The first console RPG I ever played was a true underdog of the genre. One that I’m not entirely sure how many people have even heard of. The name of this little gem? Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday on the Sega Megadrive.
I came across it by accident in FutureZone, a games shop in Swansea that later became Electronic Boutiques and is now Game (and a crap games shop to boot). I was probably only about 11-12 but despite being surrounded by more obvious hits such as Sonic, I risked it. It was a big risk considering how infrequently I was able to get a new game, but I gave it a shot. It was an extremely good call as I loved everything about it.
It all felt so different from anything else I had played. The only real RPG I had played beforehand was Lords of Midnight on the Commodore 64 (another great title) but this was completely different. It had so many options. Right from the start you could choose from five different classes and six different races, all with their own pros and cons which really did affect the options you had as the game unfolded.
You could explore vast planets (at least they felt vast at the time!) and explore solar systems in your spaceship. Besides land based combat, there was ship to ship combat which felt quite tactical. Most amazingly, it offered dialogue choices that really did affect what happened next. All things that we take for granted from any half decent RPG but it felt exciting and new at the time. It was the accumulation of minor things that made it feel so much fun. The weapons available that actually made a significant difference. The fact you were in complete control of your 6 characters. The tactics involved in fighting such as flanking your enemy being the best option. The various events that you could participate in that weren’t essential to the main storyline.
I played it a few years ago and although some of it felt incredibly dated (mostly the graphics and music), I still enjoyed it.
Damnit I need to dig out my Megadrive.
Screw the 360 and PS3; I want to play Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday!