As RPGs evolved over the years, Developers started looking for ways to keep the genre fresh. By developing different systems for party members to progress, it brought out a more way to get involved in customizing your team. Here are some of the systems that I found most interesting.
Grow Book – Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis
Mana Khemia follows the life of Vayne Aurelius, as he learns the ways of alchemy at Al-Revis Academy. Throughout the game, you are synthesizing many different items with many different uses. There is one thing that every item has in common, though. They are all added to your Grow Book. Every time you make an item, it is registered in this book, and unlocks skills and stat increases that are available for purchase.
I find this system interesting because it replaces the standard experience-based levelling system, typically used in RPGs. It also acts as a rewards system for finding all the ingredients making as many items as you can.
Diving – Ar tonelico series
In the Ar Tonelico games, your main character is paired with a woman, known as a Reyvateil. These women are able to craft song magic to aid you in battle. In order to craft new song magic, your hero must use a Dive system. This allows you to go deep inside a Reyvateil’s mind. In doing so, you are delving deeper and deeper, learning more and more intimate details about them, including their darkest fears, desires, and so on.
The dive system makes for a really interesting system, primarily from a character standpoint. The writers were forced to really flesh out their characters in order for it to be a success, and they did a superb job in doing so. It’s also amusing because the nature of diving is a metaphor for intimacy, and therefore laced with innuendo.
Magicite – Final Fantasy VI
When an Esper dies, it leaves its essence behind in the form of Magicite. When held, one is able to summon that Esper, as well as learn its magic over time. While this is a fairly simple concept, there is one other feature about Magicite that makes it more interesting.
When a character levels, certain Magicite can provide a permanent stat increase. For players looking to break characters, this is the way to do it. The last time I played this, Sabin held on to a single Magicite the whole game, which kept increasing his strength stat every level, making him deal max damage very quickly, even when using the Genji Glove and swinging with his off hand. For people who enjoy a numbers game, this is it.
Deck Building – Baten Kaitos: Eternal Wings and the Lost Ocean
While this is a bit of a stretch, it really is a skill building system. The combat in Baten Kaitos is based on building a deck full of weapons, armor, and other healing items. Skills are used based on chaining cards. Since there is a huge focus on this, improving your deck is the key to being stronger. Adding stronger weapon cards increases your attack, while armor cards increase your defenses while defending. It’s a matter of balancing your deck to make sure you are prepared for any situation.
Karma system – Shin Megami Tensei – Digital Devil Saga 2
The Karma system allows Serph and his friends the ability to increase their demonic powers throughout the game. Each character has a hex-based grid of skills that they can learn by spending Karma points.
There are two things I really enjoy about these. The first being the fact that this system makes each character fully customizable. You can focus whoever you want on whatever you want.
The other thing is the special nodes. Different things happen when you fill out all the hexes around a special node, from stat increases, to items. The nice thing about this is that one person does not have to cover all 6. It is revealed once at least one person goes around all the spaces. it adds a team dynamic to an individual progression system. and I like that.