Traditions aren't meant to be broken, and neither are video game traditions, but if it's a bad tradition to start out with then the future of traditional games looks bleak. And when video games are constantly evolving it seems that some of the old-school traditions are just dragging the games down. We're in the age of copy cats, me-too's, me-three's, knock-off's, cash-in's, etc., so if a tradition becomes a recycled cliché...it needs to die. The main offender of sticking too close to cliché traditions is the RPG genre.
Here's 5 examples of traditions and clichés from RPG's that have run their course. And all of them could be easily avoided today.
5. Restricted to save ONLY at save points or when the game allows you to.
What? - Some RPG's, especially one's made by Square Enix, will only allow you to save at various times. Commonly, save points are at various locations within the game which is the only time you can save your progress.
Why this tradition should be broken - You've been cruising through a dungeon like nothing, spent hours upon hours finding hidden loot while leveling up your characters - and then the boss kills your entire party with one attack. All those hours you put into the game are GONE. You'll now have to restart where you last saved (when you could) because apparently putting a save option in a game's menu would be a chore as opposed to finding the right locations to put save points in? Or maybe Square Enix is trying to make the game harder for you, because, you know, cheap bosses that kill you without even flinching haven't made the game more angst-y enough? And nothing is more annoying than having to back track through a dungeon in order to save your progress. Hope you learned Teleport/Warp, otherwise that Flan is going to wipe out your White Mage for the fifteenth time and you're going to have to either binge on that last Pheonix Down, or backtrack through that 15 floor dungeon in order to revive your party member. Thank goodness you saved before your White Mage died right? Oh wait, you couldn't...
Biggest Offenders: (Almost) Every Square Enix game imaginable.
4. Cut-scene Overload.
Whoa, this cut-scene is so amazing I wish it will never end!
What? - It's required by state law that an RPG of today's standards must have a cut-scene every 5 minutes. That's fact...I didn't make it up.
Why this tradition should be broken - Yes, I agree that cut-scenes are a way to advance the plotline in a game, but must we advance the plotline every 10 seconds with no breaks in between? Do we really need that many cut-scenes? And it's even worse when you can't skip the cut-scenes. Remember in Metroid Prime 2 (Which is not an RPG of course, but it's a good example) where you had to watch a half minute cut-scene every time you went into the dark world from the light world and vice-versa? As if that wasn't bad enough the worst unskippable cut-scenes yet are from games like Crisis Core that precede before a tough boss battle: if you get beaten by the boss then you have to watch that whole unskippable cut-scene all over again. Cut-scenes were once cool little short clips that showed off the console's best graphics capabilities, but now it seems we're watching more of them than we're playing the game.
Whoa, this cut-scene is so long I wish it would just end already...
Biggest Offenders: Chrono Trigger's second to last battle(s), Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy. (No, I am not making fun of Square Enix RPGs, it's just that they have too many cut-scenes. :P )
3. Underage Heroes...that might be orphans.
The Official Japanese militia looks a lot like this.
What? - The world is in the brink of being destroyed! Who's there to save our planet? 16 year-old years...that are orphans.
Why this tradition should be broken - It's becoming so predictable in JRPG's its not funny. The odds that a bunch of 16-year old's are the only hope for humanity is low in itself, but did I mention that they're all orphans? We're saved! And let's not forget the moms in Pokemon that send their 10 year-olds out in the wilderness, which is full of monsters and evil gangs, because the justice system is on crack and won't go to the evil gang's secret hideout (which is right under their nose the whole time) and arrest the bums. But why would they? Just let the 10 year olds do it! If that's not bad enough, developer's also feel the need to stereotype the young female characters with abnormally large...yeah, because when you turn 17 you automatically get a B cup, girls.
Worst Offenders: Valkryie Chronicles, Final Fantasy III, Pokemon.
2. Multi-Colored Enemies/Blobs.
If you squint you'll be able to see that there's a big differnce between the mummies and the birds.
What? - Due to the grueling task of creating individual enemies, developers have opt to creating multi-colored versions of the same sprite. And no RPG is complete without a couple of different colored blobs right?
Why this tradition should be broken - Nothing is more lazy than slapping a new coat of paint on an enemy and calling it new. Sure, this was tolerable back in the NES days where RPG's were still in infant form, but now it's like an 18 year-old blowing bubbles out of his mouth...people are going to say "Stop that! It's not funny any more!" It's even more pathetic when they use this cheap trick on every enemy in the game, and the bosses. And blobs. Blobs, really? If a JRPG doesn't have a cat-feral-thingy it has blobs. What could be worse than generic looking balls of slime? Multi-colored balls of slime that's what. At least the slimes of today have mustaches and stuff...
Politically incorrect slimes of today.
Worst Offenders: (Original) Dragon Quest, and every single old-school RPG and remake of those games ever made.
1. Random Encounters.
Why so serious?
What? - You're in a dungeon for less than 10 seconds, and a group of enemies jump out of nowhere and attack you. Fun.
Why this tradition should be broken - The one thing that drives a lot of people I know away from playing an RPG is those random encounters. It's annoying to not know what you'll be up against: could be a whole group of weak enemies, or could be a rare dragon enemy that's going to whoop you senseless. Unlike other genres where you have the option to bypass an enemy you don't like, random battles in RPG's force you to battle whether you like or not. Yep, communism. And if the encounter rate is high...let's just say that dungeon with 5 floors in you're in right now is going to take at least an hour to get through. The idea that RPG's need random encounters is dumb, since there is a much better alternative. In the Mario RPG's the enemies appear out of battle and you have the choice of either run from that enemy or fight it. Heck, we're in an era where RPG's let you pretty much do anything; customize your characters to extremes, shape the game from the beginning to the end, etc., so why can't we choose not to fight when we don't want to?
And think of all the calories you'd burn!
Worst Offenders: Every Final Fantasy game, Dragon Quest, Mega Man Battle Network, Pokemon, and to infinity.
Other RPG/JRPG clichés:
Amnesia as a plot device: Seriously, they're still using this!
Spike-y haired protagonists: Because using bleach makes you look bada**. With all those fancy swords and technlogy you'd think they'd invent a hair brush...
Your best friend is a traitor plot device: That b*st*rd burned down my town and killed everyone in it! I trusted him too!
What RPG tradition-turned-cliché do you think needs to be broken?