I’ve been into RPGs, of the pen & paper variety, since before I got into video games, so I’ve always had a soft spot for computer RPGs too. The problem is, so many computer RPGs have a tendency to simplify things too much, making them more like traditional video games rather than the numbers-heavy simulations of most RPG (at least the early ones).
I enjoyed Phantasie 3 – The Wrath of Nikademus at the time I played it, on the Atari ST. It sure didn’t make any efforts to hide the complexity of the numbers by trying to show it by graphical visualizations. Like the character sheet above, it’s all numbers, and I quite like that
It got a bit more visual when you where travelling on the roads. You could move your group of adventurers around, and sometimes you would encounter enemies, and have to fight it out. Though the enemies wasn’t displayed on the map, you just got a message box telling you about the attack, before taking you to the battle screen.
When you encountered a city, there was various things you could do, like train or learn spells, or recruit more members for your party. This was done by simple menus, which worked quite well.
Battles was turn-based, and at the start of your turn you would set up which action each of your characters would perform during the battle.
Battle would then be resolved, letting you know who had been damaged and if any of the enemies had been killed. Your own characters could be injured in various ways, including having limbs chopped off!
There was also dungeons to explore, and that worked pretty much the same way as when travelling along the roads (but without the cities, obviously).
It’s rare to see RPGs with this level of complexity these days. Focus seems to have shifted to fast-paced action and pre-defined storylines, with less interest in detailed simulations and oldschool RPG mechanics. Which is a shame, because I’m sure that there’s quite a few of us out there who really likes them, and would love to play some newer ones…