Over the past three weeks or so I have played my way through Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy VI. It’s the first time I’ve played either one of those games, and I can see where people are going with their praise and criticisms. I enjoyed each game quite thoroughly, but by the end of each I kind of was getting sick of random battles and just wanted to go beat the final boss senseless so I could be done with it.
They’re a staple of console RPGs. Walk for 10 seconds, then fight a monster, gain EXP and money, back to walking. It’s a time honored system that is pretty much a universally expected component of any RPG, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best way to go about it.
My favorite take on the random battle is from Tales of Symphonia (it’s probably elsewhere too, but this is where I’m familiar with it). Battles are not random, but you are pretty much guaranteed battles as you walk around the overworld and various maps. The way it works is there are monster creatures walking around maps that represent groups of monsters. Some of these are aggressive, and will actively chase you, some are passive and easily avoidable. When you tough one, the battle starts. This means if you are good at avoiding these you can greatly reduce the number of battles you fight.
I’ve got Final Fantasy XIII in my drawer right now, waiting for me to start another adventure, and I’m excited to play it. On the other hand, will I be able to put up with unavoidable random battles for another 30-40 hour adventure? Not sure, but I’m gonna find out.
(Man, I’ve been on a Final Fantasy kick lately!)