Nathan (vovat) wrote,

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It wasn't much, but you know I could play that role

Continuing with what's apparently my theme of the week, I'm sure I've mentioned many times how I've been a fan of role-playing video games since playing Tunnels of Doom on the Texas Instruments 99/4A. I like them partially because of my interest in fantasy, and partially because, as someone who sucks at action games, it's cool that there's a game genre where all you generally have to do is choose options from a menu (although RPG's have begun incorporating more action elements over the years). Also, if one part of a game is too hard, you can level up instead of just trying it over and over with the exact same amount of power. Not that levelling up isn't tedious, but it seems to have grown less so. Each of the four Dragon Warrior games for the NES seemed to require increasingly less wandering around and fighting random monsters to build up experience. I haven't played most of the recent Final Fantasy games, but the ones I have appear to have the characters level up with pretty much every battle. In the next one, you'll probably increase a level simply by walking forward slightly.

Here are a few thoughts I have about the RPG genre in general:

  • The typical way of keeping track of when a character dies is through hit points, a system that probably originated with Dungeons & Dragons. Really, though, when you get right down to it, it doesn't make much sense. Most of the attacks in your typical RPG would kill someone instantly, or at least injure them profusely. But that wouldn't make for a very fun game, would it? It's even weirder when they mix in more modern weapons, and being shot with a machine gun or missile launcher isn't much more damaging than anything else.

  • Speaking of which, I really do prefer the quasi-medieval sword-and-sorcery worlds of the traditional RPG to more modern-looking ones. I remember hearing that FF9 was an intentional throwback to this kind of world after the more technologically advanced ones of the previous two games. I've never played FF8, but 7 was kind of an odd mixture, with swords and shotguns being used pretty much interchangeably, and cars existing but your characters riding Chocobos anyway. I guess the FF series always kind of leaned in this direction, though. Even the first one had robots, including the infamous and elusive WarMech, although they were apparently all remnants of a fallen civilization. Anyway, aside from stylistic issues, the idea of characters walking around from place to place and running into a lot of random monsters kind of seems out of place in a world with planes, trains, and automobiles. It's like a complaint I remember seeing about the Star Wars films: that, with the advanced technology they have, they're still using infantry to fight battles. For that matter, some Oz fans (including me) have had problems with John R. Neill's introduction of Scalawagons for a similar reason. But then, when you get down to it, I suppose they wouldn't normally have the freeway run to a monster-infested cave that's rumored to contain some kind of mystic armor, would they?

  • While I'm on the subject of transportation, I've always liked it when games introduced new vehicles or animals you could ride. Dragon Warrior IV was the first of that series to bring in a wagon that your party could use. I kind of have to wonder why you can't run the wagon over some of the smaller monsters (those wheels would have to do some damage, right?), but RPG characters are so rigid in their thinking that they can only fight with items specifically identified as weapons. They'd never make it in prison. :P It seems to be an established rule in the FF series that monsters never attack when you're riding a Chocobo, although you never really learn why.

  • One cool element to Tunnels of Doom that I can't recall seeing anywhere else is that you can negotiate with monsters by offering them gold. It's something I rarely actually did, mind you, but I liked that the option was there. The first Phantasy Star (the only one I've managed to finish) lets you talk to certain monsters, who will then say something short and trite, and then leave. I think it would be nice if they could make these non-fighting options somewhat more viable and interesting.

  • Another idea I've always kind of liked is that of recruiting monsters for your own party. The FF series has summoned monsters, but I know some of the Dragon Quest games (not ones I've played) have characters who can tame monsters so they'll join you. That's pretty much the whole basis of Dragon Warrior Monsters, which comes across as a Pokémon rip-off even though I'm pretty sure the Dragon Quest series was experimenting with this idea before Pokémon made it into a huge franchise.

  • One element I particularly enjoyed in Dragon Warrior IV is the part in Taloon's quest where you work as a shopkeeper. I'm sure there are simulations that let you do things like that throughout the entire game, but I like the idea of a game that's MOSTLY about questing and battling mythical creatures, but ALSO lets you do other, more mundane things every once in a while.

So, are people enjoying these general overview posts, or should I stick to writing about recent events in my own boring life? Your feedback is much appreciated. {g}
Tags: video games
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