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Mainstreaming the JRPG - Active Topical Banter

Fowl SorcerousFowl Sorcerous Dread News EditorRPGamer Staff
A multi-level examination of the ludic, narrative, and artistic elements of the JRPG and how they interact with the Western market vis a vis popularity. Also the debut of the official ATBS drinking game.

Hey! Listen!
Old Shows
The need for feed
iTunes

Talking Points on this Episode:
-titles -- no really
-legacy?
-what does that really mean?
-do we want that?
-production values.
-visibility.
-gratification cycles.
-the moe industrial complex.
-cachet of the aesthetic and its downsides.
-maturity.
-awesome per minute.
-broader appeal.
-forms and functions.

BONUS: ATBS drinking game rules (please enjoy podcasts and beverages responsibly):
-Sam uses Valkyrie Profile as an example
-Libraries!
-Trent uses Final Fantasy
-Mac uses FFXII as an example
-The vita
-Pants, or lack thereof
-Deus Ex example
-Giant Robots

Comments

  • DungeonRPGDungeonRPG Full Members
    edited April 2015
    I really enjoyed this podcast! you guys are so knowledgeable i wish i knew more people like you guys to hangout with =/

    btw totori's mother didn't...you know....
    and there *is* a neptune anime, and it came out even before Atelier eschalogy's animation iirc


    *registered just to comment*
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    Neptunia has had an anime for awhile.

    I for one welcome our new Neptunia overlords.
    Ask Wheels- This Week's Episode
    sig.gif
  • flamethrowerflamethrower Member Full Members
    But Dark Souls is a western RPG developed in Japan. It doesn't count.
    No, Mac. Halo is mostly action with a few cutscenes. It's not surprising your friend wants the same in an RPG.
    Yep, Atelier not the best for Twitch.
    Kinki no Magna poorly reviewed (Japanese version). The criticism is of the gameplay; XSEED won't be changing that.
  • InstaTrentInstaTrent Opinion Guy RPGamer Staff
    DungeonRPG wrote: »
    I really enjoyed this podcast! you guys are so knowledgeable i wish i knew more people like you guys to hangout with =/

    btw totori's mother didn't...you know....
    and there *is* a neptune anime, and it came out even before Atelier eschalogy's animation iirc


    *registered just to comment*

    You're with us in spirit, friend. Welcome to RPGamer and thanks for the in-tell!
    "To tell you the truth, I like drinking tea and eating fresh vegetables, but that doesn't fit with my super-cool attitude. I guess I have to accept this about myself."
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    But Dark Souls is a western RPG developed in Japan. It doesn't count.

    Really? Which Western RPGs are like Dark Souls? I'm not seeing them.
    Ask Wheels- This Week's Episode
    sig.gif
  • flamethrowerflamethrower Member Full Members
    edited April 2015
    I think the Elder Scrolls series, especially Elder Scrolls 4 and 5, are like Dark Souls.
    1) The same genre: Action RPG. You control a single character. Melee and ranged attacks are possible.
    2) RPG mechanics so you can get stronger, usually by fighting enemies.
    3) The third person camera is similar.
    4) The medieval fantasy theme is similar. Medieval fantasy is relatively common in both regions though.
    5) Your character you create yourself at the beginning of the game. The gameplay aspects of this character can change during the game. It's more common for western games to have a feature like this. For example, Mass Effect (a western RPG) has this feature. You can only name offline games as it's common for online games in both regions to have this feature.

    Another game for comparison is Kingdoms of Amalur, it shares all points listed above, was actually developed in the west, and was developed in the style of a western RPG.

    I consider a work like Brave Fencer Musashi, even though it shares all points except 5 listed above with both Elder Scrolls and Dark Souls, to be a JRPG because of the cutesy character designs. You wouldn't see that in a western RPG because it's unlikely to appeal to a western audience. Neither Dark Souls nor Elder Scrolls employ cutesy designs for any character, going for realistic designs instead. Dark Souls is popular because, whenever a decision had to made, they made one that's reasonably likely to be accepted in the west. I even feel like those games' extreme difficulty is more likely to be accepted in the west. I'm not sure how well the 'Souls games do in Japan, but they're successful in the west because they conform to audience expectations.
    So other than the place it was developed, what makes Dark Souls a JRPG? Does it emphasize story over gameplay? I don't think it does. It emphasizes the gameplay quite heavily, just like a western RPG would. Dark Souls does not obsess over giving the player choices that matter, as western RPGs often do. That's about the only think I can think of.
  • TexsideTexside Member Full Members
    This was interesting! I admit that I also asked, when I saw the episode title, "Do we even want it mainstreamed?" But, I think y'all offered a nuanced look at the topic. I agree with the conclusion: JRPGs aren't in a bad place -- they're being developed along several different axes.

    That said: do you think the JRPG influenced western RPGs? I know the rise of cutscenes and the heavier stories in games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect remind me of the later PSX and PS2 JRPGs, though the style's different. There might be some blending here, or western RPGs taking parts of what JRPGs did that worked. I'm not sure, myself.
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed RPGamer Staff
    edited May 2015
    Of course JRPGs have influenced WRPGs. It's easiest to tell in turn-based games like Child of Light, but I know a lot of today's Western devs grew up loving stuff like early FFs and Chrono Trigger. I just think many of them are more interested in reproducing the general feeling of those games rather than the exact mechanics or character archetypes.
    Becky Cunningham, Staff-at-Large
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • WheelsWheels RPGamer Staff RPGamer Staff
    I think the Elder Scrolls series, especially Elder Scrolls 4 and 5, are like Dark Souls.
    1) The same genre: Action RPG. You control a single character. Melee and ranged attacks are possible.
    2) RPG mechanics so you can get stronger, usually by fighting enemies.
    3) The third person camera is similar.
    4) The medieval fantasy theme is similar. Medieval fantasy is relatively common in both regions though.
    5) Your character you create yourself at the beginning of the game. The gameplay aspects of this character can change during the game. It's more common for western games to have a feature like this. For example, Mass Effect (a western RPG) has this feature. You can only name offline games as it's common for online games in both regions to have this feature.

    Another game for comparison is Kingdoms of Amalur, it shares all points listed above, was actually developed in the west, and was developed in the style of a western RPG.

    I consider a work like Brave Fencer Musashi, even though it shares all points except 5 listed above with both Elder Scrolls and Dark Souls, to be a JRPG because of the cutesy character designs. You wouldn't see that in a western RPG because it's unlikely to appeal to a western audience. Neither Dark Souls nor Elder Scrolls employ cutesy designs for any character, going for realistic designs instead. Dark Souls is popular because, whenever a decision had to made, they made one that's reasonably likely to be accepted in the west. I even feel like those games' extreme difficulty is more likely to be accepted in the west. I'm not sure how well the 'Souls games do in Japan, but they're successful in the west because they conform to audience expectations.
    So other than the place it was developed, what makes Dark Souls a JRPG? Does it emphasize story over gameplay? I don't think it does. It emphasizes the gameplay quite heavily, just like a western RPG would. Dark Souls does not obsess over giving the player choices that matter, as western RPGs often do. That's about the only think I can think of.

    Yeah I'm going to keep calling it a JRPG anyway, sorry!
    Ask Wheels- This Week's Episode
    sig.gif
  • NyxNyx Staff Girly Girl RPGamer Staff
    @ Wheels -- totes didn't know that about Neptunia! Then again, Neptunia often makes me want to hide. Thanks for the correction!
  • DravDrav A Serious Man Full Members
    edited May 2015
    Personally I think JRPG fans should focus less on how to "mainstream" the genre and more on making it sustainable enough that they don't have to rely on Otaku money. I'm sure you could mainstream JRPGs by turning them all into FFXV, but do people really want that? As WPRGs have proved, once you start going down that road there's (mostly) no going back without crowdfunding. I would not want the JRPG fandom to become what the WRPG fandom has been for the last ten years or so: a soapbox for the worst kind of bitter resentment.

    If it was me, I'd continue plugging the 3DS, and also start developing games for Wii U and PS3, with the view of porting high-res versions to PS4 and Steam. That seems like the best strategy for capturing the kids who are still growing up with Pokemon and Dragon Quest, while also holding on to the 30-somethings who remember Final Fantasy VII. Unfortunately it seems like JRPG developers are still following the same strategy that killed the last generation: every franchise has titles spread across all platforms. It's crazy that you need a 3DS to play Pokemon, a VITA to play Persona 4: Golden, a PS3 to play Tales, and a PS4 to play Final Fantasy. No wonder JRPGs are stagnating when you need over a $1000 worth of hardware just to play the core franchises.
  • OcelotOcelot is not declawed RPGamer Staff
    At least you know you'll never need an Xbox One. ;)
    Becky Cunningham, Staff-at-Large
    Twitter: BeckyCFreelance
  • lolwhoopslolwhoops happy accident HalifaxRPGamer Staff
    Personally, if I was developing JRPGs, I would make some for the Wii U. There's very little competition for RPGs on the Wii U, you're mostly competing with Nintendo after all. It's cheaper to develop for than the PS4 and after you get everything with the game pad sorted away you could work on making series with the same engine/systems. Sure, Wii U doesn't have the biggest install base, but the people who bought it are kinda desperate for quality non-Nintendo games (and games in general I think). I think it would make a great place for middle tier RPGs.
    lolwhoops: a Gamer's Blog
    ^^is my blog! Updates whenever I feel like it! :D which happens a lot more often now!
    this is my twitter! come twit with me
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