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After reading Eugene Kang’s “Complexity is Killing the JRPG,” and the point/counterpoint from B. Chambers and Jon Porter about whether JRPG’s need to be fixed or not (not to mention the 120+ hours of Dragon Quest 9 I’ve played,) I’ve, understandably, had Japanese role-playing games on the brain.
I personally don’t have an opinion on whether or not the genre – or sub-genre, if you prefer – is in need of a tune up. I’m more interested in what’s going to happen than what I hope to happen.
With that in mind, I don’t see how the JRPG – or rather, what we recognize as a JRPG – can survive on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Nintendo Wii, or any future home console.
Referring back to Kang’s article, the Japanese RPG is becoming too complicated…on consoles. His example of Final Fantasy 13 with its complex paradigm shifts can be overwhelming for even veteran RPG players.
I don't even begin to understand this. What's the bonus even for?
But simply simplifying modern JRPG’s doesn’t fix the problem. Take a game like Blue Dragon for instance. It’s about as vanilla a JRPG as they come, and it was universally panned for it.
The Catch 22 of the situation is that gamers appear to want a more complex style of game, but the more complexity and layers and crap thrown into a game, the less of a JRPG it becomes. Thus, the JRPG as we know it will become extinct, giving way to a new genre unrecognizable from the Japanese role-playing games we are familiar with (though the term JRPG will likely survive.)
But for those of us displeased with the path the genre is taking, there remains one last bastion: handhelds.
120+ hours of this, and I'm still completely hooked.
The Nintendo DS series, PlayStation Portable, and even the iPhone have proven that the classic JRPG style can live – and thrive – in this day and age on these systems. Recent releases Persona 3 Portable and Dragon Quest 9 are selling quite well and are good examples of classic mechanics and styles with updated interfaces and visuals. And with games like Golden Sun: Dark Dawn on the horizon (there might be an unintended pun in there,) the future for JRPG’s looks to be long and strong.
…at least, on handhelds it does. What do you guys and gals think?