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34 Cliches of Christmas
The One Vehicle Rule
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 19, 2007   |   Episode 28 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at the video game cliche, the type of thing we've seen time and time again in all generations of gaming. Is this cliche realistic? Does it need to go away? These are the types of questions Defunct Games will be asking over the next month. Join us as we celebrate this joyous season with the 34 Cliches of Christmas!



I'll give you that the flying ship is nice, but why did we have to jump through so many hoops just to use it?
As Seen In: Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest series, Beyond the Beyond, Star Tropics, Wild Arms, and just about every other popular role-playing game!

What Is It? Imagine that you're trying to make it across the map to this isolated island in the middle of the Black Sea. You've spent the last three days walking across hills and deserts to make it to this large port city. You figure that if you're going to find a boat, you might as well go right to the source. Unfortunately you're in for a rude awakening, because when you get to this port city you realize that there's only one boat ... and in order for you to use that boat you're going to have to run a bunch of boring side-quests. I hate it when that happens. And if you're playing a lot of classic Japanese role-playing game, then you're probably running into this scenario more than you would like to admit. In most RPGs you will need to travel great distances in little time, which means that you're going to have to commandeer a vehicle of some sort. The only problem is that most of the classic role-playing games use what is called the one-vehicle rule; it's an RPG law that states that there is to be only one vehicle found in a town. You would think that a port city would have a plethora of boats, but that's just not the case. Instead you have to deal with the one guy who is able to afford a boat. And if it's not a boat, then you're dealing with the one person who has a car. Or the one person that has a flying machine. Apparently in your standard role-playing game you have to be part of an exclusive club to even think about owning a vehicle.

Is It Realistic? Just step outside for a moment. Unless you live miles away from civilization you probably won't even need to leave your front door. Just look outside, what is that you see in front of you? Is that your car? Of course it is. And those cars next to it? Those

Role-playing games are weird, there will be hundreds of men with mechanical arms, but only one vehicle you can use!
appear to be what your neighbors use to go to and from work. Except for that Ford Taurus that is being broken into over there under that big tree, you don't know whose car that belongs to (which is probably why you aren't doing anything about the crime in progress). So there you have it, conclusive proof that this video game cliche is NOT realistic. Apparently the real world is more like Grand Theft Auto than Final Fantasy. And we're not just talking about cars here; if you go to the lakes and rivers you will see all kinds of different boats. At the airport you'll find more than one airplane. Heck, everywhere you go you will find different forms of transportation, from a motorcycle to an ice cream truck to a hearse. The idea that there's only one vehicle you can ever use is completely ridiculous, in the real world you can use hundreds of thousands of vehicles ... assuming you try hard enough.

Is It Overused? As gamers start to look towards western developers to deliver role-playing games, the one-car rule seems to be a lot less frequent. In most modern role-playing games the developers will either give you too many vehicles to choose from or none at all. Thankfully we're still seeing the Japanese developers cling on to the one-vehicle rule. While it frustrates me when I see it pop up, I would hate to see it completely flushed out of the RPG handbook. It's the kind of over-the-top obstacle that makes me smile every time I run into it.

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