Japanese RPG Pet Peeves – Thoughts about Annoyances and Inconveniences in Role Playing Games

Artist: edna (tales)

As I shared in my previous posts, I tend to prefer Japanese made games, mainly Japanese roleplaying games. While I enjoy playing them mostly for its story, characters, art direction and even most of the gameplay aspects, there are a few annoyances and inconveniences that I dislike. (Image Source)

1. The plot usually features a young male hero wanting to save the world.

As my preferences shifts more towards female main characters rather male, I do find this plotline of a young male hero saving the world rather clichéd. While this is not necessarily a bad thing considering that each game takes a different approach, but why does the main character always have to be a young male hero? Why not an older or even a female heroine? I understand that males tend to be the main audience for video games, but with more females playing them too, I would like to see more female main characters. Thankfully, this trend is changing as more games allow you to play as a female heroine or you play as one exclusively.

2. Level Grinding

Level grinding has always been main staple of RPGs because your party members might be under leveled right before you face the boss. Therefore, you might have to grind so you can become strong enough to defeat it without getting so many game over screens.

However, some companies tend to take grinding to ridiculous levels. For example, in some of the Neptunia games, besides the usual grinding you need in order to beat the bosses (although you can make them easier to beat so you can progress the game faster) is getting every character to Level 99. While there is the arena and Lily rank abilities that boost the experience gain, I don’t bother doing it because it gets boring fighting monsters over again just to gain a trophy. The same goes for money grinding as well for some games as some require it to buy the most powerful equipment or a special ending.

At the same time, game makers are now making grinding less painful by adding features to make life easier such as the Exp. All in Pokémon X and Y and the various grinding options such as Auto Battle in Bravely Default. But most likely than not, you probably don’t need to grind much in most RPGs released these days (unless you are playing at higher difficulty) and some outright discourages it with diminishing returns in gained experience. In fact, grinding can be useless in some RPGs. For instance, in any of the Atelier games, no matter how much you grind, if your equipment doesn’t have the right traits, you won’t be able to beat any of the post-game bosses no matter what since any level over 50 doesn’t give a significant stats boost. With some games carrying over the character’s levels, equipment, etc. in a New Game Plus, level grinding becomes less of an issue in the subsequent playthroughs.

3. Individual Values

If you are a Pokémon fan, Individual Values are usually the most hated aspect for the fact that they are determined automatically by the game. For instance, if your Pokémon have low IVs for a particular stat like speed or attack, it puts your Pokémon at a disadvantage against a Pokémon with the same EVs, but with a higher Individual Value for the same stat. Of course, obtaining a Pokémon with good let alone perfect IVs is very time-consuming since it requires the player to breed several eggs, switch Pokémon around in the daycare and check them to see if they are perfect. While Game Freak made it easier to pass down IVs from parents in Pokémon X and Y, it’s still a tedious process, especially if you want a female Eevee with very good individual values. Basically, you will be breeding Pokémon for several hours to a few days.

To make matters worse, the type for Hidden Power is also tied to Individual Values, which makes the process more tedious than it already is if you are also focusing on Hidden Power types. Therefore, the odds of getting a female Eevee with very good IVs and Hidden Power Ice are even worse. Because Individual Values is time-consuming except for the competitive player, most people end up not caring, battle on Pokémon Showdown instead or resort to cheating. At least Generation 6 games made Individual Values a bit more manageable compared to the past generations where you have no items to pass them down whatsoever.

4. Plot Linearity

While I understand that the first parts of the game will be linear for obvious reasons, there are a few games that just take it to another level. Sure, Final Fantasy X is guilty of this as you will do nothing but go to a different town, solve a puzzle, battle a boss, etc. until you reach the Calm Lands. However, Final Fantasy XIII takes that to a whole new level and made the whole game too linear. This was the main reason I hated 13. All you do is walk through hallways and fight some enemies until you reach the next stage. Because of this, there is no wonder a lot of people called that game “Final Hallway XIII” for the fact that there are no exploration aspects whatsoever since Square Enix thought it was a good idea to get rid of cities. Hopefully Final Fantasy XV will learn from its lessons and not make the game feel like a glorified hallway simulator.

5. Random Encounters

I still find it surprising that some roleplaying games still have random encounters for the fact that it’s technically possible to have the actual monster on the over world. Although it’s understandable to have it in a game such as Pokémon, I find it was somewhat annoying in Tales of Hearts R since all the recent Tales games tend have the enemies on the field and the remake is a 3D game. Furthermore, there are times that I just want to travel or find a place to heal. While some games provide the ability to avoid random encounters for a certain period of time through a use of an item, they don’t always work and you will get dragged into battles even if you don’t want it.

On the flip side, Random Encounters are not necessarily a bad thing from a level-grinding standpoint since you can battle right away and not wait for the monster to spawn again. But still, my feelings towards this really depend on how it’s implemented. Some games implement this better than others.

6. Difficulties in triggering flags for multiple endings and/or events

Back in the day, role-playing games only had one or a few endings to achieve. However, games these days now feature more than one ending with flags to trigger them. While I don’t have a problem with the requirements since there are walkthroughs, but I experienced some problems trying to trigger them and of course keeping track of them. This was pretty problematic in Atelier Meruru, which has a lot of conflicting flags, and if you trigger one of them, well it takes you a different ending. To make matters worse, I had a hard time triggering the flags that would allow me to build those archives, which in turn unlocks creation of stronger weapons and items to complete some tasks. However, this is slowly becoming less of a problem nowadays since some games either only require simple requirements to achieve these flags or allow you to view all the endings just by choosing even if you triggered other endings/flags.

With that, this pretty much sums of some of the annoying aspects in Japanese RPGs. Feel free to share what aspects in Japanese Role Playing games that you personally find annoying/troublesome. 

9 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Mikoto says:

    What’s weird about the random encounter system in Hearts R is that in Hearts… there wasn’t a random encounter system, it was the system introduced in Team Symphonia games. Strange because random encounters are usually a 2D thing in Tales. I admittedly do not mind random encounters as much, in fact, some of my favorite JRPGs use this system for enemy encounters. Though it does get ridiculous in some games like Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast).

    I like the EXP share and the yeild in Pocket Monsters X and Y, but getting EXP from catching Pokemon was pretty overboard. As a person who catches every Pokemon he sees to fill up the index, I found myself a tad overleveled when I got to the Four Heavenly Kings.

    • chikorita157 says:

      I haven’t played the DS version for obvious reasons, but it’s surprising that they decided on a random encounter system, perhaps because it used a world map instead of connecting roads in recent Tales games. Besides of this, it really depend on the implementation as some do it better than others. If the encounters aren’t overly frequent (e.g. encounter every few steps), it won’t be as bad.

      While I don’t catch Pokemon that often, the EXP gain from catching is kind on unneeded since there is EXP Share. Even with that, I tend to disable it since I also EV trained my Pokemon during my journey, which in turn also makes it easier to beat Gym Leaders and such, meaning that my Pokemon are usually slightly under leveled.

      • Mikoto says:

        Yeah, the original Hearts basically used connecting roads like Graces and Xillia. Though Symphonia, Abyss, and Vesperia had a world map and used the “touch monster on field = enemy encounter” thing. Another one of my favorite games that happens to have an annoyingly high encounter rate is Persona 2… though in a way I think the infestation of demons added to the atmosphere of the game in a way

        In XY, I tended to turn to Super Training for EV training and also disabled the EXP Share in an attempt to balance out the whole capture yield thing. Seems like the normal EXP yield is a bit much compared to previous games too, but that helped balance things out a bit even though it was still easier than the previous games (I don’t know if it’s just me but the pace of the main quest was way faster than usual – I loved the length of the original 8-bit games and the previous generations, but this game went by in a flash).
        I do think Game Freak should implement difficulty levels for their next release of Pocket Monsters. It’s been a while since I actually had a struggle with the End Game bosses.

        • chikorita157 says:

          Oddly enough, I don’t think I had much trouble with X and Y unlike Pokemon Black 2, which had a few difficulties with the Elite Four (Gym Leaders were a breeze though for Black 2 since I had EV trained Pokemon. White, not so much). It’s kind of sad that Game Freak didn’t carry over the Challenge Mode in Black/White 2 as it would have brought some challenge with slightly higher-leveled Pokemon and of course, the Gym Leaders having at least one or two more Pokemon on their team. I am hoping that if they make another release that at least they bring back the ability to change the difficulty.

  2. Kai says:

    About your point in plot linearity, it’s just so ironic, considering RPGs in the past were just so much more open world than it is now. Maybe RPGs like Xenoblade is an exception, sure, but most RPGs seem to emphasize linearity than open world nowadays, FF XIII being one of the prime suspects, of cause.

    • chikorita157 says:

      While my selection of JRPG is that that diverse, sure the plot is going to be linear, but some of these games allow a good amount of exploration in dungeons and optional quests, especially with role playing games with multiple endings (more than 2). Perhaps, the only game that I played that has a resemblance of an open world is Tales of Hearts, but of course with games like any of the Atelier games, it’s not as linear since the flags pretty much determines the ending and one’s actions determine it. Of course, this is more so with the earlier games since all you do is make items and trigger events before the time limit is up.

  3. Aaaah, I hate IVs! I tried IV training my pokemon in some of the older games but I still have no idea if it actually made any difference. And it’s like, when you figure in order to increase a specific stat, you have to beat for example 100 Pidgey, playing Pokemon suddenly seems more like a chore than something you do for fun… Quite frankly it becomes a waste of time ):

    • chikorita157 says:

      At least in the recent games, Game Freak finally shows the EVs (Effort Values) upfront and provide easier ways to gain them, which in turn make them more accessible to regular players. Of course, I forgot to mention that Individual Values are different from Effort Values and they are only determined when catching or breeding a Pokemon, meaning that they are set in stone. Because of that, is no such thing as IV training, but the more correct term is IV Breeding. Even with the changes with Friend Safari Pokemon having at least three perfect IVs and such, it’s still inaccessible to the normal player as they are not publicly shown.

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