Here it is! Part One of my Easter Double Whammy!
Over the years, many RPG series have been redefining themselves with each new installment by creating a new world, with new characters, events, and situations. The main similarities are typically game mechanics. While this adds variety to their franchise, there’s something that can also be said about a series that’s main titles are all set in the same world. When done well, continuity with events and characters can make for wonderful surprise twists during the story.
Here are some of the game series’ that did a fantastic job of fitting in the same world.
.Hack// and .Hack//GU
While “The World” is an online game with millions of players, it would have been very easy to involve a whole new set of players getting involved when the series shifted from IMOQ to G.U. This did not happen for the most part. Most of the characters in G.U. were players of the original game and were involved in its events. In a lot of cases, it does mean a lot of research online to determine who many of the players were in the past game. Some were relatively obvious too. (Cough…Endrance…). There were also character connections with the anime installments. CyberConnect2 did a wonderful job of creating a well connected world, spanning two online games, and it should be commended for that.
Baten Kaitos and its prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, were an excellent example of how a prequel should be made. While the game’s main events happened the way that they did, the prequel did a wonderful job of exploring the history of some of the main characters from the past games and how they cemented their positions for the main game, such as how Geldoblame came into power, and how the cursed god, Malpercio, came to be. This is a hard to get series for the GameCube, and there’s a good reason for it.
The Ar Tonelico trilogy was set on the world of Ar Ciel. The world was governed by three control towers, each with an administrator. Each game focused on a different tower, and its surrounding region. This series allowed characters to return, and gave good reasons within the story for their return.
Not only did the Ar Tonelico series have a single world story, another game series, known in japan as the Surge Concerto series, has a direct link to the Ar Tonelico games, acting as a prequel. Gust took a single world, and added a separate dimension to it, with a strong link. An excellent job.
If you’re looking for a horror twist set in the early to mid 1900s, then Shadow Hearts is the series for you. The first two games are tied in to the story of Yuri, a man with the power to take on the form of monsters. The third game, Shadow Hearts: From the New World, is set more than a decade in the future, and is about the consequences of an unanswered plot point of the previous game. With three games, the series did a good job tying up all the loose ends and creating a complete experience for players.
It’s also good to mention that Shadow Hearts is also linked to a lesser known RPG for the PSOne called Koudelka. While it is a very loose connection overall, it’s one of those gems worth checking out if you get a chance.
Lastly we have the one series that probably deserves to be on this list more than any other. The Suikoden games have had a fantastic continuity with five main titles, all set in the same world, but either different continents, regions, and timelines. What makes this memorable is that the games were not in sequential order by date of events.
The first three games spanned two decades in the story, with recurring characters, either all grown up, referred to, or with their children appearing in later games. Suikoden IV took place more than a hundred years before the events of Suikoden, and included a fantastic easter egg for players who have played the first game. Suikoden V took place no more than ten years before the events of the first game, but turned a very minor character from Suikoden II into a central plot focus.
I have been anxiously waiting for Suikoden VI to be announced, but so far, Konami has released two spinoff games set in an alternate universe. Suikoden Tierkreis was the only game to be localized.
With so many series’ listed here, there is hours and hours of gameplay and setting. Much like a good book, being able to expand an existing setting is just as rewarding for video games.
Next week, we look at something very unique: Sounds. See you Then!