Unbeatable battles, yay or nay?

What is your opinion of unbeatable battles?

  • I think they are exciting

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I do not like them

    Votes: 0 0.0%

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Canini

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You know the deal, suddenly the arch-villain or one of his lieutenants swoops down as early as the second town and beats you to within an inch of your life(but not kill you, for some reason or another). A way to show though gameplay how strong the villain is or cheap way to create drama? What is your opinion?
 
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Niten Ichi Ryu

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Cheap way to create drama. That's the kind if trope popular in anime, pushes the heroes to a goal they should beat. But in game I don't like that. If the villain is that strong, why are we spared?
 

Chaneque

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It's a bit of a cliché, but heck, it's one of the clichés I really like! As long as it's done for a good reason and not just because, I think it can be fun. Though there's nothing worse than a battle you can't tell is unbeatable, or if you've just somehow missed a LOT of grinding (this has happened to me far too many times, unfortunately). If it's unbeatable, then make it obvious, and finish it fast, because it sucks just sitting and waiting a long time to inevitably die.
 

Pine Towers

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There's a few ways of doing this.

  • Is the boss stats the same as the end-game-real-fight one? Can the players access this info? This should be a good way of foreshadowing how strong the characters should be before facing him again, giving a "hell yeah, finally my stats are ok to face that f* from the beginning of my adventure".
  • I really don't like the "you shall survive this time so you can grow stronger and kill me" kind of trope for villains. But there is a few ways of "fixing it":

    The Bridge of Khazad-Dum ("You Shall Not Pass!"): If the party have a mentor-that-serves-as-tutorial-teacher, be this tutorial-thingy about gameplay and/or lore of the world, he can be stronger than the party members and sacrifice himself to save everyone. In this scenario it would be nice to allow the player to control such mentor during the battle, showing how strong comparatively to the characters he is, and how even so he was defeated by the boss.
  • The Candlekeep Ambush ("Listen carefully. If we should ever become separated, it is imperative that you make your way to the Friendly Arm Inn. There, you will meet Khalid and Jaheira. They have long been my friends, and you can trust them"): The same as the above, but instead of allowing the player to control the mentor, it plays as a cutscene.
  • The Faux-Battle: Either have the battle-and-defeat play as a dream from an oracle-type character, allowing the player to retrace that part to avoid the obvious defeat, or let the boss kill everyone and the real characters are instead their children seeking revenge.
 

Dalph

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Depends about how it's implemented, most of the best J-RPGs actually do this very well (Geosgaeno in FFX, Neclord in Suikoden 2, Lynx in Chrono Cross, Weltall-ID and Alpha Weltall in Xenogears, Lloyd in Legend of Dragon, Garr & Balio and Sunder in Breath of Fire 3, Gadwin in Grandia, the Dream Man in Jade Cocoon, and many in Star Ocean 2).


I can go on forever here but what I'm saying is that it's a matter of how you do it.
 

BigToastie

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Its like others have said its how it's done, and why it's done.


Don't drag them out, I don't want to play a fight for an age just to lose a fight that's inevitable.


Give a just reason to why you survived since he kicks your butt, not "oh i thought I'd spare you so you could come back later and kill me" - perhaps a strong ally appears to fend him off after the battle, he actually thought you were dead but you were just critically wounded and were brought back to good health etc.
 

Ms Littlefish

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I think it can work if you're fighting, and then some aspect of the story interrupts it. Maybe the planet is destructing, a la Force Awakens and everyone needs to escape. You, know that sort of thing. Not, "I could turn you into paste but for some reason I'm not." Also, I kind of hate it when unbeatable battles get dragged out, especially if I wind up believing it's a perfectly normal boss fight and end up try-harding it, just to find out three attempts later it's unbeatable. 
 

bgillisp

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I actually had one of these battles in my game, where the villain shows up and mops the floor with you, then as he is about to finish you off, a dragon interrupts him and he is forced to retreat. And, thankfully the dragon is friendly, so the group survives. Ended up pulling it though as I didn't want to reveal the villain too soon in my game, but something where the villain is interrupted as he/she is about to finish off the party could work well I think.
 

taarna23

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As others have said - if done right, I feel it can work. It can also give a glimpse into your enemy's strengths and weaknesses, if you want it to. "Gee, that guy used a lot of fire spells... if I see him again, maybe I should smack him with something ice, if I have anything by then."
 

Matt Mats

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I think it really depends on the story/characters.


It can be very heart touching to lose against a powerful villain in the beginning, but to keep fighting and dont give up and so beat the villain in the end.


But it can be very annoying, too.


When it is a point in the game, where you don't know, that you have to lose the fight, so that the story can go on, you might waste all your items in this fight and hate the game after you found out, that you had to lose, for not telling you.


So you have to be really careful there, it can help to develop your story, but it can also annoy the player and make him shut down your game and never touch it again ^__^
 

atasuke10

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This topic made me rework an unbeatable battle in my game according to peoples feedback.
Yay for it btw, depending on how it is executed, it can give the player a good amount of despair and motivation :p
 

Danteus

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Reading this I came up with a neat idea for a reason this could happen and at the same time really set the main villain up as someone you really want to kill off. Perhaps there is a prophesy that one of the starter members in your group is destined to stop them and they arrive to kill them and the rest of the party is left alive because the villain does not consider them a real threat to him. I also realized while writing this post that this is more or less Aeris from Final Fantasy VII, but still makes a good excuse if you feel the need to use this troupe.
 

Niten Ichi Ryu

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Still that's an overused trope. A real effective vilain should kill any threat. And do it himself. Letting goons do the job or jailing them after defeat is imho a bit ridiculous.


If you want to make the vilain hatable, just make him a dog kicker, that's also a classic trope.


in FF7, you don't hate Sephiroth cause he dismissed you, you hate him for what he did in the past and who he killed. An unbeatable battle where you survive is like Auric Goldfinger capturing bond, then leaving him to die unguarded from a devious mechanism.


Dr. Evil: Scott, I want you to meet daddy's nemesis, Austin Powers
Scott Evil: What? Are you feeding him? Why don't you just kill him?
Dr. Evil: I have an even better idea. I'm going to place him in an easily escapable situation involving an overly elaborate and exotic death.


Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
 [guard starts dipping mechanism]
Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!
Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You
 
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Canini

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I am surprised by the poll results, I had actually anticipated to be the other way around. 


As for my own opinion, I really like the idea on a theoretical level since it uses the gameplay for story purposes. But as Niten Ichi Ryu says, it has been used so often that it is a bit of a cliche at this point. Here are my suggestions on how it can be used efficiently:


1 If the game has a new game+ perhaps the heroes can manage the battle and it changes the storyline in some way to enhance replay value.


2 The player can, if sufficently familiar with the battle system, find some way to manage the battle and be rewarded in some way.
 

Frozen_Phoenix

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If you want to avoid frustration, make it obvious that the battle is unwinnable. You can also troll the player by making it seem winnable by giving the boss balanced damage/defense, but giving him endless hp so the player wastes all resources in the battle and then is forced to reload or keep playing without all the potions and other consumables he had.
 

Kes

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To be honest, if I think that a dev has been deliberately trolling me as the player, then that is a guaranteed stop play, and if there is somewhere to put a negative review of that point, then I will.  I think it's a sure-fire way of getting yourself a bad reputation.
 

RydiaMist

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I'm really not a fan of these types of battles at all if they are absolutely unwinnable. I feel that if the player is taken to a battle in which they are in control, they should be able to win the battle in some sense, even if it requires massive grinding or absolute mastery of the battle system to do so. I also feel that if they win it should be acknowledged that they did in some form, be it a special item or just the cutscene after the battle changing a bit.


I have two instances that call for the characters to be defeated in the story in my own game. In the first, the story requires that the party be knocked out and captured, and there is a battle to facilitate that. If you just rush to the story events you'll probably be nearly one shotted, but if you take the time to do the available sidequests in order to get exp and equipment, you can win the battle. Doing so nets you a special item and a good chunk of exp (if you lose you get a not as good consolation prize later, and the good item is otherwise available later in the game). If you lose the fight, the party is unconscious on the ground when you return to the map and the scene proceeds. If you win, the villain is forced to use a special attack in the cutscene (my game is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, so the trope is acknowledged). The attack they use is actually a hint at a later plot point involving their character, so it's a bit of a bonus there too. After that, the scene proceeds in the same way with only minor alterations to the text.


The second battle, the boss doesn't even attack, and after a bit a cutscene ends the battle. If you deal enough damage to the boss before the cutscene triggers, you get some extra dialogue.


I feel that at least adding little touches to these encounters that allow the player some sort of "victory" makes them much easier to swallow. I know that as a player myself, battles where you simply cannot do anything except die horribly (especially the ones that would be easily winnable except for the fact that the boss has infinite HP... I am looking at you, Tiga...) really put a sour taste in my mouth. I'm more lenient if they occur near the beginning of the game, but if they happen at a point where I have spent significant time learning the game and building up my characters it really just feels like a slap in the face to me as a player. If you just want a sequence where the villain absolutely crushes the party and want to give no concessions, I'd much rather just have it happen in a cutscene that is out of the player's control.
 
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LaFlibuste

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What I hate most about these battles in the consistency in regards to storyline and character development. Usually, said character that is supposed to be overly strong will use incredibly overpowered skills that could wipeout kingdoms. Then, later on when you are supposed to beat, that skill is gone from his repertoire. Did he lose his sword of Ultimate Armageddon at poker? Hit his head on a post and forgot about it? Who knows, but he sure won't have the same stats and abilities. It's like it's not even the same opponent, yet it's supposed to be the same guy.

Personally, if I wanted to have such an unwinnable drama-battle thing, I think I'd go about it in a cutscene. Much less messy and frustration-prone.
 
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One idea I think might be interesting is making the unwinnable fights winnable to some extent. 

  • Maybe you only have to survive a specific number of turns (before reinforcements arrive or whatever)
  • Maybe the fight ends if you do a certain % of damage, i.e. took the boss by surprise because he had underestimated you (giving room to escape or stuffs)
  • A hard fight that you can win but it turns out the boss wasn't even serious or he has friends nearby who come to help resulting in the same effect as losing but netting you the fancy broach holding his cape on as a reward...

Suikoden 1 did something like this against the ant queen, her ants would just keep coming back every turn with her in back out of range, after a few turns the battle ends with the characters explaining how the fight is getting nowhere fast then cue scene.


Suikoden 5 also had a early fight that you could win but the story continued even if you lost.


I do agree with what's being said here about having a logical reason as to why the boss lets you live (timely interruption, bridge/floor breaking, jumping into a stream, revived by skilled medics because the blow just missed the heart, all at once, etc.)
 

Pierman Walter

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There are some optional unbeatable boss battles in my game, but all of them end when the super entity you are fighting gets bored and leaves by itself. The only way you get into this situation is to continuously attack the entity, who honestly doesn't really care about you and isn't doing anything harmful. Sometimes the super entity forces you into an endless battle, reviving you when you die, out of pure annoyance at having been summoned by those idiots again. Sometimes it closes the screen into an endless loop that you can't escape from, then follows you around in circles, insulting your mother and taste in clothing. Point is, I have grown tired of the "I'm so strong and evil. I have killed countless foes, but I'm still going to let you live. Even as you grow strong, I will still let you live. I am stupid and also dead." type of character and only enjoy unbeatable battles when they do something else. 
 

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