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1  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Favorite RPG romance on: August 06, 2013, 07:44:28 PM
How come no one has mentioned Rufus and Alicia from Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria?

If there was one relationship in an RPG that felt natural it was this one. I was nearly in tears at the end. They had to go through a lot together and they had to rely on each other.
2  Media / Single-Player RPGs / The soul of the RPG on: June 16, 2013, 03:52:37 PM
So, the RPG is my favorite gaming genre, just as fantasy is my favorite book and movie genre. Looking at this E3 I'm worried that RPGs and gaming in general are losing soul. I still remember the first time I fought Emerald and Ruby Weapons in Final Fantasy VII, the polished and delightful feel of Valkyrie Profile, the satisfaction of getting 108 characters in Suikoden. I still remember the first time I escaped Irenicus's dungeon and emerged in Waukeen's Promenade, the most beautiful shopping district in any RPG, or entering the Copper Coronet, bustling with activity, or exploring Britannia in Ultimas IV, V, and VI, becoming the Avatar and fighting for the virtues.

The RPGs of yore had a capacity for immersion seldom seen in games today. There was always something new or interesting to explore, tactical combat to engage in, and a good story to top it all off. I've seen my best friend play Skyrim, one of the few games of today that can achieve that level of awe and wonder.

Playing an RPG or any other game for that matter should be like reading a good book or watching a great movie. You should always want to continue forward, to see what happens next. Today's games seemed designed for fast reflexes and not for exploration and combing of its areas and characters.

I see this tendency towards games with less "soul" across the PC and home consoles. I would love for a game to make me want to OCD about it. To want to explore every little thread of the plot or to want to do all of its quests.

What do you think about the status of gaming today, especially RPGs?
3  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Innovation on: July 25, 2011, 09:44:59 PM
A lot of gamers cry for innovation in games, saying that entire genres and franchises have stagnated. I feel there are two attitudes toward innovation that should be avoided at all costs if we want gaming to remain an enjoyable experience. The first one is taking the simplistic approach of "if it ain't broke don't fix it". This just doesn't cut it because then any endeavor truly stagnates, not just gaming. But the second one is just as bad and it's the people that want the wheel reinvented every single time, just for the sake of it.

Many times I hear people clamoring: "It's the same mechanic from twenty year ago" or "there are just two types of settings: medieval fantasy and futuristic science fiction." 

While I agree that it's nice to have things that push gaming forward such as an ingenious mechanic or a very original setting, we shouldn't be expecting them every time a new RPG or game from any other genre comes out.

Sure, it's nice to have something different than orcs and elves and more variety than a space opera, but if there are games that use any common ground but do it very well, why should we criticize them for it?

Likewise if a game comes up with a meaningful gameplay mechanic that is new or an original setting, why not embrace that?

This is just my thoughts on a forum trend that I've been noticing in forums since this generation started. There doesn't need to be an "end of the world as we know it" for gaming to be rejuvenated again. There are and must be a way of keeping core elements of tried and true gameplay and setting while bringing something new to the table.

Ideally, developers should be preoccupied with filling their games with well-written dialogue, cohesive setting and narrative and just plain fun and rock-solid gameplay, not worrying about introducing gimmicks for people who get bored of everything quickly.

I want to hera the opinions of people on this subject because it touches on something that impacts how the industry evolves and therefore how much we enjoy our games. Veteran RPg gamers may have a different take on this, because they've been gaming for so long. I must admit that, even though with 29 titles under my belt, I still consider myself a neophyte when it comes to RPGs.
4  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: Change in RPGs? on: July 13, 2011, 09:07:53 PM
Haha, you echoed my thoughts perfectly about settings in RPGs. I've played mostly JRPGs but recently I've dabbled into WRPGs. WRPGs tend to be more susceptible of the medieval/futuristic classification than JRPGs but both have produced games with a certain variety. Final Fantasy is a series that calls my attention because it's one of the few that mixes magic with technology. The first Final Fantasies on the NES were the most medieval ones, but then a certain FFVII came into the picture with its heavy steampunk. It's curious because with JRPGs I don't mind so much the setting but with WRPGs I tend to strictly prefer the medieval fantasy ones. It's just a quirk of mine and I can't really explain why is that. Maybe because I feel WRPGs tend to flourish in that setting. They generally do it very well and it feels right. I guess that something like Mass Effect or Fallout would be interesting to play, but it would feel like a any other Hollywood sci-fi flick. Anyways, I just feel more entertained with medieval fantasy than science fiction. It boils down to a personal preference.
5  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Design choices on: July 01, 2011, 02:01:39 PM
No, I'm not talking about the character designs but game design choices, the ones that affect gameplay. This is a topic where you can list and discuss your favorite and most hated game design choices in RPGs.

I'll start:

1. Ridiculous way of getting loot or treasure. One of the coolest things about RPGs is seeing your characters grow from a meager level 1 adventurer with the most basic equipment and progressively get better and better and tackle the most dangerous foes. A lot of this depends on the equipment and items you get throughout the game. But some games make some choices that baffle me. Worst offender: Icewind Dale. Whereas Baldur's Gate I and II gave you the most powerful items if you completed the greater challenges of the game (Durlag's Tower, Watcher's Keep), Icewind Dale, while retaining the neat combat system from AD&D and the Infinity Engine, adopts a way of handling items that is truly appalling. Let's say you already have a Short Bow +1 and a Bastard Sword +1 that two of your characters are using. In the dungeon after this you'll face creatures that need at least a +2 weapon to hit. So you do the current dungeon hoping you can pick some of those. You see chests, get excited but, what's this? The game decides you need another Short Bow +1 and another Bastard Sword +1, making for perfectly useless loot. If you wanted to get the better items from the dungeon, simply reloading won't do any good. You''d have to go back to latest save before you entered the area and hope that this time you get what you want. Pretty bullshit system to me if I may say so.

A game that handles items quite gracefully: Valkyrie Profile. In every dungeon you were guaranteed to get useful items, provided that you solved a puzzle to get to them. Plus giving stores loot from your travels to make you better items is also good. Even more, if you were able to kill a monster in one hit you would get an item, period, and in the ultimate challenge of the game (Seraphic Gate) this could mean some of the best weapons in the game.

I can understand how a designer wouldn't want to just give the best items in the game easily, but there has to be a balanced and meaningful way to do this. In my examples above, I put one of the worst ways of going about this and a good way of going about this.

2. Excessive random battles. Modern RPGs rarely have this problem, but in the past, dungeons were made twice as long simply because of the random battles. It's a chore to navigate through dungeons when you're interrupted every three seconds by a fight. And if you had to backtrack out of the dungeon, then that would mean even more grievance.

These are my top two. Feel free to add more and discuss examples and whatnot.
6  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: WRPG virgin no more! on: June 20, 2011, 03:45:43 PM
blah blah blah

You actually liked Baldur's Gate? You have my deepest condolences.

Why? It's a great game. Sure, it shows its age in things like the path-finding of the characters (they seem to think they can cross solid barriers like walls) and get in each others way in narrow corridors, the difficulty curve is a little bit uneven, but other than that I can see why it's such a beloved game.

As an aside, I am a girl and now that I've discovered them I love this kind of game and I just purchased Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale and I just created my characters en each and I'm ready to play, while I'm starting the first disc of Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete.

An RPG appeals to me whether turn-based or action, W or J, just as long as it has an interesting, great , fully fleshed world, characters I like and gameplay that's fun and not frustrating to an extreme extent. Pretty much what you would ask from any game in any genre, basically.
7  Media / Single-Player RPGs / WRPG virgin no more! on: June 19, 2011, 06:26:22 PM
So, I finally did it! After scrupulous research and recommendations I settled for Baldur's Gate and its expansion Tales of the Sword Coast. At first I didn't know what to expect. But I battled gnolls and wolves, spiders and wyverns until the conclusion. And it was extremely satisfying.

First I'll do a brief review of the game and then I'll say something on the ongoing debate between JRPGs vrs. WRPGS.

Let me start by saying that to play this game I was in need of a completely different mindset than when playing a JRPG. I had to familiarize myself with a bunch of terms and stats which I was not used to in JRPGS. This is an AD&D based RPG after all. Even though combat was difficult it was extremely fun and enjoyable once I got the hang of everything. And of course I had to adapt myself to real-time. The world of Baldur's Gate is fully fleshed out and it's fascinating. But more on the gameplay first. Whereas in JRPGs death is but an inconvenience to recuperate from and quickly before you get a game over (not including Fire Emblem, lol), in Baldur's Gate it must be avoided at all costs. Sure, it's possible to resurrect characters but you're better off avoiding death in the first place. These kind of games ask you to debilitate and incapacitate the enemy in the shortest amount of time possible. Don't let archers pelt to death your mage or cleric. Don't let mages get there spells off in the first place. Of course drawing out a battle in a JRPG is just as dangerous but is more of a possibility. There's usually (not always) a way to avoid a fatal attack or a strategy to do huge amounts of damage. Can't figure out how to beat Emerald Weapon in FFVII? There are some materia combinations and setups that can ensure victory. You can't beat Omega Weapon in FFVIII because it's using its insta-death attack? Just junction 100 death spells and you're good to go.

No such thing in Baldur's Gate or other WRPGs like it. Yo can prevent and protect to a certain extent but there's nothing that'll guarantee victory.

Does this mean that JRPGs are piss easy and WRPGs are superior? Not by a longs hot. It's just two different design philosophies. It also depends on the type of game you're playing. In more action or real-time RPGs it's difficult to make a definite strategy against a certain enemy as opposed to turn-based ones. Of course, both types of games require you to know the mechanics of the game and even metagame to come out victorious.Some people hate on JRPGs just because a lot of them are turn-based. I can understand that for some people turn-based may not appeal to them and that's fine. But calling turn-based out-dated or simplistic is not something I can agree with.

Both real-time RPGS like Baldur's Gate have their place in the gaming world just as turn based like Final Fantasy, Xenosaga, or Dragon's Quest have theirs.

None is inherently better than the other, IMO. I just wanted to throw my two cents about this, rather than doing just a review. 
8  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: I need some help to get initiated, lol. on: May 03, 2011, 06:07:32 PM
Ah, ok. Thank you for the info, Mesh. It's great, then, because I'll have 7 games to play now and during vacations. I will be really busy then for the next few months! Thank you so much everyone.

I just created my character in Baldur's Gate, and the intro and just about everything else brought a smile to my face. I can't believe I hadn't played a WRPG before. It's very different from a JRPG but it's just as good in every way. I think that just for the heck of it. I'll create a second character, see which I like the most and then stick with the file of that character. I just love how traditional everything is (not that innovation is a bad thing at all). I know Baldur's Gate is a really old game that people already have beaten a thousand times and everything but since I'd never played a game like that before it all feels so fresh to me, even though it might look to some of the most expert RPG players as if I'd been living under a rock. And I know that even long after I beat it, I'll still like this kind of game because from the first impression I got these are games capable of aging well.

Thank you everyone, for giving me something to really enjoy.
9  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: I need some help to get initiated, lol. on: May 03, 2011, 05:26:48 PM
Thank everyone so much for your wonderful suggestions. I looked into the games everyone recommended and ended up buying:

SRPG: Shining Force, Shining Force 2, Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume

WRPG: Baldur's Gate I, Gothic I, Gothic II

As for PSX classic I'll definitely buy Lunar when my birthday comes next month and I have money.

I'm still a little bit undecided on the Action RPG front. I went to the mall the other day and they have both Kingdom Hearts for really cheap. Are they any good?
10  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: I need some help to get initiated, lol. on: May 01, 2011, 03:00:41 PM
You're going to have to be more specific if you're requesting recommendations for a WRPG.  The goldbox AD&D games have barebones strategy RPG mechanics as you see in games like Shining Force with its combat engine.  Torchlight is an actiony dungeon crawler.  Baldur's Gate is semi-realtime traditional RPGing.  Mass Effect is third person shooter/RPG hybrid with heavy emphasis on dialogue.  Fallout 3 is first person shooter/RPG hybrid with heavy emphasis on exploration.  What exactly are you looking for?

Actually, in the WRPG department, I'm looking for something with a high fantasy medieval setting (whatever game in this category that I end up playing, I'll play it on vacations when I'm free of responsibilities). I know that most WRPGs aren't a cakewalk but I don't want a WRPG that will make me want to pull my hair out and throw my computer through the window.
11  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: I need some help to get initiated, lol. on: May 01, 2011, 01:55:40 PM
Thank you everyone for your recommendations, everyone. I looked into the Lunar series, which some people recommended. They seem wonderful but they are exceedingly expensive on Amazon. On the flip side, I found Shining Force I & II really, really cheap on Steam. So, yay!

Another thing I should have mentioned, that I've played almost the entire Legend of Zelda series and the Suikoden series (including I and II).

Keep 'em coming people.

As for Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, that's great news. I just hope it isn't frustratingly hard even if it doesn't have massive amounts of grinding. I think it's a very strong candidate, along with the Shining Force games.

Another thing I was wondering is maybe if I should play the Kingdom Hearts series. I've heard that the first two games are great, but that all the spin-offs etc. have made the story into a convoluted mess. I don't know to which extent this is true. And I just wondering how well the Final Fantasy characters fit into the story.
12  Media / Single-Player RPGs / I need some help to get initiated, lol. on: May 01, 2011, 12:41:48 PM
So, I recently completed Valkyrie Profile 2 and I loved it, but it was a very time consuming game (if you dedicate yourself to beat the Seraphic Gate fully), so now I'm looking for advice for which games could be worthy purchases in the following categories:

1) Strategy RPG: I've never played this subgenre before and I really want to try it. I want something simple, fun, that doesn't require massive amounts of grinding, basically something that's very pick up and play so I can play it between breaks from my intensive college study and at the same time so I can get acquainted with this type of game.

2) Action RPG: So I won't get burned out on turn-based gameplay, I want something with a little bit more action. I haven't played this subgenre before either. Again, I need something simple and fun to get acquainted and that I can play between breaks.

3) A Playstation 1 Classic RPG: I'm not a graphics whore so I can happily play a game with 2D sprites as long as it's good. I want a game that has a great story and memorable characters but that can be beaten in a relatively short amount of time.

4) A WRPG: Again, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I've never played a WRPG before and I want to start. This game I'll reserve for vacations so I can fully commit to it, but I want to know what people would recommend.

You can recommend games in any of the following platforms: PS1, PS2, Gamecube, N64, Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS. I have a Steam account too if that helps.

Thank you so much in advance everybody for your replies.
13  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: An appreciation of RPG stories, east and west on: April 11, 2011, 01:05:09 PM
I find it hard to believe anyone would waste 50-60 hours of their time in a game where they have absolutely no emotional investment in the narrative. It'd be akin to masochism.   

The Pokemon fans would like a word with you. (Not including me though.)

LOL, everyone loves their Pokémans.

On a serious note, Pokemon has never been about narrative. It focuses on other aspects to drive the player to complete the game. (The impulse to catch 'em all. Maybe, I should explain that sentence you quoted. I personally find it hard that people have the drive to complete a game without emotional investment, I'm not ruling out the possibility that it is perfectly possible for some people to get enough drive from the gameplay aspect alone. There's nothing wrong with that, but in my particular case I couldn't bring myself to do that. Maybe that's why I don't play Pokemon. I hope this explains my point further, because now I can see how that sentence of mine you quoted could be construed as rushed and quick generalization. I know that there are gamers who feel like I do in this respect, but there are a lot others who don't.
14  Media / Single-Player RPGs / Re: An appreciation of RPG stories, east and west on: April 11, 2011, 12:42:44 PM
Great discussion, people! Keep 'em coming. Oh, and just a little disclaimer. I'm in no way endorsing the thesis that story should be the sole or even prevalent aspect of an RPG. Far from that. I love battling, beating bosses, and doing sidequests as much as anyone else. But, in my personal case, the experience becomes much more richer and fuller if there's a strong narrative backing up all the gameplay aspects. It provides more of a reason to stick with the game to completion. If we don't give a single damn about the characters or the world they inhabit, why even help them trough their journey in the first place? There have been cases in which I stuck with a game because the gameplay aspect was entertaining enough. For example, I stuck with FFVIII until the end and even went as far as doing every sidequest (including beating Omega Weapon) because I love the classic Final Fantasy ATB system. However there are some things that I find unacceptable: 1) The only truly useful GF in combat was Doomtrain for his awesome ability to inflict enemies with a million status effects, and 2) even though early in the game GFs are useful to inflict damage they become obsolete pronto as you refine cards and equip them to buff up stats because contrary to popular legend base stats do matter in FFVIII to a certain extent. That's in the gameplay department as for story, as I progressed through it I thought "Wow, Squall spends more than half the game being an insolent twerp and now they want me to believe that he falls head over heels in love with Rinoa and is all heroic and selfless." At least with Cloud you had somewhat of an excuse, because he was subjected to a lot experiments. But, as much as I love Barret's backstory with Marlene, they did a great disservice to his character by making him curse every other word.

Every fantasy or sci-fi story requires suspension of disbelief, but that doesn't mean that the character's personalities don't need to be well defined and constructed.

In the end everything requires balance. I doubt anyone (including myself) would like to play a game where the battle system and character progression are so irremediably broken as to render the game nigh unplayable even if the story is absolutely genius. In similar fashion, I find it hard to believe anyone would waste 50-60 hours of their time in a game where they have absolutely no emotional investment in the narrative. It'd be akin to masochism.   

15  Media / Single-Player RPGs / An appreciation of RPG stories, east and west on: April 10, 2011, 09:38:27 PM
One of the main drives why we play RPGs is the story. The RPG is probably the most story-focused genre in existence compared to platformers, shooters, action-adventure games, etc. It's a feature that made me love them in the first place, aside from gameplay.

But, as with most things in life, RPGs are not homogeneous, especially those coming from Japan and those coming from the West. Neither one is better, they just have different approaches and aesthetic sensibilities.

When you look at JRPGs, you feel that Japanese writers try to take more risks with the themes they explore, however they're not always successful. Let me take a very quick look at some famous JRPGs. Most of these I've played, others I'm merely acquainted. Take for example Xenogears and Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria. I'm aware that they are a generation apart but my point will still stand. Xenogears could be called the gaming equivalent of Evangelion, another successful product of Japanese media. However, there is such a thing as trying too hard, and both Eva and Xeno try too hard to be complex but end up being convoluted and a mish-mash of religious references and ends up being a poor man's Nietzche (that we need to kill God in order to free ourselves.) However, on the other side of the spectrum, there's VP2: Silmeria. It treats themes of redemption and a second chance at life. But I think it does so well. Many people dislike Cloud from FFVII and Shion from Xenosaga because they are what's in vogue to call "emo", or rather brooding.

I do like both of the aforementioned characters, but that's beside the point. The point is that though there are tragedies aplenty in Valkyrie Profile you never get the feeling that these characters are self-defeating. In spite of all what has happened to them, Rufus and Alicia press on, determined to achieve their goals, even joking and relying on each other to continue. If there are two moments of gaming that will stick with me are the desperation of Rufus' voice when Alicia decides to become the vessel for all three Valkyrie souls, and when he tries to embrace Valkyrie as she fades away. Here is a man who has love in his life for the first time and now he learns he will lose it.It baffles me when people praise Rinoa and Squall's romance in FFVIII as if it were Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. JRPGs generally don't do romance well at all, because it involves the girl going all gaga over the guy. Something as portrayed in VP2 or, I'd argue, FFX is much more effective.  Lezard may be a very generic I-want-to-become-all-powerful villain, but his mannerisms and personality are so well delineated that you can't help but like the guy. Other games have arguably better villains like Suikoden V and Final Fantasy XII with their Machiavellian political intrigues.

On the other side of the spectrum there are WRPGs. I must confess that I'm a WRPG virgin (to borrow and expression from on of the wonderful editorials on this site.) But I've become somewhat acquainted with them through short playing moments and from continuously watching my friend play them. They are a completely different beast so why some people claim superiority of one over the other baffles me. WRPGs borrow heavily from Tolkenian fantasy, but that's ok, since being 100% original in a world where almost every story has been told is difficult. WRPGs rely on choice so you can see the effects of your actions in the world your characters inhabit. It's a fascinating approach to storytelling and if done well can be immersive. That's the extent to which I can discuss WRPGs.It's a limitation which I readily acknowledge but hope to remedy soon.

Feel free to agree disagree, etc. but please don't just say "blog it". This is a discussion topic not a blog.
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