Why No RPG Is Impossible

Pretty much. Just accept it.

As I’ve said before, my first RPG was the original Final Fantasy and yes, on the original NES. I recently went back to play it and noticed a few things I didn’t quite remember. For starters, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I remember it, but that could be because I’ve been playing RPGs for a while now…or it could be that I know different party combinations that work well.

Regardless, I wasn’t having as hard a time with it, though I did need to consult an FAQ from time to time because it often wasn’t clear where to go or what to do next, which was a BIG problem with a lot of older RPGs (and some newer RPGs, but I immediately see that as bad design, where I’m a little more forgiving of older titles for that same issue).

It got me thinking, however. Is there such a thing as an “impossible” RPG? I mean, sure, some RPGs are difficult by design. Maybe you need to grind a little more, perhaps you have to learn more about the combat system or resistances or whatever, or maybe it’s just a really bizarre system overall as seen in many newer JRPGs. Honestly, though, I don’t think there’s an impossible RPG out there and here’s why.

I mean, seriously. In this one, you get to fight Bowser FIRST! Easy!

While there are a few rare exceptions (i.e. Chrono Cross and Final Fantasy 13), most RPGs allow you to just level up as much as you want and continuously improve your characters well beyond what is absolutely necessary to beat a given area. The best balance is having your characters at juuuuuuuuuust the right level by the time you’re finished completely exploring a dungeon, meaning you’ve unlocked all shortcuts, explored every last avenue and dead end, and gathered up all the treasure.

In other words, by the time you’re ready for that super tough ass boss…you’re actually ready. That’s not to say it won’t still be challenging or that you won’t game over once or twice attempting the fight, but it means that your CHARACTERS are ready at the very least. Again, what does that mean? Well, it could mean that your character levels are sufficient, but you don’t exactly understand the best strategy for fighting the boss…yet.

Even in the event where this is not the case and you end up having to walk back and forth through the dungeon to level up a few more times, it’s not as though you’re given a seemingly impossible scenario. Not everybody enjoys grinding and even I have to admit it can be tedious, but it also depends on what exactly I’m DOING to grind. Some games keep it fun and lively where others clearly had no idea what they were doing in creating their battle engine.

Yeah, you knew this was coming.

Ah, but we’ve begun to encounter something new in RPGs within the last 10 years or so: level scaling. Oh noes! You mean the enemies will always be challenging?! Oh, but it also means I can completely bypass relevant sections of the game because I will NEVER face an enemy too challenging to fight and therefore, I can skip right to the very fucking end if I want. How is this difficult again?

I’ve never felt that games that level scale are really doing the player any justice. Why worry about a gamer wandering into a territory that’s too tough for them? They shouldn’t GO THERE yet! It’s that simple. “Oh, but that makes it too linear!” No, it doesn’t. Have it where, let’s say, about a 2 mile radius from the first town has level 1 to 5 enemies, 2 to 5 mile radius has 6 to 10 level enemies, and so on.

It’s doable and it’s not that hard to figure out, but what can I say, some game devs are fucking lazy. “Oh, but what about Dark Souls?” What about Dark Souls? “It’s fucking hard!” Okay…and? “It’s impossible!” No, it isn’t. Just take your time, learn the combat system, level up in areas you feel you’re truly lacking in, constantly repair and update your equipment- “But what about the fucking boss battles?!”

Yeah, I already beat this fucker. He was kinda easy, actually.

Ah, THAT’S what you were going for. Look, I admit that Dark Souls can be tough and those boss battles are no joke, but well…let’s talk about Dead Rising for a sec. Yeah no, just for a sec, you’ll see where I’m going with this. The first time I came across Adam the clown in Dead Rising, I died. In fact, I died without even getting a hit in on him. I was PISSED.

I tried again and I think I MAYBE got one hit on him. I was REALLY pissed. The fuck am I doing wrong! So I look up an FAQ and it tells me exactly how to fight him. It was tedious, but it worked and without me so much as receiving a scratch. Everyone WUVS Dead Rising, but noone seems to talk about the ridiculous psychopath battles in that game. Why is that?

Oh, because Dark Souls is hard, so FUCK YOU. See, that’s what I don’t get. People expect that Dark Souls will be kind of a pushover because it’s an RPG and that’s where they go wrong. “But RPGs aren’t supposed to be hard! You just take turns and shit!” Yeah, because Lost Odyssey and every single Shin Megami Tensei game that’s ever existed were cakewalks, right?

This is when you know shit’s about to go down.

“Well, no, but like, well FUCK YOU, man.” I admit that the boss battles in Dark Souls are hard and that’s exactly why I ALWAYS recommend consulting an FAQ when you’re having trouble. If you’re absolutely stubborn and pigheaded, then fine. Just use tried and true methods of learning the game better, discovering weaknesses and exploiting them, level up some more, etc.

One way or the other, you’ll always pull through because it’s an RPG. That’s just the way it is. That’s the way it’s always BEEN. Finally, I want to talk about bizarre engines. Sometimes JRPGs get it right by inventing up shit like the Grandia system, FFX’s awesome turn-based system, Growlanser’s RTS hybrid system, or what have you.

And then other times…well, other times you get something like Final Fantasy 13. Does that make it impossible, though? Hell no. See, much like with Dark Souls, FF13 is about learning the battle system and how the game works first, then improving your knowledge and tactics around it. Granted, it’s not a FUN battle system, but it is what it is.

Simple, right?

Final Fantasy 13 is only one example, but you get the idea. Now, there are some RPGs that fuck around with how you level up, so what’s the solution to that? FAQs. Honestly, people need to get over their fear of “cheating.” It’s one thing if the guide tells you some odd combination of whatever to get some secret item you’re really not supposed to know about until later in the game, but it’s another if they simply give you info you would already have from a strategy guide, for example.

It took the collaborative efforts of me and my brother an entire YEAR to beat the original Final Fantasy and that was WITH the strategy guide! Do you think THAT was cheating? If you do, you’re really fucked. There’s no such thing as an impossible RPG. There will always be difficult games and many of them will be RPGs, but impossible? Hardly.


Filed under Retro, Videogames

3 responses to “Why No RPG Is Impossible

  1. It really just comes down to how willing you are to play a game, and then decide to get used to it’s tendencies. Saying an RPG is impossible to beat is…kind of silly, unless the game’s just god awful. It’s just gonna take longer than the usual FPS, adventure game that every seems to like to play nowadays.

  2. I enjoyed the article, I liked the research and the methodology; but your thesis is flawed. Rogue was beatable only by luck, as was Dungeon Hack since they were both randomly designed dungeons. both Might and Magic and the Bards Tale series (the original, not the current gen) had games that were impossible to beat if you weren’t intimate with the secrets of the game (i.e. had access to a game guide or knew someone who had learned the secret). I even remember Bards tale 2 or 3 crashing on me because I hadn’t picked up a horn from a secret room in a dungeon that I didn’t find because I didn’t have a dwarf in my party. Even GEnieLamp (Apple II text rpg) would kill you 9 times out of 10 if you failed to find the secret grotto and acquire Trollsfire (magical sword). Yes, modern RPGs allow you to bend the system to your will in most cases, allowing you to level grind until you get to the point that you can defeat the boss or whatever, but to say that there are no impossible to beat RPGs is just silly.

    • But especially with modern FAQs and the ability to go back through if you really did mess up wholly and completely, the games were still beatable. RPGs are way easier to beat than, say, a ridiculously and overly hard action game that was made so deliberately for only the most hardcore players.

      While back in the day these would not have been considered flaws, they would be today, which is why modern RPGs are way simpler to trudge through than older ones. All the same, they’re still beatable, most without FAQ, but some may require it because of what you mentioned.

      Challenging and potentially difficult, but not impossible.

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