Imageepoch Asks "Is JRPG Old Fashioned?"

By Spencer . November 16, 2010 . 9:51pm

Imageepoch, the developers of Luminous Arc and Criminal Girls, don’t think so. In fact, they’re taking common criticisms of the "JRPG" term and spinning them as positives.


Imageepoch bought the domain name and released this video teasing new JRPG announcements.



Remember the Black Rock Shooter RPG? That’s one of the games rumored to be in development inside Imageepoch.

Read more stories about & on Siliconera.

  • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

    This is the most uplifting news I’ve heard all week!! Thank you Spencer! God! Imageepoch! Internet! Not necessarily in that order!I’m as proud of them speaking up for JRPGs as if they’re my child or I’m theirs! *Angel chorus vocalizing demon tears*

    EDIT: The Engrish is so good it’s not even Engrish! No, I’m not getting tired of JRPG Imageepoch!

  • Guest

    Excited. Nothing else to say really.

    EDIT – Ugh. I knew this would start to derail into people sticking up for JRPGs and saying that everything is perfect. They’re not guys. I’m still fairly new to RPG’s in general but I can see extreme similarity between all the ones I’ve played. I don’t have an issue with them but again I haven’t played them for over a decade.

    Point is, admit that JRPG’s could use a fresh new approach, while I don’t agree with the exaggerated negativity spread by most of the Western devs and bloggers, don’t act like they’re perfect either.

    • glemtvapen

      I agree. I feel the genre has stagnated bit by bit in the last 5 years using the same exact formula with very little variation. They have been trying too damn hard for melodrama and crap. JRPGs need an extra oomph and newer pizazz. JRPGs need to somehow replicate the epicness and magic of past games.

      • Guest

        Probably has a bit to do with what former Capcom developer Keiji Inafune was talking about in his last interview on Japanese “salarymen” developers playing it safe

    • Hraesvelgr

      I support this edit.

    • I don’t really see many comments about JRPGs being perfect. JRPGs aren’t really perfect. There’s NO video game that is perfect. Just certain titles do certain things better than others in different aspects in one’s opinion and that usually sparks some sort of argument about one’s opinion over the other.

    • raymk

      I agree with you 100%, i Think western rpg’s might go down the same way some day. Nothing stays fresh forever you know. I won’t the JRPG’s to step it up though big time but i will continue to support the good one’s like the amazing valkyria chronicles and atlus games.

  • nyoron

    I think it is kind of old fashioned, but I like it that way. I’m glad the genre has mostly moved past random battles but otherwise I don’t really see a need to drastically alter anything else.

    Also I’d be all over a Black Rock Shooter game.

  • d19xx

    I would pick jrpgs over western rpgs any day. However I wish they would ditch the cutesy super deformed designs…

    • Guest

      What JRPG has super deformed designs? I’ve never seen a full fledged JRPG with super deformed designs. Unless you just mean generic anime designs.

      • d19xx

        Just to make sure we’re on the same page, from Wikipedia “Super deformed or SD is a specific style of Japanese caricature where characters are drawn in an exaggerated way, typically small and chubby, with stubby limbs and oversized heads, to make them resemble small children. This style is referred to as chibi by anime fans.”

        Jrpgs that uses this type of art style heavily out numbers games that uses realistic proportions, such as the Final Fantasy games(VIII+) and Persona. Here are some Jrpgs that uses sd characters, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, Astonishia Story I & II, Crimson Gem Saga, Mana Khemia: Student Alliance and there’s tons more.

        • SolidusSnake

          Oh snaap, Crimson Gem Saga and Astonishia Story are both Korean (KRPG?). Not that it makes your post any less informative, of course. ^_^

          • d19xx

            I stand corrected then. Other than Pangya, I didn’t know Koreans also made other games for the PSP.

        • FF9 is like a mix between Chibi and realistic. They aren’t super deformed, but they are Tiny as a whole (Except Brahne @[email protected])

          • d19xx

            Despite the chibi inspired looks, FF9 is actually my favorite FF game. This is one of those instances where chibi was done right. But for other games with serious theme and stories, the chibi look kinda ruins the atmosphere…

          • FF9 is my favorite as well. I was just giving an example.

        • kactaplb

          lol so ruling out basically all sprites and chibi art? To me, jrpgs like FF is doing it wrong. Focusing on photo realism isn’t the way to go.

          • Personally I hate Chibi and Moe, both are a huge turn off to me. But not liking those styles has nothing to do with a desire for photorealism.

            There are plenty of great anime styles, its just some of the more popular styles in Japan recently have been abhorrent to myself, and apparently a lot of other western gamers.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            That’s exactly what many of the critiques are trying to do, paint everything with the negative chibi/moe brush which has come to equal pedo in the west.Are we not supposed to feel something for and care about the characters we play as and experience in a video game? That is one of the important elements (perhaps underappreciated) of the ‘moe’ design. I wouldn’t classify Gusts base character designs as SD — although they make great use of it in the ‘diving’ instances of Ar Tonelico and other places to express character feelings. In the case of Ys, I’d suspect it a nod to the earliest days of the series when the look of badass Adol was a handful of red sprites on a tiny sprite body. Guess I see such design decisions as a tool inherent to the animation medium (real folks arent’ able to drop water from the side of their head or nosebleed every drop of blood from their bodies on demand). Yet even us stupid gajin can understand meanings being expressed.

          • kactaplb

            You’ve hit it on the nail. I roll my eyes when I hear people claim that the current market is flooded with games that have “cutesy” designs and stale gameplay. It makes me wonder if they have actually played the games, rather than just brushing them off as another “one of those games”. To me, today’s designs are better than ever before. Some might call it the same thing, but oh are they perfecting it. It’s the perfect blend of art and realism. There is only so much one can do with a camera, but with a pencil and brush, the possibilities are endless.

            “anime” designs have an advantage in its inherent simplicity and ease of understanding. Just from a single still image/sprite, I am able to instantly recognize the emotions portrayed. Is it realistic? No, but why are you looking for realism in a game of this genre? Realistic designs, and real people for that matter, aren’t so lucky.

            Really, I never understood the obsession with making a game believable. You are entering a world with infinite possibilities, and yet apparently people want a world that is a photocopy of our own world’s rules. Perhaps this all stems from people failing to accept the reasoning behind jrpgs, which tell a journey rather than a story. In any case, personally I enjoy worlds where my party can effortlessly wield swords bigger than them, or have their power and stats directly connected to their friendships/relationships.

            On the other hand, the argument in favor of wrpgs astound me sometimes. Apparently the key to success is to replace any sort of meaningful story with the “shape your own destiny” sort of approach, and have a protag without personality because I’m supposed to pretend that they’re actually me… Oh right, I also forgot to mention bloom and terrible lighting.

          • Guest

            Those are Manga references that were borrowed into Anime and then videogames (since Anime is often adaptations of Manga)

          • d19xx

            Just chibi art. I have no problem with sprites, I actually prefer them over 3d models.

            Persona 1 & 2 used 2d sprites with realistic proportions. But it didn’t affect the charm of the game.

            Chibi or SD was fine, during the 8 and 16 bit era. Since game developers needs to show some facial reaction of on-screen characters, without enlarging the entire sprite. But with today’s tech, using chibi characters just looks impractical.

            Don’t you find it unusual that the game’s promotion, box and manual artworks uses well drawn and proportioned characters? But once in the game, you’re controlling fat-big-headed little kids.

          • M’iau M’iaut

            To which I again ask, please give me examples of what you are talking about. I’ve got about as complete a localized collection of JRPGs as one can have but I can’t think of any titles as you describe. Are we speaking of the Tales games? There, the SD character designs have largely gone away within the game itself and it’s bloody Fujishima, so everyone is gonna look like K, Bell, Urd or any other character design template he’s used to death.

      • malek86

        Looks like there’s one coming out right this week.

    • Roses4Aria

      Amen to that! (Though I don’t mind the chibi art.)

  • Code

    rar, it makes a sound I can only imagine is a silver and diamond watch being exploded by a high powered laser every time the letters change! Seriously though hooray for anonymous pep-talks lacking in any real apparent content! RAR, JRPGS GOO~!

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      They’re making it sound like they’re reinventing the J-RPG wheel and sticking it to the foreigners (thus it’s in English). Though it probably won’t live up to their own hype, it’s hard not to be infected by such bold talk.

      When “We do not think so!” flashed across the screen in glorious light, I was Yeeeeaaaah *fist pump x100*

      • Code

        That’s totally trueee *FIST PUMP* rarr let me at`em +O+ I’ll fight’em alll! Seriously though if they reinvent the JRPG Wheel, can they invent it into a JRPG Jetpack, or better yet an JRPG Pizza! I’m starving!

  • DemonicX

    Never got tired of JRPGs and never will, but I can’t seem to get into many WRPGs.
    I’m definitely excited for this announcement.

  • MrRobbyM

    This makes me feel good. Like there’s hope. But just as d19xx said, I wish they’d ditch the overly cutesy, super deformed, crazy anime characters and melodrama. Which is fine sometimes, but when it’s every JRPG recently, it gets boring. What needs to happen is JRPGs need to go back to their roots, or at least a few years ago.

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Guess I would ask for examples of what you are looking at for a then and now snapshot comparison. When I look at earlier generations of the JRPG, I see Lunar, Tales of, Harvest Moon, Vanguard Bandits, Thousand Arms, Albert Odyssey, Shining Force, and hell even most Final Fantasies not named VII or VIII. I’d definitely say each of these is largely done with a traditional anime style look. None of the girls in Thousand Arms are exactly sane — and most are archetypes; and the stories are all pretty much young kids save the world.If anything, I’d say recent Japanese titles have expanded quite a bit in the graphic look and feel department. FFIX was the last of that series to do anything approaching the original design elements (here I speak of what ended up in the game, not Amano’s stylized art). Persona’s look skews to the quite realistic, stuff done by both Cing and Sting look like something done from a picture book, and Rune Factory has moved from the chibi moe look to something of its own design, too.

  • Yukito

    Thank you Imageepoch. Nothing this gen, makes me happier than to hear JRPG makers standing their grounds. Take that step up, and give the PS3 an RPG, and I will love you even more. JRPGs still exist all over the DS and PSP. Give the PS3 a quality one please. That is why they are “dying”, because no one, has made a great one worth saying “HOLY CRAP THAT WAS EPIC” about.

    • Guest

      The three console RPG’s that have stand out to me are Demon’s Souls, Valkyria Chronicles and Resonance of Fate because they each offer something new that was not done before last gen in the JRPG side or done on the WRPG side.
      The next game to stand out to me is The Last Story

      • I agree 100%, there is still a glimmer of hope

      • Yukito

        Well, like I said, those were still nothing to go “HOLY CRAP THAT WAS EPIC”. By this, I mean a great story, fight system, graphics, and so on. Valkyria was the closest of them all to fit everything, but it didn’t feel like a complete JRPG, in the sense, more than it did a new take of a SRPG.

  • kylehyde

    My answer is no, I agree that there are some cliches that probably need to take a rest, but still I like the RPG’s, so no matter for what console it will come this game it have my support.

  • I salute you, gentlemen. I’m glad to see a developer who doesn’t say to themselves, “Maybe we should we make our game more like Oblivion so the plebes will like it better.”


    • Patrick de Kruijf

      Are there any Jrpg’s that are oblivion like? cause I can’t seem to remember any of them.

      I guess demons souls was kinda oblivion like and we all know that it flopped big time!


      • malek86

        “I guess demons souls was kinda oblivion like”

        No. Just… no.

      • Darkrise

        “I guess demons souls was kinda oblivion like and we all know that it flopped big time!”

        *facepalm* Have you played demons souls at all? Or Oblivion for that matter? And Demons Souls “flopped”? Are you kidding? That game was a best RPG for ps3 and raked in tons of money. And how the heck is Oblivion similar to Demons Souls?

        • PurpleDoom

          I’m pretty sure he was being sarcastic. If he isn’t, then he has no idea what he’s talking about.

          • Patrick de Kruijf

            I should have added a sarcasm tag. I played it and loved it

            But I’m really curious if there even is a J Oblivion look-a-like

  • godmars

    Now this is how you address the haters: throw down the gauntlet!

  • HarryHodd

    I’ll never get tired of saving the world, Japanese game art, and turn-based or in-depth action gameplay, so no.

    WRPGs are just too dark and gloomy for me, plus the battle systems arent as fun as jrpgs typically.

    • glemtvapen

      You tried Dragon Age Origins? The game is slightly buggy, but damn I felt that game to be a breath of fresh air after all the JRPGs I have played.

      • HarryHodd

        Played it until I reached the dwarven kingdom which bored me with it’s brown environments, nasty dwarves, and i didn’t like the forced to make a choice without enough info story parts there. It just felt like a slog to me. I also disliked The Fade and thought the combat on consoles was lacking. Best part about it was my party and dialog with the characters.

        • TomSkylark

          This was exactly the frustration I had with the game last weekend (yes, I waited for it to be super cheap two weeks ago before finally picking it up). I absolutely loved it until the Dwarven mission, at which point it seemed like all of the really wonderful, open-ended dialogue was suddenly ditched for dwarves who got pissed at me _no matter what I said,_ which resulted in quests being closed off. When I tried to remain impartial to the two sides, neither would negotiate with me.

          So, what seemed initially to be the open-ended wonderfulness WRPG’s are known for turned into a simple binary without any nuance. As much as that seems to be the exception to the rule (in both Dragon Age and most other WRPG’s), it highlights that perhaps the monolithic binary between the two RPG styles isn’t quite as cut-and-dry as one might think.

      • Dragon Age was good, but not great. Its battle system felt like Final Fantasy XII’s battle system done right, so I definitely give it that. Still, I can name about 15 JRPG’s that I like better in every single way.

      • Ladius

        DAO is a great game, but from a WRPG perspective it’s all but original. With this kind of reasoning “Cliche JRPG 177281#” would be refreshing after having played a slew of wrpgs, but that won’t make it any less cliche.
        That said, I have no problem with cliches at all: what matters to me is the way they are fleshed out (I believe avoiding some archetypes in fantasy narrative is almost impossible nowadays).

      • Guest

        And yet Vindictus kicks its ass twelve different ways from Sunday

  • Sounds interesting. Can’t wait to see what they’re keeping secret.

  • I have an undying love for the (sub?)genre, but….

    I always find some aspect(s) lackluster (usually the story), while I enjoy other things quite a bit.

    Anyway, I cracked up once the English started going in the vid. Dunno why, it was just funny.

  • Darkrise

    So happy to know that there are still developers willing to show to the haters that Jrpg’s are NOT dying. I’d prefer any jrpg over a wrpg! BRS rpg by Imageepoch!? Sweet!

  • epy

    JRPG is my pet genre and this ad made my day. They’re answering to the crap english gaming press and wrpg developers have been spouting for the last 4 years or more.

    Hope they come through and give them something to shut up about.

  • Happy Gamer

    Need I say it? Lost Odyssey. Made me say “man..this game is….freakin fun!”
    JRPG. I think it’s the different demographics that dislike Japanese-like games. Remembering growing up in NES and SNES days? anything from Japan and RPG was awesome..notably Square Soft. I don’t think we cared about being Japanese etc. It just happened to be from Japan and the games were fun.

    Heck I had more fun with Are Tonelico than alot of big budget releases recently.

    Big up to Dragon Age tho whew! good game released here on west. lol

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      Ar Tonelico Qoga?

  • Kris

    This definitely put a smile on my face. Can’t wait to see what it’s about!

  • MarkMario

    I want me BRS Rpg :3

  • never even considered playing an RPG that is not japanese. to tell the truth, I only play japanese games. oh…and I love anime characters (“cutesy super deformed designs”)

    • PurpleDoom

      Yeah, I like the anime designs a lot too! That’s part of why I prefer Japanese games (RPGs at least) to Western ones, which usually are going for a grittier, darker look.

    • I’m in the same boat here.. tho I did try out Fable II and Jade Empire (plus I think Star Wars: KOTOR and watched my boyfriend play Mass Effect 1&2). All the games are pretty decent, but not as good as some of my favorite games. The idea of playing mostly as one character doesn’t really appeal to me much, I like the whole teamwork related stories that has decent artwork, music, interactions with each other, etc. Battle systems might be important to some people, but for me, as long as it’s easy to understand in the long run and you can make use of everything that you learned, it’s not that big of a deal to me. Turned based, strategy, action.. doesn’t matter, I’ll try them all.

  • malek86

    I wish somebody would say this about shmups too.

    But this seems typical. Try telling a western developer that FPS are boring. They’ll be all like “not true!!111”. Same here. The only difference is that JRPG are not as successful as they used to be – but this could debatable too. People only think that way because they want console games and not portable ones. Such narrow vision.

  • No, JRPGs are not unnecessary or old-fashioned and I did not get tired of JRPGs. That’s why you should make a date for the international version for Last Ranker dammit!

    • Yeah give us that and Fate/Extra! What makes me sad is that if they really make a BRS rpg that will have even less chance to be released here than the games mentioned…

  • 9inchsamurai

    No, JRPGs aren’t old fashioned. They’ve just grown a bit too stale for their own good because JRPG developers don’t seem to try anything terribly different from what we got 10-20 years ago. At least there’s some attempts like NIER or Knights in the Nightmare that truly change the formula of what people would expect from an RPG made in Japan, but so long as the majority of JRPGs feature the same typical anime-inspired characters and stories that we’ve all experienced dozens of times over with only minor deviations, then I really don’t see much of a future – at least for my own interest in the genre.

  • pridesin

    JRPG will never die. I will support JRPG as long as I can !!!!

  • malek86

    Oh, and what’s with people acting as if Oblivion was somehow the representative of western-made games? It’s not. It’s the crappiest WRPG I’ve played in years. It was a bad attempt to streamline the genre to make it more appealing to console players. Even I, who definitely support WRPGs, would not want to play something like Oblivion again. I hope the people who speak badly of the genre, are at least basing their opinions on something better than that game.If Oblivion is the road they’ll follow from now on, then I say WRPGs are dying just like JRPGs, if not worse. Good thing there’s at least somebody making something good once in a while, like let’s say, The Witcher.

    • Ereek

      I like Oblivion because of the mods and the freedom it allows you to enhance your game, but I think Morrowind is a far superior game. Lately the whole in-thing for both Eastern and Western developers is “streamlining.” Mass Effect 2 was streamlined. Oblivion was streamlined, but at the cost of removing everything good and placing it in a more traditional high fantasy setting. Fable III also fell to this.Bioware games are going down that same path, though. Just like Bethesda they’re remaking the same game over and over, but with different amounts of polish and different stories.It’s the smaller titles right now that are where WRPGs excel, in my own opinion. Risen, Torchlight, the like. I also really enjoyed Divinty 2, despite lolgamebryo. Finally. . .Maybe it’s me being nostalgic, but I feel the addition of voices hurt WRPGs more than JRPGs. When people say JRPGs haven’t evolved, they’re right, to an extent. WRPGs have changed a good deal more, but who you asks depends on if it’s better or not. Will we ever see another Planetscape:Torment? Vampire Masquerade: Bloodlines? Daggerfall? NWN? Hell, even Baldur’s Gate 2 was Bioware’s best.

      Just like JRPGs, WRPGs have changed over the years. Except I’d say JRPGs have changed more for the better and WRPGs for the worse.

      • malek86

        “Except I’d say JRPGs have changed more for the better and WRPGs for the worse.”I wouldn’t go as far as to say that. At least in the last two or so years, it seems JRPG have fallen victim to a plague of their own – namely, the shift of their focus from good battle systems, to moe characters and perv settings. Just like the anime industry, in a way.

        I’ve stopped playing WRPGs, because I just don’t have the time anymore… so I don’t know about most of the recent ones. I hope they’re better than Oblivion.

        • Ereek

          True enough. That makes it even more special when you find the hidden gems, no matter where it was developed. There are times when I think “hey, maybe the genre is finally getting out of its rut!” only to play a different game a week later and realize how wrong I was.The recent trend in anime has completely pushed me away, so I don’t think I’m really the best person to comment on it. I mean, I’m obviously on this site so I’m a bit more tolerant of the “moe” cliches than the average western gamer, but I have a limit too. I find games a lot more tolerable because I actually have some part in them rather than only watching.Honestly, maybe it just has to do with me getting old.

          • malek86

            Moe is fine, but you must also have some variety. Not so today. Today, it’s all moe, everywhere. So of course it wears thin after a while.

            But hey, at least, when you find Knights in the Nightmare, you are all like “I’ll be doubly enjoying this one, because it’s awesome and because it’s different!”.

        • Guest

          The main developer of Oblivion is working on a WRPG and an MMO version of that WRPG with Todd McFarlane (Spawn) and a few other names. I forget the name of the game though but theyve been hyping it

    • JustaGenericUser

      Well then, now you know how JRPG fans feel when people base the entire JRPG genre on Final Fantasy 7 or 13.

      • PurpleDoom

        I personally find it more annoying when people consider Final Fantasy VII to be the representative of that series. Each game is different enough so that there can’t really BE a representative. And most western gamers don’t know what Dragon Quest is, and that’s the real representative of the JRPG genre…

      • malek86

        I know, that’s gotta suck.

    • You ever mod Oblivion? It turns the game from mediocre to amazing. Deadly Reflex especially, combat becomes FUN.

      • malek86

        Mods are cool, but one shouldn’t have to use them to actually make a game fun. If you need to, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the game.

        • I didn’t use them for a good while on my first character in Oblivion. Then I downloaded well over 1GB of various mods and wondered why I ever played Vanilla Oblivion.

    • So, basically, if you’re not a PC gamer, which a lot of us aren’t, you’re saying that we can’t find any of the better RPG’s?

      • malek86

        Well, it’s not my fault if developers apparently couldn’t do a good WRPG on consoles to save their own life. Consoles are the land of JRPGs, pretty much all of the good titles are there.If you want to play good WRPGs, you’ll have to play them on PC. Of course, if you are a PC player, you will find very few good JRPGs, if any.I guess one should try both.

        • But if the only way to make the PC version better is with mods, it’s still just as bad a game…

          • malek86

            There was a time when we didn’t need mods on our PC games to have fun. When PC games were actually fun on their own.

            Those times seem to be long past gone, though…

          • RupanIII

            I agree with this sentiment. I’ve prolly mentioned it before but I used to play Western developed PC games just as much as console games and JRPGs. Perhaps I’ve just grown ignorant to the PC game scene because I’m out of the loop, but I feel like there used to be a lot more variety and different types of games. (some of my favorites that come to mind- Railroad Tycoon, Worms series, Gubble, Whiplash, Bad Mojo..) Developers seemed more open to different genres and such. Now it seems like all FPS or MMORPG, or some variant thereof. Perhaps when the technology wasn’t so great it forced you to be more creative. Now that the tech is so powerful, rather than opening up a lot of experimentation, it seems like sandbox/realism approach just became the de facto norm. And I think one could make a persuasive argument that these genres are (or are becoming) stagnant as well as the JRPG (has the basic core of the FPS changed that much since Doom, run around, pick up items, shoot things in the face? I’m asking seriously, I don’t play them) But they’re still flourishing because gaming has become mainstream and these types of games are what the general populace enjoys most, not necessarily because they’re more innovative or whatnot – it always bugs me when Western devs get all high and mighty about this. I can’t remem who it was but some studio had an interview I read and they were all ‘oh yea, the Japanese aren’t innovative that’s their problem, not like us! and that’s why we’re so successful I’m seriously’ It’s like, stop being such an arrogant braggart and go look up the single cause fallacy.

          • malek86

            FPS have changed a lot since Doom. Back then, it was “walk around, get keycard, shoot everything you see before they kill you”. Nowadays, it’s “go from point A to point B, don’t stand in the open or you’ll die immediately”. It sounds the same, but it’s not. In fact, it’s very different.

            I actually liked it better when you didn’t have to hide behind a corner every two seconds. Serious Sam FTW.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      I saw that video presentation of the Witcher 2 recently with them showing off the gameplay. I’m not usually into W-RPGs but I was pretty blown away by what I saw. Impressive stuff that could *almost* get me into PC gaming.

    • StealthKnight

      The thing is games like the Witcher, Gothic, etc; are made by European developers instead of American developers and European games tend to not be as popular as American games in America. Oblivion is American sandbox style rpg and it’s dumed down compared to Morrowind or even Daggerfall.

  • It’s good that some developers are getting the message. You can’t do the exact same thing with minimal evolution for 15 years without seeing some stagnation. The FPS has changed a lot for better or worse in that same timeframe. I can pick up almost any JRPG from 2000 and another from 2010 and transition through the two almost without falter or hiccup. I can’t say the same about the healthiest genres we have today, like 3rd person adventure games. The games generally evolve alongside the technology. I can see some strong JRPG apologists in here and that’s fantastic, I expect no less from a site like Siliconera; but recognize how you are in fact the minority, and the minority always means nothing (trust me; I’m not white). Maybe the biggest problem is the portable fixation. They’re limiting themselves a lot by sticking to the PSP/DS for everything. I think that’s why we’ve focused on the JRPG’s problems. Japan seems to express troubles over developing HD games while every Western developer churns them out no sweat. Nippon Ichi is on its financial knees and they finally decide to upgrade the resolution of the Disgaea sprites. They know if that game fails they’re basically done.So I’m suspecting there’s a vast difference in how Japanese/Western developers acquire their capital for development. Globalization really is the key for Japan’s success if the economic side of things doesn’t change. You’ll see publishers over there aiming for maybe 50,000 units on sequel to an established IP, and maybe 500,000 for one of the most popular franchises in the country. In the West, probably 500,000 for a sequel to a solid IP and a few million for the biggest sensations. They have a lot more people to sell the game to. And portables aren’t as wildly popular in the West. The DS sold great but only Nintendo and a couple top-tier devs like Level-5 are getting anywhere with that. PSP sees the support but no one buys the games.It is a problem. They’ll force themselves inward if they don’t solve it and Japan will be helpless to losing it’s relevance among the gaming industry’s renowned powers. Sure you might not be sick of these games now but you will be three years from now after you’ve seen it all and had the memory to confirm the fact. After a 5 year hiatus, they need to get on board, and fast. Step one: break the bank, risk it all, muster your best new ideas, and refocus on a HD console. Failure need not be a concern; you’ll be out of business or downsizing to a tenth of your team’s capabilities soon enough if you opt not to at least try. I’m pretty sure it’s that or a slow ride to oblivion.

    • malek86

      “Step one: break the bank, risk it all, muster your best new ideas, and refocus on a HD console. Failure need not be a concern; you’ll be out of business or downsizing to a tenth of your team’s capabilities soon enough if you opt not to at least try.”People used to say the same thing about the games industry and the Wii, that if you supported the HD consoles you would succumb to the absurd development costs, and that the only way to avoid that was to focus on the Wii and its cheaper development and higher install base.Nobody really did that, though, and in the end, it looks like they are adjusting relatively well. So I wouldn’t be too quick to judge.

      • They tried it however. And they found that only Nintendo’s first party software sold consistently well on Wii. Not by nature of the console’s technical specifications but by the new audience it had gathered, and the inescapable prominence and pedigree of the bundled software.The bigger problem was that they didn’t go full circle either. “[Their] Best new ideas” weren’t present.Also you might decide to explain “adjusting relatively well”.

        • malek86

          I mean that developers have got used to HD consoles, and now they can make money even from smaller projects. The days of “you need several hundred thousands units to succeed” are over, if they have ever actually been true.

          Sure there have been some layoffs. But there have been layoffs among non-HD developers too, roughly the same amount. So it’s probably not all that related.

          • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

            Have they really? How well do J-RPGs actually do on the Wii? In Japan? In North America? Where are you getting this idea they’re doing well? Not rhetorical; If you have some numbers or articles or something I’d appreciate it.

          • malek86

            Actually, I was talking in general.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          I feel like they’re stuck because HD JRPG development is still hard and costly, so many companies don’t have the support to to make a technically impressive one (as demanded on an HD console) that might not sell outside of Japan. Adapting for a global audience is hard stuff for them. Here’s how some of them approached the western market: Square struggled at lengths with it to gain moderate success, Mistwalker chose the wrong platform at the wrong time, Namco pulled out the same old-same-old expecting sales, Tri-Ace does some crazy things but nobody noticed, and no else has the guts or funds to try it.

          And if they’re not use to innovating it’s hard to suddenly “risk it all” in a direction you hardly know about. American devs never had to pander to Japanese audiences, and what worked for Japanese audiences had worked globally up until very recently.

        • StealthKnight

          The audience for the wii is weird as they will be supportive for something yet never buy it or dismiss it when they barely know anything about the game. The companies are also at fault for not advertising and making the games known more. Plus you got other problems that is related to the other consoles and gaming in general. Basically, a chaotic situation that will not be solved easily until everyone get’s their act together.

    • SolidusSnake

      You’ve gotta be kidding me about the FPS genre. After Half-life / Counter-strike it’s hardly changed at all. Let’s see… it’s moved to consoles, added vehicles, and allowed you to make a melee move or grenade toss with one button press. Am I missing anything here?

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Well, some of the buzzcuts on the space marines are a little different from one another.

        • SolidusSnake

          Oh, u!

          • M’iau M’iaut

            Well, in more than one case, it is the only real way you can tell the avatars apart. It’s more than humorous to see gaming sites spew a diatribe about the never changing JRPG while hyping this years FPS as the greatest game of all time…….until it is time to hype next years FPS…..IN THE SAME DAMN SERIES.

          • SolidusSnake

            Yep, pretty much every damn FPS is the same game with remixed graphics and multiplayer maps. JRPGs have a lot more variety: You’ve got linear / cinematic stuff like Final Fantasy, action rpgs like Ys or Star Ocean, dungeon crawlers like SMT or Etrian Odyssey, SRPGs, dating sims, etc… on the other hand every first person shooter is the exact same identical death match, team death match, and CTF. The last FPS series I actually enjoyed was the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. trilogy. Hell, even mainstream gamers are now admitting that Call of Duty is the new Madden.

            As an FPS player since the original Wolfenstein, I can tell ya right away that the one and only reason FPS are making more money than JRPGs is because of the change in demographics… originally nerdy types like us were the target audience, but that all changed after Halo and the Xbox brough Joe Sixpack into gaming. That never happened with the JRPG genre and it probably never will.

        • Darkrise

          Don’t forget to mention that they’ve become more badass and lonewolf stunts with brutal kill. =/

      • I am absolutely not kidding about it. 2000 to 2010. 4 years before HL2. Before Halo, before Call of Duty. Do you know what the typical level design was like at the time? The frequency of cut scene implementation? The entire narrative style of the singleplayer FPS has changed. Moreover the multiplayer FPS has changed almost as dramatically.Also in a later comment you mention a whole plethora of genres that are apart from the JRPG, yet categorize them all as JRPG. ARPGs and SRPGs; these are not the same thing even if made in Japan.

        Overall we’re deviating from the point. What concerns me is that people here actually believe Japan’s industry can sustain it’s current existence on the games we’ve become familiarized with. JRPG old fashioned? Hah, no! Shitty musclebound FPSs! Long live the JPRG, I’ll play them til I die!

        I am telling you it will not work.

        • M’iau M’iaut

          You really must have a narrow definition on JRPGs or using a definition from someone who does. There is not a thing in that list that is out of place in the niche that Silconera covers. Different styles of gameplay do not alone make a different definition of game. Bioshock does things differently than most military themed FPSes, does that make it not an FPS?

          Multiplayer FPS moved from 4 guys crowded around a small TV to 64 dudes spread around the globe, but it’s still frag them before they frag you. Shit talk is now done through 1337 speak, where as before it was a finger in the face while the smack flowed. Again, same concept, just larger stage.

          From the start your persona was that of a larger than life cigar chewing nazi hunter, marine or whatever (unless of course you were using a Doom Barney or Beavis mod). Stories were no more than what was needed to set the level, again outside of Bioshock, that’s no different. Any change in the reduced importance of a single player mode is likely more chalked up to the companies wanting to focus on the multiplayer where the $$$ keep rolling in.

          Not sure where you’re going with that last comment, though. I doubt many here expect or even want our niche to become the mainstream. In fact, it can be argued that industry problems are as much about misunderstanding the explosive growth of the market 3-5 years ago and why such could never continue.

          If companies are finding the blockbuster game which everyone bought before, is not selling now, they will review and retrench. If they are looking for the customer who will always be there for them, it is the hobbyist. Titles discussed here may only sell 150k, but long as the rose colored 750k glasses are off, it has been proven such sales are profitable and guaranteed.

          Companies like guarantees.

        • SolidusSnake

          You’d better be kidding me if you say that the JRPG has changed very little in the past 15 years and then bring up level design and “frequency of cutscenes” as proof that FPSs have changed dramatically.First of all, at least 95% of an FPS gamers gaming is done on line. Yes, Halo had a long and involved plot, but it was still the icing on the cake in comparison with multiplayer. And I don’t even need to mention Call of Duty or Battlefield in that regard.Furthermore, multiplayer has changed, surely, but it has NOT changed by leaps and bounds since 2000. Yes, the days of guys bunny hopping while aiming a sniper rifle are no more, but it’s still the same deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag that we’ve had since Quake 2. All of the differences we have since then are REFINEMENTS, not huge changes. Yes we have the slight increase of realism in the form of decreased accuracy and use of iron sights, yes we have perks, achievements, and different classes (the latter has been with us at least since the original Team Fortress if not longer), but overall it’s the same damn thing we’ve had for so many years.And that brings us to your final point. The fact is, gaming has become a billion dollar industry, and the cost to develop and publish a video game on the hi-def consoles is nothing to sneeze at. The FPS genre has been able to survive because the average american public enjoys twitch gaming and violence, both of which are anathema to JRPGs with their tradition of turn-based combat and “saving the world” plot. You believe that JRPGs need to somehow appeal to the american public, but ultimately what the public wants is what goes entirely against the heart and soul of JRPG.

      • StealthKnight

        actually the melee move and vehicles happened on pc first. The things you can add that the consoles did was regenerating health, and points popping over someone’s head when they die.

    • Hetare Kaiser

      You can’t really compare RPGs with FPSes; action games lend themselves much better to technology-led innovation than a turn-based game of statistics does. Basically, ever since the sixth (or maybe even fifth) generation of consoles, innovation for RPGs had to be completely self-led, a considerably slower process.

      But I don’t think that lack of innovation is really the problem here. If people needed constant innovation to stay interested, New Super Mario Bros. Wii wouldn’t have outsold Super Mario Galaxy, Bejeweled would’ve never gotten popular at that point in time and crossword puzzles would’ve gone long extinct. I think the bigger problem is the fact that the growth of the RPG market doesn’t scale with the costs to produce them much worse than other genres. Other than Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Pokemon, few RPGs have had sales that could compare with whatever the best-selling action game was at the time. And yet what was once a genre of games that were cheaper to produce than action games, now has become at least as expensive.

  • Yui

    Sounds good to me. If there’s one thing I dislike, it’s the constant focus on innovation in the industry nowadays. Where innovation is made, by all means, let it be lauded for what it is – but don’t slam the games of today simply because they’re not innovative enough. If they do well on their own terms, why should the fact that they invented nothing new be an issue?

    I mean, for every person who says “JRPGs have stagnated lolololol” all I can think is the fact that I’ve enjoyed some of the most fun, interesting and exciting JRPGs (or, hell, games) of my life in the past 5-10 years, which, for me, says that this ‘popular opinion’ thing is stupid. =D

    Edit: Examples! Examples are fun. Things like any SMT game, none of which besides the Kuzunoha series and Devil Survivor have really “rocked the boat” as such, or any Star Ocean, Grandia, Suikoden (outside of Tactics), the Atelier series, the Disgaea series, or even the Tales series. I’m sure there are more; there are even examples from outside the JRPG genre, like BlazBlue – a 2d sprite-based fighter – or Street Fighter, or Devil May Cry, and last, but certainly not least, most FPS’. Innovation is swell, but more focus should be put into perfection of current technique before beginning the search for newer technique. =D

    • I read your comment and all I got was “peace in my day!”

      • Yui

        Your comment, though I don’t understand the actual details of it (I tried googling it, some crazy American history), put me in hysterics. Thank you. =D

        • SolidusSnake

          It’s an insult, he’s saying that you don’t have the balls to support the future of gay bald space marines in JRPG.

          • Yui

            I’ve gotta stop reading these comments in the morning. Yours made me laugh even more. Thank you for the explanation. XD

    • PurpleDoom

      A lot of my favorites are actually some of the least innovative games around… for example, I absolutely adore Dragon Quest games. Oh, and BlazBlue is incredible as well – it’s a shame that 2D sprite-based fighters seem to be dying, because I’m not fond of the 2.5D approach Street Fighter IV and other such games have been taking…

      • Yui

        Mmm, I completely agree. 2.5D always throws me off. =D

        • Darkrise

          Agreed, the fact that the west is being “MORE 3D GRAPHICS RAWR!!!” is a little unsettling… Expecially when the games were originallly fully 2D… I liked SF back then but SFIV and SSIV are just… I don’t have anything to comment for it but disinterest. T.T

          • Yui

            I was effectively forced into buying SFIV, and when I compare it to
            BlazBlue, Guilty Gear, the old Tekken games, and the like, it’s
            just…disorienting, for lack of a better way to put it. I’d rather have
            something like Ehrgeiz or full-on FMBS from the new Tales games than the
            cop-out of 2.5d. =D

            But then, apparently we’re a minority, so… =D


          • PurpleDoom

            I think I can be satisfied as long as Arc System keeps pumping out true 2D fighters.

          • Yui

            That is a satisfying sentiment. =D


  • There’s a reason why I’m a hardcore Dept. Heaven fan. Is it the story? A little bit. Is it the gameplay? Yes, 100% yes. Each successive Dept. Heaven episode, in terms of gameplay, is supposed to be more original than the previous episode. And so far, that’s held true. It’s just depressing that others can’t see that…

  • [The Hunter] Doomrider

    No, it is not unnecessary; no, it is not old fashioned; no, I did not get tired of JRPG.As long as there’s ambition and proficiency, JRPGs will always be great (and any other game for that matter). And these guys know their thing.Bring it, Imageepoch!

    (And their conference is next week too!)

  • Games are just like music, they are always clasified by genres, of course this is something necessary to keep certain order; But i just feel the same way i feel about music when it comes to game genres, i dont really see the need for categories, i just like it or not like it, that´s it, some people look at me weird when they see im hearing somthing they never expected me to hear, but it really isnt a big deal, i just hear what i like, without getting limited by categories.

    This is just what is happening in the games world, i like all kind of games, im not a fan of fighter games, but i love naruto’s, blazblue fighting games, im not a fan of first shooter games, but i loved Resistance.. Also, im a fan of rpg games, but i could never get into chrono trigger, etc.

    So i dont really see a point in this “WRPG” againts “JRPG” fight, or JPRG getting dull thing, or stuff like that, if people like it, then is a success, if they dont like it then they have to try harder, all they have to think about is making a good game, innovate it, think about what hasn´t been done before and make it into an attractive way for the people, if they want to make things that has been made before they gotta find a way to make them better, stop doing things that didnt seem to hit that much people, etc, etc.

    This is something i love about FF series, i know they screwed it up a little (a lot for some people) in the last game, but well! they at least tried to do something new, different, not sticking to their formula, they could just have made a new game ff10 style and it may have been a hit, but no, they are always changing stuff between their games, being it graphics, battle styles, style of music, style of story.

    The only problem i see with “jrpgs” is that they havent changed their way to do things in a big way, they mostly do the same between games, and of course, you may have a favorite song, but hearing it for a long time, will always get you tired eventually.

    All i see here is a good way to attract people, “da business way”, with all the bad talking there have been about jrpgs lately, this is a GOOD way to call our attention.
    Sorry for my english… i tend to screw up when i write too much T.T

    • No, I understand exactly what you were trying to say. Good points.

  • Ladius

    Interesting ideological approach on that trailer… it almost seems they are targeting western JRPG fans by smashing right through the wall of criticism usually found on western review sites and boards, pumping up japanese fans’ pride at the same time :P

    I don’t even think japanese fans use the acronym “JRPG”, or at least I have never seen it used in a japanese context before.

    • puchinri

      Well if you’re Japanese, is there a point to putting the J in front of it if it’s the common RPG for you? I honestly don’t see (J)RPG used much at all by anyone, Japanese, European or American. But I know what you mean, but then again, there’s no point in putting a tag in front of the abbv. if it’s native to you.

  • Interesting, I must say I like this approach. I have always felt that companies like Square were too easily willing to give up the elements that made their games, so popular in exchange for catering to the west. When they could simply continue to make innovations in their style like SMT, Tactics Ogre, etc.

  • Tokyo Guy

    It seems to me the western audience has two major problems with JRPGs:

    1. The effeminate men and over-the-top genki girls.

    2. The cliched, trite melodrama.

    Now the first one is really more of a cultural thing, as macho men and empowered women really don’t hold water over here. The second one is one I definitely agree with, though no one here seems to have a problem with it. Decades pass and these kind of things refuse to change. Part of what killed Final Fantasy 13 for me was Hope and Snow. Both characters are atrocious. Yet the very fact that they exist is because most Japanese gamers won’t find them such at all.

    • Personally, Hope didn’t start to fall flat until after he stopped hating snow. There’s all this build up and character development leading to the climax, but after that, his hate just sort of Disappears and they become best buds. I just felt it would’ve been more interesting if there was a slow decrease in hostility as opposed to what we got. I personally didn’t dislike Snow. I mean, geez, they stole his girl! If you have to look at it at it’s basest root, dude wanted some 9v$$y. Can you blame him?

      I fricking hate tsunderes though. At least when they have no other personality outside of it (Winry – Good. Rika – Good. Reimi – Bad)

  • Image Epoch dont own it’s owned by a PR company and was used for games like Valkyria 3 too :)

    I do love their attitude though and hope they can deliver the goods with their upcoming titles

  • Aren’t those the letters from Kingdom Hearts?

    Sounds good to me, IE. Do what you gotta do!

    My personal Beefs with Jrpgs of today, however:


    1) The Tsundere/Girl Next Door Archetype for the female Love interest. If you can name 10 JRPGs this past Console Generation that didn’t have it, I would be truly surprised. There’s one thing to be a confident woman, but it’s wholly another to be a bitch for no reason >.> (Example: Reimi in Star Ocean 4. She was probably my least favorite Character, personality wise, because she fit this almost to a T. She berates the Protag for being a dumbass throughout pretty much the first half of the game, then gets pissed when he’s in bed with another girl (even though it was purely accidental on his part). Outside of her interactions with Edge, she barely has any personality to speak of).

    2) The busty Older Sister/hooker archetype. The older woman who, by all rights, is probably hotter than anyone else in the room but then proceeds to act like a Cocktease throughout the game for no reason other than because she can. (Example: Myuria from, again, SO4. She’s a busty, longlegged, elf-lookin redhead who exists solely for for fanservice (at least appearance-wise). I like to say she’s at the halfway-point between good character and this archetype because she does have a decent side-story about her BUT then she opens her mouth and says stuff like “I Don’t think even I can handle both of you at once” -.- Cockteasing Bitch >.>)

    3. Loli’s for the Sake of Loli’s. There is no reason Lymle should look like a 4 year old, scared by demons or not.

    4. Catgirls for the sake of Catgirls. Star Ocean is understandable, but don’t create a universe and then have one Catgirl just for the sake of having it.

    5. Twin Mages. Just because they’re twins does not mean they are mirror images of each other. I Believe Palom and Porom did it very well, as they were 2 very distinct characters (Especially Porom, who loved showing the ladies his fire rod ;L). Why not Have Twin Axe Users or Twin Knights or something besides generic, clone Mage twins.
    1). Do NOT make a game based on fetishes unless you’re gonna go all the way! I don’t know if you guys know, but SO4 was originally supposed to be an H-game, hence the archetypes. But He chickened out at the last second and just made it a straightup game. Either make the H-game, or give them actual personalities.

    2) Don’t make the heroes generic preteen dogooders. Zidane and Capell(from Infinite Undiscovery) are 2 very good examples of chars I like. I believe “you’re not alone” speaks for itself, but in Capell’s case, about 2/3’s through the game, he gets seriously pissed. His Voice Changed, his comments changed, and his actual perception of the party members was reflected in game. He was Dark and it was awesome! For anyone who played both IU and SO4, I feel that Capell did it much better than Edge, as Edge just ended up sounding whiny to me.

    This went on pretty long so I’ll end it here. I’m not saying having those chars is bad, but when every jrpg and their mom has them, you’re oversaturated.

    • lol, Mark.. I love reading your comments a lot of the times.. *normally just skims thru a lot of the others* But I like your points there. (Tho.. I haven’t personally played a lot of SO4 yet.. gonna work on that soon-ish.)

    • I feel the exact same way about Star Ocean 4 especially about Reimi. Still, it was an enjoyable game, especially towards the end. Just wish the save parts weren’t so spread apart and the story and characters weren’t so cliche’

      • PurpleDoom

        I personally find Star Ocean games to have terrible stories and characters (sometimes being laughably bad, actually), but I like the gameplay a lot. Just ditch the absurd difficulty ramps at the endgame and I’d probably have finished Last Hope by now.

      • Yeah I actually started replaying it again, hence why i used so many SO4 examples. Black Hole Sphere + Reimi FTFW!!!

    • malek86

      “I don’t know if you guys know, but SO4 was originally supposed to be an H-game”wut.Hey, maybe it would have been better that way.

      • M’iau M’iaut

        Every Star Ocean has a date-simmish element when determining the endings….which reminds me that I still need to go back and bag Chisato.

        The Rena loves Claude ending has her pregnant and waiting for him to come back from some trip among the stars. It’s a good thing Claude doesn’t mind older women, shes like 4014 if I remember right.

        • I know, It was something I liked in So3. However, in 4 you don’t get any choice as to who you end up with (I would’ve chose Cloudcuckoolander Sarah, cause she’s hotter than all of them imo) and the women are all the classic Hentai archetypes (Loli, Catgirl, Busty Big Sis, Girl-next-Door, Ditzy Priest Girl) and the girl you’re forced to “end up with” is the least lacking in personality out of the group.

    • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

      I would say Tri-Ace has redeemed themselves with Resonance of Fate.

      • [The Hunter] Doomrider

        They did. Handsomely.

        • Yusaku_Matsuda70s

          Wish more people played it.

          • [The Hunter] Doomrider

            Can’t remember the last time a game made me feel like such a badass. I just beat Neverland yesterday. The OST is crazy good (I can’t stop shaking my head at the Neverland tunes), and the gameplay is on a league of its own. 60 hours put into it, and still loving it. Oh yeah, finally got the Ruby, Quartz and Sexual Hunter outfits =P They even strike a pose after winning a battle!It’s really an incredible JRPG. Buy it, people!

            And Leanne goes both ways.

          • Darkrise

            I had the game lol, I didn’t get too far and my 360 knocked over and ruined the disk… I hope Black Friday will have it at a good price…

          • I wish Sega had done SOMETHING to draw attention to it. It’s really the best RPG of the year and whenever I say I’m playing it, people are all, “Never heard of it.”

  • gatotsu911

    I laughed.

    But seriously, the problem with JRPGs isn’t the medium itself so much as unambitious, hackneyed developers like imageepoch. Devs like Mistwalker, Monolith Soft, Atlus and even Square Enix are taking bold steps, trying new things, and attempting to push the genre forward. Practically every other RPG developer in Japan, however, seems to be permanently stuck in the 32-bit era and making no attempt to get out of it.

  • WonderSteve

    “Valkyria Chronicles” is very Japanese. It is also very fun and it feels epic. SEGA then decides to move the series to a portable…sigh..

    “The Last Story” looks very fresh and interesting for a RPG from Japan. And we still don’t have a release date for the English version….

    What more can I say?

    • Darkrise

      What about Xenoblade? That surely looks intersting and somewhat fresh. Especially the footages on youtube. Although we still haven’t heard anything about the english version for what, 4 months?

      • PurpleDoom

        Yeah, it’s been ages since we’ve heard anything about Xenoblade (we don’t even know if they’re using that title or sticking to Monado yet!) The E3 2009 trailer definitely caught my eye, though. That game looks very good.

    • I can’t even label Valkyria Chronicles as Japanese because there were some things within the game’s story that deviates it from the usual JRPG. Either that, or the english version made it 10x more believable.

  • goronyan

    Old Fashioned? Hell no
    Did the Fallout producer started to whining again? >.>

  • I don’t think the style of gameplay used in JRPGs is archaic. Hell, Falcom made it feel fresh again not even 2 months ago with Zero no Kiseki

    But I sure wish they’d start making good ones again. This generation has been a disaster zone of hideous character designs, juvenile writing and limited gameplay. When are we going to get another Final Fantasy Tactics-caliber story?

  • RupanIII

    Woo ! JRPG Renaissance!Someone needs to step up and make this happen. I don’t know exactly how, but I’m sure it’s a mix of a lot of things that are holding back the JRPG. The Western press/dev smear campaign. The lackluster fare offered this gen. They’ve yet to successfully incorporate new elements/innovation while retaining the feel of the JRPG, not on any wider/collective level that is. They’re confused about how to make something fresh and popular, not realizing that you don’t have to sacrifice the ‘soul’ of the JRPG to be innovative. It seems like a lot of JRPGs this gen are kind of half-assed, perhaps in a misguided attempt to appeal to International audiences (no towns in a Final Fantasy game? umm.. it’s .. uh.. it’s not stupid.. it’s.. it’s a bold innovation! yea that’s it). That said, I’d take something filled with cliches as long as it was done well and with heart. It’s like there’s not really that belief in the material anymore. Maybe it’s become a self-loathing thing, or maybe the talent just isn’t what it used to be, or maybe it’s that complacency thing Inafune talked about – or maybe some combination. If you look at old interviews of Sakaguchi (like FFVII Playstation Underground – or new interviews too) he talks about the themes he’s trying to portray, what things from his life or works of art are motivating him, etc. Vision, is what I mean, and I use Sakaguchi as the example well for obvious reasons. Interviews with a lot of JRPG creators today it’s like ‘Oh well we asked the fans what they wanted and just threw that stuff in’ or ‘ Oh we did a focus test and got feedback and changed this or that.’ There’s no direction from the start, so the end product feels weak. Without that belief/passion in the material is it any wonder we don’t get those ‘epic’ JRPGs like in the 16bit and 32bit days?I guess it’s like that Capcom news post a while back, about a Director just being a business manager who should only be concerned with the company (aka monies), not a Creator or Artist. On top of this internal complacency problem, you’ve got the West hating on them so they’re all confused about what’s ‘innovation’ and what will sell, plus a market that can’t throw its money at CoD and Halo fast enough. Okay that sounds grim. But, there’s still hope! *goes off to watch that clip again*

  • TomSkylark

    Along with a lot of the comments defending JRPG’s, I guess I’d just like to throw out that one of my major beefs with mainstream gaming media outlets is how often their critiques of JRPG’s trade in borderline unabashed misogyny/gender-policing. I generally stop reading a review of a JRPG once it uses the phrase “girly-man” or “androgynous” with negative reference to a character. This is a shockingly common critique, and it speaks to the worst gamer stereotypes.

    It wouldn’t be such a problem if the majority of WRPG’s weren’t so much with the over-the-top faux machismo, all of which is nearly as homoerotic as anything in JRPG’s is gender deviant. Is there a huge difference in the desire/identification conundrum of gaming between a JRPG player using the default avatar of a young man with his midriff showing and a WRPG player using the avatar of a grizzled body builder who looks more than slightly like a bear?

    That being said, I feel like a fair critique of JRPG’s, as useful or useless as such a large genre distinction might be, is that the characters are consistently one-dimensional in anything but A-List series. To be fair, I usually play them for the gameplay anyway, but I feel like 90% of the problem with JRPG’s has nothing to do with character _design_ and everything to do with a lack of three-dimensional _characterization._

    This, too, is a problem in WRPG’s, but it seems like if the gameplay is going to be less open-ended in JRPG’s, then there’s a perfect excuse to give gamers storylines and characters who go all over the place, and do surprising things.

    • PurpleDoom

      Ugh, the complaints about characters being “androgynous” drive me crazy. Are these people even using their eyes?! The only character I can recall from any game I’ve played that I can honestly say is androgynous-looking is Fon Master Ion from Tales of the Abyss.

      • Darkrise

        The review IGN gave for Atelier Rorona was just as bad, it was insulting to everyone that loved the game and jrpg lovers. Now THAT drove me crazy.

    • JustaGenericUser

      Oh holy of holies, THANK YOU. Jesus Christ, that whole ladyboy mitching thing drives me up the freakin’ wall. Thank you also for the homoerotic machoman thing, too.

      What’s more maddening is what PurpleDoom says, most of these characters they call “girly men” don’t even really look at all girly, they just have average builds or be good looking instead of steroid ugly dudes seen in western games. The only male character that looks femmy in recent memory is Hope from FF13; I think everyone thought he was a girl at first, the name doesn’t help either. As I said, most male characters just look average, but they still get accused of being “ladyboys.”

      This goes right up with what I said earlier in this thread, that western bloggers and WRPG fans think FF7 or FF13 represent the entire JRPG genre.

      • Hope just looked like an average (as far as JRPGs go) Kid to me. I had no doubts that he was a guy from the moment I saw him.

        • JustaGenericUser

          I’m mostly thinking about the image seen here (linking because I don’t know how to attach images in Siliconera):

          • Joanna

            eh, he still looks like a boy to me. I always thought he was male….I think the most recent example of true androgynous male is actually the protagonist of RF3. Personally, I think it was done on purpose since HM/RF is suppose to have a big female following. So I think Marvelous just gave us a gender neutral protagonist to appease both genders (and maybe get the guys to pretend their playing a female and hitting on other ladies ;) )

    • Joanna

      Are you my twin? Everything you said, I’ve always thought was the problem.

      I really think pointing out character x looks like a girl is silly and irrelevant and I hate it when reviews do so. Likewise, I don’t care too much about similar designs (I do have certain preferences, but I’m sure so does everyone), but I’m starting to find that the problem with certain JRPGs is the lack of characterization. It’s fine in a parody game, retro/create your own character or one that’s just silly, but everything else, it shows a lack on the part of the writer to make better characters. I don’t mean reinvent the wheel in characterization, I just mean, give us some characterization that isn’t an anime trope (or goes deeper than the trope). I think that’s why I’m finding I prefer blank characters where I can invent the characterization.

      This problem also extends to my hate of moe in anime, manga, and now games. I’m fine with moe art, but I hate hate hate moe characterization. It’s flat, fake, and used far too often. Writers are just banking on stupid fetishes and cutting corners in characterization and it’s deplorable.

      Actually, for moe art, the only problems I have with it is that recently, it’s become so generic that it’s hard to tell who drew what. I like when an artists adds their own style into their drawings.

    • Aoshi00

      It might be an over generalization, but S-E do make all of the chars very “beautiful” male or female, this is a feature that is carried from the anime art style too, and now that game cutscenes being more photo realistic don’t help either, making the difference of visual styles in JRPGs and Western games more obvious. Even boy bands spawned by F4 (Hana Yori Dango) in Korea, Taiwan, Jpn all look girly to some extent, long hair, and lots of make up for the photo ops looking their very best. I go to the city’s Kinokuniya’s bookstore and thought all the male pop stars nowadays look very feminine as well (before it was limited to Visual Kei), I think to myself is there any guy that looks like a guy anymore? Well, it’s the contemporary fashion style especially celebrities, just like people use the term Justin Bieber hair. While the critique might be a bit annoying (JRPG fans always call Western game chars bald space marines too), it is not w/o merit and both Jpn and Western games have their distinct style. Though I have to admit, Squall’s fluffy thing on his jacket and Tidus’s cray outfit do look a little you know.. but I thought Tidus was pretty sporty and he had a tan.. If all guys look as beautiful as the male chars in JRPGs, I wouldn’t mind crossing over to the other side lol (no offense to anyone)

      • TomSkylark

        Excepting your last two sentences there (No, I don’t “you know” what Squall and Tidus’ outfits look “a little” like. Would you care to clarify?), what I appreciate about your comment is that you don’t immediately couch differences in male beauty aesthetics in evaluative terms. The problem is _not_ that there are widespread, demonstrative differences in the representation of masculinity in gaming, and that these differences fall into an East/West divide, as you point out. The problem is that most overly snarky reviews of JRPG’s quickly go from dissatisfaction with a given aesthetic (or gameplay) to implicit homophobia and gender policing. Clearly that isn’t what you’re about, but it’s certainly a trend in a lot of gaming criticism.

        As you point out, the criticism goes both ways, sure, but complaints about “bald space marines” are usually about character monotony in its own right, and aren’t couched as a more pointed distaste of dudes who are femme (in character design, if not gender performance). Such criticism thus often veers awkwardly from “legitimate design concerns” and into the realm of, well, something else.

        So, it’s hard for me not to read the critical distaste for JRPG’s with not-so-butch characters as symptomatic of larger issues in the larger gaming community. Clearly this isn’t such an issue with most folks who read Siliconera (who tend to like JRPG’s, and are a fairly friendly, thoughtful bunch overall), but reading the commenting sections for JRPG posts at many mainstream gaming blogs is sometimes like walking into a locker room of particularly insecure male egos.

        • Aoshi00

          I dunno, “dandy” or fashionable perhaps :)? I dont have a problem w/ it, and their chars are just normal people and don’t display anything that suggest they don’t like the opposite sex. I get what you’re saying, but it’s the current trend of Western gamers dismissing JRPGs or the anime styled aesthetics. Jpn gamers did the same thing too, they preferred anime chars and brushed off you-ge (Western games, same negative connotation as JRPG today)’s more realistic looking chars (I know we have a lot of buff Conans too). The pretty male aesthetics just doesn’t jive w/ them well at first glance. It’s hard to argue w/ that. If I see a manga that has an art style I don’t like I wouldn’t read it either, but it’s bad when reviewers trashed the game like you said for no reason (IGN called Lost Odyssey PS2 JRPG)Not just message boards, but in EGM’s editorial, they made fun of Tidus looking androgynous too, which I didn’t agree w/ at the time since he just had a bleached head and sporty tan and he plays sports, that’s pretty masculine to me, but I guess he’s outfit is kind of crazy (and you have Nomura’s chain and zippers). Well, it really can’t be helped, the mass media decides what people like and the majority of audience goes w/ what’s hip at the time. I don’t remember people complaining about JRPG chars looking femmy back in the 90’s when FF7 led the “JRPG is cool” trend.However, I have to say nowadays I want chars looking more balanced and lifelike, Star Ocean 4 or FF13’s chars look too perfect to me sometimes. It really depends on what mood I’m in.. I guess I haven’t lost interest in anime sytles either because I’m looking forward to Last Story and Dream Club Zero, but I don’t like overly cute super deformed stuff anymore.I don’t know if I have a point, but I was trying to get at Jpn male fashion does get more feminine in recent years, leading to other parts of Asia.. If there’s any guy who looks like a chick, it’s the Korean actor Bae Yong Jun. He used to look so cool in Winter Sonata, now he has long hair and his skin is so soft and white like a chick… and all those magazines in Jpn bookstores, the guys just look beyond perfect now (some too girly.. like the boy band Arashi.. even the seiyuu dress like that too since it’s trendy..)

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