Anyone who was alive during the '80s should have managed to at least see an episode or two of "He-Man". It involved He-Man, the most powerful man in the universe (which seems like a bit of an over-kill, as he really only had to be the most powerful man on his home planet to win all the time). He & his friends would beat up Skeletor, whose head was a skull.
The good guys included the annoying, diminutive, "comic-relief" character, Orko. Orko would state the obvious, float around, & had a sort of Spock-McCoy hate-argue relationship with Man-at-Arms.
90% of the time, the Real, Serious Characters would generally do whatever the hell they wanted. Aside from a few episodes, Orko's main combat role would be to yell "Look out, He-Man!" or something similar.
Now let's look at the roles the player (i.e., you, the guy sitting in your living room with the Playstation controller in your hand) plays in some modern "role-playing games":
Telling your Characters Where to Walk: yes
Well, how would your characters look everywhere in a level unless you told him to?
Tactical Advisor in Combat: yes
You definatly tell people what to do in combat, which often boils down to a turn-based stategy game. "Hit that bad guy with the big sword", you indicate via a pointer, or "use that spell". Do you heal yourself this round, or wait 'til next round? These involve some tactical decisions.
Many of these decisions might be a little obvious. "Punch him, He-Man!" Or, if you prefer, "Fight, Mega-Man! For everlasting peace!" But you have to have something to do, right? Because in just about all the games I'm aware of, you certainly don't...
Play the Role of the Protagonists: no
Whenever something interesting happens, the Real, Serious Characters generally do whatever the hell they wanted. You sit in your living room & watch the people who you've told where to walk & how to punch monsters choosing to do whatever they want once things turn "plot-related".
Orko has more interaction with the other characters, as he's actually present in the He-Man episodes. You, the player, on the other hand, pretty much have to sit there & take what they hand you.
It doesn't matter if you'd Really like to continue the combat until your arch-nemesis has de-mutated from his 130-foot-tall monster form into a human, & then put your sword through his head. If the plot requires that he get away, away he goes.
It's not important if you'd like to Play the Role of one specific character--& have that character befriend/hang out with/get it on with another character/townsperson. If you're not going to the next fight location, there's not much that happens.
My point: you're Orko-Playing as a scavenger-hunt leader & tactical adviser, rather than Role-Playing, as one of the Real Characters.
I know this is the format they've chosen so they can have pretty much just One Linear Plotline. One Linear Plotline is required if you're going to spend a lot of time on things like amazingly-animated movies, or a lot of voice-acting (things that, arguably, could be better delivered by a MOVIE or TELEVISION PROGRAM instead of a VIDEO GAME).
But some games, especially ones where your dialogue is Text on the Screen & your character's Mouths Don't Move, could have them say many different things & have a much more interactive environment.
I would say that I'd rather play the role of One character well, & have some actual choices, rather than playing Orko to 4-20 characters.
Just because there are Characters doesn't mean you have any control over their Roles.
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