: Editorial: Hey...Where'd The RPG Go?

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Editorial: Hey...Where'd The RPG Go?

Role-playing aficionados will often debate as to which console was the best for RPGs, and it usually comes down to a standoff between the SNES and PS1. Personally, I believe the PS1 wins easily and it's the undisputed king of RPG goodness. The PS2 is pretty damn close, though, and in my estimation, managed to outstrip the SNES with plenty of great RPGs over a 7-year span. Like most fans of the genre, I was looking forward to the new generation because of games like Final Fantasy XIII, Lost Odyssey, and more. With all the capability the PS3 and Xbox 360 affords developers these days, my mind was literally buzzing with possibilities... But after some time, I find myself looking around and asking one very disturbing question: "Where'd the RPGs go?"

I'm well aware that early on in a generation, RPGs are generally few and far between. It's usually the very last genre to get on track, and I'm taking all this into account when surveying the current generation. But there's a tiny selection on the PS3 - and none of those titles are really worth mentioning - and the Xbox 360 does have a couple, including the aforementioned Lost Odyssey, but what else is there? Oblivion is really the only stellar option for both platforms, and that has been available for quite a while already. Looking down the road in 2008, I'm still not seeing much in the way of more RPGs, and trust me, as I handle news every single day, I'd be well aware of hot new RPG updates. They just aren't coming, as the big games seem to be centering on the action and shooter genres, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I love games like GTAIV, MGS4, GT5, etc.; I'm not going to deny that. My favorite game of the year so far is Devil May Cry 4, and last year, I loved Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, Unreal Tournament III, Assassin's Creed, Bioshock, Heavenly Sword, Warhawk, The Orange Box, Beautiful Katamari, and more.

But I can't remember the last time I went through a whole year without playing a brand new RPG; back in the late '90s with the PS1, I could exclusively play RPGs all year long! My, how times have changed. I certainly won't say that 2008 or beyond seems to be devoid of quality, because that'd be downright idiotic. Many fantastic games are on the way, and I'll probably want to play them all...even if almost none of them will be role-playing. Right now, I'm looking forward to White Knight Chronicles, and I heard they're doing a Lost Odyssey sequel, but I have very little else to cling to over the next year or so. Nintendo usually isn't the best place to go for RPGs, but even the GameCube had several excellent offerings during the last generation (Tales of Symphonia, Baten Kaitos, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles, etc.) and for this generation, the Wii is all about motion sensing. That kinda leaves us RPGers out in the cold.

Perhaps it's just that we have a new generation of twitch gamers out there who require constant action to satisfy their tiny attention spans. Perhaps technical capability is far more important than storytelling, character development and artistry these days. Perhaps developers are starting to realize that unless the RPG's name is "Final Fantasy," they probably won't make much money in the US. Perhaps gamers are getting dumber. Whatever the reason, I'm very disappointed to see the decline of the RPG early in this generation, and while I'm on the topic, I really despise the death of the turn-based RPG. There's a very good possibility that Lost Odyssey might be the very last true turn-based RPG made, because everything is heading towards a real-time or hybrid real-time format. I don't mind those - Final Fantasy XII was excellent, for example - but the prevailing theory is that real-time styles can be more deep and engaging. This is a crucial mistake, because in my experience, all the freshness I've seen in the RPG industry has come from turn-based titles on the PS1 and PS2.

Real-time really does boil down to one of two things: 1. button-mashing in an action-type setting, or 2. focusing on a lot of preparation before battle and letting the AI control most of the action during combat. Neither of these ideas really impress me, and I've seen very little difference between most real-time RPGs. Turn-based RPGs, on the other hand, can be vastly different in how they're presented; the difference between the Judgment Ring in the Shadow Hearts titles and the demon creation system in the Shin Megami Tensei games is significant. And that's only one of dozens of examples. I think a lot more can be done with the turn-based setup, and because we're a society that's so enamored with fast-moving pictures on a television screen, we're sacrificing that potential. But I'd even be able to handle this if I could just find a small handful of RPGs I'd want to play within the next 6-12 months. That alone would make me happy, but I'm struggling to fill the RPG hopper, and it's bugging the crap out of me.

I guess I'll be playing through some of my favorite RPGs of yesteryear during this generation, just because I'd want my RPG fix and I don't see that coming from the PS3 or Xbox 360 any time soon. I imagine the role-playing goodness will eventually arrive, especially on the PS3, but in the meantime...damn, it's just a little depressing. Remember, I'm someone who sits here with a good 35 PS1 RPGs and 20 PS2 RPGs (not counting any SNES or PC RPGs I may have), so when I've gone through a year and a half with the PS3 and two and a half years with the 360 and I only have two RPGs, it irks me. Oh, glorious RPG, where ever did you go? 'cries'

P.S. I didn't label the pic here, because if you don't know what it is, you would never have bothered with this article in the first place.

4/9/2008 Ben Dutka

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New Comment System

Legacy Comment System (16 posts)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008 @ 11:07:10 PM

Amen to that. BTW Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger for the SNES.

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John Shoemaker
Wednesday, April 09, 2008 @ 11:18:40 PM

Good show!

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ArnoldK PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, April 09, 2008 @ 11:26:54 PM

It takes a lot of time for RPGs to show up. The PS2 also started out very slow; Final Fantasy X hit, and then we didn't see much of anything worthwhile for a bit. They take a lot longer to develop than any other genre.

Btw, I also think the new-wave of RPGs will look a lot more like Mass Effect than Final Fantasy, which is a shame.

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Warukyure [Power User]
Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 12:22:42 AM

I've always followed the Sony consoles because I think they are the best for RPGs. With all the new hardware and high level graphics, why would some developers waste that potential for an RPG which requires a lot more planning and work to put into on top of the work they need to put into for the graphics? I kind of see it as with the push for more life-like graphics, we are losing RPGs at an alarming rate.

I can't say for everyone, but I REALLY don't care about the graphics of my RPGs. I like my storylines, the bigger, more elaborate, the better. Games from NIS have always been some of my favourites. The graphics might be cartoony, but the games are fun and the story is there.

My advice to RPG fans, Get Mana Khemia, Persona 3: FES, Chaos Wars and play them SLOWLY! God only knows when we're gonna get more RPGs...

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Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 7:19:43 AM

I would have to agree, there are very few RPGs and when you look at the horizon, you see some but not very many. "Folklore" was on you forgot to mention. And I think "Folklore is the perfect example of why there aren't any RPGs. "folklore" was a great game it was fun to play and had a good story. But it didn't sell that great. And I think thats why inless a developer comes out with a AAA RPG I think most stay away from the genre. I this generation has thought the developers and Publishers one thing is that a crappy game won't sell. And I think that puts a head stone on most potential RPG projects that might be great games but aren't the tried and true way of the shooter.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 7:51:03 AM

I still dont understand why people who love FF and love RPGs, somehow hated FF VIII. They say it's the worst one, and Im like, explain. What didnt they like? The music? Awesome. The graphics? Incredible. The story? Compelling. Freaking hypocrites, man!<br><br> But anywho, I am still waitng to see how good White Knight Chronicles is going to be. And there is one other RPG so far on the PS3 that is worth playing besides Oblivion, and that is Folklore. I absolutely loved the demo.<br><br> And if there is one RPG that I absolutely miss, it's Chrono Trigger. Thanks to Yanagi101 for reminding me!

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 11:03:46 AM

I wouldn't call Folklore a RPG, and I know PLENTY of hardcore FF fans who adored FFVIII. In fact, I know more who loved it than hated it. I thought it was fantastic myself and it's still one of my favorites...but my all-time favorite RPG is still FFVII.

My list goes something like this-


I would like to point out that if I was counting FFT as part of the FF series, it would be #1. I also want to point out that this list goes in order of personal preference; I actually believe FFXII might be the best overall in terms of quality. ...but it's certainly not my favorite, as much as I liked it.

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K Phantom
Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 10:33:06 PM

i have never played FF but my friends, hardcore fans, say that it goes like this: After FF1, it's all rinse and repeat!" i guess it means that there is now way to make 12 games with the same concept fun. I personally like games to end in trilogies, hopefully god of war would be more than a trilogy thou.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 9:40:47 AM

Thank you for this article! I've found that people who hate turn based battle systems don't have the attention span for RPGs anyway. And what ever happened to the old one man RPGs like quest for glory? Not all of these games need to be epic 100 hour games!

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Warukyure [Power User]
Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 10:43:16 AM


I can't really speak for everyone else but I didn't get my PS1 until around Summer 1998, sure I thought FFVII was a great game at the time but when I heard about FFVIII (8), I was totally blown away by the graphical improvement, (no more block hands) and when I actually played it, it was mesmerizing and I got trapped playing it for 80 hours my first go and went on to replay it several times.

Also my justification:
Music: I like more symphonic type music in my RPGs so 8's music suited me more
Graphics: We know who trumped who in that category
Story: I like romance to play a part in my story and 8's was a large part of the game.

I don't mean to be 'bashing' you or anything, I just think some people dig too deep into that game.


Sorry, I can't believe I forgot Folksoul (I can't get past that). I think its a shame that some people don't look past who the developer/publisher (some cases) and just look at the game. I've read some reviews from big sites and they say some negatives sometimes by linking RPGs to their developer. Even though the game might be solid, they sometimes bash the game because its a new area that they are going into. (Need I remind you what some sites say about Mega Man X Command Mission?). It was an interesting game and I was impressed they choose to make an RPG with it, yet people attacked it because it wasn't a Mega Man X game .

Sorry, next time I'll keep my comments shorter.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 4:54:22 PM

Yeah my biggest reason for not buying a PS3 yet! I have tooooo many RPGs to finish on my PS2 first! I guess until news of White Knight, FFXIII or FF vs XII is out (or at least a release date) then there is no true reason for me to buy the system yet (I am buying the games incase they sell out)... but right now to busy with over 9 RPGs that I have yet to start/finish! *Me = major PRG fan*

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Thursday, April 10, 2008 @ 10:16:06 PM

Isnt WoW technically an RPG? I would think it is, since it is an MMORPG. That has to be <i>the</i> nerdiest acronym ever! lol

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Saturday, April 12, 2008 @ 10:14:32 AM

they should make more role playing games like ff.. ff is the best role playing games and always will be but they should make them like the original ff not like ff12 where u walk around and point a arrow thats GAY

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Saturday, April 12, 2008 @ 5:43:23 PM

I totally agree with this editorial. I'm a huge RPG fan, and I mean the most classic turn-based game style of the genre. I'm 36 and I think that the video game industry are not taking in consideration us, the older generation of players. They are just targeting younger players. But what about us?? I'm a mom and have a 16 year old daughter and she love action type game like DMC4, but myself, I have not yet found any PS3 game that I would love to play (RPG) and I'm missing it a lot... If Sony and other video game developers are reading this, please take in consideration the aging players also which are the people that still spending the money in buying the expensive consoles not for their kids, but for them also. Thanks.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008 @ 2:08:18 AM

I cannot agree with you more. Especially all the accusations as to why this has occured. Unfortunately, it's all of the above. The target consumer for games in this country are only interested in action, blood, sex, and sports. Anything else is a waste of time. It's the same reason nobody reads books anymore. Producers and developers have taken this into notice, and decided to put out what will be bought by the most people. As for RPGs, they don't sell. I don't know about anyone else, but in my personal history, which was riddled with RPGs, the games were ridiculed. People would make comments about being able to walk around and wait to be hit in real life. While, in their defense, this was true, it is also true of most shooters. Anyone can take an M16 or rocket launcher, circumstances providing, and start blowin' shit up.

Anyway, I think it is a damn shame that most people don't appreciate RPGs, and that is the cause of this drought now.

... My apologies if I offended anyone...

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008 @ 10:23:08 PM

Just wait until all of the upcoming Final Fantasy games coming exclusively on the PS3...oh dang it I can't wait, but I've got it all figured out: Buy the following games in this order: GTA4, MGS4, FFXIII, and then RE4...

Who doesn't agree with that least? Yea I didn't think so...

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