Picky Eating at the RPG Buffet
Ever went out to eat at with a friend or family member that, without fail, would order those chicken fingers and fries, regardless of the restaurant’s offerings? Heck, that person might even be YOU! Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having favorite foods, but the blinders should come off at times in order to experience new things, and hey, maybe there’s something superior to chicken fingers and fried potatoes out there after all!
But Ben – what does battered and deep fried chicken have to with RPGs? Well, the concept outlined above can certainly apply to our gaming tastes, as well. How often have we kept our nose to the ground, only partaking in the select few things that have brought us joy in the past? I, for one, was an extreme Final Fantasy snob starting from age five and continuing into my early 20s, and while I would dabble in other one-offs and franchises from time to time – SaGa, River City Ransom, and World of Warcraft alone have years of devotion combined – I would almost always come back to my “comfort zone.”
Things started to change, however, around the 13th mainline entry, where the influence of turn-based battles would wane in favor of a more action-oriented approach. That wasn’t the only issue, of course – the plot, characters, and game world just didn’t appeal to me as much it once did. And whether I liked it or not, gone would be the days where I would genuinely care about whatever the next installment was in the mainline sequence of the long-running franchise.
In fact, re-releases and remasters of previous entries in the series are more appealing to me than anything else. That’s not to say I won’t dive back into Final Fantasy XVI releases – however new and different that may turn out to be – but the franchise fire just doesn’t burn in me like it used to. That is, unless we’re talking about a true sequel or prequel to the original Final Fantasy Tactics, then it’s on like Donkey Kong.
This same feeling of fatigue kind of applies to another franchise near and dear to me: SaGa. I’ve sank countless hours into the Gameboy and Playstation games over the years, and have already racked up 70 hours in the Switch version of Romancing SaGa 3. Despite really digging its combat system, the recent SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions was a bit of a disappointment for me. As a result, while I may be slightly hesitant to immediately play future entries in the series, I’m all-in – like with Final Fantasy – for some remakes/re-releases/remasters of older SaGa titles on Switch – notably Final Fantasy Legend II or SaGa Frontier.
This “about face” can be chalked up to changing of tastes, or burnout altogether, but an inner-expansion of the palate had to be made either way in order to continue loving this incredible Role-Playing genre. Thanks to the opportunities provided by both the Nintendo Switch and SwitchRPG.com, I’ve been able to experience a wide array of RPGs that I may have never picked up otherwise. I now consider myself a fan of a multitude of highly adored RPG franchises now: Ys (via Ys VIII), Dragon Quest (via DQI, II, III, XI, and Builders 1+2), Tales (via Vesperia), and Star Ocean (via First Departure R) – too many to name here, all thanks to the Switch!
What kills me is that, while most of these games are right up my alley and have been available for some time, I just haven’t been bothered to give them a chance. So, my point with the buffet analogy is this: if you are a diehard fan of specific franchises or subgenres, great, but don’t let that be the “be all end all” of your gaming experience.
Don’t be afraid of trying new things, even if you think you might not like them at all. For me, Star Ocean is a great example of being pleasantly surprised by something I thought would just be “decent.” Be sure to bring this principle outside the realm of gaming, as well – you can’t (or shouldn’t) survive on chicken fingers and fries alone.
What franchises or RPG subgenres do you find yourself resonating with? What were some titles that really surprised you? Let me know!