Tuesday, December 23, 2014

WTF is wrong with Japanese RPGs today?

So I'm 100 or so hours into Sen no Kiseki 2. I'm near the end and its the night before the big battle, I had to decide which of the boring, generic female characters I want to hang out with when I just got so sick of this stupid boring eroge posing as an RPG game that I could not physically finish the game. I had reached my absolute limit in putting up with such a crappy game. I should have quit the series when they had that stupid concert at the end of the first game.

Sen no Kiseki 2 is my fourth and my last game in the Legend of Heroes series. For a series that has always won the Playstation User Choice award every year and been spoken in glowing terms by fans, the writing is crappy and boring I'd rather a straightforward farm boy is chosen one who has to save the world storyline. I was so happy when I found out Grandia 2 is now available for PS3 cause I need a JRPG that doesn't suck. I've been playing Japanese RPGs for so long but I am so scared to play any new titles now.

So, what the hell happened to Japanese RPGs?


JRPs used to follow Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy's lead. Companies like Sega saw the success of these RPGs and did their own spin on them with games like Phantasy Star and Sakura Wars. Sony saw the success FFVII and said "Lets spend a lot of money and do a similar RPG", and they created The Legend of Dragoon which while generic has more personality than any Falcom game. Nowadays, Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are not selling like Monster Hunter.


RPGs are still popular in the Japanese market, its just its not in the form of old school RPGs aka storyline party turn based games. The most popular game right now is Yokai Watch which is Pokemon with ghosts. Every Japanese person with a 3DS I street passed is playing either Yokai Watch or Monster Hunter. Kids today want either a game where they collect monsters/ghosts or an action game where they can gang up on big bosses.

So your Japanese executives look at their market and knew that the lowest risk was to make Pokemon and Monster Hunter clones. *cough* FFXIII-2 *cough* (if only reviews had said it was FF Pokemon, I would not have bought it) No one wants to green light a story based game where a bunch of people (usually from different places) get together and save the world. This leads to......


So you're a producer at a Japanese video game company trying to make an RPG. You can't get a AA budget unless you're making a Pokemon or Monster Hunter game. You can maybe secure a mid to low budget if you can convince the top brass that you will definitely make a profit.

So someone at Sega decides to use the once great 'Shining' name and marry it with Tony Taka artwork. Problem is, once they finish with the artwork and modelling the female characters, there is no money or bad guys or gameplay. I have all 3 Shining games on PSP and they are crap although I did finish 2 of them but part of the reason is to practice my reading.

Camelot Software Planning used to make Shining games but now, its just a stupid Tony Taka with crappy gameplay series. They copied the gameplay of the one good RPG Sega did last gen and they couldn't even bother to balance it properly. There's no way to lose in Shining Ark. They might as well have an auto win button. So not having any budget means that.....


Shining Resonance which came out last year has Tony Taka, dragons, weapons which double as musical instruments, lots of changing female clothing and I'm pretty sure dating sim elements as well. Game director goes to boss and says with these moe elements, we are going to sell X amount of copies. Who cares about story and gameplay or enemies?If we can make the girls idols it would sell even better! Let's not forgot rubbing games like Moero Chronicle.

Another example is the RPG, Exstetra. Its got Tony Taka artwork but no freaking money or bad guys, dungeons or special moves. All the dungeons look the same and there are so many similar monsters with different colours. All the money went into the artwork and voice acting which is basically all any RPG needs to promote itself which leads me to my final point.....


With all that effort into gimmicks to market games, there is no vision for RPGs.So what do they do? Fill it with your typical anime template. Turn every single freaking RPG into a harem with your boring generic blank slate main character and his typical collection of girls or worse, RPGs where its just a bunch of girls talking meaningless K-ON dialogue.

Final Fantasy Tactics never gets made today. No company would spend a lot of money on a dark strategy RPG about religion, ambition and a brother who just wants to save his sister. Ramza would have a harem, the ending would be happy and there would be an idol performance in the middle. Shining Force 2 would never be greenlit today. You want a straightforward strategy RPG about a rat who releases this great evil and you're selling point is the gameplay?   

Now its all moe RPGs like Omega Quintet or Neptunia. All the money spent modelling your cliche female characters, have them fight boring baddies and try to fit whatever story in it.

Speaking of anime cliches, the worst thing about the Legend of Heroes series is the...


There is something called generic anime dialogue.Its like when all the girls/harem are talking to the main character and they each take turns saying one line but it might as well have been one character talking. There are many keywords that just pissed me off when playing the Sen no Kiseki like the usual 'sasuga this character' when someone does something good. Just because a game as cliched characters doesn't mean they all have to freaking speak the cliched same way! Ultimately, it was the dialogue of Sen no Kiseki 2 that did my head in.


No one has the balls to package JRPGS in a shape that does not look like an eroge animore. We've got Bravely Default but that game was ruined in the 2nd half by the Steins Gate writer who was too enamoured with his twist that he had no idea how to write smart characters. Luckily he's not working on Bravely Second.

Is there demand for old school party turn based RPGs? Hell yeah! Bravely Default sold 1 million units worldwide despite having a stupid second half. Gamers want old school RPGs without gimmicks. Its just that no company is willing to take a punt

Legend of Legacy looks interesting because it doesn't look like an Eroge but its by Furyu which means its probably a half baked RPG.

Falcom have the dedication and resources but they cannot help but bring the worst and most boring elements of anime into their games.

Final Fantasy boyband XV? If I want an action game, I'd rather replay Bayonetta 2 and Metal Gear Revengeance.

JRPGS need to free themselves from their anime shackles or else it will only appeal to the minority otaku audience. Its hard to imagine a Japanese publisher giving a mature RPG enough budget to be so visually stunning that it can capture the public's attention. If Chrono Trigger just came out today, would good reviews and word of mouth be enough to pursuade the public at large to buy it?

I guess if I want good old school RPGs, I just have to play old games. There are plenty of old games that I have yet to play/finish, its just I'm lazy to read without the help of voice acting.


Shining Force 1-3 and The Holy Ark
Final Fantasy 6,7,9 and Tactics
Samurai Spirits RPG
Terra Phantastica
Chrono Trigger
Super Mario RPG
Legend of Dragoon
Grandia 1+2
Lost Odyssey
Dragon Force
Valkyria Chronicles


On an unrelated note, better register for Asiantorrents if you haven't cause its open until end of December! Its the best place to get jmovies. Its a private tracker so remember to seed and keep your ratio up!


Shane said...

I share your pain on this one. One of the biggest JRPG series which makes it to the west now is the "Tales of". Although I do play these games I struggle to enjoy the story due to the babyish anime characters usually depicted. And yeah, Final Fantasy seems to have abandoned it's roots entirely since moving to PS3 and beyond.

That's a very decent list of games there. If you like Super Mario RPG I highly recommend Paper Mario: A Thousand Year Door on the gamecube. Also, an AMAZING JRPG on the Wii I just finished is Xenoblade Chronicles. Mind blowing stoyline of epic scale!

dgundam said...

well theres going to be xenoblade x for the wiiu, thats pretty much the only one im really looking forward too.
maybe ff15 but i dont like the gameplay style of kh. i would like to have a turn based fina; fantasy but i dont think well be seeing them go back to their roots anytime soon.
ya the jrpg scene has become terrible with all the anime ones and moe crap. i think thats maybe why i havent really played much of the new ones this generation.
i pine for the days of the ps1 and ps2 eras where there were tons of jrpgs.

no chrono cross and ff8 love? BOOOOO!
i love those 2.

on another note, they just recently put up suikoden 2 on the psn. supposedly its one of the greatest jrpgs so u should go check it out.

Sonna~ said...

The fact that a fantastic JRPG like Final Fantasy Tactics will never get made again makes me sad. I love that game. I've spent about half my life now (!) replaying that game. Every time I play it, it's something new. I'm just finishing Chrono Trigger again.

I loved the first Trails in the Sky and it's too bad that it's gone all disappointing.

Suikoden isn't available on EU PSN which is too bad, loved that game too.

4545 said...

Samurai Showdown had an RPG? Damn... gonna check out the emulated version.

And no love for the Langrisser/Warsong series? D:

Akiramike said...

Shane: Might get Xenoblade since I just got a Wii U but I generally don't play real time RPGs like Tales of.

dgundam: Chrono Cross had 101 characters with a one sentence backstory and FF8's hero was as smart as Rito from ToLoveRu.

4545: I remember playing a lot of Langrisser 2 and 3 but I just can't remember finishing either of them. And then it turned into an action RPG.

dgundam said...

aaw i guess u wont like suikoden series then with its 101 characters.
its the epic tale with grand battles and story and making your grand army to fight the big bad nation is what makes suikoden good.

i guess i loved the music for chrono cross, and ya too many characters but i dont really mind not knowing their backstory.

well i didnt like squall in ff8, its more of the other characters, the high school setting, and the love story that made it my favorite.

Seng said...

Long live FFTactics!