by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
I’ve played some truly spectacular games in my day. But no matter how perfect a game may seem, there’s almost always one tiny flaw that can make it borderline unplayable. Whether it’s something stupid and tedious, or mind-blowingly frustrating, even the greatest titles of all time have something to look at, and ask “Why did they do this shit?!” and that’s what we’re here to nitpick about today. Even my favorite game of all time (Earthbound) has some choices that just make my bones ache. EarthBound has really weird difficulty spikes for first-time players, takes your best damage (Paula) away for an important boss fight, and the inventory system is dreadful. Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals? Some of those stupid puzzles just seem like they’re thrown in for no other reason than to have a puzzle. So it’s time to do one of my favorite things to do: Nitpick!
5. Bad Dubs/Voice Acting (Dragon Quest): I’m not saying Voice Actors are bad. They work hard and do incredible things, like bringing characters to life. I use Dragon Quest as an example because it’s such a weird dichotomy to have a Western RPG as a JRPG. Using all of the European voice actors makes sense, but the original versions of the Dragon Quest games do not have a dub. That’s why it’s so weird. Adding a dub that wasn’t there is such a strange choice. I like the voices they used, but it’s not genuine. Can you think of a game with an absolute pants dub? I bet you can without any issue. Sometimes the original voices (or no voices at all) is really the better choice.
4. Unanswered Glitches/Errors (The Last Remnant): In single-player RPGs that take years to develop, there are wild issues, glitches, and bugs that somehow miss QA. Or don’t get fixed at all because it’s “too late”. From issues with face-scanning (almost any sports title that has them), the entirety of Two Worlds, glitches that erase files/corrupt data (Invisible Sketch in FFVI, Missingno in Pokemon). Then there are some that I’m not sure could be answered, like The Last Remnant on Xbox 360. For some reason, it would just freeze or stall until you reset. There was no warning, nothing to determine how it would happen, but it was the only game in my library that would do it. It didn’t only happen to me, either. It was definitely a warning in “Save Often”. QA is hard work, but there are companies that don’t even seem to use a Quality Assurance team, with the bugs that come with the final product.
3. Insane Encounter Rates (Most of Dragon Quest/Most RPGs): In RPGs that have the enemies on the map, at least you can usually sneak around and avoid them, or simply outrun them. But in older RPGs, you could not see the enemies coming. There were games (RE: every RPG you love from the 80s/90s) that had ludicrous encounter rates. It felt like every three to five steps there was a new fight. It’s worse in games with no full restoration options (FF1), or limited MP/Healing capabilities (Dragon Warrior). People have learned to step count (learn how many steps between an encounter to avoid them), but is that really a thing we should have to rely on just to enjoy a game? It’s one of my biggest pet peeves.
2. No Quest Markers (So Many Games): Back in the “good old days”, we didn’t have the Internet. The advice given was to “talk to everyone”, but it wasn’t as helpful as one might think. Especially when the translation was godawful (another advent of the 80/90s). You’re told to “go talk to this guy in this town to do this”, but you don’t know who is named what, much less where this part of a town (or even where the town is). This isn’t as prominent in main story quests, except in earlier games. In more modern RPGs, the idea is that “It’s a side quest, so you shouldn’t get much help”, and that’s ridiculous. I’m not trying to spend an extra four hours on one side quest. My time is finite, and if I can only complete one side quest in my game time, there’s something wrong.
1. Bad Twist Endings (See This List): God. What is it with people and their craving for a wild twist ending? Almost every “twist” ending sucks. I’m not sorry, that’s not even a hot take. That’s a mild take at best. So you’re playing an RPG, everything’s going fine. The game goes from cheerful to dark pretty fast, but that’s okay because it makes sense. The final boss draws nigh, and after a nice back-and-forth, you win! Then you find out.. this was just all some digital test/program, that it wasn’t real at all? Come the hell on with that! That’s up there with Super Mario Bros. 2 US being just a dream of Mario. This could be a rant all on its own, and while this doesn’t ruin the rest of the game, it does make me never want to play these games again, knowing I’m going to just be disappointed yet again.