Editorial: Style vs Substance

Greetings from Planet Potato.

In case you were not aware, our tyranical overlord Coops has decreed that the Summer of XI will have nothing to do with lousy, unpopular or outdated MMOs. For this we thank the Great Potato. The summer playthrough is currently set to be Suikoden 1. For this we thank the Great Potato. This has got me thinking, though. One thing that I always struggle with when creating characters or choosing party members is the age old choice of style versus substance. Do I make my choices based on effectiveness, or personal bias? Do I play the Elf because she looks preeeeeeetty or the Orc because she has the best stats, for example. The relevance to Suikoden, for those who are unaware, is that one of the hallmarks of the series is the 108 Stars of Destiny, coinciding with 108 recruitable characters, most of whom can be in your 6-person party if you choose. This obviously presents the player with a great deal of choice regarding who to use and who to leave warming the bench.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Once upon a time there was a very shallow girl named Ginia. She loved potatoes, puppy dogs, and RPG characters who were attractive and/or interesting people. She hated eating her vegetables, French people, and ugly, boring RPG characters. She would only play as Alliance in WoW, rolled Elves, and always had the cutesy but weak characters in her party. She soon discovered, though, that she was often very weak and ineffective, which made her very sad. Fortunately she has grown up to appreciate some vegetables, continue to hate the French, and accepts a healthy mix of style and substance.

Crazy plot twist alert, the Ginia in the above story is me.

Personally I try to base my decisions upon who/what has the most effective stats and abilities. If there are multiple reasonable choices I will still base my final decision upon who is pretty and shiny, or who I just plain like (shout out to the Snow fans in FFXIII!) but never at the expense of a useful, viable character or party. I may not always choose the “best” character or option but I do try to come close.

How do you folks tend to play? Style over substance, or a happy medium?


  1. Style, style, style. I spent years going the other way and found it too much like a job. Now I have fun.

  2. Substance, substance, substance. You know it’s the right thing to do!

  3. @SN: I play games for enjoyment. However useful characters like SNOWE may be, I cannot bring myself to use them without making the entire experience INTOLERABLE.

    I’d rather have characters I like, even if they are harder to use effectively. At least then I am having a good time.

  4. @Lusi yeah. That’s why I never used Vanille, even if I did need her stupid debuffs. Pfffft. Fuck that noise. Sometimes the substance isn’t worth it.

  5. @SN I believe you mean insufferable incredible?

    To give an example of my own playstyle: My last playthrough of FF6 I used Relm the last two thirds of the game because of her super high MAGIC stat in a game where magic is utterly broken.

    She sort of pre-figures Rikku and Vanille too, I think? If she talked I think she’d be just as annoying amazing. Well, we’ll find out in the 3DS/NGP remake of FF6.

  6. I used Relm because her Magic was zomgwtf overpowered.
    I refused to use Celes because I thought she was a bitch.
    It goes borh ways. :D

  7. Correct you are, evilpaul. Insufferable Incredible is just the word I was searching for. Insufferable Incredible.

    Insufferable Incredible, insufferable incredible Vanille.

  8. @Ginia: Celes is awesome. Shut yo mouth.

    @SN and EP: You keep making mistakes in your typing. I may have to step in and help you out with that…

  9. I really hated Celes up until the Opera House, but even afterward I still preferred Terra as the token female in my group.

  10. Celes wasn’t my favourite character, but what was there to hate?

  11. Well, she did go from callous imperial general to melt in Locke’s arms waif. Not exactly an endearing beginning or end, really.

    For me at least her Runic Blade skill more than made up for it. Plus she opens Act II in a very moving manner.

  12. Yes, she features in the two most iconic moments of VI.

  13. The first time I played, I kept expecting her to be a turncoat until after the Floating Island. I think that was a big part of why I didn’t like her character all that much.

  14. I never got over the fact that an esper died to give her power, nor how cold she was early on.

    Best part of the game was when she emo’d herself off a cliff. :)

  15. OK, so you’re judging her on things she did largely before she entered your party, and the storyline as a whole …

  16. … She was at her best when she emo’d off the cliff though.