The Apparent Science of RPGs

A good number of years ago, I bought Final Fantasy Anthology and Final Fantasy Chronicles for the PS1 in order to play Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger.  The other games that came in these mini-collections were Final Fantasy IV and V.  While I had always been interested in FFVI and onward, I never heard much about IV and V and, thus, I had no desire to play them.  I guess I don’t stray too much from the games I specifically want to play, as the same was the case when I bought The Orange Box and refused to try Half-Life 2 until a year after its purchase because I had nothing better to do at the moment.  And seeing as that ended well, I decided it was finally time to try out FFIV and V.  Let’s start with Final Fantasy IV, shall we?

As of writing this, I am now nearing the final boss, and I plan to write about my experiences with this game in another post once the game is finished.  As I battled countless enemies in the game’s final location in order to level up and better prepare myself for the final battle, I also worked on defeating the optional bosses that guarded the most powerful weapons in the game.  One of these was the dreaded Wyvern, a dragon who has thus far repeatedly destroyed me.  When I looked up tips online, I found one person who said they had defeated the Wyvern with all of their characters around the early 50’s, which, for me, signified a problem.

You see, my characters are all around their 60’s, and I still don’t stand a chance.

As I wracked my brain, trying to comprehend why I couldn’t defeat a boss others had toppled at ten levels below mine, I found more people who employed strategies involving spells I had never before used.  Blink?  What the heck is Blink?  When I finally tried out their advice and located the spell somewhere in Rosa’s long list of white magic, I cast the spell on her to see what effect it would have.  Well, she began to flash, so obviously it was doing…something.  Within a minute or so, every other member of the group had been killed.  And then she died last of all.  Um, did Blink help me at all?…  I can’t really tell.

Okay, my point is, I am at a loss on how to beat the Wyvern without simply leveling up a lot more, which is typically my answer to everything in RPGs.  I have been employing this tactic, with general success (aside from the final battle of Final Fantasy VIII, which I will continue to argue is impossible despite evidence to the contrary), and it did not occur to me until now that…I suck at RPGs.  Yeah, I have completed pretty much every RPG I own, except for FFVIII, but I am still a sad, sad specimen of a gamer when it comes to this genre.

To illustrate my point once more with Blink, this spell was buried in the list of white magic Rosa could use.  Buried.  That means she’s had it for a while.  And I have no idea what it does.  What does Sight do?  Dunno.  Oh, and items.  Moon Veil?  Clueless.  Au Apple?  Huh?  Yeah.  How sad that it was not until an old RPG such as this that I began to realize how gently I’ve scratched the surface when it comes to all the moves and magic spells and items these games have to offer.  Actually, to be completely honest here, it’s not just items and spells and the like that I seem to be incompetent with.  Example, I never did totally understand the whole Materia thing in FFVII.  My method…place stuff willy nilly and hope it benefits me.  Yes!  Maybe next time I play, I’ll close my eyes and see what I come up with.  I think it will work just as well.

I like to think I’m a fairly competent gamer, but for me, RPGs have always been too complex, so I usually never stray very far from the basics.  The most advanced thing I’ve ever done was casting Reflect on an enemy to prevent it from healing, but beyond that, when it comes to forming any kind of full-fledged strategy, I find myself at a loss.  It makes me think that playing an RPG is a science, a science that is clearly beyond my level of comprehension.  Give me Physics or Biology any day, just don’t expect me to figure out how to defeat an RPG boss using any more than brute force.  And now that my moment of enlightenment has arrived, I have to ask, how many people do actually utilize all the options available in your average RPG?  Come on, dear readers, tell me your story.  Do you prefer to beat enemies senseless with the strongest weapon you can find, while you accumulate spells and items you never end up using?  Or do you prefer to defeat your foes using carefully thought-out plans and know the ins and outs of your party’s repertoire?  Please let me know in the comments what kind of RPG gamer you are.  Because I am definitely the former.

Maybe RPGs Were Simply Not Made for Ducks

16 thoughts on “The Apparent Science of RPGs”

  1. I sympathize with your problem. I didn’t understand he materia system, junctioning GFs, or indeed much of the other stuff either. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and finished the first instance of a Final Fantasy game I started (except maybe the first one on my phone… the first one is pretty straightforward). I’ve always had to start over once I sort of had a clue how to leverage the system to my favor.

    Like the “git gud” nonsense, some RPGs have a seemingly-impossible learning curve out of the box. Spirit? WTF does that do? Vitality? It’s all nonsense to someone like me who came into this with no table-top background and as an adult.. who understands the definition of these words but has/had no real idea how that affects my character’s development. And it’s a really vague concept to search online for help.

    I can tell you, the brute force approach doesn’t always work. I usually do that as well in a lot of cases, but there are certainly some enemies in the FF series that you can’t just hammer on and expect to win.

    If you’re not morally opposed to the idea, get a good walkthrough guide. Look for BlueHighwind’s stuff; they’re pretty amusing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that whole junction thing in FF8 was so confusing. That was one of the reasons, I think, that I was terrible at that game. And I, too, have no idea how certain stats like Vitality work. I understand HP, MP, Strength, and Defense, but not much else. It’s a miracle I manage to flounder my way through RPGs as well as I do.

      Thanks, I should look them up. A guide would be quite helpful. Maybe RPGs would be more fun to play if I really understood them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, Blue’s walkthrough’s probably won’t help you understand the mechanics… but his sense of humor is pretty good, and I’ve found myself reading his walkthroughs just for the fun of it.

        To be perfectly honest, I still don’t fully understand the mechanics of those systems; but I do manage to get through most of the games… albeit with (sometimes) a lot of cursing!


      2. Even with my limited understanding of these games, I’m usually able to get through all but the most difficult challenges. It’s mainly Final Fantasy 8, 12, and 13 that have enemies I don’t think I’ll ever be able to beat. Some of the optional boss fights in FF13 are so difficult, I usually quit in rage after a few attempts. And getting stronger in that game seems to take an absurd amount of time, so my usual method of leveling up a whole bunch doesn’t help me.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have beat all those ones, but I haven’t bothered to beat all the optional bosses. I’ve been trying to mine something in or another in FFXIII that only the tortoises carry (and it’s a rare drop at that). I’ve never beaten one of them. That game level caps you at certain points too, which is a practice that annoys me to no end.

        FFXII is probably my favorite game in the series, but again.. I haven’t even bothered to go after some of the optional bosses: I just don’t have the hours to sink into something that has no real reward.


      4. Oh, yeah, I think I remember those big tortoise things. As far as I remember, I never managed to beat one, either.

        My favorite Final Fantasy games are 6, 7, and 10. I don’t remember anything giving me that much trouble in 6 and 10, though I know I stand no chance at ever defeating those optional bosses in FF7. Just thinking about them scares me.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I know what you mean. I used to looooove all the complex systems in RPGs. Like in the Witcher 2, I’d take JUST the right potion before entering an area and defeating all the crazy enemies. But then in Witcher 3, I felt like it wasn’t as necessary, so I didn’t bother. And I’m playing so many games at once now, I can’t keep up with all those systems anyway.

    I used to be more devoted to one game at a time, obsessively — that’s what I was into all those things. Now I skim through things sometimes. I’m trying to get more into utilizing everything available to me in RPGs again, because I miss it — it’s just kind of a time suck and hard to remember everything when you’re bouncing from game to game!


    1. That’s quite true, after you’ve played a dozen RPGs or more, it’s hard to really do much more than scratch the surface in terms of understanding the many features each game has. I’m working on getting to know each game more by experimenting with different abilities I usually never try, but I don’t have the motivation to really learn anything in-depth. It is definitely more fun when I understand how a game works, though.

      I remember when I first fought this zombie dragon thing in Final Fantasy X, I did terrible. During my second playthrough, I finally learned that healing items are effective against undead enemies, and I killed it within a minute using a couple Phoenix Downs. That’s a rather simple example, but it still made the game much more fun once I understood the rules better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m with you. Like matt commented above, I jumped into video game RPGs without any tabletop experience. It’s a lot to absorb!!!! It’s actually become a favorite genre of mine, so I’ve sunk a lot of hours into playing, but there are still elements I don’t really experiment with because I don’t always have time to learn a whole new aspect of a game.

    My first playthrough of an RPG was filled with a lot of brute force, since I remember thinking the leveling system was confusing enough for each of the classes, let alone figuring out how to most effectively use each character. A lot of spectacular character deaths later, I think I almost have the hang of it 🙂

    To answer your question, I do try to be a little more tactical now that I know the basic systems of RPG play, especially since I generally play as a rogue and therefore don’t always have the best armor to survive a full frontal attack.


    1. I love RPGs, so that’s what keeps me playing despite how baffling they can sometimes be. I am starting to try out different abilities to see what they do, but usually in the heat of battle, I fall back on what I know. Though, it’s been kind of fun experimenting with different jobs in FFV because you never know what kind of cool ability you’ll learn. I recently found that Lancers learn an ability that steals HP and MP from enemies, which has been super useful. It is definitely more fun having a more varied move set in my arsenal.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Definitely! I have a lot of fun playing with the different abilities, even when button-mashing winds up occurring anyway. I’ve actually never played FFV, so I’ll have to check it out!


      2. Final Fantasy V has been pretty fun. People say it doesn’t have the best characters and story, but I’ve really been enjoying it. The job system is one of my favorite aspects of the game. It makes leveling up feel less tedious when you’re leveling up both your characters and their jobs.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Glad you’re enjoying it! 🙂 That’s really interesting and cool that you can level up your character and their job, adding a little layer of reality to the game. I acquired Final Fantasy 4 because I was trying to get a copy of Chrono Trigger for Playstation, so I’m looking forward to delving into this series that I largely missed out on.


      4. That’s the very reason I ended up with FF4. I got it because I wanted Chrono Trigger, and then I ended up with FF5 because I wanted Final Fantasy 6 on the PlayStation. It’s been cool trying out old Final Fantasy games I had previously never planned on getting.

        Liked by 1 person

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