A Game Sin That Needs To Die: Small Text

Currently I’m playing the JRPG, Ni No Kuni 2 and even though I’m enjoying it, I’m getting very annoyed with its text. It sounds absurd to be that frustrated by text but when it takes away from my experience, there is an issue. I don’t like to give games a point based review on my blog. But if I were to give Ni No Kuni 2 a number out of 10, I’d probably deduct 0.5 from its final score just because of the text. It’s that bad! Here’s an example for you kind reader:

What is that?! Even on my 40 inch TV I struggle to read it. My vision as far as I’m aware is 20/20. I’ve never had any issues with reading things at a distance but with this game I really struggle. You have all that lovely space to use up on screen, whoever made this choice. I understand that you don’t want to clutter the screen because the game looks amazing but I want to read what characters say. I wouldn’t mind so much if each bit of dialogue is voiced but it isn’t. These dialogue boxes aren’t voiced in the dungeons. Not only that but they are frequent. So far they aren’t necessary for the game but they provide nice character interactions and help to fill out the personalities of these people. I want to learn this stuff, I shouldn’t be torn between focusing on where I’m going and reading banter. This is especially annoying if in the middle of combat or trying to do a stealth section. Which brings me to my next point and problem. Here is a GIF from the first stealth section of the game:

I apologise for the blurry text. First time creating one so I might be able to find a clearer source in the future. But! You don’t need to be able to read that text. I just want you to see the problem. The text prompts require super fast reading skills. I haven’t sped that up or slowed it down, that is the default speed. Now as you can imagine, at this point you are trying not to get noticed so you are extra vigilant. A text pop up happens and obviously you want to read it because it could be important and or informative. Your attention is needed to avoid the guards so you do the classic move. Eyes up, eyes down, eyes up, eyes down. You get snippets of text and then check your movements are on point and then back down for more text. On your 3rd attempt at this however, the text disappears. Information is lost forever. I shouldn’t have to be The Flash of reading! It’s a JRPG! These games are notorious for their game length. It’s not like they’re rushed for time so how about extending that to the dialogue boxes.

90% of these won’t be important, I’m aware of that. I should have the ability to experience it thought if I want to. What the characters are talking about though is key to creating this universe it’s set in. It could be Roland’s thoughts on this new world that he finds himself in. That connection between him and me experiencing this world for the first time is vital in my opinion. He is my eyes and voice. Young Evan has just lost his father recently in the game’s timeline. He could be scared of this adventure he is setting out on but longs to be a strong leader like his father. I may miss that dialogue because of the fast and small text if he says it whilst in a dungeon. It doesn’t matter what he is saying, it could be his favourite Monster Munch flavour for all I care! The point is, those words, no matter what they are, flesh out this world and it’s inhabitants. To really delve into the universe, filler text is important. Bioshock got it right with its audio logs. You don’t need to read the subtitles as you have the audio but at least you have the choice. Rapture’s past is brought to life by those recordings. It’s just a shame that something so easy to fix in games, tends to be ignored or unnoticed. An option to change text size shouldn’t be difficult to implement. I’ve not even mentioned people whose sight is worse than mine. Everyone is different and the more options we have in games for different people, the better.

Hopefully you enjoyed my whinge and let me know if you’ve experienced similar to this. Side question, what’s your favourite Monster Munch flavour? I’m a beef guy myself. Cheers for reading!

Rare Items In JRPG’s Dilemma

We’ve all done it. 80 hours into a JRPG and we have 8 Max Potions and 5 Max Ethers. Too rare to spend on a run of the mill enemy or boss encounter. No no no no, these are only fit for end game conflicts. That’s when the real challenge begins. Oh wait, there’s the credits? Oh……OK.

Like greedy squirrels we hoard our saving graces for THOSE fights. Usually at the end of the game or a steep difficulty boss encounter that separates the boys from the men. But how do you know when it’s the end of the game? A lot of the time I find the final boss creeps up quicker than previously perceived. You go through 77 hours of gameplay and then the last 3 hours are the boss build up. But in that build up there will be only several real challenges. Not only that, but there’s always that doubt in the back of the mind. You know the one. ‘What if the alleged final boss, isn’t the final boss? What if there’s something else pulling the strings and there’s another 20 hours left?’. I’ve had that happen in Person 4, to get the true ending it adds another 10 or so hours to the game. That seed of doubt is planted and forever remains.

So how would you feel about a cheeky heads up? Maybe not mandatory. However, what if at the start of the game you get the option to enable a notification of item usage? Perhaps a notification equal to the elite recovery item of the game. In FFX for example, the big restorative item is the Megaelixir. This wonderful item fully restores all the parties HP and MP. It’s a very rare item. On my first playthrough I finished with 4 leftover. Which is a shame because I scraped by on a few fights and 1 of those would have given easy victory. The Witcher 3 has a moment where you get a pop up telling you that you are entering the final stretch of the game. Which is very handy but The Witcher 3 doesn’t have super rare one use items like the Megaelixir, as far as I can recall, so that’s why I’m using JRPG’s as the focus. If you could enable a prompt that would alert you to the upcoming final uses for THE restorative item, would you use it? Say it informed you based on double the amount of THAT one item. You have 3 Megaelixir’s so you get notified before the final 6 boss fights. Then you have ample opportunity to use it if you so wish.

max elixir
Finding one of these is like that moment when you put on an old jacket and find £5 in the pocket.

Obviously the pros are that you get a heads up so you can go hog wild on your best items. The downside is more immersion based. Not only does a prompt take you out of the game world, but also it informs you of how much of the game you have left. As I said earlier, sometimes there is a big bad behind the big bad. That is a nice surprise when it happens. However, if you’ve just used all your items on the fake big bad, it could be infuriating for some. Or when you beat a boss and after a cutscene it evolves into a harder opponent. There’re ups and downs to this idea but a choice is always welcome. The thrill of using that item you got dozens of hours ago to take down that final boss is a very satisfying feeling. But when a game suddenly end, those items are a lost opportunity. Yes, you beat the game without them but THAT item yield’s so much power and gravitas that it’s a waste when they’re not used.

Anyway, let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments or regale me with super item woes. Thanks for reading.