Personal Vehicles

As many car owners will probably attest, there's nothing like the convenience of having your own personal vehicle ready to take you wherever you need to go. Fortunately, the technological levels in RPGs mean that we aren't necessarily confined to the roads, and can go nearly anywhere we want. But it's not always just about the convenience. It's also nice to just able to take yourself on a nice recreational cycle ride, or just enjoy the sensation of floating on the wind. In this section we to those transport options that players can just grab or step into and go.

Bikes (Pokémon series)
Bio Tank (Metal Max 4)
Deku Leaf (The Legned of Zelda: Wind Waker)
Hoverboard (WildStar)
Mako (Mass Effect)
Rheairds (Tales of Symphonia)
The Schleiman Tank (Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime)

Bikes - Pokémon series

There are many ways to travel in the Pokémon world, with one or more new ones often being added each generation (and sometimes being taken away by the next). Other than your own trusty feet, the first way to get around in any Pokémon game is the bicycle in Red and Blue. There is a store in Cerulean City where bikes are sold for a cool million Pokédollars, which is one dollar more than the maximum amount of money the player can hold. How are you supposed to get one in that case? By listening to the Chairman of the Pokémon Fan Club in Vermilion City ramble on about his Rapidash, of course. In exchange for boring you to the death, the man hands over a voucher for one free bicycle. It moves at about twice running speed, which while convenient, feels rather sluggish compared to biking speeds in later games.

Every generation since has included a bike as a key item. It is usually obtained a little before mid-game by performing a relatively simple task, be it riding a bike around as advertisement or saving the store's owner from the game's evil team. Amazingly, these bikes are described as being foldable, apparently explaining their ability to fit inside the trainer's bag without much trouble. The only generation to have more than one bicycle is the third with Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald. In these games, players are able to switch between the Mach and the Acro Bikes, but can only have one at a time. The Mach Bike allows the player to move at super fast speeds, enabling them to ride up muddy slopes and across cracked floors. There is even a special Seaside Cycling Road on Route 110 in the Hoenn region where players can beat their best times riding without bumping into other riders (which amazingly makes the bike stop rather than causing a terrible collision). The Acro Bike allows trainers to perform tricks, such as the bunny hop and popping wheelies, in order to access special areas. These are especially useful in finding hidden items, reaching a good Secret Base spot, or getting to a particular area of the Hoenn Safari Zone where certain Pokémon live.

Even once trainers have obtained the Hidden Machine for the Fly move, enabling instant transportation between cities, bicycles are still useful for quick travel. They're also very important if trainers like to hatch many Pokémon eggs, as riding a bike while carrying one makes the hatching time go much faster. Of course, every single generation has had its own unique and rather catchy cycling music theme. For quick and easy travel across the countryside, there is nothing better than a bicycle, at least in the Pokémon games. - Cassandra Ramos

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Bio Tank - Metal Max 3/4

From the very beginning, way back in the late 80s, Metal Max was all about the vehicles. Tanks, tanks, and more tanks were available to meet the crazy needs of the series' trademark vehicular combat. So when Crea-Tech got the go-ahead to apply the electrodes and re-animate its beloved franchise with Metal Max 3 in 2010, the devs made sure to pull out all the stops when it came to the awesome. This resulted in the Bio Tank.

These behemoths are the ultimate in mad-science mayhem, capable of gaining experience through combat and applying it to internal upgrades. Carefully designed by the most level-headed researcher available, Dr. Tank Lady, the Bio Tanks are so incredible that one of them actually predates itself. The Mammoth Tank, seen above, was in fact a boss in the original Metal Max — and a darn nasty one it was, too. With all that potential, it's no wonder that the Bio Tanks got themselves a strong following in the fandom.

As awesome as they are, of course they and Dr. Tank Lady made their way into Metal Max 4 as well, with just as many possible combinations of chassis (4), temperaments (4), and potential add-ons (insane). You want a snow-white wooly mammoth? You can get it. Steely blue beetle? Done. Cannon-toting Cthulhuoid? Sure. Plush-pink Tyrannosaurus Rex? Dr. Tank Lady can give you a pink-plush T-Rex that breathes fire. Let's see other vehicularly-oriented RPGs top THAT. - Michael Baker

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Deku Leaf - The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Travel has been a staple of The Legend of Zelda franchise for ages. The green-garbed Hero of Time always seems to have a new method of getting from place to place, whether it be on horseback, by boat, by train, on the back of a giant bird, or by magical, space-bending ocarina. I could probably fill an entire article with nothing but Zelda vehicles, but instead I want to talk about Link's greatest travel method ever: the Deku Leaf from The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. In the extremely mortal words of Seamus Washburne, "I'm a leaf on the wind — watch how I soar."

The Deku Leaf, as its name suggests, is a leaf plucked from the branches of the Great Deku Tree itself. It is so large and so light that it acts as a parachute, allowing Link to glide on winds that flow across the sea. While it can't take him very far, it can help him get to plenty of places that would be otherwise unreachable. Using the updrafts that occur naturally on many islands, he can soar upwards and reach islands far too high to be reached by any other means. By first climbing to great heights, he can glide to distant islands that he couldn't land on in any other way. He can use it to finally win that stupid birdman mini-game.

He can even use it as a weapon by wielding it like a giant fan, blowing enemies away and stunning them. How many parachutes can do that? Truly, the Deku Leaf is the vehicle of champions.

Until you run out of magic. Then it's just a really big leaf. - Adriaan den Ouden

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Hoverboard - WildStar

Up until now, there's been one rule for transportation upgrades in MMORPGs: they go faster. Although it satisfies the speed demons, it's not a particularly inventive kind of upgrade, and at a certain point too much speed leads to performance reduction, as computers rush to process all the graphics you're rushing by at Mach 8. WildStar decided to try something different with its second-tier mounts. Instead of giving players the same kinds of mounts, only faster, it offers hoverboards when players hit level 25. Hoverboards travel at the same speed as regular mounts, but they can travel over water. It's a small thing, but it's quite helpful when journeying through zones with large rivers and lakes. I like that it shows a bit of imagination on the part of the developers.

One of the coolest things about WildStar's mounts is that they can be customized with "flair" bits that are purchased from vendors or otherwise earned throughout the game. Hoverboards aren't quite as customizable as some other mounts, but buying flair for your board allows you to attach logos in various spots, much like skaters do when customizing their boards. You can show off your board, flair or not, by double-jumping, which causes your player to do a trick pose. It's a great little touch that adds even more style and fun to these unique mounts. - Becky Cunningham

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Mako - Mass Effect

The M35 Mako is the original Normandy's infantry deployment vehicle, allowing for Commander Shepard and her companions easy access to planet and moon surfaces without needing to waste time and resources finding somewhere for the Normandy to land. While she was in the six-wheeled vehicle, armed with a mass accelerator cannon and mounted machine gun, Shepard's planetside enemies weren't going to get away; as long as it was solid the Mako could drive on it. With suspension made out of what must be the greatest alloy ever invented, it was also damn near indestructible to huge drops. Endless fun could be had simply driving up the steepest mountains, before deploying the micro-thrusters and bouncing back down again.

Admittedly the Mako wasn't too effective in actual tank-based combat, particularly finding its match when coming across the giant spiky worms known as thresher maws. Then again, these are thresher maws, a bane of even the reapers, so the Mako can hardly be blamed for tlosing a few fights to them. Unfortunately, it seems like didn't get enough love from most of the fanbase and was quickly killed off in the second game, with Cerberus instead wasting their money on retreiving and reviving some human from the planet where the Mako also met its end. The replacements for the exploration and vehicular roles of the Mako — planet scanning and the DLC Firewalker missions — just weren't as as fun as bouncing around extra-terrestrial landscapes and mountains. - Alex Fuller

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Rheairds - Tales of Symphonia

Rheairds, the single-occupant flying machines featured in certain Tales games are often associated with Tales of Symphonia, but they first showed up as far back as Tales of Phantasia. It's understandable that not everyone would be aware of this, though, as not only was the original Super Famicom version never released outside of Japan, the only version of Phantasia to get a Western release — the one for the Game Boy Advance — localized the name as "Techbirds." Much like the more familiar machines of Tales of Symphonia, the ones in Phantasia require a pact made with the Summon Spirit Volt so that it can provide mana to the Rheairds. The machines are even kept in a Wing Pack, which is somehow able to store multiple large objects within it.

Interestingly, while Phantasia's Rheairds are developed by scientists in the city of Euclid in the future timeline, people are unaware that nearly identical machines were built thousands of years before, as Symphonia is a distant prequel to Phantasia. In that game, the Rheairds were built by Cruxis and the Renegades and stolen by Lloyd and the party. Rheairds are also used in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, where they are not obtained until the final chapter. Since that game lacks a traversable world map, it can perhaps be excused as the Rheairds can't be flown manually anyway.

Rheairds are nifty for a number of reasons. Other than providing quick transportation, they allow for free access to the entire world map so that players may discover new and interesting places, often opening up side quests. This even applies to Dawn of the New World, as previously unavailable locations are added to the map list, which were not there before obtaining the machines. They have an cool, sleek design and also come in a variety of colors, making it all the better that everyone gets their own. Who wouldn't want their own personal flying machine? Well, except for maybe Arche in Phantasia, who is content with powering up her broom. Marta of Dawn of the New World isn't too fond of the flying machines either. - Cassandra Ramos

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The Schleiman Tank - Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime

Is it a tank? Is it a castle? It’s both! Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime's Schleiman Tank gives a lowly slime the power to shake the heavens. This wonder of ancient German technology is big, beefy, and stocked with enough cannons to give anyone pause. In this case, "anyone" is broad enough to include a giant mechanical cactus manned by tinier cacti, who use their tank's armaments to launch explosives and themselves at you.

The Schleiman Tank has explosives of its own, but that's not all it fires from its cannons. Anything Rocket finds in his quest can be expelled from their magnificent bores. Swords and chunks of masonry are good to start, but a fully-stocked Schleiman can handle giant spiked balls, magic mirrors, and meteors. Against such a variety of ammo, every defense falls: the mighty oak-bodied Chrono Twigger, the moderately amphibious Platypanzer, and the heavily armored S. Cargo.

Even His Royal Wobbliness, king of the slimes, knows something about the Schleiman Tank's power, but he doesn't consider all of the implications. The tank's main body looks suspiciously similar to its pilot, Rocket. This means Rocket is a hero piloting a giant castle/tank that looks like someone stuck treads under his butt and wrapped him in an outer bailey. Consider how your friends and enemies would react to see you in such a state. Rocket has one sweet ride. - Zach Welhouse

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