessmen. It was also apparently quite addicting, as one reader can attest to:



It was indeed inspired by the book, but does not have any sort of official connection. I played it to death on my Apple II c in the 80s. It's a basic turn based trading game, but it sure inspired lots of fantasies in my childhood brain.


Here's a browser based version. Don't say I didn't warn you when 6 hours have gone by.


From having indestructible feet, to unlocking the secrets of science and magic, and battling pirates to traveling the universe (and maybe trying to save it too); these are the game worlds that we once explored. These unique experiences tugged at our heart strings and nestled themselves fondly in our memories, more so because they were the ones we'd secretly discovered, titles that weren't as well known as the Final Fantasy's and Dragon Quest's. A sequel would be both tribute and exploration to what we loved about the originals.


Thank you to Kotaku readers for their insightful comments and sharing their knowledge of Obscure RPGs with us.

N. Ho Sang has made contributions to Entropymag and SF Signal. She is currently a regular contributor to Talk Amongst Yourselves, rambling about life and RPGs under the username Zarnyx. She can also be found on Twitter under the title @Zarnyx.


Peter Tieryas is a VFX artist who just worked on Guardians of the Galaxy and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2. His novel, Bald New World, was listed as one of Buzzfeed's 15 Highly Anticipated Books and Publisher Weekly's Best Science Fiction Books of Summer 2014. He scribbles about RPGs at tieryas.wordpress.com.