JRPGs Live On

Lauren Gugwor


– [post-date] –

Lighting Returns: Final Fantasy XIII will release in autumn 2013, but not many people know that since the 7th generation of gaming, mainstream interest in Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) has been in decline. As gaming becomes more of a common pass time, busy gamers struggle to focus or finish even 10-hour games, much less spend 50-hour RPGs. But why did JRPGs become popular in the first place?

“Dragonstomper” , was released on the Atari 2600 in 1982; it was one of the earliest console RPGs. Throughout the early 80s to mid 80s various computer ports to the NES helped lay the foundation for Japanese Console Role-playing games (known as JRPGs or light RPGs in Japan). In 1986 Enix released “Dragon Quest”, which laid the foundation for future RPGs such as story telling, character development, adventure, character classes and user friendliness. Though Console JRPGs truly began to distinguish themselves from their PC counter-parts in the 1990s (known as the golden age of JRPGs) as PC RPGs began to move toward avatars, Console JRPGs began to move toward pre-made characters with back stories and became more action based known as Active Time (ATB). Console JRPGs truly reached its evolutionary in innovation storytelling, 3D, CDs and CGI/FMV.
With the recent release “Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch” some believe it’s the new age of RPGs, but did the JRPG industry ever really leave? But what about “Knights in the Nightmare”, “Z.H.P. Unlosing Ranger”, “The World Ends with You” and “Radiant Historia”? The JRPG industry never really died, it just moved to the handheld systems. Due to high production and localization costs, many publishers rather not risk publishing titles like “Final Fantasy: Type 0 to the West”. Though one doesn’t always need a Wii or a DS/3DS to experience a good JRPG. “Persona 4: Golden” just might be the best game on the Vita since its release. Sure, developers do need a nudge in the right direction here and there (i.e. releasing “Xenoblade” to the U.S. and Europe,) but why save an industry that’s still been thriving in plain sight ?

Though the popularity of console JRPGs has declined as well as the number JRPG console releases (there have still been a fair amount, more than enough to completely dispel any illusions that JRPGs are “dead”), handhelds have become the platform for developers. The only thing that died this generation is the series that some fans of the industry desperately hang on to, not the JRPGs themselves but the series from the generations before.