Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham's Budget RPGs You Might Have Missed
Budget RPGs
You Might Have Missed
1Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime
2Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra
3Rondo of Swords
4Orcs & Elves
5Brave Story: New Traveler

There is only one thing that beats picking up an RPG you'd never considered before and falling in love with it and that is finding it cheap. This list I've compiled contains RPGs that you should be able to find used and cheap. It may take some looking, but I was able to find all of these locally for $19.99 or less. While they might not be blockbuster hits, for under $20, I cannot recommend them enough.

My first pick is Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, the cutest little DS game there is. Whether you are a Dragon Quest fan or not, this is a quick, fun little romp. While the exploration parts of Rocket Slime are rather mundane, the tank battles always brought a smile to my face. In a time where I'm more and more unlikely to replay RPGs, this is one I'd likely turn to first if my well of new content ran dry.

For everything the developers did wrong with the first two games in the Xenosaga series, they made up for it with Xenosaga Episode III: Also sprach Zarathustra. If you played the first two and gave up, I can't say I blame you, but Episode III does a lot right. Though many will feel the need to sludge through Episode I's extra-long cutscenes or Episode II's broken battle system, I would highly recommend spending a day (week) watching the videos on YouTube to catch up and just skipping to this. Had the pacing this game offers been consistent throughout, the series would have gone over much better. Regardless, if you can find this one cheap, get it. It's fun.

Anyone who knows me knows that I never balk at the chance to express my love for Rondo of Swords. This game is the very definition of gameplay over graphics. The concept is simple. This is a tactical RPG where you move through your enemies to attack instead of moving next to one and hacking away. It takes lots of planning and patience to progress through this little title, but each battle was worth it. Even those that had me angry, I was willing to keep at them until all enemies were dead at my characters' feet. The challenge might be too much for some, but for under $20, it's a great game for anyone looking for something different. It's a shame the game sold so poorly in Japan, as we're not likely to see another one.

Orcs & Elves is an RPG I would have never even considered paying full price for back when it was released, so I mostly just ignored it. Being a port of a cell phone game didn't help anything, but it was mostly the high price tag weighed against the amount of game packed into the cart. It just didn't seem worth it. Well, thankfully the game is now cheap, so I can happily say that it is easily worth $10. It's a simple little RPG, but was fun throughout.

Last, I had a tough time deciding between this and Half-Minute Hero, but in the end I chose Brave Story: New Traveler. It was a game that really took me by surprise in 2007 and now that it's less than $20 I will continue to praise it. It's the epitome of a traditional Japanese RPG, but it does so many little things right. It's just a simple, straightforward adventure with lots going for it. Anyone looking for a fun PSP RPG, Brave Story is that game.

- Michael "Macstorm" Cunningham
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