Community Discussion: Blog by Gatsby | My Expertise: Getting to the Good PartsDestructoid
My Expertise: Getting to the Good Parts - Destructoid

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My name is Gatsby.

I am an aspiring writer, professional asshole and worst of all, a teenager.

I'm at the age of 19 now, hopefully attending and living at the University of Madonna come fall. The career I'm aiming for now will probably be Nursing in the specialty of ER Medicine, though I'm also interested in anything mental health related.

I'm more of a movie buff than I am a gamer, but when it comes down to it, I love all forms of entertainment. Right now, I'm drifting apart from gaming because I'm poor and generally don't feel that gaming has improved enough over the years for me to keep pouring money into it, but as always I'm eager to discuss games as a medium and will remain a gamer for life, no matter how estranged I am.

I write fiction and non fiction and am currently doing my best to improve in both. I hope to get to the level where I'm skilled enough to have anything published, and I can say that I won't be able to die happy if I'm never able to accomplish my fiction and non fiction goals.

That being said, there isn't a whole lot more to be as I'm an incredibly boring person, so here's a list of some of my favorite books, movies, and games.

Favorite Games:

Sonic and Knuckles
Pokemon Gold
The Super Smash Brothers Series
The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy IX
Threads of Fate
Final Fantasy X
God of War
Kingdom Hearts 1
Kingdom Hearts 2
Metal Gear Solid 2
Metal Gear Solid 3
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Metroid Fusion
Metal Gear Solid 4

Favorite Movies:

Pulp Fiction
Lost in Translation
Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2
Seven Samurai
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Nightmare before Christmas
Spiderman 2
The Dark Knight
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
Joint Security Area
The Godfather
Shutter Island

Favorite Books:

A Game of Thrones
A Storm of Swords
The Name of the Wind
The Great Gatsby
The Good Earth
The Fountainhead
The Chocolate Wars
The Sun Also Sets
(I kind of fell out of reading for most of highschool and am now getting back into it, always down for reading recommendations)

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Letís say you wake up one morning and find that you have turned into a JRPG protagonist. You look in the mirror and find that your hair has turned into an impossibly spiky, brightly colored due that perfectly fits your personality traits. However, what the mirror wonít tell you is that your traits have also changed. You now have a past trauma that has significantly affected you and you have the sneaking suspicion that very soon, this past trauma will become a significant part of your life once again. You are more angsty now. You are also more powerful. You can fight anything despite its size with your remarkably well designed and impractical weapon.

Like this, but IRL

As you look around your house, youíll notice that itís on fire. You go to your room to retrieve your remarkably well designed and impractical weapon and before leaving, a look through your window reveals that the rest of your neighborhood is on fire too.

You exit your house in time to see an Airship leaving the wreckage of your neighborhood with the logo of that evil corporation that you never trusted plastered right on your side.

As you walk through the ruins of your neighborhood, youíll find that your loyal best friend has survived, and together you vow to take revenge on the evil corporation that destroyed your neighborhood.

However, your vengeance will not come easy. There are plenty towns between you and this corporationís HQ, and between these towns are hundreds of miles worth of wilderness, and much to your dismay, all this wilderness is packed to the brim with hundreds of invisible monsters who only seem be interested in fighting you. On top of that, youíll often be sidetracked. All these towns and villages need help, and youíre the only one who can help them.

And thatís not the worst of it. Eventually youíll find that the evil corporation is more evil than you thought, and before long, youíll be dragged into a long never ending quest to save the world itself.

Fear not, JRPG Protagonist, for I know your path well. Your path is a long one, filled with plenty of distractions that shall waste your time and prolong your arrival to the climactic parts of your journey. Follow my simple rules, and youíll get to the good parts in no time.

Rule #1: Knowledge is Power

The fact of the matter is that most JRPG Battle Systems are not overly complex. Theyíre simple systems where each character has a role to play and the key to winning is to understand what character does what efficiently. Characters are often defined by their class. The guy with the spear is usually the Dragoon, the shy good hearted love interest is usually the Healer, and the weird one that nobody likes is the ability leech.

Form your party with characters that have good synergy. JRPGs arenít like Dragon Age where bringing your favorite characters along reaps the reward of additional dialogue and increased favor. The fact is that all the interesting stuff happens at point B and if you want to get to the next cutscene, itís in your interest to get there as fast as possible. When you have a million random encounters separating you from the effeminate mastermind who killed your family, the only thing that matters is cold and calculating efficiency.

With that in mind, experiment with which characters do what well. Gouge the usefulness of bringing a thief for his ability to steal. See if the hybrid magic user can fully compensate for pure healer. See if you can survive on a potion based healing setup. It may sound crazy, but play Final Fantasy VI or DQ VIII and youíll find that itís very doable.

Get a party set up that works well and is easily understandable. You need to know what your options are if your healer gets bitch slapped into next year by a hard hitting boss and if you take too long figuring it out, you may very well be a victim of the post death repetition process that so many JRPGs cater to.

On top of that, know the gameís battle system. Each RPG has its own spin on combat. Be it real time turn based, flat out turn based, active time strategic based espionage, cover based semi active real time phases, there are hundreds of them, and the sooner you fully understand what theyíre capable of, the more successful youíll do.

For example, Final Fantasy VIII had its Junction System, which allowed you to assign magic types to your stats. You can go through the entire game not assigning a single piece of magic to any trait, and itíll be a slow and grueling process that will take forever, one sissy hit at a time. Or you can stack the magic correctly and turn your characters into killing machines that will kill any monster before it gets a chance to finish its battle cry.

One process is slow and boring; the other process is fast and boring. The choice seems pretty clear to me.

Rule #2: Fuck the World(Kinda)

This took longer to create than this entire article

Make no mistake, JRPG Protagonist. The creators of JRPG games are crafty tricksters who have utilized math and science to find ways to sink your time. For every hour that you ignore burning villages in favor of in game card games, the more you trivialize the main quest. JRPGs are vehicles for stories and fantastic worlds, and wasting time for the sake of wasting time in a game that youíre playing to waste time is something thatís flat out wrong.

Do not fall into the traps that the developers have laid out before you. Putting twenty hours into raising a Golden Chocobo will not make your purchase a more justified one.

Side quests are another matter. When it comes to these, you must ask yourself a simple question. Why do I want to complete this side quest? If itís for a weapon that will make your battles easier, then go for it. If itís because you donít feel right watching poor Suzy Q get eaten by sharks, then go for it. If youíre doing it because the game has assigned you something to do and you feel the need complete every single piece of the game, then donít Youíll be wasting invaluable time for empty accomplishments and cheap thrills.

b]Rule #3: Grind a Little Now, to Avoid Grinding a Lot Later.[/b]

Ever since my early days on the internet, Iíve noticed that people have always failed to correlate level progression through random encounters with boss difficulty. The biggest mistake that a rookie speed demon can make is running away from random encounters in order to speed the game up. Unless the game is Final Fantasy VIII, the less you level, the more trouble youíll make for yourself.

JRPG Developers are clever. The areas that you go through contain monsters that are your level, and the farther you go along, the stronger they get. Never shy away from fighting them, from learning new abilities and gaining new levels. Youíre going to be spending a certain amount of time leveling no matter how hard you try and fight it. Wasted time is the name of the game in JRPGs. Itís not a matter of not wasting any time; itís a matter of wasting as little time as possible.

Probably should have grinded on a few more Tonberrys before taking this badboy on

I guarantee you that youíll enjoy an extra fifteen minutes of random battles here and there much more than being brick walled by a boss that is much stronger than you, constantly killing you and likely sending your sorry ass back in time to the last save point. You know whatís going to happen at that point? Youíre going to spend hours either trying to kill the boss despite your disadvantage, or youíre going to have to spend a long time grinding all at once in a desperate bid to overpower the boss.

If youíre lucky, the latter option will be available to you. If youíre not, youíre in for one of the most frustrating rides of your life.

Rule #4: Donít Be a Perfectionist

This touches up a little on Rule #2 where I urge you to not do things for the sake of doing them. The fact is that Perfectionism is a disease that will lead to a colossal amount of wasted time and a cheapened experience overall.

Iím sure we all know the type of person who buys the strategy guides and glides through the entire game picking up every hidden item, easily dispatching of every boss, gaining knowledge on the perfect leveling areas and doing every side quest in a bid for that elated 100% completion rate.

What has this person gained? A save file that says 100% completed written on it.

What has this person lost? $15 and any sense of discovery or accomplishment that the game could have given them.

An Artist's Rendition of what using a strategy guide does to your JRPG Playthrough

JRPGs will try and waste your time, but even though they try to screw us over, we still love them. We love the secrets they harbor for us. The secret bosses, the hidden side quests, the secret areas. I encourage you to do whatever you can to get past the time sinks that the game offers in any way possible, but I discourage doing the same with the genuinely good things that the game offers. A flawed run is better than a perfect run, and getting your ass kicked by a boss only to shake it off and kick his ass in return is much better than easily brushing the boss aside because you read up on all his attack patterns.

Rule #5: Enjoy the Little Things

As noted above, there are a lot of amazing things that JRPGs can harbor besides the main quest. A good JRPG will give you a full world to go explore. A brand new world that you- the JRPG Protagonist- must save. Get to know this world. Love the towns that occupy it, enjoy the challenging fights that the bosses will give you along the way. Do the side quests that interest you and youíll find that youíll have your own personal good parts, things that you look forward to as much as the next story advancement.

When I look back on my favorite JRPG experiences, while Iíll often talk about their climactic events before all else, the fact is that reminiscing on Final Fantasy VIII makes me think of Fishermanís Horizon and what an unconventional paradise it is before it makes me think of the succession of witches and the Garden on Garden battles.

Beautiful. Physically impossible and impractical as fuck, but beautiful.

Prioritize whatís important to you and donít let the game take you off your path. JRPGs are infamous for the time sinks they contain, but if you follow these rules, you will not only get through the game much faster, youíll have a much better experience.
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