I was thinking again, about Drakengard and its weapons that level-up. Disgaea, Evermore, and Secret of Mana all have weapons (among other things) that level up, but the thing that mainly sets apart the weapons in Drakengard is that as they level up, you get fragments of their history. Each weapon has a name and a special, magical attack, and can be leveled-up three times by defeating enemies.

When you first pick up a new weapon, it has a little bit of a story attached to it, which you can read by going to the “explanation” page that details the weapon’s attack power, speed, and other statistics, and pressing left or right or whatever, to get to the story page. Each time the weapon levels-up, the game gives you the next part in the story, and each weapon has a four-part story.

Some are more interesting than others and some are just kind of silly. You know what it does, though? It gives you a little view of the world the characters live in — and it’s more effective than the dozens of books in Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion. In Oblivion, the books are of varying usefulness and relevance to the game, and though they might not take much longer to read, there’s little incentive to do so.

Now, Oblivion gives you a little stat increase when you read some books, but it’s difficult to tell what books give you stat bonuses, so what you wind up with is a scavenger hunt for all the extra little bonuses. Who cares what the book’s actually about, since all that’s important is that boost to Stealth or Thievery?

In Drakengard, the setting is so sparse that being gifted little bits of story for doing what you’ll already be doing by playing the game — leveling up your weapons — is far more rewarding. Though I can and would thrash Drakengard for being so straightforward a game as to be boring, it gets this little detail right. You want to reward the player for playing the game.

Oblivion might think it’s encouraging its players to become engrossed in its world by offering scavenger hunts, but the books themselves are a means to an end, there’s no inherent benefit in doing anything more than picking them up and opening them. You get your bonus and you set them right back down again.

I was thinking that Drakengard might take advantage of the little stories by having one-shot adventures and missions that relate to the weapons. I wouldn’t say they should require one for the other, except maybe that characters in the mission might recognize the weapons, the player might get a bonus bit of dialogue. The moment the item is required to unlock a mission, players will stop caring about its story.