Super Mario RPG turns 25 years old in 2021, and it has us reflecting on how the game was such a unique change of pace for the platforming franchise. Of course, we started to wonder what other franchises hold a lot of untapped potential as a role-playing game.
Question: Shack Chat: What game would you like to see get the RPG treatment?
Mortal Kombat - Ozzie Mejia, Leveled Up
Alright, this is going to sound wacky, but roll with me on this.
It's a series that's as far apart from an RPG as you might imagine. However, it's a franchise that has a deep lore, it's one that's filled with defined characters, and it's one that could slide into the RPG genre with a mixture of real-world physical attacks and supernatural magic abilities. Let's not act like Mortal Kombat hasn't experimented in the past with games like Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks trying out different genres. Now picture the NetherRealm fighter taking a total side step into turn-based RPGs, where parties can level up their special moves, perform combos using something like the Bravely Default system, and finish off enemies with Fatalities. You can even institute a permadeath system where the enemies can perform Fatalities on you.
Does a turn-based Mortal Kombat RPG sound weird? Sure it does. You know what else sounded weird? A turn-based Yakuza RPG and that worked out pretty well, didn't it? Don't knock it until you see it. I think this could work.
Halo - Donovan Erskine, Better at Halo than Sam
With Bungie taking so much of the groundwork and what it learned from working on the Halo series and applying that to Destiny, a Halo RPG would just make sense. This universe is sprawling, with loads of lore and locations to explore. Let me create my own Spartan, go on missions, upgrade my armor. It would be kind of like Destiny, but fun!
Ms. Pac-Man - Blake Morse, Could go for some fruit and a pretzel right about now
I thought about this question for quite some time and it finally dawned on me that my favorite game of all time has somehow never got the RPG treatment. The Pac-Family of games has seen just about every iteration of a gametype that you can think of, but somehow it’s never had a real RPG experience. If I had my druthers it would be a classic JRPG experience, something along the lines of Final Fantasy 4 mixed with a little Dragon Quest. Doing battle with creepy ghost-based creatures and finding magical items to equip while on a journey featuring all the fine Pac-Folk could be a real blast if it was done right. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if this happened now that I’ve put the idea out in the world.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! - Chris Jarrard, Has better opinions than other staffers
Deciding on a game that meets the criteria for this week’s question is tough since literally every new game that comes out has RPG mechanics stuffed into them whether it makes the game more fun or not. I’m gonna go with Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! because it hasn’t yet gotten the treatment and it was pretty much the only video game universe that I found myself interested in learning more about the characters’ back stories and motivations.
It should be set up where players create their own pre-teen amateur boxer and begin rising through the ranks. Across the entire world exists a variety of training facilities and coaches that could potentially allow players to upgrade their power, stamina, chin, etc. Generic opponents could be generated in every region to pummel on before confronting the top boxers in that specific location. Bald Bull would be the boss in Istanbul, Great Tiger would control Mumbai, and so on.
Players could work through dialogue trees disguised as media interactions and also slowly assemble a posse that acts as a fight entourage as well as provide passive and active buffs like party members in conventional JRPGs. Conversing with NPCs in each global location could reveal narrative clues about the boss boxer that give them the chance to be more than the offensive stereotypes that they were portrayed as in the original NES classic. But also, the development team should create many more new offensive stereotype opponents to keep consistency with the rest of the series.
Halo - Sam Chandler, More Halo, all the time
You know what? Give me more Halo. Give me Halo in every genre you want. Let’s see what works and what doesn’t. There’s already an RTS game that was surprisingly good. There’s been a twin-stick shooter and there’s also been a Spartan in a fighting game. Why don’t we see what a Halo title would look like as a fully fledged role-playing game? Give me quests of all kinds (the weirder, the better), armor upgrades, different weapon parts, and crafting. I think Infinite might scratch some of this itch, but I would love to see what Halo as an Elder Scrolls title would look like.
Hitman - Bill Lavoy, Co-EIC
There are times when Agent 47 gets to decide how he kills a target, or whether he wishes to complete an optional objective, but that’s about the extent of the decision making in the World of Assassination trilogy.
Over the last three games, there have been a handful of times where I just didn’t feel like eliminating one of my targets, or felt like eliminating someone else without losing my Silent Assassin rating. I could have lived without eliminating Penelope Graves during the Freedom Fighters mission from Hitman (2016), and I would have loved to have taken Alexa Carlisle up on her offer to eliminate her daughter-in-law.
I think it would be cool to include more situations where Agent 47 can choose to be the unforgiving killer he was designed to be, or to dial it back a bit and show more of his human side. I mean, that freedom of choice was sort of the narrative for Hitman 3, so it’s not too far fetched.
Grand Theft Auto - Josh Hawkins, Give me more, Rockstar
While the Grand Theft Auto series already gives you a good bit of freedom, imagine how great an RPG set in that world could be. Most of the games already have a set narrative and path for the characters, but imagine if you could choose whether you wanted your character to become a cop, or a drug dealer, or anything else in the world.
Sure, you can already do this a bit in roleplay servers that have popped up for GTA over the past several years—and believe me, I’ve spent more than my fair share of time in those—but being able to play a singleplayer game that lets you experience that same level of character freedom would be amazing. Tack on some deep RPG systems and different skills, and boy a new GTA game looks better and better every second.
Ghosts ‘n Goblins - TJ Denzer, Wants to throw lances for crit hits
The recent dive into Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection got me thinking, man that universe is good on so many levels, and it has so many RPG elements built into it already. It’s got fantasy, magic, unique weapons, power-ups, and characters that people like. Sure, you might start as Arthur with his lance, but how fun would it be to get a skill that allows him to transform into his golden armor and do big damage? How cool would it be to win a fight against the deadly Red Arrermer and then gain him as an ally in your battles?
There’s also magic throughout the Ghosts ‘n Goblins games, much of which is featured in Resurrection. Cast a lightning spell for groups, cast a doppelganger spell to do multi-hit damage to a target, etc. Heck, you could even go into the lore of the Gargoyle’s Quest and Demon’s Crest games for Arremer to give him the power of changing forms to do different things. Ghosts ‘n Goblins is quite a difficult platformer, but I would enjoy some kind of JRPG turn-based battle adventure in which we could enjoy its lore without being destroyed at every turn.
… Although I do think it would be funny if there was an option to make every single encounter as difficult as a hidden superboss in other JRPGs, just to keep that history of nail-biting difficulty alive.
Kirby-Steve Tyminski, Stevetendo show equipped
Mario RPG had its 25th anniversary this week and it got us thinking about role playing games. So much so that we started to think what non role playing game series would we like to see get the RPG treatment. Hear me out on this but it would be interesting to see a Kirby RPG. There have been times where you could equip different weapons like in Kirby Super Star but it would be neat to see what other things could be done. Equip different ability hats for different skills or recruit different buddies/baddies for your team. Use some cake or a super tomato during battle to heal your whole team. I think it would be cool to see an actual Kirby role playing game.
Splatoon - Bryan Lefler, is a kid now, is a squid now.
The debut of Splatoon 3 teased a much larger single player adventure with a gigantic open desert area showcasing an upturned Eiffel Tower. This tease got me thinking about the world of Splatoon and how incredible it could be for almost any genre of game. An RPG set in the far future with sentient sea creatures that emulate ancient humans has got to be intriguing in the least. Splatoon games utterly exude with style and charm and I would love to see some of that cross over into a more deliberate and slower paced game.
Whether it’s an action-RPG, a turn-based traditional romp, or even a detailed text adventure, Splatoon has the flexibility and appeal to match any role playing game and could move millions of units in the process. Nintendo has crafted a unique and special universe in Splatoon and it’s just ripe for experimentation in order to stay fresh.
Donkey Kong - Greg Burke, Head of Video
Donkey Kong deserves the same Mario RPG treatment. I mean he wasn’t even playable in Super Mario RPG. The sheer audacity of it makes me physically ill. Give me more Donkey Kong please.
Those are all of the games we’d love to see get the RPG treatment someday. Got a game you’d like to see RPG-ified? Let us know in the Chatty below!
Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What game would you like to see get the RPG treatment?
Turn based first person shooter is such a great idea for lower power systems. Last year's Black Dawn Rebirth was a solid attempt at the idea but fumbled the ball a little too much with how it handled the division between real time and turn based. Space Hulk (the first one on PC) and Hired Guns also had really neat takes on it