Equipment Patterns

In many games there’s a pattern to how the game expects you to buy equipment.  Obviously, equipment is mostly just shifting around stats, but how you buy it, and how buying it changes the game is relevant.  For example, if a game requires you upgrade to the latest set of armor, you may end up having to grind for money.  If the game balances enemy difficulty on the latest set of armor, you may find yourself in a lot of danger until you can get the right set of equipment.  If the game uses status effects, you may have sets of armor that focus on reducing various status effects.

A cyberpunkish woman with guns behind her.

Phantasy Star II has a Dragon Quest like system for equipment. It encourages you to buy expensive weapons and then save money for armor.

Dragon Quest games tend to leave you with very little money to spend on items.  Dragon Quest IX is an exception to the rule, and actually tends to encourage you to dress according to the appearance of your character rather than the stats.  In the earlier games, the general rule was to buy the latest and most expensive weapon.  This would allow you to explore the most recent dungeon, and then that would allow you to find upgraded armor hidden in the dungeon or money to buy more equipment.  Accessories tended to be rare, and it was rare to shift your accessories around on characters.

Four horsemen versus the heroes.

This shows the SaGa like Final Fantasy II. You actually end up with your party members in the back row, so you can increase the damage of the person in the front row.

In SaGa games, you tend to worry about stat bonuses more than stats.  Since these may be invisible, you can end up with rather strange sets of equipment.  For example, some games allow you to carry multiple weapons, so you end up lugging three swords and a knife.  Since armor sometimes builds your speed, you may end up carrying shields to try to increase your stats, or wearing absolutely nothing to try to increase defense.  Since weapons break in some of the games, there tends to be special weapons saved back for serious fights.  The games also tend to discourage grinding in various ways, so you tend to gain money via finding it or other ways.

It's basically required to buy every item that is for sale in Golvellius.

In Final Fantasy games, there’s a pretty wide range of gameplay styles.  However, the games do tend to encourage upgrading your equipment at new towns.  Unlike Dragon Quest, you tend to get more accessories or armor that prevent or cause status effects.  A good example of this would be the Ribbon accessory.  If status effects weren’t important, then there definitely wouldn’t be an item that prevents all status effects.  In Final Fantasy V, you can find a wide range of equipment that applies status effects (like the cursed crown that blinds you or a knife with instant death) and that prevents status effects.  This means that you end up shifting around equipment fairly often.  In Final Fantasy II (which is much closer to a SaGa game,) the NES version has a limited inventory space.  This makes the typical equipment shifting much more annoying.

In Hoshi Wo Miru Hito, most of the weapons on sale here will make you weaker due to bad damage algorithms.

Why do equipment purchasing patterns matter?  Well, let’s say you’re playing a strange NES game.  NES games rarely have “you can’t wear this” style information, and they tend to simply have price and the weapon name.  Sometimes, armor is mixed in with weapons.  So, you end up guessing how you were supposed to shop in the game.  So you might buy the most expensive weapon, see who could use it, and then try to find the pattern for how the game worked.

Let’s look at Silva Saga.  Everyone can wear armor in the game, and there seems to be a pattern with weapons.  Projectile weapons tend to be equipment for the mages.  Spears tend to be weapons for your warriors, but they can also use some swords..  Your hero seems to favor swords.  This means that you can pretty quickly check prices, and know that the long spear is better than the adz for your soldier.  Some Gameboy games included posters of items to help people see stats for weapons.

  1. SolarBoyMatt’s avatar

    Hoshi wo Miru Hito doesn’t really have an equipment system to begin with if I remember. It just replaces a newly purchased weapon with whatever you had previously…

    I general though the one thing that always gets me when playing RPGs in Japanese is the equipment management. It’s always bad when there isn’t some way to compare new items to currently equipped ones.

  2. Rav’s avatar

    I tend to do a lot of save stating if that’s available. Mostly because I find the random “this hat isn’t a hat for _guys_” stuff to be annoying. Especially when the stat differences are incredibly minor.

    I always wonder if someone did a wrong byte or something in Hoshi. The stats are so terrible in the NES games. You literally are at the strongest weapon to get something that isn’t worse than punching the world to death.

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