So for some reason I was thinking about video game protagonists and that depending on the game, the main characters tend to have a certain level of incompetence inherent to them. And this is by design. Consider for a moment, you are playing an early 90's RPG. Tutorials haven't become common or standard; we are still in the age where manuals tend to give more than sufficient information because the developers actually believe they are being read. On the other hand, a lot of times there are things that just aren't explained in said manuals, so they have to go into them in the game itself, especially plot related things. The need to explain can be addressed in two ways: characters are summarizing what is going on, allowing the player to understand in case they missed anything beforehand, or a single character is having it explained to them because they didn't understand. The second feels more prevalent, especially in games originally made in Japan where the main character has speaking parts (isn't a silent protagonist).
This leads to my thoughts about the specific incompetence of main characters. The one that I always seem to come back to in regards to this is Chaz Ashley in Phantasy Star 4; he's generally competent as he's able to hold his own in combat and grows, at least in ability to fight. On the other hand, listening to him talk in cutscenes shows that he's always flying by the seat of his pants and never seems to understand what is going on, always needing someone to explain things to him. Even right towards the end, when he listens to Le Roof on Rykros and finally gets set off, claiming that he wasn't doing anything for anybody that isn't even around to tell him what to do, he still didn't understand. It took Rune having him retrieve Elsydion from under Esper Mansion before he found his resolve and understanding.
Why is this so important to me? Because Chaz is basically the player avatar for his game, and it makes me feel like I'm stepping into the role of... maybe not an idiot, but someone of general unintelligence. And again, I know this is by design; it gives the party reason to have to explain things to the player. But it also feels bad.
Now, what prompted this was watching someone playing the sixth Ace Attorney game, Spirit of Justice. The fifth case opens with a civil suit in court, pitting the player as Apollo Justice against Phoenix Wright representing the Plaintiff in the case. Apollo acts like his usual self while we are in control, but Phoenix is mostly acting like the cool-and-in-control character throughout most of the trial, only seeming on edge or not in control towards the end when he's actually in danger of losing. And in a way, this makes sense. The Phoenix Wright games have to make it seem like the character doesn't know what's coming next or what is needed in order to prompt the player to have to think it through and find the correct answers. This is helped by the fact that the three we play as in the main series, Phoenix, Apollo, and Athena, are characters that we basically define as the series progresses.
Which brings me to the point. The Miles Edgeworth games. Edgeworth is a character that we are introduced to as a rival, or an adversary. We get to witness his character growth from the outside, and this his personality solidifies a little more than the defense attorneys that we control in the main games. But then there are his games, where we control him from the third person as he investigates crime scenes and makes deductions. He's an intelligent character as defined by his appearances in previous games, so while he doesn't always already know the answer, he does more often than not. He gathers the logic points, though we have to connect them. And it gives a different feeling than we get from, say, Phoenix Wright's perspective, where we have to come up with the answer because he can't seem to.
It just gives a different feel, I guess. And leads me into the need for things like Fan Fiction, because it will allow us to write the stories as they would have gone had they not been a video game. I've actually got a few of those stuck in my head over the years, and one of these days, I'll get them out of my head, proper. Until then, I guess I still have these posts to fall back on...