While I wait for Zeboyd Games’ latest RPG Cosmic Star Heroine to be released, I finally got around to playing their first RPGs. I bought the double pack of Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu Saves The World from the Steam Winter Sale and I am not disappointed.
Overall, the games are solid retro-styled JRPGs with great humor. If you are not a JRPG fan, these games won’t convert you, but if you like JRPGs, specifically those of the NES, SNES and Genesis days, these make a great nostalgia trip. All in all they are pretty by the books. However, there is one major feature that sets Zeboyd JRPGs apart from their peers. Something that makes these games so much better than every other JRPG I have played. Both of these games allow the player to skip random battles.
Don’t stop reading. Let me explain. One of the most frustrating features of pretty much all JRPGs in existence is the reliance on random encounters with monsters. You are exploring a cave, you see a treasure chest up ahead. You take a step toward it and *bam* you have to spend 5 minutes fighting monsters. Now you are out, you start heading toward the chest again and halfway there, *bam* another 5 minute fight. Now you are almost there, just one more step and that chest is yours, but no. *Bam* another fight. Super frustrating.
The guys at Zeyboyd also hated this part of JRPGs. So they decided to change things up for their games. While they didn’t get rid of random encounters, they made a change that makes exploration so much better. They added a hard limit on the number of random encounters you can get into for each dungeon.
When you get to a dungeon and look in your menu, there is a battle counter. It could be 20 or 30 or sometimes 10. That is the max number of battles you have to experience while in that dungeon. Once you finish that number of fights, there are no more. You can explore at your leisure. So now, when you see that chest, you can walk right up, get the goods and continue with the game.
That doesn’t get rid of fighting though. You can self initiate a fight if you feel like you need to grind for levels or gold, but that will be pretty rare if you complete all battles in each dungeon.
So why is this such an impressive feature? Because it ends one of the most frustrating aspects of playing JRPGs, the amount of time you waste fighting battles that you don’t need.
I recently played Breath of Fire 1 and 2. There is no such feature in these games. Out of the 20 or so hours I spent in each game, I can tell you that more than half of that time was spent fighting frustrating battles. I longed for the ability to shut them off.
With this simple mechanics change, Zeboyd set themselves apart from their competition and have made me a fan of their work. I look forward to Cosmic Star Heroine and seeing just how they make the battles in that game more interesting. They have already promised a lot of cool features, such as making status ailments something that you will actually want to use. That is something that has always been pointless in other JRPGs.