Goodbye JRPGs

Good luck with that.

I paid full price for Final Fantasy XIII. I can handle disappointment.

There have been good JRPGs lately. I enjoyed Tales of Vesperia, for example.

There seem to be 2 distinct complaints with JRPGs. The first is the story/characterization. All I can say is that stuff is distinctly Japanese, which you’ll understand if you watch any Anime, so it’s not gonna change nor should it. Some of the nonsense and confusion I blame on poor translation, but some of it is just the Japanese method of storytelling which doesn’t jive with some folks here.

The other complaint is menu driven, skill-free combat and the grindy nature of them. I’m on board with that, and that’s entirely the game designers fault for failing to innovate or at least steal from better, newer games. In my opinion.

I agree with the sentiment that the visual/audio design of JRPGs is exactly what it should be. I don’t care for it, but that’s my personal preference. I wouldn’t get bent out of shape by a Japanese gamer saying that he is put off by the hulking bald space marine or overly sexualized woman in an armored bra.

The gameplay issue though… Man, I just can’t get past it.

There was a Lord of the Rings game that basically aped a JRPG.

That game removed the complaint of JRPG character design, JRPG dialogue, JRPG sound. It removed all JRPG complaints except the stand toe-to-toe turn-based gameplay and I slogged through that for about 10 hours before I gave in.

Yes, I know more modern JRPGs have evolved the gameplay past that. The problem then is that I’m still dealing with the look and sound of the JRPG anyway.

Ok I’ll bite

This generation I’ve played:

Blue Dragon
Lost Odyssey
and Tales of Vesperia

I finished LO, sunk a good 40+ hours into BD, 40 some odd into FFXIII, and suffered through 10 hours of ToV. These were probably 4 of the biggest budget, most advertised RPGs of this gen and they’re all stagnant as shit.

Now I get that, that was kind of the point with BD and LO, but what’s Tales excuse? What’s FFXIIIs excuse?

ToV is a game that gets a lot of praise from JRPG fans but to me its EXACTLY why the genre isn’t relevant any more.

As for games like Persona, VC etc. These are niche titles. There’s nothing wrong with being niche, but people have to understand that these are titles with built in limited appeal and the economics of bringing them over just aren’t good.

Final Fantasy XIII is a bad game. I’m not going to argue its merits with you, because I see very few. I’ve read elsewhere that it’s more a “Call of Duty meets Final Fantasy” game with how on-rails it is. I’ve never played a Call of Duty, so I don’t know how accurate that observation is.

Tales of Vesperia I think is a wonderful game, but if I remember correctly you also list Skies of Arcadia as one of your least favorite games of all time. I think you and I just have incredibly different tastes. I’m not sure what to point at as far as Vesperia goes and say, “That’s stale and horrible and needs to change.”

Telefrog, the stand-and-take-turns bit, THAT I understand. That’s a gameplay design bit that’s not going to appeal to everyone. In Tales games you have free control to run around, dodge, and block. In others, yeah, you stand there and take it. That’s a perfectly sound reason to not like those types of turn-based RPGs.

This is a great point, except for the fact that it’s completely wrong as far as the Xenoblade situation goes. Xenoblade and The Last Story are both slated for release in Europe, in English (among other languages, naturally). The only cost involved for Nintendo would be releasing an NTSC version of what has already been localized. If Nintendo really is trying to woo hardcore gamers back with the Wii U, you’d never know it from their behavior in this Xenoblade situation.

I’d go further than that. If you don’t like Skies of Arcadia, JRPGs are not for you. Move along.

I have been following Xenoblade since I heard bits of its soundtrack. The fact that it’s not coming over here and I won’t be able to play it despite Europe getting it is infuriating.

couldn’t you import it? Wii is region locked?

It’s actually not too hard to softmod the Wii into an all region machine, making an imported Euro Xenoblade perfectly playable on a US system, but the fact that Nintendo is so resistant to giving the core gamers something they very clearly and loudly want after a generation of shoveling out endless bad ideas into the Wii library is certainly going to make many think twice about diving into a Wii U purchase on launch day.

It has been a rough several years for the genre. Having just finished FFXIII myself, its very apparent the creative divide that now exists between the longtime fanbase and the new ‘intended audience’. Just an all-around embarrassing experience on nearly every front(with a novel combat engine).

At the same time, finishing up Dragon Quest 6 on DS, a remake of a ~16 year old game, still completely impresses in its ability to charm with its massively realized world, depth of player customization/exploration, and grounded(mostly) fiction. It absolutely eclipses the multi-million dollar efforts of today.

A shame because Xenoblade and Last Story are said to be two of the most novel(and good!) entries in the stagnating genre, and Nintendo of America choosing to let them rot for half the planet. Too little, too late I guess.

Part of it for me is just the clash of asian art styles. The hair, the adrogynous male heroes, the odd sexualization the underage girls, and for FFX, the oddly asymmetrical outfits. I think that’s about where I gave up on JRPGs, though I used to play them quite a bit. The Japanese also seem to have an insistence on having the same basic archetype hero, the teen kid, who is almost always plucky. They rarely break from this mold, and it bugs the heck outta me after a while.

The other part is the standard JRPG combat gets old fast. Some games do great variations of it, or replace it with something new. I have played Valkryia Chronicles, and while the story was insipid and stupid, with an utter waste of what could have been an interesting setting, the combat was awesome and new and the art style wasn’t too offputting.

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Good riddance, I say.

[Goes back to playing Cthulhu Saves the World]

I actually think that’s what’s wrong with the genre. There hasn’t been enough variation in JRPGs. There should be plenty of room for the genre to hold gamers who don’t like Skies of Arcadia.

Edit: To not be overly negative, perhaps the move towards downloadables will eventually help re-invigorate the genre. It seems rather moronic to me to not release a game for download that’s already been translated.

And yet I put in over 100 hours on DQ9, I finished the DQ4 and DQ5 remakes, I count Breath of Fire DQ as one of my favorite games of all time etc etc.

Just because I don’t like tired genre excuses like ToV or bad throw backs to SNES RPGs ala Skies of Arcadia doesn’t mean I don’t like the genre or that the genre is not for me.

Its that kind of attitude that got JRPGs into the position they are now.

I still find it amazing that they could craft such a beautiful and amazing world, with great combat and exploration in FFXII, then take 6 fucking years to make the terrible FFXIII.

I’m having a lot of trouble reconciling both of those.

But I haven’t played any Dragon Quest game other than VIII, which I loved with one major caveat; the sheer grind. To have any chance of surviving, you had to spend time before each dungeon getting up to the recommended level. DQ8 was the first slap in the face I’d gotten like that in a long time, heading into the first dungeon and getting my ASS handed to me by the boss because I had the audacity to go to the first dungeon when the game told me to, not to screw around for two days fighting first.

Do the other Dragon Quests not have this required grind?

I love JRPG’s, and Skies wasn’t my cup of tea. It’s not that it was bad, it just really dragged for me. I have a feeling though that part of that dragging feeling was coming to playing it after I had played Tales of Symphonia. Fast paced, quick battles for the random mobs you encounter, where a battle could be over in seconds if you knew what you were doing for the simple guys. Then I went to Skies, and the lengthy battle animations and number of random encounters drew progress to a halt quickly, even with a charming story line. And yes, I was playing the GC version with the adjusted encounter rate.

Good riddance.