What’s the difference between Yakuza (RGG) Devil May Cry (DMC) and Final Fantasy XVI (hereby referred to as FF and not Fatal Fury)?
One of these titles has mini-games, different characters you can control and a captivating protagonist. Of course, it’s not FFXVI. FFXVI is an absolute betrayal to the name but kof needs to follow the same path in one way: options for all.
Note that I haven’t finished ffxvi (I am the point where you find Ultima) so my view is based on what I have experienced so far. Still, there are some interesting things SNK can take away from the gamer experience and the backlash from fans.
Let me tell you why FFXVI is not an FF title. It is barely a traditional RPG. You cannot control a party, you can only hold 8 potions and grinding is discouraged. It is more like an action beat em up, very similar to the RGG and DMC series. While RGG decided to go ‘backwards’ for its latest iteration and played more like a persona title, FFXVI decided to go ‘forwards’ and made a title more accessible and mainstream. But why? When did the fans say, ‘oh no, we don’t like RPGs anymore’, or ‘we like action fights more than grinding’ ? Some probably did, to be fair, but this episode in the series looks more like a bandwagon jump to make profit, rather than a progression in the spirit of JRPGs.
FFVII remake is quite similar, but at least the player could control its different characters and play some mini games. FFXVI just feels like a monotonous pattern of ‘walk from A to B, kill some mobs, listen to the story, maybe do a side quest which is doing the same thing, then fight a boss’. You may say that this is essentially every RPG, but it just feels so glaring in FFXVI, and there is little innovation, or humour, or interest. And the journalists gave it 10/10. What? Did they only play the boss fights and skip everything else?
Now while the game design around the boss fights is quite stale, the boss fights themselves are very good, graphically epic and fun- of course they are, I’m a fighting games fan. Now what’s interesting in terms of game development are the options for journ- *cough* players to make the game as easy as they need. There are optional accessories to make the game slow down before an enemy hits you, and even an auto dodge. If the boss fights are too hard, there is a story mode that makes you equip these automatically and makes the game easy to beat (I’ve heard it even skips some fights).
This is what brings us to KOF and of course the auto combo mode.
This is what annoys fans and brings in new ones. This mode needs to evolve and it needs to get the hell away from the traditional players. Options are key. Games today need to be customisable for the audience to enjoy it how they need. Some people just want to get home after work and relax with some explosions on the screen. Others want to learn a new skill. Others want to compete in eSports. Games need to cater for all of these audiences but not mix them all in one mode.
On a slight tangent, while we are talking about playing to the audience, you may notice that in a few series, the devs are acknowledging their long standing fans and recycling content with one stone. Recent releases include references to the previous ones, and feature jukeboxes with all the older, classic music. This is great, and I don’t know anyone who will say no to another remix!
As for difficulty, players rarely go for the ‘hard’ option when it affects an entire game playthrough, but they like flicking between options for more of a challenge when they feel like it.
Soul Hackers 2 provided ultimate game ending items, if you wanted them. And it’s a fascinating study of self control. Can gamers resist the temptation to destroy the game content and then complain when they don’t feel any real satisfaction? KOF could have an easy mode with auto combos per button. It should bury the opinion that kof is too hard (an adage now directed at SF6, which also has a controversial easy mode). But how does that retain players? Well, then we get to the point about content: mini games and the open world that we’re expecting in the next title…
Our expectations have risen again and SNK games are getting better and better! It will be very intriguing to see what happens next, but for hardcore traditionalists, if the options do not exist, the future is bleak, and players will have to stay with older titles.