Updated: Apr 9, 2018
This article originally appeared on Steam on the 23rd of June, 2017.
So let’s talk about the battle system! As you can see, it’s had quite the visual upgrade (I think Jerram has done a phenomenal job on the backgrounds, monsters, and UI), but there are numerous changes beyond the new coat of paint.
In the interest of transparency, please note that the in-game battles still have some graphical glitches that need to be sorted out. As such, I’ve taken pictures of the gameplay and edited out those issues. Despite the touch-up, the images below are an accurate representation of the battle system as it appears in-game (although small details are always subject to change).
When I first started designing the battle system, I knew that I wanted to have more abilities and commands at the player’s disposal. Where I ran into difficulty was establishing how to fit all of those commands into the UI without making things seem cluttered or un-intuitive. The 8-Bit Adventures 1 menu system had to go! Eventually, I decided on using icons instead, and ultimately the UI took its inspiration from Mother 3 – in a couple of ways.
Commands are issued by selecting icons in the top-left corner of the screen. It’s a simple, intuitive way for the player to select the actions they want to take. The other element inspired by Mother 3 is that you can see your characters sticking out from behind their respective status windows. The character that is standing up the highest indicates whose turn it currently is (in the case of the above screenshot, it is Warrior’s turn). However, unlike Mother 3, these character sprites have various poses to accompany each of their actions, which make battles look more dynamic.
Party Members and the Swap Command
Now, obviously there’s a lot to talk about here, so let’s start with the basics. The battle system was inspired by Final Fantasy X’s take on turn-based combat. There are 7 party members in total (3 returning, 4 brand new! More on them in the future), but only 3 can participate in battle at once. However, at any time, your characters can swap in and out of battle. So you *can* technically use all 7 playable characters in a single encounter, and this leads to a lot of new potential strategies.
Personal Skills and Personal Abilities
Particularly since characters now have several unique factors to take into account, beyond their stats. Not only does each character possess a plethora of special abilities/magic, but also two new mechanics – Personal Skills and Personal Abilities.
A Personal Skill is a special command unique to a particular character (it’s the second icon on the row), which allows them to perform a special action with no MP/AP cost. For example, Warrior’s Personal Skill is Shield Bash, which allows him to attempt to inflict the ‘Stun’ status on an enemy. If the Stun is successful, he then follows up with an attack. If it’s unsuccessful, though, then no damage is dealt and the turn is wasted. So it’s very much a risk/reward ability.
A Personal Ability is a passive ability, again unique to a specific character. For example, Warrior has a chance of counterattacking an enemy strike, while Thief gets a speed boost at the start of battle, often allowing her to get the first turn. They’re small additions which make every member of your party feel more distinct, and can feed into interesting strategies. For example, you could include Thief in your party so that she gets the first turn, and then immediately swap her out to allow a different character (perhaps a slower, heavy hitter) to take advantage of that speed boost.
Turn Order System
On that note, I should explain the new turn system. This is the major element inspired by Final Fantasy X, as each character and enemy now has their own separate turn. In 8-Bit Adventures 1, you would select commands for all of your characters and then watch everything play out, but you had no exact way of knowing who would act when.
Well, now you do! In 8-Bit Adventures 2, you issue commands to each character separately, and the list on the right side of the screen shows you the turn order – i.e. the sequence in which characters and enemies will act. So in the image above, it is currently Thief’s turn. After she’s done, the Clockwork Soldier enemy will have its turn, followed by Warrior, then Mage, then Thief again, etc. This also contributes to a deeper level of strategic gameplay, as you can more effectively plan ahead.
In addition to Personal Skills and Abilities, 8-Bit Adventures 2 also features a “Limit Break” mechanic titled Omega Burst. Now, if you’re an RPG veteran, you generally know what this entails – each character has a special, ultimate ability which can be used once a bar fills up. The bar is filled up by the player both dishing out and receiving damage. However, Omega Bursts have one unique difference. Rather than each character having their own unique energy bar to fill up, there is a single bar for the entire party. Once it is filled up, every character has the option to use their Omega Burst; but once a character uses it, the bar is completely emptied.
I decided to take this approach due to my past experience with other RPGs that implement this mechanic. Sometimes in a game like Final Fantasy VII, the character who’s Limit Break I’d want to use wouldn’t get their bar filled in time, while the other two members of my party would. This new ‘one bar fits all’ approach means that you can choose whose Omega Burst to use and when. And since every character contributes to it, the bar fills up a bit quicker than it would in some other RPGs, meaning that you’ll still get to utilise plenty of these attacks in tough battles.
Finally, let’s discuss Augmentations. These are special, passive abilities that are able to be equipped to a character – much like Weapons and Armour. Augmentations can be found in treasure chests, like any other piece of equipment, and provide numerous effects that allow you to further customise your characters. This includes things like increasing a particular stat (e.g. HP+10%), granting immunity to certain status ailments, decreasing the amount of AP/MP it costs to use special abilities/magic, imbuing your ordinary attacks with the ability to inflict negative statuses, and much more.
Each character has 5 Augmentation slots to use (although you only start off with one open slot – more are unlocked as you progress through the game). Additionally, there is a sixth ‘Special’ slot that only fits character-exclusive augmentations. There are two exclusive augmentations for each character, so you’ll have to decide which of them to equip!
Oh, and one last thing I should mention – the Colour Element system from the first game is no longer a mechanic in 8-Bit Adventures 2. I was considering it early on, but to put it simply, I feel like I did everything I could with it the first time around. So no more matching colours, but I think the new systems will have plenty of depth =)
And after all that, we still haven’t talked about things like the tiered-attack system, or one particular character’s unique command and equipment system. But I hope this helps convey that 8-Bit Adventures 2’s combat is going to feature a lot of depth and possibilities for interesting strategies.
With that said, though, if you’re concerned about the mechanics becoming too complicated this time around, please don’t worry. While there are a lot of systems, most of them are pretty simple in practice and you can choose not to engage with them. But if you’re an RPG veteran like myself, then you’ll likely have a lot of fun trying to form your own strategies and customise the party.
If you've enjoyed this article, please check back for future 8-Bit Adventures 2 announcements - including the release!