The Balance of Battle

by Ender 
Submitted by: (Ender)
Spelling 1
Grammar 0.5
Coherency 2.5
Strength of Arguments 3
Presentation 3
Originality 3
Penalties 0
Total 13

A balance of power. It's one of the most fundament things in any RPG's battle system. But where is the line between an interesting challenge and ludicrously difficult come into play? Or the line between semi-easy and just plain boring? Many of my friends thought that it was based on the number of characters you're allowed to have in your party at a time or, just the opposite, how many enemies could be present in any given battle. But it must come down to so much more than that. Maybe it's just that a game's enemies don't evolve like your characters do, rather, they jump up in levels about every hour. Be warned, references to many games may come up during the time you read this. These games may include, but aren't limited to, Suikoden II, Final Fantasy VII and VIII, and Breath of Fire III.

I believe that the driving point of RPGs is plot. An RPG without a story would just be a group of random characters walking around killing things. But battles are obviously just as important. If there weren't any battles, RPGs would just be a kind of interactive walking simulation with stories. I shudder thinking about what an RPG with neither of the above would be like.

But battles must not just be in the game. They need to be fun or challenging enough to keep you interested in continuing. But would any person really be interested in playing a game when the battles become so tediously easy? Think of it this way. You are playing Pokemon. Your pokemon is level 56. The wild pokemon in the cave is level 15. You defeat it with one hit, even though you have the elemental weakness. After the battle, you take approximately twenty steps and are returned to battle. Your antagonist for this battle is another weaking who you will defeat in the time it takes you to empty out your left nostril. Getting bored of yet?

The problem is that this happens in almost any game you play. If you go back to the area around Golden Saucer just before going on for the final battle with Sephiroth, you'll notice that you may be getting bored within a few minutes (unless your going after Ruby Weapon). It's even possible that you may decide to put off Sephiroth until a later time.

It's time to ask? Where should difficulty be put? Novices and newbies would naturally answer that it should be somewhere in the easier area, and that you should have six characters in your party while the bad guys suffer with a pitiful three or four. Hardcore and ninja gamers would probably lean further towards a nice, refreshing challenge. And they would believe that your three character party should be able to go up against as many as seven or eight adversaries. But neither of these options really strikes any balance in battle. After all, few games ever do. Suikoden II, in my opinion, found this balance. Six characters against as many as eight enemies, but usually no more than around five. Enemies are challenging, but defeatable if the proper stratagy and tactics are used. But even then, walking around your castle will get tedious after a few more hours of play.

So, what do developers need to do to remedy this simple problem? The answer comes from a game that many of you have slammed time after time again, Final Fantasy VIII. The enemies leveled up as you leveled up. You can play the final battle at so many different levels and still be challenged. This is it. The Ambrosia for the indurtries' Grey Death (Deus Ex) has been right in front of our noses for more than a year now. So, the only one thing remains to be said, "Doesn't that beat all?"

There were a lot of grammatical and spelling mistakes in this editorial, which sent it off to a bad start. From spelling mistakes (indurtries' for example), skipping words in a sentence ("Getting bored of yet?" should have 'it' inserted) to sentence fragmentation ("It's time to ask? Where should difficulty be put?" That should be one sentence and the first question mark a comma.)

Also, there were some areas where it could prove confusing, it wanders off on somewhat on a tangent, and also refers to some obscure terms ("Ninja gamer"?) but the point overall was fairly clear.

There were also a few things he didn't note on, such as Harvest Moon (No fighting whatsoever) and Earthbound. (Which gets around the problem by giving an auto-win message and bonuses if you fight a bunch of easy monsters.) Although it wasn't really necessary, this could have strengthened his arguments just that little bit more.

It was presented fairly well, and it is a good look at the battle systems, their flaws and it suggests a possible solution.

Not bad by any accounts, but if it was checked for grammatical and spelling mistakes, it would have easily jumped a grade. With a little more research and making it a little easier to understand, it would have proved to be one of the best.

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