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Thread: Shortest Turn-based RPG's

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    Default Shortest Turn-based RPG's

    What are the briefest turn-based (traditional, standard) RPG's? That goes for any console such as Master System, NES, Genesis, 32x, N64, DS, 3DS, etc. Yeah, ports from an older console to a newer one count too. So what RPG's are there with a main story-line that is, say, fewer than 10 hours long without speed-running by skipping all of the text? (Let's not count incomplete games such as alphas nor any games that aren't worth the time to play them.) Pertinently, among the short RPG's, what are the best ones?

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    I hope there are some replies to this. I'm curious as well now.

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    I'm curious too, since I often factor in how much of a commitment a game is when picking what to play next. I'm coming up blank myself, though. I don't think I've completed any RPG in fewer than 10 hours. Granted, I tend to take my time and am often a bit of a completionist. I've beaten some RPGs in 10-15 hours that could probably be beaten in under 10 if I just skipped the optional stuff. Some of the shortest I've beaten are Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES), Arcana (SNES), Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure (PS1), End of Serenity (PSP), and Magic Knight Rayearth (GB).

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    There was a homebrew RPG for the Gameboy Color which I played on a multicart ages ago called Little Fantasy, it was short and simple but I enjoyed it. I'm sure it's floating around if anyone wanted to look for it.

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    Chrono Trigger is very fast, 15 hours at most. You can easily finish in under 10 with new game +.

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    Chrono Trigger was always more around 20 hours for me, but that was with doing all the optional quests and such.

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    Dragon Quest 4 and 6 are all around the 15 hour mark iirc. DQ5 might be around the 30 hour mark though, but if you have the time it's great too.

    The first three DQ games on the Nes are all short, same with the first 3 Final Fantasy games.

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    Sorcerer's Kingdom on the Genesis is pretty short. It took me 11 hours to clear, and the first hour of that was spent muddling around because I was trying to engage the wrong group of enemies and tackle an area I wasn't supposed to do yet.

    Otherwise, don't roguelikes fit the bill? Cave Noire is made up of a bunch of bite-sized pieces that can be cleared in well under an hour, sometimes only 10-15 minutes, though the game as a whole will probably take 15-20 hours. No story to speak of, though.

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    While they're short compared to modern RPGs that can take upwards of 100 hours, I've always found the earlier Final Fantasy games longer on average than their contemporaries. I'm too lazy to dig out my copies to check my completion times, but I know Final Fantasy II (the PS1 version on Final Fantasy Origins) took me over 30 hours to beat, and the DS remake of Final Fantasy III took me around 50. Maybe the Famicom versions move at a brisker pace, but I can't see them being sub-20-hour experiences for me, let alone sub-10-hour. I played the NES version of the first Final Fantasy, and as best as I can recall, the game doesn't even have an in-game clock, but I'm sure that game took me at least 20 hours.

    As for Dragon Quest, the grinding necessary to progress in the NES version of the first game adds to the clock, but I know I blew through the GBC version, where you get more EXP and cash. I very well may have spent fewer than 10 hours on that version. Granted, I was going into it with the experience of having already played the game on NES, and I was using the maps from the NES version to quickly progress through the dungeons. I only ever played through Dragon Quest II via the GBC compilation. Not sure exactly how long that one took me, but I know it was a good bit longer than the first. At least 15-20 hours, I'm sure.

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    It's not "classic", although it's made to look like it (it plays just like something out of the NES or SNES era): Breath of Death VII was a pretty short turn-based RPG.
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    Oh, I've thought of one. There's an RPG called 'Guardia Quest: Feast of the Mad King' which is one of the games that appears on 'Retro Game Challenge' for the DS.

    I've never ended it but I imagine it's pretty short because all of the games on 'Retro Game Challenge' are bite sized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    As for Dragon Quest, the grinding necessary to progress in the NES version of the first game adds to the clock,
    .... I still managed it in less than ten hours, and that was WITH stopping to grind for things I knew I didn't need (the Magic Armor and the Flame Sword, the best armor and weapon that can be store-bought... you don't need them because once you have Sleep you can actually just go right to where Erdrick's Armor is and hope to get lucky).

    Also Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord can be shockingly short if you find the shortcut to the final levels and get stupidly lucky, though I wouldn't recommend going down there without the Tiltowait spell.

    The first three Ultimas are also stupidly short. Honestly unless you're going in completely blind and discovering the game without any outside help, the first Ultima: The First Age of Darkness can be done in less than an hour.

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    Final Fantasy IV (II) is actually really short and can be completed in around 10 hours.

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    Breath of Death 7 and Cthulu Saves the World on Xbox 360 and PC are the shorest I've played, however these are both very good games.

    For the first hour of Breath of Death 7 I didn't realize you could dash by holding cancel, so that may reduce the time a little. But I finished all of Breath of Death 7 in four hours, I finished all of Cthulu Saves the World in eight hours. Sadly these are digital only, I'd buy them in a second if they got some sort of bundled release.

    *edit*

    Not short, but Cosmic Star Heroine while decent did not live up to the expectations I had of it based on these two games.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeverThe7th View Post
    Final Fantasy IV (II) is actually really short and can be completed in around 10 hours.
    I can't say I agree with this one either. At least in the sense that, even if if it can be completed that fast by speedrunners and experienced players and such, I think it's highly unlikely that a first-time player who doesn't want to rush and/or follow a guide the whole time will have it beat remotely that fast. I took nearly 40 hours when I played the SNES version.

    With super popular RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, I think, when people talk about how long they take to beat, they're often thinking in terms of how long their nth replay would take them. A lot of people forget what it's like to be a first-time player when they've been playing a game over and over since childhood. Well, that and I think some people just want to brag, given that speedrun culture has made people think that the quicker somebody gets through a game, the more impressive it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    I can't say I agree with this one either. At least in the sense that, even if if it can be completed that fast by speedrunners and experienced players and such, I think it's highly unlikely that a first-time player who doesn't want to rush and/or follow a guide the whole time will have it beat remotely that fast. I took nearly 40 hours when I played the SNES version.

    With super popular RPGs like the Final Fantasy series, I think, when people talk about how long they take to beat, they're often thinking in terms of how long their nth replay would take them. A lot of people forget what it's like to be a first-time player when they've been playing a game over and over since childhood. Well, that and I think some people just want to brag, given that speedrun culture has made people think that the quicker somebody gets through a game, the more impressive it is.
    I agree 10 hours might be a bit short for a first time player, but Final Fantasy 4 is fairly good at letting the player know where to go. If it's not completely obvious which rarely it is, the game actually tells you exactly where to go or you can only go pretty much to one location from where you're at. I honestly don't think that this game should clear 20 hours even for a first time player.
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    The game is pretty straightforward, but I meant following a guide more so for making a beeline for everything, so you don't waste time exploring the world map, traverse through dungeons in the most efficient way possible, etc. The kind of stuff that people naturally do when replaying a game they're already familiar with that a first-time player wouldn't do without guidance.

    Like I said, I take my time and do optional things too, so people can definitely beat games quicker than my times. But even HowLongToBeat.com, which I find averages on the shorter side, such that I always expect to take longer, puts Final Fantasy IV as a 20+ hour game for the main story alone:

    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3499
    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3501
    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3500

    And while 20-30 hours may be short compared to modern RPGs, it's pretty typical for 16-bit RPGs, so I wouldn't say RPGs that long really belong in a topic asking for the shortest turn-based RPGs, especially when Nz17 was asking for fewer than 10 hours.

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    This is an excellent topic and something I could benefit greatly from so I look forward to what others say.

    I think a first time play-through of less than 10 hours is a tough one, but as far as 20 hours I can think of a couple.

    The original Suikoden, Arc the Lad I (Tactical) and Panzer Dragoon Saga I beat in under 20 hours. On PDS I also did most of the optional stuff as well.

    A second play-through having some knowledge of where to go and what to do you probably do any of these around the 10 hour mark or faster if you were speed running.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie2B View Post
    The game is pretty straightforward, but I meant following a guide more so for making a beeline for everything, so you don't waste time exploring the world map, traverse through dungeons in the most efficient way possible, etc. The kind of stuff that people naturally do when replaying a game they're already familiar with that a first-time player wouldn't do without guidance.

    Like I said, I take my time and do optional things too, so people can definitely beat games quicker than my times. But even HowLongToBeat.com, which I find averages on the shorter side, such that I always expect to take longer, puts Final Fantasy IV as a 20+ hour game for the main story alone:

    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3499
    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3501
    https://howlongtobeat.com/game?id=3500

    And while 20-30 hours may be short compared to modern RPGs, it's pretty typical for 16-bit RPGs, so I wouldn't say RPGs that long really belong in a topic asking for the shortest turn-based RPGs, especially when Nz17 was asking for fewer than 10 hours.
    The problem with how long to beat, is that the people that post there have times that are way above even the first time I play the games even fully completing the title. I'll give a recent example. I played The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel as what you'd call full game plus extras. Now, I didn't get all of the hidden side quests but I did get a lot. I got every single non hidden side quest however, and I'd also have talked to every person in every town atleast once, however after the next event occured, even though dialogue changes, I didn't talk to them again beyond the first four chapters.

    Now, I started the game on the hard difficulty, not normal or easy, and despite the game being on hard mode. Going into new game + on Nightmare and saving at the very first opportunity, I'm at 80 hours and less than 10 minutes. So the time frame that I finished the game on the initial hardest difficulty while spending a considerable amount of time doing fluff stuff while completing everything the game gave you except all the hidden side quests. The thing is, The Legend of Heroes Trails of Cold Steel is very very very story driven, so much of that time is very unavoidable.

    Now, another example is speedruns. I don't speedrun, but on how long to beat, it shows Suikoden's speedrun time at 12 hours. Now, I've actually did a playthrough of Suikoden from memory, getting all 108 stars, and I beat it in 9 hours and 30 minutes. Now, the kicker here is that 20 minutes of that time is being stuck on Juppo's trick room which is completely RNG. So one section is just me getting on that board, it failing to send me a cross FOR OVER 20 MINUTES, yet I still did a faster time than how long to beat. Which is why I don't put anything at all into the times of that website. All the times on that website are excessive.

    The first video shows my not being able to get across for 20 minutes straight, the second video is saving at the last save point with over an hour since my most recent save, so it's not like there's any save scumming going on. It's just a cut the videos in smaller videos.
    https://youtu.be/8TYttgTanKk?list=PL...kevwWfLr&t=717
    https://youtu.be/BGLO3e2cGWY?list=PL...kevwWfLr&t=590
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    No mentions of Super Mario RPG yet? Well under 10 hours, that one.

    AD&D Heroes of the Lance NES is apparently trivially short if you map out the maze, but is also apparently one of the worst NES games, so it is probably best not to bother.

    Maybe the various episodes of On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, the Penny Arcade RPG? I've been thinking of going back and finishing those one day.
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