Line Em Up!
I have a very complicated relationship with Role-Playing Games or RPGs. On the one hand I love the open-ish worlds, the deep story-lines, the interesting characters, the complex character leveling and the strategic battles. On the other, I hate the confusing world maps, the constant random encounters with enemies every two feet, the vague or cliched story-lines, the often paper-thin characters, the overly complex item and leveling system and the plodding pacing that often requires level-grinding for several hours before you can enter a new area. So yeah, it’s complicated.
There is one thing that has always perplexed and frustrated me about RPGs: the battles. In almost every RPG battle, you and your enemies line up on either side of the screen, each taking turns to vibrate, which inexplicably causes the opponent to lose a bit of health. Yes. You attack by vibrating*. Or, if the devs were feeling innovative, the characters might step forward and swing their weapon in the air before retreating to their “spot” in line on the battlefield. If the devs were feeling really, really innovative, then the characters might even move across the entire battlefield before taking a swipe, but then they immediately retreat back in line. So, my question is: Why can I not move from my pre-determined spawn-point? What is this, the freaking American Revolution? Are we all neatly marching Redcoats who can’t break our rank & file for fear of being court-marshaled? This is a freaking battle! The whole point is to dodge, move and attack the opponent before he can do the same. Granted, we’re trying to be strategic here given this is an RPG, but can I at least do more than the Hokey-Pokey?
This is one reason why I enjoy western RPGs more then most Japanese RPGs; they’re often a bit more action-oriented while still maintaining the depth and complexity that comes with a role-playing game. This is why I’ve never finished a Final Fantasy game. This is why I’ve invested hundreds of hours into the Elder Scrolls series. This is also why the news of Pandora’s Tower (the last of the Operation Rainfall games) coming to the US of A has excited me to no end. More JRPGs with battle that don’t suck!
And yes, I can be petty.
*One of the main reasons I never got into Pokemon. It’s a freakin monster fight and all they do is beep and hiss and shake at each other!