If you are a fan of RPGs then you are probably a fan of the developer known as Square-Enix (or to its most loving fans, Squeenix). However, you might not remember that SquareSoft and Enix used to be two completely separate companies, hence this list of the 10 Best Enix Games. Oddly enough, they made far more games back when they were separate than they do now, including some of the most loved titles of the NES, SNES, and PS1 eras. These are the 10 Best Enix Games in our opinion, from before the two companies merged. We only included one game per franchise, though, to prevent the list from becoming bogged down by Dragon Quest games.
Kicking off our 10 Best Enix Games is the first in the much renowned “Quintent Trilogy.” Quintet was a developer that was under Enix’s umbrella back in the 16-bit days. They made very few games, but their entire three RPG repertoire is much loved by JRPG fans everywhere. Soul Blazer combined action adventure gameplay with an interesting world building system, much like Dark Cloud and other games of the like did after it. It’s a cult classic and a game you should certainly check out if you haven’t yet.
Bust a Groove wasn’t exactly the most loved rhythm game in existence, but it was certainly a big name title when the only other competition it was facing was games like Parappa the Rapper. It combined rhythm gaming action with fighting game mechanics, an interesting mashup for the time. Before DDR exploded onto the scene, Bust a Groove was where you went for rhythm gaming excellence, and, yes, it was published by Enix, a company more well known for it’s JRPGs.
Many JRPGs of the SNES age told tales of spikey haired youth rising up against a god or some sort of horrible magical warlord. Not the case with Robotrek. Robotrek was about building robots and having them fight for you. In a way, it had more to do with Pokemon and other monster raising games that it did traditional RPGs. Robotrek was also developed by Quintet, but it’s not considered to be part of the Quintet trilogy because of its vastly different game mechanics.
Illusion of Gaia, on the other hand, is a part of the Quintet Trilogy, and is perhaps the most well-known of the trilogy in America. It was less of a traditional RPG and more a straight action game, prioritizing Zelda-like puzzles over character advancement. To be fair, the gameplay wasn’t much to write home about, but the story was ahead of its time. It was one of the first games to bring the RPG struggle beyond the fate of a few kingdoms.
E.V.O. The Search for Eden
E.V.O. is another fantastic Enix game that very few people have played. It was a hybrid RPG, Platformer, and Evolution Simulator. As you made your way through levels you accrued evolution points, which would allow you to alter portions of your body in a variety of different ways. You would slowly grow from a fish, to a lizard, to a bird, to a mammal… if you liked. Of course, you could also become a dragon, a human, or any other variety of strange mismatched beasts if you were more of a Dr. Moreau type of player.
It’s impossible to talk about the 10 Best Enix Games without mentioning the most well-known Enix franchise in existence: Dragon Quest… or Dragon Warrior as we know it here in the U.S. In fact, Dragon Warrior VII was the last Dragon Warrior game to come out before the franchise reverted to its Dragon Quest name when Square and Enix merged to become Square-Enix. It used the power of the PlayStation 1 quite well, melding together DQ’s cartoony sprite based nature with the proto-polygonal graphics of the time. For that reason, it continues to stand at one of the most fan favorite Dragon Quest games in existence.
Valkyrie Profile is another amazing cult classic game of the PS1 era that few people played but tons of people loved. It had a great battle system that involved timing strikes to create combos, an interesting campaign that changed the characters you could recruit on each playthrough, and a wide open world that could be almost completely traversed as soon as the game started. Valkyrie Profile broke every JRPG rule in the book, and that’s why it is so spectacular.
If there’s anything Enix knows how to do, it’s break the mold. Actraiser was a combination 2D platfromer and city building simulation! We sure haven’t seen another one of those since the SNES’s time. By defeating powerful monsters in each 2D stage, you were given the ability to manage a growing populace in a top down overhead view. Then, by building over monster lairs and excavating ruins, you were able to get more magic and power-ups for 2D levels. It was a brilliant formula and we would love to see it come back.
Yes, the second slot on our list goes to a game that never even came out in America. Terranigma, quite frankly, is one of the best RPGs of all time. With a brilliant story, interesting world building mechanic, immersive environments, and plot twists that just wrench your heart right out of your chest, Terranigma is easily the best game of the Quintet trilogy. The only reason why we know how good Terranigma is, is because an English version did come out in PAL territories.
Star Ocean: The Second Story
Topping our list of the 10 Best Enix Games before the company merged with SquareSoft is Star Ocean: The Second Story. The first Star Ocean was a phenomenal game for the SNES that pushed the boundaries of what the console was capable of. It never came out in America, but its sequel, The Second Story did, and it was extremely well received. Not only did the game let you play as two completely different main characters, the story also played out in two completely different ways. It tied in the fate of a fantasy world to the fate of Earth and the galaxy around it. It meshed together technology and magic in interesting ways. It was likely the best Star Ocean game ever made, and conversely, the Best Enix Game ever made.