One of my favorite feelings in an RPG or JRPG is knowing that I’ve acquired the undisputed best weapon in a game for my character(s). With the pinnacle of weapons equipped, it’s impossible to not feel a sense of power and accomplishment.
It dawned on me after clearing Xenoblade Chronicles that, while it was an amazing game, it lacked true ultimate weapons, and thus this fond feeling. The game’s complex affinity/questing system seems like an obvious way to give these weapons to the player. Or by tackling the insanely strong (and optional) end-game unique enemies. Rather, the best weapons (excluding the Monado of course) are dropped by enemies encountered in random battles by the end of the main scenario. While convenient, this system left me wanting more.
My slight disappointment regarding Xenoblade (though it’s still an amazing game) got me thinking about games that did a great job handing the exchange of ultimate weapons to the player. I’ve come up with a list of attributes that I look for in both the weapon, and the exchange itself.
First let’s talk about what I expect from an ultimate weapon:
- Statistics superior to any other weapon (duh). Bonus points for unique abilities or effects that further launch it into the stratosphere of awesomeness. (e.x: Chrono Trigger’s Rainbow Sword, which not only has the highest attack value of any katana but a 70% critical chance to boot)
- It has to look good. The bigger, more ornate or dangerous looking the better. This was a challenge for older games, but certainly a must with today’s generation of games.
- The name should make an impact or, better yet, a legacy. (e.x: Save the Queen, from the Final Fantasy series, which is always wielded by especially honorable individuals)
Now let’s talk about the journey, or acquiring the weapon:
- The weapon is threaded into the game’s story. It’s reputation should greatly precede it by the time the player finally acquires it. (e.x: Legend of Dragoon’s Dragon Buster — it can kill dragons in one blow… Yeah, that could come in handy).
- It’s part of an epic sidequest. The sidequest may pertain to the character to which the weapon will belong to. This is a good opportunity for bonus character development!
- If dropped by an enemy, it should be INSANELY rare. You should tear our some hair trying to get it, then put that hair into freshly poured champagne when you finally get it. (e.x: the Goo King Sword from Breath of Fire III. I still never got that sword…)
- A REAL challenge. Dodge 200 lightning bolts? Beat the game in under 12 hours? Hey, if you’ve already beaten the game but can’t put it down, what else are you gonna do?
Most of the examples I came up with are from at least a generation ago, huh? I do feel like this tradition is appearing less frequently with modern games. And yet, looking back on this list I can see just how many ways ultimate weapons accent a game. They can provide a challenge to completionists, incentive for optional character development, and they can even become an icon of a series.
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