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RPG Classics Mailbag

This is gonna be an uber-mailbag, because I got so many awesome answers! And even so, I couldn't include all of them. So I shall do my best to keep the random ranting and plot hole creation to a minimum. And by the way: for every cliche listed, I will do my best to list games which destroy that cliche. Our first contestant is a newbie, Ness (this is actually his third entry, but the first two didn't get printed and he got real mad about it, as people do, and threatened to do bad things to my family and the population of France, and you know how peckish they get.)

Ok i try to do an better Mailbag entry, here goes:

First i want say hi to Cid and his most trusted Sidekick.

No i mean Ozzie.

I am the MAN!

No way, man! *I* am the MAN!


No, I AM THE MAN!*Take out a Few EMP Rifles and blast them off*

I thinks that one thing must be changed in the ways of RPGs, it's the way you get money.You always get it by killing monsters.Can you see a monster with a purse.Dragons can't have purse, and chimera too. Ok, some humanoid-form monster like goblins,orcs, and even Ozzie could hold a purse (even if he does not know how to use it). Did you get my point.

No... uhhh... not really.

What i want to get money, it's that the hero must earn it.By working, by finding treasures, by selling items, and here a cool one: By bring a monster head or an body part to proof you kill it. then in town someone give you an reward.

-How much for that Purple tentacle?

I pity the sushi restaurant that will buy that...

-And for Ozzie's head

See what i mean???

And i hope this time the mailbag entry will be publied, cause i will be more insane than Lunaris, when he see he didn't get the 4000th post (wich is rare)

You can't be more insane than me! And IT CID'S FAULT THAT I DIN'T HAD THE 4000th POST! BLURG!!!!*Rush around, shooting at various things*

Oh, now don't YOU start! Ahem. Ways of making money: FF8 had a novel way (getting a salary based on how many monsters you kill). And while Xenogears did have random money dropping, most organic (living) enemies didn't drop anything; XG also had a bounty-based system as you mention. A LOT of people wrote in about the money thing, but I think it was best summed up by Jake Gad.

I apologize for using your award. It was all that fat, ugly pig-lizard's fault! you must punish him! It was also his fault I meant Beyond Oasis, while having correct information otherwise.
To ozzie: I was merely telling him what he wanted to hear, almighty god of the mystics. You in no way resemble a lizard, and I feel they are a superior race.

Uh... who's he talking to?

Lunaris! Have you been giving Ozzie Mentats again?

No way! Man, I feel like I'm floating...

You ARE floating!

Ohh... that'd explain it...

Now, normally that little blip of euphoria he's feeling right now would normally make the reason for your punishment null, but you show signs of being a lonely sociopath, and I get defensive when corrected, even by myself.

Lonely sociopath? Me? You must be thinking of this guy.

*President of the Lonely Sociopath Stamp Collector's Club*

Okay, now that that's taken care of here's this week's rant: Almost everything with the economy in video games is messed up. I realize that the target audience used to be people who didn't know how money worked, but it makes no sense for us boring people who have too much money.

Shopkeepers have an infinite supply of things, you can easily pick them up off the ground, almost every item can be found on a non-sentient creature, and there are several other factors that contribute to a pro-communist world. Now, Marxism ONLY works in video games, but it would still make sense. They should at least give you a Ramus/Lunar deal (You're saving the world, and you've saved my ass several times. I wouldn't exist without you, therefore everything is free.). It just makes sense, even in towns where they have nothing you'd like, you've saved it several times/are KNOWN as their only hope, and are sure that the world won't last more than a few weeks if they don't help you, they should at least give you a discount. In FF6, with the king in the party, they give half off, at least.

The only ways to get the money it costs to buy things is from selling things or killing monsters. Since I've already said that shopkeepers have unlimited money, there are two logical options. 1: must be good at killing things, yet they don't go out and slay the gods themselves. This probably means it isn't true, therefore, we must rely on the second choice. 2: Monsters, like shopkeepers, spontaneously produce money. In Heroes 3 of M&M, this expands to certain heroes making a few hundred gold every morning, without any rationalization except battle experience, AKA they're learning techniques from the monsters. Also, in the acceptable game that spawned the ultimate evil of the world (Pokecrap), your beasts can shoot money off their heads, without any other source. Therefore, it is undeniable that monsters produce their own money.

For shopkeepers getting their money/wares, you could say they've learned from the monsters, who also produce their own equipment, or they have hordes in the back. I can't find a way that a cashier could make a diamond sword on his own, but I've never seen them sold near coal mines or volcanoes, so the monsters nearby are unlikely. IT JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE! Then again, that's economics.

Finally, why do items where there are a limited supply always sell for only one unit? It's rare, powerful, and shiny, therefore it should be worth more. Maybe they just want to keep a monopoly on things they can mass-produce easily.

Well, as to the last point, they do that so you don't sell them! They don't want you selling the super-powerful-and-rare sword-type item so they make it worth zip. Now, my current craze, Star Ocean 2, has a huge Item Creation system, but still makes enemies drop stuff... sense we make not. On a different topic, Steve McFadden has a rather broad idea:

let me tell you what should be done away with in all future role playing games. storylines that have the final boss reveal his plans to the people he is fighting against. that has got to be the most assanine thing I have ever heard of. Why would he tell his enemies "I am going to take the Fire Crystal from the Castle and use it to destroy the world via the Enchanted Gate"? That basically tells the group to go to the Castle and to get the Fire Crystal. Of course, we all knows what would end up happening there. The damn final boss will foil their plans and take the crystal, but not without leaving his 2 cents. then the group will know to go to the Enchancted Gate, where they will probably be warped into some alternate time dimension, just to hear the main guy ramble on and on. They need to eliminate this crap from role playing games, because it is just plain dumb.

Hah, now that's not just limited to RPGs; they do that in TV shows, movies, and heck, just about every story out there that involves a villain. And really, how else would you figure out what to do? Although I do recall that there was very little of this in FF6 and 8, Chrono Cross and Trigger, Alundra, Tales of Phantasia... quite a lot, actually; the heroes usually figure this stuff out by themselves. XG and BoF3 didn't have real villains, so scratch them too. How about we return to our old friend in the smoking jacket, I Abibde?

The heroes of video role-playing games always seem to be right, that is, their point of view is always the one which prevails in the end. I find this mildly disturbing, since it is not unusual for players to like the villains more than they like the heroes, especially considering that heroes these days seem to fall into one of three categories: 1.) faultless do-gooders like Alex (Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete) and Ash Lambert (Vandal Hearts), 2.) complete jerks like Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) and Squall Leonhart (Final Fantasy VIII), and 3.) good-natured perverts like Hiro (Lunar II: Eternal Blue Complete), Meis Triumph (Thousand Arms), and Zidane Tribal (Final Fantasy IX). It would make more sense to have the heroes be more "human" in many ways. I would like to see more heroes with realistic personal faults (Claude C. Kenni of Star Ocean: The Second Story), crushing moral dilemmas (the hero of Suikoden), or fascinating pasts that do not involve amnesia (Alucard of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night). As has been pointed out by Cidolfas in a previous Mailbag, it would also be nice to be able to play the bad guys for once, as could be done in Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen. It would be even better to have the heroes win out yet be completely wrong, too. This might not qualify for a "round deletion," but it would certainly help to liven things up a bit, and it does fall under the heading of "generic heroes" in the original question.

By the way, as a side note, I think that there exists a Lunaris Fan Club which has been described in previous Mailbags, but I cannot rightly remember if that is correct. Perhaps the gun-toting man in the yellow coat would care to enlighten me?

Lunaris Fan Club? I never heard of a Lunaris Fan Club.

*President of the Lunaris Fan Club*

Woooooo! I got a fan club! Worship me, worms! WORSHIP ME!

Anyway. Tales of Phantasia was notable in that when you finished the game, you realized that you didn't know if you'd really been the good guys all along. And of course games like CC and the Breath of Fire games didn't have real heroes so they were never right at all. 8-) Nine Inch Nails 999 (which we will heretofore abbreviate as NIN9 unless he really hates that and will try to stick said nails in the mailbag person) now has the floor.

hiya. been awhile since i wrote in so i decided i would this week (actually i'm just bored) anyway....rpg cliches huh? i had to look up cliches before i started writing this because i'm a big idiot as you know. anyway i think the biggest cliche in rpg's is when certain characters say the same things over an over again. its not as bad now as some games in the past......but i alaways thought it'd be cool if a guy would tell you to f#$% off if you bugged him too much. another thing i have a problem with is the games that make you randomly run into enemies (FF series comes to mind although there are others) now i know that enemies can catch you by suprise and stuff....but you can't tell me that all of the enmies you encounter will be that way. sometimes you see the enemies coming. i think that you should be able to avoid enemies in certain situations......some people will argue with me that that's why they let you run......but then again sometimes you can't run from battles. i think mario rpg did it the best. the enemies are just wandering around and if you wanna fight then you can plow into them.......if you don't want to then you can jump over some of them......and then there are also some unavoidables to keep the game interesting. well now that being said i guess i'm done......sorry that i didn't entertain you guys with a flashy entrance or anything. i bet you don't even print this unless you're low on entries. oh and i've been wondering....where the hell is ultros? he hasn't been in the past couple mailbags.....did ozzie eat him or something? well see ya later.

Just goes to show you that if you act pathetic enough I'll print anything. Well, almost anything. As for Ultros, he belongs to Macc and is under one of those incredibly brilliant contracts, so he can't work for me. So Ozzie does now. And so does Lunaris, but since he can blow me into atomic-sized pieces, it's more of a mutual pact. As for non-cliched games: I don't know a single one in which anyone tells you to f#$% off if you bug them, as you so eloquently put it. But the random battles: The Chrono games also don't believe in that stuff. And we hate flashy entrances.

*Gate appears in the.....* D'oh! I forgot I was going to try something different. *Center of room turns into lava, and I rise up in an geyser of flame and lava* Hmmm...I don't know about that. What do you think?

We hate flashy entrances. We hate flashy entrances. We hate flashy entrances.

(BLUUUUURG!*take out his Super Ultra Debil Mental Foam Hammer Of All Creation(TM!) and smash Cid on the head*

Thanks. I thought I was an NPC for a second.

Oh well, I have a lot of rebuttals to do, so you'll have to live with that apperence method for now.

First of all, I'll concede the point that RPG's are definetly getting more sophicated, but they are not comparible to 16-bit RPG's. *Puts away the arguement that games are degrading in quality until they turn us all into mindless slugs, until the topic warrants this argument again*

Oh, and Ozzie, for not supporting me during my argument... *Whips out a staff, gestures with the staff slightly in Ozzie's direction, and Ozzie is instantly encased in a block of ice.*

Hah! I'm used to this!

Ok, now to last week's mailbag.

To make this quick, the worst RPG I've played on the SNES is EarthBound. PSI Starstorm Omega was way to cheap to you, as if you used it, all enemies recieve major pain, but if it's used on you, you're basically dead. Your physical attacks basically did little damage, forcing you to use overpriced and underpowered magic. The battle music was god awful (except the sanctuary bosses), the battle backgrounds were way too distracting, the enemies had way too much power with magic (even with my outrageous levels), the story was almost non-existent, the game played way to slowly, the enemies always seemed to get the free first attack on you, the menu system was way too annoying, you characters can't carry enough items, you didn't get enough critical hits, death recovery items are wayy to expensive, money lender charge too must interest, the.... sorry, I guess I ran on too much there. To improve the game, just fix everything I said there.

Now, for this week's topic.

Clichés...I hate how most characters have instant amnesia when you first meet them, though it is fun to abuse it. For example...

*Daydream sequence occurs*
Boy: Hello Girl. My name is...
*Types in Asshole*

The originality is striking.

Girl: Hi Asshole, how are you? I'm...
*Types in Bastard*
Asshole: Hi Bastard! Would you like to join me on my quest to save the world from the evil hands of LiteYear?
*Daydream sequence ends*

Oh, and we all know how that one ended *Shows a picture with 2 tombstones with the names Asshole and Bastard engraved on them.*

Ok, the Clichés I want deleted forever is basically any one concerning magic. Magic should have a chance to miss, there should be at least one character in every RPG that's
a) Magically and Physcially superior, but they can't take many hits.
b) Magically and Physcially incompetent, but have some sort of ultimate skill (such as 100% steal rate, massively rasing all party's attributes, or something else)
Old men shouldn't be the best spellcasters, there should be women that don't heal, but kick ass with weapons, opposite magic hurts too much (light, dark). That's all I can think of...oh wait, I also hate how every final boss has a true form. Why doesn't the boss just skip being humilited and ranting on "You're more powerful than I thought, I guess it's time to show you my true from", and just change and fight you?

Oh, and Lunaris? You are third on the Mailbag evil scale, but 739th on the world evil scale. Oh, and if anyone insults you, just leave it to me. I will personally arrive at their home, rip them in to tiny little pieces, scrape the bones dry from all those pieces, grind the bones into dust, and THEN I'll kill them using one of my painful torture methods that can't be disclosed in an F-Rated mailbag.

738th? Hey! It not bad at all! Just look at Ozzie's...

*Sinks back through the floor into the lava*

That's a feat, answering three mailbags at once. Anyhoo. Most later RPGs certainly do give magic a chance to miss. Lots of games have magically/physically incompetent people with great techs (Quina in FF9, for example). Lots of games have the last bit you mention too: Star Ocean 2 (best spellcaster = young woman, there are three women fighters), Tales of Destiny (ditto with one real woman fighter), Chrono Trigger (best spellcaster = weird male devil guy, one woman fighter), etc. Gundam Deathscythe is up to bat next.

RPG cliches huh? Well I've narrowed it down to four because they are all equally annoying to me.

1.The way characters level up. I know in some RPGs(SaGas, FF2j) there is a more realistic way to get stronger, but in most you could get a healer a level up by letting them sit in the back row and watch the fighters do all the work. There's also the fact that if you take a sword to a goblin's head you probably wouldn't actually get smarter at the end of the battle.

2.Bosses with super powerful attacks that could easily destroy the world. The best example of this I can think of is Lavos' "Destruction Rains From the Heavens" attack from Chrono Trigger. The attack wipes out all but a handfull of people, but when you fight him it only does about 50-100 damage to Crono and the rest of the group.

3.Characters die too easily in cut scenes. I'm sure this will be mentioned a lot. Your party members survive meteors falling on them, nuclear explosions, gunshots to the head, etc. in battle. Out of battle though, it's a whole other could probably just kill off the characters with a butter knife if it was an FMV, unless of course it's the main character.

4.Some kid from a small town suddenly becoming the strongest person in the world. Let's just face it, you can't really go outside and kill a couple weak animals then end up stronger then any other human in the world. There has to be someone with a little more combat training...

Well, thats all I really have to say in the matter. So long for now.

Good ones here! And offhand I can't think of too many games which don't succumb to these things (besides for off-kilter RPGs, like FF Tactics, Vagrant Story... oh wait, FF8 has trained people becoming the strongest people in the world. Er, that's about it. Jarlaxle has some really neat ideas, so let's talk to 'im.

Hey there Ciddo, err, i mean Ciddie, erm, Cidmeister. Uhh, fine, Cid. That will do. This is my second mailbag submission although I've been reading it since the early days of Macc Maverick. I have a few opinions of cliches to be omitted. The worst one, of course, is final boss bad guys who they pull out of thin air! Where the heck did this thing come from? It doesn't give you any satisfaction to kick the crap out of it, as it did in FF6 and 7 when you KNEW the entire game who the last boss was going to be and you royally hated him because of the good amount of characterization that Square did with the villain. Maybe they want to surprise you and make you go "whoaaa, noo WAYY!" but they do a horrible job of it, and instead you're left going "what the hell?" Tactics did it very well, although it was a special case.

I have to disagree with your topic brief of people saying the same thing forever, because if they didn't, then you'd worry if you missed something, and you'd talk to them forever and ever.....

Anyway another cliche that is horrible is the main character using a big sword. Cecil, Terra (although any character could have been a main character in FF6), Cloud, Squall, and Zidane all used big swords. Just because Zidane used 2 daggers or a 2 bladed sword does not take away from the fact that the main character uses a big kickass sword. Is it heroic? Perhaps. But after all these games I find it monotonous. Why can't the main character be an archer, or a wizard, or a warlock? Or have psionic (mind) powers?

Yet another cliche that should be omitted is the one of nonhuman idiotic characters. Umaro and Quina, to be exact. Sure, they're decent characters, but Umaro was useless to the plot, and having Quina try to teach Zidane and Vivi life's lessons by relating it to food just absolutely ruined any emotion that had built up to that point. Utterly, utterly, stupid.

The final cliche that I hate is that most of the characters are human. Have they READ any fantasy books? Are most characters human? NO. There are many other humanoid races out there. I'd like to see the return of Dwarves (and Condie Petie was NOT dwarves) and Elves, i mean Elves haven't been around since FF1, except for the "dark elf" in FF4. I also think it'd be interesting to have some more morphing characters, like Terra and Vincent were, only have the character be able to switch at will and maintain that form. Like a lycanthrope (werewolf, etc.) It would let you have more options for battle and you could match up against different enemies differently with each form.

Well that about wraps it up. I seriously think this mailbag should be forwarded to Shinji Hashimoto himself....

OK... main characters not using swords: Xenogears, Super Mario RPG, Terranigma... er, that's it. Although Serge's swallow weapons in CC were mega-cool. I always thought Quina was pretty damn funny... As for lycanthropes: Seiken Densetsu 3, where you could play as a wereolf. Super-strong by night. Very nice. Er, who's Shinji Hashimoto? I think you mean Hironobu Sakaguchi; he's the producer/director of the Final Fantasy series... Ahem. Let's hear from Feathy... again on money and shops, I notice.

By the way! Look way down for a money prize!

Hey Cid, this is Feathy again. I don't have anything interesting to say here, so let's get down to business. What RPG cliches should be dropped? Well, there's a great big list of RPG cliches floating around on the internet if you want some examples. But my pet peeves deal with shops. For one, why can't you just tell shopowners, "I'm saving the world from _____, give me a discount" or something? I know this wouldn't be changed, but it pisses me off anyway. This is especially annoying in Mario RPG. If you've played it to the end, you'll remember that Toad will come to you in Smithy's Fortress and SELL you items. No, not give, but sell. From his little speech it seems that he really wanted to help Mario & co but he has to sell his Max Mushrooms! Argh! Another annoying, but off-topic, thing about Mario RPG is that you could only carry 999 gold at a time, which made it hard to keep a decent amount. The next annoying RPG cliche has to do with selling items. Why are you allowed to sell weapons, armor, items, etc to ANY shop? What the hell would a magic shop want with a gun arm? Why would a weapon shop want armor? It doesn't make sense. Also dealing with selling things is money received. The only games that I've experienced selling prices changing is Breath of Fire and Tales of Phantasia. There was one more but I forgot its name. Anyway, how is a shop in the slums of Midgar able to pay 50 thousand gil for a sword when the owner complains about being poor every time? It's just annoying. Well, that's my two cents, so see you next week. -Feathy (takes back two cents)

Xenogears is really bad about this bit; everyone always charges you, even though your party consists of a king, the Queen Mother of a religion, and super-strong evil fighters. The rest of the stuff is bang on the money, excuse the pun. 8p Cody Carlman is up next.

Hello, my name is Cody Carlman and I personally would like to do away with the traditional stat systems used to define a character's parameters in an RPG game, by this I mean making the stat system a little more than STR, INT, DEF, M DEF, etc...

What more you want? SaGa like stuffs? Or sub-states? Get real, theses are the primary states.

I want the stat system to be a more involved character building system, similar to the system in Star Ocean: the 2nd Story where characters had personal traits that could be factored in to their learning of abilities, etc...

I would also like to see a change in the way money is earned. In a game with a more modern setting like Earthbound, maybe your characters would have to work a job, or if they were children, they would get allowance and by doing certain actions you could earn a raise or something.

The last idea would be keeping an RPG on a time clock, rather than having every event being something you can save and wait to do later.Nintendo has done a rather good job of implementing this with Pokemon G/S and Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.

Thank you

Heh, some neat ideas here. I do like the time clock idea. Breath of Fire 2 and Seiken Densetsu 3 do some nice things by making it different times of day and different days of the week, but we could definitely see more of that in games. Our last entry comes from Richard C. Walls.

Unfortunately, RPG cliches would be very hard to get rid, since they are kind of traditions to RPGing, but if I had to pick one to get rid of, it would be inns healing dead people, as well as status effects! I can understand an inn healing HP + MP, since they are essentially a result of slight wounds, and exhaustion. A full night's rest can heal little wounds, and recover you from exhaustion. However, things an inn won't heal are things like paralysis, poison, other status effects, and serious wounds (i.e. RPG dead). What ever happened to the time when you had to go to a clinic to heal stuff like this? Frankly, I really find this annoying. Is it really all that hard to make another building for that purpose? Well, maybe I'm wrong, but still...

None the less, there is one cliche that I think must be kept in RPGs for all time, and that is the Evil Laugh! What would a villain be without an evil laugh? The laugh DEFINES the villain. What made Kefka so memorable, his insanity, or his laugh? ... How 'bout this one? Why is Kefka better than Sephiroth - that's right, Kefka has an evil laugh! This is one RPG staple (I'll call it that now) that needs to be kept.

Now that one's nice. In fact, as I said, I think I'm going to make this into a two-week run. Keep sending in your cliches, but also tell me a) ones you think SHOULD stay in, and b) things you'd do to avoid cliches. Let's hear some innovative ideas! For that, you may send in to However, I will not be around this coming week, so I have a substitute: Megaman X will do his best not to make enemies of the entire known universe, and to that effect he will be organizing a good old corny-style Battle Royale! His idea? One character from each of the major RPG companies, will duke it out, as follows:

Nintendo (Zelda, Super Metroid and Mario)
Square (anything except Einhander and Ergheiz)
Enix (anything except Bust a Groove) [i.e. SoulBlazer/IoG/Terranigma, Star Ocean, Dragon Warrior, etc.]
Natsume (Lufia, Legend of the River King and Harvest Moon)
Koei (Inindo, Uncharted Waters, UW2: New Horizons and Romance of the Three Kingdoms)
Pick three characters from each of three companies and let them duke it out! Megaman X can be reached at, so that's where your battles go to! Send to him before you send to me; remember, his'll be going up first.

Seeya in two weeks!




HAHAH! You looked! April's fool!*Now run out after the crappy joke*