If You Like JRPGs, It's Time To Let Your Voice Be Heard

I spent my Wednesday night sitting in Kotaku's office, gulping down coffee and furiously typing as I watched Sony announce their new PlayStation, a revolutionary device that will let you play games where you shoot people with guns.

And as they banged out one announcement after the other, my mind kept roaming to a single thought: This isn't for me.

I get no enjoyment out of Killzones and Driveclubs and other portmanteaus revolving around guns and cars. I don't play games based on how realistic they look or how many people they let you kill. And as developers gleefully took the stage Wednesday night to talk about polygons and teraflops — a word I'm still not convinced is real — all I could think was: why am I supposed to care about this?

Maybe you felt similarly. Maybe you were pleased to see game promises from the likes of Atlus and Falcom, but you couldn't get excited about much else. Or maybe you were psyched about The Witness, which looks like an excellent, Myst-like adventure, but still bummed to see that there were no role-playing games.

For JRPG fans, or RPG fans of any kind, the PS4 event was a whopping disappointment. Short of of a sizzling Capcom demo of a maybe-RPG that may never actually exist and Square Enix saying "yes, we've got a new Final Fantasy coming!" there was very little in Sony's conference for people who like the type of games that have lovely stories and sweeping adventures. There were no new RPGs.

(Square Enix's showing, by the way, was an absolute joke. Here they had an opportunity to impress the world or even just prove that Final Fantasy Versus XIII actually exists; instead they sheepishly showed off a demo that we all saw last June, then made promises for the future. The slow death of Final Fantasy is very hard to watch.)

This isn't unusual. Of last year's five major E3 press conferences, there was a single role-playing game showed: South Park: The Stick of Truth, presented by the show's creators at Microsoft's dull presentation. Outside of rare exceptions, like Dark Souls II making waves at the VGAs a few months ago, Japanese role-playing games almost never make appearances at these big industry shindigs.

The common response to this might be: well, most people just aren't interested in JRPGs. They're niche. The world is waiting to be impressed by Sony's Next Big Thing: how do you do that with games that can't even sell 100,000 copies?

You don't. I don't expect Sony to spend presser time showing off the new Etrian Odyssey or teasing the next Persona with the same fervor they throw at Destiny or Killzone.

But I also don't think JRPGs are quite as niche as everyone thinks they are. Last week, over 100,000 people were interested in reading about modern JRPGs that are worth playing. And look at Ni no Kuni, the delightful RPG by Level-5 and Studio Ghibli. I thought it would bomb; instead, it's topping charts in the UK and breaking pre-orders here.

There's a question I see asked a lot: "Have I grown out of JRPGs?" It's usually prefaced by "Boy, things sure were great during the Golden Age," and maybe a list of the inquirer's personal favourite RPGs from the late 90s, when the gaming world was trying to emulate Final Fantasy VII instead of Call of Duty.

Today's ex-JRPG fans see mediocrities like Final Fantasy XIII and Infinite Undiscovery, games near-unplayable to anyone without a high tolerance for whining, and they assume that those games are representative of the genre as a whole. It's unfortunate. And the stigma has driven mainstream gaming away from JRPGs.

Maybe we can do something about that.

Let this be a call to action. I want you — you, reading this right now — to get your voice out there. I want you to talk more about the games you love. I want you to make more demands. I want you to swarm Konami's Facebook page for Suikoden news and join petitions begging Square to bring Bravely Default: Flying Fairy to the West. I want you on social networks and message boards and video game publisher e-mail hotlines telling them that yes, JRPG fans do exist, and we want to buy great games: we just need the opportunity.

I want you to make it clear to companies like Sony and Square Enix and Nintendo and everybody else out there that yes, there are JRPG fans out there. A significant number of JRPG fans. Some of us are happily playing games like Ni no Kuni and Fire Emblem: Awakening; others have lost faith in Japanese developers after being burned by recent failures.

I can't be the only one feeling disenfranchised with a gaming world that seems to have turned its back on the genre I enjoy most. Maybe it's time for us to speak up.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


    Personally, I want to see more J-RPGs on the Wii U because of the potential that the GamePad brings to menus and interfaces.
    Even seeing some HD remasters of classic Atlus released games like the Shadow Hearts series or new or remasters Tales of games (still miffed that Tales of Vesperia never got its Western PS3 release).
    Though some strong and new J-RPG titles for the PS4 would be good, I'd wait to see what games on the system look like before I start making wishes.
    But people should be pestering Mistwalker for some next gen games, since they have interesting ideas but hamstring themselves with technology (releasing on the 360 and Wii respectively).

      I wonder how XenUblade uses it. I assume it'll have a minimap, the skills and character HP/MP bars.

      Who knows though! But it'll be good to help clear up screen clutter.

    Now that I think about it, I may have actually got excited about the PS4 if there had been an interesting RPG presented. Of course, I liked the look of Infamous: Second Son, but I still love me some good J-RPG. :D

    I would assume that a large-scale RPG likely takes more time to create and debug than an 8-hour shooter built on an existing engine. And if we're talking JRPGs, you've got localisation work over the top of that. Plus the general longstanding problems in JPRGs getting any kind of Western release at all. I would have been very surprised to see any kind of quality JPRG being promised for within six months of launch.

    And if you look back at launches since at least the era of the PS1, it's really hard to find any JRPGs, ever, that were worth playing and which launched within six months of their console. Even within 12 months, it's not a long list.

    It sometimes feels like the last thing left that'll be (semi)close to a proper RPG is Pokemon. Odd, odd stuff.

    Never understood what happened myself, PS1 was the golden era of Rpg's and it was what dominated the top 10-50-100 lists of the generation, its almost all rpgs.

    Now I have to wait 5+ years between good ones this entire generation? Lost Odyssey and then Tales of Graces (vesperia sucked) to Ni no kuni (My definite Game of the generation). Thats literally about it. I played eveyr single rpg on 360 and ps3 even ds and these are the only great ones, its honestly disgusting.

    Every time i even read about FF13 and its 2 sequels i wish a tsunami or earthquake would gobble up all of square's studios and data simultaneously, because there is no way a developer can be so disgracefully out of touch with its market to make 2 more games in a series no one fucking liked.

    Side note, i've been ranting about the complete neglect of RPGs this entire generation and it seems every single one of us who does so has been unanimously ignored, pretty sure developers are allergic to rpg money. Because a simple translation of any of the 1000's out in japan would cost less than 100k to get done (without English voices).

    I get that imaginary number from 2 people at 50k a year working 100% on swapping translations,. Easily get done in 1 year or less.

      PS3 Tales of Vesperia was better than PS3 Tales of Graces F. I finished Graces and barely touched New Game+, but then again, Patty all the way :)

      Looking at my collection, the only other one that I think deserves a voice is Nier. I agree that it's not a great game to play, but as JRPG's go it has the heart and story.

    I'm on the other side of the fence. Each year seems to be getting better for JRPG enthusiasts. This year we have titles like Etrian Odyssey IV, Persona IV, Monster Hunter Ultimate 3, Toki to Towa (aka Time and Eternity), Atelier Ayesha, HyperDimension Neptunia: Victory, Persona 4 Golden, Ragnarok Odyssey, Disgaea Dimensions 2, The Guided Fate Paradox, Ys Chronicles, Devil Survivor: Overclocked, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Pokemon X/Y, Code of Princess, Dragon's Crown, and that's just the ones I can think of off the top of my head with several more coming up but with no names or official announcements yet and several older titles being brought westward (recently there was Gungnir and Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time).

    JRPGs are still going strong, you just have to sometimes look under things rather than glancing through the door.

      @ Germinal
      Over half those games in your list aren't out, you can't judge them yet.

      Persona 4 is a re release, monster hunter is a re release with a couple new monsters (i.e. not even a expansion over the wii version)

      Disagea has always been average at best, combat is fun for a while but no story what so ever. Hyper dimensions was a dog, its sequal will likely be more of the same. I could go on, but maybe 1 of those games you listed is actually considered a great game, the rest are all horrible too all but the most die hard fan boys (hyper dimensions) or are just an average game, i.e. completely forgetable.

      This article is about GREAT RPG's not any rpgs that is coming out. I mean there have been quite a lot but they are all shit even when comapred to games 2 generations old, which is the point being made.

      They are supposed to have great spanning stories, open worlds good character customization, voice overs and a fun combat system (be it turn based or otherwise)

      What we get is the same filth over and over again almost no games this entire generation have been good across the bored. Star ocean, worst voices in history KAY. FF13 Worst characters horrible stagnant and linear progession, even lost Odyssey had those stupid kids. Even the alleged great games like xenoblade, it had horrible pacing the side quests gave no proper locations only spawned some of the time and had the most monotonous combat that i gave up on after halfway through. Then you have Last Story, that was even worse, the combat was a joke there was 1 move, that run to circle slash across room repeat, ti had an atrocious story and its pacing was equally droll.

      RPg's this generation are absolute shit, you can be in denial and say "you just have to look for them, or theya re still around", well that's bullshit. I have high standards, which were set because i have seen what games are capable of, i grew up on the PS1 rpgs. To see the state they are in now is disgusting to say the least.

      Its great if your content with mediocrity but don't gives us some BS line like JRPg's are still strong you just have to look for them, as if we have all just completely missed all the good games, its insulting.

      Last edited 25/02/13 10:57 am

    Things aren't so bad atm. We could use more localisations though.

    I too found that the titles shown at the PS4 event weren't very interesting to me. Except watch dogs ofcourse ;)

    here's hoping the PS4 will be hoem to many great JRPG's over the course of its life.

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