So, before I begin, I am going to throw out a disclaimer that these opinions are my own, and do not reflect everyone’s. That being said, I can also state that since these are my opinions, there are no facts behind my statements other then how I feel. These opinions are also based solely on console gaming and my own experiences.
Back in my earlier years, video gaming took up a lot of my time. My last post told the story of how I had wanted to venture into the world of tabletop gaming, but was not able to find a group of people that shared my interests and this one will talk about what I ended up doing instead.
I fell in love with rpgs at an early age. Final Fantasy came out on the 8bit Nintendo and was easily the most influential game that I played, with The Legend of Zelda following a close second. It had a story! You could level up! There were stores! It was pretty mind blowing to me, given that most of my gaming at that time was Super Mario Bros, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out and Rygar. It put me on a life long love/hate with Square (Squaresoft, Square Enix) and I am sure pissed off many a friend who had asked me if I was going to be ready to head out only to show up at my house and find me still sitting in my room playing because I hadn’t found a save point.
I played many rpgs growing up and into my adult years and have watched the subtle changes along the way. Games became more cinematic, voice acting started to take a role, character names were unable to be changed, and through the most part these were positive changes. It could be a little frustrating at times when you would finally get that anticipated game, sit down, watch the opening cinematic, walk three steps, watch another cinematic, talk to one person, get yet another cinematic (I’m looking at you Final Fantasy X), however, in the end you realize that it really does add an element to the game that was not able to be done before.
At it’s core, rpg games are playable stories. Like most stories, there are some good, some bad, and some very, very, bad that you wish you can unread (oh, The Bouncer). They have the same fundamentals – leveling, experience, some sort of epic world story that you can easily get sucked into; I would spend hours and hours leveling my characters to max level and attempt a 100% completion. Most of the games I played would be replayed soon after, not that there were usually different choices to make, but mostly because I wanted to re-experience the story.
Over the past few years I am noticing a new kind of rpg to come out. They don’t quite follow the formula, though you still level and gain experience. They also have some of the most amazing stories I have come across, whether dealing with worlds ending, post-apocalyptic landscapes, an Arch demon. Yet, something feels different about them. There is no real farming, no just zoning out and just fighting things to fight things. You are on a set path; there are no random encounters. Games like Skyrim, Fallout, Mass Effect, Dragon Age – these are rpgs, but not like the ones I played growing up. It is interesting to see the genre evolve, and to see people who wouldn’t play the traditional old school games pick up the control to face the Illusive Man.
I am sure there are still the games out there that follow the old formula. I am currently playing Star Ocean 4, and it is bringing me back to those days of curling up on the couch and just getting into random encounters for hours. I like it very much so far, and it makes me want to replay some of my old favorites: Final Fantasy 6, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, maybe even Faxanadu. It’s nice to be able to curl up every once in a while and feel like a kid again.