All JRPG needs to be liked again is to be gritty.

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You mention ASOIAF and say that most WRPGs base their stuff off of it, but having actually read the books I'm calling bull on that. There might be an occasional political problem in some WRPGs but that hardly means it's taking from Martin. And being "Gritty" doesn't always make it better or even half way mature. Most people liked Skyrim or the Fallouts because they were fun. There was "grit" to it I suppose, but the most fun people have in these games are just doing interesting things, like fighting a dragon, or when apparently killing a chicken the first town you get to, or breaking out of jail, or sneaking around in your underwear to kill unsuspecting innocent people. You might think the JRPG "needs" to be edgy or something, but then you get what isn't a JRPG, and that defeats the point. That's like saying Mario would be so much better if he were in a military backdrop and guns and his name wasn't Mario.

Hey wow it's like they were reading this thread. How timely! http://kotaku.com/5984618/ten-modern-jrpgs-worth-playing

Let's make something clear. Japanese RPGs are not dead. They have never been dead. They will not be dead any time soon.

I've written about this subject before, but every day it seems like there's a new screed, a new attention-grabbing editorial or essay. "Are JRPGs Obsolete?" "Do JRPGs No Longer Matter?" "Has The Age Of JRPGs Passed?" No. Shut up. "Will Xenoblade Revitalize The Japanese RPG?" "Will Ni no Kuni Revitalize The Japanese RPG?" "Will Persona Revitalize The Japanese RPG?" No. Nothing needs revitalizing. Shut up.

1. Define "JRPG" to me that means every RPG made in the country of japan. Your statements make no sense in regard to that entire category.

2. No. For example, I've heard people upset with recent Final Fantasy games because they were unfun not because they had bad stories. Gritty is not going to solve things there are more problems then thematics.

3. No Silver Bullets. No one thing is going to solve all of your problems... ever. Don't suggest that one simple change is going to solve all your woes.

gyrobot:
snip

Really, as people have already pointed out, your words are just what you think would make you like JRPGs. From what I have read on this first page of comments and from experience in the real world and vast amounts of internet surfing, JRPGs still get a lot of love and ones that become loved are still being made.

Every game doesn't have to become gritty and adult to be liked.

gyrobot:
Well lets think for a moment why people hates JRPGs? Because it doesn't fit the current standards expected by the current attitude towards the fantasy genre.

Seriously, statements like this make me sick.

First, you need to define who, because just saying "people" is an encompassing word that when used without a qualifier, usually means the speaker is saying "everyone". All you have to do is add the word "some" in front of "people", and maybe go on to say the reasons you, like "some people", don't like JRPGs.

Second, that second sentence is blatantly loaded and one-sided, and because of that, it is wrong. There is no one attitude towards the fantasy genre(Unless you think your attitude/view is the only one. Then I have to ask, why did you even make such a thread if you think such a thing?)

I also ask, what current standards? But of course I'm guessing you are referring to your standards that relate to your attitude on the fantasy genre.

There is no one true mold or even an evolving standard mold to making JRPGs/RPGs, because most JRPGs/RPGs do things different with each game. Let the creators create what they want to make, let the people that like such things have what they like. You have your games, and other people have their games. Everything doesn't have to be the same, because the same thing day in and day out is boring, standards and molds are boring.

I for one don't watch one type of show forever, read only one type of book, or play only one type of game. I watch, read, and play many types. I would say to you need to broaden your horizons and find enjoyment in new ways of doing things, and if you don't want to do that, don't try and force your likes on other groups to change things to your liking.

Finally, I will add that your last statement is incredibly wrong. Childishness isn't a disease, it is just an aspect in some games, and many people like games that aren't serious. Try using your statement compared to other forms of media. What you said is like saying that we need to stop making children's books, movies, shows, etc, because the world needs to just grow up.

Even though some childishness in some games is that way because children play them, adult gamers still like to play them like that too, just as adult readers/viewers still like to read/watch things that are geared towards children.

Life as an adult doesn't all have to be responsibility, blood, guts, sex, hardship, and tears. It can also be whimsical, free, cute, cuddly, heartwarming, and laugh inducing happiness.

Right, that's why all of Nippon Ichi's incredibly light hearted and comical RPGs are totally hated by everyone who plays them. And why the wildly successful Tales series is the grittiest thing around.

All I want is a little bit of scuff on the cheek when a character get's blown halfway to hell by a giant mechanized robot missile barrage of death.

Also, stop falling hundreds of thousands of feet only to get up completely unscathed with dazed grunt like you're Wile E Coyote.

And stop relegating the final boss to being this unstoppable, indestructible, unbeatable force of pure evil that NO ONE can beat and HUNDREDS have tried to destroy it but couldn't HOPE to beat it, and then have it defeated by the characters learning the power of friendship or believing in yourself or the heart of the cards and then just resorting to beating the shit out of it in turned-based succession like in EVERY OTHER GODDAMN FIGHT YOU HAVE IN THE GODDAMN GAME.

Can we please get off this bullshit notion that "gritty" makes everything good? It doesn't. Gritty is a story aesthetic, not a measure of quality. It's appropriate for some themes and stories, but not for others. Even when it is appropriate, you can do it in ways that suck so fantastically they're like a fictional version of black holes.

crisis core is pretty gritty, go play that. It's not the stereotypical tun based system either. It may suprise you.

sageoftruth:
All this talk about the importance/unimportance of grittiness suddenly has me wondering what would happen if someone made sickeningly sweet versions of Dark Souls and Gears of War.

I immediately thought of this, does this count?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raze%27s_Hell
or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mB6fq9Aadwk

blackrave:

Zhukov:
Isn't that like saying that racing games need to have more dialogue and stealth sections?

Now question is- How you can hide tuned muscle car in shadows? I think neon, exhaust pipe and engine noise will give it away.

Ah, but see, that's what makes it more challenging. Though I'd like to see a stealth kill in that game.

OT:Like most here, I'm getting kinda sick of all these gritty games. Besides, if you think Jrpgs are annoying and wangsty now, wait till they try grittifying it.

Honestly, I'd like to see more creativity and imagination in Jrpgs today, which was the main reason I liked Jrpgs growing up. Kinda sick and tired of the cookie cutter characters which I liken to the Gritty, dark FPS problem in the west.

JRPGs are fucking splendid. The problem with them for me is the anime-ification of the shit. I miss shit like Okage, which was totally silly but carried it's silliness with a good measure of gravity; it became this theater of the absurd kind of thing. Or Chrono Trigger being able to run the gamut from serious and fearful to joyful and pleasant smoothly. FF6 was basically an epic. SMT: Nocturne where the world dies and you either resurrect it in your image or go kill time itself and end the cycle of rebirth. Lost Odyssey (even with those damn twins) was amazing for it's scope and emotional gamut, too.

Most JRPGs that are coming out now always seem to want to dip their toes in some kind of nonsense, whether it's getting all those silly anime tropes in the narrative (Persona 3 and 4), absurd and overly flashy cinematics (FF13), or pointlessly byzantine mechanics (Resonance of Fate, Ni No Kuni). I want the JRPG genre (which is a stupid ass name for it, since we're really referring to a set of systems incorporated into some RPGs, and not just where the games are from) to get away from over-the-top antics, empty, maudlin anime platitudes, absurd design decisions, and get back to telling me some good ass stories, good ass combat, and characters that I can enjoy (I don't care about me being able to relate to them; I mean, can anyone honestly tell me they relate to Mr. "Jeepers Creepers! Neato Frito Bandito!" himself, Oliver? Or Cloud "I'm a nutty emo who falsified his entire life" Strife?)

Twilight_guy:
1. Define "JRPG" to me that means every RPG made in the country of japan. Your statements make no sense in regard to that entire category.

2. No. For example, I've heard people upset with recent Final Fantasy games because they were unfun not because they had bad stories. Gritty is not going to solve things there are more problems then thematics.

3. No Silver Bullets. No one thing is going to solve all of your problems... ever. Don't suggest that one simple change is going to solve all your woes.

TLDR: JRPG is the name for the particular genre of RPG that developed in Japan during the NES and SNES era. The term as used by gaming buffs today has nothing to do with location of production.

I could write a book on this. I will try to keep it short.

There is actually a great deal of confusion over the term JRPG. Because the genres of video games are not well defined and they are constantly being mixed together there is no set dictionary of terms. JRPG actually has no proper meaning. However, the term JRPG does have a particular and important casual meaning among gaming buffs.

JRPG is a historical term. Back in the day (late SNES and early PSX era) there were basically 2 main styles of RPGs. The style of RPG created depended pretty much entirely on where it was being developed. You had the RPGs being made in Japan and the RPGs being made in the west. Hence, JRPG (Japanese RPG) and WRPG (Western RPGs.) They both had complex progression systems and highly abstracted combat systems (which is generally what RPG meant back then) but that is where the similarities end. Mechanically these progression and combat systems played out very differently. There were also significant style differences.

JRPGs were heavily focused on a linear story with premade character. Playing a JRPG was like being an actor in a play. You participated in the story and added your own style to how that story played out, but you had no real influence over how the story progressed or ended.

Western RPGs went the exact opposite route with the story. The greatest possible emphasis was placed on player freedom. The promise of the WRPG is that you can go anywhere, you can say many things, you can do many things. You customize every aspect of your character. Your actions will directly influence the game world and how the story progresses.

Japanese RPGs tend to have far more fantastic elements while Western RPGs would tend to stay grounded. For example, there is a famous point in Final Fantasy VI where you can suplex a train. Final Fantasy IV had you traveling to the moon on an air ship and fighting giant robots in a world that was ostensibly medieval themed. WRPGs would tend to stay in a more grounded fiction, similar in style to the Tolkien books.

Thus, JRPG is actually a genre and does not refer to RPGs made in Japan. I will list a few JRPG examples for you so you can have a frame of reference:

Final Fantasy (all of the main line games except XI and XIV)
Chrono Trigger
Nier
Penny Arcade's On the Rain-slick Precipice of Darkness parts 1-3 (and soon 4)
Earthbound

bananafishtodaywins:

Yea, like this!

+

I personally don't think JRPGs need something like 'grit' to connect to an audience of this age, I'll just vote that the stories just need teeth, so to speak. I miss a sense of fear in JRPs; this peaked for me in FF7 as a kid (then again, I may be a bad judge; I had fear issues with Donkey Kong Country too); I found the secrecy and periodic violence of sephiroth somewhat unsettling, but definitely attention-grabbing. The most recent game that has brought this feeling would be Fire Emblem: Awakening, by mechanic of permanent character death. Whether prepared or (much more often) unprepared for a character death, 'twas a shock, since there's a good amount of character exposition between themselves...if they live through the next battle.

Overall, if JRPGs could stand to change, I'd be intrigued to see a developer put some more emphasis into elements of mystery, or perhaps horror. But who knows, but if we're going to continue stereotypes, one of the last things I want to see continue is 'JRPGs' catering to western audiences. In all seriousness, a JRPG should cater to the national audience it is developed within; I'll wager it lends to the story. You leave it to 'other' audiences' discretion to enjoy them.

gyrobot:
But what do people expect from the fantasy genre now? To emulate ASOIAF, the political intrigue, the brutal cynicism and ultimately be as mature as possible. The funny thing is that JRPGs at one point was like that with Ogre Battle, Valkyrie Profile and Xenogears which served as the greats of JRPG. When JRPGs made the shift to making stuff lighter in content, WRPGs picked the ball up, using ASOIAF rather than Tolkien as their inspiration and has sold well compared to JRPGs which is becoming mostly kiddier.

So for JRPGs to be liked again, I recommend tossing in a bit of ASOIAF, some mature content and call us in the morning. We will dismiss the Turn Based stuff as part the genetic makeup of the genre. But the childishness is a disease that needs to be cured

I... wow.

First off, A Song of Fire and Ice is only meh. I enjoy the show (Game of Thrones) but the books are a giant snooze fest.

Secondly, I don't know what kind of crack you are smoking if you think that Xenogears (the best RPG ever made) in any resembles Low Fantasy. There are freaking MECHA in Xenogears - hence the title. There are magical spells (Ether).

A Song of Fire and Ice is the definition of Low Fantasy - magic is rare and terrifying, Dragons are extinct (to start with anyway), and there are no races besides humans.

Most RPGs - including Western RPGs - are set in a High Fantasy universe (which has spellcasters as semi-common, has Elves and/or Dwarves of some sort, and plentiful dragons) based vaguely on Dungeons and Dragons.

By the way, Tolkien is actually "Middle Fantasy" - it has dragons and spellcasters, but both are rare.

Dragon Age is High Fantasy - plentiful spellcasters, multiple races, and tons of Dragons. And it did just fine.

Xenogears is a Sci-Fi-Fantasy hybrid. It contains magic that is explained by science, Mecha and other modern devices, Dragons, and multiple races (Humans, Demi-Humans, and Chu-Chu), so it falls on the High Fantasy side of the spectrum. Plus, again Mecha.

Finally, Xenogears is fairly light hearted for most of the game. It has that perky JRPG feel to it - and then things go to shit. Compare to FF7 which is darker and grittier to start with.

So yeah... not helpful. Besides, JRPGs of late have often been darker (Dark Souls, for instance). As a fan of JRPGs, I have absolutely no interest in playing those games, because I want to play an ACTUAL JRPG that feels like one.

You know what the best JRPG to come out lately is? Xenoblade. Which is light-hearted (Friendship is a major mechanic) and has a fan-service animal ala Chu-Chu as one of the playable characters.

So yeah, your theory is wrong and makes no sense. Also, learn about what you're talking about (Low Fantasy vs High Fantasy) before you open you mouth and insert your foot.

Sonic Doctor:

gyrobot:
snip

Really, as people have already pointed out, your words are just what you think would make you like JRPGs. From what I have read on this first page of comments and from experience in the real world and vast amounts of internet surfing, JRPGs still get a lot of love and ones that become loved are still being made.

Every game doesn't have to become gritty and adult to be liked.

gyrobot:
Well lets think for a moment why people hates JRPGs? Because it doesn't fit the current standards expected by the current attitude towards the fantasy genre.

Seriously, statements like this make me sick.

First, you need to define who, because just saying "people" is an encompassing word that when used without a qualifier, usually means the speaker is saying "everyone". All you have to do is add the word "some" in front of "people", and maybe go on to say the reasons you, like "some people", don't like JRPGs.

Second, that second sentence is blatantly loaded and one-sided, and because of that, it is wrong. There is no one attitude towards the fantasy genre(Unless you think your attitude/view is the only one. Then I have to ask, why did you even make such a thread if you think such a thing?)

I also ask, what current standards? But of course I'm guessing you are referring to your standards that relate to your attitude on the fantasy genre.

There is no one true mold or even an evolving standard mold to making JRPGs/RPGs, because most JRPGs/RPGs do things different with each game. Let the creators create what they want to make, let the people that like such things have what they like. You have your games, and other people have their games. Everything doesn't have to be the same, because the same thing day in and day out is boring, standards and molds are boring.

I for one don't watch one type of show forever, read only one type of book, or play only one type of game. I watch, read, and play many types. I would say to you need to broaden your horizons and find enjoyment in new ways of doing things, and if you don't want to do that, don't try and force your likes on other groups to change things to your liking.

Finally, I will add that your last statement is incredibly wrong. Childishness isn't a disease, it is just an aspect in some games, and many people like games that aren't serious. Try using your statement compared to other forms of media. What you said is like saying that we need to stop making children's books, movies, shows, etc, because the world needs to just grow up.

Even though some childishness in some games is that way because children play them, adult gamers still like to play them like that too, just as adult readers/viewers still like to read/watch things that are geared towards children.

Life as an adult doesn't all have to be responsibility, blood, guts, sex, hardship, and tears. It can also be whimsical, free, cute, cuddly, heartwarming, and laugh inducing happiness.

When I talk about the people, I am talking about the general audience who isn't a JRPG fan yet, they like some sense of familiarity. One trend nowadays in media entertainment is to do adult retellings (Snow White and the Huntsman, G&G Witch hunters) or be as far away from escapism as possible (Craig Bond, NBSG, Walking Dead). Escapism is seen as a negative in entertainment at the moment, from people complaining about Overstrike being too "kiddy" (cue the Fuse Gritty reboot) to the bashing of JRPGs, there is obviously a lack of appeal in terms of escapism and more appeal towards "validating entertainment" aka stuff that makes people count their blessings.

And for angsty characters we can care little about that, the problem is how they cope. Do they cope by crying about it or do they end up like Jim Raynor, a man betrayed by the one who turned the revolution into a despotic regime who was content to leave him alive as a pariah, a man who lost his girlfriend who becomes a psychopath who achieves her dreams of revenge. How did he cope? Substance abuse and for other guys like him, maybe a couple session of carefree sex.

All while brewing his own means to snap back at those who wronged him.

gyrobot:

When I talk about the people, I am talking about the general audience who isn't a JRPG fan yet, they like some sense of familiarity. One trend nowadays in media entertainment is to do adult retellings (Snow White and the Huntsman, G&G Witch hunters) or be as far away from escapism as possible (Craig Bond, NBSG, Walking Dead). Escapism is seen as a negative in entertainment at the moment, from people complaining about Overstrike being too "kiddy" (cue the Fuse Gritty reboot) to the bashing of JRPGs, there is obviously a lack of appeal in terms of escapism and more appeal towards "validating entertainment" aka stuff that makes people count their blessings.

Wasn't Overstrike changed because of focus groups? From what i found so far they changed it because some 12 year olds in their focus groups thought it was too kiddy. Besides, plenty of games are popular without being gritty. Borderlands, TF2, pokemon, every single Nintendo game, most mobile games. This is going to be a huge generalization but fuck it. When most developers make "gritty" games they usually make it to appeal to immature people, because kids like games like call of duty. The type of people who like actual well made gritty won't be the mass audience. Look at Witcher 2. It sold decently well, but it's still considered very niche.

There are a few things i'd like changed in the JRPG genre, but tone and aesthetics isn't it.

And for angsty characters we can care little about that, the problem is how they cope. Do they cope by crying about it or do they end up like Jim Raynor, a man betrayed by the one who turned the revolution into a despotic regime who was content to leave him alive as a pariah, a man who lost his girlfriend who becomes a psychopath who achieves her dreams of revenge. How did he cope? Substance abuse and for other guys like him, maybe a couple session of carefree sex.

All while brewing his own means to snap back at those who wronged him.

Never played starcraft, but from your description i would choose neither. I'd like someone who does a bit of both. I got bored of the macho vengeance filled invincible action hero who lets nothing phase him after the second god of war game.

gyrobot:

When I talk about the people, I am talking about the general audience who isn't a JRPG fan yet, they like some sense of familiarity. One trend nowadays in media entertainment is to do adult retellings (Snow White and the Huntsman, G&G Witch hunters) or be as far away from escapism as possible (Craig Bond, NBSG, Walking Dead). Escapism is seen as a negative in entertainment at the moment, from people complaining about Overstrike being too "kiddy" (cue the Fuse Gritty reboot) to the bashing of JRPGs, there is obviously a lack of appeal in terms of escapism and more appeal towards "validating entertainment" aka stuff that makes people count their blessings.

And for angsty characters we can care little about that, the problem is how they cope. Do they cope by crying about it or do they end up like Jim Raynor, a man betrayed by the one who turned the revolution into a despotic regime who was content to leave him alive as a pariah, a man who lost his girlfriend who becomes a psychopath who achieves her dreams of revenge. How did he cope? Substance abuse and for other guys like him, maybe a couple session of carefree sex.

All while brewing his own means to snap back at those who wronged him.

So in other words, you just want all games to look and feel the same? Well, I guess the discussion is over, there can be nothing more said here. We can all go home, our work here is done.

erttheking:

I mean, there's nothing wrong with a dark story, but it's not a standard every piece of fiction in the world needs to meet.

I agree. I likes me some gritty stories. But I also like variety. I don't get why people need so much sameness to enjoy games. A bright colourful world? KILL IT WITH FIRE!

No.

They need either more efficient storytelling and pacing, better or more fast-paced combat systems, quicker mechanics introductions, more non-linear worlds, or less completely scripted moments that make you feel like you're just endlessly trudging from one place to the other in a manner set up by the developer so you'll be guaranteed to be at the perfect level to face the next boss when you get there.

Not saying it's an all or nothing with those, those are just the big complaints I have about most of them.

I like to think that JRPG's are good as long as they at least have good story and characters, at least that's my idea of a good JRPG.

I know games like Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Rasphony: A Musical Adventure, and Lunar: Silver Star Story stand among some of the most successful JRPG's becuase they focus well on story and character development.

I don't see how making them 'gritty' would make games like those better, the light tones that JRPG's are known for are the bread and butter of those games.

That would be if Bioware decided to have a Dragon Age game that doesn't have fantasy elements deconstructed, or if Mass Effect didn't have aliens, or if the Legend of Zelda games had none of the tools is known for and gave you literally only the sword and shield to work with.

Need I go on?

People don't like JRPGs because they don't like JRPGs. I'm a big fan of RPGs, but I wouldn't be caught dead playing a JRPG, no matter if it's happy or gritty.

JRPG's make me cringe these days. If they weren't made strictly for teens or 12 year old's they might be tolerable. I can't stomach the way they act and the way they talk any more, maybe 15+ years ago. WRPG's typically have them beat in almost every circumstance, minus one or two.

I think Disgaea is the ONLY one that I can possibly tolerate any more, don't ask me why.

Yeah... no. The one and only reason I like JRPG's still is because they usually aren't gritty or macabre. In fact, games really need to lay off the gritty realism because gaming is starting to feel more like a job I hate and less like a fun activity. It's the reason I still buy Nintendo products, they supply light-hearted, fun and visually appealing games amidst the lodes of amorphous, black bulk that other developers seem to be putting out.

So... many... acronyms...

Anyways, I disagree. There's lots of space for the Fables out there, so there should be plenty of room for the light-hearted fantasy JRPGs. The most common complaint I hear about modern-day Final Fantasy isn't "it's too bright", it's "it's too soap-opera like". Maybe if we dropped the most common anime tropes and got better translation and script, they'd be perfectly enjoyable in their current aesthetic.

Exius Xavarus:

While I'm not a large fan of FF13, I'd rather play that, than play GTA4. Largely because I dislike GTA as a whole. :x

I liked FF13 but I can see why other people don't. It's definitely not the best FF game.

EDIT: I'm glad that there are so many people giving such great reasons as to why JRPGs should stay exactly the way they are:)

Mr.K.:
Well maybe you want that but I don't.
I will gladly play JRPGs if they just shed the spread sheet mechanics and don't waste my time, but the anime style they should never throw away, just go easy on the emo shit, or give us an option to make those characters explode into gory bits.

Daystar Clarion:
In my humble opinion, JRPGs don't need to be grittier, they need to be less like a bad soap opera.

I couldn't stand FF13 for that reason. So goddamn cheesey with no selfawareness of said cheesiness.

Two posts in and the thread has been won.

Seriously, I just wish they would cut down on the bizarre over designed characters in skimpy outfits, have something that doesn't look like shit, have some faith in the player (that means no 20+ tutorials) and write good stories rather than having the same boring one note cardboard cutouts.

klaynexas3:

gyrobot:

When I talk about the people, I am talking about the general audience who isn't a JRPG fan yet, they like some sense of familiarity. One trend nowadays in media entertainment is to do adult retellings (Snow White and the Huntsman, G&G Witch hunters) or be as far away from escapism as possible (Craig Bond, NBSG, Walking Dead). Escapism is seen as a negative in entertainment at the moment, from people complaining about Overstrike being too "kiddy" (cue the Fuse Gritty reboot) to the bashing of JRPGs, there is obviously a lack of appeal in terms of escapism and more appeal towards "validating entertainment" aka stuff that makes people count their blessings.

And for angsty characters we can care little about that, the problem is how they cope. Do they cope by crying about it or do they end up like Jim Raynor, a man betrayed by the one who turned the revolution into a despotic regime who was content to leave him alive as a pariah, a man who lost his girlfriend who becomes a psychopath who achieves her dreams of revenge. How did he cope? Substance abuse and for other guys like him, maybe a couple session of carefree sex.

All while brewing his own means to snap back at those who wronged him.

So in other words, you just want all games to look and feel the same? Well, I guess the discussion is over, there can be nothing more said here. We can all go home, our work here is done.

I want morally complex characters, to make people question themselves in life. To show how sometimes we are not steadfast and well-adjusted and altruistic but can be petty, self destructive and self loathing. Western gaming is not afraid to give extremely fatal flaws to the heroes in general and make them pay dearly for it.

If a hero must angst, they will do it through rage and decadence rather than crying about it

gyrobot:
But if that is the case, why do people love to watch HBO? Why are games emulating ASOIAF?

Answered your own question there. Game of Thrones is popular, therefore a lot of recent fantasy will copy it to cash in on the popular fad.

Why do you think MMOs started running heavy with the cartoonish graphics after WoW went big? Why do you think Gears of War led to a surge in third-person "gritty" scifi shooters?

Emulating a popular fad does not equal quality. What "JRPGs" need to do to be "liked" is not suck, just like any other game.

But what do people expect from the fantasy genre now? To emulate ASOIAF,

No God no please no! They need to make another game in Final Fantasy 4 to 6's vein or Chrono Trigger. Those games were engaging even though completely fantastic they still had some interesting issues in their plot and weren't all about spiky hair and weirdass weapons with hybrid battle systems and shitloads of CGI and I could go on and on. I've become extremely cynical regarding jrpgs since Final Fantasy ten's era and I don't think I'll play 'em again, not to mention the eternal grinding involved in mostly all of them.

WRPGs picked the ball up, using ASOIAF rather than Tolkien as their inspiration

Betrayal and intrigue was a thing before that goddamn series was written and is often not the central theme of crpg. Every Baldur's Gate game ever made, Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls don't hold that much similarity with ice and fire.

Just because we could stand for *certain* JRPGs to be less than a long-winded fairy fart of superficial style-checks and overwrought studies in Emo 101... I'm not sure that washing out the colours and sprinkling in more violence and swear words would do much to redeem them. Even if one was to elevate the importance of this or that faction wanting to overthrow another in a sneaky way.

Basically, there is an uncanny valley for the too-cool and too-emotional where people who aren't just *all about* that kind of thing (more power to those who are) give up in shades of disgust.

The sex and the violence is a draw card up to a point, but I think the thing that seals the deal for most people is the verisimilitude, the degree to which you suspend disbelief and just groove on what's happening.

I just imagined Final Fantasy with Gears of War's colour palette and my brain threw up...

gyrobot:
When I talk about the people, I am talking about the general audience who isn't a JRPG fan yet, they like some sense of familiarity. One trend nowadays in media entertainment is to do adult retellings (Snow White and the Huntsman, G&G Witch hunters) or be as far away from escapism as possible (Craig Bond, NBSG, Walking Dead). Escapism is seen as a negative in entertainment at the moment, from people complaining about Overstrike being too "kiddy" (cue the Fuse Gritty reboot) to the bashing of JRPGs, there is obviously a lack of appeal in terms of escapism and more appeal towards "validating entertainment" aka stuff that makes people count their blessings.

And for angsty characters we can care little about that, the problem is how they cope. Do they cope by crying about it or do they end up like Jim Raynor, a man betrayed by the one who turned the revolution into a despotic regime who was content to leave him alive as a pariah, a man who lost his girlfriend who becomes a psychopath who achieves her dreams of revenge. How did he cope? Substance abuse and for other guys like him, maybe a couple session of carefree sex.

All while brewing his own means to snap back at those who wronged him.

JRPGs do not need to change in order for new people to become fans. People will either play JRPGs and like them or not, just like any other type of game. I mean, in Japan western RPGs don't take off as well as they do in the west, so from their perspective it's western RPGs that need to change. What you're doing here is saying that apples need to be more like oranges so that more people can like apples, which is just silly. People will try apples and either like them or not. An apple/orange crossover is welcome, but we certainly don't need to change all apples to satisfy the orange fans, especially when it's just as valid of an argument to say that oranges should change to be more palatable for apple fans.

You also seem to have this impression that JRPGs are on their way out. Why? Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, Catherine, Professor Layton, Pokemon...there are plenty of Japanese games and franchises being released and continued to clambering western audiences, and it hardly needs to be said they go over even better in Japan. Just because your interest in a certain type of game is declining doesn't mean it's on the way out.

Also, why do you consider ASOIAF to be the epitome of fantasy? It's a very specific type of fantasy that is executed effectively, but in many ways barely scratches the surface of what fantasy is capable of. The Hobbit is even more revered than ASOIAF and it has next to no political intrigue. It's an adventure. That's the core of fantasy, really--adventure that is not bounded by the rules of reality as we know it. ASOIAF takes one approach to that idea, but there are many other just as valid ideas that should neither be ignored nor belittled.

And one more thing. You say that the trend in entertainment is to retell classic fantasy stories in an "adult" way, but I would argue it's more specific than that. They are being retold in a sexual way. The way they are being retold is highly sensuous and sexual, which isn't "adult" so much as sexualized. The Lord of the Rings and the Tales of Shannara are "adult" fiction, but not necessarily sexual. That's not to say sexuality isn't a part of being an adult, but it's certainly not the only part, and there are certainly ways it can be handled that are not mature. Also, the very fact that we've got so many escapist stories coming out these days that don't address reality as we know it (Twilight, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments, The Hobbit/LotR, all of the Superhero movies, all of the zombie movies) says to me that escapism is on the rise. Fantasy and sci fi are more accepted than ever in popular media. The Lord of the Rings ran away with 17 Oscars and 30 nominations, I think that says the entertainment world is pretty open to the idea of escapism and fantasy.

I don't think grittiness would make JRPG's popular.

The problem with JRPGs is that unlike Western RPGs, they have not changed. With the new technology, they have stuck to old formulas and rigid, archaic systems. The majority of current JRPGs are garbage. It's the same old item/screen/inventory management that we have seen for the past decade. While it is fun and interesting, its not new. There's nothing revolutionary about it. Sprites have been replaced with (usually) poorly animated 3D models. Turn based combat is usually stale, or if its interesting, the sheer amount of grinding required will make it stale. Gameplay is often sacrificed for the sake of the story.

I think the worst part though, are the tropes which run through nearly every JRPG. Voice acting is generally cringeworthy. The main character is a young, hopeful 14-22 year old or a whiny 14-22 year old. Entire party can be described as: love interest, younger brother/sister type person, big hulking guy who's actually nice, hyper positive person, mysterious person, and cool emo swordsman. One of your enemies will eventually become your ally. Any sort of church or organization or government is evil.
And undoubtedly, the big bad boss will spout nonsense about the meaning of existence and how life is all a lie, which justifies him killing everything. Furthermore, the more existential crisis's you can make the main character have, the better. Stories, the original strength of the JRPG, has become a stale bag of cliches.

Look at all of your favorite JRPGs. It was the strength of their story that made them great. It was interesting combat, or unique customization beyond "biggest number here". It was characters you could connect with, not just hollow shells stuffed with stereotypes. It was villains where you could see the decay into madness.

Don't get me wrong. I've no doubt that most, if not all, of these games are wrapped up in nostalgic bullcrap. Replaying Star Ocean 2 showed me that (still a decent game, but not nearly what I remembered it to be, and not really worth recommending). But what good, NEW JRPGs are out now?

Only one that comes to mind is the Persona series , which brings some much needed freshness into a genre which has refused to grow. (and even that's nowhere near perfect, with its repetitive dungeon and enemy types, and the one-trick bosses). Also Ni no Kuni, from what I've heard. But what others?

ASOIAF was hellbent on subverting everything you love about fantasy genre, nobleheroic faction? Gets destroyed by forces much more pragmatic/evil then they are, chosen one? Dies trying to do the chosen hero act. ASOIAF is a unapologetic depressing tale and RPGs have been wise to follow in the direction of it's low fantasy approach to things.

The problem with JRPGs is right now they are dismissed as a "joke", that they are not up to date with the times, I suggest the simplest course is to deal with the main meat of the problem: The setting and content which have a nice profit/difficulty ratio.

And I agree with you on the last part, JRPG also failed on that. WRPG on average promises softcore sex and the occasional brothel tossed in or at least give you the ability to. JRPG have not been utilizing an artist pool known for drawing porn to their fullest. A couple of softcore scenes will placate the restless crowds I say and bring them up to par with WRPG in the world of sexual content if we are aiming to compete in that.

gyrobot:
I want morally complex characters, to make people question themselves in life. To show how sometimes we are not steadfast and well-adjusted and altruistic but can be petty, self destructive and self loathing.

There you go, highlighted where you shot down your own point.

1) Please stop bringing up Ice & Fire. It's not the first series to attempt "darker & edgier", it's not the best one either. At most it's the most popular, and I'd argue that's mostly because HBO picked it up for a TV show... And that probably wouldn't have happened if it weren't for the success of Rome a few years back. WRPGs dabbled in mature themes years before GRRM started his series. The second Ultima trilogy, anyone?

And Grimdark is not inherently mature. It's the equivalent of a 12-year old cursing every other sentence. To be fair, that does stem from the culture where "adult" means less "for adults" and more "not for children", so the popular expectation is there. But I guarantee you - once adult responsibilities start catching up with you, you're not gonna look for cynicism in your escapism. Then again, the popularity of "darker & edgier" might be the symptom of the culture of irresponsibility that we have in the West right now.

For dark and gritty to be effective, you need something to offset it. Martin fails here, because ASOIAF is all grim, all the time. It's just as predictable as the high fantasy novels it aims to subvert. The Witcher books do it better, because they engage in political satire, occasional low-brow humour and unsubtle cultural references. Watership Down, which is often shorthand for "dark" here on the Internet, throws in lighthearted - occasionally even absurdist - comedy every now and then.

Hell, Discworld engages in some heavy themes and tends to address them well (control through propaganda, historical racism, idealism in a pragmatic world) - and it still manages to be 80% comedy. Which brings me to my next point...

2) "Current attitude towards fantasy" and "moving with the times". What is this mystical "current attitude"? Because what I see is that Tolkien remains extremely popular, Pratchett is sleeping on a pile of money, Patrick Rothfuss enjoys a massive fan following, Trudi Canavan is unwaveringly popular and GRRM is becoming the new Goodkind. Variety, good sir.

And "moving with the times". There's just so much wrong with that statement... Entertainment is not there to follow the leader. It's there to entertain. Works which enjoy the largest success are usually the ones which tried something different (or which copied another work which tried something different, but with a bigger marketing budget). "Moving with the times" and emulating the Current Big Thing is how we got to a place where every AAA game has to be a cover-based shooter. It's the mindset that gave us Troy.

3) I posit to you that Western games need to be less gritty, like here:

image

gyrobot:
ASOIAF was hellbent on subverting everything you love about fantasy genre, nobleheroic faction? Gets destroyed by forces much more pragmatic/evil then they are, chosen one? Dies trying to do the chosen hero act. ASOIAF is a unapologetic depressing tale and RPGs have been wise to follow in the direction of it's low fantasy approach to things.

I would say that ASOIAF is more or less "okay". But Martin (the author, for those who aren't aware) is hilariously arrogant in writing it. We all know his goal was to bring more realism to the fantasy genre, as well as a more balanced perspective. But his idea of "balance" was completely in line with the Dark Age of comic books in the 90s, and his ideas of medieval history write like someone with just information to haphazardly criticise it, but not enough to understand it more broadly. Don't get me wrong -- Martin knows some facts about the Middle Ages. But he doesn't understand those facts. He cannot correlate them. And at the same time as he judges, he gets things wrong, from the social to the economic to the martial.

Here's the measure I use to see whether someone has half a clue or not about the Middle Ages. Do their plate-armoured knights use shields, as in ASOIAF? Then they've missed a whole lot of recorded history and martial knowledge, because shields gave way to the more versatile, easily-wielded, less tiring, quicker and more hard-hitting two-handed weapons of the late Middle Ages. In a series that deals so much with fuedal warfare, this is an extremely basic point. It's one thing for BioWare to get this wrong (they wouldn't know martial validity if it smacked them with a tire iron), but quite another for someone like Martin to do the same, who sneers at the rest of the fantasy genre from a distance.

Furthermore, Martin doesn't provide an emotively balanced tale. It's very dark. Alright, so is life -- sometimes. Sometimes it's not, and I'd say that life is above all else diverse. Martin doesn't portray that emotive diversity, though, so we only get a cross section of potential emotions. Some characters have every reason to be absolutely miserable, of course, but Martin can't seem to write emotional stability at the best of times.

If his historical bungles and weighted emotive writing weren't enough, the books become a structural mess after the third installment. The first three books are actually a decent arc, and I'd say the third book itself is one of the better fantasy novels out there right now. It's an awful shame Martin threw all of that away for the fourth book, in which nothing much happens until the very end. We're left with half the cast we expected stewing in mundanity rather than anything of note actually happening. A poor effort after the excellence of the third book and it put me off the series, and I daresay there's no lack of others who share my experience.

Books like The Red Knight or games like The Witcher (particularly the second one) do much the same thing as Martin with greater emotional diversity, better structure and a superior grasp of the history they're basing their works off. Mind you, ASOIAF isn't overtly bad, but it's received a lot of recognition and praise for what it actually provides. I certainly don't want games like ASOIAF because I imagine they'd be just as narrow-minded, arrogant and inaccurate as said book series. We certainly don't need more pretentiousness or disregard for history in WRPGs, since our current selection seems to have that covered nicely.

As for JRPGs? They have the excuse of appropriation, and many take on fairy tale qualities that disavow the need or advantage of too much narrative complexity or respect towards historical sources. JRPGs aren't at all afraid to display a wide range of emotions, either. Not that I actively dislike WRPGs -- The Witcher 2 is, to my mind, one of the best RPGs ever, from any region of the world under any design principles.

I suspect ASOIAF is popular because it is the longest running book series to fill a particular void in fiction. When you're hungry, think of bread.

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