Many longtime fans of the Final Fantasy series have lamented the direction Square has taken with their beloved franchise, forgoing the classic turn-based battle system (or rather the active-time battle system) in favor of a more action-oriented approach featuring real-time combat. While this rapid evolution of the series is no doubt an attempt by Square to garner new fans and compete with other AAA titles currently on the market, it has left some diehard fans feeling alienated and disinterested with the series. Enter World of Final Fantasy, a new title in the Final Fantasy series that harkens back to the games of old, featuring a slew of familiar characters and mechanics that should make any old-school fan of the series feel right at home.
Posted on Nov 12th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (Pam) Posted under video, rpg
This video was inspired by the recent Playcast conversation about The Legend of Zelda and whether or not it should be classified as an RPG. While I don't think it should, it does have some elements common to RPGs. Here I take a look at the genre's roots in tabletop games and examine how video games let us develop characters in both mechanical and narrative ways. I also compare western and Japanese RPGs in how they tend to favor one type of character development over the other.
Check out the video and let me know how you define an RPG!
The vast sea of forgotten tales long buried in the sands of time can seem insurmountable to one looking for a place to dig. Sega's Saturn is a system that has been pushed to the wayside for the entirety of its existence in the West, while it enjoyed a brief success as the great black gaming box of the East. Some of its games made their way over to the West, but the overall ratio of those that came compared to those that never made it is sad to look at, especially if you put yourself in the mindset of a Western Saturn fan who sees the press talk about new Japanese games that only had a tiny chance of being brought over. Some of the ones brought over were excellent, like Dragon Force, GunGriffon and the arcade ports that I have previously discussed. Even the weaker titles brought over were at least something to whet the appetite. With all that in mind, which category of quality does Dark Savior manage to fall into, or is it just another futile voyage along a sea of the endless sands?
Steambot Chronicles, or Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki: Bumpy Trot as it was originally named in Japan, is a Playstation 2 game developed and published by Irem in Japan, Atlus in North America, and 505 Gamestreet in a few countries in Europe. There is also a spin off on PSP named Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament, and an odd tie-in puzzle game on PS2 and PSP named Blokus Portable: Steambot Championship (one of only four games published by Majesco on the PSP in the USA).
A quick look at the back of the case of Steambot Chronicles shows the game being marketed as an open world RPG, and that is correct in a way. The game starts off as linear as any other RPG that's been made and then opens up. It's similar to the opening dungeon in Elder Scrolls, but drags on much longer. In this long opening sequence, you'll visit all three of the main towns, many of the back areas, and explore most of the world by the time it's completely opened up. Once an area is open, it may be visited at any time afterwards, and as a result, money can be hoarded this way.
If you play Super Nintendo games you know what to expect. A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy III are fantastic games, which many of us hold close to our hearts. Perhaps these were games you played as a kid or during your teens, but you at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you've experienced these essential pieces of gaming history. What we played in North America is only the tip of the iceberg though. There are so many great role playing games that we never got to see because they never left Japan. Here are five games that, thanks to translators and/or repro developers, we can finally add to our backlogs.
I have been excited about the release of Tales of Xillia 2 since I played and reviewed the first one a few months ago (http://www.rfgeneration.c...-Tales-of-Xillia-2755.php). I greatly enjoyed the main characters and writing of the original game and thought that the plot took plenty of nice turns that were not as predictable as an RPG veteran would expect.
I recently started playing Far Cry 3 to see what all the hype surrounding the game was about. The game took some getting used to, since the first-person shooter genre is still very new to me, but there's one mechanic in this game that I'm very familiar with, the skill tree. However, I this mechanic wasn't the right choice for this particular game.
Suikoden Tierkreis was the second Suikoden game made by Konami for a non-Sony system and was the first to be released outside of Japan. The first, Suikoden Card Stories, was released on the Game Boy Advance (Japan exclusive) and is basically a retelling of Suikoden II as a trading card game. Though I have no idea what I'm doing in that game due to the language barrier, I do know what's going on in Tierkreis. Tierkreis was the first Suikoden game released since Suikoden V on the PS2, and was anxiously awaited by fans of the series, since there was about a three year gap between these releases.
There's a current trend in the video games scene to abandon the strict conditions synonymous with large-scale major name development studios in favor of smaller teams that focus on projects they are highly passionate about. This one of the major shifts that's currently changing the way we look at RPGs.
Once role playing games were associated with developers like Square, Atlus, or BioWare, but now smaller teams, some the size of a household family, are making names for themselves. They are the new trailblazers who are defying today's RPG status quo. They are the passionate creators who work on projects that are labours of love. Whether the game is the result of artistic expression or love of the bygone golden era of RPGs, these new names in the gaming market are generating a lot of buzz.
In Part 1 of my critique on video game categorization I posed the question "Can the Zelda games be considered RPGs?" My stance is that these games cannot be labeled as Role Playing games on the basis that they do not depict the character growth, statistic building, and depth of narrative required of games of the genre.
The Zelda series no doubt presents many enthralling story lines, but the characters are subject to the direction of the narrative. Consider these games to be akin to a Greek myth in which the hero is a victim of the fate determined by the gods. Like Odysseus, Link must take up arms, embark upon a journey of epic proportions and cope with an unalterable destiny. The characters of Adventure games are driven by the story. RPGs display the opposite. The characters push the narrative forward.
Despite this critical fact that separates Adventure and Role Playing games one cannot argue that both involve playing the role of a hero on an adventure. This is why I am not comfortable with the term "RPG." Modern video games, and even many retro titles, cannot be pigeon holed into just one genre category. A game such as Secret of Mana is rooted in the RPG basics and incorporates gameplay elements from the Adventure genre. Titles that merge these two genres are too conveniently labeled as Action RPG. This does provide insight on the game's play style, but does not accurately identify the game as a whole. My solution to this is to look at the adventure itself, the context in which it takes place, and whether characters grow as the game progresses.
This is the typical RPG whether it is turn based or played out in real time. These games depict stories which are driven by the protagonist and his or her companions. Character development is illustrated via statistics, but more so in the dialogue or cut scenes. As the characters grow the story becomes deeper much like a film or novel. These games tend to be longer as more time is spent allowing the player to experience the characters and setting. The structure of the narrative often follows Joseph Campbell's Monomyth.
Fantasy Adventure/Action Adventure
The story is set in a fantastical world which has power over the hero. The protagonist's shortcomings do not impact the story; in this case the story predetermines his or her weaknesses. The focus of these games is directed more to the player having to adapt to and overcome challenges presenting by in game obstacles. These games also follow the Monomyth structure, but take the shortened path which is shown in the upper portion of the diagram.
I've enjoyed looking at what constitutes an "RPG" and like that there is no definitive answer. My solution for the categorization problem uses the characters and storyline of the games, as I feel they are integral to a great gaming experience. What are your thoughts on these labels? How do you identify what is and isn't a Role Playing game?
The first article in my new RPG Analysis series sparked some great conversation about community members' thoughts of the pricing of Role Playing games. We discussed some of our favourite titles and touched upon the timelessness of the genre. One comment, however, stood out from the lot. Addicted cited The Legend of Zelda as the first RPG he had played to completion.
There is no doubt that Zelda series boasts many great games in its catalogue. The debates lies here: can the Zelda games, which commonly accepted as Action Adventure games, be considered RPGs?
Welcome to the third, and final, in my series retrospective on the Pokemon franchise. This final entry will cover the Advance Generation of the Pokemon series, which spanned even games on the Gameboy Advance, four on the GameCube, and three on the Nintendo DS. The Advance Generation was a sort of reboot for the franchise, when Ruby and Sapphire were originally released for the GBA, they were not connected in any way to the previous games in the series. The stories weren't connected like the first two generation games were, the new region, Hoenn, was in a completely different part of the Pokemon world, with no connection to either Kanto or Johto, and while Ruby and Sapphire contained data for all of the Pokemon from the previous games, a vast majority of them were unobtainable within the games themselves, without the use of a cheating device, and the games featured no way to connect to any of the previous releases. Some fans felt this lack of connection to the previous games was a step in the wrong direction and questioned whether or not Nitendo truely knew what they wanted to do with the franchise, little did we know that Nintendo did have something in mind, but we'd have to wait some time to see what it was...
The Gamecube was definately not known for its robust RPG library last generation. The PS2 did a good job of blowing both other systems (combined) out of the water in that category (I don't know enough about the Dreamcast to confindently add it to that remark). That said the Gamecube still has a surprisingly strong showing in the RPG arena if you look closely. Games like: Fire Emblem, Tales of Symphonia, Skies of Arcadia Legends, Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, Phantasy Star Online, X-Men Legends and Harvest Moon lead the pack. There are still a few other Cube RPGs that fell under the radar of most gamers.
Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean (henceforth known as BK) deserves a lot more attention then it gets. Lets take a closer look at its strengths and weaknesses, shall we?
This is "THE" most important factor of any RPG in my opinion. In most genres I'd say gameplay is key, but RPGs are the exception. If your going to be investing 20-40 hours of your life into a game it had better be darn interesting.
The game starts off with Kalas waking up in a small town after getting beaten up in the woods. After he regains his composure and figures out where he is he remembers his goal. Kill Giacomo the man who killed his family and burned his home down.
As you progress you find that the Empire is trying to ressurect the power of an ancient god that swalled the entire ocean leaving only a few islands left on the planet. Kalas eventually meets some others that join his party that are out to stop the emperor from suceeding in his plan. Kalas is reluctant to join, but because Giacomo is a higher up in the Empire he joins because their mission because it may eventually lead him to get the revenge he desires.
This is by far my favorite looking game on the Cube. While some games may be more graphically impressive such as Resident Evil 4 the art sytle of BK game really shines above. The entire world and all the characters in it are very bright and vibrant and full of life. The world really seems to be alive as you explore it. Simple things such as running through some bushes and spooking some birds to see them take off in a large group gives an extra amount of depth to the islands you explore.
Each Island you explore in this game has its own unique visual identity, wheather it be a lush green forest like enviroment or a hazy mountain top covered in clouds each place you visit is vastly different from the last.
This is another area in which this game really shines. At first the game just throws you into battle without much explanation and you slowly learn some tricks to help increase your skills over the next couple hours of game play through both experimentation and NPC tutorials.
You fight using a card based battle system. Each card belongs to an element and has at least 1 spirit number assigned to it. At first you can only attack with a couple cards, but as you level up and progress throughout the game the amount of cards you can lay down during battle increases.
Each Element type obviously damages enemies of opposite types more than those of the same time (such as Water hurts Fire based Enemies more than Dark would). But if you use a water based attack and a fire based attack in the same turn they partially cancel each other out (attack for 10 water and 6 fire in the same turn would result in a final attack of 4 water). This keeps you on your toes and quite aware of what cards to use and when to use them. It also involves quick thinking on your part because after you use your first card you have a very limited time to use your next few cards.
As I mentioned above each card also has a spirit number. These numbers range from 1 to 8 and cards can have multiple numbers on them. If you manage to attack an enemy with a straight sequence of cards (such as 5-6-7) then a bonus percentage of damage is added to you final attack. As you become capable of playing more cards during battle later in the game you find more and more combinations become available to you (such as 2-2-2-3-3 or a full house) that will add more depth to your fights as you may choose to play less cards than you are capable of in order to receive a prize bonus to your final attack.
One more interesting note about battle combinations is that you can combine seemingly useless items (or useful items too) by using them together to create more helpful items. For example you can attack with a pot, some uncooked rice and charcoal to create a healing item of cooked rice.
This is pretty standard as far as RPGs go, but if its not broken dont fix it right?
You explore the world as your main character Kalas (other party members only appear during non-playable areas such as cut sceens or NPC interactions). To enter a battle you simply touch an on screen enemy to initiate the battle.
Lots of items are hidden in ordinary scenery so make sure to check everything you come accross during your journey to collect a lot of helpful items and cards.
This is another one of my favorite parts of the game. Most of the puzzles in this game are not necessary to further the story so if you not all that into puzzling just skip most of them. You'll be out a few items that may help, but you can always grind your levels up a bit to make up for it if you prefer.
Throughout the game you get a limited number of Blank Magnus (Magnus is just a fancy name for cards). With these you can turn items, such as fire, into a card so that you can carry it to another location. So while your in town and you see someone has a roaring fire in their home you can take some of that flame with you into the forest and burn down a tree to gain access to a treasure chest.
This is something that is really cool to play around with and also a little frusterating at times. Lots of items change with time in BK.
For instance if you originally find a bunch of Bananas they might be Green Bananas. These are not good to eat yet and will function more as a weak weapon than anything else. After some time though they will ripen and become a useful healing item. After more time has passed then will rot and once again become a weapon.
This same mechanic has a few other functions such as puzzle solving. If an NPC is looking for a specific item such as yogurt or cheese and you only have access to milk, you simply have to wait until your milk has aged enough to turn into either item, just dont wait to long or it may not be they wanted when you get it to them!
One last fucntion the time mechanic plays is in gaining money. Instead of selling items in BK you take pictures of enemies during battle and sell those pictures to card shops. The pictures develop like a polaroid would. To get the most money for your picture you need to wait long enough for it to delevop properly, but dont wait to long or they will become damaged from your travels and the price you'll fetch will fall considerably.
Nothing ground breaking just something that I found quite unique and interesting.
Instead of simply gaining a level for a certain amount of experience, you hold onto that experience until you are able to visit a special "church". Once you are there you must pray in order to refect upon your past battles and only then can you increase in strength.
Along with this is the class increase which is treated much the same way as the level increase with the exception that a speical item is given to your character that you must pray with to unlock its potential. By increasing your class you are able to have more cards in your deck and increases the amount of cards you can use for each attack.
With the exception of Kalas I find the playable characters in this game quite annoying and stereotypical. Fortunately Kalas is the main character so it does oddly enough balance out. The reason for my annoyance isnt so much the characters themselves as it is the dialouge and voice acting.
I do however find Kalas interesting, as unlike most main characters, he isnt interested in doing any good. He just wants his revenge and could care less who dies or what nation falls in the process. He often voices his objection to joining his teammates and is reluctantly dragged along for a large portion of the story.
Some of the worst I've heard. The old characters (70 years +) sound like a 13 year old is trying to make their voice raspy. The main characters that speak the most (Kalas and Xelha) both have shrill annoying voices and poorly written dialouge that often just sounds weird.
BK is a great game for any RPG fan. The battles are a lot less boring than your typical grindfest because of the random element and depth added by the card based battle system. This game can also appeal to someone who loves puzzles/side quests or to someone who just loves an interesting story. It is also (in my opinion) one of the best looking Gamecube games. This game can easily be found for under $15 and I would highly recommend anyone interested in a new adventure to check it out if possible.