TOKEN NPC: The world has been overcome with generic, archetypical evil, and only you, intrepid young adventurer, can vanquish it and return the world to a peaceful state. You will be aided in your quest by the towns' merchants, who are even willing to peddle their wares for a reduced fee (you are saving us from a life of eternal torment, after all). I am able to share with you only three pieces of information: the source of this catastrophic evil is right over there; you can't get to it until you fight all of its minions scattered throughout the world; and the first minion's lair is right over there. Good luck, hero, you'll need it!
DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: As our hero makes his way through the first of INTEGER themed dungeons, he realizes the lack of intelligence of his enemy. Weapons and armor just his size have been left in treasure chests and keys to locked doors abound. Our hero need not be careful; his enemies are apparently deaf. Reinforcements never arrive, and should he become weary, health items are never far.
HERO: I sure wish I had an ITEM. It would make it a lot easier to get...oh, there's one. Sweet!
DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: With his newly acquired ITEM, our hero makes his way to the boss's lair. This boss room, as it were, is inexplicably set up to take advantage of the boss's glaring weakness. This weakness is always related to the recently acquired ITEM. If our hero acquired a ray gun, the boss would only be vulnerable to lasers. Had he found a grappling hook, the boss would either be vulnerable only from a high vantage point or need to be pulled down to the ground.
HERO: Wow, that's convenient!
DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: Our hero uses his ITEM to vanquish the boss, and claims the McGuffin that it was invariably guarding. He also gets a stamina boost, despite the fact that he should be extremely tired after that grueling battle with a boss at least three times his size. Our hero is now transported magically either to the dungeon entrance or the town where the quest started.
TOKEN NPC: If I'm the same NPC that talked to you before, I just remembered the location of the next fiend! Otherwise, I was just walking by and saw some bad things happening over there. Maybe you should go check them out.
DISEMBODIED NARRATOR: This cycle repeats INTEGER times until our hero finds himself at the boss room of the final dungeon. This final battle plays out much the same way as the other boss battles. It just takes longer, the music is cooler, and the final boss doesn't die until you've defeated him a number of times (at least 2). Upon defeating the final boss, I will reward with a final scene, the credits, and maybe a New Game+, but that's all you're getting.
DISCLAIMER: I love action/platform games; they're just really formulaic, and I've been thinking about them a lot lately. My sources for this article are the Legend of Zelda series and the Metroid series.