Alright, guys, I’m sick as a dog today (well, as of writing this, at least; by the time it goes up, I hope I’m long since recovered from this demon malady afflicting me), so let’s do a quicky rant. ...What? Yes, I can write those! I have before! I think. Shut up.
So, as I’ve mentioned a great many times over the years, in spite of RPGs being my chosen video game obsession, I actually don’t find these things any fun, generally. The majority of them base their “gameplay,” if such it can even be called, around making selections from a menu, for heaven’s sake. It’s like some programmer was going through the multiple-choice section of his driver’s test and had the brilliant idea of coding the process into the next game he made to see whether anyone would be able to tell the difference between it and actual fun.
But the other reason RPGs are generally boring to play is something I don’t mention nearly as often, despite the fact that it is actually even worse than the overall gameplay methods of the genre: the horrible, tedious repetition. I’ll crack wise about how unengaging it is to turn life-threatening combat into a process indistinguishable from browsing folders on a Windows system, but honestly, the boredom of this set-up would not be nearly as bad if it weren’t for the fact that, in the course of your average RPG, you’re gonna be going through it actual, literal HUNDREDS of times! Frankly, even the few fun RPGs get old after a while just because of how often you’re required to combat something--after a certain point in Fallout 3, 4, and New Vegas, I got so powerful and so utterly bored with doing the same damn thing every time, even in a genuinely good gameplay system, that I would frequently just pass enemies by on my way through their aggro territory, or, in enclosed environments, utterly ignore them and let my companions slowly deal with them while I just did my exploring. And that’s Fallout, a series of actually fun games!* Having to go through the random encounter motions in your standard RPG hundreds of times is tedium beyond description!
That’s why I so greatly appreciate the feature many RPGs in the past decade or so have been adding, the option to accelerate battle animations. The option to speed up combat actions in Etrian Odyssey 2, as well as the auto-battle feature? Love it. The option in most Kemco games to make combat go at 2x or even 4x its usual pace? Possibly the most (and at times, only) positive trait of their products. The option to turn off combat animations in several Fire Emblem games, or use the B button to cancel them in Stella Glow? A godsend.
Because let’s face it: even in a properly story-rich RPG, you’re gonna be spending at least half the game’s span of 20 - 80 hours in combat, and most of those battles are against generic, time-wasting random monsters that you’ve already defeated at least a dozen times before. Friends, our time on Earth is finite, and even if some of us are fool enough to have wasted a portion of it playing Quest 64 or Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, that time is something we should value--and value more than spending dozens of hours confirming menu options so we can kill enemies we’ve already killed several times before in the exact same way. Every RPG that has a battle speed-up option will save you literal hours of your life that you can devote to something more fulfilling than watching a goblin get bonked on the head for the 20th time in a row. I both appreciate it every time a game gives it to me, and sincerely hope to see it saturate the genre even more from here on out.
* Not counting 76, of course. Never counting 76. Just...any time I talk about Fallout games as a whole being good, assume that 76 isn’t in that estimation. In fact, any time I talk about any positive experience or aspect of life, the universe, and the works of humanity, just assume that Fallout 76 is excluded.