They Exist, I Promise
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Gacha games. The bane of anyone that considers games a hobby. It is impossible to count how many times a long-forgotten, beloved IP has been repurposed into a Gacha that lasts for a year and then dies off. Wild Arms, Valkyria Chronicles, Castlevania…you name it. Not to mention the predatory pricing practices and often stale gameplay. There are a million reasons to stay far, far away from Gacha games.
Which is why it’s kind of embarrassing to tell people that not only do I play gacha games, I enjoy them.
That’s right: I think gacha games are fun. Gasp! Egad! Before we get any further, I want to make it very clear: these games are absolutely not for everyone. If you’re the type that gambles easily, don’t touch these games with a ten-foot pole. However, if you can enjoy a very specific set of circumstances that I’m about to detail below, you might be able to find yourself enjoying a gacha game. Let’s find out, shall we?
This post is going to be more segmented than usual, because I have a lot of ground to cover, so strap in!
Why Do You Play Gachas, Mint?
Good question! A couple of reasons.
They’re Something to Do with my Hands
You can ask any friend that’s had to sit with me through a movie: I can’t sit still. I always need to be doing something, or I get anxious and annoyed. Gacha games fill that void. They’re on my phone, they can be played in short bursts, and there’s always something to do. On top of that, I can play them when I want to do something fun but am too busy to sit down for a long game session or something else.
They Can be a Fun Challenge
I have an anti-gambling personality, so I play Gachas F2P, ie I don’t spend a dime on them. That said, for me, it’s a fun personal challenge to see how much I can progress in a game to clear content with the free pulls I get. Running a dungeon with a 3 Star team in Dragalia, or doing extra hard bosses in Dissidia with unconventional teams (shout out to Aerith/Garnet/Y’shtola) is part of the appeal for me.
I am a Dumbass what Loves to Grind
What it says on the tin! Gacha games don’t have definitive endings that often. The genre’s entire existence predicates itself on adding layer after layer of power-creep, causing players to grind to get their characters stronger and stronger with each new update. There are a million subsystems devoted to upgrading in games like Dragalia Lost and Dissidia. For some people, that’s a huge turn-off! But I’m the type of person that leveled Sora up to 20 before getting off of Destiny Island. Leveling up is a passion seared into my blood, honed by years of playing JRPGs as a baby Mint. Getting the stats to clear new content is a dopamine rush.
Alright Then. You Mentioned Gacha Games Worth Playing?
Sure did! Gachas are known to be pretty garbage, low-quality trash, and for the most part, this is true. However, with some digging you can find some genuinely high-quality experiences in the genre. So let’s talk about them!
My first gacha game, and it still holds a soft spot in my heart despite me not playing it as often as I used to. But it’s a great game! It’s very F2P, handing out tons and tons of currency for pulls. It has a fun action combat system, especially at higher levels of difficulty, extremely cute character designs, and a story that is actually really good! Well, barring Euden, who sucks ass. The game is published by Nintendo and the Treehouse provides the localization, so the writing is stellar. Also the whole thing is backed by a Daoko soundtrack, so it’s bops all the way through.
What sucks about it, then? Well for one, Co-Op is required for high-level content, so if you plan on sticking around, you might need to make friends. As a high-anxiety person, that’s hard for me, heh. On top of that, high level content is unforgiving — one hit can end a run, so if you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed, look elsewhere. Worst of all is the base-building, though. It’s a layer of power-gating that takes an eternity to get through, so if you’re hoping to get into the end-game quickly…well, that’s simply not happening.
Romancing Saga Re;Universe
What a name. You can tell it’s a Square Enix game, huh? Re;U came out about a month ago, and it’s already been a lot of fun, taking the spot as my portrait-mode game (yes, I have a game for each phone orientation. I am weird person, okay? Feel like we should all realize that by now). It’s Romancing Saga through-and-through, so if you’re one of the ten people who are fans of that series, you should skip all this and download it. You’re gonna enjoy yourself. Its pixel art is crisp as hell, and it has that same classical combat system and amazing music that you know and love from Saga. Unlike other gacha games, the turn-based system is much more engaging than usual, with strategy and formations all being important aspects of the game. It’s also very free-to-play and generous in its free currency giveaways, but even if you don’t pull any of the higher rarity characters, it frankly doesn’t matter: nearly every unit in Romancing Saga is viable, with some lower-rarity units being better than their high-rarity equivalents. There are entire guides dedicated to clearing the toughest combat in the game with low-rarity units only, so if you’re looking for a fair game, you’ve found it in Re;Universe.
Con-wise: It’s a Saga game, so the grind is intense, even for a gacha game. On top of that, if you like pulling for new characters instead of alternate variations of existing characters, you might not like this game’s Style (pun intended). Also, again, it’s a Saga game, so it’s just generally hard as hell, as Romancing Saga games are wont to be. Even then, the game is a blast, so you should check it out!
Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omina
This is the big one. Up to this point I have been talking about gacha games in the context of “Good, for a gacha game.” Dissidia is not one of those. It’s just a good game, well-crafted from start to finish. To start with, it’s the most F2P-friendly game on this list. This isn’t just because you get tons of free currency (although you do, I currently have enough to do 100 ten-pulls) — more important is the fact that characters are frequently buffed to prevent power creep. So you pulled Garnet’s weapon and it sucks now? A few months from now she’ll get a buff that makes her better than everyone else. It honestly flies in the face of how Gachas are meant to be developed, a treadmill for players to never get off so that they can keep spending. Beyond that, if you don’t care about doing anything other than story content, you don’t really need to pull at all: every single character is unlockable just by playing their side-story. It’s inconceivable!
The combat is fun too, with a unique Brave/HP Attack system modeled after the fighting game it gets its namesake from. Where other games are meant to be auto-battled for anything but the hardest content, DFFOO is a game that you always play consciously, which I personally consider a plus. There are lots and lots of potential strategies and team synergies you can play around with. And while there is some Co-Op content, it’s generally not too taxing, and people are more than happy to hard-carry you through difficult levels.
Then there’s the fan-service. If you’re a big Final Fantasy fan, this is the game for you. There about 1.2 billion characters you can use on your team, even from deep cuts like Crystal Chronicles. Music from each game shows up constantly as well. The plot is a little dry, but it’s made up for by the fantastic character interactions, some of which could only ever happen in a crossover game. Zack, Tidus and Seifer getting into a push-up competition, Ramza and Garnet talking about the impact war has on their kingdoms, and Payne and Squall getting into a “…” match are all genuinely entertaining moments if you’re familiar with the characters.
“Mint you’ve been salivating over this game for 384 words now, what are the cons?” Sorry, sorry, they do exist. For one, there is a lot to wrap your head around in this game at first. The EX+ system, summons, weapon passives, artifacts, character boards, etc. etc. are all kind of dumped on you at once, so if you don’t have the patience for that sort of thing, it might be safe to skip this one. As far as grind, the game isn’t too bad, except for Summon Boards, which can get to be a pain unless a summon event is going on. Probably worst of all is that the game is starting to show its age, with long loading times and sometimes disconnect errors.
I’ll be honest though, this is the game to play, in my humble opinion. I mentioned that I play these games F2P, but I recently bought a costume pack for Garnet. The game has given me so many hours of free entertainment at this point that it was starting to feel criminal. And the nice thing is that a costume is a sure thing, so I wasn’t paying for a pull in the game either. Long and short: play Dissidia Opera Omina!
And that’s it! Gacha Games! They can be good, sometimes! They won’t ever replace the appeal of a full-priced game with a definitive ending, but as a distraction on the bus, or a way to watch big numbers go up MMO-style, they’re alright!