Role playing games (RPGs) are basically my favorite genre of video game. As a young mummy I grew up playing Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Phantasy Star plus a million more. To me, these are the classics and when I look for a new game, I try to get ones that model some of these classic RPG elements. Unfortunately, like most things, games are changing and enhancing all the time and sometimes this means getting rid of the classic elements that I love. It is inevitable because game companies want to go with what is working now and keep up with the ever-changing world of video games.
To me, there are certain elements that need to be in an RPG in order for it to have that classic feel that I love so much. Call me old fashion (or just ancient whichever works) but some of these new action and strategy RPGs just don’t have that ‘RPG’ feel that I grew up with.
No real time fighting, ever!
Real time fighting is where you run around on the screen and fight enemies right on the spot like you would do in basically every other type of video game. One of the things I love about RPGs is the fact that you can strategize and plan out your attacks in a turn based style of attack. When I am just attacking enemies on the screen as they run up to me without getting much time to think I feel like I am playing a shooter or action based game. Some games like Tales of Symphonia and Radiata Stories found a way to combine RT fighting with turn-based where you run around the screen and attack enemies but it is more organized and you actually pick what you are going to do such as attack, use magic, etc. Also games like Mass Effect and Fallout allow you to control your team mates and plan out your next attack which is good, but you are still ducking and hiding and such like you would do in a shooter. Basically I’m all about turn-based or strategy fighting (like in Fire Emblem). Heck I’ll even put up with card based which most people aren't fond of, but at least it gives me that true “turn-taking” feel that you don’t find in shooters.
Only a few recruitable characters is no fun!
It’s really no fun to go it alone, especially when fighting a high leveled boss. Trust me, having to fight off all off Cousin Gregula’s drunken vampire and werewolf buddies by myself (and with flammable wrapping to boot) is no easy task! Unfortunately some game developers feel that just having two or three set characters to work with is enough but in reality it’s just boring. Finding and recruiting characters is one of the funnest elements of RPGs, especially when you have a large number of people to choose from. Having lots of characters allows you to mix and match and see which people you like working with best, rather than be forced to use a few people you don’t like. Optional characters are even better because it adds a side-quest element to the mix plus we have the choice to add them to our awesome party or not (but seriously why would you not add a new possible recruit?) Suikoden and Saga Frontier are just a couple games that allow for tons of possible party arrangements, and SF even lets you make several parties and switch between them each battle!
Just one town? BORING!
By far, my favorite RPG element is visiting lots and lots of towns. There is nothing better after traveling a long way and fighting in lots of dungeons then finding a new town to explore. You get to talk to the crazy people and buy new shop items and maybe even do a side-quest or two! Unfortunately, there are actually some games, like some of the Atelier and Persona games and almost every handheld RPG I’ve played, that think that just visiting one town throughout the entire game and just updating the items in the shop is enough; they are sadly mistaken. The only way having just one town to visit is acceptable is if the town improves itself overtime and new people come to visit and offer new quests, but basically, I need to explore.
Friendly fire is not so friendly at all!
Friendly fire is when an attack or magic spell you perform can actually hurt members of your party. For instance, if you throw a grenade or shoot off a lightning spell, it will not only attack the intended target but it will also hit any people in the area including your party members. This means that you have to be careful about when to use spells or melee weapons so as to not hurt party members, OR it means avoiding them altogether because it’s not worth the risk. Some Final Fantasy, and Dragon Age, games are guilty of this. I understand the theory behind this as being that in real life weapons and magic spells (if they existed) are unpredictable and could very well hurt an unintended target. However, game developers fail to consider that this is NOT real life, it is a video game and RL rules don’t need to apply! Sorry, but I don’t like not being able to use an awesome and powerful skill because I might end up killing my best character and there are very few occasions where sacrificing your teammates is worth the skill. Sometimes there is an option to turn off the FF for those of you who like to live dangerously but I guess I like to play it safe (I get plenty of danger at home! Just see my recruitable character comment!)
Ok I can honestly go either way with this one. Multiple endings in a game adds replay value and also makes you feel like you have more control over what happens in a game, which is what “role playing” is all about. However, when one of the endings is good or “true” and the rest are unfulfilling or infuriating, then the whole concept loses some of its flair. There are some games where if you miss a few crucial events or items, you end up with the “bad ending.” Now you may think “well gee if you are missing crucial items then you are even trying and deserve that bad ending!” Yes this may be true, but sometimes these “crucial” items/events are easily missable, or worse yet you aren’t even aware that there ARE multiple endings and therefore don’t realize you are suppose to be doing things differently. Chrono Trigger is one of the best games for ME’s because they offer special endings that can be received without even completing the whole game. Whereas in the sequel Chrono Cross if you don’t defeat the final boss in the correct way, then you will get a terrible ending of “you won congrats” and the credits scrolling the screen. Had I known there was a special way to beat the boss I would have done so but alas I didn’t and instead thought the game just had a terrible ending! Hey don’t blame me! YOU try getting decent internet connection in the basement of a 1000 year old pyramid! Though it is pretty easy to sneak onto my neighbors wifi when all of them use the same password of “Scarab.” Anyway though I digress! The purpose of multiple endings should be to give me a reason to play the game again and make different decisions, period. Don’t make me go through all the stress of defeating the final boss after the third attempt with only one character alive and no healing items left, JUST to find out that I got the bad ending because I forgot to pick up the red shoe and give it to the witch back in the haunted forest! ARG!
Well time to WRAP this up! I sure said a mouthful but don’t forget, this is just one mummy’s opinion! Feel free to argue or agree with me if you want, I love to debate! Plus it’s not like I got anything better to do since my cable died last week and you have NO IDEA how hard it is to get a cable guy to come down here and fix it! Especially since they keep getting eaten by the giant two headed spiders and spitting asps that live down here (it cuts down on the pet food I have to buy at least.)