I figured it out! I know what my biggest problem with RPGs is; despite wanting to love them so much and continue picking them up time and time again, I have so many issues!
I have a hard enough time remembering all of the character names (something I’ve always had a problem with in TV shows, movies, and even around the office!). When you toss magic attacks, items, and enemies on top of all that, and then ask me to remember where all the towns are so I can backtrack to them? I’ve got issues.
Today Final Fantasy VI asked me to fly back to Narshe. OK, no problem. I recognize that town name. I don’t really remember what it looked like, but I know I’ve been there a few times and it’s important to the story. I should be able to find it no problem. Then I realized I had absolutely no idea where it was or what it looked like. I hopped onto Google Image Search on the iPhone, looked at a world map, and still flew around for about fifteen minutes completely unable to find the stupid town. Finally I just landed in the general area of what all the maps said, and I finally walked into a mountain and put it all together again in my head (you know what I’m talking about if you’ve played the game).
So what was the real problem? Since I’ve already recognized that I have a difficult time in life remembering names (it takes me FOREVER), I can only assume that it’s a huge factor here. Final Fantasy VI probably makes it even worse by throwing so many characters and towns at you without ever slowing down. I’m trying to think back to other RPGs I’ve played in the past to find some parallels, but I’m drawing a blank. I initially thought that Final Fantasy VII did it perfectly by baby-feeding you with one town at first (Midgar), but even then, there were all of the separate areas within in (Sector 7 slums, Aerith’s house, Shinra Headquarters, etc.). Zelda II had a wonderfully small amount of towns that I could probably recite in order, but that is such a different type of game and from so much longer ago.
What do you all think? Do you have the same problem in games? Are the terrible world maps also to blame (seriously, these GBA games’ maps are impossible to see)? Is it the outlandish names of these towns, that almost always seem to be neither English nor Japanese in origin? At least those two languages I’m familiar with…