Please Stop Asking If JRPGs Are Making A Comeback

Please Stop Asking If JRPGs Are Making A Comeback
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Every once in a while, someone must stand up and ask the Essential Question Of Our Time: are JRPGs dead? Today it’s PBS, asking in their regular video series — which is usually quite good — the most trite question imaginable: “Are JRPGs making a comeback?”

Their thesis is twofold:

1) JRPGs are dead (as host Jamin Warren says: “Over time, the unthinkable happened: the JRPG kinda died.”).

2) The “JRPG” is now being revived through turn-based role-playing games made outside of Japan, like South Park: The Stick of Truth and Child of Light. So yes, JRPGs are making a comeback — they’re just not coming from Japan.

But this isn’t the first time this conversation has been raised — the question has become something of a tradition in the world of video game websites both big and small. Let’s go back in time a little bit: – April 15, 2014: Are Turn-Based RPGs on Consoles Making a Comeback? – January 7, 2014: Fallen From Grace: Can the JRPG Make a Comeback? – August 19, 2013: Are JRPGs Making a Comeback?

VG247 – January 30, 2013: Are JRPGs about to explode?

Venturebeat – December 28, 2011: The JRPG Comeback – September 24, 2011: JRPGs: Why They Are Making a Comeback in the West

Examiner – September 18, 2011: Are JRPGs Making a Comeback?

So there are two possibilities here:

1) The entire JRPG genre has spent the past four years in a constant state of comeback, bulging and expanding like a cell in mitosis.

2) This whole damn premise is faulty in the first place, because JRPGs have never actually needed a comeback, as evidenced by the fact that pundits look around and asked questions like “are JRPGs making a comeback?” every single year.

In 2011, games like Radiant Historia, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, Tactics Ogre, and even Dark Souls left people wondering “are JRPGs making a comeback?

In 2012, games like Xenoblade, The Last Story, Final Fantasy XIII-2, Persona 4 Golden, and a whole bunch of Ys titles left people wondering, “are JRPGs making a comeback?

In 2013, games like Ni no Kuni, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and Tales of Xillia left people wondering, “are JRPGs making a comeback?

When is everyone going to realise that JRPGs are and have always been doing just fine?

Yes, it’s fair for PBS to look at turn-based RPGs like Stick of Truth and Child of Light and wonder whether it’s OK to consider them JRPGs, as boring as a question that might be. It’s also fair to wonder why so many Japanese developers have switched focus from big-budget console development to mobile and handheld gaming. But it’s just silly to ignore the successful slate of Japanese role-playing games released well after the PlayStation took its final polygonified breath, and it’s silly to act as if the genre is dead, dying, stale, obsolete, archaic, or in need of a comeback.

No, JRPGs aren’t making a comeback. Stop asking.

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


  • JRPGS aren’t making a comeback because they never died in the first place. The only reason it seems as if they died is because a lot of them stopped getting published in English and stayed Japan only.
    It would be fair to say that in terms of popularity, they are coming back, but they never went completely away. They only went away in terms of mainstream success. Personally I have never stopped loving and playing JRPGS.
    But to fraise the main question differently. You could say that Yes, JRPGS are making a comeback in the west.

  • Jrpgs never died they just became less popular. When ff7 was popular it wasn’t competing against games like gta for example

  • To be honest I think this is more a case of people being blinded by the idea that for something to be big, it has to be Western. Because JRPG’s aren’t being made by everyone in the West, they must be dying right? And when the west make JRPG’s, it must mean they’re about to explode right? As if something can’t be popular unless it’s popular in Europe and America

  • One only needs to look at all the games coming out in japan at the moment to see this is wrong. Persona 5 for instance plus the new Tales of game. Hell we’re getting Tales of Hearts R for Vita….something that seemed almost impossible just last year, plus Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment as a digital title (at least for north america).

  • Didn’t like, most news sites for games say something along the lines of Bravely Default saved JRPGs. Or like, they’ve made a return. Heck Kotaku sung its praises for Bravely Default so loudly it may as well have. 😛

  • OT: You know what I think IS making a comeback? Old school isometric RPG’s like Baldurs Gate and Planescape:Torment. Look at the games in production with massive backing. Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Torment – Tides of Numenera.

    Which is good, cause BG2 is one of my all time faves.

  • South Park and Child of Light aren’t exactly what I’d call JRPGs. South Park is very much a WRPG, and Child of Light is a WRPG adapting ideas from a couple of JRPGs without being one itself.

    But yes, JRPGs died once, just like PCs and consoles. Now they’re back (like PCs and consoles). In Pog form.

  • JRPGs seem to lag a bit around the start of each console generation. There were relatively few JRPGs on the big consoles for the first couple of years of the PS3, except for those sponsored by Microsoft on the 360. There are no JRPGs scheduled for the PS4 for the first year or so of its release, as far as I know.

    I suspect it’s just a generational transfer thing.

    Later in the generation they get much more common. We’ve had quite a selection in the last three months or so.

  • Jrpgs never died. However, just like Nintendo games, they have just become repetative and boring by todays standards of games.

    Id rather spend my free time playing a game like Uncharted or GTA5 than another cliche JapRPG.

    • To be fair “cliche and repetitive” is all rather subjective…

      I mean mechanically speaking FPS, Sandboxes, Platformers haven’t changed much since their birth as a genre.

      What one person perceives as “repetitive” would be an “immersive” experience to another player. Different strokes and all that jazz..

  • All games genres go up and down. Once people play something for a long time they will try to find a new experience. Unfortunately for JRPGs they like to recycle story tropes which can cause genre fatigue for people. That isn’t to say western companies aren’t guilty of the same thing but when you play a turn based game it isnt a fast experience. Western developers avoid tutn based so the game has a faster pace and flow.

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