JRPGs do emotions really well, says the veteran developer, and that’s what studios should focus on.
As part of discussion with Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata and Xenoblade director Tetsua Takahashi, Final Fantasy creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, suggested that JRPGs are a little bit too stuck in their ways, and developers will need to start shaking things up if they want to appeal to an international audience.
Iwata put forward the idea that JRPGs tended to struggle in the West because developers used the same tricks and routines over and over. Sakaguchi agreed and said that developers should be focusing on conveying details and emotions, which is where he thought that JRPGs were particularly strong. It was these elements, he said, above any others, that would really get Western gamers interested in the genre.
This isn’t the first time that Sakaguchi has been critical of other JRPG developers and their lack of innovation. In April last year, he started a mini-feud with Final Fantasy Gaiden director Takashi Tokida via Twitter, suggesting that he should stop making “Final Fantasy rehashes.” The two men have worked together on a number of different games, however, so it’s possible that that was a playful dig, rather than a genuine condemnation. It’s also not the first time that a Japanese developer has been critical of the Japanese industry as a whole. Keiji Inafune, formerly of Capcom, was a noted critic of Japanese developers, saying that most were lagging behind their Western counterparts, and that Capcom was only just keeping up.
Sakaguchi’s latest game, The Last Story – which he claims is anything but a Final Fantasy rehash, despite what the title might suggest – comes out in Japan on January 27th. As yet, Nintendo has not confirmed that the game is coming to the West.