Friday Favorites #7: Favorite Video Game Tropes

In no particular order:

1. Relationship Values

I like it when video games give you chances to deepen your bonds with other characters. Getting to know your party members better is often the best way to learn things about them that you otherwise would not.  

Favorite Examples: BioWare games, recent Persona and Fire Emblem games, and in Harvest Moon. 

2. Dialog Trees

Related to the above, dialog trees can be a lot of fun. I always like opportunities to impress my personality upon a game (those poor games). Dialog trees can impact a game’s story, characters, and endings. They can also affect what items you get and which areas you will go to. A nice addition to dialog trees is the integration of quick time events as seen in the Mass Effect series from 2 onward. These force you to make instinctual choices.

Favorite Examples: BioWare games, the Fallout series, Telltale’s games

3. Multiple Endings

I like these for similar reasons to the above tropes. What could be better than your decisions shaping your ultimate fate in a game? Of course, you run the risk of it not being the fate you want…

Favorite Examples: Shin Megami Tensei, Silent Hill

4. On-Rails Shooting Sections

(Possible?) Hot take: I like these when they pop up in third-person shooters and action games.

Favorite Examples: Metal Gear, Resident Evil, Uncharted

5. Training Modes That Teach You All of the Moves

These modes in fighting games seem to be unpopular with some, but I rather like them… until I get about halfway through a character’s move list. Then the combos start to make me crosseyed. 

Favorite Examples: Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Street Fighter X Tekken

6. Create-a-Character

These can be fun to mess with for a while, especially to recreate characters from other sources, or to see what kind of twisted creations you can make…

Favorite Examples: Soulcalibur, WWE games

7. Randomized Dungeons

I like these in action-RPGs and roguelikes because they add some variety to the game.

Favorite Examples: Dark Cloud, Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon

8. Skill Trees

The Sphere Grid

Skill trees may only offer an illusion of freedom, but I’ve loved them ever since I played Final Fantasy X. The more freedom, the better.

Favorite Examples: FFX, Tales of Xillia 1 and 2, Xenosaga III: Also sprach Zarathustra

What are your favorite game design tropes?

Friday Favorites #4: Best Bling in Video Games

1. Resident Evil 4

Gemstones have been used throughout the series in puzzles, but RE4 introduced treasures for Leon to find. These could be sold to the mysterious Merchant for more money that could be used for items, new weapons, and upgrades. Resident Evil 5 also had treasures to find and sell between chapters (no Merchant this time), but let’s face it – RE4 is much better liked. RE4 had the novelty of treasures o find and sell.

2. Uncharted Series

Similarly to RE4, there are dozens of treasures to find across the Uncharted series, and they are gorgeous. I can’t even imagine what they look like in Uncharted 4: A Thief ‘s End. There are even randomly generated treasures in some multiplayer modes. Completing certain sets can unlock perks.

3. Final Fantasy Series

Crystals have always had special meaning across the series. They are symbolic of new powers, especially in the first, third, and fifth games in the series, where new jobs or job upgrades are unlocked upon finding the elemental crystals. 

Does materia in Final Fantasy VII count as bling? I’d like to think so. 

These pieces of concentrated Lifestream energy allow your party members to use magic, summon monsters, and increase their stats. Materia level up alongside the party, and can sometimes reproduce copies of itself at max level. This is some versatile bling, and it’ll look prettier than ever in the episodic remake. 

Final Fantasy IX was hyped as “the return of the crystal”, signifying its throwback to more traditional fantasy tropes. 

Crystals figure heavily into the world and plot of The Lightning Trilogy. People marked by fal’Cie gods, the l’Cie, can fall into long comas encased in crystal, and the party gains new skills and stat points from the Crystarium.

Final Fantasy Tactics is the Zodiac Brave Story, which features magical Zodiac Stones that can turn people into superpowered monsters. 

Not the most glamorous example. 

The heroes of DISSIDIA are required by Cosmos to gain crystals to prove their heroic worth.

In the Theatrhythm games, fragments of crystals must be gained in order to unlock new characters. 

4. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Sometimes, monsters will drop gemstones of varying degrees of preciousness and value. These gems can be sold to the Librarian, who functions as a merchant (despite his loyalty to Dracula, he also loves that dank money) to get valuable items like Jacob’s Cloak or the Duplicator.

One of the subweapons is a crystal that can ricochet off of surfaces to hit enemies. It’s kind of rare.

Most fun of all is the Jewel Sword. It’s probably a decently strong weapon when you find it; it leaves a cool-looking trail when you swing the blade; and it considerably increases the chances of slain enemies dropping gems. You can make much more money with this method than you would otherwise. 

5. Various Harvest Moon Games

I don’t know if all of the HM games feature a mine where you can get crystals and gems, but I remember that Harvest Moon: Magical Melody does. Certain characters and potential love interests have expensive tastes…

6. Assorted Puzzle Games

Puzzle games and bling go hand in hand. There are probably too many examples to count, but some of the most popular include Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (there wasn’t a first one), Bejeweled, and Genies & Gems.

What games feature some of your favorite uses of bling? What game should be the next subject of my blog? I need suggestions!