RPG Fans Mourn The Death Of Turn-Based
We're not talking about hybrids like Star Ocean: The Last Hope. We're not talking about combat that plays out in real-time but can be paused to issue commands. We're talking about the old-school menu-oriented turn-based mechanic that was a cornerstone of Japanese RPG mechanics for quite some time. Final Fantasy VII is only one of many that featured this style and it remains my favorite style.
Now, I've heard all the arguments against it, so don't waste your breath. I know we're moving forward and breaking through new boundaries, and the role-playing genre should continue to grow and expand along with the rest of the industry. I knew quite some time ago that this shift was inevitable; partly because too many gamers have the attention span of ADD squirrels and partly because many developers simply believe you can "do more" with a real-time mechanic. I still don't buy into this, despite the fact that I've had plenty of fun with certain real-time RPGs like Kingdom Hearts. There was just something about turn-based that separated it from the rest of the pack. These days, most RPGs are just action games with a level-building or character advancement system of some sort. But back in the day...man, we knew what were RPGs and what weren't!
On top of which, it almost seems as if the current RPGs may not cater to the old-school fans, simply because the new ones feel a whole lot like most other titles on store shelves. And I always felt as if turn-based gave the game more of a strategy feel; I would have all the time in the world to determine the best possible form of attack. In this way, it relies entirely on brain activity and there's no need whatsoever for finger dexterity. If I wanted to do the latter, there are a million games I can play but RPGs always afforded me something different during the original PlayStation era. But now, it's almost as if the RPGs don't resemble RPGs to me...and I know what the purists are going to say: "oh yeah, like the turn-based RPGs could be considered 'true role-playing.'" This is where they like to make the connection to the first example of "role-playing;" Dungeons & Dragons, which is immediately followed by my standard clarification that the tabletop pen-and-paper D&D game can hardly be compared to the video game industry.
I guess I might be whining about days long gone, but I can't help it. I find that I'm almost more inclined to play old RPGs on the PS1 than I am new RPGs, which I often find disappointing. I do have high hopes for the likes of White Knight Chronicles and Resonance of Fate, even though I know both will be real-time. There's just something special about the turn-based style, and I mourn its death. Oh yes, sadly, it's dead. 'sob'
P.S. The last true turn-based game I played was Lost Odyssey and I can only hope they do a sequel...
6/12/2009 Ben Dutka