One of the best things about working at Game Informer is our extensive library of classic and contemporary games, affectionately known as The Vault. In addition to being an invaluable resource for our everyday work, it’s a great place to find inspiration. The other day a few of us were talking about how RPG openings have grown increasingly bombastic over the years and how long it takes before players actually get to take control of these games. That got us thinking: Was it much better in the days of, say, the SNES? The system was known for a solid roster of RPGs, and we thought it would be interesting to pick up a few of the games and record the game introductions. In addition to getting a completely unscientific sense of intro length, it would be a fun chance to see how primitive – or awesome – these early stories used to be.

This isn’t meant to be a comprehensive look at the genre on the platform – and it isn’t – but we think it’s an interesting retrospective of the early days of console RPGs.

Brain Lord
Publisher: Enix
Developer: Produce
Release: August 1994

“One day, the Dragon Warriors were drawn into a great battle. Many lost their lives.”

Brain Lord was developed by Produce, the studio that created the SNES RPG 7th Saga and platformer Super Adventure Island. Brain Lord’s story involves a hero drawn from a family line of heroes, tasked with finding a mysterious tower. The game is notable for a couple of reasons. First, it featured a lot of math-centric puzzles. Additionally, it eschewed traditional leveling-up mechanics in favor of a system that focused exclusively on earning gold and buying better gear.

Breath of Fire
Publisher: Squaresoft
Developer: Capcom
Release: October 1994

“Wake up Warrior! Disaster has struck! We need the power of the Dragon!”

The Breath of Fire series took place in a world with anthropomorphic animals as well as humans who could transform into dragons. It was developed by Capcom and featured character designs from Keiji Inafune. Years later the save system from his Dead Rising game generated controversy for the way it handled character death, though it was borrowed from the PS2 game Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter.

Breath of Fire II
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release: December 1995

“Pray to God! Praise God! You must become God’s strength……”

The sequel may have been set 500 years after the events of the first Breath of Fire game, but it was released in North America barely a year after its predecessor. Breath of Fire II’s story centers around a false church and its idols, which was pretty strong stuff for the time. Other than that, the most notable thing about the sequel is that Capcom published the game itself in North America, instead of Squaresoft.