Lack of save points, unfair quick time events, instant death.
Do the mere mention of these cause you to rage?
Well, buckle up, because I am going to be talking about annoying video game and RPG mechanics!
So sometimes, game developers think they have a good idea. Many times, even gamers think something is great…
That is, until they have died the tenth time to a boss because they keep spamming that incredibly saddening instant death spell or ability, that just always seems to connect.
Or perhaps your main character fell in battle. Game over.
Before I talk about these mechanics, let me preface this post by saying;
this is all my opinion, I am not saying the games are bad if they have these mechanics in them, I merely find them a bit annoying when I have to deal with them.
Also, these are in no particular order.
With that out of the way, let’s get on with the list!
Instant Death spells, abilities and status ailments in general
Ah. Death. It happens in games. It’s usually the cause of game overs. Okay, you messed up, just try again.
But what happens when you keep losing to a boss that just loves spamming Death/Kill/RUB etc?
In RPGs, it’s actually pretty prevalent, even in more modern titles.
Plus, it seems bosses/enemies also just loves targeting your healer/cleric, or a key party member. It’s like the game knows.
Or, you know, the developers want their players to suffer by making a monster that has a percent chance to instant kill its target and gives them a full-party paralyze move, aka Mindflayers from Final Fantasy 1.
Sorry, just got nasty flashbacks of the ice cave from FF1. Ugh.
Now, I am not counting “ultimate” attacks, or attacks that build up and you have to do something to stop it. Those, I don’t think necessarily count, since there is usually a way around it.
So going from that, status ailments. I want to say like 90% of games, they suck when you try to use them. At least once you get a little further into a game.
Other than fully disabling ones, like Paralyze/Stun and a lesser extent Sleep/Silence and sometimes Blind, they aren’t worth it. Most of the time, you are better off just doing damage. Poison almost never does enough damage to matter, especially in the later parts of games and only proves to be a nuisance to you and your party rather than a tool to use against enemies.
Petrify almost never works against enemies, but enemies sure can land it against you!
However, much like instant death, enemies seem to have a much higher rate of status infliction, even though you and your party could spam Silence and never land it.
Another thing, most bosses are immune to a lot of status ailments, so it becomes completely moot in hard boss encounters.
Sometimes bosses will have a gimmick/weakness, such as Blinding a physical attacker or Silencing a spellcaster, but in most cases, they are just flat out immune to most ailments that you would want to use.
Thankfully, you can sometimes plan ahead and use accessories/items to prevent status ailments, which helps, even against the aforementioned instant death. Usually.
I will give a shout out to the Etrian Odyssey series. They are one of the few games that I have personally played that uses ailments and their unique binds system to great effect.
All through-out the game, some monsters can just flat out wreck you, but you shut them down with various ailments like fear, blind and paralyze, or binding their arms, legs or head.
For the binds, in the Etrian Odyssey series, every ability uses either your arms, legs or head, and if that part of your body is bound, you can’t use those abilities that are associated with it. Annoying when it happens to you, but you can do the same to enemies at a pretty good rate as well!
In fact, there are classes in the various games that are dedicated to just that, and work extremely well and can play a vital role in many parties!
Additionally, bosses, while immune to some ailments, usually have at least one or two ailments that you can inflict on them. Most can be bound in various ways, but are usually resistant to such tactics.
Taking it even further, Etrian Odyssey has a system where defeating an enemy in certain ways rewards stronger and rarer items!
Such as, defeat an enemy with ice, while arm/leg or head bound, kill them with cut damage, etc.
I love this system, even though it can be annoying at times, the fact that the game encourages you to use ailments/binds is great. Plus, if you build the right character for it, they can land negative statuses pretty often.
So in conclusion, Malboros from the Final Fantasy series are one of the most annoying enemies in RPGs.
Moving on to something that really annoys me, perhaps more than instant death mechanics. However, if these are both present in a game…
Game over if your “main” character is defeated
This… Is probably one of the most annoying aspects of some games, especially in RPGs.
I will trudge through a game if it has this, but man… Annoying! The Persona series uses this mechanic AND has instant death, although in that game, it is a bit easier to gain resistance/immunity by equipping various personas and having the right items.
It was especially bad in Persona 3, since you couldn’t directly control your other companion’s actions in battle. You could order them to do various things, like heal or attack, but you still couldn’t tell them to specifically use a particular move.
As I mentioned before, if a game has instant death AND main character dies = game over, it’s even worse. It can create a tense moment, where your main character is targeted by a kill move, but manages to avoid/resist, which gives you a quick adrenaline rush, but when it does hit, giving you an instant game over, it just feels cheap.
Especially when there is one or more individuals in your party that can very easily revive anyone else that happens to go down, just not the main character.
Moving to the next annoyance,
Too many party members/useless members
Now let me begin by saying, if a game has a way to quickly and with relative ease of leveling/powering up party members that have fallen behind, this is fine. Suikoden comes to mind.
In that game series, you have a ton of characters to use. As in literally over 100 characters. I believe it’s 101? Don’t quote me on that. In any case, the game allows you to very quickly power up new characters by scaling the amount of experience gained in battle, depending on their level and the enemies you are fighting, cutting down the grinding by a huge portion.
Note, some characters won’t be usable in battle, because they offer other ways to help the party, like selling items to you or offering their inn services.
However, in that same vein, when a game has useless/very weak characters that you almost never use, what’s the point? For the challenge, perhaps, although in some cases, a character can start off weak, but eventually get strong, like some units in the Fire Emblem series or the Onion Knights in Final Fantasy 3.
Branching off of that, games that require you to use said characters, basically cutting your party size down, since they just suck and offer almost nothing to the party. I am looking at you, Edward from the early FF4 days…
As much praise as I give Etrian Odyssey, this is one of its downfalls. In the “Classic” modes of the more recent EO games, you create your party of five and go through the game instead of using pre-created, story characters. Well, you can create up to 25 characters. Only problem, expect a ton of grinding if you like to swap characters around.
EO is a pretty hardcore dungeon crawler game, so grinding is considered the norm in the EO series. Just expect even more grinding if you like to try out the different classes.
There are a few ways to gain more experience, such as auto walking and one button auto battling, which helps, but, grinding is still grinding, which brings me to my next point.
I am going to be honest. Most modern games have significantly cut down on the grinding required. Sure, a few “hardcore” games will still need grinding, but in most cases, grinding itself has been somewhat weeded out. But it still sucks when you have to it.
I am pretty lenient when it comes to grinding, myself. However, I still don’t want to spend hours and hours just gaining a few levels to slightly increase my chances of beating a boss/traveling through an area.
7th Saga for the SNES was notorious for this, and you can even make the game impossible to beat if you didn’t grind in certain areas before certain parts of the game. Now that, is a punch in the gut if I ever saw one.
So those were some of the more annoying mechanics in videos games/RPGs. While not a complete list, for sure, these are some of the first things that come to mind.
As gamers, it is impractical to ask for the perfect game, although, in my opinion, it isn’t wrong to ask for things that cut down on player frustration.
Having a goal, overcoming challenges and battles give a sense of accomplishment, but when the journey there was so arduous and defeating, that winning offers no sense of satisfaction, why make it that annoying in the first place?
Until next time, keep on gaming!