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The current state of J-RPGs -- ???'s Sblog @ Videogam.in

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The current state of J-RPGs

BlogWandering the internet in search of anime news/events today I found an interesting opinion piece on Anime News Network's 'The X Button' column.

It felt very familiar to me. In the days of my youth I discovered (somewhat later than most) Final Fantasy VII. I have enjoyed the many many hours of slogging through various Japanese RPGs since then as complicated tales of political intrigue, romance and betrayal unfolded in between furious battles. Yet in more recent times I have become bored with the genre. I've half finished Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, only played about 5 hours of Final Fantasy XII (yes, that's right, I said it) and only played the first hour or so of Star Ocean: The Last Hope (I blame the terrible voice acting).

What I have believed I needed was something different. Sure the Final Fantasy series is a sure hit (even the titles that some argue are not as good are still playable games and better than average) but I felt trying something different would be the way to go.

I found this article most interesting, especially:

One easy answer lies in demographics: a 13-year-old who played Final Fantasy VII upon its release is now 26, living an adult life with finances and responsibilities that leave little time for 40-hour RPG crawls. The typical Japanese RPG is anime-infused escapism honed for a teenage audience, and that audience eventually stops being teenage. Then many of them stop playing RPGs, especially after they've seen all of the clich├ęs that the genre foists repeatedly upon players. And then they complain online about the tired nature of J-RPGS.

Sounds very familiar indeed.

It's almost enough to conjure memories of the American anime industry, which failed in part because of hubris-driven companies buying countless no-name properties and selling them to a market that barely knew they existed. However, the anime-RPG subculture has run for years like this, and it shows no sign of stopping. And it may yet grow beyond the ranks of otaku in-jokes and bouncy anime comedy. Persona 3 and 4 are already breakout successes, while Demon's Souls proved a hit.

I have (in case anyone's wondering) started playing Starcraft in an attempt to break away from my staple genres. It's not a huge ask given I have played RTS before and Starcraft is meant to have a quality story (or so people tell me).

What do others think on this? Has there been too many crappy titles localised in the West? Am I just older than I used to be or have I just grown sick of the genre to an extent? Does the problem perhaps actually lie with the target audience not being me anymore? Maybe the fact that J-RPGs seem to be moving (as the article suggests) to an anime-inspired place is something that I find a problem. I love anime and watch plenty of it (and even study it at uni), but maybe it's better for it to be separate to gaming.1.


  1. The X Button - State of the Nation

  • Posted by ???
  • http://videogam.in/s1811

Poll Question: Do you play J-RPGs as much as you used to?

  1. No Votes
  2. 12.5%1
  3. 25%2
  4. 25%2
  5. 37.5%3
  6. No Votes
8 Votes

The current state of J-RPGs

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  1. I play a lot fewer videogames now than I used to. However I've been playing RPGs from Japan on consoles and RPGs from the West on PC for quite some time. It's hard to say I'm bored with the Japanese's stagnation when the Western RPGs are experiencing just as much. Neither "genre" is really making great leaps and bounds these days towards innovation. It seems like most people "jumping ship" to Western RPGs never really played them so they don't realize how little they've been changing. They don't seem to realize they're chalk full of Western fantasy and sci-fi tropes as well.

    I think I may be a JRPG apologist :S I enjoy RPGs from both sides of the world and it annoys the heck out of me when statements about the faults of JRPGs are decried in the ignorance of the WRPGs doing the exact same thing just from a different cultural perspective.

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  3. @Nels

    I think every single word in your post resonates with my views 110%. If the West think that having super complex dialogue trees linking to multiple pathways and outcomes is the solution to depth and complexity in RPGs they're seriously delusional beyond belief. Having said that the East are also stagnant with being terrified of branching outside of the fundamentals brought on by their archetypes. The biggest problem is what has been lost in the transition from 2D to 3D on BOTH sides. They've added a ton of new elements and components but they've replaced the old and have left it there in the past. Leonard Boyarsky is my beacon of light in the West and Yasumi Matsuno is holding the other torch in the East.

    They've got potential because of their track record.

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  5. I don't think Final Fantasy XII was a JPRG anyway. Maybe that's why I loved it so much.

    And shame on you for only playing five hours of it, Alex.

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  7. @Matt Final Fantasy XII is some sort of weird mutant JWRPG. A flawed combination of the best aspects of both genres. The person that figures it out so that it really works will be quite rich (or stifled by an overbearing company concerned about marketability and forced to quit due to mental stress).

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  9. I can't help but whole-heartedly sympathize with the sentiment of this post.

    I've been pretty unable to get into the old-school vibe or replay classics I loved back in the day (i.e. Lunar: Silver Star Harmony). Fortunately, I recently purchased Star Ocean: First Departure, and it's been wonderful to me. Great old school vibe with a decent pace.

    It's very much true that I simply don't have the time I used to, so games that play well for short periods of time are key.

    • Reply
    • ???
    • Thu December 9, 2021
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