What Can Spark More Interest In JRPGS? The Last Story Designer Answers

By Spencer . August 16, 2012 . 6:10pm

imageTwenty years ago, console RPGs were a burgeoning genre with maybe two or three releases a year. Fans eagerly scooped up whatever was localized even if it was Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars. RPGs exploded thanks to a huge marketing campaign for Final Fantasy VII and now RPG-like mechanics appear in every game, even sports titles. And we’re not talking about Hit the Ice.


Now, the RPG genre has fractionated into Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs. Since The Last Story breaks the traditional JRPG mold with a bold, perhaps Western inspired, combat system, I was curious what the developers think will spark more interest into JRPGs.


"Many people can understand the importance of narrative, but I think it’s a shame when games depend too much on cut scenes and pre-rendered movies, creating detachment from the gameplay," Takuya Matsumoto, development lead at Marvelous AQL, answered. "The genre is role-playing-game, but it becomes nothing more than watching a movie. I want to incorporate spectacular JRPG-style characters and story around the axis of a narrative that is directly connected to gameplay, like the kind displayed in recent western games."


The 32-bit era of RPGs has a critical path of grinding from one movie to the next, but exemplary games in the genre tended to have sidequests or diversions to let players move "off rails" so to speak. When players got a chance to explore the world it was kind of like they were in the shoes of the lead character. What do you think can expand the JRPG genre and can you think of any recent JRPGs that have a narrative connected to gameplay? And with spectacular characters too? (I suppose the last part is subjective!)

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  • “Now, the RPG genre has fractionated into Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs.”

    Fixing this is the first step.  This split in terminology didn’t happen until about 2006.

    • James Beatty

      Well they are describing fairly different types of games for the most part. For example FF X is a JRPG, a game like Skyrim is a WRPG. They are fairly different. There are some games that leave their preset molds though. 

    • i agree it seems action rpgs are somehow labelled as western rpgs (if they are done in the west) while turn-based are labeled as JRPGs (if they are done in the east – which is mostly where they are)… then on top of that when we talk about jRPGs we are talking about FF 99% of the time and ignore games like Persona… Skyrim is an action-rpg, Persona is a turn-based RPG…

      anyway taken from wiki: “Modern Japanese RPGs are more likely to feature turn-based battles; while modern Western RPGs are more likely to feature real-time combat.” 

      This is purely random relabeling of genres that needed no relabeling, instead the focus becomes nationality more than the actual quality of game… very strange.

      • I’d say with WRPGs it’s closer to just call it “combat” sans the “real-time”. The Tales series has a “real-time” combat system but you’re still on a separate battle screen.  Even Xenoblade’s battle system is more or less real-time.

        I’ve never considered Zelda as an RPG, it’s more action-adventure.

        • James Beatty

          Yeah, Zelda is more like an Action-adventure game with RPG elements. Well really, Zelda has elements of almost every video game genre out there if you think about it enough :P

          • It’s almost like they’ve used Zelda as an experiment to see what would be best for it.  Zelda II is the closest Zelda to being an RPG.

    • Yerld_CK

      The distinction has always existed though. Before, it was console RPGs (Japanese) vs PC RPGs (western). Even then, PC gamers saw Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy as glorified adventure games (not real RPGs).

      The JRPG and WRPG terms arose because western developers shifted to the console market. Suddenly, player bases crossed over and the market became familiar with both styles of games.

  • I have mixed views on his statement.
    While i do agree on some parts, i think cut scenes and movies can ad much to the game.

    Often its nice to have a break from the action and i think its a balance in it.

    what we remember best from Final Fantasy 8 is the movies, at least i do.

  • James Beatty

    There are still things in jrpgs that kind of need fixing (well in some of them). You know you are doing something wrong when i can find more enjoyment and get more immersed in a game like paper mario the thousand year door than the latest FF games. 

    • brian yep

      Paper Mario is awesome, though.

  • MrJechgo

    “What Can Spark More Interest In JRPGS?”

    I’d say that in JRPGs, you’re controlling a group with you as the leader, compared to WRPGs where you’re often alone and sometimes don’t have much of an identity. I think it’s that variety of characters that sparks more interest. In most WRPGs, you don’t get to use more characters. Sure, some can accompany you, like in Mass Effect and Dragon Age, but you rarely control them. In The Last Story, while you control only Zael, you get to control the others in online multiplayer.

    Furthermore, I think that having a set story for your main character in a JRPG is better than having a story “that is left the player’s imagination” in a WRPG. Seriously, if narrative is in question, then it’s downright lazy to NOT take the time to elaborate a story for the main character. You’re not gonna get attached to it if you don’t have a driving force behind it.

    Narrative can be tricky with the custcenes. All I can say is “don’t let it drag” and “keep it short and evenly spaced”. Both types of RPGs have this problem (i.e. Star Ocean: The Last Hope, some cutscenes last like 15 minutes if not more). Other games also got this problem, like Metal Gear Solid. Also, we keep saying that the plot is cliched in JRPGs. Here’s the catch: it’s far too awkward and alienating in WRPGs. It,s like they try to come up with something unique, but end up with something that feels off. Even if JRPGs are cliched in terms of plot, at least it’s a safe bet. Furthermore, the plot twist can really spice it up.

    In the end, the narrative can be as cliched and stereotyped as any game, but only the cast of characters and events can make it unique. JRPGs do that often, while WRPGs leave too many holes and let the player build the story.

    • This.  If you really think about it, WRPGs are nothing more than “Choose Your Own Adventure” books and JRPGs are novels.

    • I suggest you play more WRPGs.

    • Fr33Kingdom

      I dont mean to come off as hostile but this post didn’t really answer the question of what they can do to spark more interest. It’s really just a post about why you currently like jrpgs over WRPGS…

      • Fryxell

        What he’s saying is that jRPGs should just keep doing their own “style”, which is, what they’ve been doing all this time. Furthermore, they shouldn’t care about what the wRPGs does and the differences between them. There’s really nothing else to improve and “spark” interest in a jRPG. Catering/learning from a wRPG won’t help.

    • CirnoLakes

      That’s one thing among many about wRPGs I don’t like as much as in jRPGs. Really, it’s also similar to MMORPGs unless you’re on a proper roleplayers guild(and even then, it’s fill in the blanks every bit as much as with wRPGs). It’s the loneliness. It’s funny how in MMORPGs, you can be surrounded by thousands of people, but feel completely alone. Because what you do feels completely meaningless and what you talk about feels completely meaningless. No context, no backstory, no feeling.

      If I think about what it is, what it truly is I’ve enjoyed most about RPGs, and especially do as an adult, not secondary reasons or excuses for why someone might like a game like the battle system. It’s empathizing with a group of people. It’s similar to how I’ve become a fan of slice of life and romance anime and fantasy & fanciful fiction in general.

      jRPGs have a group of friends for you to relate to. The battles and epic adventures, because of the team that has them. I think jRPGs have always had an influence from visual novels. And being from Japanese culture, where friends and the group and harmony are a big deal, and that is reflected in the game industry and especially the RPG. Character interaction and growing emotionally involved in various fictional characters is one of the selling points and best features of the jRPG. Especially that charming “anime style” kind of character interaction and Japanese kind of warm humor.

      I know I’m making generalizations here, but wRPGs tend to have far more of a “loner” feel. And I don’t know about you, but that personally makes me feel lonely. Maybe I’m more tired of video games than I was when I was young, or maybe I’ve always enjoyed character interaction and interpersonal meaning in video games. It’s similar to how I’ve become quite addicted to internet forums and blogs and things as an adult. Even if there’s a lot of conflict and trolling and things, humans are social creatures who like to think of personalities and be among communication. And I think that jRPGs have done an exceptionally good job of dealing with the part of the mind that enjoying things like characterization/character development, romance stories, social drama and comedy, and so forth. I don’t think I’m alone or overly lonely or unusual, even if I don’t come from a culture that stresses the group or friends as much as Japan. It’s just the mind of a social animal at work.

      I think that Japanese RPGs should never shy away from the strengths they have developed in terms of character development, comedy, interpersonal drama, and so forth, and continue to try to improve on them as much as possible. A game that can make you laugh and cry and feel strong empathy for fictional characters is at least doing something right. And I’m worried about jRPGs, in taking influence from the West, letting go of some of their strengths in the process, and becoming more “lonely”. jRPGs don’t need to adopt the “one person versus the world” mentality more popular among Western developers than Japan.

    • Tenno Seremel

      This. Well, there are different kind of games, sure, but mostly when I don’t feel a tiny bit of desire to be a character I’m playing or even living in that world I’m supposed to be exploring the game failed. Like the aforementioned Dragon Age, I finished 2 games and felt… nothing. Well, I felt stupid for playing, there is that, I guess. Oh, I found it funny how Merrill always talked blood magic this, blood magic that, even though she couldn’t even enter blood magic mode (whatever it was called) in battle (that was my in game choice), but that’s hardly enough. Dialog system was a pain… *grumble* *grumble* *grumble*

    • Rentekabond

      I just wanted to point out that you were incorrect about Dragon age, as you CAN play as other characters. For as long as you like, as long as you don’t find a way to get them to hate you.

      Also, pretty much all the Wrpgs I’ve played do have set story, and the ones that don’t, like Dragon Age, only really let you choose what order to put them in. The major events in Dragon Age happen regardless of how you got there, but they can effect what happens afterwards.

      The main difference between Wrpgs and Jrpgs is that Wrpgs work more towards integrating their gameplay into the story/cutscenes and giving them a tone of realism whereas JRPGs generally tend to do the opposite, making them more flashy.

      And while we’re talking about Dragon Age, the main group of party members you get in that game were, in my opinion, better than most of the cookie-cutter characters found in a lot of jrpgs, especially ones with incredibly overt anime overtones. When Alistair tells a joke, it’s funny because it’s funny, not because he acts like a wacky anime character.

  • Tales_of_Master

    Steps to make a successful JRPG:

    Step 1: Do whatever the hell Atlus is doing with their RPGs.
    Step 2: ???
    Step 3: PROFIT !!!

    • MrJechgo

      Step 1: you mean “Make a successful fighting game spin-off XD ?”

      • Tales_of_Master

         That’s one way of doing it :D Although Atlus made Arena after the success of their RPG games. So them deciding to experiment with a new genre doesn’t take away from their accomplishments with the RPG genre. There is a reason to why they’ve been my favorite developers since 2003.

        • LightZero

          You mean success of P4. The other megaten titles unfortunately don’t have the same popularity and recognition of P3 and P4. That is the only reason P4A was created. They wanted to capitalize on P4 success. 

          • Tales_of_Master

            Still, the whole SMT series have a devoted cult following in the US, and in Japan SMT is one of the biggest RPG series along with FF and DQ. So Atlus is more than successful with their games. They went with P4A because P4 was probably their most popular game at the time, so I think it was logical for them to make a sequel for it.

        • brian yep

          RPG games?
          Role playing game games?
          Seems like a lot of people are doing this recently.
          Is this some new trendy thing?

          • Herok♞

             its not new spongebob has done it a long time, remember the campfire song song?

      • Go2hell66

         that looks to be a pretty good idea at this stage, both dissidia and p4a sold like hotcakes

        • Anime10121

          Well the first Dissidia did, Duodecim 012, not so much (but that’s probably due to how late it came out in PSP’s life).

  • brian yep

    I partially agree with him about movies in games, but this never bugged me at all through any of Xenosaga, probably because it was so interesting to me.
    And it may be not so recent, as in made recently, but I think Sakura Wars connects gameplay to interaction with characters and among them (not just between them and player character) FANTASTICALLY.
    I love that concept of responses in dating sim parts affecting battles by giving status boosts.

    • disgaea36

       yes I love how the battle system was so simple yet fun at the same time, and how the dating sim was the main focus of the game but it wasn’t too overwhelming like other titles can be.

  • Gaara D.Dragon

    The genre has always been fractioned be between console and PC rpgs.

  • 猫 黒

    I think Xenoblade did a much better job revitalizing the JRPG genre than The Last Story.  Personally, I disliked The Last Story.  It felt like a perfect example of good ideas, poor execution.  The gameplay sounds good on paper, but was really boring in practice (Find one of the many efficient, broken strategies and spam until end of game).  The living city, storytelling, etc. were all good ideas, but failed to deliver in the product. 

    Don’t hate, just my opinion.

    • 5parrowhawk

      I can’t comment on The Last Story, but Xenoblade is one of the best examples of what a JRPG can be, because:
      (1) they’ve combined a lot of the good bits of WRPGs (interesting combat, rich in sidequests, large, explorable world) with those of JRPGs (tight pacing and story, the world is actually interesting and characterful rather than just big, the main characters have some personality),
      (2) they’ve managed to tie the narrative and gameplay together through the titular plot device.
      It’s not perfect, but it succeeds where a lot of JRPGs fail, viz. at making the core gameplay interesting and connected to the player’s broader goals (quests, character growth, crafting, story advancement). So many games have combat as a kind of time-filler to stuff into the gaps between cutscenes (including, arguably, the Xenosaga series that preceded this).

    • Xenoblade’s biggest problem is that Nintendo just didn’t care. It sold pretty well for a gamestop exclusive with no advertising campaign though.

  • FFmax

    1. Better characters, no angsty stoic main characters or generic anime side characters that you seen a million times.

    2. Better stories with awesome twists.

    3. Cool villains.

    4. Innovative gameplay, I don’t mind turn-based but at least mix it up a little.

    Do these four things and I can guarantee that the interest in Jrpgs will skyrocket.

    • Stop playing Final Fantasy.

      • FFmax

         There are more Jrpgs that have these cliches than just Final Fantasy :p

      • Rentekabond


        • But that’s only the Escort titles.

          • Rentekabond

            I don’t get the whole Escort vs Mothership excuse the Tales franchise uses, but Abyss and Graces are “Mothership” titles that need a healthy dose of Numbers 1 and 3, with a leaning towards number 2 for them as well, as the stories for these definitely have segments that will just drain the spirit out of you. 

          • You obviously never finished Abyss, but Graces did suffer from 3 I’ll give you that.

          • Rentekabond

            I did and Abyss DEFINITELY dragged on far longer than it should have, without the superior gameplay of Graces to back it up either. I only managed to get through it because Melissa Fahn’s in it.

          • Anime10121

             Graces I’ll 100% agree with but Abyss, did you play the same game I did?

            In Abyss the characters were great, the villians were great, and the game did have an amazing twist (mass homicide anyone).

            But I may be a little biased considering it and not Symphonia is my favorite Tales game.

          • Rentekabond

            Luke was a horrible protagonist, which is why I listed number 1. While he does have a few moments here and there and he does get a bit better by the end, the game spends so much time in the beginning showing off hiss completely dickish attitude towards pretty much everybody (Especially poor Miue(?), who he physically abuses for no legitimate reason. “Oh, you said something in a cute voice? Let me punch you and kick you and step on your face!”).

            Number 2 was because for me, the story felt like it was needlessly extended after the first fakeout final boss and add in the massive amount of backtracking and lack of proper direction on the World map and you’ll understand why I was frustrated with it.
            Thinking back on it, Abyss did have it’s fair share of interesting villain designs, so I’ll concede to that one. 

    • Herok♞

       To be fair you can find all these things in FF 13-2 if you aren’t one of the people who hate it.
      1.Both main characters were trying to recover something important to them Serah her sister and Noel his lost youth by making a better world.
      2. I don’t know many games where the bad guy wants you to kill them, and it turns out you were the cause of the problem you were trying to solve.
      3. I liked Caius he had a self less goal and had style when pullling it off.
      4. FF13-2 definitely changed up turn based game play and the combat system was deep and auto battle was only there if you wanted it.

      • Aoshi00

        Agreed, totally loved 13-2 and felt that it was a big step toward the right direction after 13..  agreed w/ the article too, I needed the exploration to feel the world and the chars, both 13-2 and Last Story let me do that.. 13 just felt too restricted for me since I couldn’t go off rails.. even X had a lot of towns thruout Spira..  while Xenoblade was a really good RPG, it was a bit too MMO-ish for me personally..

        • Anime10121

          I feel the exact same as Herok and you on FFXIII-2, however I liked Xenoblade FAR more than the Last Story.  TLS just didn’t (for lack of a better word) “click” right with me, while Xenoblade just did everything SO RIGHT.  And truthfully, in the beginning I thought my feelings would be swapped too, considering Xenoblade’s gameplay looked like FF12’s (which I hated) and the LS’s looked intriguing and new and it was the Gooch’s game.  But for some reason tLS just didnt work for me.

          • Herok♞

             Wait you also disliked FF12, what would you say the big difference was becasue, I am on the fence about getting it?

          • Anime10121

             I cant even pinpoint the exact differences in the gameplay considering they are similar, well besides the Monado sword abilities and gaining the ability to see future attacks, and there’s also the fact that each character in the game plays differently from the other (much Tales of characters), rather than the samey type of experience you get out of XII’s characters. 

            Xenoblade is just all around a more fun game to play to me.  The worlds/locations are HUGE and not as small and disconnected as FF12’s world and the story of Xenoblade is FAR more interesting to boot, as I never did care much for the Political plot of XII. 

            Xenoblade’s also much longer, I think it took me around 80 hrs to finish, but I did A LOT of sidequests too.  Thats also a big plus though is the infinitely large amount of sidequests in this game and how each one lets you know the NPC’s more and gets you awesome loot/money/experience!  There is just SO MUCH to do in Xenoblade its mind boggling!  I guarantee you will kick yourself in the face if you DONT get Xenoblade :D

          • Herok♞

             Well I will look into it then since my backlog is already huge.

          • Anime10121

             Please do! I guarantee you wont regret it :)

          • Rentekabond

            Also, in Xenoblade, you can jump. I know, I know, that sounds like something that should be considered a viable feature for enhancing the game, right? Wrong. You will find yourself amusing yourself by playing jumping games between destinations that you may even forget that you’ve even walked anywhere at times, which is good because some of the maps are really big.

  • l777l

    Deep story; style; elegance; interesting and diverse characters; finely tuned presentation and pacing (demanding linearity), with detailed environments (ruling out the primacy of an “open world”); meaningful and complex sidequests (quality over quantity) that add another layer to the characters and story, revealing further dimensions of these; excellent music, voice acting, and (especially facial) animation.

    I have nothing against turn-based combat; it should just be a system that offers choice and combinations and be used to make the characters look good. (FF XIII’s system was terrible; VII’s should be expanded upon.)

    As a side note, I find that (some of) the characters’ weapons should be given more attention; they should be developed alongside the characters and be subtly woven into the story.

  • DesmaX

    I think the games always need to give the player different ways to make the same thing (Like, killing monsters). You can have a JRPG that it has a great battle system; But, if the battles always end up the same, it will get old over time.

    As an example, The Last Story (Even that I don’t know much about it): In the game you can use the scenario to take cover from enemy attacks. It is a great way (At least in theory) to give diversity to the game, as maps have different covers positions, so the player always have to think what is the best course of action giving a certain occasion

  • LightZero

    Most jrpgs fans have gotten older. Those who grew up with them during the Snes to PS2 era are now in their early 20s to mid 30s. Some of them have different taste now. I know that I have slightly different taste now that I’m turning 25 soon. Having the same typical story about a teenage shonen MC with spiky hair saving the world from your cookie cutter pretty boy will no longer fly. Gamers are now more savvy and vocal given the accessibility of the internet. There’s nothing wrong with cliches but developers need to get more creative and ambitious with their stories. 

    • DesmaX

       Not only stories, but having games like Star Ocean 4 that the save points so far away one from each other can make someone that doesn’t have that much time time to play. Also, having a JRPG that only starts to get “good” on the 20th hour doesn’t help either

    • Domii

      You stole the words right out of my mouth.

    • disgaea36

       That’s kinda true but you at age 25 can still go back and re play some of those awesome old titles over the crap that has been coming out recently. I just think most of those really good developers either died or moved on to something else. But i do agree now that we are getting older we don’t have as much time to spend countless hours.

    • kevinposta

      Exaaactly this :)
      I’m 21 myself and I find the same song has been sung a bit too much.

    • Manny Being Manny

      The average age of a gamer is much lower in Japan. Its viewed as a social stigma to play video games as an adult, so it leaves mainly just the otaku and teenagers playing video games. They don’t view “innovation” as importation since t here is a constant stream of new gamers, instead of trying to make new fresh things for older gamers. This is seen more in JRPGs than any other genre… they are making JRPGs for teenagers, just like they were 15 years ago.

  • Locklear93

    I’m only going to respond to the point that most struck me: that pre-rendered movies created detachment from gameplay.  I don’t view that as a problem, necessarily.  I’ve played tons and tons of games (as has everyone else here), and while everyone’s mileage will differ, the vast majority of games I’ve really loved have had cutscene and gameplay utterly separate.  There are times where telling the story without interrupting gameplay works very well.  And then there are times where the player needs to be OUT of the driver’s seat, so the game can express changes in the world in the most eloquent way.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean games need to be linear–it’s possible to do the same gameplay/cutscene/gameplay thing with scenes determined by player choice.  I personally play games PRIMARILY for narrative though, and don’t at all mind if gameplay stops to let a cutscene happen.

    Cutscenes can be overdone.  It’s possible for me to hit a “just shut up already” point.  When a scene is critical to the narrative, though, I want to see it done right; I don’t want it shoehorned into gameplay, just to keep me in gameplay.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    Just make the game you want and see how it turns out :)

  • Domii

    Step away from the typical teenage feminine character designs, provide an interesting story, and creative gameplay. Boom!!! You got yourself a hit. I agree with LightZero below, most of us have grown up. That’s why rpgs like Dark Souls appeal to me so much now. And this is coming from a guy who owned almost every great jrpg during the PS2 era and even some from the PS1 too.

    Edit: I don’t have a problem with the character designs per say, what I do have a problem with is the melodramatic attitude that comes with these characters in today’s jrpgs. Like I said below, I believe that in order for the genre to succeed worldwide again, they have to innovate and explore a different character premise. The same old concept and “whiney” characters that have plagued today’s jrpgs won’t cut it anymore. We need more change.

    • Tenno Seremel

      You can pry teenage feminine character designs from my cold, dead hands.

      • Domii


      • CirnoLakes

        Hear hear!

      • Anime10121

         Yep, Im a black guy, 24, and can relate far more to “pretty androgynous” (I’m a tall and sorta skinny guy myself, not lankey, just not made of chunks of meat) male designs than beefy Marcus Fenix types, or even silent types like Gordon Freeman. 

        People say silent characters like Freeman or even Chrono are relate able characters, but I just dont see it, their just like card board cutouts that you “pretend” to role play in a game.  I feel no more like Chrono or Gordon than I do a character like Luke fon Fabre or Sora, just I like the two latter characters better because while some may call them one dimensional, at least they HAVE character!

    • CirnoLakes

      So I have to play a game with an equally cliche, macho, muscular, badass tough-guy dude I’ve never liked in video games and am getting sick of dominating the Western industry now?

      One of the things I enjoy the odd novelty of now, is that even though jRPGs are becoming less popular, is that they’re still being made, and I can still pop in a new video game, freshly made, that is about a cute guy or girl, candy-coloured, funny and cute, and isn’t about some “manly” guy. I still have the freedom and ability to do that, despite the fact there are thousands of people such as yourself asking for it to go away. It has a strange sort of novelty and gives me a strange sort of high and peace of mind that I can still buy and enjoy this, I can actually buy and play a game that is about a so called “androgynous” guy, or even a female protagonist, and not have to play a game about a big, burly, hardboiled manly archetype.

      I want this ability to last, and not die. I am a type of gamer that I don’t want to see go away and disappear, unable to play an RPG or even a game unless it stars a lone hardboiled badass with too many muscles, facial hair, cigar-voice, and gruff personality. And to be honest, Dark Souls is a game I pre-ordered just to do. You only have so many video games that exist to play as the world is, and sometimes you need to give something like Dark Souls a chance, especially when Steam doesn’t have many jRPGs. But Dark Souls feels exactly like what I don’t want in jRPGs. It’s about a lone badass again. It’s a lonely game and reminds of how, despite the fact that Super Metroid was a good game with quality gameplay, I felt lonely and depressed while playing it, and would rather play Super Mario RPG. Super Mario RPG made me feel good inside. And while I did play Super Metroid, just like I’m going to play Dark Souls, my diet needs and enjoys something more warm than either of those games.

      Dark Souls appeals to you. To me, it’s a game I want to spend far less time in than Tales of Graces f. For I miss the warm personalities and characters I can feel empathy for and connect with. Personalities that aren’t some swaggering muscleman who likes to shoot things.

      • Rentekabond

        He didn’t even say that -.-. Way to completely overreact to what he said.

        Using Cheria as an example (since I really don’t like her), I think he’s referring to the generic female archetype where they’re there solely to look cute and enhance the main character. I dislike her because her entire character can be condensed to “Wants to bone Asbel, is mad at Asbel, wants to bone Asbel again”. That is the extent of her character development and outside of that she’s the generic homemaker housewife who poses cutely in a slightly (it’s generally worse than this) sexy outfit. While that’s just my interpretation of what he said, I can certainly agree to that.

        • Domii

          That’s exactly what I meant. I will also like to add that on top of the “cutesy” design, the melodrama in these characters make it really really hard for me to feel any connection or compassion for them nowadays.

        • Nanashrew

           i’m honestly getting tired of dere types being used solely for personality traits too =/. a person is more than just tsundere, yandere ect. ect. what happened to character development these days? i’m actually getting burnt out on today’s anime because i keep seeing the same things over and over again. i find myself just going further back in the catalog of anime when they were good and had better personalities and better character development that didn’t follow specific “dere” archetypes.

          many female anime characters these days just come off more like pets with little personality just to look cute and draw people in with their pretty faces and taut bodies, offering very little in the way of story.

          hayao miyazaki said it best:

          “It`s difficult. They immediately become the subjects of Lolita Complex.
          In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we
          have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there
          are too many people who shamelessly depict such heroines as if they just
          want such girls as pets, and things are escalating more and more.”

          not to mention everything is just really sad these days, what happened to light hearted adventures? what happened to strong willed characters? what happened to making likable characters? why is everyone whiny and melodramatic? everyone still complains and hates shinji ikari from evangelion, so why are we making characters and heroes more like him?

          just so many things that are turning me off these days. i still do love anime a lot and JRPGs but this is what i’m seeing more and more of and i don’t like this direction.

          i can tell you one thing at least, no one likes a wimpy hero in the least. that’s a big turn off right there. i even got annoyed with ruca in tales of innocence with how wimpy and whiny he was and he’s the main hero =/.

      • Domii

        If I didn’t know any better I would think you replied to me by mistake because I didn’t say or insinuated no such thing. I never said the feminine “cutesy” art style should go away in JRPGs. I said they should “step away” from it more and diversify. Im 22yrs old, and I loved the traditional JRPGs since the late 90s, but just like many others, I believe there should be more innovation in the genre, instead of the typical melodramatic premise that the majority of consumers are tired of.

        There’s a reason why I love the Souls series so much and Xenoblade this gen. Those are games that innovated while still preserving that Japanese charm that I love so. For the survival of the genre, I think that a new approach and premise should definitively be implemented in future jrpgs. I also understand that you love the genre the way it is now, but you got to understand that the majority of us who once loved the genre want to see some change. That’s why the popularity of jrpgs have sunk around the world. Oh, regarding Dark Souls, you had the choice to make your character look like how ever you wan’t. So I don’t know what you mean by it being a “macho” game?

    • Manny Being Manny

      That doesn’t sound interesting to me, nor would it be for the domestic Japanese consumers. “Feminine character designs” are the ideal looking guy in Japan. Big muscular guys aren’t viewed as attractive by women as the pretty boys are. Look at any Teenage girl magazine, and you’ll see a bunch of JRPG main character looking guys. Plus, JRPGs are mainly aimed at fans of anime. The tropes and such is why they like anime, so it makes sense to have them in JRPGs as well.

      Basically, you want a foreign culture to cater games specifically to you, instead of their home country. Which is pretty egotistical. They are made for the Japanese first, and foreigners second.

      • Domii

        Not to be rude or anything, but did you read my comment or did you just scan through it and assumed things?

  • Darkrise

    More of something as amazing and creative like Xenoblade Chronicles would be MUCH appreciated! It was a game that revitalized jrpg’s for me as I loved pretty much every aspect of the game except for the graphics but I got use to it anyway so whatever, not important. Creative characters or characters that can be likeable and a good score of music. Nothing stereotypical either.

    • Domii

      Yeah Xenoblade is truly special. It’s a shame I bought it day1 but only invested about 10hrs on it so far, just because I’ve been hell bent on getting everything but the kitchen sink in DarkSouls. Ima get back to it eventually.

  • Characters. What happened to the characters in anime and rpgs lately? Valkyria Chronicles II was a big slap in the face. I miss they use to make characters as likable as possible, not unlike today where they make them extremely annoying and shallow. Nier was good though, make more like that.

    • PoweredByHentai

      You will LOVE Valkyria Chronicles 3.  There are some characters in VC3 that I never bothered to use because their stats and potentials weren’t what I would ever use in any skirmish/campaign.  

      Julio is a good example of such a character that I never used on any mission in VC3.  What makes him memorable to me was his cooking contest against Kurt (the squad leader and main character of VC3).  So why cooking contest?  Because both characters have a beneficial potential that activates randomly just because they like their foods cooked in a certain way.  That cooking contest showdown served several purposes:

      1.  The squad had recently come to accept Kurt as the new leader so some members still had their misgivings.  The cooking showdown (while completely optional as a story element) improved upon the squad’s trust in Kurt as a leader.

      2.  Iron chef.  Yes, they went completely out of their way to show who is the culinary master of the unit.  There can be only one.

      3.  It fleshed out Kurt’s personality as someone who isn’t just a brilliant strategist, tactician, leader and soldier, but also as someone who has a real hobby and the kind of awkward discipline that he goes about it.

      4. It fleshed out Julio as a character. He isn’t just an anti-tank trooper (aka lancer), he’s also the squad’s chef and he takes cooking seriously.

  • CirnoLakes

    To repeat what I said earlier in this “thread”. It’s good to take a look at changing or improving everything that is stale or could be improved in jRPGs. Most things can be taken a second look at and should, like many people in the industry are saying(though often overly negatively so). And would improve the genre. While staying true to themselves and playing to their strengths.

    When you cut away everything non-essential and changeable, one of the basics of what makes a jRPG and what the strengths of the jRPG are, those strengths are characterization, character development, the better parts of anime style humor or the results of Japanese etiquette and norms in relationships which can be particularly interdependent and close, and growing together and climbing adversity as a group. This is something that has made jRPGs and Japanese games in general really good when having it and having it well, as lonely as it’s Western counterpart when lacking, and Western games benefit from it a lot when it is present. If you’ve ever heard of some of the “tropes” of anime and Japanese media, you’ll often hear of the “nakama”. Japanese games, particularly jRPG, do a lot to make you feel empathy for fictional characters in ways many video games don’t try. And it is generally a good thing for video games to contain.

    If you think of the most memorable things in jRPGs, it’s almost always about some beloved character and companion dying, or something along those lines. Even in Pokemon which is more of the lonely, non-“nakama” based jRPG more about exploring and catching monsters than driving a narrative along, people have strong feelings about Cubone and Lavender town, N, and so forth. And the strong storyline and meaningful character interaction is seen as an achievement of the Unova generation in Pokemon.

    What needs to be given a second look, is bits of pieces of everything else. Though some more than others. I do agree that there need to be more non-linear aspects of the games. Good jRPGs had lots of sidequest. And good ones, too. And in a good game, people always wanted more and to be able to do more. They could clock 60 hours into the game, and when everything to be possible done, was done, they felt sad because they could only repeat the things they had done before. I don’t think that they should make purely non-linear sandbox games all of the time, but more options and optional content would be a good thing.

    I think that the problem with jRPGs is that some developers are going through the motions now. What they need to do, is pour their souls into a game they themselves would love to play and not what they think will work. That means making characters they like, a group or party they themselves would find enjoyable to be friends with and be in the party themselves, write a plot that not only they are attached to, but before releasing the game, do lots of checks to make sure it sounds as good of a plot as it sounds to they themselves. Spend a lot of time making the battle system good, always think about how interactive the environment is, and how things come together to make an enjoyable experience.

    It’s all about pacing, being too linear means a game, if every single section isn’t perfect, leads for people wanting a good down period, non-linear sidequests to enjoy a temporary peace and so forth. And people like to do more in general. But if the content in general that is non-linear is boring, people will fizzle out and not have much drive to continue doing anything(the, “I can do anything I want, but now I feel like I don’t want to do anything” effect). Spread out the content, instead of saving it all for right before the final boss. And most importantly, make a game with good rhythm and a game that you yourself would want to play.

    It’s hard to think of many of the specifics, but I think that sums up a lot of the things that would help.

  • Visa Vang

    “Many people can understand the importance of narrative, but I think
    it’s a shame when games depend too much on cut scenes and pre-rendered
    movies, creating detachment from the gameplay.” 

    This is our main problem here and I blame Final Fantasy VII for this (Because it was so epic that it was over used; graphics, sound, dialogue, cutscenes). Since then everyone started to do it and then comes the critiques, then comes the noob players who think that, that other “JRPG” it’s the same and never touched it again saying what ever they felt like for the next 10 games even though they’ve barely played any.

  • disgaea36

     Idk how to answer because i enjoy those nice looking cgi scenes or those crisp anime cut scenes kinda makes the games feel more alive when ur in the middle of a battle and you get this cool cut scene. I just think they need to stop slacking and start making games like they used to. Even today their are only a few titles that blow me away like Radiant Historia. That game was so well made and a breath of fresh air for a JRPG. If only they could keep up that system fans won’t be disappointed.

  • undersaffiresky

    Sure, cutscenes can be overdone, but I don’t see them as a negative to any game (or as something that necessarily “distances” someone from gameplay) so long as they’re executed in a well-done fashion.

    I actually enjoy cutscenes quite a bit, as I play the game for the story more than for the actual gameplay (which I’m sure is different from many). This is probably why I enjoyed Xenosaga/Gears/etc. as much as I did, and also why I watch Metal Gear Solid 3 and 4’s cutscenes on their own because I enjoyed them so much! If I get involved in the story, cutscenes interrupting gameplay aren’t going to bother me.

    To be honest, any aspect of an RPG can be made good if it’s in the hands of a good director, just as any element of an RPG can ruin it if done poorly.

  • CirnoLakes

    On the issue of androgynous guys. And people who are saying they need to lessen or go away.

    I’ve got a different interpretation of gaming, as far as stuff like what
    characters look and act like and so forth. The video game industry
    overvalues masculinity as it is. The last thing we need is to see is women and feminine men even less represented than they are now. I want to see more female main characters and important characters, and males who don’t fit into the badass manly man archetype, and not less. Female main characters and feminine guys are just awesome in my book.

    I think this video quite eloquently explains my feelings on much of the gaming industry and “androgynous” guys as well.
    The problem isn’t that guys in some video games are too “girly”, it’s that there aren’t enough actual girls.

    • Rentekabond

      I counted 8 girls in that video, 6 of which were used during the “too many D***s segments”. Editing error or stinging social commentary?

      • CirnoLakes

        What I saw was at the parts of the video specifically mentioning girls, instead of “too many”. Like “easy to fix” or “not enough sisters” or “not enough ladies” I’m fairly certain. I didn’t notice any, though if there are, it’s surely an editing error considering the message of the video.

        • Rentekabond

          I just started counting because one of the first “Too many” Segments used Jeanne and Bayonetta pointing guns at each other, even though those are 2 very female women.

  • Shaun Huseman

    I enjoy cutscenes a good bit as well. I dont think they take away from the experience. It’s a role playing game yes. Hence why you are playing the role of someone, it doesnt necessarily have to be you. I think a gripping story is what interests me and keeps me playing games. I can forgive a sub par battle/gameplay system, but not a terrible story.

    It’s just everyone is so ADD or cant focus on just one thing at a time now due to entertainment and the media throwing so much stuff at people. You dont need to be constantly killing something or glancing at other things while reading a book. People need to slow down.

    • Mellozine

      I don’t think it’s so much an issue of “people can’t focus” as it is that a lot of games right now just have so many cutscenes. For like, everything. Cutscenes aren’t bad in themselves, but when you have a cutscene for everything, it gets tedious and pulls the player out of the game. A story can still be good even with a minimum number of cutscenes. They should be saved for important moments and not just little things. 

      • Nemesis_Dawn

        One of my favorite JRPGs still remains the original Xenosaga and that has an almost MGS-level of cutscenes. It’s all in the content of the cutscenes, not in the length or amount.

  • Voltech44

    I have to agree with Matsumoto — I feel as if lately, there’s a severe imbalance between cutscenes and gameplay in JRPGs.  I can’t say I have a perfect solution to the problem, because cutscenes can be used to convey a lot…the problem, I think, is twofold.  There can be too many cutscenes, but there can also be too many cutscenes that are ineffective (or pointless).  I’m playing through Tales of the Abyss right now to do a retrospective for my blog, and while I think it’s still pretty good, the imbalance is starting to wear on me.  There’s one cutscene where two characters head to a military base to discuss their plans, and a soldier tells them to head to the conference room.  And then you head to that room to start another cutscene.  What was the point, exactly?  And there’s still a high number of scenes that hammer in the same information/ideas/angst over and over.

    Here’s what I think could help JRPGs.  First, better content.  Everyone here knows JRPGs can tell some fantastic stories given the chance, but I’m consistently surprised by how many games fall prey to the same host of cliches.  How many times and in how many worlds are we going to have a sword-wielding male lead (often with amnesia) who has some kind of mysterious power inside him?  The biggest shot in the arm JRPGs can get is to gain some original ideas.  And put those original ideas (and characters, and setting) on the forefront, making sure not to degrade into the angst parades that JRPG-haters expect of the genre.

    Second (and a bit trickier) is something that a friend and I were discussing: JRPGs need to simplify.  This is a multi-faceted issue; from a writing perspective, JRPGs can get so overwrought with ideas and themes that the story itself suffers.  The important part — the FUN — is lost in exchange for (perceived) depth and legitimacy…and if FF13’s mixed reception is anything to go by, it’s all too easy to screw up being complex.  But if you’ll allow me to be a little controversial, I think that JRPGs, at least for the moment, should stick to handhelds and less-powerful consoles.  Current-gen graphics require huge costs and resources and work, and it’s all too easy for the JRPG to suffer as a result, sometimes by catering to modern trappings (i.e. too many “very important” cutscenes).  But on a less-powerful machine, there’s less risk.  Lower costs mean a higher chance of taking risks — and with it, a greater chance of being creative, because winning a customer relies less on fancy visuals and more on story/gameplay/style.  

    I’ll readily admit that what I’ve proposed might not be practical, and I’ve made some sweeping generalizations, but I’d like to think there’s SOME merit to what I’ve said.

    tl;dr: JRPGs need to tighten up their stories and keep it simple.  Barring that, just do what Atlus does.    

  • Bhunivelze

    This man speaks the truth. A lot of jrpgs have just become “run from point A to point B to watch cutscene, repeat to the end.” It’s just like watching a disjointed movie. This was a lot less jarring in the earlier days or rpgs because sequences with a lot of text didn’t seem separate from the rest of the gameplay. 

  • Rentekabond

    For starters, take the Last Story and Xenoblade’s examples and actually make characters, not archetype’s. If I boot up your rpg and can immediately tell what role your character plays and, by the end of that game, barely change that definition, you’ve pretty much failed at making a character.

    Also, remember that your lead doesn’t have to be either a clueless idiot who somehow inspires faith in people and gets the girl(s) or an angsty whiner the whole time. My friend recommended Baten Kaitos to me, after I made him play Chrono Cross for the first time, and, despite not actually finishing the game yet, the protagonist Kalas is already one of my favorite for Jrpgs because even though he’s a good guy, he’s not an oblivious idiot, and despite having a tragic past, he doesn’t whine about it all the time. He also has a personality, getting mad, happy, or sad at appropriate times without resorting to yelling about friendship or how sad his childhood was or other such tropes all the time.Shulk is another good example as, for most of the game at least, he had a very focused drive and was able to mesh with the group as a whole and behaved differently around different people without coming off as fake.

    Also, another tip for Jrpg creators; Don’t use fan-pandering as an excuse to not make a quality gaming experience. I’m looking at you, Compile Heart/Gust.

    • Tenno Seremel

      Well, speaking of Gust, I liked Ar tonelico’s story, fan-pandering or not. But then again, Ar tonelico 3 was mostly meh, so yeah…

      • Rentekabond

        I actually really liked AT3 for most of the dialogue (Save for Saki, screw her), music, and atmosphere, but the gameplay outside of stripping your would be girlfriend definitely could have used some work.

        • Tenno Seremel

          I dunno. Aoto is… just too dumb to live. He gave away Saki 2 times for no reason. His “border disease” had potential to be something, instead it was used as a minor point, he got healed and that’s it. No explanation how it really works, what it really is, no nothing. Just “it happens” and “you got better.”

          Saki… err… she is sickening. Seriously, At1 had a lovely timid girl and I loved her, At3’s one is a someone with a brain of a little child (or maybe she had some sort of trauma, I don’t know) that turns people into cakes and eats them :S

          Finnel… The toilet. Just… what… the… hell…

          Tyria… well, she is fine, I suppose. She has some twist in her backstory and what’s not.

          I liked Ar Ru in DLC for some reason, though. At least Aoto did not look dumb with her.

          In battle everyone but Cocona is SLOW. I switched to her and played her as my main as soon as I could.

          Music was good, though. It’s Ar tonelico, so I expect as much. Even EXEC_CUTYPUMP/., ha-ha-ha.

          And we got our ending for the planet which is good. But battle system and inter-personal relationships could take some polish. I don’t know, where devs rushed to release faster or something?

          • Locklear93

            I actually liked Finnel for the most part, but on the whole, I agree with you: AT3 was a marked reduction in quality for the series, in all respects: storytelling, character development, gameplay, all of it.  Shame, really, AT1 remains one of my favorite JRPGs.

          • Rentekabond

            Same, Finnel was definitely my favorite out of the 2. though If I ‘d known about Tyria beforehand, I’d have gone after her instead, as she was less offensive to me as a whole (Finnel’s Dives and personality were far more engaging than Saki’s by far and her music was awesome, but she was very needlessly tsundere at a lot of points.). However, I was still satisfied by the Finnel route.

          • Rentekabond

            I never played the first 2, but that seems to be the general consensus for the series, though I did enjoy At3 despite Saki, so I don’t mind too horribly.

            I also felt that the chemistry between the teammates and their friends was decent and that the Doctor was pretty decent in battle because he made up for being slow with a lot of multi-hit attacks.

          • Anime10121

             I recommend whole-heartedly the first two games as they are both generally fantastic (2 moreso)!  3 was good/not great but it was still a pretty good jrpg, but the first two were phenomenal games imo and the second (with its fantastic music) was really great.  But here just listen to the Awesomeness of Ar Tonelico 2’s OST!

          • Nemesis_Dawn

            I loved Ar Tonelico Qoga, for its characters (Finnel is one of my favorite characters in the entire series), its story, and its music. However, sending me to the Executive District twenty times is a sure way to make your game lose points in my eyes.

    • Julien_N

      I have to agree with you, especially about Kalas. He really is an interesting main character, moving away from stereotypes and conventions and being a believable individual who just focused on his own interest and eventually became overwhelmed by the entire plot.

      I haven’t finished Xenoblade but as far as I went, Shulk is also remarkably written as a character, and the whole group feels like a group, without abandoning some characters in the plot scenes while not trying to give the exact on-screen and dialogue time for everyone (In real life, the conversations are always “unbalanced” time-wise, no one is going to speak as much as the others)

      • Rentekabond

        The part that really made me appreciate Kalas was towards the beginning when you first meet Xelha and she give her traditional “Obi-wan, you’re the only one that can save me” speech and Kalas basically “No, woman, I literally just met you and you’re asking me to risk my life for you? Screw you!”

        That was amazing for me because you pretty much ALWAYS see the jrpg hero drop everything they’re doing because they have to protect this new girl they want to bone with all their might for no reason.

        • Julien_N

          This moment was indeed very clever, and genuine. It is one of the first events that build Kalas’ personnality and character that we both like. ^^
          More JRPGs should try the “jerkass hero” approach. 

  • EggmaniMN

    Detachment from “gameplay” isn’t even a problem and the whole thing boils down to people just wanting to use the word “immersion” as much as they can when in reality it’s little more than a buzzword the west has used to try to make themselves look better. You are no more “immersed” in a game if you’re playing a scene where someone is talking at Gordon Freeman and you can walk around than a cutscene from Xenosaga.

    The biggest problem I’ve seen is that people don’t just branch out to try to change things, the industry just ups and discards entire working sections and that is dumb. One of the best parts of Lost Odyssey was its exposition and cutscenes. There was no disconnection. They all gave meaningful content to the player and were very important.

    That is what cutscenes require. You can’t just have a thousand cutscenes showing wacky antics for no reason. Just make sure the exposition is meaningful. Final Fantasy 9 pulled this off with near perfection. The Active Time Events where you saw the various characters interacting with each other in small cutscenes that were both fun and often poignant. They gave actual characterization while showing another side of what those characters thought of the current plot.

    The skits in the Tales series are not meaningful. They can be funny but they are by and large timewasters with no real impact. You’ll get a few here and there that delve into the actual current plot but at the same time, without seeing any physical interaction (and instead seeing the still shots) pulls away from the conversation. You need to see how people emote as well as their words.

  • Nemesis_Dawn

    Personally, I think one of the big things missing from JRPG’s is the presentation. Keeping them as low-budget NISA titles and handheld-only titles is not going to ever revitalize them. They need to be treated the same way Final Fantasy VII was treated. Give them graphics that will impress the average person. Give them huge moment. And then advertise them like crazy. With the exception of the Final Fantasy titles, JRPG’s are never treated as AAA titles anymore, and that’s why they’re doing so poorly. The Final Fantasy titles sell well based on a mixture of high quality graphics, name recognition, and above all, advertising. It’s about spending money to make money. And they need to be on consoles where the graphics can blow people away. What is the currently most anticipated JRPG of this gen? Arguably, it’s Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Huge budget game, amazing graphics. Almost guaranteed to be a hit title. 

    Above all, don’t make so many concessions for the West. Think of the sales of Nier as an example of what happens when you try to appeal too much to us. I cannot tell you the amount of people who skipped over that title simply because of the utterly hideous design of the main character in the Western release. It took an unusually strong word of mouth to get anyone interested in it. Had they gone with the more androgynous brother design, I believe we’d be talking about the game’s sequel by now. 

    But the techniques of old will still work. The average consumer will buy whatever you tell them they have to buy, in order to fit in with their friends. Resonance of Fate would have been a huge franchise if Sega had actually let anyone know about it. It had every ingredient a game needs to be huge: likeable characters, interesting story, good (but not great) graphics, even the illusion of gunplay (which Americans love in their games) but who even heard of the game outside of people who were already JRPG fans?

    • Ty Austin

      The problem with today is how much an RPG of that scale costs.  Back then, developers didn’t have to focus as much on graphics, allowing them to put their energy elsewhere, the story, characters and battle system, for example.  

      It takes a really long time to play through an RPG, more than any other genre. It takes even longer to develop that game.  With the amount of money it takes to make a big game and make it look good, I’m not surprised we haven’t seen much on the console side of things.  

      You can throw a huge budget at a large scale RPG with amazing graphics and then market it heavily, but you had better make the sales to back it up, because if you don’t, you’re in trouble.  I can easily see why the business side of these developers aren’t willing to take that risk, it isn’t a smart one.  

      Square has more room to do this because they know the Final Fantasy name is huge, bigger than any other RPG name in the US.  Final Fantasy Versus reminds me of the girl in high school you never ask out.  It’s perfect in your mind because you haven’t done anything with it yet, all you picture is how perfect it is without seeing any of the flaws.  If the rumors were true and it really were cancelled, people would be furious.  For all we know, the game could end up being bad.  Sure it looks nice and the combat system *looks* interesting, but so did Final Fantasy XIII, and look at the reception at that one.  This is coming from someone who loved FFXIII and XIII-2, by the way ;)

      In all honesty though, I really wish someone would grow a pair and do exactly as you say. I really respect companies like NISA because they continue to release JRPGs on the PS3 despite the difficulty. I love my handhelds, but I want to go back to the good old days.

      • Nemesis_Dawn

        That’s the thing, though. It doesn’t matter as much whether it is actually a good game or has a good story. Look at how much Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII sold. I know very few people who don’t hate one or the other (in fact, it usually works out that fans of one are the same people who really despise the other). Yet, both sold amazingly well, based on name recognition and marketing.

        That’s the key. Make it look pretty and people will still buy it. Hopefully, of course, the developers actually make it fun with an interesting story, but if we’re talking from a purely sales perspective, spectacle and advertising are what will sell JRPGs to the public again.

        • Ty Austin

          That’s just it, Square can get good marketing in and good name recognition because it’s Final Fantasy.  You can’t do that with nearly any other JRPG out there.

          If you want to advertise your game on TV, it has to look good, and if you want it to look good, you have to spend a ton of money on the graphics (or not, if you want everything else to suffer, many will argue that’s what happened with FFXIII.)  Even then, you’re risking a lot of money in doing so.

          We’re in a time where making a JRPG is a risky endeavor due to the high production costs.

  • Ty Austin

    Tecmo’s Secret of the Stars, man that takes me back.  The days where a developer who had no experience in the RPG genre could just take a crack at making one.  It may have had it’s flaws, but I loved that game. :)

  • Godmars

    A return to story making minus the surrealism that’s taken over the industry in Japan.

    I mean aside from the Trails series and Ni No KuNi – and even a bit there – its like every game’s “plot” had gone too far of left field for Western mindsets. And I suspect many Japanese mindsets as well. Feels like there’s been no attempt to even try and tell a story rather than the presentation of the outline of one. 

    • CirnoLakes

      Ironic that you would mention Ni no Kuni like that when saying that surrealism is bad. Considering that Ni no Kuni is, for many people, one of the most exciting jRPG to be up and coming.

      And one of the great appeals of Ni no Kuni, is an artful use of surrealism by Studio Ghibli. If I think of the most successful, beloved, and quality jRPGs, multiple surreal titles are among them. Titles such as Earthbound, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Terranigma, Paper Mario and Wild Arms.

      • Godmars

        Probably instead of surreal, I should have said lack of logic or lack of logical progression. Making sense or being aware of world logic.

        Form its onset Ni No Kuni seems to be trying to make sense while setting rules for its world. Things aren’t just happening so they can happen, as they’re happening they’re either explaining why they’re there or its already been established why they’re there. Its not suddenly having a Jabba the Hut clone popping up in FF8 and explain he funded SeeD though his people are reclusive so you never see them again or everyone having amnesia and not knowing the Sorceress has possessed an adoptive mother.

        And please don’t try to explain or defend that. Fans trying to do just that, applying interpretations to poorly done plots, is very much the issue.  

  • Mago Iichi

    Besides some indie games on Steam, the Last Remnant, Xenoblade, Pandora’s Tower (if it counts), and the Last Story, I have not played as many rpgs this gen compared to last gen.

    I think the problem is there just isn’t a lot of rpgs being made.This gen it has been the same developers like Nippon Ichi making the same games with different names, new iterations of existing series like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.

    And a tiny sprinkle of actual new ips whereas they either sell well or flop.Speaking of new Ips for rpgs, Sega stepped up with Valkyria Chronicles and Resonance of Fate, Nippon Ichi had some crossover games like Trinity Universe and Cross Edge (eww).I think they also made the Last Rebellion.

    Actually, there’s been a lot of new rpgs, but they were obviously overshadowed by the oversaturation of FPS games and other action games.

    It’s been long overdue for rpgs to oversaturate the market like in the good ole SNES days.If handhelds like the DS and PSP can do it, why not consoles?

    • Rentekabond

      The problem with those new Ips you mentioned is that none of them are exceptional games (Valkyria Chronicles being the best out of those, I’d say) and most of them straight are barely passable, if not downright bad.

  • Ultimaniacx4

    I gotta say, I haven’t been paying attention to The Last Story but reading that quote makes me really want to.

  • I can agree with some of the commenters.. Especially @CirnoLakes:disqus …

    There are macho men in WRPGs or feminine guys in JRPGs??? So what?? I don’t complain if I get to play as whether it’s the black guy with a beard killing hundreds of civilians or a wimpy guy with a child body and mind fighting to save the world… What’s wrong with being different??? Humans aren’t perfect to begin with since every person has some strong points and some weak points…

    To those sensitive people saying the androgynous guys needs to lessen or go away, why don’t you go promote racism while you’re at it???

    Regards to women in video games, as long as why are they in a game makes sense and not some fanservice objects with no actual relationship to the plot…

    • Paradox me

      To those sensitive people saying the androgynous guys needs to lessen or go away, why don’t you go promote racism while you’re at it???

      You’re joking, right? It almost always comes down to wanting characters one can relate to, and young androgynous pretty boys are not what the vast majority of Western gamers will ever be able to identify with. That’s not to say that every Westerner playing games is some old, beefy, grizzled bear of a man, but that type of character is much more familiar.

      A lot of it also has to do with those characters’ personalities as well. Where aforementioned pretty boys tend to be immature, unbearably naive and a fair bit whiny, Western characters are often mature, level headed and confident. They act like adults, and with yesteryear’s JRPG player now being adults with jobs, families, responsibilities and a better understanding of the world around them, they don’t really care to hear some 15-year-old and his maid harem drone on about how the world is a meanie, the power of friendship and the wonder of unicorn farts.

      It’s hardly comparable to racism.

      • You don’t want people who you cannot identified with as characters because you cannot accept what they are with the Western mindset.. Like white people wants black people to get out of their country just because they’re different in race, ideology, personalities, etc… (No offense intended)

        How’s that different from racism???

        You don’t like whiny and androgynous characters??? Fine… You don’t have to ridicule someone because of it.. It’s fine for me to see big men with muscles and mustaches killing people without remorse and second thoughts… Every scene got blood splatter around and emits death aura everywhere… Bringing buildings down that could cause massive destruction… Also, F bombs being dropped more than often….

        Woah… Suddenly I got a better understanding of the world around me…

        • Paradox me

          Stop using the Internet, you’re not very good at it.

          Honestly, comparing the irrational hatred of an entire race to disliking fictitious characters for their individual personality traits is beyond ridiculous.

          I have no inherent hatred for androgynous characters, just as I am not a bigot. I will judge those around me by the content of their character, however, and guess what? If I dislike someone in real life, I probably won’t be around them willingly. Likewise, if a game character shows personality traits that I dislike, I’m not going to enjoy their presence in that game and I certainly won’t be happy when other games include similar characters.

          • I could say the same to you…

            Fictitious characters which were made by non-westerners… You’re still going against the foreign creator’s ideology….

            If you don’t like that game, you know what to do with it anyways…

          • Rentekabond

            You’re using logical fallacies in all the wrong (right?) ways. He didn’t say he hated the idea of characters made by nonwesterners, he said he hated bad characters. Just because a lot of Japanese characters fit that definition doesn’t mean he hates japanese characters.

      • CirnoLakes

        Like I’ve stated before, after already making several statements, well received ones, and after a day since this thread has been posted, I’m a bit leery to continue that streak and maybe need to tone it down after already several comments. And thank you Raiu and others who appreciate my comments. But comments like these are certainly giving me an interest in sharing my two cents yet again, and hopefully of the same quality.

        “People who like this: Ishaan”. Yeah, that’ll make you nervous. It’s almost like I’m arguing with a mod. Little sad to be in this predicament. Especially since I disagree with this statement so much.

        Well, I can’t speak on the matter of comparing to racism too much. Since my preference for feminine protagonists could be seen as akin to racism. But aside from being able to mess with your hormone levels, there isn’t much of a choice in how androgynous your body is. Considering the amount of muscular macho men, I’d say to have less prettyboys would be lessening one group and normalizing another. While I have my own biases in favor of said prettyboys, there’d be a lack of diversity of said androgynous characters were less normal.

        “young androgynous pretty boys are not what the vast majority of Western gamers will ever be able to identify with.”
        And this is why we argue and disagree so much, the folks on my side of the argument with yours.

        That’s quite a statement and one that has stuck out at me. Dragging me in here to respond again. Westerners never be able to identify with? That’s quite a farfetched case. If that’s the case, I think that Japan needs to focus on making games for their own country until the West can sort out their own problems with androgyny. Never is a huge word, and the statement sounds extreme, unrealistic, and negative when put like that.

        Then there’s the fact that, if your main concern was your talk about “bouncing boobs” and cliches and things like that. I think most folks you’re arguing with would be in favor of that. But the crux of the matter is that’s not the limit of what you want. You want androgynous protagonists and characters to lessen. Or at least, that’s what you’re arguing right here and that’s what people are arguing against. You can go “but I need less moping and bouncing boobs” all you like. I really wish that this wasn’t the statement that Ishaan decided to like, because this is the most disagreeable statement you’ve made. Where you have explicitly gone after androgyny and claimed that Westerners will never accept it. Particularly ironic when the West is oft touted as a bastion of gender equality. There is nothing Western, first world and enlightened about the suppression of stories of women, children, and the androgynous.

        Right now, yes, I think many Westerners could be more open minded and accepting of androgynous people. To say that can never be the case, I have more faith in the West than that. If the West can grow so in favor of LGBT rights, they can certainly be comfortable with and relate to androgynous people.

        It would be different if you were only in favor of the lessening of cliches and only instead better written characters and stories. And it would be much easier to come to an agreement. But from your words, it seems far more like you are equally against androgyny and lazy writing, and are using lazy writing as a way to make androgyny look bad. And using the justification that Westerners are used to “old, beefy, grizzled bears of men” as a justification for the suppression of stories about androgynous people. And that their absence will make these games better.

        It’s easy to see why someone would take disagreement or offense to this or why someone would find this demand to be unreasonable. There are millions of us, who are just as accustomed to androgynous characters as many Westerners are accustomed to macho male power fantasy characters. The Western video game industry cannot go on appeasing only the macho male fantasy only, forever. Part of the video games industry maturing, is growing in diversity.

        Can we sacrifice the cliches and lazy writing and not the androgynous males?

    • Domii

      It’s not so much how the characters look, it’s the melodramatic personality that has been appearing in today’s JRPGs that’s the problem. Paradox Me said it best below.

      • Probably my mindset is different when approaching characters…. Who knows…

        I don’t have a problem with most of the characters I’ve encountered in today’s JRPGs so far….

        • Domii

          Its really sad to be honest. Because back then I’d enjoy the melodrama in jrpg characters, but now I can’t do it anymore. Not even if I tried. I love the genre too much to let it die in my gaming life, that’s why I want some change. Not only for me, but for the success of the genre worldwide.

  • Hm… I dunno. 7th Dragon 2020 is as traditional as a make-your-party dungeon crawler can be, yet it presented a pretty tactical approach to battles instead of requiring bigger numbers than the enemy. The story, from what I understood, had its own level of weight to it as well.

  • Nothing beats Suikoden 2. 108 unique hand-drawn characters with beautiful sprite and each of them are very different and have unique background eventhough some of them don’t speak more than 5 lines. You also have male, female, human, elf, duck, dog, kobold, wolf, unicorn, octopus, lizardmen, black, white, asian and all kind of other races you can think of not even counting the villains. The characters don’t look all the same, they’re very unique and different, they don’t look all Japanese, they’re all different. And then the story, your motive is very simple but there’s much more conflict in it.

    Music? phenomenal. Gameplay is simple, very basic turn-based without gimmicks. The game doesn’t force you to level to prolong amount of time you clocked in, in fact it only takes about 25 hours to beat the game with all 108 characters but truth be told I’ve played the game for over 10 times but I never feel bored, not even once.

    The only game that come close are Nier and GTA San Andreas but the latter isn’t RPG.

    • Nemesis_Dawn

      As someone who agrees that Suikoden 2 is the greatest JRPG of all time (someone was actually trying to argue with me about it, basically because they didn’t know enough to level their weapons up, so Luca destroyed them, and somehow that makes it a bad game), I do have to point out that it wasn’t a commercial success, even at a time when JRPG’s sold very well. It wasn’t flashy, like the other PS1 JRPG’s and that hurt it at the time. It’s why it sells for so much now because it sold so little then.

      • PoweredByHentai

        That would be me.  There was a short moment in time during the whole preparation for the Luca Blight showdown where you can upgrade the goddamn weapons.  Prior to that, it wouldn’t let you upgrade to the all important level 7 or 8 that was needed to take on Luca.  I see that as a bad design because it requires you to initiate the showdown first and then check the damn blacksmith.

        Now, why is that bad design? Because once you initiate the Luca Blight showdown, you cannot go out to farm cash if you happen to be short of it to upgrade your weapons.

        This isn’t the only instance where this bullcrap design decision occurs. The game never bothered to explain the relations between the various field army units and what determines victory or defeat in any such skirmish.

  • badmoogle

    I agree with him.

    One of the problems though for japanese games is that (with very few exceptions) publishers are afraid to put lots of money in the development of their games and take risks (in contrast with western publishers).This results in very linear games with fairly low development costs and an emphasis on story because it’s cheaper to tell than show.

    And it’s a shame really because usually their gameplay ideas and presentation seem more fresh and unique than their western competition but low budgets and the fear of taking risks are holding them back.

    • Anime10121

       I dont think its because they’re “afraid” to put lots of money into development, but more likely because they “lack” the amount of money western studios have.  A lot of times they’re not low budget because they “want” to be more so than Japan doesn’t have as much capital to allow for the humongous budgets western developers have.

      But I do agree with everything else you said about fear of taking risks, and how they tell a story rather than let you play one  (although I kinda like this aspect sometimes).

    • Manny Being Manny

      Its also because its what Japanese gamers want. Japanese gamers in general don’t want “Innovation” as much as the West, and are satisfied with similar experiences just with new characters and stories. Its why Dragon Quest was also so popular even though it never innovated (though Square is now trying to make it more appealing to the West as well).

  • Heartless ㅤ

    The Last Story was terrible. Whatever they were trying to do, it did not work. Please look at Xenoblade and learn from it. 

    With any story, make the player “care”. That’s the key. This game did not invoke that at all. 

    • Paradox me

      The Last Story’s strengths were in its characters and their relationships. I found the main story to be enjoyable yet predictable, but its cast was fantastic.

      Its combat system was also interesting, but suffered from slowdown. Playing the game on Dolphin is much preferred.

      A fine game I’d say. Far from terrible, at the very least.

    • Anime10121

       I wouldnt say it was “terrible”, but I can agree with your other sentiments, its why I couldnt finish it, I just didnt care enough about the world or its plot, even though some of the characters were great.

  • Sorrior

    Well after reading EVERY reply i’d like to add another difference(aside from story telling groups and so on) i’ve noticed. JRPGs seem to be MUCH more comfortable going over the top or just having fun. Whether it be insane attacks/spells, weapons of abenobashi grade insanity or even just a crazy ass super monster. I like that more fanciful less realistic touch. And TBH i feel more WRPGs need that. Now Tales of Graces F i had a hard time dropping(took s break in the middle of the ghardia shaft in main story went back and beat main story thw future arc and then did new game+ and over halfway through a second playthrough so yeah super addicted) Xenoblade i’m on sidequest overload break(bloody elf city sidequests) and ya know what i tried Skyrim didn’t like it same for dragon age. I DID enjoy the Fable series as well as Amalur and i’d say the biggest difference between those and most WRPGs is that they are more animated and over the top than other ones.

    Also i feel that the REAL problem may be a combination of lack of “heart and soul” in the work or should i say passion. But also that they’re trying to make games that appeal to western audiences while sacrificing what they either love or do best. So i say encourage them to do what they do best.

    I mean hell look at WKC i LOVED that game series it was fun and lighthearted(too many games have decided to go all dark and moody) while BRIMMING with oldschool cliches. Was fun bright and entertaining but also sadly wasn’t very appreciated.

    So yeah i’d also say the lack of “realism” and too much hyper focus on market appeal is another attractor/turn off for people like me at least.

  • Paradox me

    I think it really comes down to the fact that, more than gameplay and perhaps as much as music, JRPGs have traditionally been popular for their strong focus on story and characters, and that in recent years those stories and characters have failed to deliver on many levels.

    Like I said below, the average gamer’s age has increased. We’ve grown up, but the JRPG hasn’t. Their plots are convoluted, poorly written and rife with anime tropes that might have flown when we were 10, but do little more than alienate gamers that are seeking more mature and relatable stories and characters. 

    A band of children ranging from their early to late teens is not going to capture the Western gamer’s interest, especially when they’re spouting cringeworthy dialogue and feel more like walking checklists of cliches rather than actual people. There’s a reason folks loved Final Fantasy XII’s Balthier and Basch, because they were mature or witty, confident and believable. 

    Some of you may take offense to my disdain for anime tropes, but not every game needs a tsundere loli, dimwitted pretty boys, big floppy Jell-O tits, oblivious/innocent women with aforementioned Jell-O tits, ‘the power of friendship’, harems, maids, etc.

    I firmly believe that Western gamers are just waiting, cash in hand, for the next Final Fantasy VI. The next JRPG on a grand scale with a cast largely made up of mature, believable characters, with a well written and grounded story and a game world that’s expansive, dynamic and interactive.

    I’m also not sure we’ll be getting that anytime soon, because I can’t see current trends loosening their grip on a genre that’s desperate for its handlers to return to their senses. 

    • Stranger On The Road

      I don’t know about your other post, I just started reading this thread, but I have to point out something.

      What you are saying is, since you are no longer a teenager, the Japanese developers should stop making games targeted at teenagers and instead make games that are targeted at your age range! Or basically, the developers should continue to target the very same teens that they targeted 10 years ago and should make their games for those same -now older- teenagers!

      What next, since I enjoyed Tom and Jerry as a kid, I should ask the animators to make a new mature version of the cartoon for adults and stop targeting kids with the cartoon?

      Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Japanese developers should evolve their games and in doing so evolve the taste of the Japanese gamers. But evolving the game is not the same as changing it targeted audience.

      Edit: If I misunderstood your post then I apologies, but if you really want the developers to change their targeted audience to suite you, then you might be playing the wrong game.

      • Paradox me

        I’m not suggesting every developer target the same aging group of gamers until we croak, just pointing out why I feel that the genre has lost much of its mass appeal in the West.

        Also consider that people are growing up on very different kinds of games than folks my age and older did, so Japanese developers risk losing that market as well. I mean, if I ask kids what they’re playing I wouldn’t expect to hear much in the way of Final Fantasy, Castlevania or Metal Gear, but rather Call of Duty, Gears of War, maybe The Elder Scrolls and Pokemon, etc.

        • EggmaniMN

           So basically, the west has gotten completely full of themselves. It isn’t hard to relate to things. Yet another attempt at using a buzzword that’s become meaningless. Characters don’t have to be the same age as you, the same gender as you, or be anything close to you in order to be interesting. The west needs to get over itself.

      • Heartless ㅤ

        It’s more about having a story that can appeal to a wider audience, rather than just 10 year olds. Xenogears, Xenoblade, Chrono Trigger, FF7, FFX… all have stories that teens and even mature people can get into. 

        The Last Story is more so for the younger generation and that is one of the reasons I did not enjoy it as much. Having played so many RPGs over the years, my limit for tolerating clichés has dropped tremendously.  

        I’ll give you an example from the Last Story: (Minor early game spoilers ahead)
        Calista, the game’s heroine is the princess who has hardly ever been outside of her castle. She has no concept of currency and how one has to pay to buy something. When I first saw that scene, I literally looked up whether the game was actually made by Sakaguchi or by Disney. Wth? 
        Also, then there is Syrenne which keeps going on like a broken record about drinking alcohol. Starts getting on your nerves after a while. 

        • Anime10121

          I agree with all those games on your list except for FF7.  I just dont get how everybody keeps saying that game is in any way mature.  That game is about just as “shounen anime” like as DBZ.  It may have revolutionized JRPG’s in the west because it was different than your stock JRPG back when it came out, but that doesn’t make it mature.  Just because Sephiroth stabs a couple people in game and has a few memorable moments in it, again does not make it mature.

          Cloud basically has a case of Amnesia (kinda breaking it down a bit, but he doesn’t remember himself as him, moreso than he remembers himself as Zack).  Barret’s character as a steryotypical black guy who swears every 5 words and looks like Mr. T (while he did have a redeeming moment with Marlene and her dad).

           Yuffie’s character can almost be picked out of ANY anime and Aeris was the trademark good girl heroine.  Cid is the old hardened self proclaimed “leader” (who also swears like a sailor) who gives the rag tag group of teams moral advice. Cait Sith is the token mascot/plushie/cute character there for comic relief.

          And the last one I’ll talk about but in no way the least, Sephiroth the typical super strong bad guy who destroys the heroes home village and walks off in a pit of flames, and who also hurls meteors through the solar system (destroying planets in the process) who in reality is nothing more than a broken mama’s boy.

          I just dont see how everybody and their mom even TRIES to label that as a mature plot.  Like I said the rest of your list I can agree with, but 7 (while a good game) is NOT mature, while it may sometimes deal with mature materials, so can Sesame Street, but that does not make it mature in the slightest.

    • Sorrior

      Captures mine plenty well and i’m 25.

    • Domii

      I couldn’t agree more my friend.

    • Nemesis_Dawn

      But it wasn’t Final Fantasy VI that made the series a million seller. It was VII. VI was popular in the same way that JRPG’s are popular today: to a certain niche. VII is what broke the mold.

      • Paradox me

        In 1997 and to an audience largely comprised of children, yes. However, there were quite a few things that factored into Final Fantasy VII’s success. As much as it was a wonderful game, it was also a prime example of being in the right place at the right time.

        Anime was approaching the height of its mainstream popularity in the West, it was the big jump to polygonal graphics, the game had those gorgeous CG scenes, a significant marketing push, etc.

        Final Fantasy VII is also often cited as a turning point for the JRPG and many feel that it started certain trends that, despite enabling VII’s explosive success at the time, have since hampered the genre’s growth. 

        Today, things are much different than they were in 1997 and that same audience is much older. Nostalgia aside, Final Fantasy fans and mainstream gamers alike would probably appreciate an RPG in the vein of Final Fantasy VI more than another attempt at the post-VII formula.

        • PoweredByHentai

          Not quite.  The anime explosion didn’t happen until the early 2000s.

          What made Final Fantasy VII stand out was how easy it was to get into the game.  The game did a very good job of explaining how the game’s various mechanics work via very short tutorials/primers.  

          Materia system?  Barret explains it to you even though you’re supposed to be a former special forces SOLDIER.

          Active Time Battle system?  Barret explains it to you again when you come across the very first boss in the power plant.

          Then the game throws you into a timed escape sequence with a rather ominous timer clocking down towards 0 and the reward for getting out of there in good time is an explosive escape.  All that being well within the first half hour of the game and you can see why FF7 was able to capture its audience’s attention.

    • XiaomuArisu

      Sad thing is Basch was supposed to be the hero:
      “Basch was initially meant to be the main character of the story, but the
      focus was eventually shifted to Vaan and Penelo when the two characters
      were created later in development. The development team explained that their previous game, Vagrant Story, which featured a “strong man in his prime” as the protagonist had been unsuccessful and unpopular; the change regarding Final Fantasy XII from a “big and tough” protagonist to a more effeminate one was thus decided after targeting demographics were considered.”
      Found here:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characters_of_Final_Fantasy_XII

      And yes the good old power of friendship is overused!

    • CirnoLakes

      Usually discussions past the first day are past their expiration date. I think I pretty much said most of what I needed to in this thread before, anyway. Looking at the warm reception of my comments from the likes portion(thank you, everyone), I feel it would be hard and possibly pointless for me to try to add more to the discussion at this point, a day later and after I already said so much. I hope I don’t do anything to detract from what I’ve already added. But some of the recent comments I’ve missed certainly catch my eye and make me want to respond to them. I hope I can do justice to my other responses here and continue to make a coherent argument for my cause.

      “rife with anime tropes”
      I can understand criticizing cliched characters, as you call them, and bad stories. But “anime tropes” are not a bad thing. To say this, is to give anime an insult it doesn’t deserve. If you have ever read, per TvTropes, “tropes are not cliches”.
      Many tropes in anime are good tools that should continue to be used. Anime is a plenty valid media and many of us here and around the world are fans of anime. Myself included. Anime is perfectly good, not bad. And to say that anime tropes are bad, is to say that anime is bad. And anime is not bad. And by saying “rife with anime tropes”, you’ve either mistakenly labeled “tropes” as cliches or aspects of something you don’t like, or you’re just attacking anime as bad, when it is not. So, and I attempt to say this in the most polite fashion possible, you either need to use the term “tropes” better, or show a larger respect for anime, at least in discourse. You don’t make a decent argument just attacking anime.

      “We’ve grown up, but the JRPG hasn’t.”
      No offense, but you sound awfully centric to your own generation in your understanding of things. Most of those creators of jRPGs were adults with an understanding of the world much different than they do now. jRPGs were not teenagers in the 80s and 90s when many of us started playing them. This assessment implies that video games are like people and in the early days were like children, and need to grow up. This isn’t the case. And it’s a bit insulting to classic video games to say that they “need to grow up”. I think that you need to treat your age and generation as less important.

      “A band of children ranging from their early to late teens is not going to capture the Western gamer’s interest.”
      Don’t be so certain that Western gamers are so disinterested in playing children. As we are speaking of the Western gaming industry, what Kickstarter was it, before the Ouya took the crown away from it, that was the crowning king of Kickstarter? It was Double Fine? And pray-tell, what game was it that had gamers so excited to support Double Fine? Psychonauts, a cartoony game centred around children. Also, as for what their library of appeal consists of, there’s also games like Costume Quest. And if anything was on anyone’s mind other than Psychonauts, when they thought of Double Fine, they probably thought of Costume Quest. A game about a band of children. Those two games are probably what come to mind first when thinking of Double Fine. And they are both about kids. And that image raised over 3 million dollars in the West. I dare say that sounds like Western interest.

      But even in the hypothetical scenario that that a “band of children” is “unable to capture the interest of Western gamers”, it is what captures Japanese gaming interests. If Japanese people and Westerners cannot appreciate the same thing, even if it is good, that is sad. But tell me, would it be better for these Japanese role playing developers to cater to foreign or domestic gaming interests? I think that it would be worse to alienate domestic gamers. So if what you said is true, then Japan should think less about catering to the West. And appeal to their domestic audience.

      And then this is all forgetting about the fact a good portion of people who play video games, STILL ARE CHILDREN. Do they not deserve to get to play a game about someone their age? Just because a lot of gamers are adults, does not mean that gamers are not children, too.

      “but not every game needs dimwitted pretty boys”
      Well lucky for you, almost no video games do contain pretty boys. The Western video game industry is dominated by macho lunkheads. Unrealistic tall, hairy, muscular, macho men. It would be nice if there were enough appreciation for the feminine that female main characters and “prettyboys” were more common. But they’re not. And in fact, you claim nobody wants them. So there’s nothing poignant about you claiming that “not every game needs a prettyboy” when hardly and game does, and according to your own words, is because nobody wants it. If only we were in an industry where “not every game needs dimwitted pretty boys” was a poignant statement. What I see is an industry.catering largely to one group right now in the West. Guys who want to feel macho vicariously through video game power fantasies. Ultraviolent, shallow games about burly adult men. And the claim to say that “we don’t need the prettyboys”, when you see the disparity in the gaming industry we seem now, just seems like trying to smash a decent minority gaming has had due to otaku and fujoshi and other folks who buy this sort of stuff. Without which, the gaming industry would be even less diverse and approachable than it is now. We need more prettyboys, and women, and girls, and other things to bring more diversity to gaming. Not to mention “anime stuff” is also a tradition. That’s not to say prettyboys and anime are just this huge minority, there’s enough stuff about it for about half the Siliconera articles to be about fairly Japanese, cute, bishounen and bishoujo containing games. But it is becoming a ‘normalized to hate’ group with the FPS boom, and publications catering to gamers who won’t accepting anything other than macho power fantasies about burly men in their games. And I fear this becoming too normal. Not every game has to be about a burly man. But certainly there are many people who think that way, and it’s becoming far too powerful of a sentiment.

      Meanwhile, have you ever played a game about a transgender main character? What about a black girl? For all some people complain that “not every game needs to star a prettyboy” or “not every game needs to star a pretty girl” or “not every game needs to have a (tsundere) loli”. That I’m aware, for a new, Japanese example, Iris and Lenora are two of the only black females in video gaming period. And some of said characters you have people trying to negate as hispanic or something, making the list of “black female” characters in video games even lower. And even less are the amount of characters who are positive portrayals instead of sad stereotypes. I bet you could count the amount of black females on two hands. Maybe one hand.

      If you think that video games need to stop having “prettyboys(feminine males and teenage boys)” and “tsundere lolis(little girls of any variety)” and “women with big boobs”, how much does that leave? I’m sorry, but I think that a non-stereotypical, black little girl as a main character, would be amazing. You want to talk about adding more diversity to jRPGs or RPGs or video games? That would bring more diversity. And it would be another game about a little girl. I’d argue a game about a strong, sensible, non-stereotypical black “loli” would be more positive, more diverse, and better for the industry than just another game about a macho, burly, hardboiled white man. And when you take away games with a “create your own character” character creation menu, how many games star a black female of any age or personality? NONE. There is none. And I’m sorry, but games being about children or girls or prettyboys, is not a bad thing. There are plenty of games about adult men. Again, not every game has to be about a masculine adult man.

      “big floppy Jell-O tits”
      This is much of a thing of bad American comedies as it is anime. I don’t like this either in anime, it’s cheap, overdone humor and I would like to see less of it in anime. I like anime humor, but this particularly gag needs to lessen. I kind of blame Gainax for helping make it as popular as it is. I don’t know whether we’re arguing past each other and by “anime” you’re just poorly wording your distaste for some things that happen to happen in anime and jRPGs sometimes that you’d like to see less of, that don’t have anything to do with prettyboys the fact of a female character being present or a “loli”, or whether you’re using generalizations to make prettyboys and lolis and adult women look bad. You can have prettyboys without them having a bad personality, you can have them be a good character without them having a masculine personality, either. And you can also have “loli” without them fitting into the “tsundere” personality type. Actually, how many girls in jRPGs are actually even tsundere? This sounds like a generalization that isn’t even generally true.

      It’s not that we’re saying “More bouncing tits. More Tsundere! More protagonists who spend half the game moping.” It’s just that when goes on the offensive against “androgynous” guys or “prettyboys”, it sounds like people are attacking them for not being masculine enough. Which is, to be honest, overvaluing masculinity. If you want less jiggling breasts, say you’d like less jiggling breasts. If you’d like a more realistic or relatable main character, say that. If you’d like to see less tsundere characters, say that. Because that’s an entirely different matter than being against anime tropes, or feminine main characters.

      Well, that was a long post. I’m sorry, but responding to that gave me a lot to say. I’m done now, though. I hope I was able to get my case across resonably and spoke to the best of my ability.

  • I think two examples of games that have handled cutscenes very well over the last couple of years are Xenoblade and Metroid: Other M, both in different ways.

    Xenoblade has loads of cutscenes, but they never overstay their welcome and they’re always presented at points where you want some clarification and mysteries solved. They’re also very good about segmenting them from the “game” portion and spreading them out enough so it never feels like there are too many or too few. Finally, they’re all in-engine, which makes it so you can see your characters in the outfits you’ve chosen for them at all times.

    Metroid: Other M is the complete opposite. It uses a lot of FMVs, but it also uses in-engine cutscenes. At the same time, these cutscenes are often interspersed with the game part, cutting in and out as you play.

    The beauty of Other M, though, is that it’s such a brilliantly designed game from a technological perspective. There isn’t a difference in quality between the FMV cutscenes and the in-engine cutscenes, despite the fact that it’s a Wii game. Sometimes, it’ll take you a second or two to even notice that you’ve gone from one to the other.

    The same holds true for how the cutscenes are choreographed around the game portions. They cut in and out so seamlessly, it’s incredible. One moment, you’ll be in the middle of a cutscene, and the next you’ll be controlling Samus again, with absolutely no difference in quality or art style or animation style. 

    The amount of effort that was put into the presentation of that game still amazes me every single time I play it. 

    So yeah, if developers want to do cutscenes right, those are two games I’d point to as fine examples of there being different ways to handle cutscenes “properly”. Different kinds of games have different requirements, and cutscenes definitely have their place. You just need to figure out when and how to present them.

    • Heartless ㅤ

      Versus XIII is going to be doing that. Should be good. 

    • Göran Isacson

      So you’d say it’s more or less about NOT making the player feel like the game stopped and the cut-scene took over? But just integrating the cutscenes so well that it’s like you never feel like switching your brain from “I’m playing” to “I’m watching?”

      • Well, there’s two ways to do it, right? Even in this thread of comments, you see divided opinions. Some people love being “taken out” because cutscenes are their reward for playing through a significant area or beating a difficult enemy or whatever. 

        Other people find themselves drawn more to the idea of being allowed to stay in the same mindset, like you said. Not having to switch between “I’m playing” and “I’m watching”.

        I guess The Last Story did try something neat with cutscenes, too, by allowing you to control the camera while a cutscene plays out. That’s kind of neat in its own way, since it still gives you something to do during the cutscenes.

        •  You can control the camera in Cutscenes in the Last Story? 0_0?

          • I…think so? Perhaps I’m not making the distinction correctly for this particular game, but they use the term “event scenes” and you can supposedly control the camera in those while the scene is playing out. I haven’t had a chance to play the game yet myself, so I’m not certain.

    • Nemesis_Dawn

      I assume you’ve played Uncharted 2 then, which does cutting in and out of cutscenes so well, that I died a couple times, thinking it was still a cut scene, because the detail and graphics couldn’t possibly be that good. God of War 3 also does this, but usually, the presence of the HUD gives you an indication that you’re back in gameplay.

      • Yeah, God of War is another one of those series that can go between cutscenes, combat and QTEs wonderfully. 

        It’s the one game that I think does QTEs very well, especially when it’s things like trying to get out from under an enemy that has you pinned to the floor or when you’re on top and trying to beat them to death. I love that stuff. It feels really frantic and keeps you in the flow of the combat while still allowing you to look cool.

  • Anime10121

    I will refrain from any negative responses I have about the Last Story since I couldnt push myself enough to actually finish it.  But this man does speak some truths. While I do LOVE myself some cutscenes, having the game consist of nothing but nearly straight lines and cutscenes with little to no side quests (FFXIII) or straight lines and cutscenes with no major interactions to the world at large (FFX) is kinda jarring. 

    Dont get me wrong, I did like both of those games, but I would have liked them more, had there been more to explore.  While the stories were nice and interesting, having more world to traverse would have been great and boosted my opinion of BOTH games (FFXIII-1 moreso).

    But I do NOT wanna see cutscenes fade away or stop being an important factor in RPG’s like so many others seem to want.  I love them and they are great for telling stories, getting to know characters, and learning about the world, some may argue that you can accomplish that in-game too, and I will not dispute that, I simply find it enjoyable to witness the art that is the cutscene and how much work goes into the craft to make such wonderfully created scenes.  People may dog cutscenes, but rarely do they know how hard/how much work it takes to make some of those scenes.

  • Go2hell66

    what can Ignite interest in JRPG’s?

    how about proper marketing and advertising? why is that western games always have so much effort put into advertising? ad campaigns, billboards, tv ads and all sorts of other craziness, but no with japanese games, even the ones that gets localised they only get one or two youtube trailers and a webpage and thats about it. how are people even supposed to know these games exist? i’m not saying they need to go all out but i remember not hearing or seeing anything about Catherine until it was released. i remember the english version of BBCSE didn’t even get a youtube trailer until a week before it released why do these games not get proper exposure.

    hope i haven’t gone off topic

  • ShinGundam

    It make me disheartened to see him blaming FMVs in 32bit era or realtime cut scenes in this era while forgetting the fact of both 8bit and 16bit RPGs have visual scenes (sometimes just an intro/ending), digital voices and many canned speeches.

    What can spark more interest in JRPGs ? probably just big announcement or interesting and bleeding edge JRPGs, less cheap F2P and mobile games.


    • Exkaiser

      16bit games with digital voices? Which ones were those, besides Tales of Phantasia? Star Ocean?

      The fact is that even though older games did use the same techniques, the trend has been towards more and longer cutscenes as hardware limitations fall away.

      8-bit RPGs could not rely on cutscenes, narrative, or dialogue to carry them. They were entirely dependent on gameplay. 16-bit RPGs were able to greatly expand the narrative and visuals, but they still needed a solid and healthy chunk of gameplay surrounding it. The 32-bit era was the first time RPGs could be about shuttling the player between cutscenes.

      • Nemesis_Dawn

        The Sega CD JRPG’s, I assume.

  • epy

    Step away a little from anime archetypes. Use them (hey I like them) but do not make a character just a combination of them. In any case, please, PLEASE do not go to the other end of the spectrum. I’m sick and tired of dark and gritty crap. Dark and gritty DOES NOT EQUAL MATURE. Having characters being one dimensional about how they hate the world, how depressed they are or how cynical or sarcastic about everything they are does not make them mature, it just makes them one dimensional. Also CURSING IS NOT MATURE! I can’t overstate this.

  • MrSirFeatherFang

    Reminds me of when I as playing Xenogears as a kid and later a few years back. I was like “Wow! I can jump!” of course I was just fooling a around plus when you talking to people you can still move lol.
    EDIT: Did something happen to the comment I replied to? Now this comment looks out of place…

  • Manny Being Manny

    I play JRPGs for the story and characters… I view them as an “Interactive anime”, so I generally avoid the JRPGs that focus too much on gameplay. Like I didn’t enjoy Xenoblade, it tried to emulate MMORPGs too much instead of just telling a good story. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem like the direction its going, since only a few JRPGs are becoming like that, but I’d lose a lot of interest in the genre if they all became like that. Give me a story and character driven experience with typical turn based battles, and I’m a happy camper.

    • eilegz

      while i agree in many aspects of what you said, the history of xenoblade its amazing, the characters also even the one that looked like a ball.

      xenoblade like the last story its the attempt to push jrpg to move to more broad and mainstream direction but without losing the essence of what its important that its character and story…

      • Manny Being Manny

        I haven’t played Last Story yet, but I can say that the characters in Xenoblade did nothing for me. Only character I had any kind of interest in was Melia, and I never took her out of my party when I had her… rest were pretty boring. Though like I said, I play JRPGs as a form of interactive anime. I love games like Atelier since they are all the kinds of characters you’d see in the anime I love, same with Hyperdimension Neptunia and Persona 4. Moe girls and anime themes are what I care most about in JRPGs these days.

    • ddsfan2

      I was very disappointed when I heard Takahashi renouncing his focus on story when Monolith Soft was acquired by Nintendo — that was the main reason why I cared about Xenogears and Xenosaga!  Instead of improving the writing quality and making a cohesive philosophical message in their games, it looks like he just gave up.  I might as well just play games by Tri-Ace, or Final Fantasy XII, which already innovated in the ways that the recently praised JRPGs have done, only years ago.

      Actually, in the case of Xenoblade, it seems like it is adopts the excesses of the fan underrated Final Fantasy XII
      (far too much exploration and greatly excessive length) and omits certain features that were critical to my enjoyment (in Xenoblade, I don’t think it is possible to control the whole party, am I wrong on this?) of that battle system.  It seems like an inconsistent decision for a gameplay focused game if you ask me.  I’d rather play a 30 hour JRPG with a lot of well-written story and polished but concise gameplay.

      On the other hand, while the setting of the Last Story looks boring to me, the combat system at least looks very interesting, at least based on what I have seen in gameplay videos.

  • Xeawn

    I really like what this man has to say; I enjoy RPG’s a lot more that actually let me interact with them as opposed to watching them for close to their entirety. Xenoblade and The Last Story have been such a breath of fresh air for me.

  • Vampiric

    Jrpg’s dont need anything really. They are doing fine the way they are.

    In fact this gen its sort of been an embarrassment of riches when it comes to rpgs from japan

    Weve seen great narrative AMAZING GAMEPLAY

    “Now, the RPG genre has fractionated into Western RPGs and Japanese RPGs. ”

    Not really. They are only region things. When you start saying they are genres. You generalize

    “Since The Last Story breaks the traditional JRPG mold with a bold, perhaps Western inspired, combat system”

    It sorta doesnt. At its heart it has alot of the same battle mechanics of alot of japanese action rpgs

    “”The genre is role-playing-game, ”

    Hes right. There is no jrpg, there is no wrpg. Its a silly thing

  • look at skyrim, ok now take it and give the same game, an epic JRPG inspired story, maybe come party members

    the reasons JRPGs are pretty meh now are they never really improved from the ps1 era, most are still turn based and have few side quest. I mean come on, turn based back then was because consoles couldn’t do it ffs stop doing them now.
    Turn based can work though, it has to do something unique. Paper mario did it right on the N64 during your turn, button pressed let you do bonus damage, and during the enemies turn button presses at the right time let you avoid some damage.

    Take lost Odessey, the combat was mediocre but it had a system in place that let you do bonus damage when attacking. The problem was, the system (ring system) was the same, for every type of ring, for every attack that could use it. BORING.

    JRPGs need to adapt, or die, living off a story is a terrible way to have a game. Focus on gameplay, but still have a good story. make sure your game has many side quest like skyrim as well.

    • Vampiric

       uh, what are you talking about?

    • Luna Kazemaru
    • Manny Being Manny

      “look at skyrim, ok now take it and give the same game, an epic JRPG inspired story, maybe come party members”

      That would be terrible. You can’t do a good story focused game if its all about being a sandbox and non linear. What JRPGs need to be is tight story driven experiences, not the opposite which is what Bethesda does.

    • Paradox me

      Turn-based combat isn’t some sort of relic of a bygone era that needs fixing or replacement simply because technology allows for more impressive real-time systems. It’s a style of gameplay, as much as any other game’s combat systems.

      Traditional turn-based is also pretty hard to come by these days. Most noteworthy JRPGs are real-time or some variation of ATB.

      It’s also interesting that you chose Skyrim for comparison, seeing as The Elder Scrolls’ combat is horribly clunky, including Skyrim.

    • LynxAmali

      Go play Infinite Space.

      Tell me that the story, missable party members and fleet customization doesn’t make up for the glorified Rock Paper Scissors combat system.

  • Vampiric

    I play rpgs for story, combat, characters

    isnt that the same for everyone who loves rpgs?

    What spencer needs to learn is, drop the j and the w thing

    “”The genre is role-playing-game”

    I agree. People become so focused on categorizing everything, they dont realized its used as ammunition to say really generalized things.

    I mean just this year I played a new devil survivor, a new tales, a new digimon, a new super robot wars, a new suikoden, a new ff, a new shining, ect

    so many great games come out. But do we ever talk about the games anymore?

    Not really.

    We just talk about sillyness

  • Ravage27

    “The genre is role-playing-game, but it becomes nothing more than
    watching a movie. I want to incorporate spectacular JRPG-style
    characters and story around the axis of a narrative that is directly
    connected to gameplay, like the kind displayed in recent western games.”

    Demon’s Souls did this really well.

  • Arrei

    I feel like he has a point, yet it’s also a point that’s being made overly important.

    On the one hand, excessively long cutscenes can be a hassle sometimes if they’re dull. Perhaps the ideal is to break them up into easier-to-digest pieces. If they can make the gameplay also deliver the story in an engaging manner, well then more power to them.

    On the other hand, I don’t understand why qualities resembling an interactive movie is such a terrible thing. Do people not anticipate the latest blockbuster two-hour movie with the same fervor they anticipate a big hitter game, from which they expect to simply sit there and be wowed?

    It seems more like to me a more pressing matter is their lack of proper overworlds as of late. Xenoblade’s world environments blew me away. FFXIII and XIII-2, though they had prettier graphics… not so much. Tales of Graces f, which I loved, had an overworld that worked well enough with the treasure, gathering points and such, but by its design couldn’t give you the same sense of wonderment.

  • … I see all these comments and I can only say this. You can get all technical but their are 5 things that makes a JRPG good.

    A battle system that gets you involved regardless of the shape or form , that works well seamlessly and can present a hardy challenge and is fun to play through, you know that feeling of giddyness when you pull off an epic attack move/combo and beat something ridiculously strong, or you know when you first begin to grasp how the battle system works

    A well crafted story, that  presents deep layered characters who are mostly influenced by their background and act like people, and people mature differently by their own truths and lessons they learn, like most people , and their are those who run off impulse and feelings and make problems for others. Multi Layered individuals. You can have multi layered moral individuals and those who arent as moral, then you have to mesh their difference ideas and reasoning as well to make sure they tell the story

    Back to the story, the story has to be presented in a way that involves the player extensively , some people argue that xenoblade was riddled with cliches and ect but to me that didnt matter because the way the story unfolded and became clearer, and it was well presented. Presentation and the manner its told and unfurled to you works very well and thats why cutscenes are important, as Ishaan said the seamless quality between the telling of the story and your immersion into it ,to keep you hooked is very important. If you have nitpicks or certain things you didnt like thats on you ( I was kinda annoyed at some of the relationships going on but I didnt let that detract from my enjoyment )

    An environment that fits the progression of the story, an environment that can tell the tales of the world itself , the push for HD graphics in games has shifted only so much of what you can do with  the environment in games that it has its share of limitations to the form , Xenoblade was able to circumvent this by being a Wii game, but still as HD as a 480p can be.

    And that factor in the game that makes it unique and differentiates from the crowd of others, however if you have all the other factors this isnt necessarily as needed,whether it be  the other things you can do with the game besides the story, these things tend to appeal to certain audiences more than others

    Here an example of the difference between battle systems can change your level of enjoyment
    (I played Radiant historia and till I got a feel of how the enemy
    placement movement and the combo system could be used to my
    advantage I was feeling kinda draggety, then I understood how exactly It
    worked and I started to have fun and enjoy the setting alot
    MORE,Xenoblade however didnt feel draggety even though it took a while
    to fully grasp the battle system because everything was so beautiful and
    the story was involving me enough that I was already having fun).

  • The  stories that appeal to the younger audiences are the ones where the character lacks a certain kind of depth, but they work well to tell the message of the story.

  • eilegz

    Maybe a proper FF game, FF XIII-2 was in a good way to that path but its still very far from old glory ps2 era, they need to push not only graphics but content and gameplay which its stagnant.

  • We need to go back to turn-based combat!! I hate RPGs that are action-based grrrr!!! Let the jRPGs be jRPGs!

    • Anime10121

       Nah, I think theres room for both.  I love action rpgs just as much as I love turn based ones.  Jrpg’s are not and should not be exclusive to just turnbased, there have been actiony types since the first Star Ocean over 16 years ago.  And besides, it gives them room to do something different rather than be stuck to the same formula forever :)

      •  Some people like opting out AI control for being able to control multiple characters without getting all technical on the screen in games like Tales of, in some JRPGs it works and in others it doesnt. His gaff with the action rpgs is because turn based JRPGs give him a wider motion of control because he plays his JRPG’s by himself.

        I forget can you play with 3 wii motes on Xenoblade? I dont think so…

        • Anime10121

           Oh by all means, I uderstand why he loves turn based (as I like both types equally), Im just saying there is room for both Action and Turnbased jrpg’s, and that they dont need to be exclusive to just one type, as that would limit the genre.

        • ShinGundam

           So you expect characters to be on standby mode until you control them or what? It is not like you can command your 3-4 characters seamlessly at once in a turnbased without auto-command.

          •  Im talking about the people who like the multiplayer aspect of tales games  like in abyss because it works well with the field style

            read properly shin

    • Why are you defining a Japanese Role-Playing Game as something that needs to have an age-old, turn-based battle system? Please think progressively.

      • Tenno Seremel

        Wheel is age-old too. Would you like to replace it with a square one? (^. ^)

        • No, I’d replace them with hover-pads. That’s thinking progressively.

  • Mike Pureka

    There’s nothing fundamentally WRONG with the formula Japanese companies are using to make RPGs.  The problem is that they inevitable SCREW UP part of the game.  Not always the SAME part, but almost every RPG out of Japan in the current console generation has dropped the ball on one of the three major game components: Story, Characters, Gameplay.

    FFXIII wasn’t a terrible combat engine, but the rest of the gameplay was basically “run down the hallway” and don’t get me started about the story.
    Lost Odyssey had a decent story, but the gameplay was a grindy chore.
    Tales of Vesperia had reasonably entertaining gameplay and moderately lively characters, but the story was pretty much ass and dropped the so-called ‘theme’ of the game entirely for the latter third.
    Tales of Graces F had an awesome combat engine, but the characters were kinda bland and the story wasn’t very well written.
    FFXIII-2 fixed most of 13’s gameplay issues, but the characters and story were still kinda lacking.
    The Atelier games have engaging (if cutesy) characters, and the alchemy system is always enteraining, but combat is a DRAG (WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN THE MANA KHEMIA BATTLE SYSTEM?!?!!) and the story is generally a bit minimalist.
    I can’t speak for Last Story, Xenoblade or Tales of Xillia since I haven’t played them (No Wii, ToX isn’t out over here yet.)

    But the basic problem isn’t that there’s anything wrong with the FORMULA.  Put equal parts engaging, well written characters together with an intelligent story and make the gameplay engaging across multiple systems (Not multiple consoles, but multiple game SYSTEMS – combat should ideally NOT be the only way you ‘play’ the game.) and presto.  You’ll have a great game.  Exhibit A) Persona 4.

    All this talk of how you “fix” JRPGs is nonsense.  They don’t need FIXING. They don’t need to take pages from the Western Book of Watered Down Nonlinear Storytelling.  They just need to be done PROPERLY.  Get some real writing talent at work on you game.  Design and tune your combat system so it offers variety and customization (This is one places Tales of… Bloody well SHINES).  Make your characters engaging and human and you can even get away with some stereotypes (Tales of the Abyss had a smashing cast.)  People will love your game.  You won’t sell as well as Call of Duty, but you might well be able to compete with Mass Effect if you do it consistently well.

    •  Yeah Tales of the Abyss has a good cast the story needs alot of work and they all keep quiet so bad things happen so that hurts their characterization some what so they need much better writing XD

    • Valtiel Ikari

      Truer words were never spoken!

      One thing that I find particularly anoyng are the terms Jrpg and Wrpg. RPG is RPG, that’s that!

  • I think this guy just said what we’ve been trying to tell developers for the last decade or so. We want games with stories and characters in them, not stories and characters with a game tacked-on.

  • James Smith

    Many will disagree with this but I find the interactive parts, specially combat, in most JRPG’s relatively unsophisticated, sometimes even tedious and not engaging most of the time.
    Two exceptions that are very simple, even turn basid and somewhat old formulas that still manage to keep me engaged in the game are the Mario RPG’s due to the timed action and Pokemon because there’s a lot of swapping and variety of attacks going around.
    There are many ways to make a JRPG with flavor, exciting gameplay and an engaging nature without having to completely change the formula.

  • Fractionated might not have been the word you were looking for, try Fractured.

  • idofgrahf

    I’m not sure what spectacular character and story this guy is talking about. I have not played a single JRPG that came state side that has a spectacular character or story for close to a decade and I’ve played them all. Anything from niche titles like Growlanser, Agarest wars, Neptunia, Cross Edge to more main stream like Final Fantasy, Tales of, blue dragon, Lost odyssey, Infinite undiscovery etc. To be honest, not  a single JRPG this gen is spectacular, yes, some are pretty good and I certainly enjoyed them, but nothing made me go wow, great story / character. Maybe I’m a bit old school but if the story is gripping enough and the character development, presentation is believable enough, I couldn’t care less about too many cut scenes. Lastly, while I liked the last story, its story and character was really not that great, so they can blend cut scenes and character into the game as much as they want, but the if the story is midcore and characters shallow, well, you can’t make lemonades without lemon.    

    The only thing they need to “Fix” is all the cliche, stereotype characters and bland story that seem to plague this gens JRPG’s. IE enough with the I want to destroy the world because my life sucks, or main character seeks revenge for death of father, or main character does what he does because he wants to proliferate justice, this gets really old really fast. Sadly, the last “villain” I though was really well done was Krelian from Xenogears…

    • Wow…I’m not sure what your expectations are for a good story, but I’m glad I don’t share them.  With that said could it be what your looking for is something beyond gaming can provide, maybe if you don’t already, you should opt for a different medium to provide your literary fix.  Possibly something more seamless such as books and movies, rather than games.  

      • idofgrahf

         A deep and gripping story is not that hard to pull off, if they can do it in PSone and PS2 era with much smaller budgets they certainly can do it on the PS3 / 360 / Wii. Instead, we get companies that spend all its money on graphics, and tack on story as an after thought. Its not that hard to give the villain a believable motivation or make the hero break the stereotype. Case in point, Lost odyssey had some pretty good graphics and a good premise, but everyone who played that game identified the antagonist within the first hour, the writer seem to realized that the story was not so great so it tacked on the thousand years of dreams which ironically is better written than the main, it’d be great if you could play through those dreams instead of reading about them.

        • A deep and gripping story is hard to pull off, and be mindful on how you use “everyone” in your post, because you don’t know if everyone is going to share your mindset or opinion on how you feel about the plot of Lost Odyssey or for that matter, what a good story is.  It is one of the most subjective aspects of a game.  Probably more so than art direction and gameplay.

          Every story doesn’t have to be deep and gripping, not every gaming concept accompanies that.  A story can be simple and entertaining, light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek, and so fourth.  Case in point the Disgaea series, not one of the most complex or moving narratives out there, but goes well with the wacky over the top gameplay is trying to convey to the gamer.  

          I just feel that the expectations for a story are reaching an unattainable point for some gamers.  Now that could be because, what their expecting from games is something beyond the medium is capable of delivering without severely diminishing the role and presence of gameplay.  Or they experience a game that left such a phenomenal impression, that their is nothing in their mind that can top that experience, other than the game that they idolize.   

          Usually gamers who share an ideology that similar to yours usually look up to one of two games…Final Fantasy VI or Xenogears. I have both titles, haven’t played them yet (was going to this summer but something came up).  Now as great as those titles may be, I hope that gamers such as yourselves, don’t expect every title’s narrative to be structured exactly like the previously mentioned games.  A games narrative may be paced differently compared to FFVI and Xenogears, it may be conveyed in a different manner, it may touch different emotions than those two, instead of shocking you and making you feel sympathy, a story could make you laugh and smile instead.  Also different stories will have different strengths and weaknesses.  

          Conclusion, stories come in different forms, scales, shapes and sizes, now I’m sure you know that, I’m sure your going to tell yourself that as you read this, but I encounter so many gamers who are fond of those two titles and acknowledge nothing else at least being halfway decent.  And I find that utterly unbelievable.   

          Keeping with those two examples, I have heard nothing but good things on how both games conveyed their respective villains, but what if a game fails to do the same, as well as those two did?  Does that make the goal of having a good story unobtainable?  What if it compensated by doing something else really well, what if it had really good protagonists instead, what if it had good pacing to compensate for that, or a really interesting and/or intriguing plot?  Or what if the overall story was simple but had you laughing from the beginning to the end?  Is the story still out of the realm of achieving your good graces?

          Also, I wanted to share that this is coming from someone whose only expectation for a good story (as simple as it may appeal to some) is that the story at hand, be entertaining.  That’s it, when its all said and done, I ask myself, despite how simple, complex, innovative, cliche, serious, zany, lighthearted, dark, unconventional, or whatever.
          At the end of the day, by the time I eject the disc out of my console, if the story entertains me, it has done its job.  Now im not the type that doesn’t take narratives seriously, but I’m also not one of those gamers who micro-analyzes them to death either.  But every time I play a different game, I approach it with a blank slate, and say to myself:

          “This game can convey itself in any manner it wants too, it holds no obligations, but dammit…this better entertain me”

          And that’s what its all about for me, it’s hard for me to look at the abbreviated game resume that you listed in your original post and agree with you.  That all of the Growlanser games lack a good story.  Now im going to go out on a limb here and assume (correct me if I’m wrong) that you played the PS2 installments (Growlanser Generations, which includes the incredibly god-like second installment, as well as the third one).

          Growlanser 2’s narrative although subjective as a whole, had a lot of strengths.  Including having a premise whose world was plagued with war-ridden conflict that was essentially driven by the abundance of famine in their society.  I don’t know if this was the first game to use that premise, but it was the first I experienced personally; here you had a story where the villain (the last guy you face in story) as well as rival kingdoms that opposed you, were driven by the need to feed themselves and provide their kingdom and/or world with the prosperity they feel that they need and deserve.  

          The story also had good pacing as well as presentation, and managed to tie directly tie into the missions that you were doing.  Your motive for fighting was always relevant and clear.  I like the characters as well for the most part, but I’ll leave that out of my argument, because that seems to be a very subjective aspect among gamers.  But besides that, I have to ask you, assuming this is the Growlanser you experienced, what do you not find entertaining about that, what do you not like about the stories of the games that came out in the past 10 years.  You don’t have to list every example of course, but I would love to hear your view on where did games such as Final Fantasy X, or Xenosaga, or others went wrong.  

          Look I’m not trying to bash your ideology and the way you look at narratives, I just hope that when you experience a story that you ask yourself, “is this what a good story can be”…rather than “is this what a good story should be.” 

          • idofgrahf

            I think you are misunderstanding something. First, while I did play Xenogears, I did not play FFVI and I thought FFVII’s story to be good but not great and second I do not have the same expectation for every RPG, I do not expect Ar tonelico, Spectrual souls, nights of the nightmare etc to be FF or tales of and by no means do I find them to be horrible games, but they are not spectacular games by any means. A games narrative can be different, that’s fine, however, I think most will agree that RPG’s generally needs at least a passable story else you might as well be playing COD. The story does not need to be save the world, but it does need to be well written, a villian does not need to be Krelian but his motivation needs to be believable, the way this is usually accomplished is usually through details, the little things. An example of Growlanser 2 you mentioned, I liked the game play and liked the game. The main “villain” (so not to spoil anyone who has yet to play the game) does not have much detail, its like all of a sudden he realized that the world needs to be his way, I remember playing it and thinking that this villain could be cut from the game and no one will notice it, and that should not be the case. Another example, the recent tales of grace f, excellent gameplay, pretty good characters, not so good story and horrible villain, again the failure is in details. The most recent growlanser game, I never felt that anyone had a sense of urgency against the angles despite the fact they face annihilation, you talk to the town people, they make no mention of it, the leaders of nations who’s armies was suppose to be getting wiped out seem they could care less, it makes your accomplishments seemed irrelevant, it lacked tension. 

            As for Xenosaga or FF X, my comment was there has not been a spectacular JRPG for this Gen not last gen and close to a decade not over a decade. Xenosaga was around 2002-06 FFX was 2002. While Xenosaga III was an excellent game, unfortunately the move to cut the 6ep series down to 3 has made the story a bit weird and requires what FFXIII required, read about it through an encyclopedia. 

            Lastly, some game seem to lack a good presentation and its not because it has too many cut scenes. If the game is going to describe a huge battle, by all means describe it, but if it plans to show it, I would expect more than a few spirit figures to represent tens of thousands of troops. Since the companies cannot be expected to render that many troops in real time, a pre rendered cutscene would be better than a real time 20 spirits fighting it out.

            All I’m saying is that cutscenes are not the problem, games like xenosaga III was well received despite it playing like a movie, the problem is either bad characters, bad story or bad presentation of the story that is the issue, not player interaction or lack of. Even one of the worst offenders MGS4 which is essentially a movie was well received and I think rightfully praised

  • cj_iwakura

    Every director of a JRPG should be required by law to play Nocturne and Persona 2 before writing up their scenario.

  • Nanashrew

    i notice quite a few comments bashing western games with their macho men archetypes but equally can be said lately about female roles in current anime and JRPGs. liking a female role just because they are female is the wrong way to go about it. gender is only part of that, personality and development are needed to make a character. i like female roles and leads, i don’t like however, them not having a personality and just there to look cute. there is much more to a character and a person than just a dere archetype.

    both sides need to be worked on greatly. i don’t like the super macho men type nor do i like the bland female roles, we need to move away from the archetypes and try actually making a character.

    • Tenno Seremel

      It was about “feminine”, not “female” :}

    • $1484028

      the distinction is people generally don’t deny Japanese gaming tropes exist.  quite to the contrary, they are criticized almost constantly by press and gamers alike.

      but on the other hand, a lot of the hardcore pro-West press/gamers blatantly deny that similar overuse of tropes even exists on the other side.

      so yes, you’re correct, both sides have a lot maturing to do as far as characterization goes, but one side is vastly more acknowledging (though i will agree they don’t do much about it) of the problem.
      the other side tends to consist of a lot of pots calling the kettle black (and thus similarly not doing much about it).

  • Last good RPG I played was The Little Battlers, and I can’t even read it. So i really don’t even know what I want from a JRPG…….It’s probably mechas.

  • revelated

    – Star Ocean: Last Hope.

    That’s how you do it right from an overall “experience” perspective.

    – Dragon Quest VIII.

    That’s how you do it right from an “environment and depth” perspective.

    – Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky.

    That’s how you do it right from a “story” perspective.

    – Lunar II: Eternal Blue Complete.

    That’s how you do it right from a “character development” perspective.

    – Tales of the Abyss.

    That’s how you do it right from a “battle engine” perspective.

    – Valkyria Chronicles.

    That’s how you do it right from a “cutscene” perspective.

    – Suikoden II.

    That’s how you do it right from a “memorable” perspective.

    – Persona 3.

    That’s how you do it right from a “character interactive” perspective.

    – Magna Carta 2.

    That’s how you do it right from a “consistent fun” perspective.

    – Star Ocean: Second Story.

    That’s how you do it right from a “how is this going to turn out” perspective.

    – .hack:Infection.

    That’s how you do it right from a “hook the gamer in” perspective (too bad it went downhill after this installment).

    – Secret of Mana.

    That’s how you do it right from a “fun for all ages” perspective.

    All you have to do is play through each of those games to get their best traits then figure out how to make a game that contains them all. 

    But the most important thing is, cutscenes only detract from a game if the cutscenes are too drawn out or are completely disconnected from what’s going on (i.e. Final Fantasy XII).  Cutscenes that help the game along are what’s needed (i.e. Persona 3).

    • puchinri

       Heh, I liked that. I probably have some games I could substitute in somewhere in any of those, but I still agree with all of them too.

  • Steven Higgins

    The main problem with trying to get JRPG to appeal to Western audiences is that Japanese and Western players have extremely different tastes. Japanese gamers tend to like having an adolescent cast and bishonen main character, while western gamers prefer to play as adults and have the MC be the epitome of masculinity. That’s why the JRPG in fanbase in the west are mostly anime fans, while the majority of western gamers are not. As you can see from my photo, I myself am not the most masculine looking guy out there so I find it hard to relate to characters that are basically walking testosterone banks. That being said, I’m disappointed at this generation of game’s seeming to have traded engaging story-telling for high-spec graphics.

  • tha_Chiller

    Streamline gameplay systems more; we’re not in the dark ages anymore, tho I still adore JRPGs to this day, we need fluid systems. That goes for Western titles as well. Accessibility doesn’t mean throwing in an awesome cut-scene its “how can we make this gameplay system blend with the interactive narrative” its “how can we gel progression with dynamic structures”

  • I used to play Final Fantasy 7 and 8 and then FFX came out I WAS BLOWN OUT!!!! JRPGS were the greatest thing out there but then things like KOTOR and Oblivion came out and JRPGs just could not match it

    I do not understand why japs want to be little kids with blue hair, none of that crap was in the old jrpgs or final fantasy X, then it seems like Japanese taste went full retard compared to western taste and now jrpgs are a sinking ship

    before Final Fantasy sold like crazy in America and jrpgs were the only rpgs but now WRPGs are cleaning the floord

    Skyrim has sold 12 million, Fallout millions, Mass Effect millions, Oblivion millions

    • M’iau M’iaut

      Please do note that our rules addressing mindless and unsubstantiated hate for western developers also do apply when the same actions are done towards Japanese devs.

      It is perfectly acceptable that things drawing you towards western games may have also taken you away from Japanese ones. That does not mean that Japanese taste all of a sudden went ‘full retard’. The market has changed, expanded and grown since the days of FF7 that we truly are talking about different situations.

      Be aware of this before making future posts.

    • $1484028

      Cloud was a scrawny guy with a ridiculous looking sword and hair with spikes as tall as his head.
      ALL that stuff was in old JRPGs.

      with the exception of Skyrim, none of those outsold Final Fantasy XIII.  no single Mass Effect has sold significantly more than the “failure” that was Final Fantasy XIII-2.
      Dragon Quest probably sells more copies in Japan alone than any WRPG in recent memory shy of Skyrim (and i do mean Skyrim specifically, which sold astronomically higher than any previous entry in the series) or Diablo 3.

      no one’s telling you to not move on to WRPGs if that’s your thing, but your lil “world view” of RPGdom could use a bit of a reality check.

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