Blog: Is Final Fantasy XIII the end of JRPG in America?

BatRastered Posted by: BatRastered Jun 8, 2010 | 5 comments
Tagged: editorial jrpg wildrant
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I'm sure there are still quite a few fans of the genre here in the states, but I can get my RPG on in a much more digestible form these days.

Background

I've played many Japanese role playing games (JRPG) in my life. I count a few of them as some of my all time favorite games (Final Fantasy III, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy VII). JRPGs were really all I had back in the day as far as RPGs go, and really as far as stories went, because the action/adventure/shooter games of that generation had very little in the way of story (you were usually just given some brief guide to the world in the manual).

I played about 8 hours of Final Fantasy XIII. That was too much for me. These fantasy worlds with gunswords and pointy hair are getting a little played out, and I have no idea what's going on half the time. Couple that with the fact that the first 2-3 hours of battles are played using only one button and I was not impressed. Sure the cut scenes look great, but they have since the PS1. Then there's the way you choose your character's skills in the Crystarium, I ended up flipping the damn thing over and around so bad that I had to exit out and come back in to figure out what was going on. Can I have a simple menu please? I think that nicely illustrates the essence JRPG experience for me; there is so much emphasis on style that the creators forget to make the game FUN.

Don't even get me started on the 10 minute cut scenes after every 3 minutes of game play...

Rise of the Western (RPG that is)

With more recent games like Star Wars: KOTR, the Mass Effect series, Red Dead Redemption, and even some first-person shooter games that are now layering in RPG elements (see Borderlands) the American gamer has a lot more to choose from to get his RPG fix. This is especially true when you consider the migration of some of the more serious RPG gamers to MMOs like World of Warcraft.

The Western RPG is really a different animal than the JRPG when you think about it. There's a much bigger emphasis on action than on story, which I like because the JRPG stories don't make any fucking sense to me anymore. I'm not sure they ever did, but it sure seems like I understood them when I was a kid. I love the depth of the story in games like Mass Effect and how all the background details of the universe can be discovered, but even non-RPG games these days have some serious story, a trend that started with games like Half-life and Halo and continues on in just about every game today. Two of my favorite games from 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum and Uncharted 2, are both excellent examples of this. There's hardly any RPG to them at all, but there's a ton of story and cinematics. I've mentioned to my friends many times that the story from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is probably my favorite Star Wars story (easily better than any of the movie prequels and in my mind better than most of the original trilogy).

What's Next

I'm looking forward to the new MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic and to Mass Effect 3 and any number of action games more so than I am a future Final Fantasy game. I'm not sure where the JRPG goes from here, they definitely need to branch out into different settings. As Mass Effect so neatly illustrates, not every RPG needs swords.

I'm sure there are still quite a few fans of the genre here in the states, but I can get my RPG on in a much more digestible form these days.

Final Fantasy XIII

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12 Stories

Release Date: Mar 9, 2010

Buy it! 52 % - Rent it! 22 % - Flush it! 26 %
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