Are Turned Based Games Dead?


While browsing the walls of some of the  many JRPG Facebook groups I belong to, I came across one very interesting post in particular. At first, it began as an argument about whether or not Final Fantasy has gone down hill. But the debate soon turned into whether or not turn based games are becoming obsolete. The kid who was originally complaining about Final Fantasy said that they were not obsolete and that tons of people were clamoring for more turn based games. However, many other members of the group pointed out that if that really was the case, then more and more RPG’s wouldn’t be deviating from the old style. I couldn’t help but ask: Are turn based games dead?

Interestingly enough, this entire conversation occurred in a “Tales of” group. And in case you’ve missed some of my previous posts about the Tales series, the games are far from turn based. As I sat back to watch the debate unfold, I found myself leaning towards the fact that turn based games are indeed a dying breed, and not so much in demand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all turn based games suck. In fact, in the past year, several turn based games certainly breathed some new life into the formula. Square Enix’s Bravely Default was classically nostalgic with a few modern twists. I can’t deny, however, the fact that after a while I found myself falling into the same pattern with every enemy encounter. Brave, brave, brave for all characters and sure enough all enemies would be wiped out. The pattern switched a bit during a boss battle, but they had their own set pattern. Therefore, the gameplay did begin to fall short.

Even in the Pokemon games, a series I will always love, I find myself slowly becoming almost numb to the turn based antics. I’m not saying Pokemon has bad gameplay. In fact, I thought Pokemon X and Pokemon Y did a fantastic job updating their game both graphically and battle animation wise. But once the euphoria did wear off, I did find myself sticking to my normal set of moves with my standard Pokemon team. By the time I was up against the Elite Four I essentially knew exactly what I was going to choose, and pretty much every Pokemon went down after one hit. In the end, I spent more time breeding Pokemon versus actually fighting them. Because, let’s face it, with only four attacks per Pokemon, things can get a bit boring. However, that is not going to bar me from purchasing Pokemon Ruby or Pokemon Sapphire this coming fall.

Hell, even after my guilty pleasure confession about Final Fantasy X-2, I’m beginning to grow bored. As much as I love the story, each and every battle is basically me pressing the X button. Yuna, Rikku and Paine are so leveled up no matter what dress sphere they wear that I never have to go into the actual menu and decide on attacks. And because I don’t have to, I just don’t. Thus a lot of the fun has even been sucked out of one of my favorite games.

But truthfully, aside from the few and far between, most RPGs including my beloved Japanese ones, are deviating from turn based. Even Square Enix’s upcoming Final Fantasy XV is ditching the formula that essentially made their games. Instead, it will play much more like my favorite series Kingdom Hearts. Game companies are seeing the lack of enthusiasm towards most turn based games, and trying to focus on a more action oriented gameplay.

For so long turn based games dominated RPGs. They went hand in hand. Gamers couldn’t even hear RPG without at least picturing some type of turn based combat. In fact, I heard that all too many times from customers when they walked into my store. That is until I showed them Tales or even Ar Tonelico, which used to be all turn based up until it’s last game.

But while I highly doubt turn based games will ever truly be a thing of the past, I do believe that games sticking to that gameplay will continue to deplete.



About Emily Horton

Emily is just your average twenty something girl who discovered her love for gaming at the age of three or four, all thanks to her older brothers. Mario, The Lion King, Aladdin, Zelda were her first loves, but Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Tales, and pretty much all Japanese games eventually fell into that category. She has an unhealthy obsession with Pikachu, hoodies, her 3DS, t-shirts, plushies, and purses. She may also fancy herself as an excellent lawyer due to number of times she has played through the Ace Attorney series. Outside of videogames, she is a Disney, Harry Potter, and Tolkien fanatic, while also recently discovering that she is now a hardcore fan of Supernatural thanks to Netflix allowing her to watch eight seasons rapid fire. She has elvish writing, the Deathly Hallows, a rather large Tinkerbelle and a large Yuna from Final Fantasy X all tattooed on her body, with only more geeky stuff to be added. Currently working on her own fantasy novel, she hopes to publish it eventually once all the kinks are worked out.

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