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5 RPGs with unusual, odd, and just plain weird premises

Not all RPGs are dungeons and dragons

Role-playing Games, or RPGs, have been around long enough that the terminology has entered into the culture consciousness. Originally, the world of fantasy, dragons, warriors, and mythical lands was the perfect setting, and Dungeons & Dragons came to be. Inevitably, this style of gaming made the leap to the video game console, and kept the same theme.

But as time went on, boundaries were pushed and creators tried innovative and new frameworks and settings for the game style. With Mega Cat Studios upcoming fantasy RPG WrestleQuest being released soon, now’s a great time to look at some of the more unusual RPGs that have utilized the game format and left their mark (or been forgotten) in the gaming field.

5. Harvest Moon

Most RPGs include some common tropes like exploring an above-view world map, randomly encountering enemies, and subsequently fighting those enemies in turn-based combat. Harvest Moon makes this list because it rejected this entire premise.

This was the first super-popular farming simulator! Instead of crawling through dungeons, your hero crawled through dirt to harvest corn and removing weeds. Animals like cows and chickens had to be tended to, brushed, and taken care of or they’d die. It wasn’t much, but it was honest work.

4. Earthbound

Earthbound, originally released in June of 1995, might be a traditional turn-based JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game) because you walk around maps, talk to people, buy things at shops, etc. You encounter enemies, and everyone takes turns attacking one another.

The gaming landscape, while making fun of America in its made up ‘Eagleland’ setting, is filled with sci-fi shooters and fantasy adventure tropes turned on their heads. You’ll fight a sentient puddle of vomit, there’s the ‘Pencil Eraser’ which removes inexplicable statues of pencils, and the player suffers through fully depressing visions of family and friends. Plus, you’ll meet a man who turned himself into a dungeon.

It’s not an easy one to find these days, but its worth the hunt for the epic odd-ness.

3. PONG Quest

PONG Quest is a strange take on the RPG genre. The player takes on the role of an adventurous… paddle. An anthropomorphic paddle, but a paddle non-the-less. But this paddle will take on challenges in a journey through numerous themed dungeons populated with all manner of evil paddles, puzzles, and of course, balls. Can you unlock the mystery of the Spooky Door?

This odd turn-based quest involves precious loot collecting, multiplayer mayhem battles, and upgrades to become the best paddle in the PONG universe. Looking very much like the classic Adventure, Atari does latch onto the nostalgia by giving personality to one of the original video games.

2. FNaF World

FNaF World takes place in a bizarre world inhabited by enemies and various characters from the Five Nights at Freddy’s series. There are different biomes, which feature snowy plains, forests, a graveyard, a lake, a carnival, and cave systems. Plus an inner dimension known as the “Flipside,” that enables travel to unreachable locations.

But what makes this one particularly unusual is that it took the terrifying characters from a horror franchise, made it oddly kid-friendly, threw in turn-based battles, elements of Minecraft, minigames and boss fights. It survived through two updates before being quietly retired.

1. Tony Hawk’s Existential Nightmare

Tony Hawk’s Existential Nightmare is an amazing game simply because it exists. Gamers play as Tony Hawk, sort of, as he boards and skates around his neighborhood and does his best to nails tricks, more or less.

While not exactly an RPG in that the keyboard controls are similar to the timed-response mechanics of DDR, players can accumulate points for just skating forward as you hit the appropriate keys. There’s some very weird elements like Tony Hawk flying with eagles around mountains, jumping on rooftops, and such. The game can be beaten in half an hour.

But the real challenge comes from the decisions and choices you have to make, that’s where it gets VERY meta and will pull your brain apart if you’re not ready for it. I won’t spoil it, because you need to check this one out.

WreslteQuest gives us yet another odd premise for an RPG

Just from the graphics of the expected baddies alone, WrestleQuest look like it will be quite a lot of fun. The current trend of using a pixelated style to invoke nostalgia might be reaching its limit, but this game luckily seems to utilize it well. Just from the trailer, it’s clear Mega Cat has managed to tap into the classic style of Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling from back in that day and a create a gripping storyline both in and out of the ring.

WrestleQuest hits the mat on Tuesday, August 8, for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC.

Are you a fan of any of these oddities? Did you seek them out after reading this? And are you excited for the worlds of professional wrestling and RPGs to collide in WrestleQuest? Let us know in the comments!

David Maddox

Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been enamored with pop culture his entire life. He has been Star Trek characters at theme parks, the Riddler in a Batman stunt show, and Norman Bates at Universal Studios Hollywood. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University and has written dozens of science-fiction related articles for various websites as well as having been a featured contributor to the Star Wars Insider, the Star Trek Communicator, and a regular columnist for SciFi Magazine. Acting professionally for over 10 years, he has done a variety of ads for Apple, Disney, and Microsoft to name a few. His self-produced short films have won awards on at least two continents.
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