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JRPG Rules: Random Encounters - Destructoid

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The following blog is set for One Fall! Introducing first, he is the Hylian Champion! Winner of the Seven-Year Slam, making the Hylian Ring safer, one Powerbomb of Courage at a time!


Started gaming on an Atari 2600, grew into the gamer I am now with Nintendo, playing on an NES and SNES. Became more aware of the wider scope of gaming through the Playstation and Xbox. Now I'm loving the PC gaming life.

My favorite games include A Link to the Past, Terranigma, Guilty Gear X2, Viewtiful Joe, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and DotA 2.

Huge comic book reader, and currently keeping up with Saga and Hawkeye.

My favorites are The Sandman Vol 4, Batman - Court of Owls, and V for Vendetta.

Lover of wrestling, although not so much of the infamous Attitude Era. Much of more a CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, and Dolph Ziggler kinda guy.

Life-long reader of books of the fictional and non-fictional variety. Love Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Kurt Vonnegut, Chuck Wendig and Haruki Murakami.

My biggest dream is that one day Quintet returns and makes a current generation Terranigma.

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Games often work with their own rule sets. Most good games have rules that work by a set of logic that we can intuitively follow, but wouldn't make much sense outside of their genre. RPGs operate on a broken approximation of table-top rule sets that allow an entire earthquake or thunder strike to precisely hit the target and still miss. Somehow, JRPGs take the level of absurdity even further.

If I could discuss the real-life application of any game mechanic with a physicist, or any intelligent scientifically-minded person, it's the concept of Random Encounters. Everything about their existence is impossible in every way imaginable. While it's ridiculous enough that a group of enemies suddenly appear out of nowhere, there's a lot more happening here.

To prove my point, please study the following image.

This is an image of a typical JRPG hero, as brought to you by Google, in a typical room, also brought to you by Google. Now let's just say, for the sake of argument, that this room is a room in a dungeon. We can tell that this is not a town area because of the lack of shops and inns, so the only alternative is a dungeon. Dungeons don't even have to be actual dungeons, they've mostly become an umbrella term for any area in which random encounters can take place that is not the overworld.

So now that we have established combat can happen in the area pictured above, how many monsters do you see there? How many monsters do you think are actually in the room with the Average JRPG hero in the Average Room?

A. Five.
B. Encounters travel in groups of three.
C. Infinite.
D. None.

No, really. I want you to think about this for a while. I've even put in a brief intermission to stop you from scrolling further down, just so you cheat and skip to the answer immediately.

Okay, you're back? You sure you know how many monsters there are present in that screenshot of Typical JRPG Hero in A Typical Room?

The real answer, obviously, is C. Infinite. Hope you got that right.

There are infinite monsters in the room with the hero.

How do we know this? Sure, there's a lot more monsters in the room than the eye can see, but how do we know it's infinite?

Because, even with barred doors and windows, the amount of combats that could happen within the room is endless. Locked in a room with no exits, no entrances, new monsters still keep appearing in the path of the protagonist. Provided that this set of monsters inexplicably materializes items that allow the protagonist to sustain himself, and enough monsters do provide item drops that would do just that, the protagonist could endlessly keep himself in good health indefinitely.

Why else do you think they call it farming for items?

Pictured: Typical JRPG Hero wearing a Typical Straw Hat on a Typical Farm

This wouldn't be the only way one could benefit from being stuck with random encounters either. If we could figure out the materials that Slime creatures consist of, there is a good chance we could use them as a fuel source. Once we achieve that, imagine creating a power plant built around a dungeon area to get an endless supply of slime material.

Considering the amount of plant-based monsters, as well as your average beast-type monsters, food shortages should be nearly impossible by systematically cultivating dungeon areas with a high item drop modifier. Maybe attempts at this have been made in the past. It would explain the overly elaborate and rich-looking outfits characters in these games tend to wear despite being supposedly poor.

Something must have gone wrong with these attempts, because there would be no need for money, traditional jobs, or even adventurers if everyone in the world abused the meta game as much as the heroes do.

There's only one logical explanation to this.

Monsters in JRPGs are physical manifestations of the inner anxieties and problems of the protagonists. JRPGs tend to follow the grimdark character exploration traits of the most juvenile anime archetypes, so naturally the entire cast is mentally troubled while trying to brush off their problems in loud proclamations of friendships as they crumble in a complete depressive collapse of self.

Pictured: Typical Magi Madoka Magica characters, as a stand-in for typical JRPG group of heroes.

The more troubled someone is, the more physical manifestations of their troubles flood the world. This would explain the typical rise of monsters that villagers complain about and tend to see as a new thing. Because it is new, but the heroes are just too young to realize it started around the same time they were born. Their brooding nature is the entire reason monsters have been on the rise lately, and sadly their willingness to throw their lives away at the slightest whim is being seen as a dedication to stop the monsters from expanding their reach.

It also explains why a series like Final Fantasy was so flooded with random encounters, while the slightly more optimistic Tale of cast would actually see monsters on the screen.

Although I would like to know what Mario worked out within himself in between Mario RPG and Paper Mario to stop Random Encounters from happening. Although to be fair to Mario, the encounters didn't start until after a new evil came in between Mario and Bowser, which might have given rise to an internal conflict of being equally cast aside in his role the way Bowser was.

That, or Mario is severely imbalanced and has become better at hiding it since then. It might explain why he pretended Luigi never existed for so long, or why he has no problem chasing after Princess Peach so often.

Maybe explains why there's a new major Mario game coming out near the holiday season of the Year of Luigi.

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