This is not a post about games that I think are bad–there’s only a few on the list that I don’t like–but after spending some time pointing out that Final Fantasy VII is not actually perfect to a friend I felt like I should get all my similar bitching out. A lot of these problems are minor problems, or not necessarily problems to other people but this is my perspective and there are certain things that drive me batty about games.
The way I assembled this list was to get submissions of favorite RPG titles from my twitter buddies. To keep it fair I included my two favorite games Suikoden II and Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne.
I’ve played every game on this list for a decent amount of time (except World of Warcraft which I just wanted to make a cheap joke about), several of them multiple times. I got a few submissions of titles I haven’t played or haven’t played very much of and left them off for obvious reasons.
Nota Bene: Lufia 2 was originally included in this list but I realized I don’t remember it well enough to comment accurately. I started replaying it but didn’t want to delay the post any longer.
Baldur’s Gate 2 – The first area really drags even if you are familiar with the characters. Working up the willpower to finish it up took a few tries for me.
Breath of Fire 2 – Probably the worst RPG localization during a period of bad RPG localizations.
Chrono Cross – If you love this game you know that it’s flawed and accept the problems, but I think the biggest problem is how it has too many characters and unlike the Suikoden series the structure around them doesn’t really work. They’re meant to be much more active but cycling nearly 50 characters across playthroughs is a headache.
Chrono Trigger – Suffers from the opposite of Grandia 2 syndrome where the overall story is quite interesting but the individual characters are boring.
Dragon Age: Origins – The Deep Roads/Orzammar area really drags out and the writing takes a dramatic dive in this area. The City Elf opening story is misguided.
Dragon Quest VIII – Pretty much every DQ game has the same problem which is that there are points in the game where you have to level grind. You can do this by either fighting ten million regular enemies or hunting for metal slimes but both of methods get really tiring.
Earthbound – The battle system is cute on the surface but the underlying mechanics are really crude so once you see all the funny battle text they’re pretty boring.
Final Fantasy (NES) – Level grinding up the wazoo, very tedious especially at the start. Extremely expensive to heal while you’re trying to level up enough to move on past the first area. Pretty typical of early RPGs. Is the reason Final Fantasy XIII exists.
Final Fantasy IV (SNES) – Terrible localization. I always feel like there are too many characters popping in and out when the story really only cares about a few of them.
Final Fantasy IX – Has all the problems you find in by-the-numbers RPGs even if the production values are higher. The biggest of these problems is that standard battles get very repetitive.
Final Fantasy VI – Kefka is just so goshdarn crazy! When you make a character over-the-top insane and he is just doing crazy crazy things he’s no longer scary or even really evil, he’s just nuts. It takes away from his actions and turns him into a cartoon. Also dualcast totally borks the game.
Kingdom Hearts & Kingdom Hearts 2 – Hit X butan, watch your partners with the world’s worst AI this side of Secret of Mana die repeatedly and take a nap while they yell each other’s names.
Knights of the Old Republic – If you actually do the side-quests they push you towards you hit the level cap way, way early. Mandatory racing mini-game. The freaking underwater area. I thought the big ole plot twist reveal was done in a pretty goofy way.
Morrowind – Extremely dull at the start, it was hard to find motivation to go on. Plus all the standard open world problems like getting lost or not knowing what exactly you’re supposed to do. Honestly Bethesda is very into meandering and I am not.
Ogre Battle – Not having direct control over units in tactical battles drives me bonkers. Couldn’t get into the Ogre Battle series at all though I’m a big fan of Tactics Ogre.
Paper Mario – Hard to level up at points where you need a little bump. I always find it very frustrating when you suddenly find yourself needing to level up to beat a boss in a game with not very much emphasis on that aspect of RPG design.
Persona 3 – Not being able to directly control your party members results in them doing dumb things that make you yell at the TV.
Persona 4 – Teddy’s voice acting is a war crime. The Persona 3 callback fanservice part is pretty eyerolley.
Pokemon Blue – Level grind grind grind grind. If you want to get 100% or make certain Pokemon useful past a certain point you were forced into to icky social contact.
Secret of Mana – What is the point of having partner characters if they die by being stupid when you need them alive the most?
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne – To beat the true ending boss without tears and pain you have to be a mind-reader or lucky to set things up properly. You’ll hit points where you need to level grind quite a bit to move forward.
Shining Force (GEN) – Another game with a terrible localization. In this one it’s so bad that it ignores the major point of the game’s story.
Suikoden II – Luca Blight’s over-the-topness takes away from the impact of his character, the true ending is a bit of a cop-out like they were afraid to go through with the horrors of war thing to the end.
Super Mario RPG – Some of the platforming doesn’t work very well due to the isometric nature of the game. Wee I’m jumping to the next block!! Wait, nope, I guess I magically moved in the air and here I am at the bottom again.
The World Ends With You – With all the polish in this game they still managed to make the stylus input wonky, which leads to tears and pain during battles. As a bonus it has all your typical Square story points.
World of Warcraft – It’s an MMO.
Xenosaga – The total time you spend watching cutscenes is nearly as long as the time you spend playing the game.