Do JRPGs Still Matter?

Do JRPGs still matter? We absolutely think so.

Do JRPGs still matter? We absolutely think so.

At PAX East this morning, several media outlets got together in the Naga theater to discuss the future of JRPGs–Japanese RPGs.

Present were Adam Rippon with Muteki, Destructoid’s Dale North, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier and Polygon’s Alexa Corriea.

Jason presented the issue that many believe that JRPGs are becoming outdated, mechanics wise, and irrelevant. Adam responded by stating that as long as the game was decently made and had passion, that it would be a relevant, good game. Dale agreed, referencing Ni No Kuni–the game has aged mechanics, but is still an amazing game.

Is the structure broken?

Jason wonders if the structure of the genre is broken; Alexa thinks that today’s gamer just doesn’t want to invest in a long time sink. But is the JRPG gamer an entirely different breed? Alexa believes they are.

JRPG gamers grew up with these much longer games, and are used to spending 70+ hours on a single game. So it’s no wonder that developers have taken to a mobile platform–now gamers can take the story to the road and they aren’t pressured to fit their gaming into evenings after work or after school. Dale stated “…it’s great that you can save and play anywhere.” It will definitely help the genre survive.

Aspects of the genre

When Fire Emblem: Awakening came up, Jason wondered if FE was even considered a traditional JRPG, given the grid-structured system. Alexa believed that ultimately it is, given that there are still personal connections and character relationships that rarely ever happen in other genres. “We don’t really know how Mario and Peach interact.”

What about combat? The genre generally sticks with a turn-based system. Thirteen, for example, has a gratifying system in that it’s very fast-paced. The Lunar series also came up in being challenging and fast-paced.

The Nostalgia question

Many argue that those who play JRPGs only do so because those are the games they grew up with.

Is the system only desirable to those who grew up with it? Adam thinks that this is true for all genres of games, finding it difficult for older audiences to get into new genres, period. Alexa stated that there haven’t really been any gateway JRPGs, therefore the younger audience isn’t attracted to the older genre. Every coin is two-sided; older and younger audiences don’t find the genre to be approachable. “The whole genre is just… Slow. It’s slow.” 



Except for Pokemon, obviously.

About the author

Katy Hollingsworth

whale biologist.