Don’t Think About It Too Much: JRPGs.
(AfroGamers.com) I’ve been playing RPGs for a long time starting with Super Mario RPG on the Super Nintendo. Whenever SquareSoft released a new title my interest was piqued. The thing with RPGs on consoles and a few on PC is that they didn’t require you to use your imagination in the same way that paper and pen does.
As I got older and started playing RPGs on PC or ones that were ported over to console, I started to wonder more about the world of RPGs. While Elder Scrolls III didn’t really require you to use your imagination, the game world of Tamriel had everything laid out from game to game for over a decade. Everything from lore to beasts to religion to the economy all made sense and was managed. Not only that, but it improved with each sequel!
Then you have JRPGs which are like “F that nonsense.” So here are a few world gripes I have with JRPGs pulled from over 20 years of playing them.
Local Problem No One Comes to Solve
If you’ve played any Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest game you’d know this theme in JRPGs. Your party–whether just starting out or just reaching a new region–finds out about this major problem in this town. “We can’t cross through the mountains because there’s a large serpent in the marsh” to use Final Fantasy VII as an example.
There might be too many wolves in the area and they’ve been plaguing the villagers for years now. There’s always some problem that can’t be solved. Mind you, this is always a town that either has a weapon shop or sells weapons and armor but has no adventurers! Or maybe no adventurer wants to come through that neck of the woods so bump your issues, town chief.
So, here comes your merry band of adventurers and you take the quest. Not only do you solve the problem, you’re given something for your troubles. This all would have solved a long time ago if the mayor had put an advertisement in the capitol’s Thrifty Nickel and announced there was a good reward.
What happens to all those towns you visit in old school JRPGs but never return to? If that town is nestled in a mountain after you exit the cave, no one’s really coming that way. At all. That town is textbook fly over country. Your party is that town’s sole source of income.
Not only that, but the town’s so far out there and it has the best equipment! These are true artisans, look at the embroidery on that robe and the embellishments on that armor! But no one else is buying any of this. Certainly not the useless townsfolk who can do their job because there’s some beast in the mines.
Let’s say it’s a spider. There’s always some sort of spiders or enormous bats in a cave. Anyway, the town merchants sell their armor and weapons–at jacked up prices, mind you–and no one does business with them for months at a time. Oddly enough, that village in the middle of nowhere never becomes a ghost town.
Local Problem Solved Forever
So after solving the village’s main problem that’s the end for that town. Your party leaves after getting nice gear and no one ever mentions that town again. Everyone forgets about it. It never happened. Sure, you all remember that you fought a giant serpent but no one remembers why.
Also, that was the only issue that town had? The only thing stopping them from trading and traveling? It was wild–possibly mutated to a degree–animals. Local animals. No bandits, no rowdy adventurers that won’t leave?
Don’t get me wrong, the large, dangerous animal is a problem but it just seems like there might be other issues that keep your party returning in these games. Like outside of that very town your party would’ve ran into so many random encounters with monsters.
“Nah, forget the bats and the wolves, that giant snake is the problem.” Sure. Okay, Mr. Mayor Man.
You’re the Only Group of Adventurers
Paladin’s Quest is a particularly difficult RPG on the Super Nintendo where you could recruit adventurers to your party by going to a bar in a particular town. The only other time I’d seen this was Dragon Quest III on Nintendo.
This was kind of cool. It showed that there were other adventurers in the world. Of course, the problem was that there were no other groups of adventurers in the world. Your party is the only one questing apparently.
Certainly news has gotten around the realm and other realms about this big, lurking evil threatening to either conquer the world or destroy it (which I never understood but never mind that). But guess what? The game had dubbed your party the chosen ones so go fix that little pulsating evil problem before the planet is dust in space, thanks and bye.
The thing is that these other adventurers don’t know you’re the chosen one so they could certainly help or even go attempt to battle it themselves. At least they shouldn’t know. It’s insidious isn’t it? Your fellow adventurers know you’re the chosen one before you do and opt out of getting a hole put through their chest plate.
Then again if they’re not going to fight the big evil then why couldn’t they go and solve that village’s problem with the large marsh snake?!
Don’t think about it too much.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.