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Observations about role-playing games

By Scott Tibbs, May 28, 2014, 2014

Here are some notes about things that I find interesting in computer role-playing games. (I have very little experience with RPGs after the year 2000. These observations are about games in the 16-bit era in the 1990's.)

First, your character or party can march right into the castle and walk up to the king. In any realistic medieval setting, you would probably not get into the castle at all, much less get anywhere near the king. You would probably spend some time in the dungeon if you were not executed on the spot for being so brazen.

You can also walk into people's houses uninvited, and there is rarely (if ever) any objection from the people in the house at this random group of adventurers barging into their home. Then you can look through their drawers and cabinets for items and gold, again with no objection. One notable exception to this was one of the Phantasy Star games for the Sega Genesis (later remade for other platforms) where another party member scolds the main character for trying to steal - and you are not allowed to steal anything. It was an amusing exception to the rule.

Beyond the concept of fighting battles to gain experience points to level up your party (which you just have to roll with) it is also amusing that monsters carry gold. While it makes sense that bandits or any sort of intelligent creature would carry gold, it does not make sense that wolves, bats and other animals would be carrying gold that you can just pick up and use to buy things. Again, for purposes of grinding for gold or experience, you need to suspend disbelief and just play the game - but it is not exactly logical.

Finally, all RPGs should have a "new game plus." This option (which is not always called that) allows the player to start a new game with the end-game party once the final boss has been killed. Chrono Trigger pioneered this way back in 1995, though you had to do more than simply kill the final boss. You had to go through another floating fortress in order to have that option. But there are few things in video games that are more satisfying than fighting that boss that caused so much frustration in the first play through only to completely annihilate him with an overpowered party.