Hey, Remember When JRPGs Used To Be Good?
Maybe it's a harsh thing to say. And I know there have been several quality JRPGs this generation, so don't jump down my throat for "bashing JRPGs."
Those who know me understand my love for the struggling sub-genre, so when I create such a title as the one you see here, that love is the reason why. Maybe it can help remind developers and gamers alike that in fact, there was a time when a lot of Japanese RPGs were of the highest caliber and consistently delivered unique and even memorable experiences.
Some JRPGs this generation, such as the White Knight Chronicles and Atelier franchises, have not received their just due from critics or the gaming public, in my honest opinion. And there's every chance that the upcoming Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch will be fantastic. But let's face it: When compared to the PS1 or PS2 eras, the JRPG not only hit the skids this generation, it basically dropped off the map. Perhaps the demise of Final Fantasy as a true "RPG" (or what we always called a true "RPG," at any rate) contributed most to that decline, as we could always turn to that series in the past. Always, absolutely without fail.
But with what appears to be an action game on the horizon - the thing they call Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII - and a slew of under-performing and generally underwhelming JRPGs over the past five or six years, one quickly notices such a depressing drop-off. The quality of the games has simply fallen way off and there's no denying that; the production values overall are way behind that of other games. And while JRPGs never set the graphics bar (unless your name was Final Fantasy), a lot of JRPG franchises in the past still looked great. And beyond that, they were obviously made with a lot of talent and effort.
But it just seems as if they got stuck. They never moved forward with the rest of the industry. And that's just...sad.
12/14/2012 Ben Dutka