RM Skill: Beginner
What do you think of one-on-one battles in certain situations in turn-based RPGs? I usually get the feeling that they are taboo, since there is a severe lack of options, and battles are hindered as a result. Obviously, if the whole game is one-on-one, it isn't going to be very good, but for certain situations, do you think one-on-one battles are justified if they're under the right context? For example, in a game story I have, the final battle is one-on-one. In a lot of stories (like in film, not just games), a one-on-one final battle is the only way to go. Think about the final battle in Return of the Jedi.
Would it have been the same if Han Solo or Lando had been by Luke's side fighting Darth Vader? Of course it wouldn't, it would downplay the significance of Luke's lone triumph over Vader, his triumph over the dark side of the Force.
So it ultimately comes down to sacrificing game design for better story telling. How should one-on-one turn-based RPGs battles be balanced? Are there any examples? Thoughts?
This post has been edited by CWCprime: Feb 16 2012, 09:26 PM
In my last project, the player only has one hero throughout most of the game. That design decision was based on the story (The Epic of Gilgamesh) for which the plot is based. To make battles not too stupidly boring, I built my system around the main character, so that most of the game's strategy comes from finding and setting up his equipment, skills, etc. I also added elemental strengths and weaknesses to every enemy, so figuring out and remembering which skills work against which enemies is key to battle. Practically, this means most battles in my game end quickly, in or against your favor depending on how well prepared the character is.
In RPGs where one-on-one is a rarity, it is usually part of the narrative, so the player has no time to setup the character and the battle is usually rigged so the player can't lose. I think the final battle between Cloud and Sephiroth in FF7 works well from a story standpoint because the plot is built around their feud, and making the player have to press buttons to finish him off and giving the illusion that Cloud lose use rather than just showing a cutscene with Cloud stabbing Sephiroth is a little more satisfying, but the battle itself cannot be described as fun.
If you're trying to make one-on-one battles interesting, I'd say give the player a chance to setup their character before the battle. I guess that doesn't make battle itself interesting, but it gives the player control over more variables that will affect the outcome of the match beyond how quickly they can alternate between mashing attack and heal.
Another idea: you could incorporate mini-games/quicktime events in one-on-one battles. In God of War (I know it's not an RPG), once you weaken an enemy you have to grab it by press circle and then the game gives you timed button commands you have to press to finish the enemy off. If you hit the wrong button or don't hit the right one fast enough, the enemy gets an attack in on you. Not the most exciting thing in the world, but it adds the factor of reflexes to keep players on their toes.