Stance on minigames determining effectiveness of attacks?
I like them!
26.9% (7)
26.9% (7)
Don't mind/care
7.7% (2)
7.7% (2)
Dislike them
42.3% (11)
42.3% (11)
As long as they're relatively easy
23.1% (6)
23.1% (6)
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Poll: Attacks as minigames in your turn-based JRPGs

I haven't seen them all too often, yet they appear in beloved JRPGs like Paper Mario (TTYD) and Final Fantasy X. A lot of the time it's as simple as pressing a button at the right time or it's a QTE. I'm just wondering what the general consensus of these minigames are. Are they obstructive? I haven't heard of anyone say these were their favourite parts of the games they appear in, nor their least favourite. Do you think they'd be better off without them or would you like to see them in more turn-based games?

I can see the benefits. The biggest turn off for turn-based battles is that most of the actual gameplay is based in menus, which doesn't seem to be all that engaging (at least that's what I think, I actually like turn-based battles). Adding minigames to determine the strength or accuracy of attacks certainly adds a level of skill required to succeed rather than just knowledge. They can get in the way, like having to do them perhaps 100s of times across the whole playthrough but that's why they're simple and are never too tasking.

Timed hits really are a necessary part of the Paper Mario games but other than that I really don't care for them. QTE's are terrible. In the end, when timed hits become required (usually mid to late game) then it's no longer a worthy addition. Their only valid purpose is to give the player who wants to bother an attack/defense boost.

Not that well versed in the world of JRPGs, but I have played enough of them to appreciate the difference between the options you're comparing, but I'll keep my opinions to the couple I spent the most time with (recently.)

Final Fantasy VIII had a decent mix; the active time battle (ATB) was essentially menu-management, but it kept you engaged instead of just waiting for a turn, so it felt slightly less menu-y; it wasn't necessarily a minigame, but there was a level of strategy in timing the cadence of your actions so you were always prepared to do SOMETHING, i.e.: you didn't want all three of your party to be starting a fresh "cooling down" period if any of them was sitting at 12 HP and the enemy is winding up for a kill shot. The minigames came in in the Limit Breaks: hitting Squall's fire button to shoot the gunblade or boosting you GFs for maximum damage was entertaining without being overly elaborate, but Zell's QTE bullshit ensured I kept him out of my party whenever possible.

Then there was Final Fantasy XIII... Jesus. I don't know what turns the franchise took in the 4 iterations in between 8 and 13, but needless to say, FF13 was NOT what I was expecting. The idea of the paradigm shifts, looking gorgeous and eschewing strict turn-based combat in lieu of more action-oriented battle sounded interesting... until I played it. Playing FF13 felt like doing my taxes blindfolded, at gun point, with a lit stick of dynamite shoved up my ass. It was menu management on CRACK; I missed most of the view because I was frenetically diving through the menus and paradigms: "uh...uh... do THIS now! No, wait, shit...uh... do THAT now! Motherfucker, that's not what I mean to do!" With the lack of turn-based lag time, it was more stressful than fun. Add to that the fact that a lot of the battles, without intimate (if not genius-level) knowledge of the overly complex mechanics behind the battle system, every major battle seemed to be a puzzle, having one right way to handle it, instead of allowing the player to use/play the roles that fit their own style. I quit experimenting early on and just used the guide to know which paradigms to use and weakness to exploit. I finished FF13, but unlike FF8, I had no desire to play it (or any other FF games) again afterwards.

All that said, I think minigames have a place in a JRPG when done correctly, that being largely subjective, I know. For me "correctly" is simple; I'd much rather a battle involve more than my passively waiting for my party's turn to perform actions I chose 10 seconds ago, but less than requiring I actively make decisions for each party member, essentially in real time, at the SAME time, the WHOLE time; that's a MAXIgame, and no thanks.

Timed hits are as far as this insane train should go.

Pressing a button or doing a very simple joystick flick is fine, especially if the penalty for failing the command aren't all that painful.

But anything more involved than that impedes the entire flow of combat and fucks up the whole planning thing which is the core of the turn based combat experience.

The worst offender was that Sonic RPG on the DS. Every freakin' attack turned into Elite Beat Agents, and if you fucked up a command, the whole special attack was made worthless. And it dragged down the combat speed so much that it felt like a slog.

I liked the way it was implemented in Final Fantasy VI. It was restricted to special abilities of certain characters (Sabin, Cyan and Setzer), but every character had their own special ability with its own rules.

Also Tifa's limit break in Final Fantasy VII.

I remember them fondly in The Legend of the Dragoon on PS1. Kind of forced me to stay engaged with the combat.

However, they outstay their welcome rather quickly. I guess a decent way of preventing fatigue is to make sure you get a steady drip feed of new moves with new button combos/interactions throughout the game, but ultimately in the case of LotD, it's still just hitting buttons in the right order at the right time. Didn't help that characters always had to shout out the name of the attack everytime you used it.

Aerosteam:
The biggest turn off for turn-based battles is that most of the actual gameplay is based in menus, which doesn't seem to be all that engaging (at least that's what I think, I actually like turn-based battles).

That was the Final Fantasy 8 pitch meeting:
A: "Yeah, that FF7 was great but people get bored when they're not clicking buttons so let's make them click more buttons."
B: "Should we make them click different buttons for every character so that it gets pointlessly confusing?"
A: "Of course! They will love getting things constantly mixed up and failing to execute their attacks properly."

DeliveryGodNoah:
I remember them fondly in The Legend of the Dragoon on PS1. Kind of forced me to stay engaged with the combat.

However, they outstay their welcome rather quickly. I guess a decent way of preventing fatigue is to make sure you get a steady drip feed of new moves with new button combos/interactions throughout the game, but ultimately in the case of LotD, it's still just hitting buttons in the right order at the right time. Didn't help that characters always had to shout out the name of the attack everytime you used it.

This is why timed hits can never become required because when they are required you must use them even after you have grown tired of them. I remember the Legend of Dragoon being a game where you hardly did any damage unless you executed a timed hit and I lost interest in the game.

Final Fantasy 8 had timed hits but they were optional. You could use them or not and even then, you could set them to auto so the computer would do all the work for you if you weren't into it. That's how I have always played it.

The thing about turn based combat is having an idea how much damage a character is going to do to a certain enemy and then planning your attacks around that knowledge. A critical hit doubling the damage isn't always welcome.

I LOVE them when they're done right. Take Zell's Limit Breaks from ffviii. They required you to input moves like in a fighting game and since he's a monk it fit perfectly.

There's also The Legend of Dragoon where every move had some timing minigame to it, even the consumable items that did damage, which would reward you with newer moves if you input your initial ones perfectly enough times.

I really really dislike how South Park gets all the credit for something that great Jrpgs have been doing since the 90s. That being said, it also implemented those mechanics very well and it was brave of it to go that route in this modern era.

I hated them in Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam. The more advanced ones got so complicated that I didn't bother. I usually just stuck to the initial racket ball attack because it was the only one I could pull off with any degree of success. I never did figure out the kite one.

I prefer the mini-game QTE type ones over the typical way JRPGs do attacks, but I actually dislike both overall. At least Final Fantasy has semi-automated these things now so I don't have to keep picking the default attack over and over.

I really like them. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Shadow Hearts; that's the first example that came to my mind. The series had its flaws, but the rhythmic button presses made it all a lot more fun and dynamic in my opinion.

In fact, if I was going to make an RPG of some sort (and don't rule it out, I am working on making a few different games) I'd make my combat require all sorts of different actions - possibly more than most people would like. But I do think it could be a good niche for a little indie RPG.

I really like the way the Mario & Luigi series handles its attacks. When you attack, press a button at the right time and you'll do more damage. When you are attacked, do the same to avoid damage or even turn an enemy's attack against it (might even be possible to go through the entire game without taking a single hit).

It makes combat a more engaging affair where you're always doing something, rather than passively waiting until it's your turn again while enemies wail on you like in more traditional jrpg turn-based combat.

I don't think it's perfect tho. Like Canadamus Prime said above, the special attacks can have a pretty uneven difficulty curve. Some are really annoying to pull of (perfectly) and flubbing enough inputs can lead to doing pathetic or even no damage, essentially meaning a wasted turn.

I like them if they are a rarity, like with FFX's overdrives, but I dislike them if they are a constant mechanic like in Paper Mario TYD or Shadow Hearts. Doing a mini QTE for every action is just too tedious and not something I would play a JRPG for, if I want to constantly be inputting actions I'll play an action oriented game.

Considerations to the effectiveness of the inputs, the complexity of the inputs and the pacing of the battle with their inclusion are all things I take into account. A move that becomes dirt if you fail can be somewhat annoying, as well as overly laborious inputs making the battles slow down.

I like them... conditionally.
The minigame itself has to be quick and short, or else it ruins the flow of the battle. Which is one of the reasons why I like the old Paper Mario games more than Mario & Luigi.

It's cheap design. I'm not a fan of any minigames actually. Unless perhaps something like an Easter egg, ie finding a fully playable version of Wolfenstein 3D within the main game like in Wolfenstein TNC. I thought that'd be cool if the new DOOM did that as well, does it? I've gotten a craving for DOOM very recently.

Anyways back on topic, minigames. Generations ago they were mildly entertaining, but now they're just annoying. Even the card games from The Witcher series for example are my least favorite part of it. They're ultimately games of chance and a big waste of time in the scheme of things. I wish you could barter or negotiate more instead of relying on them for certain quests.

When they are tied to combat, all I think is why couldn't they make the combat system more naturally engaging.

hanselthecaretaker:
When they are tied to combat, all I think is why couldn?t they make the combat system more naturally engaging.

Basically this. JRPG turn-based combat is usually shitty because it's trying to be something it shouldn't be. Turn-based combat is supposed to be slow and strategic, that's why it's turn-based to give time to think out your current move and future moves. Most JRPGs try to make turn-based combat "fast and exciting" and when you do that, you lose much of the strategy and tactics that makes it good.

Super Mario RPG had my favorite way of doing it. A simple additional button press at the correct time to boost damage (with a unique animation in most cases, whether it be Mario adding an uppercut to his attack or a quick extra lightning flash from Mallow's "Thunderbolt" skill), as well as being able to actively block incoming attacks with a single timed button press.

Paper Mario (Original-style, as in 64 or TTYD) comes up second. Simple timed presses or directional flicks to boost damage or block/dodge attacks, with more elaborate stuff on attacks that you aren't going to be using more than rarely. It fails in that those elaborate actions usually mean complete failure if you screw up.

Mario and Luigi is probably the absolute limit on how far to take it while still being fun, and I have to be in the right mood to enjoy those. Every single action has failure if you screw up the timing, and the entire battle system revolves around reliably dodging attacks for zero incoming damage. For the most part, strategy is reduced to spamming whatever skills you can reliably pull off that does the most damage for your particular skill set. Attacks that you aren't good at are naturally neglected regardless of potential because you'd rather use a less-effective skill that you know you can do, and use it EVERY SINGLE TURN.

I played that Sonic RPG for the DS. That game eventually devolves into using an exploit to beat any boss battle near effortlessly, and playing the overworld sections as a stealth game instead of an RPG, so you can stay out of battles. The exploit keeps you from losing battles regardless of being underleveled.

I really wish that we could get another game like Super Mario RPG, that ramps up the difficulty to that of a standard game instead of SMRPG's beginner-level difficulty. Make every character unique and useful in various situations so you're encouraged to play strategically, but keep the simple-style timed hits for every skill and attack, to keep the player engaged. You can play that game fully without using any timed hits, but it just drags the battles on a bit longer. (Timed hits do roughly 1.25 to 1.5 times damage. Noticeable results, but nothing game-breaking. Enemy weaknesses more than make up for special attacks that you just can't get the timing on.)

I find the whole point of a turn based game to be something you can think about and consider strategy, not something that requires extra timed or skill input.

Trying to marry the two discredits either stance. They are not complementary systems.

I personally like the Lisa way of doing it. When you attack, you can press buttons to make a combo. If you enter in certain combos, it'll activate one of your skills. You can use the skills normally from the menu, but doing a combo into the skill is basically combining your regular attack and throwing a skill on top. I'd recommend checking out Lisa.

QTE in time with the hits is as far as I'm willing to go. Like the gunblades in Final Fantasy 8 or all attacks in Super Mario RPG. Anything more and it can fuck right off, otherwise it pads out the combat unforgivably.

 

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