Are We Bored With Real-Time RPG Mechanics Yet?
I believe my first RPG was Hero's Quest on my old Tandy/IBM. Since that time, I really have no idea how many RPGs I've played, but I can tell you I played about 25 of them on the PS1 and PC during my college years (oh, shut up) and although I basically try to play any great game that comes out, I still have a soft spot for the role-playing genre.
Now, one of the reasons I adored the PS1/PC era is because I could strike a really nice balance between real-time and turn-based combat mechanics. This continued into the PS2 era, too. For instance, I could go and play Suikoden III, Legaia 2, and the old-school Legend of Dragoon on the PS1, and then I could play Kingdom Hearts, Valkyrie Profile and any number of the Forgotten Realms RPGs (Balurs Gate 2, Icewindale, etc.), and get very different experiences. And of course, I realize that with the advancement of the industry, most all developers wanted to move past turn-based, which many began to consider antiquated but I've always said offers more in the way of strategy and other valuable elements you can't find in real-time. Despite my personal feelings, I've played plenty of fantastic RPGs that use real-time or real-time/turn-based hybrid battle systems. And I completely understand the need to push forward with new ideas and continually embrace new concepts.
However, has anyone noticed that with the complete lack of turn-based (on consoles, at any rate; I know there are many on portables), the RPGs are starting to feel awfully similar to one another? I think three RPGs sort of leap to mind; the first being Final Fantasy XII, which was the first true departure from turn-based for the franchise, not counting the MMO that was FFXI. After FFXII, I started to notice that a lot of RPGs were using variations of that same system...and now, years later, I play Dragon Age: Origins, which is great...but still basically the exact same mechanic as FFXII and in fact, most other Western RPGs of the past decade. Then we get White Knight Chronicles ths year; I've only played a little of it at a friend's place, but that was enough to see it's basically a carbon copy of everything we've seen before. And what will Final Fantasy XIII and Resonance of Fate be like? Oh, I expect some differences and variations, of course, but hey, it's all starting to blend together.
The last turn-based RPG of the generation - I think - was Lost Odyssey. I loved that damn game. No, I don't want all my RPGs to be turn-based but I think it can have its place in the genre, even today. I refuse to believe I'm the only one who loved LO and I refuse to believe that we've fully stretched the limits of turn-based. I honestly believe we left it behind too quickly; in this rapidly advancing industry of ours, I really don't think we gave it enough time. Think about how much can be done with it! I know developers don't care, anymore. I know we'll likely never see it again. But everyone always tells me that people were getting "bored" with the turn-based RPGs of yesteryear, which is one of the biggest reasons we "advanced" into real-time styles. ...okay, but aren't we bored with these "new" mechanics now? Aren't we sick of it? I'd like just one developer to acknowledge that there's still a huge audience for turn-based, and that the genre is once again growing stagnant with all these supposed improvements.
2/17/2010 10:04:35 PM Ben Dutka