Japan's Protagonist Problem

Gameinformer: "Whenever we sit down and play a story focused video game, it's often the intention of the developer to create a playable protagonist that, to an extent, the player can relate to. After all, if we're going to be controlling this character for at least a dozen hours of our lives, we should feel some sort of connection to them. And for the most part, developers do succeed at this; even if most of us cannot attest to being cowboys, post-apocalyptic survivors, or treasure hunters, characters like John Marston, Lee Everett and Nathan Drake have earned their way into the hearts' of gamers the world over for being easily understood characters that also have a level of depth that allow the player to find things they can relate to about them.

However, in recent years, I feel that that Japanese video games have struggled in this endeavor. "

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Pantz1521d ago

I'm a sexy boy just like Vaan so I can relate to him. It's sad how much hate I get just because I'm so hot.

Nu1521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

I assume you were born in a town similar to Delmaska?
Is that you ?

Omnislashver361521d ago

What is this cancer? FFXV had relatable characters, that was the least of it's issues.

Kreisen1521d ago

FFXV really doesnt have much in common with most jrpgs though.

dillydadally1521d ago

I'm guessing you didn't read the whole article...

Kreisen1521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

I like JRPGs but i have always struggled with the main characters in these games becouse of how childish/stupid/irrelevant they usually are. JRPGs often have worlds filled amazing characters that all dress really nice, have amazing magical abilities and strong background stories. Meanwhile there you are as the main protagonist, a silly child that gets to swing a stick, complain and be ignorant to everything that goes on around him.
One of the best things about western games in general is they actually put you in the shoes of somebody that matters.

Princess_Pilfer1521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

maybe try playing an actually good JRPG? Skies of Arcadia? The Persona series? The wider SMT series? The Chrono games. Lost Oddsey. Disgiea. Trails in the sky. Seriously, take 20 seconds to look beyond the samey surface level stuff and there is no shortage of good games. The genre doesn't begin and end at a dozen mediocre Tales and SAO games. Kinda like every other genre really, for every 1 Sants Row 3 or The Witcher 3 there are like 20 open world ubisoft/WB games that are all effectively clones of each-other.

(sorry fanboys/fangirls, most of the tales games are impressively mediocre, on good days. Why games like Symphonia got so popular when they're a bad 1987 anime in video game form is beyond me)

nitus101521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

Well, Tales of Xilla is the only Tales game I have ever played and while I did like the game to a certain extent I found the combat to be rather a case of button mashing. In fact, this game deserves the top honor of being the only RPG I have ever played that gave me RSI in that I could not play any game for over two weeks and I have not played the game since.

Still, I have the Souls series, Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 to fall back on.

BTW. I did try the demo of Tales of Berseria and the combat system seems similar to Tales of Xilla. Why put a "restricting ring" around the combat area when all open (not necessarily open world) combat RPG's don't do that? I personally find that annoying.

GameBoyColor1521d ago

vesperia and abyss are standouts.

Adrian_v011521d ago

Persona games are imo more mature than most WRPGs.

Princess_Pilfer1521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

The SMT series as a whole is more mature than most games, full stop. This is Including the games in the series with a lighter overall tone. Mostly because they aren't trying to be mature just to be mature and get attention, they're actually interested in exploring themes and have something meaningful to say. Mass Effect, for example, rarily has anything to actually say (though it has it's moments.) Persona 3 is quite clear from early on, and it hammers on these points at every opportunity, even stating some of them outright at the beginning of the game disguised as tutorial information. (Dealing with grief is important, helping other people deal with grief (and other emotional problems) is best for everybody, you're gonna die so make good use of what time you have) and it does unsubtle things like turn your helping other people with their personal problems translate directly into large boosts in combat effectiveness to drive that point home. Not a subtle series in general, but with how little people tend to pay attention I don't think it can be, I'm certainly not used to looking for themes and messages in video games, not unless I'm told I should be before I start playing.

I mean, Persona 4 Golden went to far as to explain the psychologial inspiration for shadows so that things in the game proper (like the shadows being excited and emboldened by the sort of attention the midnight channel gave them, and the sort of emotional impulses that would drive someone to do watch the channel and give it to them) would make sense to people not already fimiliar with the term.

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Adrian_v011521d ago (Edited 1521d ago )

It's a clash of cultures. Japanese people enjoy the stories of normal people who don't matter growing a pair and standing up against the world. And I promise you you will see far more of those.

I find it ignorant that the writer demands Japanese developers to drop their traditional values just to cater to the west, yet when Japanese developers do it the same people complain about westernization of JRPGs. The writer also chose FFXII as the worst example. Yeah Vaan was a cliche youngster growing up, however the game did well not making an obvious main character. Depending on whom you like, Bash, Ashe or Balthier could've been the main protagonist in the player's eyes, Vaan was just a way to get the story rolling, to me he was on the same level as a narrator.

Kreisen1521d ago

Your views on Japan seem like they were taken straight out of anime. I bet you also think Japan is the best country in the world and all the women are virgins who turn bright red whenever a man talks to them.

Princess_Pilfer1521d ago

If you want to argue that Vahn is the player perspective character, he's a very poor version of one. Good narrator characters have something significant to add to the story, for example we're getting the interpretation of events from a character who's views conflict with the main characters views and that influences how they tell the story, so we effectively get 2 versions of the same series of events (what we see happening and what the narrator sees happening,) or we get distance to see things from the perspective of someone less personally invested, or we get a main character telling their version of events which may or may not be how things actually happened. Vaan does none of these. He's a stupid stock cliche tag along with nothing interesting to say, do or contribute. He's an active detriment to the game, distracting from the actually important characters and events, and it's not even like his is an interesting side story that runs in parallel or crosses back and forth across the path of the political story because that might have been interesting, he's just a tag along.

You *can* have the young and inexperienced protagonist (Yuna, Garnet, 2/3rds of SMT protagonists, arguably Shion, Chrono, Shulk, Neku) without it being unaltered cliches that don't add anything to the story. The author (and you) have made precisely the same mistake and used it to arrive at opposite conclusions, and they're both equally wrong.

I can extend it to anime if you want, because the "young and inesperienced" archtype shows up everywhere in anime too. Reanton Thurston is an example of exactly the same type of character done right. He's young, ignorant, and wrapped up in political struggles way above his own head. He also has an actual reason to be there, a lot of input on how the plot develops, and genuine personal struggles throughout the story that have consequences to the plot, despite not being the main character of the show from the political side of the story (just like Vaan.) Vaan *could* have had a place if the story was structured differently and the politics were more of a background thing driving the personal stuff the game was actually concerned with (like Eureka 7.) Vaan *could* have had a place if he had a unique perspective and the story was focused around his unique perspective (ie the commoner caught up in a big political struggle) or he had his own story which intersected and diverged with the overarching political story at several places and they impacted each-other, wether the game followed him or the political story. As it is, he has no place, and his presnece is a detriment to the game. (as is the 2nd half of the games story where it switches from serious political story to not-kefka trying to destroy the world with magic because reasons. )

Activemessiah1521d ago

Maybe you lack empathy... which is ok... You nutter!

rhap1521d ago

Seems like the author didn't try Ni No Kuni to play as Oliver, a genuine little kid that could be any of us, or maybe he didn't try Eternal Sonata to be Chopin in his final days struggling with inner issues any dying adult could have. I guess he didn't play Nier as well to play as Nier trying to save his daughter. I wonder if he knows who's Kazuma Kiryu as well or maybe, just MAYBE, he tried the newly released Nioh to play as William?

My point is: if you want to talk about something, you need to understand about it. To randomly say crap when you play the 1% mainstream japanese games around and ignore the other 99% is pretty stupid. To be honest, it's very retarded, but coming from those "gaming journalists" around, it's just normal.

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