After blowing a hard earned paycheck on a new video game, I often find myself wishing for more money. Not legal American tender, of course. I become disgruntled after being sucked out of reality, kicked down to bankruptcy, and end up having to cut down bushes (obviously the best place to find money) to find rupees so I can buy an overpriced blue candle in Hyrule.

A large portion of video games have some form of currency. There are two currency systems that are found in many of these games. Firstly there is the system where money is scattered carelessly around the world for the heroes to pick up. A classical example would be Mario: gold coins litter the ground... err midair. Collecting 100 equals an extra life for the plumber. Sonic and Spyro also come to mind as examples for this system. The other widely used currency system is targets (usually antagonistic foes) dropping money. Nearly every RPG has this system, usually with G, GP, or Gold as the currency, and it's usually dropped by mysteriously wealthy laden creatures that roam the country side.

Several games come to mind that have noteworthy currency systems as they either variate from the normative or have well delevoped systems.

Rupees- Zelda

With the exception of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, every Zelda game has had the gem like rupees as the main form of currency. I estimate a rupee's size to be that of a finger, only an inch wider. Six sided and smooth, the rupee narrows near the top and bottom into triangular points. Different colors dictates the value of the rupees:

  • Green - The most common rupee. Enemies drop these all the time. They're also found in bushes and rocks often. Worth 1 rupee.
  • Blue - Most enemies occasionally drop these. Worth 5 rupees.
  • Red - Rarely dropped by enemies and usually hidden in chests or pots. Worth 20 rupees.
  • Purple - With some special exceptions, I don't believe any rupee worth more than 20 can be dropped by enemies, making them much rarer like the purple rupee. Worth 50 rupees.
  • Silver - Worth 100 rupees.
  • Gold - The huge bird to the south in Termina Field in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask drops this. Also, after collecting 100 gold skulltulas in The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, you can get infinite gold rupees as your reward for curing the cursed skulltula-man. I don't believe they can be found anywhere else. Unusually large, they are worth 200 rupees.
  • Orange - Another physically large rupee, as well as the most valuable at 500 rupees. I read somewhere on that the only is found by killing some kid in the Lost Woods in The Ocarina of Time with the Biggorn Sword. I'm not sure how accurate that is though.

generic-man informs me that ore is an additional type of currency for The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons in the underworld.

ATM Processing- Earthbound

Earthbound has one of the most unusual currency systems despite the fact that the old dollar sign isn't exactly exotic or mysterious. Like most RPGs, money in Earthbound is gained by slaying heinous creatures, like wild dogs, Hippees, walking mushrooms and Zombie Tents to gain cash. However, these fearsome advisories don't just "drop" a big wad of money for the heroes to pick up. A telephone call to the main character's father is necessary to collect the money. He deposits cash into the group's bank account based on the enemies they've killed. After that, one can withdraw all the dollars needed from an ATM... For a small processing fee of $1, of course.

Hearts- Kid Icarus

In the Classical Mythological world of Kid Icarus, a more irregular form of currency is used: hearts. They are found by defeating the enemies; nearly every single one drops a form of heart piece. This leads me to believe it may be the enemies' actual hearts that Icarus collects, possibly as proof of their slayings. It would make sense; he trades these little red prizes with gods, who would be happy to see that crowd of Grim Reaperettes hanging around their floating palaces gone. Most small enemies drop a small heart, worth 1. Larger enemies usually drop a half heart, worth 2. Powerful enemies, like the infamous egg-plant wizard, drop a full heart worth 10.

That flag looking thingie- Pokemon

I wouldn't have even mentioned Pokemon's currency system at all, as there is very little special about it: it follows the "bash enemies and earn your supper" RPG system. However, the money is denoted by a very strange symbol. It looks something like this:

     |  \_
     |    \_ 
     |     _} 
     |   _/
     | _/

It isn't quite a Yen sign (¥)... It must be the evolved form. Ha.

Strategic Spending- Ogre Battle

The tactical RPG series has a unique currency system in Goth. Goth's main purpose is to hire, augment, and upkeep a military force, although buying weapons and items is another of its uses. The larger and more powerful the army becomes, the more expensive; while regular soldiers hire cheaply and require little upkeep, high level units demand a large amount of money. A strategic balance must be used to keep Goth in your pocket for emergencies or buying things. As the battles progress in real time, day changes to night and back again. At the start of each day, the cost of upkeeping an army is subtracted from the amount of tribute being taken from liberated cities and the stockpiled money. The result is you either make a profit, or lose some money. I've never run out in the middle of a battle, but I believe chunks of your army are retracted from the battle until the upkeep can be paid. Goth can be earned by simply sitting around a few days on a battlefield with more lucrative towns under your wing than you have going into keeping your troops on the front line. Winning battles and selling items also yields more loot.

Stone Of Jordans- Diablo II

There could be a whole write up on the currency and economy of multiplayer Diablo II alone... Wait. There already is. In a nutshell, the Diablo II multiplayer economy is not based on the single player currency, gold, because it is so easy to find and thus worthless. It is based on a fairly rare ring called the Stone of Jordan, or more commonly, Soj. Sojs were not chosen arbitrarily; they give a variety of bonuses useful to almost all of the Diablo II classes. It's a frustrating system to break in to- People that don't have one can never get one, people that have at least one usually have 50. That's over exaggerating, but it is true for the casual gamer. Some serious time and effort needs to be put forth to get one of these little rings, unless of course, you dupe one. Hacks and cheating run rampant on, so duped items go unnoticed until more patches come and screw up the entire economy again.

Plat- Everquest

Disclaimer: I've never played Everquest so some of this might be off. Msg me if you see something that needs correcting.

EQ has four types of currency, but only one is used in serious trading. 10 coppers equals a silver. 10 silvers equals a gold. 10 golds equal a platinum (aka plat). Here's the clincher though: People buy plat . I have some hardcore EQ friends that have done it. They exchanged real, tangible dollar bills for a couple hundred imaginary, invisible plat. The Plat phenomenon reminds me of exchanging a dollar for three quarters... Only buying Plat makes less sense. Plat, once acquired through real life purchases or in game adventuring, is then used for trading. One reason the lower forms of currency aren't used for serious trading because the cost of valuable items would be so much that the player's character would be weighed down by the massive amounts of non-plat currency. I had a friend who once gave 20 plat to a newbie beggar in copper (20,000 coppers). The beggar, although likely four times richer, was forced to dump most of it after overcoming the mystification of why he couldn't move his character over .13 inches per hour.

Local Currencies- Secret of Evermore and Quest for Glory

These are the only two games I know of that multiple types of currency. The basic idea behind both is that for each new area, a radically different culture is presented. With different cultures comes different forms of currency.

Despite the fact Secret of Evermore is often criticized as a low quality Action RPG for various reasons, it has one of the most interesting currencies systems. Each of the four areas in Evermore have their own local set of currency found by defeating enemies in their respective areas.

  • Talons- In the prehistoric jungle world, talons are used for trading. We all know from movies and television that cavemen and dinosaurs were natural enemies, hence the cavemen probably use the talons since they're proof a dinosaur was killed. They look like little velociraptor toenails.
  • Jewels- Upon reaching the Egyptian like desert world, the talons can be exchanged at a money changer for the local currency of jewels.
  • Coins- The medieval world uses gold coins as currency. The coins are the most valuable of the four in the game.
  • Credits- The computers in the sci-fi space station trade in credits. Credits are closer to talons in value, but the enemies in the level drop them in the large bunches making it the most efficient place to build up money. They look like tiny credit cards.

The only other game (series of games actually) that operated with multiple currencies is Sierra's old PC Adventure RPG series, Quest for Glory; its system of money changing in different regions was remarkable similar to Secret of Evermore's. Each game in the series had a different form of currency. Usually, the lesser form of currencies (ie. silver, centimes) could be found off slain monsters. The higher form (ie. gold, dinars) are given as rewards for doing something heroic or found in hidden or dangerous places. The thief class could pick up quite a bit of both types of money by pawning off stolen items or stealing it directly.

  • QG1- Ten silvers equals a gold in the medieval East German setting.
  • QG2- 100 centimes equals a dinar in the Arabian setting. An varying amount of Dinars are given at the start depending on how much money you ended QG1 with. Before buying anything, a money changer must be found in that damn Shapier maze.
  • QG3- 100 commons equals a royal in the African setting. The money changer is much easier to find this time. It should be noted that this currency is used by the dominating culture of Tarna. The nomadic Simbiani people use bartering, hence beads, furs, and spears are examples of items used as currency to them.
  • QG4- 100 kopeks equals a crown in the Transylvannian setting. Due to a magical force teleporting the hero to this land, all the money accumulated in the three previous games is lost. You have to start over at zilch! Aack! I lost my money!
  • QG5 - Don't know much about this one as I never played it. Drachma is used as currency in the Greek mythological setting.

Sources: Various faqs and walkthroughs on Playing the games unless otherwise noted

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