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Protesting Japanese Role-Playing Games

Illustration for article titled Protesting Japanese Role-Playing Games

Japanese role-playing games are different from Western ones. And by "different" some would say, "not as good".

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During the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese role-playing games flourished, but some now say that the current JRPGs seem trapped in time. Fans of the games believe that if something is not broken, then why fix.

You are looking at the Japanese ad for American role-playing game Fallout: New Vegas. A group of young Japanese hold protest signs that read:

• "I think it would be good if the hero had missions that weren't only about destroying evil."
• "The player is weak, the enemy is weak. That's way too convenient."
• "When did games become something you watch?"
• "Because the story doesn't change, what's the point of playing it again?"
• "Games nowadays are focusing way too much on photorealism."
• "What's a game that's moving in accordance to the scenario? It's the same as living on rails."
• "Levelling up is time for motivation down!"
• "The stage has been set. After that, you're free to do whatever!"

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This ad is arresting, eye-catching. It is, without being too blunt, a publicity stunt.

That doesn't mean the messages on these signs hold any less true.

Illustration for article titled Protesting Japanese Role-Playing Games

Games like Fallout and Mass Effect are doing their best to make the vast majority of Japanese role-playing games look horribly dated and worse yet, stale.

Japanese developers might want to take heed of these signs — not to copy Western role-playing games, but to rework the elements of their games that, well, no longer work.

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4Gamer.net - 「Fallout: New Vegas」予約&初回特典が明らかに。グラフィックノベルや限定アイテムを手に入れよう(Fallout: New Vegas) [4Gamer]

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DISCUSSION

sobullshit
bullshit reservoir is full

I have yet to find a WRPG I could really get into Besides Diablo (I would also add Diablo II, but there's a very stupid OCD-like reason I can't play that one - so let's move on).

I just never understand what's so great, other than the story. That's the one thing I'll give WRPGs, most of the critically acclaimed ones put out a hell of a story.

Now, JRPGs are a different can of worms entirely. When I was 5 or 6 years old, I got into video games. I loved me some SNES/Genesis goodness, and I still do, but I exclusively played more action oriented games at the time. I played platformers and shmups and the like. Then one day a few years down the road, a friend introduced me to a JRPG (Mario RPG, if you're curious) and I fell in love. Suddenly, there was a whole new category of game where I had to think rather than react. I could sit and decide the most appropriate course of action to take and not be penalized for it.

I decided RPGs were very VERY awesome games. I got into some more JRPGs and I just kept falling in love. Here were these, for lack of a better word, EPIC quests to save the planet or even the universe using your wits alone (or maybe just a teensy bit of quick reactions on top). They all had a similar structure, as most games in the same genres do, and for JRPGs that structure was something like this:

STORY STRUCTURE OF A TYPICAL JRPG

1) Introduction of hero/hometown/a few more characters.

2) Slight development of hero/other characters and introduction of some sort of evil plot.

3) Disaster befalls hometown, by some means related to evil plot.

4) Hero and friends set out to stop evil what caused the plot.

5) Hero and friends stop this plot, but realize a greater plot is in the works which will strike disaster upon the entire world.

6) Hero and friends gain power to stop great evil.

7) Great evil is stopped, world is saved.

GAMEPLAY STRUCTURE OF A TYPICAL JRPG

1) Town (Town is equivalent to new equipment and sidequest options opening).

2) Dungeon - fight monsters, navigate to end.

3) Boss.

4) Repeat.

Now some of you might be looking at that and saying "Yup, you see? Stale and boring." But I say not so fast. I can do the same thing to any genre. Gameplay conventions are part of what make genres definable in the first place. Example, FPS gameplay structure goes: 1) Shoot dudes. 2) Move to location of more dudes. 3) Repeat. You see? I'm sure I could have made it a little more flowery, but still the basic idea holds. We can tell what genre a game is by what you do in that game.

JRPGs have always had this same "flow" to them (except FFXIII - no townz) and that's okay. I'm not a fan of just shooting guys dead and moving on over and over and over. I'm not a shooter fan. That's okay. Some of you (probably most of you) aren't JRPG fans. You don't like Town/Dungeon/Boss-ing over and over. That's okay too. That doesn't mean you have to put JRPGs down or protest against them or demand they change. They're just not for you, and that's okay. I'm not going to run around badmouthing shooters or protesting them or demanding they change either. I might loudly bemoan the fact that there are so MANY shooters now and so FEW JRPGs, but I won't demand the games themselves change.

Now here's the part where I talk about that JRPG story structure I mentioned. Is it predictable? Sure. Is it strictly necessary that a story be UNpredictable for it to be enjoyable? Not at all. How many women can honestly say they haven't guessed the plot of that new romantic comedy they went to see less than fifteen minutes in? How many of those same women enjoy it anyway? The story of your typical JRPG is predictable, but not so much so that it isn't even entertaining anymore. It's still an entertaining, if not particularly intellectually engaging, little play to follow along. And I for one LIKE saving the world/universe from the greatest evil the cosmos has ever known. A lot of WRPGs put the stakes a lot lower. Is THAT necessarily bad? No, no it isn't. As I've been talking about for a while now some people like thing X, some people don't like thing X. AND THAT IS PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE.

Every time I bust out one of these waaaay too long rants, I feel they get even less coherent and understandable. But I can't help it. I just get so tired of and frustrated by and angry with the majority of the gaming public for having radical and unjustified views on a number of topics I feel strongly about. JRPGs do not need to die. They do not need to change. THEY do not need to do ANYTHING to please YOU if YOU are not a fan of THEM. If you hate KFC, don't go demanding they change everything and just eat somewhere you do like.

Don't go demanding my second favorite genre change just because you don't like it. Go play the genres you do like. Go play WRPGs or sports games or whatever you like. I won't complain about them even if I don't like them. I'll just play something else.