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 clichés 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.