38 – Dungeon Master
Developer: FTL Games
Initial Release Date: 1987
Why it’s one of the best RPGs: Might and Magic’s peer was Dungeon Master, a similar dungeon-explorer game based off of Dungeons and Dragons. Released a year later, it brought new elements to the genre that are responsible for the game’s popularity over its predecessor. First, there was the obvious graphics upgrade–the monsters, in particular, were detailed and often featured different facial expressions and poses. Then there were the mechanics. Unlike other games in its genre, Dungeon Master‘s characters bolstered their skills by using them repeatedly, rather than collecting EXP and leveling up. Dungeon Master popularized the mechanic, and it’s one that remains in some popular titles to this day.
Overall, Dungeon Master’s claim to fame was its presentation: between the polished (for their time) graphics, the well-placed sound effects, and the detailed UI, Dungeon Master thoroughly impressed. It, like others of its time, did not succeed in its sequels as the genre progressed further, but it remains memorable as a strong root of the RPG family tree.
Next: 37- Xenoblade Chronicles