Parin from Gurumin: A Monsrous Adventure, on PSP.  

Button Mashing... Let's Not

I suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome from many years hunkered over poorly designed keyboards when I worked as a technical writer and computer programmer. Now in my mid-sixties, I also have arthritis. In other words, my hands hurt, often quite a lot, despite attention to ergonomics, use of wrist braces and daily physical therapy.

I love spending a few hours with a Playstation JRPG in the evenings, and intend to continue doing so as long as I am able. For me, the hardest part of any game is battles that require repetitive high-speed button-mashing. But not all games require this. A surprising number of games have ways to fully or partially automate battles.

These lists only includes games that I own or have played. Also see my playability notes for other features that affect my ability to play particular games. Latest update: July 2020.

  Lisa stats, by Lisa Lees.

Battle Systems

This is my own "how much does it hurt" view of battle systems.

In the beginning, most games were turn-based. Your column of characters faced off against a column of baddies. One at a time you chose your character, its action and its target, said 'go' and the AI responded. Repeat for as many rounds as necessary to win or loose the battle. No button-mashing and you could proceed as slowly as you desired.
Over time, things became more complicated, and harder on the hands. "Real time" and "action time" systems were introduced such that the AI controls the baddies while you are still trying to decide what to do. Some of those systems have ways to set how fast the AI works, or to pause the AI while you're making choices, but eventually this evolved into the "mash buttons as fast as possible so the AI doesn't wipe out your party" system that I simply cannot handle without debilitating pain.
The only way I can play a game like that is to select the easiest level of difficulty, do a lot of leveling up and farming to keep the party ten or so levels ahead of the curve, and hope that the characters I don't have to control can keep the one I do have to control alive (preferably as an archer and/or healer who can stay off to the side). I put myself through this for games in series that I love, but otherwise it's a deal-breaker for me.
In strategy games, the battleground is divided into a map of squares. You place your characters, set their actions, and then a round of battle happens automatically. Repeat until you win or loose the battle. This requires a good deal of use of your hands, but you do it at your own speed; no X-button mashing or frantic attempts to avoid doom. Pretty much any game that has 'tactics' as part of its title falls in this category.
Each character in the battle party may be set to auto. Once the battle begins, you just keep an eye on things and intervene if necessary.
Games that don't exactly fall in one of the above categories.

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