Ah, the RPG: equip your Mithril Sword, explore the dungeon, beat the boss, and move on. It really doesnít sound all that excitingÖ but it is. It's fun to level up and fight stronger enemies as you progress. Itís fun to buy new weapons and armor at each town. Itís fun to gain new skills that arenít really different than your old ones but you think are cool anyway. Itís even fun to partake in the extreme sport of level grinding. I donít know why.
For some reason, I am able to spend a day playing Full Metal Alchemist 2, spend the next day playing Yís Ark of Napishtim and Atelier Iris Eternal Mana, and then spend the next week playing Tales of Symphonia. (That would be this weekÖ) But why? Why did I buy La Pucelle Tactics and Disgaea when theyíre practically the same thing?
People are always complaining that RPGs are all the same, with similar storylines and the same gameplay, but if the story and gameplay were good the first time you saw them, why arenít they now? Okay, so Final Fantasy I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, and X-2 were all ridiculously similar, but that didnít stop them from being great!
I think that most reviewers are hypocritical, or at least all the magazine ones. Theyíre constantly complaining about how one game is too similar to another, or how the game is too repetitive, then turn around and give the new Zelda and Final Fantasy a 9-10. Donít get me wrong, I own 9 Final Fantasy games and 8 Zelda games, but Iím not afraid to admit they get repetitive. Every Zelda game is the exact same as the last one! They have the same dungeons, the same bosses, and practically the same weapons.
I wouldnít want it any other way.
I like repetition. If youíre constantly doing different things, you lose track of whatís going on. When games get to in-depth I get very confused. Iím 30 hours into Tales of Symphonia and Iím still learning new things that I should really know by now. Games like Star Ocean 3 that give you no tutorial are hard to get into. Some games like Disgaea just give you to friggin' much to do. I could play through the story, or I could level up my items in item world, or I could get new laws passed, or I could make a bunch of new characters that Iíll never use, orÖ itís just to hard to decide.
I like it more when games are linear, because I donít end up spending more time deciding what to do than doing it. I have a lot of games that Iíve accumulated over the past few months that I really need to beat, and I donít have time to sit around doing nothing. In fact, by writing this Editorial, I am wasting time that I could be using finding out what happens when I go back to Tetheíalla in Tales of Symphonia. I have to beat it before August 8 when I get Makai Kingdom, and possibly Phantom Brave, Riviera, and the Tales of Destiny games for the PSX.
Repetition in gameplay isnít really all that bad. It may not be an RPG, but God of War was highly repetitive, but I still loved it. All RPGs start to get repetitive after a while. Iíve participated in, literally, over 800 battles in Tales of Symphonia, and Iíve used my Sonic Sword Rain attack at least twice that many times. Tales of Symphonia still has what I consider to be the greatest battle system of all time. There are some cases when the repetition begins to get annoying, like when youíve summoned Quezcotl in Final Fantasy VIII for the 40th time, but the challenge of the game keeps it interesting.
RPGs usually make up for their repetition with a great storyline full of twists and turns. But, in my opinion, the simpler the story the better. There are still people debating over the true meaning of Final Fantasy VII. Iíd rather play a game where the story makes sense, even at the cost of it being simplistic. RPGs that have a lot of twists and turns run the high risk of ruining themselves. I wonít spoil anything, but the plot twist in Star Ocean 3 is so weird, some people stopped playing afterward. Tales of Symphonia can become confusing because everyone is constantly hiding things from each other.
Just look at Disgaea. It has a pretty simplistic storyline, and it's still great. The story is so hilarious; you canít help but love it. Look at Yís Ark of Napishtim. That game has a clichť-ridden story, hardly any cutscenes, and a story thatís ridiculously simple, but I still like the story because I know exactly whatís going on.
RPGs havenít come very far in the last 20 years. Tales of Symphonia isnít that different from Tales of Destiny. Final Fantasy X-2 is a crappy version of Chrono Cross. Even MMORPGs havenít really changed since the days of Diablo. Some people may not like that, but I think itís great. I am an RPGamer.