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Raccoonus avatar 12:30 PM on 11.07.2008  (server time)
The Beastiary in All of Us

As I mostly play videogames of the RPG ilk, I've come across my fair share of beastiaries. These are, for those not in the know, graphically done tomes, containing a showcase of monsters your hero and his/her team have defeated so far along the Journey for Magic Crystals. A list of the enemy's strengths, weaknesses, stats, loot, and number of times it has been killed are just some of the many bullet points provided within a game's beastiary. Since many of these exist (they're just as much of an RPG staple as the ever-prolific Cure spell), I figured I'd highlight three of my favorites over the past years.

Final Fantasy XII
Remember what I just said in the above paragraph about enemy stats and treasure information? Forget it immediately. The beastiary in Final Fantasy XII is, er, quite a different beast (feel free to groan). As you traverse the landscape of Ivalice, defeating monsters and scrounging for loot, the in-game beastiary keeps track of all your kills. The first time you kill a monster, you get a small entry in your beastiary, which offers up an original piece of artwork, a small bit about its family, and a short block of text. The text is either a short description of the beast or it might be an explorer's story or legend passed down by its people. Either way, it's not the same-old, same-old. Now, once you've killed a monster for the first time, a number will pop up next to its entry, demanding more spilled blood. So, if you kill 25 more Happy Bunnies, another chunk of text about said "monster" is revealed. No stats, no direct finger-pointing to weaknesses and strengths, just flavor text upon flavor text upon flavor text. It's quite refreshing.

Rogue Galaxy
Akin to Final Fantasy XII's beastiary, the one found in Rogue Galaxy challenges you to kill kill kill. By destroying a certain enemy monster a select number of times, Jasper Rogue is able to accrue points which help him become the number one bounty hunter in da universe. Each monster entry gets a 3D representation of the monster, and you can twirl it, make it move, and zoom in under its legs to wonder where its genitals have gone to. Really, you know you've done this. Again, this beastiary is all about incentive, and the replay value really sits on going back to old locales to complete each and every entry. So it's not just there for looks (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but it's an actual gameplay element, not something vital, but something doable.

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
This would be a solid example of a more-or-less typical book of monster info found in RPGs. That shouldn't really shock anyone; Dragon Quest VIII is more-or-less a pristine take on the traditional sort of RPG. It has turn-based battles, a Save the World plot, and larger-than-life characters that all fit into stereotypical nooks (i.e., white mages, thief, tank, and so on). I believe there are over 250 addable monsters, and the simplicity and easy navigation of the section make it worth a good flip through.

Huh, not surprising, but these are all PS2 RPGs released in the past two to three years. Remember, I play what I have and only what I have, as I'm a big time lurker.

The beastiary in Final Fantasy IV (for the DS) is what sparked all of this, as it is only accessible by running into Namingway when you can. That, the restricting the player of content and killing all curiosity in one swipe, is just dumb. These things are here to add to the wealth of a game and should be available from the beginning. a favorite of your own, people?

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