Saturday, January 15, 2011

The downside of character creation

I have spent most of the day in bed due to a terrible cold. To keep myself busy I decided to give Dragon Quest IX another try. It's a game I really looked forward to and picked up day one but then quickly tired of. It really is a lovely game but it has one big shortcoming, like the JRPGs of the late eighties it lets you yourself design all the playable characters. This might sound like a good idea and it is in the spirit of the D&D style pen and paper game the whole video game genre is based on. But it results in your party being kinda bland and lacking in personality. This is a shame since these types of games usually offers the player a wide array of characters with distinctive personalities and rich back stories. I understand the reasoning behind this, with the inclusion of multi player in to the DQ series it might have been necessary. But it comes at the cost of a much weakened single player experience.

This shortcoming becomes even more evident when comparing it to another JRPG I have been putting some time in to, Tales of Vesperia for the 360. In terms of gameplay its pretty average, just another yearly installment of Namco Bandai's long running series. But it does have some excellent characters that could just have well been taken from some big budget anime series. The Tales team knows how to take advantage of this by constantly throwing in some fully voiced skits or short conversations between the main characters to keep the game interesting and masking their other failings.

When going on a grand adventure I want a compelling party with me. The Tales team obviously gets this and put some real effort in to their character design. If you ask me Level 5 made a mistake to sacrifice this aspect of their game to make Dragon Quest IX more multi player friendly. It's a shame since their game is so wonderful in many other ways.