Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Level limit met: The End of the JRPG.
Recently it has seemed as something that was a huge part of my childhood has headed towards the twilight of extinction, and is quickly on the way to slipping between my finger tips. What is this you ask that is so affecting me, why no other than the Japanese Role Playing Game. I was first introduced to the genre in the December of 1989 with Dragon Warrior on the NES, and have been a fan of the genre ever since I first saw “ A Slime draws near“ on my little 13“ TV screen. From my first steps as the ancestor of the legendary Erdrick in Dragon Warrior on the NES, I have played and completed well over 100 different JRPGS and have seen them going through many changes, but now it seems as I may have to say good-bye to an old friend, because this time they may not be able to weather the changing landscape of the industry as it is today.
On the surface its quite easy too see why myself and others of my generation fell in love with JRPGs so fast, with sword and sorcery stuff like Krull, Legend, and Conan etching their themes into our Cerebellum and Japanese fare like Voltron and Robotech etched into our Mind eye’s, we were doomed too from the start. But with the decline of Anime after its rise too semi-popularity in the late 90’s and gamers switching to more action paced games featuring less thinking skills needed gameplay, the love fest for RPGs that started in the late 80’s and reached its zenith with Final fantasy VII has been on the wane for the last half decade to the point where at least on consoles, they are now a dying breed. But why is this?
1. Characters that the core audience feels no connection to:
Seriously there was a time when the adolescent androgynous characters could be semi-related to, like when I was 13. But the traditional story featuring whiny tweenie kids saving the world just doesn’t fly with the core audience of JRPGS today, who just so happen to be the same core group that was playing them in 1990 for the most part. Fact is since the Psone days, Japanese developers have done little to bring in a fresh audience, and still feature the same character and storylines that propelled us too buy JRPGs in the past. But sadly we have matured and no longer buy the whole young kid from a woodland village with no past fighting experience defeating an God BS stories, we demand more mature, focused characters and storylines that we can buy into and relate to and we are not getting them right now.
2. Turn Based is still King, keep it please:
I know you see all those action based games that we in the West are flocking too these days and you want a piece of that action, but guess what that probably isn’t going to happen cause those gamers just aren’t into JRPGs anymore, so stop trying too gain them and work on keeping the fans you do have. That means working on evolving the traditional turn-based gameplay and spicing it up too meet the graphical standards of today but no more. Look at Final fantasy 13, what was that mess. I don’t want to have my hand held throughout a game and I want more control and flexibility over my team. Guess what, we like using intelligence and strategy too plan out how we handle our foes, we don’t need AI doing it for us.
3. Make JPGs once again the standard bearer for quality graphics and sound:
There was once a time when you just knew that when you bought a new JRPG, even if you had never heard of it before, that it was going to feature fantastic graphics that were among the best of the time and a mesmerizing soundtrack. Even today these JRPGs of old like Final Fantasy 3, Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, Panzer Dragoon Saga, etc, are still known as having some of the best music and graphics too ever grace a game console. So what has happened? Since the mid PS2 era, graphics and audio have taken a decidedly back seat too well, everything else to the point that now in the middle of an HD revolution in gaming graphics and loseless Audio, todays JRPGs are among some of the least inspired releases. This should not be, take your throne back.
4. There called Role-playing games, so bring back the role playing please:
Really what happened too the adventuring and actual role-playing in today’s JRPGs? Where are my pages of spells, weapons, and armor to deck my troops out in? Where are my in-depth skill trees that give me flexibility in what classes my party consist of, hell what happened to different classes period? And where the hell have the massive over worlds there to explore every nook and crannies of gone. Linearity does not suit an genre built upon the epic feel of its classic past forebears. Give me a world at my fingertips to enjoy.
Until these things are looked at and built upon, I see the JRPG genre going nowhere but to the grave, and that really upsets me. For me, JRPGS equate to one of the few constants of my last 20 years of life, no matter how much I myself changed. Through childhood on too young adulthood, through my start of an career and college, through combat in three wars, numerous relationships, one failed marriage, and fatherhood they have always been there and I have kept loving them no matter how world weary I became. But now that constant is under attack because the makers of that stated constant have stopped caring about me and the millions like me in hopes that a newer generation takes up the standard I already bear, wqe are here and always have been, so its time you remember that.