Sunday, July 18, 2021

General RPG Creator Kemco's New Game+ Skip Seen Dialogue Feature

Kemco has the right idea about something.

Now, I know what you’re feeling.  You’re confused, scared, and angry.  You feel lost.  Your steadfast rock in this world has shifted, and now nothing seems certain.  Kemco did something right!?  The safe, secure consistency and comfort of 2021 has been lost to you.

Well, I’m with you, but there’s no denying it: those 2 brain cells banging together over at Kemco’s offices for the past 15 years have managed, much like a million monkeys laboring tirelessly away at their typewriters, to code something halfway decent.  And much like Dragon Quest’s Heal All feature, it wouldn’t be fair of me to constantly shit on these games without recognizing what (extremely few) virtues they possess, too.

So, there’s a thing that Kemco games have a tendency to do.  To keep you engaged past the end of the game, a Kemco RPG will frequently have a New Game+ feature, which adds a little to the game’s content.  Basically, while most of the plot is the same the second time around, there will also be a bunch of extra lines of dialogue, or inner monologue, or even new little side-scenes added to the story’s course, which will reveal extra tidbits of lore and/or characterization.  In theory, this is a pretty cool idea, and in the case of most of the RPGs that utilize this or a similar feature, it’s a great bonus and tends to allow for a creative new way to more deeply immerse the audience.

In this particular case, of course, it’s not quite as welcome, because the last thing you want out of a Kemco game is more Kemco game.

What IS unambiguously great, however, is how Kemco handles the text of a New Game+.  There is, you see, quite frequently an option to fast-forward any dialogue and narration that you’ve seen during the first run through the game--but any new text, that you’ll only see on this New Game+ playthrough, is NOT skipped through, stopping the fast-forward the moment it appears.  Sometimes, there is also or instead a feature to skip entire scenes, but once again, it won’t skip the parts you haven’t seen before.

Being able to skip text isn’t a new thing for RPGs, mind you.  A few RPGs allow for fast-forward functions to some degree or another after completing the game (such as Chrono Cross’s Time Shifter), and you can generally just scroll through text without reading it pretty quickly in most games by rapidly tapping the Action/Confirm/Whatever button.

But in those cases, you’re accountable for whatever text you’re rushing through; if you miss something that you wanted to see just because you were hurrying through the stuff that didn’t matter to you, that’s on you.  And this can limit how useful these features are.  The game I recently played, for example, Quantum Entanglement, has a button for skipping through dialogue, and it’s very handy in general for the many times you’ll examine something a second time but only trigger the same dialogue as before...but it’s not as helpful as it could be, in the New Game+.  Quantum Entanglement is a game that has new content unlocked to view on a second playthrough, but the text-skipping button doesn’t distinguish between that and any other text, so it’s not as handy as it could be.  Because to miss even a single line of QE’s excellent, witty, engrossing writing would be madness.

That’s why Kemco’s take on this feature is so great: you’re not in danger of missing out.  You can hit the fast-forward button to your heart’s content during the dialogue you’ve seen before, or the skip button for scenes you’re familiar with--it’s a Kemco game, you don’t need a refresher, it’s not like it’s so complex that the basic gist of your memory isn’t gonna more than adequately cover all the story’s bases--and when the new stuff that you’re presumably playing specifically with the intent of seeing pops up, everything stops, and you can view it fully.

Kemco didn’t invent this idea, of course.  It’s a common feature of Visual Novels (and a godsend for them, at that; I don’t know if they’d even really exist as a genre without it).  But credit where it’s due: inventor or not, Kemco seems to be the only developer that makes consistent use of this selective skipping feature when putting out an RPG whose content expands on successive playthroughs.

And I’m not sure why that is.  I mean, I guess I can understand why a tiny indie developer would neglect to include this feature in their creation, since I would guess a feature like this involves a formidable chunk of time and coding to make possible, so Quantum Entanglement gets a pass.  But even if my suspicions are true, and Kemco does in fact recoup its entire development cost for 1 of its RPGs by the fourth copy it sells, I can’t imagine they’re rolling in money and resources.  So if Kemco can manage to make this concept work, you’d think other, more substantial developers would get on board with it.

But they generally don’t, and that’s a shame.  The function of being able to skip seen text, but stop at any new content, is a great convenience to have in any game which reveals new depths in subsequent playthroughs, and it seems that only Kemco consistently recognizes this fact and strives to include such a feature in their works.  I don’t entirely like doing so, but credit where it’s due: Kemco’s ahead of the game on this one.


  1. I'm happy to naysay the worth of this innovation. I think I only need one hand to count the number of RPGs I've played where this feature would be remotely useful, so it's no big loss that other games (outside of visual novels) don't have it. Pretty much every game I've played with New Game+ does not add new text interpolated among the old text (maybe because this idea is generally bad for RPGs? I mean, if the text is good and makes the narrative better, the text shouldn't need to be unlocked through a New Game+ feature).

    By the way, the original Nier is the only game I've played that immediately came to my mind when I read this post.

    Also, I've still never played a Kemco game.

    1. It's a good idea for a story with a more layered level of lore and events, where there's stuff going on below the surface, like Quantum Entanglement, or a game that intentionally works the concept of restarts/repeated cycles into its approach, like Breath of Fire 5, or Bravely Default. With QE, for example, a focus of the story is on repeated incarnations of oneself and ways that relates to multiverse concepts, so it's natural and thematic to have replaying the game(which is short enough that doing so doesn't seem unreasonable) be a part of the game's process, and the lore and underlying stuff going on in QE means that having access to the extra scenes and dialogue from the start of the first game wouldn't make sense to a new player--it's worthwhile content, but where it needs to be placed within the game's story isn't where it needs to be placed in the sequence that the audience experiences it. Additionally, in this game of existential/scientific-theory repetitions, the first playthrough's events do in small but interesting ways make a few differences when they occur again in the next playthrough, which by necessity is something unlocked in a New Game+.

      Basically, I guess I'm saying, with 2 AM brain fuzzies no doubt inhibiting my ability to communicate it, is that the idea is just fine when used in an appropriate RPG. And there are enough appropriate RPGs for the concept that I wish Kemco weren't the only one out there making use of this feature.

      Also, good job on not playing a Kemco game. Just keep doing that.

    2. I thought about Breath of Fire 5, which I think would generally benefit from just having the bonus scenes be part of the story without needing to be unlocked. I can't remember if the game has a cutscene skip option, or if the bonus scenes get skipped as well (if there is an option to skip cutscenes). So, I'm not sure if Breath of Fire 5 needs that option or not. I'm too lazy to dig out my copy and double-check.

      As for Bravely Default, I just really, really wish it didn't have the loops and repeated scenes. The second half of Bravely Default brought my opinion of the whole game significantly down. I almost couldn't finish it. While I think being able to skip old cutscenes would help, Bravely Default would need a lot more than that to be improved, in my opinion.

      Maybe Quantum Entanglement would be another game where the option would work well. I'd still probably be able to count how many RPGs I think need the option on one hand, if I added it to my list. My general stance is still that repetition is usually undesirable and should be avoided (Bravely Default) and that cutscenes should usually not need to be unlocked (Breath of Fire 5).

  2. Kemco did something right!?

    NEVER, dont spread lies they never would

  3. For me this feature whould be le magnifique IF is implemented from the get go, expecially in most of the jrpg because, saddly, I dont like much of their narratives, so if a skip button exist I would glady acept not know what is happening if can grind more monsters.