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Why I Hate Squaresoft


biglime
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I kno, rite?!

Now that we're all friends, will someone please reply in a quasi-serious manner to my well thought-out and grammatically criminal post on the previous page? Or is this Thread to be Doomed with Knives?

It's late and I can't be bothered to reply properly, but you raise some valid points. However there has been an increased trend to go away from the random-battle system by both Square and other companies, so maybe it won't be an issue for long.

As for how to conquer the main problem - the divorce of the character and their strength - how do you propose to solve it? It's all well saying you find it "disgusting" but unless you're prepared to be constructive many ears will close.

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On the first issue, I think you're right and that rpgs are moving away from that rut. But I'm worried that they might just be moving into a rut with some camoflage over it. I'm thinking especially of Bioware. I don't really know of any games that have really taken steps here. Maybe you could tell me about some?

On the second, I am trying to be constructive. I feel very strongly about my comments on Earthbound in comparison to Final Fantasy. Other examples that come to mind are Castlevania: SOTN, the GBA games that followed in its path, and the similar Super Metroid. This last isn't a great example in our context because it is not statistical- but ability-based growth that you feel a connection with. However, the final battle with Mother Brain in which you gain a new weapon through the hatchling's sacrifice and are able to defeat her where just before you had been at her mercy--that is a hugely successful gameplay<->character growth<->story connection, and one that the player feels the impact of on several levels.

SOTN and its brethren mostly achieve a better synthesis of this kind by being so exporation-based. I prefer to think of the game as having no cut-scenes; certainly they are excusable and I doubt anyone plays for the next one of those as I feel many must in Final Fantasy. To me, SOTN is like Ico; the story is the adventure--the things you do as this single character in gameplay. This often happens (happily) in exploration-based games with gameplay that does not have modal breaks (a huge, huge offense that Final Fantasy commits in its heart of hearts). When I work through some convoluted passageways in SOTN and accidentally break open a wall to discover a new ability to, say, double-jump, my character gains that ability as part of the story, which is what the exploration-based gameplay really is to me. Even more importantly, that new ability directly enhances my ability to continue to explore, and I will find myself trecking back through parts of the castle I have already visited to see what new areas I can access. On the way, I will encounter enemies that once proved difficult to me and slay them with ease. In both the game's sides--exploration and combat--I can feel my character's growth in a direct way, and I can attribute that growth to what I feel is the game's story--like a pathway that I myself hacked out of this solid wall that was the game before I began it.

I've probably said some (equally long-winded) things about Ico that I could bring up here, as well. Maybe later.

By the way, I really like how you put that--the divorce of the character and his strength. Excellent.

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Another thing. A huge problem with all of these "rpg"s and their random battles (yes, even Earthbound has a problem here) is that they break the mode of the gameplay. It's not a transition, but a forced and sudden break. You are jolted back and forth between wandering around in a top-down view, exploring, talking to people, whatever, and suddenly with an effect of the entire screen shattering as glass (as if some of these games actually acknowledge that they are doing this!), you are plucked up and slammed down into an alternate universe in which a very indirect combat occurs through the making of menu choices. Awful. Imagine a bipolar book that shifted violently between two extreme tones or a movie presented with filmed shots from carefully panning cranes that suddenly cuts into a shakey digital camcorder continuation of itself. Far too many games feature modal breaks of this kind, and Final Fantasy and similar rpgs are the worst offenders.

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They could at least strike a balance between random battles and free roaming. On the world map I never find random encounters a problem. They're there for me when I want or need to level up, but they aren't frequent enough to discourage me from walking to the next town. However, in dungeons or any locations where I'm looking for something specific, or - even worse - trying to solve a puzzle, random encounters become the most frustrating gaming experience I can imagine.

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I think the Suikoden series was good for random battles.

You didn't get many and could easily clear a screen without getting in a fight.

It's causing me a bit of trouble in Suki III actually, I can never get in a fight when I want too!

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Imagine a bipolar book that shifted violently between two extreme tones or a movie presented with filmed shots from carefully panning cranes that suddenly cuts into a shakey digital camcorder continuation of itself.

Thats sounds pretty good actually.

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They could at least strike a balance between random battles and free roaming. On the world map I never find random encounters a problem. They're there for me when I want or need to level up, but they aren't frequent enough to discourage me from walking to the next town. However, in dungeons or any locations where I'm looking for something specific, or - even worse - trying to solve a puzzle, random encounters become the most frustrating gaming experience I can imagine.

I may have just imagined this, but didn't Skies of Arcadia cut out all random encounters in rooms where you had a puzzle to solve? It had loads of little touches like that, like being able to instantly restart boss battles when you lost.

Ironically I stopped playing it because the random encounters on the world map were too excessive. :(

To be honest if there is variation in random encounters I don't mind them, one thing I liked in FF-X is you still felt like you were doing something (switching characters in and out to to draw different spheres, steal items, different monsters requiring different characters to defeat them quicker and generally more varied and interesting opponents then most RPGs).

Compare that to the random battles in SOA where you just tapped A until all the shitty-looking-floating whatever-the-hell-they-were's had all died.

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"rpg"s as we know them have a serious problem.  they insist on playing up character development in a numerical, systematized manner, which is very cool and satisfying.  but they force the player's success in the game to be based largely on these numbers.  the player's dextrous and even tactical skills ususally take a backseat to simple statistics.  this is retarded.

It's not retarded; it's the whole point!

The whole idea is not to test the player's physical dexterity but to test their tactical ability and leveling-up capabilities. That way, even if you've been playing the game for yonks, you couldn't just zip to the end and take out the final boss - it's a journey of progression and development that you share with the characters.

Not having to (or being able to) avoid enemies, not having to physically fight, being able to take all the time in the world to choose what you want to do and how you do it... these are what make RPGs an appealing prospect. Personally, I find them relaxing, peaceful, immensely satisfying and ultimately enjoyable.

I acknowledge that not everyone likes them, that certain elements of this type of gameplay seems out-dated and ancient, but this is exactly how I and many others like them. There are certainly room for other types of (more hands-on) games, but leave these ones alone, eh? :(

BTW, I quite agreed about the other stuff (having recurring characters commenting on your progress, fighting weak enemies as a sign of your strength, etc., etc.) which is why that is precisely what I regularly do in most RPGs - I go and kick some weak enemy ass! There are a few games which really make use of this within the story itself (including a few FF games, incidently), but yeah, it's under-used.

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It's not retarded; it's the whole point!

The whole idea is not to test the player's physical dexterity but to test their tactical ability and leveling-up capabilities. That way, even if you've been playing the game for yonks, you couldn't just zip to the end and take out the final boss - it's a journey of progression and development that you share with the characters.

Not having to (or being able to) avoid enemies, not having to physically fight, being able to take all the time in the world to choose what you want to do and how you do it... these are what make RPGs an appealing prospect. Personally, I find them relaxing, peaceful, immensely satisfying and ultimately enjoyable.

I acknowledge that not everyone likes them, that certain elements of this type of gameplay seems out-dated and ancient, but this is exactly how I and many others like them. There are certainly room for other types of (more hands-on) games, but leave these ones alone, eh? :(

BTW, I quite agreed about the other stuff (having recurring characters commenting on your progress, fighting weak enemies as a sign of your strength, etc., etc.) which is why that is precisely what I regularly do in most RPGs - I go and kick some weak enemy ass! There are a few games which really make use of this within the story itself (including a few FF games, incidently), but yeah, it's under-used.

I love you.

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Although they have already been mentioned, denying a PAL release for Xenogears and Einhander is not acceptable, both games cost alot for me to buy on import at the time and both games were great and warranted the cost, I also really liked Brave Fencer Musashiden which, with it being quite a while and everything since the original release, has a sequel heading for PS2.

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Another thing. A huge problem with all of these "rpg"s and their random battles (yes, even Earthbound has a problem here) is that they break the mode of the gameplay. It's not a transition, but a forced and sudden break. You are jolted back and forth between wandering around in a top-down view, exploring, talking to people, whatever, and suddenly with an effect of the entire screen shattering as glass (as if some of these games actually acknowledge that they are doing this!), you are plucked up and slammed down into an alternate universe in which a very indirect combat occurs through the making of menu choices. Awful. Imagine a bipolar book that shifted violently between two extreme tones or a movie presented with filmed shots from carefully panning cranes that suddenly cuts into a shakey digital camcorder continuation of itself. Far too many games feature modal breaks of this kind, and Final Fantasy and similar rpgs are the worst offenders.

In general I don't agree with you on your points about RPGs, but this I do fervently agree with - the transition from overworld to battle in FF games is nothing short of painful, completely interrupting the flow of the game. Even worse when the transition is streesed by a lond load time.

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Why? Why the need for this thread?

Square have made some fucking magnificent games, in my opinion more than most other developers.

Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and VIII (yes VIII) to name a few games all piss all over nearly every other RPG out there.

Then you hold up Splinter Fucking Cell as a model game? What. The. Fuck. It's exactly the same, expensive graphics and sound, boring as hell, trial and error, standard "realistic" bollocks. With a plot ripped out of a Boys Own comic.

And Earthbound is wank.

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Then you hold up Splinter Fucking Cell as a model game? What. The. Fuck. It's exactly the same, expensive graphics and sound, boring as hell, trial and error, standard "realistic" bollocks. With a plot ripped out of a Boys Own comic.

And Earthbound is wank.

What plot?

I can't remember a single detail of the plot behind the SC games.

Absolutely dull.

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I may have just imagined this, but didn't Skies of Arcadia cut out all random encounters in rooms where you had a puzzle to solve? It had loads of little touches like that, like being able to instantly restart boss battles when you lost.

Yes, I'm sure Skies Of Arcadia did do that. The problem was though that it didn't make it explicit that it was disabling the random battles - you had no way of knowing. So I wouldn't get into a fight for a little while and then wonder if I'd moved out of the area where random battles occur, then I'd see a puzzle and assume that random battles were disabled and oddly one would happen. So it was okay, but a bit confusing.

I did really like Skies Of Arcadia though :).

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I enjoyed Arcadia, but every now and then it would throw something at you to seemingly punish you for playing the game (like the flying into the wind bit or some of the fights with the gigas which were pure trial and error), in the end I just couldn't be arsed with it.

I can see why so many people loved it though, it had a lot of charm.

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Yes, I'm sure Skies Of Arcadia did do that. The problem was though that it didn't make it explicit that it was disabling the random battles - you had no way of knowing. So I wouldn't get into a fight for a little while and then wonder if I'd moved out of the area where random battles occur, then I'd see a puzzle and assume that random battles were disabled and oddly one would happen. So it was okay, but a bit confusing.

I did really like Skies Of Arcadia though :lol:.

Golden SUn 1 & 2 do that too in puzzle rooms; it really is the way to go. The thing is, not many FF games have actual puzzles more complicated than 'take item A to location B', so there isnt much of a need for the break.

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Going back to random battles just for a second

Surely the best solution is that shown by Xenosaga...Chrono Trogger/Cross etc and show where the enemies are so you can choose when and whether to fight.

To me this is just so blindingly obvious....am I wrong?

No, you're not wrong. I'm sure there are still-better solutions but this model is still much better than the random battle one.

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Why? Why the need for this thread?

Square have made some fucking magnificent games, in my opinion more than most other developers.

Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and VIII (yes VIII) to name a few games all piss all over nearly every other RPG out there.

Then you hold up Splinter Fucking Cell as a model game? What. The. Fuck. It's exactly the same, expensive graphics and sound, boring as hell, trial and error, standard "realistic" bollocks. With a plot ripped out of a Boys Own comic.

Yes!

And Earthbound is wank.

No!

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Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami is like that.

It's awesome.

Well, yeah, a book can certainly pull that off, and a game can too, but god almost all games are like this with their modal breaks. They swing you from one kind of gameplay to another. That's only going to work if the content works with it. Obviously wario ware is a great example of a game whose very gameplay is based on modal breaks. That's exactly what makes it so brilliant. The player has no time to adjust to the new mode, and by the time s/he has adjusted, the game has completely changed yet again. But such disjointedness is completely inappropriate for most games. The breaks have to be an important and acknowledged part of the gameplay's structure itself; otherwise they are imposed and unwelcome.

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Why? Why the need for this thread?

Square have made some fucking magnificent games, in my opinion more than most other developers.

Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and VIII (yes VIII) to name a few games all piss all over nearly every other RPG out there.

Then you hold up Splinter Fucking Cell as a model game? What. The. Fuck. It's exactly the same, expensive graphics and sound, boring as hell, trial and error, standard "realistic" bollocks. With a plot ripped out of a Boys Own comic.

And Earthbound is wank.

Why is there a need for this thread?

Because some people don't like Squaresoft's output.

And if their output creates people like you, well...

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It's not retarded; it's the whole point!

The whole idea is not to test the player's physical dexterity but to test their tactical ability and leveling-up capabilities. That way, even if you've been playing the game for yonks, you couldn't just zip to the end and take out the final boss - it's a journey of progression and development that you share with the characters.

Woah--hold on! I totally agree with you! What I meant though is that most of these games we call rpgs are supposed to do this (and had better if they want to feature indirect menu-based combat), but completely fail. Most Final Fantasy games can be played for yonks, mindlessly leveled-up, and played to the end without a thought devoted to strategy. That's my complaint. They are leaning on the level progression as a substitute for any real effort on the part of the player, and what you get is utterly boring. My feeling is that this is why tactical rpgs are developing such a cult following. They do what regular rpgs are actually supposed to do.. although they usually don't manage to connect the player to the characters' growth, which is the other important thing:

My other point is that very few of these games manage to (in your words, which I liked) feel like a journey of progression and development that (and this is especially where many fail) the player shares with the characters. I won't repeat what I said about this because I went on a lot earlier.

I really liked what you said. Are we in agreement now? What else do you think?

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Why? Why the need for this thread?

Square have made some fucking magnificent games, in my opinion more than most other developers.

Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Front Mission 3, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy IV, VI, VII, and VIII (yes VIII) to name a few games all piss all over nearly every other RPG out there.

Then you hold up Splinter Fucking Cell as a model game? What. The. Fuck. It's exactly the same, expensive graphics and sound, boring as hell, trial and error, standard "realistic" bollocks. With a plot ripped out of a Boys Own comic.

And Earthbound is wank.

No-one held up Splinter Cell as a 'model' game. Try reading the thread properly before you go shooting your mouth off and embarassing yourself.

And it also appeears that you haven't played nearly enough RPG's.

Anyway...the random battle thing. Sprite Machine, the levelling up nonsense in these games is simply padding. There's no challenge in it. There's no skill involved. It's just systematic battling, a little harder each time, racking up points and getting stronger. This, in my opinion, is not a desirable thing. What tactical ability is needed in FF games? None. What sense of development and progression is there? None.

Bigger numbers, that's all. Bigger numbers.

R.

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