Many elements pertaining to your common or garden RPG are fairly ludicrous. That's why these games thrive in the fantasy and sci-fi genres. The plotlines, the villains' schemes, the haircuts... All too often these things would fall flat on their implausible faces in anything approaching a real-world setting. And nothing in RPGs is more gloriously nonsensical than the weaponry.
With the concept of perpetual level-grinding empowerment at their core, RPG weapons lend themselves flawlessly the ostentatious, the showboating, and the ultimately-just-plain-stupid-when-you-think-about-it. So here are some of the most ultimately stupid ones, based on us thinking about them. Let's get started with the most notorious one...
Buster Sword - Final Fantasy VII
Would be utterly useless because: The Buster Sword is the poster boy for showboating impracticality. Huge, angular, and sporting the kind of heft that could crush a skull just as easily as it could cleave a limb, visually its as intimidating as a herd of drunken elephants in football shirts.
Until, that is, you realise that its wielder isnt so much wielding it as he is dragging it along behind him like a giant, lazy, obstinate St. Bernard which refuses to move and is carrying a bag full of bricks and is also dead. And that any attempt to actually swing the thing will results only in dislocated shoulders or a dislodged or broken spine.
Conductor's baton - Eternal Sonata
Would be utterly useless because: It's not, nor has it ever been, a weapon. A real-life conductors baton is simply a small wooden stick. A musical chopstick, if you will. At a push it could work offensively in the right context, but that context would be Manhunt or a hideous gangland statement killing, whereby it would be stabbed into the victims eye socket and snapped off.
And combat does not work that way in whimsical anime RPG Eternal Sonata.
Flaming sword - LOADS of games
Would be utterly useless because: Although it would look cool, the flames would do minimal damage compared to the actual puncturing of skin and perforating of organs that the blade would be responsible for. In fact if anything, the fire would slightly cauterise the wound, slowing down bleeding. That's if you can even swing the thing accurately given how much pain your hand would be in due to the uncanny heat conducting properties of metal.
The main point though is one of post-battle practicality. As soon as you sheathed the thing youd set your pants on fire. Remember, kids: Its only a victory if your groin doesnt require treatment for third-degree burns afterwards.
Gun arm - Final Fantasy VII
Would be utterly useless because: The idea of expanding the range of ones limb-based repertoire with the ability to fire bullets from the wrist sounds like a wonderfully empowering innovation. A literal case of point-and-shoot, allowing you to rain down hot fiery lead upon any who cross you with a mere gesture.
The reality? Machine guns are hard to use. They take a fair amount of effort just to control. In fact they tend to require two fully functioning hand-equipped arms simply to avoid tearing a hole in the ceiling. Of course you could use your spare arm in an attempt to steady the recoil of a gun-arm, but given that the thing youre attempting to hold still is your bullet-rattling other arm you'd hardly be working at full capacity. Not least when you eventually end up shaking your elbow cartilage to jelly and then discovering that your forearm is riddled with stress fractures.
Ball and chain - The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Would be utterly useless because: Okay, the thing will smash through a wall of solid ice, but the basic laws of physics dictate that the force required to project a metal ball with the speed required to do so would not come from a slight elfin boy. It would come from a cannon. So you might as well just use a cannon instead.
As an added bonus cannons come on wheels, so they can be easily transported without compacting ones spine to half of its original length.
Boomerangs - Skies of Arcadia and many others
Would be utterly useless because: Weaponised boomerangs were used for hunting, i.e. sneaky one-hit takedowns from a hidden position. In open combat, they have absolutely no purpose whatsoever. Once a boomerang hits something, it stops flying. It falls to the ground and categorically does not come back to the user for another throw in the next round.
The only way to make boomerangs practical in sustained battle is by carrying about 50 of them. But to be honest, if youre going to do that you might as well just pick up rocks off the ground and hurl them at your enemies heads. Theyre harder and you dont have to take them with you afterwards.
Gunblade - Multiple Final Fantasy games
Would be utterly useless because: It wouldnt function as either a gun or a blade. The firing mechanism of Final Fantasy VIIIs version (which doesnt actually fire a projectile but rather sends a shockwave down the blade for additional impact) would probably result in severe carpal tunnel syndrome for the user over prolonged combat. And the resulting numbness, tingling sensation, and loss of grip strength would turn the already-challenging act of carrying the ludicrously unbalanced thing into a borderline impossibility.
And on that note, the simple fact is that swords with hybrid pistol hilts are just not practical. They handle badly, their weighting is all wrong, and theyre generally just a big unwieldy mess. In fact they did actually exist in real life for a while, but were written off as a stupid idea for exactly that reason.
Rumbling Rose keyblade - Kingdom Hearts II
Would be utterly useless because: Keyblades by and large are a pretty ridiculous design. For a start, most of them do not actually have blades. Thus, what youre dealing with is actually a giant, top-heavy metal club. As such, its a weapon thats about as balanced as civil rights debate at a KKK meeting. The Rumbling Rose from Kingdom Hearts II is particularly impractical, being as it is essentially a solid slab of metal with a handle made of chicken wire. Oh, and the handle is covered with metal thorns too, so its actually more like barbed wire.
You know, comfortable, ergonomically designed barbed wire, just like they stuff cushions with.
Vanille's rods - Final Fantasy XIII
Would be utterly useless because: Egad, where to start with this thing? First up theres the fact that they look to be constructed from a set of deer antlers on a stick, making them both utterly unwieldy and giving them a fragility rating roughly on a par with that of a glass spider-web. So, a wonky but at-least-sharp hitting-stick then? No. You see Vanilles rods arent used like that. Instead, their primary attack method comes by way of four hooked lines that project from the top of the rod, turning it into a kind of combined whip/flail/scratching device.
Does that sound familiar? Similar to any easily recognisable real-world hunting equipment, perchance? Yes, Vanille is essentially fighting Final Fantasy XIIIs various beasts, monsters, and house-sized bosses with a fishing rod. Go out into the countryside and attack a bear with a fishing rod and see how far you get. Come back and tell us all about how it went. Oh wait, you wont be able to, because bear poo cant talk.
Turbo Super Sledge - Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Would be utterly useless because: The Turbo Super Sledge is the kind of weapon a six-year old would design. Obviously that automatically makes it amazing, but by definition it also makes it flat-out ludicrous.
How ludicrous? Its a sledgehammer with a nuclear powered jet engine running through the head. Earlier and later versions of the Super Sledge use a relatively sensible kinetic energy store for extra impact, but for the Turbo edition, only the force of an actual rocket-powered swing will do. Sounds awesome, but compare the mass of a rocket-propelled sledgehammer to that of a stationary human hammer-swinger. Swinging this thing would simply turn its wielder into a (very brief) human Catherine Wheel, before catapulting them over a couple of city blocks and inflicting the kind of whiplash that turns neck vertebrae into powder.
M-490 Blackstorm - Mass Effect 2
Would be utterly useless because: It fires black holes. You know, those things with mass so great and gravity so powerful that not even light can escape their pull. Thus, the very idea of projecting one of those away from oneself is inherently broken. As is the idea of said impossible projectile not instantly sucking the entire corridor into its black, merciless grasp the second the trigger is pulled, starting with the nearest thing to it (the gun itself) and then branching out from there (i.e. crushing you to a pulp an instant later). Its quite literally a self-defeating weapon.
More weapons-grade nonsense?
So that's a hefty 11 tools of death-dealing nonsensicality. But can you think of any we've missed? Any world-saving weapons that would do far more harm than good? Any ultimate swords of ultimate silliness that would break a hero's arm long before breaking the villain's will? Let us know in the comments.
And if you're in the mood for reading some more tangentally related internet goodness, why not check out The Top 7... stupid plans for world conquest and The most stupidly stupid game scenarios ever? There is no reason why not. You'll have a great time.