Japanese RPGs are arguably less popular in the West now than they were ten years ago (not counting Final Fantasy's ongoing success). According to Bioware's co-founder, the genre's fall is partly due to a lack of evolution and progression in the genre...

"The fall of the JRPG in large part is due to a lack of evolution, a lack of progression," Zeschuk said. "They kept delivering the same thing over and over. They make the dressing better, they look prettier, but it's still the same experience.

"My favorite thing, it's funny when you still see it, but the joke of some of the dialogue systems where it asks, 'do you wanna do this or this,' and you say no. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. 'Do you wanna do this or this?' No. Lemme think -- you want me to say 'yes.' And that, unfortunately, really characterized the JRPG."

Zeschuk admits that there are definitely exceptions coming from the East (Demon's Souls is currently one of his favorite games), but North American definitions of role-playing have simply evolved beyond those of their counterparts on the other side of the world. "We have big debates on whether GTA is an RPG, for example. It's got all the elements, it just doesn't have the numbers. And what gamers here want is that higher depth, that higher integration of features...Mass Effect 2 is in some ways a continuation of that evolution."
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  • 0
    Shadow of Death Dec 19, 09
    It is true mostly, yeah. The worlds get more open-feeling, but it is essentially the same. I don't play J-RPGS much anymore, I mostly got bored of them.

    I don't really know how they can change JRPGs in a way that they get a fresh take on the genre, without compromising the spirit of them....

    Lol, if you told me 5 years ago that I'd be passing on new JRPGS for FPS I'd laugh in your face....Aside from Goldeneye 64 and perfect dark 64, I never much bothered with FPS games until the last couple of years (starting with Resistance: Fall of man, and currently Borderlands).
  • 1
    Miss Razz Dec 19, 09
    I agree that JRPGs haven't evolved much over the years, but I don't think it has anything to do with the battle systems or dialoge/morale systems. Alot of people say that turn-based battle systems are outdated, but are they really? Just because they're slow, doesn't neccessarily mean they're outdated. Some people prefer playing turn-based battles over more fast-paced ones.

    What puts me off most about JRPGs are the cliche/stereotype characters, the ridiculous character designs, the often annoying voice acting, the silly/predictable plotlines, etc. They might not seem like big things on their own, but put them all together in one game and it can make a game hard to get through. It can feel like you're playing through a crap kiddie cartoon... or a really bad anime.
    I suppose that's why FF games are still so successful...Square haven't changed their formula much over the years, but they generally develop games that don't fall into the problems that the majority of JRPGs do.
    • 3
      BANDITO ATTACK Dec 19, 09
      well the same turn-based battle mechanics do get old after a while, but you're right tho. the biggest problem is the laughably unimaginative characters, plots, and whatnot.

      earthbound had a (more or less) by-the-books battle system.. it even kindof made fun of the repetitive/boring battle process by letting the player just put the battles on auto-pilot. it had a highly creative cast, plot, and dialog tho, which gained it a cult following, and endless praise.

      the basic jrpg stuff (by which i mean the open-world exploration, random battles, and the usual battle systems) isn't inherently bad, japanese producers just have a horrible habit of using hackneyed/cliché plots and the same damn archetypal characters in every other japanese rpg (o look, a female love interest who's also a white mage. hobbies include cooking, cleaning, and being absurdly chipper or ridiculously catty)
      • 0
        RabidChinaGirl Dec 19, 09
        Asians & tweens dig that shit.

        Good to know I'm not the only one who hasn't touched J-RPGs since middle school (excluding Atlus titles).
        • 0
          Moonrise Dec 21, 09
          I've really only played the Atlus RPGs in the past few years as well, but I certainly can't say it's wholly due to the turn based system in games.

          The issue with most games is that regardless of the battle system, they simply become a case of "grind grind grind and you can win battles without strategy". That's really the problem with most JRPGs (gameplay wise). There needs to be a constant challenge throughout the games or it really isn't worth the time. That's what I love about the Shin Megami Tensei games.
  • 0
    conel3 Dec 19, 09
    I disagree to be honest. JRPG's have evolved just as much if not more than genre's like FPS, Music Games and Sports Games but they still sell over here. It's not that the genre isn't evolving fast enough it's that it is designed for a different audience. FFXIII is most likely going to be amazing but the people in the west who buy it will be the same core fan group that bought Blue Dragon and Eternal Sonata etc.

    No matter how good FFXIII is, it will most likely still sell less than a lot of western games that aren't as good just because a lot of people over here aren't into JRPG's. There's nothing that the genre evolving will do. JRPG's just don't have a huge fan base over here because it's not the right audience.
  • 2
    Storm Dec 19, 09
    A lot of them give me that same vibe, like I know it's going to be a long adventure, I know we'll get some major annoying characters, and I know someone will always leave the party, be it temporarily or permanent.

    Miss Razz brings up a good point, too, the cliche story. It's usually about love and/or revenge of some sort, and someone will probably get captured. I don't know, it seems like Japan just doesn't bother with differing the characters and such, especially if they do a series like say, Final Fantasy. With XIII, a good few of us have already compared the characters and their personalities to that of previous entries. Not to say that they haven't tried to mix things up (ala XII), but they certainly need work on the "unique" factor.

    I don't play JRPGS as much as I used to, but there are still some out there that grab my attention. Tales of Vesperia, for instance, blew me away last year. ^^
    • 0
      conel3 Dec 19, 09
      I have to disagree in a way. I had this same discussion with a few of my friends a while back but what people don't notice is that this cliché isn't just in JRPG's. If you look at pretty much any genre the same similarities occur.

      We'll take a Bioware type western RPG for example. The majority of that type of RPG will either be a futuristic war type of game with humans invading alien planets or it will be set in the olden days with adventurers, mages and knights setting out on an adventure to kill dragons etc.

      The same happens for every genre but because JRPG is different it's repetative nature just sticks out more.
      • 4
        Storm Dec 20, 09
        That's setting you're talking about though, the game's stories, especially in BioWare's hands, take a huge turn, and there's so many paths to choose from...what you do in BioWare games affect the game up until the end. Baldur's Gate and Dragon Age: Origins can be thought up as being the same setting, but play through those games, their stories, their adventures are not nearly alike.

        As far as cliche goes, the Japanese stories do need some kind of differentiation. A kidnapping here, an annoying or highly common character there (such as what Bandito mentioned, a white mage love interest), but then again, this clearly appeals to the Japanese gamers, however much Japan butters them up to cloak the same overall style. A perfect example of a generic character is Judith from Tales of Vesperia and Myuria from Star Ocean: The Last Hope. Both are pointy-eared chicks who wear little clothing and focus on using a spear for combat. Their personalities involve a calm manner with a few serious points in battle plots, and they both hold something dear to them. Both plot involves a small-time errand turned into a disaster, and a slight double-cross with party members.

        Then there's the OVERLY used emo main character. Hell, even Cloud was made emo for the Advent Children film. -_- But eh, again, it's what appeals to gamers on the Eastern side, we just have to go with it.
  • 0
    Slumpy monkey Dec 19, 09
    I think because a lot of Japanese story telling is intertwined with their own myths and historical stories and the like.
  • 0
    Red 9 Dec 19, 09
    Two words: Demon's Souls.
    • 2
      RabidChinaGirl Dec 19, 09
      Read the article, he mentions that.
      • 0
        Red 9 Dec 20, 09
        quote RabidChinaGirl
        Read the article, he mentions that.
        Exactly
        • 1
          Absolute Dec 20, 09
          I've actually been tempted to give Demon's Souls a try...I've had a long-standing "no JRPG" policy due to being bored to tears time and time again. Demon's Souls seems to be a moldbreaker, and I'm tempted to give it a shot...if I can pry myself away from Dragon Age for 5 minutes..
    • 1
      RaidenXS Dec 20, 09
      oh so close. the answer is Dragon Age
  • 0
    Aeirou Dec 21, 09
    I've played both Dragon Age and Demon's Souls. If you have one, get the other.. but if you have neither get Demon's Souls first.. it's much harder and the gameplay is so fun. Dragon Age is easy and you play is for it's AMAZING story.
  • 1
    ruledbysecrecy Dec 21, 09
    The JRPG is such a unique style of game, and it's so infrequent that we get a really polished one so I don't understand the complaints.

    We get the same old first person shooter every other month with a different facade and no one complains.

    Sure there are 13 Final Fantasy games, and yes, they are all very similar, but something they also have in common is their quality. You can find parallels between all the characters throughout all the games but I don't know about you guys but once I start playing Final Fantasy XIII I can guarantee you I'll be sucked into their world once again and it will feel uniquely it's own.

    It always happens, skeptical now, but come March 2010 you'll all be just as immersed as you were day 1 with any of those other Final Fantasy's. With that wonderful child-like curiosity and desire to go out and learn as much about this new world as possible.

    Also, when you strip down any storyline to it's bare components you end up with relatively the same thing. Good vs bad. Right vs wrong. Hero vs Villian. Etc. Those stories are classic, they are timeless. It's not about the uniqueness of the storytelling, it's about the artistry in the writing. Final Fantasy has always been that. Classical. By the book. I like that. I don't need them to change.

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