Monday, April 27, 2009

Change Already.

I consider myself more of an old school gamer, I don't exactly like the term but that's what I am. I haven't jumped into the newer consoles that much yet I own a single Xbox 360 game which is the mindless destructive fun of Mercenaries 2, an impulsive yet enjoyable buy. A large factor that keeps me into older games is that there are still a huge amount of games from the old generation that I haven't played yet, it would be a shame to skip out on some of the greats from the last generation. Also it is useful to add that, it's not that I don't like the new games that continually come out, there are some brilliant and innovative games out that explore more than a simple rehash and sequels, heck some of the sequels seem really to place some incredible effort into making their experience worthwhile even if they have a safe fanbase already established with their series. I also don't believe the whole bullcrap that people are spewing that developers are taking too much effort into graphics over gameplay. Some games have amazing graphics as well as amazing gameplay.

There's just one game genre that keeps confusing me they don't seem to want to change, not only the company but the fans either don't want to change. Both sides seem to be in a full nostalgic mode, unwilling to accept the fact they the gameplay is dated. Even me, I've been avoiding it because it doesn't change or innovated in something new, yet I still hypocritically enjoy the older titles even sometimes I go and pay some of the games just because of that nostalgic feel in a new game. I'm specifically talking about RPGs, from Final Fantasy, Tales of ______ or to the newer Blue Dragon and Eternal Sonata.

Turn based action seems horribly dated to me, we've been using since forever and even today it's a major game mechanic for almost every RPG. Seems also that every time I mention that I find turn based RPGs dated, there always the same response “Alright go play you Western RPGs then!”. What!? No way, most of western RPG are horrible by themselves and can't even substitute for anything. Adding a few RPG elements into a mediocre action/adventure game isn't fun or innovative, you simply added two mediocre experiences together and got an even more mediocre gaming experience. Even worst is when and japanese company tries to makes and american RPG (see Super Paper Mario). Also, this whole region deciding the type of game needs to change, same thing with animation, come on people Teen Titans and Avatar are anime even if they were made in america get over it, now back on topic. Nobody seems to have been able to find a perfect mix of both, apart from Oblivion and Fallout 3, yet the eastern audience still doesn't appreciate it. The huge problem is that I don't even know what I want seems I'm looking for a sublime RPG experience mixed with a more modern gaming feel, but what is that exactly? I have no fucking clue.

I Might be sounding a little harsh while at the same thing don't know what I want but when Final Fantasy the flagship of RPGs innovated their gameplay and aren't even using the turn based gameplay, there's something deeply wrong. It's FINAL FANTASY they could simply market the same bland game with the same story over and over dumping them out each year like they used to, but now they are making some genuine effort (yet they are still milking FF7). A whole new position and command non-turnbased was supremely refreshing to see in final fantasy, its fast paced and really forces you to make the right decision quickly. You know what was pretty awesome too? No random encounters either, there no more excuse for random encounters, we have the technology. Yet Dragon Quest 8 was surprisingly refreshing, it was nothing innovative, turnbased, random encounters it had it all. It had all of the old school mechanic and this huge nostalgic feel to it, sure it had a few new mechanics like alchemy and monster battles but all of that is borrowed from other games.

There are a few games that amazed me and some I haven't played but from what I'm seeing and reading they're are innovating. First example is Valkyria Chronicles, a tactical RPG with live action positioning. I absolutely have to mention Tales of Symphonia, which I found amazing. The story is really horrible but it's the gameplay that shines, outside combat even. You have a ring that can do various things so you need to unlock puzzles and other stuff to progress, ala Breath of Fire. Plus the combat isn't turn based you have control of your character, you equip the spells and weapons before match each is unique and you see the difference. The one major factor I love is that it is multiplayer, yes a multiplayer RPG, it is only in battle sequences but for me it did the game.

I love to hate on Final Fantasy 7, the reaction is always priceless. I personally think it is a great game I didn't finish it back when because even then I found it boring turnbased game, but last month I finished it completely and it was good. Not amazing, I don't know if everyone knows this but FF7 is said to be the best Final Fantasy made. I completely disagree, it is only fueled but pure nostalgia and timing. The people who didn't played it when it came out won't enjoy it as much. There nothing really innovative, simple turnbased combat but cut down to 3 characters instead of 4 and a clunky materia system (materia is the poor man's esper). Even the story line disappointed, most of the time it was “because I said so” elements kinda like anything from Kojima from the Metal Gear fame. Again pure nostalgia exactly like this right here :

The simple fact is that games made 12 years ago were innovated in the most simple way, Chrono Trigger is a perfect example, you have positioning to think about, combining moves, which character would be better for the situation, semi-turned based, aesthetic changes in weapons and no random encounters. That was 12 years ago! Even now modern games still hold on the old RPG crutch. I always feel hypocritical when talking about this, I always supported simple fun games, you don't always need to innovated, but for RPGs I feel like they need to do something fast.

SIDE NOTE: Now that my school is done for the summer an my weekend decompression is over I have a full week until work so I'll try to post twice a day this week to compensate for lack of effort. I don't promise anything, I'm not good with commitments. Actually I'll be busy tonight so one post for today...


Siskoid said...

Twice a day?

Don't make promises you can't keep Marty. ;)

Nizbel said...

I'm saying twice a day foir this week only because if I say once a day I won't post anything. Baby steps!

Also, I wanted to post another one yesterday but I have somewhat of a social life that gets in the way sometimes.

Siskoid said...


Social life.


Pout said...

It's not something I had ever thought of but I guess you're right: not many efforts have been made in evolving RPGs.

...or have they? I'm thinking specifically of MMORPGs here. They've evolved beyond turn base. Sure, they've lost quite a bit in story telling but that's probably more a consequence of wanting to open up free will to the gamer and appealing to the power-gaming crowd then a consequence of the game format itself.

What I'm wondering is are you completly ignoring that classification of game because you no longer consider it to be an RPG at that stage? Because if so, I think your definition of RPG by itself might not permit evolution.

I was suprised to see RPGs as being the game category that you thought didn't evolve since for me, it seemed like it was one of the only categories that actually did (platform gaming being the most evolved, everything else seeming quite redundant).

Nizbel said...

I think that RPG didn't evolved in a the quite literal Darwin term. It doesn't need to change simply because it sells millions specifically in Japan. We just have to wait until the day that the sales drop, then they will try something new, they're staying in the safe zone right now. If it ain't broke don't fix it. It also hasn't evolved because of the jump to 3D was a piece of cake, because even pre-3D all RPG were isometrical in someway.

I could say the same thing with MMORPGs they're the exact same way, it hasn't become of which is better in gameplay but more of which world do you prefer? Tolkien universe? Barbarians? Super Heroes? They are all taking the prototype of Everquest and WoW.

Few years back action games became stale until God War brought in something new to the table, now everyone is ripping off God of War. Could say the same thing with racing and the uprise of customization and emphasis of drifting. Survival Horror is also being masked up with more concentration on action giving you and almost infinite amount of weapons (Resident Evil, Dead Space, Alone in the Dark).

I'm still curious of the uprising and effect of the casual gaming into mainstream media, will it change for the worst? Are we really ready for Ganondorf or Samus Aran to be a household name?

Anonymous said...

What you say has a ring of truth to it, although I find you take it to an extreme.

If they were to "evolve" what you are suggesting to evolve, they would have to change the genre all together. Many, and I emphasize the many here, efforts have been made in the past years to evolve RPG's, western and eastern side.

In the west, we have good examples with KOTOR, which was the first western RPG to truly make a breakthrough. It was a classic storyline to say the least (You are amnesic, save the world form destruction) but it incorporated a bunch of different elements into a wonderful blend. For example, the multiple possible characters for your party, the way you spend your talent points per level (you are not given a new spell, you choose it) and, of course, no random encounters. There is also a few other examples in Jade Empire (ironically enough about western culture), Mass Effect (which provided an excellent storytelling system) as well as a good / evil capability.

On the Eastern side, we have also seen various changes. As you mentioned, FF has continuously tried to evolve (to no avail, I curse you Enix! Damn you!), as well as many RPG's whom had been there since the days of the SNES which were not turned base. And I'm speaking of such flagship titles as the Tales series and Star Ocean (play the 4th one and forget the third ever existed!)

Tactical RPG's have been really doing well, and they have been around since the first great one (that one being FFT) which was realeased back in '97 I believe (you can fact check me on this, I'm not positive). Also, I challenge you to find many turn based RPG's nowadays. I admit I do prefer them usually, although they are getting pretty rare. The only one I know of on the Xbox360 that did well was Lost Odyssey. Eternal Sonata, Mass effect, star ocean 4, Enchanted arm all have non turn based battles. And all of those (excluding Lost Odyssey) have no random encounters.

Both sides of the world, which were very different a couple of years ago, are slowly merging into one. The changes are subtle but they are there. You still do see the influence of anime in the eastern ones and the distinctive Action / RPG in the western ones but even at that. Times ARE changing sir, I dare you to find more than 5 "classic" RPG's that were succesful in the past 2 years.

Nizbel said...

You seem to know a lot more than me in the RPG gaming, I've been keeping away from it for a few years now because I found it stale. The last RPG I bought was Dragon Quest VIII. So you're probably right they have changed, like I said I have no idea what I'm looking for anymore, I'm searching for an great experience equal to the old days. As for tactical RPGs well they've been around since Fire Emblem(1989)(which hasn't changed at all actually). Or maybe you're talking about the isometric tactic games; the earliest I can think of is Tactic Orgre(1995?), the more character based than as opposed to the multi-party map based that it was before.

As for RPG in the last 2 years that haven't changed? Well take a look at Pokemon three games right thar! Ok I might be cheating with that one...