This argument is ridiculous. Since the start of RPGs, vertical progression has been a feature in almost all of them. Starting with Dungeons and Dragons where a Holy Avenger certainly outclasses a Longsword +1 by every measure. In Final Fantasy, when you went to a new segment, all your old gear was pretty trash. In fact, until the mid-90s, most RPGs had this. Dragon Quest, Faxanadu, Wizardry... In Crystalis, new enemies would literally be invincible to your old weapons, and you needed a certain level to touch bosses. Pool of Radiance, Destiny of an Emperor... Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Lufia, Soul Blazer, they ALL had it. In fact, the only three RPGs from the 80s I can think of that had horizontal progression are Star Tropics, Ultima, and Zelda 2. It's a core feature of almost every RPG. It's how these games show progression. You don't want to enter endgame with your basic crap, after all. It's about feeling like you've actually moved up in the world, something that is extremely difficult to accomplish with horizontal progression (I think only Zelda and Ultima really did it right, and Ultima only through 7 as 8 and 9 were terrible).