VRP Madness (IV): A Thing About Endings

Future Cullen sez: As stated before, we have a unique situation in the history of this blog: Visible correction to a post. See, Brother Eric said something in his answer to this post that inspired a massive rethink in the terms. As Eric references these terms in his post, I can’t really just remove the offending parts. So instead, the first time it happens I’ve struck it through and highlighted them in red, like this, with the new term placed to the right.

That said, let us proceed.


In the previous entries in this series we divided Video Role Playing Games (VRPGs) into categories based on local/philosophies.  On the one hand we have the Japanese style of VRPG, which tends to be story centric.  On the other, we have the American style of VRPG, with emphasizes open worlds and characters created by the player.

Next we further divided things up into three sub-categories.  There is Fixed Solid, in which the player has no control over plot or much of anything; Semi-Fluid Semi-Solid, in which the player has a degree of say on how the plot goes; and then Inconsequential Fluid, where the main plot might be fixed but other aspects of the story can be changed by the player.

We won’t speculate on how coherent or thought-provoking any of this is.  Though when I don’t think it was all crap I know it was all pure genius.

In doing this, I’ve tried not to show a bias towards any category, though I have fessed up to preferring the Japanese story centric over the open world “freedom” of my home land games.  I’ve also not mentioned much about how these games are played, focusing instead on story.

While the former will not be addressed in this series, I am going to bring forward a bit of personal opinion here.  Which is the following:

There is no excuse for Solid games.

One of the things Video Games have over any sort of entertainment medium is being able to interact (in some way) with its audience.  To not exploit it  even to the slightest degree is a crime.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a VRPG or a First Person Shooter, there should be some degree of input given the player

Now I understand the appeal of Solid games from a game designer stand point.  Fixed games are easy to produce in comparison to the others.  Less writing, less voice acting, and so on.  Less money spent is

However, when I look at new games to play, I look for games with multiple endings.

Multiple endings suggest choices that matter.  They suggest consequences.  They suggest you can go through 20+ hours of game play and fail utterly.  I have always loved multiple endings, ever since I first came across them.

Which sounds like a segue to me.

OBreath of Fire (video game)nce, long ago, when the dinosaurs walked the earth and you could still find an honest politician (well maybe not that long ago) my family rented a game called Breath of Fire.  Standard enough story.  A young man named Ryu, with boon companions at his side, struggles to prevent an evil empire from claiming his world.  He fights all the way up the food chain to an evil Goddess and, after a battle, triumphs.

Roll credits.   Whole slew of names.  Then the standard last words: “Thanks for playing!”

Only after the credits a funny thing happened.  Suddenly we’re back where the final battle took place.  Standing alone there is the Goddess, back to the player, pleading for Her life.  Hey, don’t at me, I didn’t make the game.

She turns, and I swear the evilest grin I have ever seen crosses her face as the words END pop up on the screen.

AH! SHE’S COMIN’ TA GIT ME!

Yeah, I know.  Those were Her eyes.  Memory deceives.

It wasn’t until I was looking through an issue of a gaming magazine (totally not looking for cheat codes for Mortal Kombat) when I discovered that I’d gotten the bad ending, the one where the Heroes failed and Goddess won.  The whole idea just floored me and intrigued me. <1.>

Since, that’s always been a big selling point with me, more so than new game play or fancy graphics.  Hell, I recently picked up the aptly named Corpse Party because it claimed to have forty endings.  Sounded like a whole bunch of ways to screw up.

I… frankly had no idea.

Really.

You’d think a 16 bit game couldn’t disturb you.  And you’d be wrong.

WAIT WAIT LET TYR COME GET ME NO NOT THIS AGAIN AIEEEEE!

But that’s a different post, and we are coming to the end of this one.  So far we’ve discussed categories and what I want out of VRPGs.  That’s about all I wanted to say.

Hmm.  I promised seven days of this, too?  What to do, what to do?

Come back tomorrow and see.  I can tell you this for free, though: It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

I dunno.  Maybe I’ll start just smashing random letters and post that.  Assuming that wasn’t how I’ve been doing all of my posts…



1. We’re going to skip how I felt like I had left the entire world of Breath of Fire to be damned by the Goddess and re-rented the game to save them. Because I can’t decide if that’s incredibly geeky or anal of me. Then I do the math, realize how old I was when I did it, and I want to slide under my chair and die of embarrassment.

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