As for Phantom Brave, I think it shows an important trend the industry should be taking. Just as much as it aims for higher suspension of disbelief and more believable worlds
Is this a sarcastic comment Kitsune or do you really think Phantom brave is reaching for a believable world. In my opinion the world is way way out there, engrosing and entertaining but not believable.
Probably a confusion of what it is refering to, I was refering to the industry. As in, at the same time that the industry should be going straight for believable worlds and all that junk, it should be heading off into greater levels of increasingly complex game just to be a game interaction that doesn’t particular care to reference the real world calls to mind.
I didn’t see anyone mention it, so for what it’s worth: the major aim of the Confinement system, specifically how all non-Marona characters disappear after a set number of turns, is so that you can’t win the game with a single, uber-powered character (unless you power up Marona to fairly ridiculous levels). This forces you to use your phantoms in concert, with Witches complementing Fighters complementing Healers, etc etc.
In a game that otherwise gives you so much latitude to build up your army and win battles, I consider it a very small price, and it creates more interesting tactics than it discourages.
I too liked Disgaea’s story and humor more. I liked the Item World dungeons a bit more, because you had the choice to either escape a level through the exit hatch or defeat all the enemies. I prefer Phantom Brave in just about every other respect though.
Both Disgaea and Phantom Brave wore out their welcomes with me sooner than I would have liked. I respect and admire Nippon-ichi for bringing so much innovation to the SRPG table, but in the end I prefer my games more immersive and believable (relatively speaking), with a clear and accessible rules system underneath. For instance, while the gridless aspect of PB is an interesting idea, I much prefer the exactitude and structure (and unit facing concerns!) that a grid allows.
A fair point, but I think the same issue is addressed to much greater effect in the Fire Emblem games. It’s difficult to build up über-characters in FE, partly due to the rock-scissors-paper aspect of the design, and partly because there are usually multiple and varied threats on the battlefield, as well as specific victory conditions. But more importantly, when characters die in FE, they’re out of the game. So the decision to risk a character in battle is often a tense one, with lasting (but not game-killing) repercussions.
Disgaea and Phantom Brave lack this sort of tension entirely, and are far too forgiving for my taste. You can just tool around building up characters without any pressure to speak of. They’re RPG sandboxes. And while I recognize how great that is, and how many people obviously love that aspect of these games, it gets boring for me pretty quick. Maybe I’d have stuck it out if Nippon-ichi had included the option to turn on perma-death.
Nippon-ichi seems intent on broadening the player’s options to the nth degree, and that’s fine, but I think I would prefer a deepening of SRPG design. Keep all the crazy equipment to a minimum – I’m soooo tired of ever-increasing stat modifiers as core principle; pull back on the huge variety outlandish attacks which often have little differentiate them in game terms. Instead, focus on giving the player a limited but varied number of clear decisions with clear ramifications, which deepen in complexity when combined with one another and the actions of the opposition. Shadow Watch is still the best example of the kind of game design I’m trying to describe.
I would love it if someone came along and designed an SRPG with, I don’t know, plain old swordfighting as its focus. No magic, no other weapons, just guys with swords, fighting in different settings, ideally within some sort of strategic wrapper to give the fights context and meaning. Maybe something like an SRPG version of the old Yaquinto boardgame, Swashbuckler. Work in fighting stances; differentiate between thrusts, lunges, ripostes, etc.; incorporate parries and dodges into the design. Focus on capturing the spirit and subtlety of a duel, where hard player decisions – NOT stats – are the core design element.
Obviously Disgaea and Phantom Brave are not for me. I’ll just have to wait until a developer who can read my mind comes along. And if current trends in SRPG design are any indication, I’ll probably die waiting.
I don’t like to, but I agree. I played the hell out of Disgaea, it was fresh, crazy, filled with character and just fun from the moment I saw my first prinny to something like 50 hours later where it was all about the stats and gamefaqs had ruined all of the progressions and what not.
Then came La Pucelle Tactics, which was a step in the right direction I thought… it seemed more focused on Game instead of Stats. There was less crazy shit to do, but it had better levels and refined mechanics and you weren’t punished by not minmaxing. The problem was, compared to Disgaea, the story/character/designs, were bland. They lacked that crazy disgaea insanity. And when you are looking at a battlefield with the same graphics as the game you dumped 50 hours in a year before, only with more pastels and less wackiness… i just sat there thinking, ok the story is a little bit more present, the maps are a little less random, but really, what’s the point. I made it to about chapter 4 or 5.
Phantom Brave, I really like the new play mechanics, but I never played it more than a few chapters. I mean to try it again, but Nippon Ichi is digging themselves in a hole with the graphics and uninspired maps. Even though it’s been moving more towards the good end of the spectrum, quantity still is being stressed over quality IMO.
I haven’t read too too much on Phantom World, but I know its cornerstone is that every map is completely randomized. I fail to see how this is a good thing. A game full of item worlds and whatever they are called in PB? Maybe if the game has a true range of well designed classes and progressions, but they haven’t really hit this yet and I don’t think they will.
The original FFT is peerless in the genre for me. It might be a fair bit of nostalgia, but each class truly played differently, and there was also a decent amount of variety to what you could do with each class. It was the kind of game where sure, everyone you pick up is some generic dude with a random name, but they became characters for me. And the maps were just brilliantly designed. Tactics Ogre had some good ones, but nothing else has come close. Disgaea had some pretty cool ones that were marred by ridiculous enemy placements. Where’s the fun and strategy in fighting 25 pumpkin kings on the same map?
Ok end rant. I think Nippon Ichi has made some right steps, but it hasn’t been enough and with their next game I have a feeling it’s a step backwards. I want a real good TBSPRG. FFT:A was painfully slow and The 2D styles and optionless advancement of Advance Wars and Fire Emblem are really different genres. I can only hope that one day Squenix revisits the franchise and does it right. And I’m also hoping that some savvy designer taps into the DS and makes some awesome killer app in the genre and I have a reason to buy one of those silly things.
Fair point. The games do to some extent allow you to set the level of challenge / lethality by letting you take on ridiculous enemies with under-powered characters (venturing into high-level random dungeons, etc). But yeah death isn’t permanent or even scary most of the time - much like the quintessentially sandbox-y GTA games, it amounts to a small money penalty.
As for gameplay-story agreement, I thought Disgaea at least made the crazy mechanics (e.g. the awesomely nonsensical take-back-move mechanic) fit better by being zany and silly.
I would love it if someone came along and designed an SRPG with, I don’t know, plain old swordfighting as its focus.
I think the real revelation here is just that more people need to be making SRPGs. I played and loved Fire Emblem as well as Disgaea as well as X-COM etc etc, and I’d play (and probably love) a good digital conversion of Swashbuckler as well.
But noooo, we get a bunch of real-time strategy dreck and uh, stuff. and crap.