By the way, I post reviews of RPGs I play at my review wiki: http://jmgreviews.wikidot.com/
Newer Games I'm Currently Playing:
Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard - This is an old-school-style first-person dungeon-crawler, where you use the Nintendo DS's touch screen to map dungeons yourself. It's a decent system, and you get to keep your maps even when you die. One of my main annoyances with RPGs, though, is the way they handle death, since most of the time, if you die, too bad, you're screwed, and lose all your hard-earned progress. And this is one of those games where you'll die *a lot*. It's even harder than the first game, which I actually didn't think was all that hard, save for the post-game quests (which I'm currently working on in this sequel). For those of us who grew up on arcade games (and I'll admit that I didn't play them that quickly), if you die, you can put in another quarter to continue. One RPG series that I think handles death decently is Dragon Quest, where if you die, you lose half your money but still revive at a church, a penalty that can actually be somewhat nullified by putting your money into banks. Another RPG that handles death decently is Mana-Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, where if you die in a normal battle, you revive at your school's infirmary with no penalty, but if you die in a story or boss battle, you get a Game Over, which actually isn't all that bad since they usually follow save points, and you won't want to waste your best items only to not have them if you retry the boss. Sometimes, games should give us a choice whether we want to continue after a death by paying money, although I think another good penalty for death is if we pay all experience characters gained to the next level to avoid a Game Over. Apologists for lousy design may say that games being nice to us when we die would make them easier, but I say they would just make them less annoying.
But right now I'm mostly going back through older games:
Dark Cloud - I think this is an alright action RPG, although I hate how in most action games, the camera stays *way* too close to the character. I'm not particularly fond of 3-D action games, given camera issues, especially when you're close to walls or fighting multiple enemies. Give us the option to zoom out a good distance, or have 2-D gameplay with 3-D graphics, which I would prefer. The simulation aspect is also decent, although it's somewhat difficult to complete certain objectives (rebuilding towns in a certain way) without using a guide, which is also another one of my complaints with RPGs, not being able to get everything without using a guide. That weapons can break after a certain amount of use (although you can repair them with certain items) is sure to be any obsessive-compulsive person's nightmare, and sometimes, we just like to reset if crap like weapon breakage happens.
SaGa Frontier - I'm on the seventh of the seven quests available in this game, and I really don't see how it's humanely possible to make it through any of the quests without using a guide and acquiring a certain special ability for each character that's *the* difference between victory and defeat (and final bosses tend to have about 100,000 HP, and normal skills and attacks at best only do at most 1,000 damage or less, although the Deluxe Super Combo (DSC), the aforementioned special skill, can do up to 10,000 damage, although it can do significantly less if the player is unlucky. Again, it's also somewhat difficult to play without a guide, and the points of no return, where you can't back out of certain areas to do sidequests/level up/shop for new equipment and so forth are nothing short of annoying, also one of my major complaints with RPGs. Randomization is also another one of my major beefs with RPGs, since in this game, unlocking more powerful skills by using lower-level skills involves a heavy degree of randomization, and even if we use certain skills over and over, our chances of getting those more powerful skills *don't* get any better. I think, that in addition to the low-probability factor of getting those upper level skills (and "rare" items), games should have some sort of counter. If, after a certain number of enemy kills/skill use, we still haven't gotten that rare item or skill, then *give it to us*. I do like, though, how this game lets you save anywhere, although it can screw you in the points of no return, and thus force you to make separate save files.
Wild ARMs Alter Code F - This is an enhanced remake of the original Wild ARMs, which feels like a completely different game despite having the same general spirit/story of the original, not that that's a bad thing, as remakes should feel like a different game, to justify us spending money on a remake. But there are still a number of issues. For one, I'm not particularly fond of the "input all your characters' commands and let them and the enemy beat each other up for a round" mode of turn-based combat, given limited interaction and the absolute lack of a turn order meter present in other games such as Final Fantasy X. One of my major irritations with this setup is the ability to waste healing items, if, for instance, you're trying to heal a character with low HP, but the enemy kills that character, and thus, the healing is wasted. This is an even bigger annoyance in this game since enemies don't decide their commands until they reach their turns, so if you revive a character, the enemy can re-kill that character in the same round. I know characters and enemies supposedly take their turns depending on speed, but it would be nice if healing got the first priority, as I would think it to be fairer for both the player and the enemy. Also, I should mention that the remake is much harder than the original, and one particular boss fight left me wondering, "I'm supposed to *win* this fight? You've gotta be kidding me!" Luckily, the game is somewhat nice to you when you die, since you can use Gimel Coins to restart lost battles (and use them outside of battle to save anywhere, although it would have been *really* nice if the game gave us some sort of warning as to when going through a door led to a boss battle, so we can plan and save beforehand). And if you win a battle in which you use a Gimel Coin, you don't get any experience at all for your characters, which can be a problem since bosses are the main source of experience and leveling, and leveling by fighting weaker enemies takes a *long* time. I also hate how they let you skip FMVs but *not* pause them, which caused me to miss some important cutscenes. And games by the way should *always* let you pause *anywhere*, since sometimes, we may need to answer the phone or doorbell or have bathroom breaks, and it can be annoying if dialogue in cutscenes automatically advances like in FMVs. I'm also not particularly fond of puzzles, especially if they take forever to solve without using a guide and generally make us feel stupid. But the game certainly isn't without its redeeming aspects, such as a nice western-style soundtrack and good graphics.
So in general, there are many games I *really* want to like, but there are just so many trivial things wrong with them that ruin my experience. I've heard it's mostly Japanese RPGs that make said decision designs in games, and it's just annoying that *recent* games pull that crap. But there are just dozens of ways in which RPGs could be *so* much better and more user-friendly. Do any of you have seemingly trivial annoyances with games, particularly RPGs, if you play them?