SecondTalon wrote:Re: JRPG vs WRPG
Part 1, Part 2 (Defining what Western RPGs and JRPGs are - like how Fallout 3 is an RPG despite the FPS elements and Call of Duty isn't despite the leveling system - how JRPGs and WRPGS are different and how they should really be two different genres) and Part 3 discussing why JRPGs are having a hard time as of late, relative to the Western RPG.
First two parts were awesome. Totally agree, it's weird how we define games by mechanics rather than by why we play them... given how we name every other genre for other things. It may be worth totally scrapping all the video game genre terms for something along the lines of romance/comedy/etc. that we have for other genres. Or perhaps combining them ex; "Self-Insert RPG" and "Set-character RPG".
I have huge problems with the third part though. In the following spoilered wall of text... 'JRPG' and 'WRPG' are demarcated in the way those videos demarcate them. This puts Dark/Demon's Souls, Monster Hunter and the modern Phantasy Stars into the WRPG genre, despite being made in Japan and having Japanese aesthetics. In this context we're only really calling them 'JRPG' and 'WRPG' because we can't think of anything better.
So the first problem I have with the third part is I really need to see a proper citation to show that sales of "JRPGs" are seriously down compared to "WRPGs", because I don't think that is the case.
The second problem I have with the third part is how completely and absolutely wrong they are about JRPGs not experimenting with combat systems... given that ever since Final Fantasy Adventures (Aka Mystic Quest, aka the original Seiken Densetsu) on the gameboy (1991) was playing with non-menu action based combat. Of course, not forgetting the rest of the Seiken Densetsu series. The Tales of- Series (1995- Present) NEVER had turn based or menu based combat, although you could use a menu, and they're insanely popular and their storylines are all really amazing.
.hack// was always real time too and Disgaea has perhaps the most unique combat system EVER, wait I take that back-- Knights in the Nightmare is. Even recently SquareEnix has realised they need to move away from the traditional turn/menu based gameplay in Final Fantasy with Dissidia and Type-0 (although Type-0 might fall into the WRPG or ORPG/MMORPG genre, not sure cause I don't have much details on it). Don't forget other recent releases like Ressonance of Fate. Hell, they even show a picture of the main character of Vagrant Story in their video but somehow miss how much this was an experiment with combat systems? The games I've named so far are only the ones I remember off the top of my head... there are many many more.
Actually I'd have to think about it more... but if we made an exhaustive list I wouldn't even be surprised if JRPGs have exprimented MORE with combat systems than WRPGs. Though I suspect they're about the same.
The third problem I have is the idea that JRPG developers are moving away from the "core reason" and focusing on things like graphics and not making good stories. This may be true of Final Fantasy but it isn't of other franchises like the Tales of- franchise. But... guess which is more popular in the US/West? It's Final Fantasy. The fact is that US/Western consumers clearly prefer the graphics pushing terrible narratives of Final Fantasy to beautiful narratives of Tales of (which, contrastingly, are insanely popular in Japan).
So this criticism of doesn't really seem valid since FF seems to be giving the fans the 'core reasons' that they want since they keep buying them. But, in the case that they specifically meant they should stay true to those 'reasons of narrative' (instead of 'reasons of graphics') then the criticism still doesn't work because thats what virtually every other major JRPG franchise has done other than Final Fantasy.
The fourth problem I have... The statement that there might be an argument for labeling Persona as an WRPG because 'You get to play yourself'... This is blatantly FALSE. You do not get to play yourself in Persona, you play a set character. You get to give yourself a name and you get to make a few dialogue choices and choose where you go in the town... but many other JRPGs do at least that (Chrono Trigger, All the Tales of Games to name a few). Persona is a great game series but the game is exactly a visual novel + turn based RPG. It isn't anything like a WRPG under their system of defining JRPG/WRPG. The only extra choice in Persona you get that isn't often in other JRPGs is that in the PSP remake of Persona 3 you can choose your gender.
So, basically, those were great videos and I agree with everything they said... except when they said anything specific about individual JRPGs or JRPG developers or the market or history of JRPGs vs WRPGs.
Edit: I can't believe I forgot to list Star Ocean in the combat development section... (Though SO4 had a terrible story )
Edit2: The earliest JRPG I can find that breaks out of the turn/menu based mold is Dragon Slayer.
Wikipedia says this about it: "While Western computer developers continued to explore the possibilities of real-time RPG gameplay to a limited extent, Japanese developers, with their recently aroused interest in the RPG genre, created a new brand of action/RPG, combining the RPG genre with arcade and action-adventure elements. The company initially at the forefront of this new genre was Nihon Falcom, whose Dragon Slayer series is regarded as the progenitor of the action RPG genre, abandoning the command-based battles of previous RPGs in favour of real-time hack and slash combat that requires direct input from the player, alongside puzzle-solving elements. The original Dragon Slayer, released for the NEC PC-88 computer in 1984, is considered to be the first action-RPG"
Edit3: Also does anyone have to mention how unbelievably popular Pokemon is? Even amoung adults... despite using turn/menu based game mechanics and having a narrative aimed at little kids.