Loot Hero is the perfect example of a game that has been stripped of its core mechanics, left only with its secondary mechanics to stand on. Final Fantasy and Diablo are both franchises that have large fan bases and are widely regarded as the basis for their respective genres of RPG(turn based and action). Both of these games present back tracking and grinding as “features” that power the heroine or hero up. This is represented by a combination of in game mechanics, such as experience and money. Money purchases new equipment while experience “purchases” new stats and skills/spells. An external form of experience occurs as well as the player learns tactics to aid in quicker dispersal of the enemies. This can lend itself to pattern recognition or finding out elemental weaknesses. A player usually begins to feel that a game gets “grindy” if they, as a player, aren’t experiencing, or learning, anything new. Once the weakness has been found, the combat simply becomes repetitive motions. Watch for the enemy’s tell, dodge the attack, hit the enemy with fire weapon, repeat. Turn based games are even worse off as most do not have reactionary mechanics for defense(though there are a few such as the Mario RPG titles) and combat boils down to: wait for your turn, use attacks that deal the most damage, wait for your turn, etc. The real meat to these types of RPGs are the external learning of the combat systems.
Sometimes, though, we like to cheat the system. We want to reach high levels without the grind. Maybe we duplicated the Rare Candy to give to our Pokemon so training didn’t take as long. Or maybe we used a save editor to hit max level. While the power trip is typically pretty awesome, it is short lived. Being overpowered means that combat is boring again, except now that boring combat lasts the whole game. Unless the story is THAT GOOD, chances are we will put the game down and most likely not come to it again for a while. What I’m getting at is that RPGs are more than getting the best loot and the highest levels. Getting to that point is where all of the fun is. As the trite saying goes, “Focus on the journey, not the destination”.
Now, back to Loot Hero. Loot Hero is a game where combat isn’t fun at all. Each level has 5 groups of enemies with a town in between each set. The last group of enemies is followed by the “boss” for the level with the town acting as the level up area. Combat consists of running into a stationary enemy. Damage is automatically dealt simultaneously to both the player and the enemy. Most enemies will only take 1 or 2 hits to kill. This trailer pretty much sums up the entirety of the gameplay.
This game has enemies, upgradable stats, XP, Gold, and Bosses. It has everything other RPGs have except a compelling combat system, and this is where the games falls short. The complex combat mechanics in other RPGs have been boiled down to holding right and sometimes holding left, which is only useful for grinding for Gold/XP. I wish I could say that the game has level up choices but it all boils down to calculations. Since damage is impossible to avoid, Defense is the most important with Strength getting upgrades second. Speed only aids in grinding faster and Critical is practically useless as battles last mere seconds. With a high enough Defense you won’t be taking damage anyway so ending the battle quicker doesn’t do anything that would justify spending gold on that instead of Defense/Strength. Thus, pretty much every level plays the same and the player never does anything new. Move right, then left, then right, then left.Buy Defense until you take a minimal amount of damage, dump the rest in Strength. Run right until you kill the boss. Start next stage and repeat. To top this off, the game only has 5 stages. Upon finishing them(which took about 20 minutes) the game introduces the next 5 stages, which are the same as the first 5 but with higher level monsters. The game doesn’t change, new strategy isn’t required, and the player doesn’t require any extra skill to proceed. This is an RPG where combat takes a backseat to leveling up skills. This is an example of how stripping key mechanics from a genre actually ruin it. While grinding in an RPG with a complex combat system may become frustrating eventually, Loot Hero was never fun to begin with.