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Topic: Are old school RPGs this tedious?

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cwong15

I recently started playing classic RPG type games on the VC. So far, I've completed and enjoyed Paper Mario and Chrono Trigger. I am currently playing Phantasy Star IV, and am getting seriously annoyed. For those who know this game, I just finished the slog through the Air Castle. If you get killed by a boss (and I did, a few times), you have to fight your way through the place from the beginning to try again. This is where the mechanics of the game started to bother me. Walk a few steps, get pulled into battle screen with the usual selection of random enemies, lather rinse repeat. This is very repetitive and boring. It's hard to enjoy the exploration or even keep track of where I wanted go to when I am repeatedly pulled into a battle screen every few steps, not just in this location but just about anywhere in the game.

Chrono Trigger let me explore the overworld completely uninterrupted, and both CT and Paper Mario let me see the enemy (and possibly evade it) before starting a battle. CT and Super Paper Mario never yanked me out of the game context into a battle screen. I guess I've never played a "real" RPG, but I don't recall any other game that made me fight these battles so frequently and repetitively.

I had other RPGs on my list to try: Final Fantasy III, Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana and others that people rave about. At $8 each, they're great value if they are fun. But if they're as tedious as Phantasy Star IV is turning out for me, maybe this is not the right genre of games for me. Would any RPG veterans here like to share their opinions on the relative repetitiveness and/or difficulty of these old RPGs? Thanks.

cwong15

undomiel

It has been a while since I touched them but I seem to recall the Phantasy Star series in particular had a high number of random encounters so all of the dungeon exploration would be really slow. I would still encourage you to give Final Fantasy III a go though. I don't recall the random encounters being as annoying so it could just be that Phantasy Star just doesn't suit your tastes. I felt the story was worthwhile in both of them though. Secret of Mana is of more an action adventure genre so that is a different type of game entirely. More like Zelda than Phantasy Star.

As far as in general for old school RPGs the random encountered featured a lot and there was a lot of requisite grinding to get your characters able to take on the next area they went to. I'd recommend looking into a number of reviews of games you're considering prior to purchase to see if the game mechanics sound like they'd be down your alley.

undomiel

CanisWolfred

A lot do that, yeah That's why you grind a little hear and there, explore thoroughly, and keep yourself well-stocked and equiped as best you can, so you don't die and therefore don't have to redo stuff you don't want to do. Sometimes that's easier said than done, but then you're probably playing a bad game.

Edited on by CanisWolfred

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Jacob717

cwong15 wrote:

This is where the mechanics of the game started to bother me. Walk a few steps, get pulled into battle screen with the usual selection of random enemies, lather rinse repeat. This is very repetitive and boring. It's hard to enjoy the exploration or even keep track of where I wanted go to when I am repeatedly pulled into a battle screen every few steps, not just in this location but just about anywhere in the game.

Welcome to RPGs. But seriously, this is how most RPGs with random encounters are like. If you find them irritating, then maybe these aren't the best types of games you should play. Try and find some RPG's that let you choose to fight or avoid an enemy.

Jacob717

R_Champ

Hint for the Air Castle: Since the dungeon is somewhat circular you can leave at points, save, then come back and resume your progress without having to do the ENTIRE dungeon over again.

Other than that I'd say you have a problem with random encounters. The games you mentioned you liked: Paper Mario and Chrono Trigger, both have enemies you can see and avoid on the screen. Phantasy Star IV (and other classic RPGs) have random encounters that you either learn to deal with...or just choose not to play that game. Personally, Phantasy Star IV is one of my favorite games of all time...but if you don't have taste for the grind then I can see why that's a problem.

And out of the other one's you're interested in:

Final Fantasy III: Good game like PS IV...but also has random encounters...so proceed with caution
Super Mario RPG: You can see enemies on the map like CT, so this might be an easier transition for you.
Secret of Mana: More like an action/beat-em-up/RPG fusion. It's all in real time except spell casting. It also has great local co-op if you have someone to play the game with you on the couch.

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CanisWolfred

It can be more irritating in some games than others. Usually it depends on how long the battles are, too. Phantasy Star has lots of animations that slow battles down, so you really feel the time it wastes. I remembere recently getting extremely annoyed with the encounter rate in Dragon Warrior II, since you only have 3 party members and the battles can regularly include 6-9 enemies. Even weak battles can take several turns, and again, that version at least had animations that slowed the game down. I also got annoyed with one of the dungeons in Suikoden, since the difficulty spiked while I had a weaker member on board with no way to escape, and I got stuck grinding for a while, and doing innane puzzles while being frequently interrupted, and there was nowhere to buy items, and there's strict limits on how many of each item you can have. Oh, and the save point is way at the beginning of the dungeon. Yup.

Edited on by CanisWolfred

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the_shpydar

Dipper723 wrote:

cwong15 wrote:

This is where the mechanics of the game started to bother me. Walk a few steps, get pulled into battle screen with the usual selection of random enemies, lather rinse repeat. This is very repetitive and boring. It's hard to enjoy the exploration or even keep track of where I wanted go to when I am repeatedly pulled into a battle screen every few steps, not just in this location but just about anywhere in the game.

Welcome to RPGs. But seriously, this is how most RPGs with random encounters are like. If you find them irritating, then maybe these aren't the best types of games you should play. Try and find some RPG's that let you choose to fight or avoid an enemy.

This is literally exactly what i was going to say. Well done.

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CanisWolfred

CanisWolfred wrote:

I also got annoyed with one of the dungeons in Suikoden, since the difficulty spiked while I had a weaker member on board with no way to escape, and I got stuck grinding for a while, and doing innane puzzles while being frequently interrupted, and there was nowhere to buy items, and there's strict limits on how many of each item you can have. Oh, and the save point is way at the beginning of the dungeon. Yup.

I just beat this dungeon, btw, though it turns out you could backtrack out of the dungeon and get more items. Second time I thought I couldn't leave when there apparently was a trick to it...in this same game...

Edited on by CanisWolfred

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cwong15

Thanks to all who responded to this topic. It will help me when I consider my next game. For those of you who enjoy this stuff, would you care to articulate why you like it? I can understand it can be interesting to plot various strategies and combinations of attack, defend, heal and other moves for a specific combination of enemies. This is fine if the encounters are relatively infrequent, challenging and varied. What I am seeing is none of that. Maybe this is driven by the need to artificially pad the game length, given the limitations of console game storage in the old days.

cwong15

CanisWolfred

RPGs are rewarding, not fun. They reward patience. They reward planning, exploration, thinking, and determination. They're games where half the fun is finding that revive in a chest and knowing it saved you during the boss fight. The random battles are mearly obstacles to overcome. So long as you're well prepared, and do things right, they'll be mere stepping stones on your road to victory. They are not in and of themselves meant to be fun, but it is satisfying to know that you've beaten them and have been rewarded for it, and eventually those enemies will be nothing but ants you step on as you progress though the game. Many RPGs also reward you with story bits, and if the story is good, can reinforce the feeling of progression, growth, and satisfaction you get from progressing through the game.

That's why I like them, at least.

Edited on by CanisWolfred

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GuSolarFlare

once you find the legendary best weapon hidden in the hardest spot to find in the game or grind 'till all your enemies are defeated in 3 hits or less you'll feel it was all worth it!
that's the reward chain in all old RPGs(and many modern): Hard Work > Luck > talking with every NPC you see > Strategy > Skill > mashing the buttons to see if it goes by faster > running away from random encounters

Edited on by GuSolarFlare

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Maelstrom

CanisWolfred wrote:

RPGs are rewarding, not fun. They reward patience. They reward planning, exploration, thinking, and determination. They're games where half the fun is finding that revive in a chest and knowing it saved you during the boss fight. The random battles are mearly obstacles to overcome. So long as you're well prepared, and do things right, they'll be mere stepping stones on your road to victory. They are not in and of themselves meant to be fun, but it is satisfying to know that you've beaten them and have been rewarded for it, and eventually those enemies will be nothing but ants you step on as you progress though the game. Many RPGs also reward you with story bits, and if the story is good, can reinforce the feeling of progression, growth, and satisfaction you get from progressing through the game.

That's why I like them, at least.

Exactly. Especially Etrian Odyssey. I've never felt more like I've earned my victory.

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CanisWolfred

Yup. Just FYI, my Favorite style of RPG are usually old school and kinda hard, like the first-person SMT games, The Dark Spire, Etrian Odyssey, Dragon Warrior 3-6,8,9...ones more focused on being gratifying adventures rather than stories with busywork. I can still enjoy the latter, but I personally don't find cutscenes and whatnot to be worth it on their own, so usually if they tone down the other elements that are supposed to make the games satisfying to play, I won't like it as much unless they do it really well, like in Chrono Trigger.

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KingMike

Super Mario RPG has a battle system a little similar to Paper Mario (and it was the first of its kind that I know of). It's turn based but if you pay attention you can press buttons during battle to do more damage to enemies, or take less damage (although with normal attacks, you have to figure out the timing on your own). Though SMRPG will also randomly give you bonuses in battle when you defeat enemies, like free healing or extra turns, that make the fights a little less tedious.
FFIII's encounter rate never really bothered me but if random encounters bother you, then maybe it's not the best. Though later in the game it does allow you to find items to lower (equippable by anyone) or remove (equippable by a certain character) random encounters, though both are secrets you may have to use a FAQ if you don't want to miss them. Though the SNES version of the game is probably one of the easiest FF games (if only because of several bugs, the GBA version fixes the more popular bugs).

KingMike

Magikarp3

The Phantasy Star series is infamous for being tedious. I had to be in the perfect mood to play that game or I'd leave feeling so drained. There are some classic RPG's with that level of tedium, but most of the others are at least bearable. Especially games with modern remakes like FFIII - usually they have the difficulty toned down a bit.

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CaviarMeths

I feel like it should be pointed out that Chrono Trigger and Phantasy Star IV are only two years apart. They were made around the same time and are both classic, seminal JRPGs. They were just made with a very different design philosophy. Enjoying one but not the other doesn't mean RPGs aren't for you. It just means that you're already starting to develop a taste for what kind of RPGs you like and what kind you don't.

You should definitely give Final Fantasy IV a go (it would be called Final Fantasy II on the Wii VC). It also has random encounters, but they're less frequent and the game always lets you save shortly before a boss battle. FFIV is excellent and one of the most groundbreaking and influential RPGs ever made. It is one of a very short list of classic RPGs that I would put in the same weight class as Chrono Trigger. It was ahead of its time and still holds up well today.

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SKTTR

@cwong15:
RPGs that have endless random encounters with invisible enemies are a real pain to play for me. I cannot get over the tediousness.
Because of that I couldn't get into some big series like Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star, unfortunately.

It's easy for me to recommend the Virtual Console RPGs that don't have that tedious gameplay mechanic:
I love Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Secret of Mana (especially in 2P or 3P co-op), Paper Mario, EarthBound, and Ys Book I&II.

If you're interested in action-adventures like Zelda, I also recommend checking out Light Crusader, Landstalker, and some of the Wonder Boy games.

Edited on by SKTTR

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Ryno

I couldn't imagine playing old school RPG's today without save states or quicksaves. I'm currently playing FF VI Advance and good thing they have quicksave because I only play it in chunks while on lunch break. I don't' mind the numerous random encounters, yes FF VI has its fair share, though. Also, I think FF IV (FF II SNES) is better than FF VI (FF III SNES), at least so far.

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CanisWolfred

Ryno wrote:

I couldn't imagine playing old school RPG's today without save states or quicksaves. I'm currently playing FF VI Advance and good thing they have quicksave because I only play it in chunks while on lunch break. I don't' mind the numerous random encounters, yes FF VI has its fair share, though. Also, I think FF IV (FF II SNES) is better than FF VI (FF III SNES), at least so far.

FF4 is probably the best RPG to try next. The SNES version has a decent encounter rate, and most battles should go by quickly and methodically. Just be sure to grind from time to time (like, just a few mintes after every dungeon), so you don't get creamed in the sudden difficulty spike towards the endgame. There's also save points before the boss thanks in large part to FF4.

Edited on by CanisWolfred

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