Technology vs. Turn-Based RPGs

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Ah, the modern age. Technology battles with itself to constantly one up itself from the day before. Each new gaming system tries to enhance the graphics of the platform before it—Wii excluded. How many times have you upgraded your RAM or video card on your computer JUST to play the newest game? How many Crysis advocates cried when they first saw the requirements? Was there a boom in computer upgrades that month?

Does technology breed new demands for classic gameplay, though? Just because we have the ability to make explosions look beyond realistic (and even in space?), blood flow like geysers, and give the heroine larger than life… skills; does not mean gameplay has to be entirely altered? What I am getting to here is the impending death of the turn-based role-playing game.

Is it a question of market? Do gamers no longer have the desire to enjoy something that is not fast paced or action driven? Has the craving for strategy and an immense story line been thrown to the curb for pretty backgrounds and dry dialogue? Do not get me wrong, I very much enjoy elegant graphics. My question is, why can't new technology be applied to old school gameplay—especially RPGs?

Final Fantasy IV

Games like Final Fantasy IV are disappearing from the modern gaming library.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane. Growing up, the Super Nintendo was the end-all, be-all of the RPG gaming systems. Square seemed to create RPG after RPG. How many hours of your life were enhanced by playing through Final Fantasy II (4) and Final Fantast III (6)? Did you curse Kain every time he stole your best equipped items to betray you for the thousandth time? You let Shadow die on the floating continent—you could not wait, could you? Poor Interceptor. These games did not have good graphics, but they had extensive plots and enjoyable gameplay. Could you imagine if games of their caliber were created in the modern age with today’s graphics and art?

Whoa, whoa, whoa, I realize both of those games have been remastered with new graphics and a few dozen new videos to watch. Did I enjoy that? Yes—I recently played though the original Final Fantasy, remastered for the iPhone. They did an amazing job with it. How many times did one of your characters attack the air where a monster once stood, only to find that was ‘ineffective'? NOT anymore. One can only recreate the same game so many times, though. While playing better versions of the classics are fun and takes me back, give us a new RPG that emulates the classics.

Final Fantasy iPhone

Final Fantasy, remastered for the iPhone.

I can hear your arguments. I realize the Final Fantasy series is still squeezing out games. From the point of view of someone who loved the originals – it is not the same. How many times can you play dress up and ‘score’ items? What happened to the wizard in the blue robe, with no face but two eyes, and the straw farmer’s hat? Final Fantasy 9 was close to the old school style, but it was still not the same. Though I have only mentioned the Final Fantasy games, by no means are they the only examples; Dragon Quest, Breath of Fires, Phantasy Stars, and Super Mario RPG are some others.

My suspicion is that the desire for this genre of game is not obsolete. The hypothesis, which has come to my understanding, is that RPGs are just not as profitable as other types of games, thus companies are less willing to create them. I would love to see a modern RPG which uses today’s graphics, an involved plot, and with profound character development. That does not seem like too much to ask.

My final statement is quiet simple, but requires some contemplation. “When was the last time you played a game as good as Chrono Trigger?”

Ac
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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