Parasite Eve (1998)
- Developer: Square
- Publisher: Square
The success of Final Fantasy VII fuelled Square's development efforts on the PlayStation, and 1998's Parasite Eve was viewed at the time as a massive step forward for the gameplay of the company's titles. Aside from the modern-day setting, which in itself was a departure for the company, the game was also an RPG with no separate battle screen - all battles took place in the main environments, a twist to the RPG mechanic which Square hadn't used since Chrono Trigger on the SNES.
As it turned out, Parasite Eve was more of a side excursion than a major change of direction. Square's games remain firmly rooted in fantasy worlds, and subsequent RPGs from the firm returned to turn-based, separate-screen battles - until this year's Final Fantasy XII, anyway. However, that doesn't change the fact that Parasite Eve was an extraordinary and hugely enjoyable game - and exactly the kind of RPG which haters of spiky haired boys with massive swords could get their teeth into.
The plot, based on a novel by Hideaki Sena, had an entertaining Japanese horror implausibility about it, and was crazy as a bag full of angry cats. The concept of a "rebellion" by the mitochondrial creatures which are present in every human and animal cell gave rise to a Resident Evil style caper around New York, and an excuse for superb showdowns on locations like the Statue of Liberty and the Chrysler Building - throw in a tomboyish, no-nonsense heroine, pre-rendered graphics that still look great and a stunning soundtrack, and you've got yet another Square title we'd love to see hit PlayStation Network sooner rather than later. Leave the sequel, though; unlike the first game, it was released in Europe, but unlike the first game, it stank.