Random Number Generators are quite possibly the gods of video games. The unseen (Well. Generally.) hand that determines so much of what goes on. In much older, and I would assume well designed games, the randomness is less "random" and more guided towards a certain result with some variation to make things more interesting. Kind of like how Apple had to change up the randomization in iTunes because how can playing two tracks by the same artist back to back be random? (Except that it is.)
I had quite the experience today with the RNG in Final Fantasy 2. The game is well known for its quirks and generally thought to have bad design and today I ran into something that was a potential deal breaker. FF2's world is surprisingly open. Players could technically get anywhere right from the start of the game, or at least once they obtain the canoe. There are two problems.
First, without cash there is very little to do in the later towns other than talk to the people about things that do not quite concern you yet. More likely is that the enemies on the way will make short work of you. I decided to make my way down to the one town well worth visiting early. I started my way down to the town, saving every few steps.
After a little bit of traveling I got into a battle. The extremely powerful enemies made mince meat out of my team. I reloaded my save. I took a step. I got into a ridiculously hard battle. I reloaded. You can see where this is going. I kept reloading and started to try to run. Failure. I decided to take a peak at how the game determines whether I could escape battle or not. Turns out in FF2 it is basically a random number between one and one hundred compared to your evade statistic. My evade stats were 53, 1 and 0. Not the best odds.
The interesting there is that heavy armor decreases your ability to evade. Makes sense. Removing everything from my characters I found my values to be around 60, 30 and 25. Not great, but better. I continued my resetting and luck pushing until finally I escaped from the battle. A few minutes later I made my way back to the starting town, my figurative tail between my beaten legs.
What I fought was always different but it was always that one step after I loaded the game. I am pretty sure that most other Final Fantasies have a bit more randomness to this, but this has some realness to it that really fits with the "realness" of FF2. Which really goes to show that realism in video games is not necessarily the best thing.