Is the RPG genre going downhill? That may be a bit of an extreme suggestion, but there are definitely a few things that make this genre of games a hassle to deal with sometimes. I grew up during the age of Earthbound, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI, and other greats. I was spoiled. I love playing these games, but I have a burning resentment towards four things that probably won’t be going away any time soon. In this article, let’s talk about them.
Cutscenes are awesome. Be it those additional CGs that they added to the PlayStation version of Chrono Trigger or the many shocking and beautiful visuals that are offered by games in the Final Fantasy series, the mainstream of the RPG genre holds cutscenes very close to the soul.
However, one thing that I can’t find any excuse to agree with is why some games have felt the need to make certain cutscenes unskippable. Square (once Squaresoft and now Square Enix) is famous for this. If you’ve played Xenosaga or any of the Kingdom Hearts games, you know what I’m talking about. Keep in mind that the umbrella of “cutscene” not only includes those lengthy CGIs, but also long story points in the middle of an RPG. Those text boxes can take forever sometimes.
I understand that these are important parts of the game, but not even giving the option to bypass these points isn’t a good idea to me. There should always be some sequence of buttons you can press that should allow you to cancel a cutscene or skip a long series of text spam. For me, it’d add replayability to RPGs. It’s tough to play through a game that you know is going to pound you with two hours of things you’ve already seen and read. Does anyone actually enjoy mashing a button to get past all of that text?
World map encounters
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not crying out against the system of random encounters that practically every RPG you’ve ever played has used, because that’d be hating a core element of the entire genre in general. I just really hate the fact that I can’t navigate through the world map without wasting time on these.
Random encounters are important because they essentially force you to grind and reach a level of progression so that your character(s) should be ready for the next area in the game that you venture to. That can’t be disputed. With that being said, I feel as if it makes much more sense to corral these areas into entry points on the map. If you want to grind levels, you should be using the world map and going to a location where you want to randomly encounter monsters. Heard of the Sunken Gelnika in Final Fantasy VII? This is what I’m talking about.
Being a level 50 character and passing through a level 8 zone and getting into encounters that will damage you for 12 HP (while you’re hitting them for 800) is just silly. It’s a waste of time. Speaking again on the Final Fantasy series, they threw in items and settings in several of their games that will allow you to avoid random encounters. In FF4, there’s the Safe Travel augment. In FF7, there’s the Enemy Away Materia. This approach may be better overall than just eliminating them completely, because it offers the player something to work towards achieving. I like that.
Long summons or spells
When you find yourself avoiding the use of a certain attack type in an RPG simply because you’re not patient enough to wait for the amount of time that the game will take to complete it, there’s a problem.
Waiting a full minute for an attack to complete makes no sense to me, especially in a boss battle where you can assume that you’ll need to cast a particular spell more than five times. Can you just deal the damage already? I may be using an attack that does the most damage in the game, but it’s also damaging me as a person! You won’t find a single player to claim, “Yes, I absolutely love watching the same minute-long attack animation over and over. It’s a good investment of my time.” This has got to stop.
The “missing” character
Last but not least, we’ve got something that is sure to grind any RPG fan’s gears. You’re playing through a really great game, and you’re gearing up and grinding for your characters. You really want that next boss fight to be a breeze for you. You spend a few hours progressing your characters, and all of a sudden (during an unskippable cutscene) you learn that one of them is being removed from your party for some reason. This goes on, and you realize that it’s either a permanent removal or one that spans through such a long length of the game that they’re practically useless. In extreme and rare cases, the character even dies.
I’ll admit that some games have actually managed to pull this off pretty well. The disappearance of certain characters has been essential in the storyline of some games. In others, it’s just been annoying. The good news is that this happens in such few games that you’ll definitely not experience it more times than you can count on a hand.
What about you? Is there something that completely ruined any particular RPG for you? Is there a problem with RPGs in the present time that you really just want to get off your chest? Let me know in the comments section below, and we’ll talk about it!
Otherwise, if you’re interested in checking out and playing some of the best classic RPGs through your browser, I’ve got five of them for you in this post. You won’t find too much to complain about in these!