Right in your eyeballs

JRPG Evolve or Die.

Typical JRPG character design.

Please follow this link to read on at gamingbolt.com : http://gamingbolt.com/jrpgs-need-to-evolve-or-die

Someone needs to have a stern word with today’s Japanese Role Playing Game makers. The thing is, the people who play traditional Role Playing Games are the same people who played them at the height of their popularity, two generations ago. People like nostalgia, but the haze of time makes us remember things with rose-tinted glasses.I was a big fan of the JRPG in the PlayStation era, and I have been hoping that they could one day be returned to the lofty heights of their glory days. All they need to do is update the old formula for a modern audience, much like the recent Fallout games updated an old series for a new audience.

Some games manage to ape the success of their forebears, the recent Deus Ex is one example, it managed this by building on a strong foundation and updating it for a new generation. Imagine if the Deus Ex prequel stuck rigidly to the mechanics laid out by its predecessors: clunky menus, no checkpoints, sub-par shooting. Instead it managed to keep the bits that made the originals so compelling: sandbox gameplay, multiple choice dialogue, character upgrade choices. The trick is to keep the identity of the brand, but at the same time mutate the parts that feel dated.

In JRPG’s we are still reading text boxes, we still don’t get any say in the outcome and we are still walking in people’s houses (they don’t even care) and stealing meat out of a cupboard where meat has no place. The characters still all look the same, their eyes glassy and soulless, their hair like a bad advert for super-hold hairspray and we are still hitting living lettuces with a giant sword. The stories still tell the same tale, a young boy/girl finds a hidden power and saves the world.

It is a shame then that JRPG’s seem to be stuck in the past, the only  innovation in the genre is coming from new Final Fantasy games, and in my opinion even Square Enix has been completely unsuccessful in this regard. Their idea of aping mainstream success seems to be to build a hyper-fast, button-mash happy fighting system, funnel the character down a corridor and restrict side missions to killing a set amount of monsters.

Suikoden 2: the ultimate JRPG.

Please follow this link to read on at gamingbolt.com : http://gamingbolt.com/jrpgs-need-to-evolve-or-die


5 responses

  1. jagged85

    Has this article’s author maybe been living under a rock these past few years? Because Japanese RPGs have evolved significantly these past few years…

    Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story, Pandora’s Tower, Radiant Historia, Monster Hunter, Ni no Kuni, Yakuza, Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls, Dragon’s Dogma, and plenty more.

    It’s not Japanese RPGs that are stuck in the past, but it’s this article that is stuck in the past…

    November 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    • If you had cared to read the whole article, instead of judging it first, I actually mention Dark Souls as a good, recent example of evolution. Next time, at least read something before getting angry with your keyboard.

      November 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm

  2. My biggest complaint about Wii is there aren’t enough traditional JRPGs localised and released in UK. All I got from my Wii JRPG collection is mostly hybrid games. I would say I own around 4 I would call with no problem traditional JRPGs on Wii. From top of my head they are Chocobo’s Dungeon, The Last Story, Tales of Symphonia 2 and Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn. The rest range from borderline unique to borderline JRPG.

    Reading this I get impression your more into RPGs that incorporate Life Sim elements rather then pure RPGs. Which is multi choice question as well as more sandbox feel to whole game. In which case suggest you look at Pandora’s Tower Wii and Rune Factory series. They are some semi sandbox games Crystal Bearers, Little King’s Story and Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii. Story is fixed but outside of that a lot of freedom. I have heard and seen freinds play Persona series which offers choices. Could try for visual novel type games as well if you like choices in game stories. Some really good ones out there. One of the bigger ones is 999 DS game and it’s sequel on 3DS.

    October 10, 2012 at 7:44 pm

  3. I don’t think using turn-based battles is the reason why many people have stopped liking JRPGs. That’s definitely not the problem with Star Ocean IV whose picture you have at the top of your post. I think it’s the length of opening cutscenes and “character development” instead of letting the player start playing the game early with a purpose. I think that’s where the earlier games do much better than more recent ones. People aren’t willing to wait for the story to “get good”. They don’t want to listen to characters banter when they don’t care who they are yet.

    Of course innovations in battle systems are great too, but a turn-based battle system doesn’t have to be slow or not strategic if done right. I find it funny that so many people fixate on this point when they happily played FF7 in the past; did all these people change so much that they couldn’t enjoy FF7 today?

    October 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    • I agree with your point, and I didn’t mean to put an emphasis on the battle system. It is just one of many problems. I mean can you imagine if FPS hadn’t evolved? We would still be looking up and down with the shoulder buttons. I don’t mean turn based battles need abolishing completely, but they need re-inventing. FF13 tried and failed.

      The picture of Star Ocean at the top was put there to highlight the samey character design in JRPG’s, in my opinion another thing that needs evolution.

      October 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

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