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Armagon

A problem most, if not, all JRPGs seem to have

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I was playing Xenoblade Chronicles 2 earlier today, and while i love that game to death, it's become apparent to me that, like most JRPGs, it tends to suffer from having one or more tedious bosses, usually near the end. It's those types of bosses that, despite being at an equal or nearly equal level to you, they somehow are much stronger than they appear and/or have a bullshit gimmick, so you're forced to grind at an important story moment and it breaks the pacing. This isn't just a problem with Xenoblade, it seems to have, it seems to be most a problem with most, if not, all JRPGs.

Or who knows, maybe i'm just bad at JRPGs and need to git gud.

What are your thoughts on this?

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I honestly thought this would be another "power of friendship" thing.

Near or equal Level?  From my experience this doesn't really happen unless you're rather overleveled.

Then again, I play a lot of Shin Megami Tensei, which seems to have the opposite problem, by which I mean you often have to fight lots of bosses near the endgame that feel too weak and are more tedious than anything else.  The Twelve Godly Generals from Shin Megami Tensei II are among the more standout examples of this, even though they're fought a tad too early to be considered late-game.

Basically, you fight each one of these Generals one at a time as you proceed through Fort Gevurah.  For one thing, their main gimmick, which is that each one supposedly has a unique weakness, doesn't even work because offensive magic in SMT2 sucks Mara tentacles, so you're mostly just going to be relying on physical attacks, healing, and buffs throughout the whole game.  Another problem is that they all have low HP and non-threatening Skills compared to previous bosses, removing any real challenge any of them might possess.  Maybe if you fought them two at a time instead they might have been more interesting, but no.  They are filler bosses if there ever were any and they alone constitute one of the reasons I hate SMT2 compared to other main series games (alongside the aforementioned magic issues and its even worse than usual anti-Law bias).

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14 minutes ago, Von Ithipathachai said:

Near or equal Level?  From my experience this doesn't really happen unless you're rather overleveled.

Well yeah, because if you're overleveled in a JRPG, the game just becomes a cakewalk unless it's able to catch up to you/certain measures are in place to keep you from being overleveled. 

 

Edited by Armagon

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Main problem with JRPGS is the amount of cutscenes and the large number of bosses that appear. In every scenario, you face a boss and while there's nothing wrong with that, if you want to beat the boss, you have to do tons of levelling up which is where grinding becomes a chore. This is apparent in the first game because the game forces you to be five levels ahead of the boss inorder to beat said boss and there is no way around it. 

I understand the existence of cutscenes because they help to make the story told more or to make the story more like a movie. But this is a GAME we're talking about. I hate waiting for more than 10 minutes just to get things started. If I want a movie that's a game, I'd go with a visual novel. 

This is one of the reasons why I love Fire Emblem. While units need to level up to get more reliable, maps aren't always grind fests and grinding for a lot of the games is optional because even if you're underleveled, you can still beat the final boss because the games give you overpowered units to do so while at the same time, maintaining the challenge of the final bosses(except for FE6 because logic). And best of all, you can skip the cutscenes!

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Harvey said:

I hate waiting for more than 10 minutes just to get things started.

I can understand this. This is also a good criticism of JRPGs. Usually though, people who don't like this just don't always have the commitment to play JRPGs in the first place.

9 minutes ago, Harvey said:

maps aren't always grind fests and grinding for a lot of the games is optional

In a lot of FE games, you can't grind at all, save for a few specific chapters in which there's an Arena. 

14 minutes ago, Harvey said:

And best of all, you can skip the cutscenes!

Uh, most JRPGs let you do that. Clarification, most newer JRPGs let you do that. Older JRPGs (so anything pre-2000, i guess) don't, because cutscenes are text based.

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My general problems with jrpgs is that it comes for one of the most conservative genres in the game industry. Comparing the breakthroughs in the genre to others the quite different. Not to say I dislike them, but I recognize the shortcomings.

Edited by Jingle Jangle

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Spoiler

Are you talking about the boss of Chapter 7?  I watched my friend play through that and they were so frustrated by it.  You basically have to either be super overleveled or lucky enough to have rolled KOS-MOS or another Light-element Blade.

They did eventually find a reliable trick to beat them though.  Just go after them with a chain attack once they're at 1/3 to 1/4 health, that way they don't multiply.

 

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12 minutes ago, Armagon said:

Uh, most JRPGs let you do that. Clarification, most newer JRPGs let you do that. Older JRPGs (so anything pre-2000, i guess) don't, because cutscenes are text based.

FF10 didn't let you skip cutscenes. Nope, not even in the HD Remaster. If you're going for that replay, you'd better settle in.

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7 minutes ago, The Geek said:
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Are you talking about the boss of Chapter 7?  I watched my friend play through that and they were so frustrated by it.  You basically have to either be super overleveled or lucky enough to have rolled KOS-MOS or another Light-element Blade.

They did eventually find a reliable trick to beat them though.  Just go after them with a chain attack once they're at 1/3 to 1/4 health, that way they don't multiply.

 

Spoiler

Yes but that not boss. The Phantasms aren't hard, just annoying. They die easily. I was only like 2-3 levels higher. The trick is to take them all out with Brighid during a Chain Attack.

What i was referring to in the OP was later on in Ch.7 where you fight Jin and Malos. Let's just say Malos has a neat little weapon that makes him a bitch to deal with.

Thankfully though, you just have to get Malos to 50% HP because then a cutscene plays and you basically win. Way easier said than done though.

 

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On the other hand, what would be a common problem in regards to the storylines in JRPGs? Including other games that has aspects of RPGs (inc FE). I also wonder if any of them have overlaps with problems common in anime/manga.

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I honestly don't have this problem with many JRPGs, though it was a problem with the original Xenoblade (especially due to its weird mechanic where bosses were arbitrarily inflated if the game considered you "underlevelled"). I actually tend to find the tedious parts of JRPGs tend to be early, when you have only limited access to the system and/or enemies are extremely easy because the game is still teaching you how it works.

 

1 hour ago, Glennstavos said:

FF10 didn't let you skip cutscenes. Nope, not even in the HD Remaster. If you're going for that replay, you'd better settle in.

FF10 may have my favourite storytelling of any video game (it's in the running at least) and this is still very frustrating. I think a lot of RPG devs realised FFX's mistake because cutscene skip was very rare prior to FFX and quickly became very common afterwards. Now, why FFX's own remake team didn't realise this is beyond me.

 

2 hours ago, Jingle Jangle said:

My general problems with jrpgs is that it comes for one of the most conservative genres in the game industry. Comparing the breakthroughs in the genre to others the quite different. Not to say I dislike them, but I recognize the shortcomings.

Mm, I don't think I agree with this one, unless you mean in storytelling? To pick a few random RPGs from the PS360 gen, like FF13 or The Last Story or Xenoblade, the gameplay is barely recognisable from your Dragon Quest or Chrono Trigger a decade or two earlier. Games which use a battle system which obviously stepped out of an older generation either put a huge new spin on it (e.g. Bravely Default) or are just deliberately channelling nostalgia (e.g. FF4 The After Years). Or are Pokemon which I'll concede is very conservative. By contrast... I mean, I also love platformers, but most modern platformers feel very similar mechanically to ones I've been playing my entire life. Some are very well-made, good games, but I'd certainly call them a more conservative genre. FPS is a bit of a low-hanging fruit, but they're pretty obviously conservative as well.

If you mean in terms of storytelling, though, I definitely do agree. JRPGs really love going to similar storytelling wells over and over (someone already made a power of friendship quip I see) and it's been one of my biggest disappointments as an adult gamer. I grew up with the likes of Final Fantasy 7, Xenogears, Valkyrie Profile, and the Suikoden series pushing the envelope on the stories the genre could tell. I think it's fair to stay that that sort of innovation has seriously stalled (and at times even regressed). There's an exception every so often but they're vanishingly rare, and if anything some of the more daring stories I've seen in recent years have come from other genres (like the Nier games... though some consider those JRPGs I suppose).

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I can't say I've encountered this much. The worst case I've ever seen in a JRPG of this was in Xenoblade, and that caused me to quit the game. But nearly every other JRPG? Not so much of a problem. 

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6 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

If you mean in terms of storytelling, though, I definitely do agree. JRPGs really love going to similar storytelling wells over and over (someone already made a power of friendship quip I see) and it's been one of my biggest disappointments as an adult gamer. I grew up with the likes of Final Fantasy 7, Xenogears, Valkyrie Profile, and the Suikoden series pushing the envelope on the stories the genre could tell. I think it's fair to stay that that sort of innovation has seriously stalled (and at times even regressed). There's an exception every so often but they're vanishingly rare, and if anything some of the more daring stories I've seen in recent years have come from other genres (like the Nier games... though some consider those JRPGs I suppose).

Yeah that's what I meant, some of the most popular games have stories that break the mold. But in the year of 2017, there has been a revival of sorts within the genre. Hopefully that will  trend will continue in years to come.

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7 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

though it was a problem with the original Xenoblade (especially due to its weird mechanic where bosses were arbitrarily inflated if the game considered you "underlevelled").

Mmm yeah, that wasn't fun. Don't know if they fixed it in X but they definitely did in 2. The boss i'm currently at just has a weapon that makes him a bitch to deal with, so it's not really an issue of being "underleveled", it's more of, the boss is bullshit.

7 hours ago, Dark Holy Elf said:

I actually tend to find the tedious parts of JRPGs tend to be early, when you have only limited access to the system and/or enemies are extremely easy because the game is still teaching you how it works

I agree with this as well but it's more apparent in some JRPGs than others. 7th Dragon III: Code VFD had a fairly decent early game iirc. It's just later on when some of the bosses started to get annoying because status effects will end you in that game. I remember playing the first few hours of Tales of Zestiria over at a friend's house and the early game wasn't too terrible but i wouldn't say it was amazing either. My experience there could be summed up by "Tales of Mash the Buttons". 

 

 

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Anyway, bad boss design and/or ill conceived recommended levels aren't on my A or even B tier of poor JRPG conventions, but I can think of one good example. In Legend of Dragoon, there is a boss fight against Lenus about 40% of the way through the game. In this fight, if you engage anybody's dragoon form, the boss' turn count gets doubled, resulting in insane damage output. If you haven't played the game, I only need to explain these few things: No other boss has this sort of unexplained behavior. And without Dragoon form, you're left with basic attacks and items, Dragoon form basically screams "use me for boss fights, dummy". So a lot of players go at this boss, use dragoons as normal, get rocked, and assume Dragoons are the key to such a difficult fight. It's the number one roadblock in the game due to poor design. Either they forgot to have some dialogue warning the player against using Dragoons, or a programmer made an error in her AI script to create this "pissy boss mode".

There's a B tier JRPG convention that can get annoying: Pissy boss mode. "You've dropped me to half health, time for me to engage buffs to all my stats but the fight itself isn't changing in terms of strategy."

Edited by Glennstavos

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49 minutes ago, Glennstavos said:

There's a B tier JRPG convention that can get annoying: Pissy boss mode. "You've dropped me to half health, time for me to engage buffs to all my stats but the fight itself isn't changing in terms of strategy."

Something similar to this that annoys me is in Pokemon when the opponent heals up at low health. I'm just gonna keep using the same attack, they're only delaying the inevitable.

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If I recall that boss fight in Legend of Dragoon right, she engaged that pissy limit mode once below half health too even if you don't use dragoon. They just decided to use the player entering dragoon mode as an excuse for the boss to get serious ASAP.

I think boss "limit breaks" can be interesting as a way to heighten tension late in the fight, and can work well especially if the first stage of the fight is designed to teach you how the boss fight works, then it gets serious. In most RPGs your command of terrific healing means that once you have a boss figured out, you can cruise due to being able to outheal them. Adding moves to a boss' arsenal (or strengthening their existing ones) as a fight goes on can do a good job of keeping the player on their toes. It can also be extremely annoying, though, because sometimes it feels like the first stage of the fight is a big waste of time and the only threatening part comes right at the end. Bravely Default's final boss is a pretty good example of this; there's nothing it does that's remotely scary until the fifth stage out of five, but if that stage manages to kill you you have to hack through all the easy stages again.

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I can kind of see JRPGs getting the idea that length of battle = difficulty, when it's really just tedious, ala Yiazmat, FF12. Final bosses in SMT/Persona games I've also heard can get very lengthy.

 

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I remember really enjoying the RPG Pandora's Tower. The grinding is mostly optional and the bosses are actually fun in that game. I hope it gets a remake some day.

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1 minute ago, Zera said:

I remember really enjoying the RPG Pandora's Tower. The grinding is mostly optional and the bosses are actually fun in that game. I hope it gets a remake some day.

Honestly, all the Operation Rainfall games should get remakes. Of the three, only Xenoblade has gotten a remake and it's evolved into a series instead of just a singular game. I'm really interested in The Last Story and Pandora's Tower but i've never seen those game in stores.

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I adore the gameplay of Persona 4. The game is built around your time management and preparedness, and so long as you keep your head in the game, you won't have any need for grinding at all, so I don't think this is the case for all JRPG's.

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In any of the Trails series you don't really have to grind unless you're playing higher difficulties (unless its Cold Steel since those difficulties were scaled better than Hard & Nightmare were in the 3 sky games, although the duo of Crossbell games are a little more intune with it). 

Theres a few lengthy bosses but nothing like earth shatteringly long unless its one of the final bosses (but even those aren't that long), or one of the first bosses in Second Chapter.

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It's rare to find a videogame in general that doesn't have one or two tedious bosses. I adore Monster Hunter, but there's some monsters that just aren't fun to fight. 

Only two bosses in Xenoblade 2 rubbed me the wrong way, for the record: the final fight with Jin and the "Shadow" party member fight sequence. The former has way too many tools and the latter is an unnecessary departure from the game systems and forces you to run a very specific set-up.

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On 12/10/2017 at 7:56 AM, Tryhard said:

I can kind of see JRPGs getting the idea that length of battle = difficulty, when it's really just tedious, ala Yiazmat, FF12. Final bosses in SMT/Persona games I've also heard can get very lengthy.

Yeah, it's really bizarre. I love FFXII, but I've never bothered with Yiazmat because it sounds like a massive chore. At least it's optional.

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