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To say that I am a fan of the classic days of turn based RPGs would be a major understatement. I play a wide variety of games, shooters, puzzles, fighters, racing, if you can name the genre, I’ve probably played a decent amount of titles for it, my favorite being that of the RPG. I absolutely faun over turn based classics like Final Fantasy, Earthbound and Golden Sun, and to this day I continue to play many titles both in the genre and other turn based games as a whole. Having such a love of these games, it brings a tear to my eye knowing turn based titles are seemingly beginning to die out and become replaced by more action oriented games.
Understandably, times are changing and so are player interests. The same genre cannot dominate the gaming industry forever, and with a new generation of players comes new likes and dislikes due to the varying influences that they have growing up, compounded by gamers from the past generation who already have stances towards certain games and genres. The origin of the true RPG arguably started with the turn based battle system, and while there are varying forms, many can still be grouped into a “turn based game”. Many such as myself grew up on classic turn based games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy. Before companies had the hardware and formula to make a good action style RPG, turn based games dominated, but even after developers began to deliver excellent action RPG style games, many like myself continued to stick with the classic turn based style as well. It has been made apparent however, that many are moving over to the side of action style games now that the technology to make them is readily available to developers while myself and others , while playing the action side of games as well, take pride in enjoying the classical style that is turn based, but are we seeing an ever-present appeal that others don’t, or are we holding on to a style that has long since been out of its time simply because we have nostalgia towards it?
The truth is that it is a combination of the two of these. On one hand, being that we have grown up with the turn based style of game, that for many of us this was likely the first type that we ever played, we naturally have a bias in us that we will never truly be able to get rid of. It’s rooted into us and, speaking from personal experience, it’s very difficult when playing action style games to NOT think back on ones that are turn based and compare it, if even a little bit, not to judge the game mind you, but simply to think of how far things have come and thinking of what about the games of old has transferred into these new ones, and what has not. On the other hand, being that we have played these games for so long, naturally one would get a more extensive knowledge about it than one who simply dabbles in it. The little things that are underappreciated by others is looked at in more detail for those such as myself, and thus improves the view of the genre as whole.
Some that I have spoken to in the past have told me that part of the reason that the do not enjoy playing turn based games is that it is less immersive, that they do not enjoy seeing characters simply stare at each for an eternity while you contemplate what to do. Understandably, part of this does have merit. In an actual battle, you will not be given the opportunity to think for a seemingly endless amount of time about what to do, plan every action, or simply go eat lunch while the great hellspawn you are fighting waits patiently for you to return. It is easy to see why one would feel much more in the moment when playing a game like Dark Souls where you must think and act with small moments to do so. You feel like you really are in the fight and that even the smallest amount of error could mean failure, and considering you are actually just sitting on your couch, yelling at the screen, it makes a big impact when you can be so immersed that you actually feel like you are there, it’s a feeling that really is the essence of what games are trying to do. Looking back towards turn based battling, one would assume that with everything I have mentioned that it pales in comparison to its action oriented brethren, but you may be surprised. When playing a turn based game, while one may not be hard pressed to think and act with small areas of reprieve, a satisfaction of its own comes from using this system to battle. The idea of planning the limited moves you have, developing a strategy to see how it plays out for better or for worse gives a feeling that is difficult to copy. Much like a game of chess, you must do as much as you can in the time that you have it, knowing that your enemy will inevitably have a chance to strike back at you, and the feeling of knowing that you are mere seconds away from certain victory against a difficult enemy is truly something that can make you fall in love with the style. It is a style of play that does not need to rush, it takes its time, allows one to savor the moments from beginning to end and can still give enough excitement to make you throw your hands to the air in triumph or throw your controller towards the television in defeat, the latter of which I would not recommend.
In the end, the idea of liking turn based battling is up to how you take things mentally. Those that don’t have much patience or simply enjoy having things thrown at them with a think on your toes style of play very likely don’t enjoy turn based games, while those who like to sit and think may very well enjoy it, granted there are likely a vast majority who contradict this. Having these differing playstyles and preferences is what makes each gamer unique, and if many do not particularly enjoy the same style as you does not mean either is right or wrong so long as both have taken the time to sit and try the other side with an open mind instead of making assumptions. Saying all of this, I return to my original question; Are turn based games dying? Well, the simple answer is…no, not at all. While action style games are showing more dominance in the market than turn based ones, the turn based genre is showing no signs of slowing down. With the recent release of the excellent Bravely Default (pictured above) and other upcoming titles such as Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, developed by Atlus, it’s clear that there is still much to do with the ole’ daddy turn based, and so long as people continue to appreciate it, you can be sure that it will stick around for a long, long time.