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The Long and Short of RPGs

Susan Arendt | 11 Sep 2008 21:00
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Many of you are likely thinking that playing an RPG on Short would be defeating the entire purpose, and that if I can't bring myself to finish the games, I shouldn't be playing them anyway. I understand that point of view, but even if I weren't afflicted with my particular kind of OCD, the fact is that the vast majority of RPGs involve more than a little repetition and fluff that could be cut away without harming the game experience as a whole. I mean, really, do we need to grind quite that much in order to get the full Enchanted Arms experience? Does a game suffer if you kill 1,000 demons instead of 2,000? Is a quest to find seven pieces of magical armor that much worse than a quest to find nine?

Let me be perfectly clear: I'm not for one moment suggesting that these games actually need to be shorter. Clearly, many RPG fans enjoy wringing every last drop out of them and are more than happy to put in the time necessary to complete them. It would be doing them a serious disservice to tell them they can't. But there doesn't really seem to be a down side to offering a Short version of the game, too. The players who want the full experience can get it, and those who simply don't have the ability or desire to sink countless hours into a game like Wind Waker or Star Ocean get to see what all the fuss is about. Everybody wins.

The different versions of the game could even be reflected in the Achievements and Trophies, the same way completing games on varying difficulty settings is. Again, this benefits both kinds of players; those without the stamina to endure the full experience still earn points and awards for playing, but those who go the distance wind up are rewarded far more heavily for their efforts.

I haven't quite figured out all the details yet - if you want to play the game on Long after completing it on Short, does any of your character info carry over? Not sure. - but I'll get it all sorted out eventually. I have to. It may be the only hope I have of seeing the end credits of a Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, or Shin Megami Tensei without cheating.

Susan Arendt finished Koudelka, but not any of the other Shadow Hearts games

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