My Concise List of RPG Cliches

It's a list of the 30 most commonly recurring cliches in CRPGs. It applies to most CRPGs I've come across - most definitely every Final Fantasy game - and every one of these points is at least slightly ridiculous. And yet we still play these games..?

1. There is always an orphan who has a ridiculously strong sense of justice. Rather than thinking, ‘Why is the world so cruel in killing both my parents?’ their deaths seems to spur them on to fight evil.

2. Any character with a first name matters. Unimportant good guys are usually referred to as someone’s mother or friend. And yet good guys don’t need a last name; the only time a surname is used in relation to a hero is in the walkthrough.

3. Any royals are pretty much miserable. Princess Garnet is trying desperately to escape, and Vayne of Solidor is always plotting a ‘necessary war’ – his words, not mine.

4. Nobody ever locks their doors, despite any impending wars. You can walk into anybody’s home and take any of their possessions – even if they’re standing there, they will simply watch you steal their life’s savings. So if a building is locked, you can be certain that you will have to find a way in at some point; it will be crucial to the storyline or a side quest.

5. Stones are important. Whenever there is a pretty rock, it matters. Whether it’s the nethicite (which can somehow destroy everything despite its size) or the summoning stones, or rocks like the Falcon Claw that prove an important ancestry. So pick them up and don’t sell them! However, the summoning stones show up everywhere despite the rarity of actual summoners.

6. Everyone uses the same currency. No matter how many different regions or islands or nations the world has, they will all trade with the same money. Kinda beats the Euro, doesn’t it? Likewise, everyone uses the same language – except sometimes the random, nameless character that you don’t ever have to talk to if you don’t want to.

7. The main male protagonist fights with a sword. If he doesn’t, then he isn’t the main character – and so isn’t as important as he seems to think he is. Yet despite the fact that the main man is walking around all nonchalant with a massive great sword on his back, nobody cares! Nobody even notices.

8. Similarly, you can wander up to anybody and ask them about anything and it’s only if you’re alone that they get suspicious. If you’re part of a large group of weapon wielding people from all different races, that’s fine. But if you’re in the same race as them and all on your own, you are instantly untrustworthy. Go figure.

9. If you fight with a gun, hand bomb, bow and arrow or anything similar that would usually need reloading with ammo, it doesn’t matter. One quiver of arrows can last you through the whole game, no matter how many times you shoot them.

10. Siblings are a waste of time. Older brothers are working against you; younger sisters get kidnapped - and somehow it’s your problem either way. But if you’re an only child then it’s a safe bet that you’re an orphan.

11. Once you sell something, it’s gone. No matter how you got it, how rare/common it is or who you sold it to, you’re never going to see it again. Which is a little irritating once you later find out that you actually needed it, so you then have to go through a tedious process all over again just to acquire another one.

12. You never have to change clothes. Or shower, nicely enough. What’s even more pleasant is that nobody you meet is unkind/inconsiderate enough to say you smell and/or avoid you. Furthermore, you don’t need to eat or drink ever, but you can always have a Potion if you want.

13. You are selectively immobilised. Never mind how many ladders you climb or cliffs you abseil down, you can only walk on certain patches of grass. You can not climb over fences. You can not walk on a different coloured piece of ground. And you can not, God forbid, step off that curb. But don’t worry about jumping out of that hot air balloon/plane/helicopter, that’s fine.

14. The game always happens just in time. No matter which game it is, you will always begin playing just before the war begins or the comet hits or the prophecy is fulfilled. And yet you can stop off on as many side quests as you want; that doesn’t affect time at all.

15. If you don’t do it, nobody else will. Despite the fact that you are most likely playing as an inexperienced teenager, none of the older soldiers will even consider saving the world. It seems like you are the only one in the world with morals and the means to do anything about them.

16. Places that have been sealed for thousands of years are still perfectly fine. Any machinery will still work as well as they ever did (after a kick or jolt), and somehow there will be limitless monsters despite the lack of entry.

17. Cut scene sanctuary. No matter how many monsters are near you (and have just been decimating your group), you are never attacked during a cut scene. It just wouldn’t do to have an emotional speech ruined by a ruthless monster, now would it?

18. Nothing free is worthwhile. A free stay at an inn will be interrupted, a free weapon will be far below of the weapons you spent ages saving up for or you will not be able to equip it, a free item is probably useless. Unless you’ve been given it by some random just by talking to them; then it’s a useful (but usually widely available) item.

19. Good and evil is easy. Good people are pretty. Evil people are ugly. People who don’t care about their appearance are pretty, but the people in expensive clothes and lots of make up are pretty hideous. Rest assured that any pretty bad guys will either switch sides or be killed by one of their own – no doubt for being prettier than them.

20. It’s okay to be stupid. The hero will generally be uneducated, but they get away with it because someone in their group is a geek. Incidentally, nobody will ever notice that the hero is dumb, and nobody in your group cares that the hero takes credit for the geek’s knowledge. And yet your hero is clever enough to pilot any vehicle that takes your fancy.

21. But no matter how thick your hero is, the game tends to have a pretty convoluted storyline. Usually there will be at least one point in the game that no normal person could work out (think Draklor Laboratories bulkheads or Sochen Cave Palace waterfalls). A way to make gamers think, or just a plot to sell more walkthrough guides?

22. Nobody except innkeepers and shopkeepers ever goes to work (and said shops and inns never close). If they do, that’s when you know you’ll have something to do with their job. People tend to either sit in a pub and drink all day (but never get drunk unless their name is ‘Drunk Man’) or walk in the same pattern repeatedly, waiting for you to talk to them.

23. Your friends are all just as heroic as you are. And yet they’ll be perfectly happy letting you die while they watch the battle from, erm, where? It doesn’t matter how close you get to dying, they won’t intervene. And yet if your current party dies, so do your inactive party - unless they just decide to swap sides, perhaps?

24. No matter how much you sleep, you can always sleep more. You can visit the inn as often as you like, and every time your people will sleep peacefully through the night – unless there’s an important plot point that requires them waking up at midnight, of course.

25. Anything that happens during combat can be healed. If your people die, that’s fine. If they’re poisoned, that’s okay too. If they’re stopped, that’s just dandy. But if they die outside of battle, nobody even tries to use a Phoenix Down on them (possibly because the hero is a halfwit, as previously mentioned?).

26. Bad guys are trustworthy. If they swap to your side, everyone in your party instantly has immeasurable faith in them, and this always pays off. If a good guy doesn’t trust a converted bad guy, that’s probably because they themselves are secretly evil and/or in love with said converted person.

27. If you can kill a bad guy, he wasn’t really evil. Similarly, if you think you’ve killed a truly bad guy, he’ll usually go into a special mode (think Kuja and Seymour) and you’ll have to fight him four or five more times before he gives up. No matter how many comets you lob at him or how many times you shoot him in the head, might I add.

28. You can carry up to 99 of any item. You can’t carry any more, because lugging 100 Potions around would look ridiculous, but 99’s fine. But even 99 of every single item will never make your bag overflow or your pockets split. And even if you have nowhere to put any of these items (where exactly in her bikini and miniskirt does Rikku keep things?) you can still carry up to 99 of everything you can possibly buy.

29. Towns and cities are havens. No matter how many monsters were right on your tail as you sprint through the main gate, they’ll never follow you. Even if they like eating people, they never venture into the most populated places on the map.

30. If a bridge/gate/boat/airship is broken, you will have to fix it to progress. Whether this means finding the person whose job it is to maintain whatever it is, or finding the rare item that will sort everything out, the responsibility always falls to you for some untold reason (again this is despite the fact that you are probably aged 15 to 17).