It’s the name of the blog, but it’s admittedly not an acronym with which most people are familiar.
So let’s talk about that here. Some weirdos out there would argue that it’s pointless to discuss the topic, but if you ask me, that’s a dismissive, sophistic way of thinking about things. Coming up with something approximating a working definition – especially where no such definition currently exists – can be very useful, not to mention an interesting discussion in itself.
Anyway, I did a video on this subject awhile back, so I’ll link that here in case you’d rather listen, because my definition of SRPG still hasn’t changed.
Historically, SRPGs borrow from two genres: RPGs (Role Playing Games) and TBSes (Turn Based Strategy games). In short, a RPG is characterized by level ups or other such character progression, and a coherent story; meanwhile, a TBS emulates the tabletop, wargame feeling and has you control many units on a grid-based battlefield in a turn-based fashion. Thus, when you combine the two genres, you get a SRPG: a game which features character progression, a coherent story, and turn-based, grid-based gameplay. This is my working definition of a SRPG. It needs to have all four qualities and if it doesn’t, I don’t consider it to be a SRPG. The very first game which pioneered this fusion is Fire Emblem 1: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, released in 1990. It’s an immensely important game which invented an entire genre, similarly to how Black Sabbath pretty much invented the genre of Heavy Metal.
There are some games which do not fit my criteria, yet are still classified by some people as SRPGs. Valkyria Chronicles and Growlanser are two such series. I don’t consider them SRPGs because they both lack grids, and they both include a focus on real time elements. Nevertheless, I consider them “SRPG-adjacent” – games that have enough in common with the genre that I feel justified in featuring them on SRPG Academy. Conversely, King’s Bounty is a franchise which arguably isn’t a SRPG to some people, yet I firmly classify it as such, so I cover it (and with great jubilation, I might add; those games are great!)
On the other hand, games such as Secret of Evermore, Sonic the Hedgehog, Herzog Zwei, and Chess are very clearly not SRPGs, so you shouldn’t expect to see them covered on this website.
With that all being said, I believe this page should provide a decent enough reference for the sort of games you can expect to see covered on this website.