What’s an RPG without a Themed Enemy Group?

JRPG Tropes I Love(Theme song — sung to the tune of “The Daves I Know” by Kids in the Hall):
These are the tropes I love, I love
These are the tropes I love
These are the tropes I love, I love
These are the tropes I love

Welcome to another installment of The JRPG Tropes I Love, a series in which I celebrate my favorite recurring themes, elements, and outright cliches from Japanese role-playing games. Today’s trope:

Themed Enemy Groups

They’re the JRPG version of running the gauntlet. They’re not a mini-boss or a Big Bad. They’re a group of boss-level enemies that must be defeated either one right after another, or as a recurring element throughout the game.

FF7-UltimateWeapon
Ultimate Weapon from Final Fantasy VII

The Final Fantasy series, for example, features Weapons. In some Final Fantasy games they’re biological monsters, and sometimes they’re technological terrors, but they almost always appear as a group. In Final Fantasy VII, there are five, each of them an instrument of destruction built to defeat the alien menace Jenova: Sapphire Weapon, Diamond Weapon, Ruby Weapon, Emerald Weapon, and Ultimate Weapon. Of course, the fact that you fight them should be the tip-off that although the Weapons were created to defend the planet, they go a bit nuts and end up attacking it. This, too, is a common trait of Themed Enemy Groups.

SkiesOfArcadia-Piergoth
Piergoth, the Purple Gigas, from Skies of Arcadia

Another common element of this trope is color as the distinguishing trait among group members. The Lunar series features the Four Dragons. These powerful, ancient creatures are not always enemies; sometimes they’re friends or even members of the player’s party. But what’s consistent is that they’re named by colors: White Dragon, Black Dragon, Ruby Dragon, and Blue Dragon.

Color is also the distinguishing trait of the Gigas in Skies of Arcadia. There are six of them in that game, one for each of the planet’s moons: Recumen the Red Gigas, Grendel the Green Gigas, Bluheim the Blue Gigas, Yeligar the Yellow Gigas, Zelos the Silver Gigas, and Piergoth the Purple Gigas, which is a giant sky whale — a sky whale, y’all! Like so many other Themed Enemy Groups, the Gigas are enormous weapons of mass destruction built by the ancient peoples of Arcadia.

WildArms-Lolithia
Lolithia from Wild Arms

Wild Arms features the Golems, which are:

Checkbox2 Enormous

Checkbox2 Ancient

Checkbox2 Mechanical

Checkbox2 Weapons

Checkbox2 Built for good

Checkbox2 Now used for evil

Naturally.

Phantasy Star II turns this trope on its side a bit; it features a Themed Dungeon Group rather than a themed group of enemies. At one point in that game, artificially-created rainwater floods the planet’s giant lake, threatening many towns and lots of people. Rolf and his friends must open all four dams to end the flooding: Red Dam, Yellow Dam, Blue Dam, and Green Dam. At least they kept the color-coding!

Pokemon gets in on this trope with the Legendary Birds — Articuno, Zapdos, Moltres, and later, Lugia. Going beyond JRPGs, Disney’s Hercules features the Titans, a group of giant monsters that ravaged the ancient land until Zeus stopped them.

eBook Cover
On sale December 11, 2018

I’ve made no secret that my fantasy novel series, The Verdant Revival, is my love letter to JRPGs and their epic, unforgettable stories and characters. In book two of the trilogy, Tomorrow’s Shepherd, Fritz Reinhardt and his friends must face the Steelterrors, ancient mechanical monsters — the worst chipware planet Verde has ever seen, resurrected and back on the warpath. There are four of them, one for each of the elements of the ancient world:

  • Samson, Verdant Warden of Soil
  • Leviathan, Verdant Warden of Water
  • Banshee, Verdant Warden of the Sky
  • Teufel, Verdant Warden of Fire

Yeah, I went all-in on this one for Tomorrow’s Shepherd, sticking very close to the trope, because giant robots, guys. The world just can’t have enough giant robots. Ever.

What Themed Enemy Groups did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

One thought on “What’s an RPG without a Themed Enemy Group?

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