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3871  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Chrono Cross first impressions on: January 13, 2012, 06:28:18 PM
words....

The way I see the whole linear/non-linear design debate is in the question of is there a world to explore or is it all just fancy decorum for the hallway you're being railroaded through. The major factors involve matters of backtracking versus points of no return, permanently missable content, the number of available options at any given point, world scope, and side content.

In the matter of the RPG in particular, the objective of non-linearity is silly since the entire point to the genre is the effort of taking a character (blank or otherwise) and progressing them through a series of challenges until they reach the pinnacle of their abilities. Most games give you somebody new and fresh to take and to grow into what you want or need it to be to accomplish the goals set out for you. And this process is usually on a one way street (once you get stronger you can't get weaker because that pushes you further from completing your goal). And because your character can only grow in one direction so too does the game itself progress in one direction to push you closer towards the set goal.

The question then becomes a matter of how the game goes about this.

The most linear version of this lay in typical dungeon crawlers and side-scrollers. Side-scrollers will only let you move to the right so that you can push forward on a particular path through some kinda of obstacle course whereas dungeon crawlers only really let you push downward. Both can have pit stops in between stages but they otherwise complete ignore everything else in favor your single-minded charge towards the goal of the game. The problem I have with this design type is that if I get bored with this single-minded endeavor then my only option is to walk away. In fact, the only way I'd care for the dungeon crawler type of game (side-scrollers can be challenging enough to be worth the challenge on their own) is if the resource that needs to be managed is female clothing, all other potential motivations are meaningless to me due to the lack of context and the near meaninglessness of other resources due to abstraction (i.e. MP).

Your standard JRPG tends to fall into this process as well, especially games like the Grandia series where pretty much everything else is disregarded aside from pushing towards the goal except for the little pit stops between dungeons. The problem I have with this design lies in the fact that in a RPG where the idea of gradually grow stronger is lost on the fact that the challenge curves with you. Where new options are made obsolete as soon as you get them (status effect spells and such), newer and flashier kill sticks simply replace old ones, and the only real sense in progression comes either from watching the arbitrary numbers rise (both in regards to what you do in addition to what the enemy does) or seeing old bosses become random encounters.

Route splits are kind of a weird thing to place since it relies entirely on permanently missable content and Chrono Cross falls squarely into this one with its routes that determine which character(s) you recruit during your run as well as most SRPGs. Depending on how it's handled you could have multiple possibilities available to play through with multiple end goals in a CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) way at best or merely a cosmetic way to pad content by sticking a brief divergence in the plot that only those OCD enough will want to see (made even better by weighing a clearly inferior choice versus a clearly superior choice) with numerous possibilities in between.

Some games like the earlier FF titles (up till VII) and the later Zelda titles (like MC) among others are games I actually like despite the linearity. This is mostly due to the fact that you don't often run aground of points of no return (a couple of dungeons in the FF games) in addition to the fact that there is a world to actually wander around in once you've gained the means. Incidentally I find Radiant Historia to fall into this level due to the fact that while the plot is both massively on-rails and restrictive as all get out it almost never crosses any point of no return (aside from the prologue but there's nothing there aside from the events of the prologue but w/e). You can always return to any point that you've previously visited and with it any region, any missed treasure, and any events therein.

Then I believe you start getting into the sequence breaking stuff here with things like the earlier Zeldas and the various Metroidvaina wannabes where you have a set sequence of events but there exists the option of saying nuts to that, either intended or not, and breaking the order. However in this you still have to do everything the game wants you to do and optional content is either sparse or at the end. It's alright depending on how well it's handled but I dare not try to list all the examples.

And then I believe we start to get into side quest line stuffs that tend to overshadow main plot line stuffs with games like Majora's Mask and Deadly Premonition. I tend to really enjoy games where the main objectives are there and all but the real meat of the game is off the beaten path like these. Powering up is mostly optional but recommended to do a bit of at least. Of course my one disappointment with them is that they get too easy when you go for everything.

And I feel that this point of the spectrum is where many WRPGs and many Square/crappy Squeenix games fall where the main plot is but one of many quest lines. The big difference between the level above and this one is that these games present all quest lines and not just side quest lines in rather compact segments, usually started by a quest giver of whatever variety. I'm kinda not that big on these types due to the lack of gravity on the main objective, especially in cases like FFTA where over 90% of the content is useless filler who's sole purpose is for grinding on.

And finally I believe we get an almost pure non-linear type of game where there's no real overarching plot at all. The ending stands on its own whereas the rest of the game is at best dropping the tools you'll need for the endgame while grinding you up and every step you take means that the enemies get stronger and that you need to be careful not to waste whatever constitutes as a step, or that neither parties really get any stronger at all. I want to say that LoM falls into this but it doesn't really since the side plots are substantive enough and the method of making enemies grow with you was pretty ineffective at best. Unfortunately the best example would be the Megaman series where you only need a few upgrades at best coming either entirely or almost entirely from bosses with whatever Skull Fortress being the actual wrap up.

But this is just how I tend to order things in regards to linearity/non-linearity.
3872  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Worst Final Fantasy game (No online games) on: January 13, 2012, 10:34:42 AM
FFX2 is the worst by far, imo.  It was made for girls and girls alone. The music was mostly shit except for the title theme and while the combat system was really good, it didn't make up for the overall nonsense. It just didn't hold my attention at all. As for VIII, yeah the mechanics could be abused for sure but it was just fun to play, at least until you got to Esthar.  Great music too. Favorite is still 6 though..

FFX2 does get better past it's abysmal opening half and you can turn off transformation sequences easily enough as well. And it's not like they ruined any of the characters from X1 since they were mostly unlikeable to begin with, just unlikeable in a different way now. Unfortunately there's the whole "trying to get 100%" thing which is utter bullshit and can die in a fire.
3873  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Worst Final Fantasy game (No online games) on: January 12, 2012, 10:05:33 PM
That's the thing. There's no need to do that. You can just auto-junction and steamroll everything. That's why it isn't fun.

Eh, a game is only as easy as your goals are. FFVIII has some DAMNED HARD side bosses. Not to mention, I don't evaluate myself on whether I can kill enemies, but how efficiently and effectively I can do so. Even though FFVIII isn't difficult to progress through (though let's be fair here, it's not THAT easy) I love fine tuning my party so that I can UTTERLY KICK THE SHIT out of anything that stands in my way. Create your own challenges. See if you can underlevel your party by carding all enemies (fun!), things like that. And if that's not enough, try going up against Omega Weapon. Or try fighting Ultima Weapon and staying in battle alive long enough to draw 300 Ultimas (I've never been able to do this). The game offers some serious challenges if you're up for it.

Or you could just pop a Holy War or two and Aura spam to victory against Omega or whatever. And it's not like you'll ever use a party other than Zell and Riona midway through disk 3 anyways. Quisits Degenerator is nice early on but when you can spam multiple Meteor Dives in one turn it kinda makes everything else save for Lion Heart and the occasional Shooting Star obsolete.

Also beating Ultima nets you 100 Ultima Stones anyways so there's no real reason to draw 300 Ultimas (hell 150~200 will do you and there are other places to draw them as well).
3874  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: The Merged Final Fantasy XIII-2 Thread on: January 12, 2012, 12:59:41 PM
So I take it you guys found FF's Tingle.
3875  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: RPGFan's Games of the Year 2011 Thread on: January 10, 2012, 07:09:02 PM
The RPGs released this year that I've played were Ys 3 & 7, LoH:TitS, Radiant Historia, and Skyward Sword.

I think I'd put RH on top, then SS, then YsIII, then TitS, and finally Ys7. Anything else was apparently not worth remembering.
3876  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Megaman X! On iOS. on: January 10, 2012, 06:46:13 PM
http://www.siliconera.com/2012/01/10/mega-man-25th-anniversary-logo-hidden-in-iphone-game/

This got a slow golf clap out of me.

"We've come here, not to praise Megaman, but to bury him!" -Capcom at Megaman's 25th celebration.
3877  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Suikoden Topic on: January 10, 2012, 11:25:21 AM
The Master/apprentice feature sounds interesting.

I'm still a little unclear on this "will" part though. Is it going to be like action points, where this ability costs so much will?

I have no idea unfortunately. It sounds like they're completely overhauling the entire gameplay of the original series to the point where the only thing similar is the fact that you can fight in parties of 6. I don't know whether the jobs thing is basically there to replace runes or not since I've heard nothing about there being anything rune-like in this setting thus far. The Master/apprentice thing sounds stupid though since it seems like they're mandating the use of characters from both time periods which means that they're probably going to try to focus heavily on the time travel aspects of the plot (and this almost always goes poorly due to the poorly understood nature of time travel shenanigans); that or this is fancy way of saying that half of your party at any given time will consist of plot important characters and the other three will be your choice or they'll consist of plot central characters and the remainders will be split between your choice and those currently relevant to the plot. The closest I can figure with the Will thing is that it'll be another arbitrary means for the game to mandate switching up characters by providing a set limit to the amount of time any given person can spend in the active party.

I could be wrong about most if not all of this but these are the impressions I've gotten about this thus far.
3878  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Suikoden Topic on: January 10, 2012, 07:20:26 AM
http://www.siliconera.com/2012/01/10/suikoden-lets-players-customize-characters-with-jobs-and-sub-jobs/

Tri-Ace contribution spotted.
3879  Media / Multiplayer RPGs / Re: Emperor's SaGa on: January 09, 2012, 10:25:47 AM
Fucking Square, moving my favorite series to a platform I will never fucking have.

I'd make a joke about Squeenix's ability to keep their mobile games on mobile platforms but this is a SaGa game we're talking about here, so yeah, I feel your pain.
3880  Media / Miscellaneous Games / Re: Megaman X! On iOS. on: January 09, 2012, 08:09:45 AM
The crappiness of the sprite art is ultimately subjective,

EDIT: Oh yeah I'd give the game credit for having good character art for the boss select screen and whatnot, but that stuff is ganked from MH:X so basically anything that was made specifically for this remake was crapola.

Except that it really isn't since it's literally the original sprites (save for the boss select screen which as you said was swiped from MHX instead) slapped with a terrible high res filter with outlines drawn around everything to make it look a little less blatantly phoned in. And then they dropped frames and stuck screen transitions all over the place to lower sprite counts.

Basically this thing amuses me because it's exactly what I figured it was going to be the moment I learned of its existence. Crapcom just makes hating them all too easy. They're lucky as fuck that they managed to invoke a fighting game resurgence because without it all they'd have would be Resident Evil (which they're constantly running into the ground) and a few other miscellaneous titles.
3881  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: How do you invent items in Star Ocean 3? on: January 09, 2012, 07:48:56 AM
Also is item creation necessary in Star Ocean 2 like it is in this game or nah

Not unless you want to hit level 100 and have the Eternal Sphere while still on disk 1, but doing the former basically means you've already lost as the time you could've spent getting there naturally and it's not like you'll actually be able to benefit from all of this anyways due to the fact that the plot throws a barrage of unwinnable boss fights in your general direction from the point where this becomes feasible till somewhere in disk 2.
3882  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Games You'd Like To Give Another Chance And Why? on: January 09, 2012, 07:39:50 AM
Persona 3....no nevermind fuck that piece of emo shit.

You are going to burn in hell.
At least it won't be because i thought my 9mm pistol could summon my inner demon to eviscerate my enemies if I shot myself in the head with it.

WHO THE FUCK THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? AMERICANS ARE DUMB AND IMPRESSIONABLE ENOUGH WITHOUT BEING MOTIVATED TO ATTEMPT SUICIDE FOR MORE POWER!

Think of it this way. At least there won't be any more Americans dumb and impressionable enough to attempt such a thing afterwords. Or are you worried that one day there will be a promise of power tempting enough for you to fall for?
3883  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Worst Final Fantasy game (No online games) on: January 09, 2012, 07:33:30 AM
My problem with VIII was that all the cool interesting shit got ignored in favor of Squall and Riona's Supermarket Romance Novel of a relationship.

There's like some sort of war going on but you don't really notice it when you're giving Riona a piggy back ride across a desert so the nice doctors over at Esthar can launch her up into space. Sure Irvine might have started out going WTF when the party shows up and nobody recognizes him or having jitters in what amounts to shooting his own mom but it's kinda difficult to pull that out of the bullshit Riona pulls with her 'Sealing Ring' that Quistis walks right into. And speaking of, whatever happened to that Quistis who was at that landing sequence at the start of the game? It seemed like right after that she wound up getting replaced with an incompetent nincompoop right afterwords but you never really notice aside from when she does stupid shit because the game forgets about her, and Sephlie, and Irvine after disk 1. And sure Laguna might have struck out with Riona's mom but one use of his Limit Break as well as some of Squall's commentary of whatever sequence you're viewing and you're basically wishing the game really was about him instead of his loser of a son.

Actually FFVIII probably does have a decent story, just one that's marred by an atrocious cast of losers that even the writers didn't really care about aside from making that Twu Wuv romance.
3884  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on: January 09, 2012, 06:54:42 AM
Is there any way to know how many Goddess Cubes you're missing? I'm about to start hunting for them... but I really have no idea how many I already have.

Best bet is to go to an area and do a dowsing sweep. If you get no reaction then head to the next area repeat; if you do get a reaction make sure it isn't pointing to the next area otherwise head to the next area repeat. It's not as bad as trying to find stuffs with Super Metroid's X-Ray Visor as dowsing covers a pretty broad area and you only have to either press 'C' or hold it and select the option instead of not being able to run while it's selected or move at all while using it.

Additionally this game's Super Guide was pretty useless as well.
3885  The Rest / General Discussions / Re: RPGFan's Games of the Year 2011 Thread on: January 08, 2012, 08:19:22 PM
Way to wuss out on choosing between TitS and RH guys. >:(

Actually I'm surprised that Persona 2 didn't end up with at least an honorable mention this year. No really, I am. Especially if you're counting OoT3D and Tactics Ogre as viable top picks?

Now give out your dud of the year award guys. We need to know if The 3rd Birthday really was more awful than Dragon Age 2 or not.

Double Edit:

So what would you say was the RPG based anime of the year? TitS vs. P4 vs. a bunch of H-game conversions.
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