The Treasure Trove of Hidden Gems: Nintendo’s Obscure RPGs

I’m getting some huge Cardcaptors flashbacks from this cover art.

When it comes to RPGs, I tend to consider myself a “connoisseur” of them. I play a ton of RPGs, both old and new. It’s my favorite genre, and it’s no surprise that some of my favorite RPGs have shown up on Nintendo consoles. However, a ton of them are fairly obscure. This is probably because Nintendo doesn’t advertise a lot of their RPG games, usually focusing on making commercials for the big-name games.

As a result, most RPGs end up becoming extremely obscure. Today, I want to discuss some forgotten (or obscure) RPGs on Nintendo consoles. Let’s start off with probably one of the most well-known, yet rather obscure Nintendo RPG series: Custom Robo. What is Custom Robo? Well, it’s game that is part action-RPG and part fighting game.

The main draw of the Custom Robo series is that you can swap out various parts of the robot and essentially create your own variations. The game lets you tweak the colors, swap out weapons, and even change different bodies for your Custom Robo to use. In my opinion, the Gamecube game is probably the best iteration of the franchise. It was darker than most kids games, deconstructed elements related to the “Monster Collecting” genre, and even had some really cool designs. Plus, that opening cut-scene was badass!

Custom Robo Arena, which is the DS game, wasn’t as good. While Custom Robo was deconstruction of kids anime, was Custom Robo was just straight-up homage to the genre. Designs bordered on the more cartoon-y designs of the N64 games, and the more realistic designs of the Gamecube game. It played almost identical to the Gamecube version, though lacked a lot of the grit and edge that made that game feel so unique. While I can say that enjoyed Arena, it’s still not what I would consider one of my favorites.

Custom Robo is definitely an obscure game, but was more well-known at the time it came out. One game that was pretty much destined for obscurity since day one was “Fantasy Life”. Fantasy Life is an action RPG that focuses on both exploration, and its unique job system. Unlike most RPGs, jobs in this game function similarly to how they would in real-life. An example of what I’m talking about are things like being a chef and cooking food for people, or being a miner and mining for rare materials.

Fantasy Life had charming writing, nice visuals, a good sense of humor, and a massive surplus of content to indulge in. It got good reviews and a lot of people have fond memories of this game. So, why did this game sell like hot garbage? Well, it lacked advertising. Did you see any adverts for the game online? How about any commercials, or trailers? I didn’t even know the game existed until I saw it in a “Best of 2014” list!

The game came out near the end of the year, and managed to get zero attention from the press. So, despite its positive press, nobody really bought the game. As a result, the sequel was released exclusively in Japan and ONLY on mobile phones. Still, Fantasy Life isn’t as obscure as “Summon Night: Swordcraft Story”. A spinoff of the semi-popular Summon Night series of games, Swordcraft Store was a series of action RPGs with a unique twist.

In this game, you play as a Craftlord’s apprentice, a young man tasked with creating swords and using them in combat. The game is a simple story, though manages to present its characters in a unique and interesting way. I ended up getting attached both my hero and his chosen “Guardian Beast”, especially due to how interactions were written. On top of this, I loved how the player’s character would earn new sword recipes after defeating enemies. You could only get the best swords in the game by breaking the weapons of your enemies.

They made 3 different Swordcraft Story games, but only 2 made it out of Japan. Even then, no one really bought them. This comes down to a lack of advertising once more. I get that Nintendo can’t advertise every single game to come out for their consoles, but it was still a shame this became so obscure!

The last game I want to touch on is probably the most obscure one: Solatorobo. I’ve talked about this game a couple times before on this blog, so I’ll keep this one short. Solatorobo is a spiritual sequel to a game called Tail concerto, and even takes place in the same universe. In this world, all the beings inhabiting it are either dog or cat people.

You play as Red, a “Hunter” who completes missions for cash. The game puts you into his fuzzy paws, and sends you all over the world to do menial side-tasks and save it from destruction. The game has an amazing soundtrack, beautiful graphics, and fantastic gameplay. The game revolves solely around you grabbing your enemies and tossing them at each other. It’s simple, but fun. On top of this, the game’s amazing lore and well-written story-line kept me engrossed throughout my entire play-through.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on just a few of the many forgotten RPGs released for Nintendo consoles. I highly recommend tracking these games down, if you can. I do realize that some of these games are pretty rare, though. So, you may have to rely on emulation to play some of these. Regardless, I think you guys will have a good time with any of the games I mentioned. Anyways, thanks for reading and have a great day!


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