Why are “LISA the Joyful” Battle Mechanics Fun?

I’m sitting here and I find myself wanting to go play LISA the Joyful. My roommate is home which doesn’t make for a good recording environment.

The title screen is similar to The Painful's title screen. It has buddy hanging from a noose with an eerie pink background.
LISA the Joyful’s title screen isn’t any more welcoming than its predecessor’s.

This want to play The Joyful is a huge improvement over how I felt about playing The Painful. When I was playing the latter I found myself very frustrated a few times, going as far as cutting an episode short after losing a party member who really jived with my play style. I couldn’t save scum as I had been called out on it in a previous episode. The game is meant to be painful.

Out with the Pain in with the Joy

So why am I looking forward to The Joyful? The game is a revenge story from the perspective of Buddy. Instead of fighting the world and being punished for it, we take our revenge on all those who would try and meddle in our actions.

Still though, the battle mechanics are almost identical between the two games. I guess that’s just it though, the mechanics are almost identical and not quite the same.

If you’re familiar with me then you know that I hate RNGesus and how you can miss in modern games. Having to rely on the gods of probability to land a hit is extremely frustrating as it takes the control away from you. RNGesus means you can’t become better at the game unless the game decides to give you a few extra points on your side.

That’s where The Joyful flourishes. No, the game hasn’t completely eradicated the RNG formulas but it is extremely well balanced. Many of the special abilities include a timed event that you can practice and become better at executing. If you succeed this test they can often apply additional status effects such as bleed.

The timed event for the "decisive stab" attack is a shrinking circle that must be landed when the outer circle meets the inner one.
“Decisive Stab” is an ability with a timed event. To apply the bleed status ailment, you must press the action button when the outer circle approaches the inner one.

On the abilities that are purely RNG, the¬†odds of landing the attack are often 50/50 but the status effects are absolutely devastating. The poison status effect can often take out a difficult encounter while you do nothing but sit back and use “mend” to heal yourself.

Make Status Effects Great Again!

Furthermore, boss fights aren’t immune to status ailments. Some games have bosses’ that are vulnerable to status effects but the odds of it sticking are so low that they’re too impractical.

While The Painful had similar balance, some of the enemies had permadeath attacks that were used at random. Losing an important ally to a bad roll of the dice is just not acceptable and does nothing but add frustration.

Then again, maybe Dingaling, the game’s developer, had this in mind when creating the series. The whole point of making LISA the Painful so frustrating was to reward us by making the revenge story of its sequel all that much more satisfying.