We're not talking about hybrids like Star Ocean: The Last Hope . We're not talking about combat that plays out in real-time but can be paused to issue commands. We're talking about the old-school menu-oriented turn-based mechanic that was a cornerstone of Japanese RPG mechanics for quite some time. Final Fantasy VII is only one of many that featured this style and it remains my favorite style.

Now, I've heard all the arguments against it, so don't waste your breath. I know we're moving forward and breaking through new boundaries, and the role-playing genre should continue to grow and expand along with the rest of the industry. I knew quite some time ago that this shift was inevitable; partly because too many gamers have the attention span of ADD squirrels and partly because many developers simply believe you can "do more" with a real-time mechanic. I still don't buy into this, despite the fact that I've had plenty of fun with certain real-time RPGs like Kingdom Hearts . There was just something about turn-based that separated it from the rest of the pack. These days, most RPGs are just action games with a level-building or character advancement system of some sort. But back in the day…man, we knew what were RPGs and what weren't!

On top of which, it almost seems as if the current RPGs may not cater to the old-school fans, simply because the new ones feel a whole lot like most other titles on store shelves. And I always felt as if turn-based gave the game more of a strategy feel; I would have all the time in the world to determine the best possible form of attack. In this way, it relies entirely on brain activity and there's no need whatsoever for finger dexterity. If I wanted to do the latter, there are a million games I can play but RPGs always afforded me something different during the original PlayStation era. But now, it's almost as if the RPGs don't resemble RPGs to me…and I know what the purists are going to say: "oh yeah, like the turn-based RPGs could be considered 'true role-playing.'" This is where they like to make the connection to the first example of "role-playing;" Dungeons & Dragons, which is immediately followed by my standard clarification that the tabletop pen-and-paper D&D game can hardly be compared to the video game industry.

I guess I might be whining about days long gone, but I can't help it. I find that I'm almost more inclined to play old RPGs on the PS1 than I am new RPGs, which I often find disappointing. I do have high hopes for the likes of White Knight Chronicles and Resonance of Fate , even though I know both will be real-time. There's just something special about the turn-based style, and I mourn its death. Oh yes, sadly, it's dead . 'sob'

P.S. The last true turn-based game I played was Lost Odyssey and I can only hope they do a sequel…

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Oyashiro
Oyashiro
11 years ago

We still have Persona 🙂

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Yeah, but it hasn't gone next-gen

^Still a great series

I mean you can count it, but how long will they really go with it?

The ps2 will die someday

Let's see then if ATLUS will continue to stick with turn-base

Oyashiro
Oyashiro
11 years ago

Thats the thing about Atlus that I like, They are still niche. Most of their sales are still determined by pre-orders. Thats why they listen to there fans and always keep core gameplay elements the same. Because they can't afford to screw their biggest series they have and lose thous fans.

To them, the fans are #1 priority. Thats why they give out so much bonus swag to please the fans and get more pre-orders.

They will most likely do little improvements as we saw with Person 3 going on to 4. But they know the Persona formula works. Thats why i'm can't wait for the announcement of P5 🙂

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

As much as I like Persona (and maybe this would kill the charm) I really get tired of the dungeons. At least from 3 to 4 they dropped the tower that was the same everywhere and used a few different environments. But I'd like to see it branch out, maybe they can get into a whole different bigass dimensional world from their little Japanese town next time.

Kevadu
Kevadu
11 years ago

Not just Persona, but all the Shin Megami Tensei games (other than the Devil Summoner games which are action/RPGs) are turn-based. They're not light on challenge, either, so you really do have to think things through.

Not to mention the recently released Crimson Gem Saga for the PSP (which I fully intend to pick up but haven't got around to yet…).

Also, NISA is keeping up the turn-based tradition with the localization of various Gust games, as well as their own Disgaea series (though those are SRPGs).

So there are definitely turn-based games out there but they're all kind of niche.

Kevadu
Kevadu
11 years ago

Oh, BTW, I have a thread on the forum about trying to find a copy of Ar Tonellico II (which only came out in January…it's not that old) which should give you an idea of just *how* niche some of these games are. Even when you want to buy a copy they can be damn hard to find!

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Aye aye!

Fully agree with this
Even FFXII(great game) would've been a whole different beast if it was turn-based

You could use all your characters in more "engaging" and "individual" ways

Each character you're using would matter again

But they had to make it like an action game with window commands 🙁

I would've loved to see the fights which would've unfolded in FFXII if it was turn-based. Love the game mind you, the fighting was really awesome and everything felt alive. I just think it would've been a little bit better if it was turn-based.

Anyway as someone who went through rpg's golden age I'm also saddened.

Turn based rpgs:

-Every character felt important

Action rpgs:
-Just use the main character and let the computer do whatever they want

^I love my party, I want to be able to use EVERY CHARACTER. why would I want the CPU do things for me? Seriously

TheHighlander
TheHighlander
11 years ago

In a turn based game, the game is about decision making, planning ans strategy. In some games, like Xenosage III for example, you can pre-play your attacks, and effectively chain together a series of attacks from your party for maximum damage and benefit. Sometimes it's the only way to defeat a Boss.

But because it's turn based, you have time to plan and decide what to do.

The whole turn based mechanic encourages a slower, more thoughtful approach, and I think that character development and party membership, as well as equipment take a more important role in turn based since it's not your ability to mash the buttons fast that matters, it's your pre-planning.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Awesome pic, BTW. The death of turn based saddens all of us old schoolers, and while I enjoyed toying with the mechanics of Eternal Sonata there was just something missing, and it didn't take long to sort that out.

As you said it has to do with strategy, and while I don't dig strategy games (Sorry Disgaia) the old turn based always had just enough because that thing that was missing was the epicness of any boss (or difficult) battles. You nolonger need strategy, instead you need fast hands and faster fingers to run around the big guy hacking and casting off spells before time runs out. While this can add some suspense, it's the wrong kind. I liked that suspense when I was down to one player who had low HP and was inflicted with poison and had a snowball's chance in hell of coming back, resurrecting his comrades and beating the bastard; AND THEN DOING IT! In these real time battles, you just know when you're beat. And I'm gonna miss all of that goodness in the forthcoming days.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/12/2009 10:29:42 PM

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Nothing better than seeing all your characters die except the main character

And he as the leader picking up(reviving) everyone else

And then evryone else coming taking that enthusiasm and dealing critical hits.

Or having the "healing" character heal your characters in a tough battle

It adds to a character's character(in a way)

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

LOL I remember being down to one character with very little HP against Ozma ni FFIX; it was when the boss was moving like five times to your one. I figured I was dead and would have to retry, so just for the hell of it, I searched through my inventory to find something weird to throw. Just for the heck of it to see what it would do. I had an extra piece of Dark Matter…

Bam. 9999HP damage. Ozma dead. I definitely LOLd. 🙂

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

@Ben,

Well whaddaya know…I beat the last boss in FFIX with Vivi…

Yes all my characters were dead….and Vivi with a Thundaga(favorite FF move) killed him.

And it was my first time fighting him, it was epic!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Dark Matter up in this piece! I never thought to try that 🙂

King James
King James
11 years ago

Could anyone beat that globe boss thing at the end of FFIX? What was that thing called? It was harder than Necron the final boss. Kinda reminded me of Emerald Weapon on FF7. Never could beat that thing.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

It was Ozma, the boss I just mentioned and the ultimate "weapon" of FFIX.

King James
King James
11 years ago

Wow. U beat that thing like that, Ben?! Really?! U should thank the RPG gods. I remember getting lucky a couple of times throughout my "RPG career", but never like that.

BTW, what disc are u at on your FF8?


Last edited by King James on 6/13/2009 2:19:57 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Still on Disc 1; just got Irvine. inFamous has been taking up all my time lately. 🙂

Cunn8780
Cunn8780
11 years ago

I have recently begun downloading all my favorite "old school" rpgs on emulators for NES, SNES, and PSX. I truly do miss a turn-based system, because that's what I have always associated with RPGs.

King James
King James
11 years ago

I do kinda miss the turn-based joints. But I don't mind the change at all. I just want a good balance. I do think that Sony and the jrpg publishers are on the right track making the PSone classics available. I also think that turn-based rpg will be found mainly on handhelds now.

Heck, the only reason why (i believe) jrpgs were always turn-based is because the technology to make real-time gameplay just wasn't there. So maybe this is what some developers wanted to make all along.

So here we are…at the dawn of a new era in RPGs. We got Fallout 3, Valkyria Chronicles, Lost Odyssey, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins, Star Wars: The Old Republic, FF13 (all 3 of them), FF14, Borderlands, Huxley, APB, The Agency, DC Universe, WOW so many different styles of RPG….and to think…it all started with that old-fashioned turned-based mechanic.

Love it.

CrazyIrishBoy
CrazyIrishBoy
11 years ago

Thats exactly what I thought, they might have put real time into older games but didnt have the tech so they came up with turn based which just happened to be awesome.

But I also like real time, just depends how it is implemented, although i'm sure they could develop it to resemble turn based a little more but do they know there are people out there that want that?

rossinator_99
rossinator_99
11 years ago

turn based rocks!!! i do like some action rpgs, but i have yet to find one that can surpass the awesomenss that is turn based.

fatelementality
fatelementality
11 years ago

I never played Lost Odyssey Ben, I almost feel like I missed out. The initial trailers I saw were so awesome, but when I saw gameplay, it was kinda dissapointing. Should I give it a shot now? I love FF7 with an ungodly passion. So much that Cloud and Sephiroth are my next two tattoos. How many disks was it btw?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

It's simple. If you like old-school turn-based RPGs, you'll love it. 🙂

Well, at least I think you will.

fatelementality
fatelementality
11 years ago

For some reason, my favorite part of FF7 was fighting Weapon on the Highwind. Great stuff. Best…..attacks………..EVER!!!!!! How's Lost Odyssey's story, does it grab you?


Last edited by fatelementality on 6/12/2009 11:03:14 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

The story's okay, but the dream sequences (which you read) are some of the best-written pieces of work I've ever seen in any video game. LO is almost worth it entirely just for these…

fatelementality
fatelementality
11 years ago

Oh yeah, you never told me how many disks it was. I'm thinking 4. You've actually convinced me to get it. I need something to hold me over until XIII comes out. Sounds like this would be perfect. What was your take on AC Complete?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Yeah, it's 4 discs but make sure they're okay when you buy them…they're packaged in a RETARDED manner, as you will see.

I don't have AC Complete yet but I do want it.

fatelementality
fatelementality
11 years ago

I think that the title says it all. For the first third of the move, it's pretty much the same. The latter of it makes you feel fuzzy though. Alot of scenes were extended for a more dramatic effect. Well worth a watch on Blu-ray. I thought it looked good before. You can really tell the difference in the new scenes though. It's not really the detail, but the lighting that you notice. Pure awesomeness. I couldn't go back and watch the original if I tried.

Anonymous
Anonymous
11 years ago

I'll give a second for LO. The stories of the main characters past are so well writen at times I was almost moved to tears. The voice overs are pretty good in English as well and Jansen is a riot.

BigBoss4ever
BigBoss4ever
11 years ago

I feel 100% same as you Ben regarding the turn based RPGs. In my mind, only turn based RPGs are real true RPGs, and have a real classic feeling. All other action based RPGs lack the classic epic feeling, especially facing the big fosses,(just like WorldEnds stated above), and true RPG gamers all know "Slash and chop" does not give you that feeling at all.

P.S. Lost Odyssey is probably the only pure turn based J-RPGs on next-gen console and it is the latest epic classic which great musics, meanings and beautiful dream scripts. I spent 120+ hours literally maxed out everything and completed all quests. This is the game I did not see in recent years since Chrono Cross or FF9.


Last edited by BigBoss4ever on 6/12/2009 11:05:42 PM

darxed
darxed
11 years ago

Hey Ben you should really try Persona 4, IMHO one of the best RPGs ever made, and the combat is completely turn based, I'm playing it again to max everything alongside FFVIII and it rocks!… It goes to show, Square trying so hard to appeal to the western market, Buying Eidos and all that and Atlus succeds with two games (Persona 3 and 4) that really could not be more Japanese. Maybe Square should learn from Atlus, I like my RPGs with a big fat 'J' at the front…


Last edited by darxed on 6/12/2009 11:04:44 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I played and reviewed Persona 4 (check it under the PS2 Reviews section). Never got a chance to finish it, though. 🙁

Kevadu
Kevadu
11 years ago

How to you review a game without finishing it? OK, I realize Persona 4 is long as heck, but that just ain't right.

Can you imagine reviewing Xenogears without getting to the second CD where the game basically went to shit? Anyone would have given it a *very* different score…

darxed
darxed
11 years ago

Hey I read the Persona 4 review, sounds like you really liked it… why didn't you finish it?

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Kevadu, do you realize how many games we have to review? Do you honestly believe ANY professional critic has the time to spend 40+ hours before writing the review? Come on, be realistic. And really, you don't need to play games to completion to accurately score them.

darxed: Didn't have the time, as I just explained. 😉

G-WiZ199
G-WiZ199
11 years ago

I completely agree. It sucks that the days of turn based rpgs are gone. My favorite RPGs are FFVIII, FFX, Skies of Arcadia, Legend of Dragoon, and Vagrant Story; all amazing turn based games. *sigh* This articles makes me want to purchase all of these games again for another run through lol.

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

Vagrant Story is not turn-based, but a great game nonetheless

A cousin of another great game: FFXII

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

I thought it was turn based, I just remember getting the option to attack any piece of their body like in Fallout 3's VATS.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

Vagrant Story was a hybrid. You could pause the battle to choose which part of the enemy to attack, but the action carried out in real-time, if I remember correctly.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
11 years ago

Here's something else in this vein that we should discuss: How does everyone feel about random battles? I never had a problem with them except in certain games like Skies of Arcadia (awesome Dreamcast RPG otherwise) where you step on an enemy every two seconds. They actually had to edit that problem out for the Gamecube version.

I find it kind of silly that I can avoid all the enemies I want to on the world map in some games (but I try to fight every single one) I always thought of an RPG as being representative of the adventure experience so not having them on the map never irked me but I know some folks hate it, and FFXIII is going with map critters again. Whats the consensus on random battles around here?


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/12/2009 11:15:03 PM

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

If only they'd make rpgs harder(or have difficulty options)….

That'd shut those kids who complain 'bout random battles.

I love random battles

if you're in a freaking forest you're going to get attacked by "monsters/animals" or whatnot so whether they're on screen or not doesn't matter.

I've seen games where you can walk/run right past on-screen monsters….wtf? seriously lol…

And to make it worse is that they respawn again…(making you dread even walking through a dungeon)

I love random battles

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
11 years ago

I love random battles…provided they're not too frequent. They need to be just the right frequency, and I think a game like FFVII struck the perfect chord in that respect. Some games it's more and some games it's less, but with a good ratio of time traveled vs. battles, I like it plenty.

Scarecrow
Scarecrow
11 years ago

I love "funny games"

For example, in Thousand Arms the frequency is random. So you'll never be able to really narrow it down between so and so steps.

Sometimes you can walk through a whole room and not get encounters(rare, but happens). Sometimes you walk 5 steps and bam!

It's really fun and funny haha. Love that game, it's a true rpg in every respect.

Kevadu
Kevadu
11 years ago

I don't have a problem with random battles, but I have been playing RPGs for a long time and they just seem sort of natural. I can kind of see why players who are new to the genre might see them as an old-fashioned and clunky mechanic. You're walking along and suddenly the scene completely changes and you have your party facing off against some monsters that appeared from somewhere? It's a little abstract.

I kind of wish more games would take the Chrono Trigger-style approach, actually. It worked really well there and that game was certainly successful, but nobody seems to emulate it for some reason (even Square didn't emulate it when they made Chrono Cross…).

darxed
darxed
11 years ago

Yeah It's all in the frequency… Too many random battles and It gets annoying really really fast (I'm looking at you Star Ocean 4…)

Alienange
Alienange
11 years ago

Random battles are the best. It always gave me that sense of nervousness as you ran through a dungeon or along a mountain side… monsters popping out at any time. That's great fun.

FFXII was cool, but there was always that "wait! <pause action> I don't want my AI controlled character to do that." How does that immerse you? You're always worrying about the AI getting it right.

BigBoss4ever
BigBoss4ever
11 years ago

random battle is also an essential and classic part of the golden rpg days. I love it. but also like Ben said, it can not be too frequent. i.e. Lost Odyssey has the right frequency.

therabbitkinge
therabbitkinge
11 years ago

Ben I absoluteyl agree with you fisrt off turn based was boss I felt that with the time I had to plan moves I really ended up looking as badass as the character I played, nowadays its all like turned based fighting game hybrids of button mashing haphazardry. Oh and when I fisrt sat through Kaim intro cutscene in "lost oddessey" I stood there for 3 minutes before I realized I had control, truly truly breathtaking (I got stuck on that giant worm boss that spawns those lil insects and haven't played it since its release though).

shadowpal2
shadowpal2
11 years ago

Hmm…I can actually get along with both of the styles pretty well. It's quite interesting actually. If I had to pick which one felt better for me…it'd probably be the real-time kind of action RPG just because…in some ways it feels more exhilarating for me. But I still love turn based…

chilker
chilker
11 years ago

I bought FFVII on the PSN last week and have clocked about 20 hours on it since then. Man have I missed it. I somehow lost 2 of the discs from my PS1 copy of it, so I hadn't played it like 8 years. I love the title of this article because it truly describes how I've been feeling about the newer RPGs. I really mourn the turn-based battles. They are just more satisfying, I think.
Slightly unrelated: I had just finished playing Crisis Core on the PSP and now, going through the original FFVII, I am amazed at how true to the original they were! There are all these references back and forth that I didn't remember from the first time I played it so many years ago–it's amazing!
I wish turn-based games would make a comeback, though.