THE UNBEATABLE BATTLE.

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Now we've all come across this one: you get to a certain part of the game when suddenly you are attacked by a monster of some sort. You enter the battle phase, use your strongest attack or magic, and find that you did...0 damage. Then the monster does an uber attack that does 9999 damage, and you die. Turns out that was a battle you were meant to lose for story purposes.

Now I ask you: Have you ever considered making a battle like this in one of your games, or have already done so? If so, what was the motive behind it? What does the unbeatable battle have over having your characters lose in a cutscene?
InfectionFiles
the world ends in whatever my makerscore currently is
4690
I really, really hate unbeatable battles that make you slog through it with some hope of winning.
Until, like you mentioned, they pull some bullshit move out and kill your entire party.
I'd rather them just show you get beaten around in a cutscene(although I'm sure that takes more work, go figure)

It gets cheesy to me when I know that an unbeatable battle is about to happen, cause' then i just don't give a fuck.
I'm going to lose no matter what, why try?
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
I don't like doing this in cut scenes because:
A) The spells and attacks and other animations will look a lot stupider.
B) It doesn't feel as meaningful, it doesn't feel like you actually fought him and lost.
C) Cut scenes are less interactive.
D) An unwinnable battle can give the player a taste of the boss's abilities.

However, cut scenes do have their own advantages:
A) The player won't waste items or other expendable resources (I've wasted elixirs and all sorts of rare items trying to survive against such bosses, because I wasn't sure if I was supposed to lose or if I was supposed to survive for X rounds).
B) When you fight the boss later and he's *not* invincible, it doesn't seem jarring.
C) If the player is better at your own game than you are, sometimes unwinnable battles are actually winnable, like the battles against Dalton's Golem and Lavos in Chrono Trigger. UGH. I actually didn't even realize you were "supposed" to lose that Golem battle until I played a hardmode hack of the game! I always just thought it was dumb that Dalton captures you after you win.
I don't mind unbeatable battles, as long as the player has some sort of idea somewhere into the fight that
'something is kinda off here' and its one of those battles where it's a bit different, and well, he might not win it.

Don't give me the impression that I can win, and therefore expending resources and serious effort, if I can't. Give the battle some impression by doing things like dialogue in the battle, making the enemy far stronger than average, or pumping up said battle so I sort of know I'm going to lose even before I fight.

I think Beatrix from FFIX is a good example of the classic 'unwinnable' battle. So is Garr from Breath of Fire III.
Well, I don't like the fact that players automatically assume they can win every fight. In my game there are monsters which are very difficult even for their area, and they're optional (like... bosses), and everyone keep telling you "don't fight a blue orc, they're too powerful!". They're not unbeatable, but you're expected to be strong and prepared to fight one. But some players assume that just because it's in the same area as easier fights, it's an easy fight too. I like breaking that notion.

I think very difficult monsters and unbeatable ones can be used as storytelling resources. Just don't make them a surprise, or random encounters.
I like this idea. I want to incorporate it into one of my games at some point.

I think this has to do with the difficulty curve though. Naturally players shouldn't be winning every single fight with no trouble, but they should have an idea of what "normal" is. By which I mean they should know if dying was their fault or not.

Take Tales Of Symphonia as an example. If you did everything averagely (i.e. You fought most battles and bought average equipment) then you shouldn't be having too much trouble with the game. When you get to the unbeatable fight you get the feeling that you have to lose because you're getting your ass kicked.

I guess it's just important for the player to recognize that he lost because he was supposed to, not because he didn't buy the best items or grind his ass off. He should realize that sometime during the fight too, not after.
This topic sort of reminds me of the battle with Rico in Xenogears. There's about a five minute window between the player meeting him and Fei fighting him, and already you sort of get the impression that this big 7 foot tall 300 pound orcish demihuman is going to knock your ass out. As soon as the fight starts there's a cutscene where Fei barely manages to avoid Rico breaking his neck, and then the actual fight starts in earnest where Rico punches you in the face like, ten times during more HP damage than you could ever have in the game (on foot) anyway.

There's also another (you can technically 'win' the battle, but it's pretty hard) unwinnable fight against a dude (who the narrative already pumped up as being extremely powerful) who faces off against your three man party of giant robots on foot (while in turn, his unmanned giant robot just stands there and watches with its arms crossed) and singlehandedly literally kicks the crap out of your party and blasts them into oblivion with super energy blastsgoddamn

Oh I guess there's another one earlier in the game where you're facing off against 'unimaginably powerful dude in red glowing giant robot' who taunts the player by spending the first 4 or so turns just standing there and then he pretty much does a 4 hit super combo move (with the first hit doing more damage than HP you're have until like, 30 more hours of game time) and then in a cutscene he throws your airship at you.

Good shit! Xenogears was pretty good at putting you in your place.
I think the best solution for unbeatable battles are probably the "you beat him but now he beat you" style battle. That is once you deal a certain amount of damage to said unbeatable boss the boss will say something like "Fuck you. That hurt." and kick the party's asses.

Basically the unbeatable battle is just another beatable battle with a cutscene at the end showing how the boss wasn't beat after all.
FREYAAAAA \O/
THAT was an awesome battle. It has a great feeling to it. Thrilling. I don't think any battle in VP was as exciting as... Losing aganist Freya.
Truth be told, I love unwinnable battles. Even more if you can somehow win in a new game plus or absurdely grinded or something and there's an extra to it. But...

"Ugh... Please, run! I'm going to... Kill you. If you don't go, you WON'T BE ABLE TO CONTROL ME! I WILL KILL ALL OF YOU! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES, please... I'd never forgive myself if..."
*transformation*
*battle*
*in-battle message: This boss gains 30% boost in all stats on every turn. Watch out for Star Flare*.*
(*Someone before in the game (A book, maybe?) noted that Star Flare erases reality or something. ( Mega- Graviton)
*Battle starts. Foe opens battle by negating usage of items by using a forcefield.*

Kind of lame, but... Could work, if worked upon! Yup! Stop your player from using Megalixirs, Dark Matters and Foolproof Talismans!
I'm going to lose no matter what, why try?
Well, there is that kind of battle where you have to survive for 'x' turns before you can die or else is game over, like in Star Ocean 2 when you first meet the ten wise men... Also, just because a battle is unwinnable doesn't mean you can't get experience or other spoils out of it. What I want to do in my game it's actually a mix of both ideas: "the longer you last in the unbeatable battle the better the reward" to try to avoid the players feeling that their efforts are worthless.
author=Shinan
I think the best solution for unbeatable battles are probably the "you beat him but now he beat you" style battle. That is once you deal a certain amount of damage to said unbeatable boss the boss will say something like "Fuck you. That hurt." and kick the party's asses.

Basically the unbeatable battle is just another beatable battle with a cutscene at the end showing how the boss wasn't beat after all.


It's either that, or the "deal 0 damage no matter what you do", accompanied by some battle dialogues, as evident in a battle with Irmgard towards the end of the Prologue Demo in Seraphic Blue.
One game I think that did it sort of right was Legend of Dragoon. The unbeatable battle was evident by the fact that you couldn't hit the boss, and he would say something like "missed me" or something to that effect. After a few turns, he'd just basically get bored and leave.

It's not perfect, but it is better than blindsiding you.
LouisCyphre
can't make a bad game if you don't finish any games
4523
The only mandatory brought-to-you-by-Chaos SMT example I can think of is in Strange Journey - the first boss. You know something's up because, well, your party isn't the one fighting it.
I personally like unbeatable battles. They help you feel part of the story rather than a cutscene where you get your ass kicked, because then I feel like I failed and then I had to train or whatever until eventually I get to kick the bosses ass and i feel like I accomplished something.


author=alterego
Well, there is that kind of battle where you have to survive for 'x' turns before you can die or else is game over, like in Star Ocean 2 when you first meet the ten wise men... Also, just because a battle is unwinnable doesn't mean you can't get experience or other spoils out of it. What I want to do in my game it's actually a mix of both ideas: "the longer you last in the unbeatable battle the better the reward" to try to avoid the players feeling that their efforts are worthless.

and this rocks

I prefer to use a battle like the one against Gades in Lufia II. He is extremely hard to beat the first time you play and only over-levelling, having the best equipment and sheer luck/awesome strategy will allow you to beat him. If you don't beat him there's a cut scene to show you're severely beaten, but if you do beat him you gain his sword and the battle wears you out, and he's still fine.

Either way, the plot progresses and you can gain an incredibly powerful weapon as a prize.

so, yeah, that's my favourite kind of 'unbeatable' boss.
LockeZ
I'd really like to get rid of LockeZ. His play style is way too unpredictable. He's always like this too. If he ran a country, he'd just kill and imprison people at random until crime stopped.
6003
author=Lennon
I think this has to do with the difficulty curve though. Naturally players shouldn't be winning every single fight with no trouble, but they should have an idea of what "normal" is. By which I mean they should know if dying was their fault or not.

Take Tales Of Symphonia as an example. If you did everything averagely (i.e. You fought most battles and bought average equipment) then you shouldn't be having too much trouble with the game. When you get to the unbeatable fight you get the feeling that you have to lose because you're getting your ass kicked.

I guess it's just important for the player to recognize that he lost because he was supposed to, not because he didn't buy the best items or grind his ass off. He should realize that sometime during the fight too, not after.

Unless you can somehow make *every* game, not just yours, have a perfectly balanced difficulty curve, I'm sure as hell not going to assume that every significantly hard battle is supposed to be lost for story reasons. I mean, Jesus, if I'm wrong, then I might lose my last 30 minutes of gameplay when I reload.

The problem is for the 75% of us who *did* buy the best equipment and maybe even grinded a little bit, and also have enough of a concept of RPG strategy and tactics that it's extremely unlikely we would die. I generally don't ever skip any kind of available upgrades - not because I think I need to be stronger, but because I want to play the entire game, and that means getting everything. If something feels like an almost insurmountable step up for player who puts no real effort into becoming stronger, then for someone who actually utilizes all the content you included, it might just seem like "Oh, this fight is actually somewhat challenging for a change, this is nice."

Really, if your boss is supposed to be unbeatable, "significantly stronger" isn't fucking going to cut it. Even being invincible won't cut it! It needs to one-shot the player the first time it takes a turn. If it's invincible but its attacks can be theoretically survived, then I will survive, and use rare/expensive healing items to stay alive while I try all my elemental skills and all my status ailments to figure out what it's not immune to. Conversely, if your game has items with offensive effects (like an item that casts a +Attack buff), then if it's not completely invincible, I'll probably use those items on the first round because the story has made me aware that this is one badass motherfucker. So in that case it just needs to one-shot me before I take a turn, or my turn needs to be automated.

author=Shinan
I think the best solution for unbeatable battles are probably the "you beat him but now he beat you" style battle. That is once you deal a certain amount of damage to said unbeatable boss the boss will say something like "Fuck you. That hurt." and kick the party's asses.

Basically the unbeatable battle is just another beatable battle with a cutscene at the end showing how the boss wasn't beat after all.

Yeah, I do like this method. It gives a lot of the same feel in the end, but involves actual gameplay. Actual gameplay, what a strange concept!
author=Liberty
I prefer to use a battle like the one against Gades in Lufia II. He is extremely hard to beat the first time you play and only over-levelling, having the best equipment and sheer luck/awesome strategy will allow you to beat him. If you don't beat him there's a cut scene to show you're severely beaten, but if you do beat him you gain his sword and the battle wears you out, and he's still fine.

Either way, the plot progresses and you can gain an incredibly powerful weapon as a prize.

so, yeah, that's my favourite kind of 'unbeatable' boss.

ahaha this is only really kind of tangentially related but this reminds me of something i read about the first Lufia game. apparently, in Fortress of Doom, you can only kill unbeatable Gades by one-shotting him for 65535 damage (like that's ever gonna happen)

put that in your rpg tsukuru 2003 game (please don't it would be infuriating)
There were some battles in BoF3 I wish were beatable... I'm looking at you Horse Brothers and Garr... >>;

As for unbeatable battles, I think I used them like once or twice in all the games I made, I'm not fond of making them because if I do make them. I like to have it so the boss you fight the first time, it seems like he is powerful and you don't stand a chance, but instead of weakening him, I keep him the same, its like having a second chance against the same opponent, but this time you learn what he can do and you'll be ready for it because you'll be stronger by then, at least you should be anyway.

Note: I also noticed this in RPG's what is with that damn 65535 number, there were so many RPG's I seen with bosses with that number that were usually unbeatable or being a final boss. >>;
a group of 16 bits has the capability of storing 65536 unique values (0-65535). i can only really surmise that enemy hp in these games is stored as a 16-bit integer because the developers decided that's as much space as they needed - the space is better saved for sprites, backgrounds, and BGM instruction sets, especially when you consider that even the largest SNES games used only about 6MB
author=J-Man
Note: I also noticed this in RPG's what is with that damn 65535 number, there were so many RPG's I seen with bosses with that number that were usually unbeatable or being a final boss. >>;

I think it has to do with the ceiling for 16 bit binary. Of course, my theory is just based on my memory of the section of Snow Crash that refers to "numbers that can be made by fetishistically multiplying twos and subtracting the occasional one", so I could be wrong.

EDIT - Pasty beat me to it


My main complaint about unbeatable battles is that they get me thinking about the game outside of the game. After facing my first invincible foe in a game, the next time I'm in a ridiculously difficult battle, I might just figure it is another story driven beating that I'm just supposed to endure, causing me to half-ass my assault and leading to the appearance of the game-over screen.

Dhux's Scar, which I thoroughly enjoyed once I got used to it, caught me with that with one of the first times it flashed up 'Hopeless Battle'. I figured the designer was just being courteous enough to tell me, "Hey, this boss is like Grahf on crack, so don't waste your hard won items since you're pretty much screwed." Didn't take long to discover I was wrong about THAT one.

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