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Submitted by FullMetalAdam 1116d ago | opinion piece

What Has Happened To JRPGs?

From eGamer:"You know I remember during the PS2 and PS1 eras how popular JRPGs were. There is a host of brilliant JRPGs notably from Squaresoft, Enix, Sega, tri-Ace, Capcom, Nacmo and the likes of Game Arts. Games from the Grandia series, Tales series, Final Fantasy series and Breath of Fire series all furthered my experiences of the genre growing up and into my high school years. I feel that the phase we are now in with JRPGs is turning away from what is perceived as the ‘roots’ of JRPGs where turn based combat and excessively complicated story arcs were common place. With a change now to a much stronger focus on difficult, gameplay mechanics and to a greater extent a lessening on the focus of character development that characterised the initial popularity of console JRPGs. The types of JRPGs that were prevalent on the N64, PS1, PS2 and Gamecube are less pronounced within the genre. These were prime platforms for console RPGs when I was first introduced to them, and I mostly had my addiction to JRPGs satisfied on both the PS1 and PS2". (Culture, Dark Souls, Dragon's Dogma, Industry)

bicfitness  +   1116d ago | Well said
Western media slammed them for the duration of this generation until they realized what their vitriol had done. Now we see a lot of wistful stories, not unlike this one, wondering whatever happened to JRPGs while journalists completely abdicate themselves of their own responsibility in the smear campaign to eliminate the genre. While this was going on, Japanese developers scrambled in an attempt to fix what WASN'T broken and tried to cater their games to the West, instead of just refining what they had (notable series like Tales aside, who stuck to their principles).

Next gen, expect a slow resurgence, not dominance, but a solid market presence as the West remembers why they like JRPGs and the East gets back to making them like they should be made.

Think that about sums it up.
#1 (Edited 1116d ago ) | Agree(23) | Disagree(7) | Report | Reply
mandf  +   1116d ago
NAILED IT Spot on bubbles for a 100% accurate of what happened.
Megaton  +   1116d ago
You're playing "chicken or the egg". What came first, the decline of the JRPG or gaming media pointing it out?

As an avid JRPG fan of generations past, I'll be the first to say it completely fell off as a genre this generation. SquareEnix has become all but irrelevant as Final Fantasy took its nose dive, while lesser-known developers like Atlus tried to pick up the pieces. It's not as dead as survival horror, but the JRPG definitely isn't anywhere as strong as it used to be.
mandf  +   1116d ago
They declined cause they cared more about profits, sales, and appeasing people who don't play jrpgs. They decided accesiblity was more important than creative vision.
bicfitness  +   1116d ago
I disagree, Megaton. The decline occurred because Western outlets were bemoaning the lack of innovation and trite nature of JPRGs while simultaneously, paradoxically, embracing the FPS only because it was new on their platform - console (yet stale to anyone who had owned a PC in the last decade and a half).

The escalating cost of jumping into HD certainly didn't help either. It made JRPG makers less risk averse. So they couldn't just make games anymore, they had to make "hits", and what a "hit" was became a bit of a moving target for them. That said, development costs and tools are pretty established now, and all of the next-gen consoles seem to be using off the shelf components, so we can expect to see more entries into the genre. Not to mention the Western media have eased up on their JRPG witch hunt.
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TongkatAli  +   1116d ago
If you don't get a bubble this site BS.
Sexius Maximus  +   1116d ago
I thought the genre was fine this gen, not strong, but fine. Each system had some fantastic exclusives. Lost Odyssey for 360 (my personal fav JRPG this gen) Xenoblade for Wii, Ni no Kuni & Valkyria Chronicles for PS3. There is more to list on all systems too.
For an old gamer like me, it'll be tough to beat the glory days of the 8 & 16 bit era.

I'd argue that it is a surge in awesome WRPG's which has taken focus away from the JRPG's. WRPG's have gotten better, and JRPG's, though great fun, have stagnated.
3-4-5  +   1116d ago
spot on bic.

Western Media ignorantly complains about everything and we never hold them accountable for it.
TM333  +   1116d ago
Seriously, you said it! Another possible factor I sometimes wonder about is the big earthquake that devistated Japan a few years back. I know that things were shaky even before that, but I'm sure that tragic event didn't help. Those companies were probably having to really focus on staying in business and were probably not wanting to take risks, and in turn we saw more copying of western game companies' success.
Tapewurm  +   1116d ago
Ni No Kuni is a step in the right direction...I am loving that title....the only other that I feel had a true JRPG feel to it was Star Ocean The Last Hope- International this gen...And,even though it was a drastic departure from the original series and JRPG feel, I actually enjoyed FFXIII and FFXIII2. (no booing please!) I am actually Enjoying Ragnarok Odyssey on the Vita too. I need to try White Knight Chronicles as well...that one has just slipped by me, but if Ni No Kuni's quality is a measure of what Level 5 can do then I think I will probably like it as well.
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Tapewurm  +   1116d ago
Ahhh, I forgot to mention Valkyria Chronicles and Valkyria Chonicles 2...both excellent games...was so happy to find out that I could download Valkyria Chronicles 2 on my PS3 and port it over to my Vita and still play it. Just wish they would do that with Phantasy Star Portable and Phantasy Star Portable 2 :(
360ICE  +   1116d ago
Fixing what isn't broken =/= changing something every now and then.

I think western RPGs have been far more innovative this generation, and worked hard to expand the genre. They've taken a much more serious look at open world games, as well as real time battle systems and mixing roleplaying games with other genres.

Games like Demon's Souls would be examples of games that have innovated and brought new stuff to the table, and they've rightfully gotten a fair share of attention, together with all the major JRPG franchises. You're not given attention in this world, you grab it.

A huge bboom in independent western studios would be another reason to the proliferation of western RPGs.
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TheDivine  +   1116d ago
Amen brother. Look at Lost Odyssey, one of the best traditional jrpgs ever made. It got bashed for being too traditional and old school. Reviewers expected FF to reinvent the jrpg which didn't happen. Same with Blue Dragon which was an amazing DQ type game. It didn't help that mediocre titles like Last Remnant and WKC dropped early on but reviewers seemed to expect something new and were in love with wrpgs which were new to consoles at least being big and mainstream. Now after the hole from big jrpgs not being there people realized what they missed. Along came Xenoblade, TLS, and Ni No Kuni to show people why we fell in love with the genre.

Still for us fans of the genre we had amazing titles like Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, Tales of Vesperia, Magna Carta 2, Xenoblade, TLS, Graces F, Nier, Fire Emblem, Resonace of Fate, Valkyria Chronicles, and now the amazing Ni No Kuni. That's not even counting the handheld titles like Radiant Historia, TWEWY, Devil Survivor, Stange Journey, Crisis Core, exc. it's mainly that Square didn't have many good games which is who really sets the standard at least until this gen. Couple that with lack of console SMT/Persona titles and there was a void. It's looking up now though and I did enjoy FF13 myself. There was a distinct lack of AAA big budget FF like games. The only one this gen was Lost Odyssey. I miss the long epic sagas with turn based and the huge world with hidden towns, bosses to find, and top of the line graphics with 20 hours of prerendered cutscenes. Those are what is lacking IMO.

Can't wait for Fire Emblem and SMT4 on 3ds. Bright days ahead!
Seraphemz  +   1116d ago
Hopefully Ni no kuni shows others how to do it..
ApolloTheBoss  +   1116d ago
And what a way to end the generation with an epic game like that. ^_^
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kma2k  +   1116d ago
People got tired of level grinding!
joab777  +   1116d ago
Really? No, they just moved to mmo's. Thats where many jrpg fans went. And creators felt the need to evolve a genre so it could be more popular. I cant fault capcom and square enix for attempting to change the genre and try to continue to be at the forefront. I actually think dragons dogma was a better western rpg than most western rpgs.

On the contrary, there is still a need for traditional jrpgs. I love ni no kuni and i hope it sells well and gives publishers the confidence to use better tech to emphasize the strengths instead of altering them. Maybe square enix can release final fantasy titles that are both traditional and evolving. Make FF15 a traditional rpg that looks gorgeous etc, and then release other FF games like versus that try something new. Right now, its a mess for them.

But, if i were to b angry at companies for do anything different, they may never have made dragons dogma, which i loved. There must be a happy medium. But it all comes down to money so we have to support the games we love.
kma2k  +   1116d ago
i dont mean all people. I was hardcore & i mean stupid hardcore JRPG fan when i was younger, now that im older i still game 2 to 3 hours every day but i just dont have the will to spend a night or two level grinding. In the past i would spend a day or two level grinding & not think twice of it, i just dont have the patience any more.
bicfitness  +   1116d ago
Dragon's Dogma was my kind of Elder Scrolls. I always liked the aforementioned series (ES), but the art direction (bleh) and meandering nature of the game never won me over. I've played every ES game, but never finished any of them, strange as that might sound. In comparison I adored how DD looked, sounded and played (a bit more guided, very slick combat for an open-world RPG). Can't wait for a sequel. I also completed it, twice.

I do sort of agree that MMORPGs, especially in the East, are taking a sizeable chunk of the RPG audience. Some of them are pretty spectacular too. Arch Age and Black Desert come to mind. Check out BD:
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abzdine  +   1116d ago
one thing comes to my mind: Ni No Kuni!
RogueStatus28  +   1116d ago
MonoSoft's new game will do the trick.
Godmars290  +   1116d ago
With few exception they've stayed the same since the PS1 days.

Or in the case with square they gone too far. Focused on glitz and presentation, cute slanted surrealism, rather than story and world.

As much as many will disagree even the "new savior" Ni No Kuni doesn't do different than what's been done before. Just does it better, has names behind it, than a company like Square.
contradictory  +   1116d ago
indeed i want more of the same old JRPG
expect just enhanced here and there.
and in that category it seems to deliver.
abzdine  +   1116d ago
JRPGs dont need to do different they just need a rebirth after this very long hibernation period!
JRPGs are so rich, it's all about a complex story, exciting gameplay but the main thing should stay the same.
Nada Nuff  +   1116d ago
People stopped accepting the cultural differences between JRPG's and Western RPG's. On one hand I can understand that, as some of the stuff in the Final Fantasy games (which is almost synonymous with JRPG's) was just bizarre. The plot, character designs and other choices made by the developers just didn't do it for me after awhile. Part of it is also failure to innovate (enough) and, like kma2K said, level grinding is a chore.
bicfitness  +   1116d ago
There are levels in CoD (Ranks, Prestiges, whatever - haven't played one ever, but I'm informed), and people play that year upon year with no end in sight. The single player campaign is over in 6 hours, and that's not why they're buying the game.
Series_IIa  +   1116d ago
bicfitness, your level of pretentiousness is toe curling.
bicfitness  +   1116d ago
@ Series, your inability to contribute anything to the conversation is admirable. A real talent. How about you explain what you disagree with, instead of trying to construct a one liner that isn't as witty as you think.

He mentioned cultural differences between West and East, then went on to discuss how "level grinding was a chore". I merely pointed out that there are millions of Westerners who play a very popular franchise who enjoy that exact activity. That is a fact. Anyway, I'm out of bubbles, and I can see why you have one. So do take care.
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Nada Nuff  +   1115d ago
Level grinding is only part of the reasons I listed. There are plenty of American games that suffer from grinding, as well as plot and design issues. JRPG's typically have a combination of these factors.

As an example, FFX (the last FF I've played to completion) expected me to dodge lightning 200 times in order to acquire a weapon. That takes tediousness to a whole new level. They're not asking me to play the game or do anything that might be loosely translated as fun. No, they want me to hit a button accurately for 200 times. Thanks, Square.
TongkatAli  +   1116d ago
If Japan wants to make Western games they should make Japanese type of FPS with RPG leveling, don't COPY innovate popular western genres.

I would to love play a FPS game as loli with a witch hat or a anime spike haired dude with a multibarrel shotgun. JRPGS leave them the way they are, Persona 4 Golden is a perfect example for a JRPG battle system, pure perfection.
ayabrea93  +   1116d ago
I think there a lot of big jrpg's on the way. ni no kuni, monolith softs new game, the new tales games and final fantasy versus xiii. they all seem to be trying something different and unique which excites me the most.
Tex117  +   1116d ago
Im not sure we can blame the western media for this. Its not like we got a huge onslaught of JRPG's in the beginning of this generation, and then it dried up. If anything, the early ones were well reviewed.

IMO, western audiences were not buying enough to justify the cost of a full on HD RPG. It was a risky proposition.

Players were buying Call of Duty, Uncharted, Halo, Skyrim etc...not some quirky Japanese RPG.

So to minimize cost, RPG's moved to the handhelds. Lower development costs...a known market (especially in Japan).

Its simple really. The JRPG lost its way this generation and became self-conscious of what the West thought and would buy.

Just look at Final Fantasy. Really, the best example of how JRPG's lost their way. SquareEnix I think tried to strike a balance between East and West but failed to make either happy.

Also, I do think that the majority of Western Audiences have an aversion to anime. Just a guess.

Another problem is that the Japan RPG developers have lost their story-telling edge.

All their RPG's have the same old tropes, same old feel, same old story.

The height of the genere's story-telling came in the 90's with FFVI, Chrono Trigger, and even Secret of Mana (proof a simple story can still be effective).

If a Japanese Developer would actually attempt a dark story with mature dynamic characters and drop the anime, they would sell games in the West.
SageHonor  +   1116d ago
I'm just waiting for Persona 5
Luke_fon_Fabre  +   1116d ago
Whatever happened to open minded gamers? Also, thar be no such genre as a jrpg. Why? Because Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep plays a helluva lot different than Shin Megami Tensei II. All of these games can't be the same genre. Also, there are good "JRPGs" nowadays.
animegamingnerd  +   1116d ago
xneoblade and ni no kuni have shown that JRPG'S are making a come back and will continue when persona 5, monolift's wii u game, and what ever mistwalker is working on
kewlkat007  +   1116d ago
Yup yup..whatever he said..
FullMetalAdam  +   1116d ago
Nice to see a healthy debate about this.
CBaoth  +   1116d ago
a healthy debate? where?
all I've read are a bunch of rabid JRPG fans' comments blaming the western media as usual.

No one has looked at historical sales numbers and asked the question; did they ever really sell well here in the first place? Microsoft made Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, Sony did White Knight Chronicles and Ni No Kuni, and Nintendo produced the Last Story and Xenoblades. Know what they all have in common? Not one sold a million copies!

Has anyone brought up the fractured market created by Nintendo in Japan (13 million SD consoles with an unique UI versus 10 million HD consoles using the traditional gamepad) as a possible reason why the entirety of the Japanese market has suffered? Japanese companies chose the safe bet in Japan, but it prevented them from achieving breakout sales in the West since there's very little innovation in the genre and their IPs lack the visual flare the West now craves in an HD era.

Factor in increased production costs, a mobile culture that has developed an indifference to a global online infrastructure thus neglecting digital distribution, a perverse business model in which 3rd parties treat their IPs as exclusives and choose short term exclusivity deals over long term profit are all possible contributing reasons why the JRPG genre has stagnated.

But no, it's a lot easier to point the finger squarely at western media who all apparently have a secret agenda to eradicate JRPGs from the face of the Earth. What's even more incredulous is that people believe these alleged "journalists" actually have the power in the first place!
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drsnoopyseussdog  +   1116d ago
I miss the good old days when there was soooo many good jrpg's. I hope alot of the good old ones come back.
P.S. Getting Persona 4 Golden soon :D
black911  +   1116d ago
The bigger question is what has happend to gaming. Studios are shutting down.
Nada Nuff  +   1115d ago
Japanese game development studios are cash-crunched.

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