This is a column by Kat Bailey dedicated to the analysis of the once beloved Japanese RPG sub-genre. Tune in every Wednesday for thoughts on white-haired villains, giant robots, Infinity+1 swords, and everything else the wonderful world of JRPGs has to offer.
When the enhanced edition of Final Fantasy VII for the PC was announced, I spent some time imagining achievements. In the comments, a lot of people pointed out that Yuffie's sidequest (and indeed, Yuffie herself) would probably be downloadable content in the modern era of video games. This, I thought to myself, is probably true.
I brought up that point with Polygon's Phil Kollar the other day, and we ended up chatting at some length about DLC. What other classic RPG bonuses, I wondered, would probably be downloadable content today? The two of us had a few ideas (full credit to Phil for reminding me of this idea). Let's explore, shall we?
Dark Aeons (Final Fantasy X): When I was living in Japan, I had a long argument with a friend of mine over which Final Fantasy was the best in the series. He was an Australian, and he was completely convinced that Final Fantasy X was the best Final Fantasy ever made. He simply couldn't understand why I might disagree until he found out that the U.S. version didn't include the Dark Aeons. Then he said, "Oh, well, now I understand. It's not even a game without the Dark Aeons."
Well, I wouldn't go that far, but the Dark Aeons did make for some pretty compelling content. Essentially, they were the reason that you would bother to acquire the various ultimate weapons and break the 9999 damage limit (outside of bragging rights). Penance is supposedly the toughest secret boss in any Final Fantasy ever.
Personally, I've always been a little disappointed that they never made it to the U.S., even if it isn't that hard to acquire a copy of Final Fantasy X International. I suppose this is one of those instances in which paid DLC would actually be welcome. It might be annoying to be charged for content that's already on the disc, but at least that content would actually be available. But maybe Square should have just released Final Fantasy X International in the U.S. to begin with? [Let's hope the upcoming "remastered" release will include the content. –Ed.]
The Ancient Cave (Lufia II): The Ancient Cave is one of the cooler sidequests to appear in an RPG. It's a 100 floor dungeon that plays a lot like Moria – the old PC roguelike in which you battle to the deepest depths of the Mines of Mora and finally defeat a balrog. The Ancient Cave even features roguelike-style randomly-generated floors.
Of all the entries on this list, I'm the least certain about this one. After all, plenty of modern RPGs have extra difficult dungeons and other extra content out of the box. But on the other hand, the Ancient Cave is a little crazier than most. Would it definitely be downloadable content? Maybe. Could it be DLC? Oh yes, definitely.
Gogo (Final Fantasy VI): Gogo, on the other hand, is textbook DLC. Gimmick-based character? Check. No bearing on the story? Check. Has their own dungeon with various rare treasure? Check. Gogo is practically a DLC episode waiting to happen. On the other hand, I'm not sure who would actually drop money on it. Not too many people used Gogo.
Excalibur II (Final Fantasy IX): You'll excuse me for throwing in one more Final Fantasy secret, but they really are fertile ground for imagined DLC. Excalibur II is particularly famous – maybe the most difficult challenge to ever grace a Final Fantasy. Earning it means reaching the final dungeon and the first mini-boss in fewer than 12 hours, which essentially means pulling off a perfect speedrun. I'm sure that someone reading this has pulled it off, but I am definitely not in that lofty company. It is kind of cool, however, that the devs decided to offer a tip of the hat to anyone skilled enough to pull this off.
If Final Fantasy IX were released in 2012 though, can't you just see the Excalibur II being in some online storefront, the mystique of earning an incredibly rare weapon stripped away and replaced by a $9.99 virtual item? It's kind of depressing, isn't it? I kind of miss the days when completely nutty quests like this one were par for the course. Even if I never obtain Excalibur II, at least I know it's there, waiting for me.
Deis (Breath of Fire II): Like Gogo, Breath of Fire II's Deis (Bleu in the translation) would definitely be a downloadable character, albeit for different reasons. Gogo is mainly a gimmick character attached to a secret dungeon. Deis, however, is a secret recruitable character meant to appeal to fans of the first game, where she was one of the main party members (she's also a bit of a series staple).
Nintendo of all companies is actually doing something like this. Fire Emblem: Awakening for the Nintendo 3DS includes a number of classic series characters such as Marth, so the precident there. And we all know about Capcom's penchant for downloadable content (though to be fair, they're getting better).
That's the nice thing about this list. It's true, most of what I've described above would probably be offered as DLC in this day and age. In the end though, the content that I just described was all there from Day 1. In this case, we really do have still have our memories.
Kat Bailey is a freelance writer based out of San Francisco, California. Her work has been featured on multiple outlets, including GamesRadar, Official Xbox Magazine, gamesTM, and GameSpot. You can follow her on Twitter at @the_katbot.