Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where did my good JRPG go?

Fetch quests in an RPG, especially one from a Japanese developer, are a given. Most RPG heroes spend a good portion of their time running heroic errands for inept townsfolk, and Final Fantasy XIII-2 is no different. While fetch quests are ubiquitous, there is certainly a right and wrong way to design them. Here is a convenient check list:

  1. The instructions should be clear and reviewable
  2. The destination should be marked on a map
  3. They should not require backtracking to the beginning of the entire game
XIII-2 has gone 0 for 3. There are all sorts of side quests, but they are not listed anywhere in a menu. This means that I talk to someone, start one, and then forget about it because aside from writing everything down there is no way to keep track of them. Not only does XIII-2 not track side quests, there is no way to review instructions for the main quests. This has not been a big deal up until last night as the main quest was moving along in a very linear way. Then I was sent off to retrieve six or seven doodads from six or seven different time periods, and I'll be damned if I remember which ones were listed.

When I finally got to the right time and place the only hint I received was the message 'Search for the magic macguffin!' No clue as to where it was, or what it even looked like. Did I mention that what you are looking for is invisible? That wasn't mentioned in the instructions, either. I need to go through this process five more times, all in levels that I have already been through.

This reminds me very much of a similar blunder in what was otherwise an excellent game. If I ask you want the worst part of The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, what comes to mind? If you say the art style, then get out, but if you remember the final search for triforce pieces being game breakingly boring, you are not alone. It killed the pace of the game, just like all this backtracking has killed the pace of XIII-2.

I am also on a rather tight schedule. Street Fighter X Tekken comes out next week and I need to get in on the ground floor, especially since my go to character is a no show. Paul - Guile is a serious possibility; gotta respect the big hair.

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