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Matt's Musings - Where has my JRPG gone?


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* a shot of rum for courage *

 

 

Let's fire up the NES... wait, it pooped out. Oh well, there's always Final Fantasy and Faxanadu. 

 

Whelp, time to bring up my old standby, my SNES... Ooo, lots of good games. Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy 3, ooo! Breath of Fire 2.

 

Then there's the Genesis. OOO! Beyond Oasis, Shining Force, Phantasy Star 4!

 

Then there's the PSX, super-awesome fun-time! Grandia, Legend of Mana, 3 Final Fantasy mainstays, and a god-awful amount more I can't even begin to count.

 

PS2/XBox? Ehh... Kingdom Hearts? A few futuristic Final Fantasies? Meh.

 

PS3 and beyond? The Disgaea series took off, and the FF series gets... weirder. I dunno man.

 

 

Just where have all the classic-era JRPGs gone? It's pretty hard to find something as awesome nowadays as PS4 or FF4, barring a remake. Just why have we gone from identifying with a dark and tortured soul that wants redemption to watching a movie, clicking some buttons along the way?

 

The only way we have them now is either emulation or ports or remakes. :| 

JRPGs have gone to $#!&. What are your thoughts?

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There are plenty of great JRPGs. Ni no Kuni, The Last Story, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Remnant, the Persona series, Pandora's Tower, Bravely Default, people seemed to like Blue Dragon for some reason. I could go on.

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I guess Atlus isn't relevant. While they may be a bit niche, they have been one of the few companies to continuously produce excellent JRPGs, even if the ones that only get attention are those damn Persona 3 and 4 games.

 

And eal, I have to ask: when you say the Persona series, are you referring to the entire series or only 3 & 4? Please tell me it's the former rather than the latter.

Edited by YangustheLegendaryBandit
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I'm just referring to the Persona series in general, and that mostly means Persona 3 and 4. Poor Persona and Persona 2. No one cares about you.

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Hmm, honestly it's a matter of perspective.

 

Final Fantasy has always been an evolving door that has looked to alter and change itself, only carrying across certain elements.  Heck they STILL haven't broken the need for a "turn-system", as even FF13 uses one, though aside from the leader, the turns are automatically triggered and cannot be halted or altered directly, only indirectly through the paradigm system.  For all its faults, I actually found FF13's battle system to be fun, if severely lacking.

 

FF12 brought back, like FF9 did, the old equipment system that FF's 7, 8, and 10 had done away with in favour of accessories that allowed practical thinking to accept the fact that costumes weren't changed, and with FF10, were scalable and upgradable.  Which I thought was a nice touch, and this was carried through into 13.  Different, and I prefer full equipment options, but I do like the ability to upgrade and tweak equipment functionality.  I just don't like how 13 implemented it, and the demonic and evil way they force players to spend unbelievable amounts of time to farm enough in-game cash to fully upgrade just 1 weapon...just one, let alone that one needs at least 3 weapon types per person depending on the situation and bonus bosses, and there are quite a few characters to upgrade and one needs at least 8 different armor type equipment PER character depending on the situation, and 3 equipped at any one time.  So...yeah.  3 months to fully outfit a single character.  3 months for the next...then the next, and this is doing it the fast way.  Sure if I had unlimited time and I wasn't bored out of my mind, it could be done in 3 weeks per character, but I digress.

 

You failed to mention that FF has always had futuristic elements, and even some steampunk elements (FF6), even from the very beginning, so technically FF has yet to divert from its core concepts in any game.  Afterall, you have extremely high minded technology in FF1 mixed with medieval elements such a swords, sorcery, stone castles, and even the element of time travel, along with spiritual elements such as orbs that contain the essences of the elements that govern the planet, and sustain the various forces in stable form to maintain life.  It's all been tweaked ever since the first game to favour one or another element in one or another game.  FF5 was technically the otherwordly.  I mean you fight a damn sentient tree that was awakened from the combined force of evil that was trapped within it, creating a single entity from many...he is Legion, and he's a damn plant that looks like a man!  Nevermind Gilgamesh, and the last world of the game.  I mean c'mon the various elements of all previous FF's for me just compliment and are simply expanded and also complimented by all future titles.  I just don't like how FF13 was a poor attempt to copy-pasta FF7's storyline to "relive" the glory, and had too much bloody Nomura...I just don't like his art style.

 

 

I don't know what to tell you Matt, but I actually like the expansion and direction of most JRPG series.  What's interesting is you feel they've cleanly severed themselves from their roots, while the largest complaint is that JRPGs are too "similar" to their ancient counterparts, and have yet to truly expand into new horizons, try new things, and are based almost solely on nostalgia.  Personally I can't agree with either argument, as there is something for everyone.

 

SMT has definitely seem a bit of a graduation, but the basic play structure, much like FF, remains mostly unchanged (perhaps a little more, since FF12 allows for "free movement" even if the hitbox says you're no better standing 50ft away as you are standing 1 inch from the enemy, so it's for show and to make running away more realistic...oh wait, they follow and can still nail you from 50ft).

 

There are definitely a slew of old school style games.

 

 

What does upset me though, and I can feel you on this: why haven't we seen any love for Lunar?  Lunar 2 certainly does NOT end the storyline, as Lunar 1's ending is just as much a finalization of the story as Lunar 2's, and yet they found a way to make 2.  Sure they've made parallel storylines, like Lunar Magic School, and a ton of remakes and rereleases, but no real new Lunar game and storyline.  There's plenty to work with for prequels even.

 

Then there's Phantasy Star, of which 3's story clearly indicates that 4's ending is premature to assume as "the end" and that it's merely like all other dark force defeats, thus even the ultimate darkness that creates Dark Force is so intrinsically linked to the universe that it can never truly be destroyed, just...reduced to near nothing for an eon or two, much like Sauron was reduced to an ash cloud but eventually reformed.  Of course this brings up the scares in players hearts of SEGA's handling of PSO episodes 1, 1+2, and 4.  The fact they never even finished 1+2 as several key parts of the game, like the Red Ring drop that is supposed to be the main reason to keep hunting Dark Falz on Ultimate, was never unlocked, but was never outright stated that it was planned as a permanent lock-off and a mistake...I mean they never took it out of the game, and it carried into Episode 4 on PC.  Then there's PSO2, which has a full English translation, anywhere from 20-40% of all players are from the US and Europe, and yet they refuse to release it here or in Europe.

 

Then there's the Phantasy Star remake debacle, which has me wondering where the heck is SEGA's head?  Clearly stuck deep in the dark recesses of its own fecal factory.  Nevermind that Sony holds some blame on the US release, which they could have helped release and lightly promoted since there are avid and rabid PS fans...just enough to pull an Atlus release, and heck Sony is no stranger to small releases.

 

 

Then there's Breath of Fire AND Megaman Legends.  Two of Capcom's best IPs.  Two of Capcom's most LOYAL fanbases (I swore by BoF games, bought them first day every time).  Yet what to they with Legends?  Ignore the last Japanese release like it never happened, then despite clearly decent sales, never do anything with new IP's right?  However that doesn't compare to the treatment of BoF.  I mean they kind of shot themselves in the foot with 5. 

 

You want a real overhaul argument Matt?  BoF5 is a strategy RPG, when it was a traditional RPG franchise.  Sure they're both turn-based, but the mechanics are quite different, not to mention the story is drastically altered in comparison to the previous games.  Ryu is no longer the "powerhouse" of dragon's, just the weakest who has a chance of possibly becoming the strongest due to some odd elements related to the connection with dragon souls and the will/drive of the individual.  Nina is no longer a Princess of Windia...heck there is no Windia, and the world is deep underground.  Granted BoF 5 boasts one of the deepest character storylines of the will and drive to become strong, survive, and eventually find freedom.  It's a story of perseverance of the spirit of an individual, and sacrifice.  It has some of the most unique story elements (you live underground because the world above was rendered uninhabitable, and air too contaminated to breath)...not to mention the musical score is utterly fantastic, but it's still almost like the difference between FFT and FF1.

 

Anyway, my two cents.

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I'm just going to redact what I had posted in this comment since it wasn't relevant to the conversation and was more so my thoughts on a certain series, but I will say this:

 

Yes eal, no one cares about Persona 1 & 2 these days (not even Atlus themselves) and it is a shame.  They are always overshadowed by 3 and 4.

Edited by YangustheLegendaryBandit
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Something I've been noticing about JRPGs these days is that all the good ones come out mostly on handhelds. There are still some awesome console ones that continue to release (as already stated, Atlus games, and various single titles from different companies), but, I lean more towards my 3DS and PSP for JRPGs.

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On the subject of Persona...

 

I loved 1 and 2. 

 

 

And ignasia, I never thought about BoF5. I avoid that game like the plague.

 

And furthermore, I'm a bit backwards with Lunar. I -really loved- the original Sega CD release of the title. The ending was perfect, and it set it up for a sequel with the original cast.

 

 

Alex losing his powers at the end of the remakes REALLY PISSED ME OFF. He got his dream! He became a Dragonmaster! Then it's gone. Poof. I preferred the original, where he keeps his powers. Hell, Dyne lost his in an epic way in the original too. Fighting and killing the black dragon, of all the things.

 

 

 

I just truly miss the days of the old RPGs. While handhelds and Atlus arguably offer some of the old-school charm, look at what is happening to some of our favorite series. Breath of Fire? Mobile game. Mana series? CARD-BASED mobile game. Lunar? Dead. Final Fantasy? WTFMATE. It's a moviegame now! Saga? Dead too. Persona? ... The King ALWAYS WINS MOTHER$#!&ER. Oh, Lufia? NOPE. Phantasy Star? There's a PSO2, with no news whatsoever. Dragon Quest? Well, we got the remakes? 

 

I hope with this new indie crowd with titles like Soul Saga and Pier Solar coming, we see a resurgence.

 

 

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Final Fantasy? WTFMATE. It's a moviegame now! .

I don't believe I'll ever understand this criticism of "modern" Final Fantasy.

 

Jrpg's are pretty linear affairs. Being strung along from Point A to Point B while being presented a story is what I expect; and yeah, that's pretty movie-like. That's what Jrpg's do. If I need to play a game with the illusion of freedom I can play something like an Elder Scrolls title.

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They keep remaking SaGa games, but we NEVER see them here.  EVER.  Square Enix pretends they don't exist, as they do with every product they aren't officially stating will be released.  SaGa also kicked itself in the face with the last new installment.  Granted it's a fun game once you get into it and understand the rules, but it's a totally new game in almost every way but one: stat growth.

 

As for Mana, if they did not attempt to make SD4 less like Mana and more like Dark Cloud married Rings of Fate, it would have been more popular, they kicked the Mana fans to the curb with that debacle.  It did not help that Mana 4 was pretty awful compared to the games they copied, when technically SD was the first JRPG of its kind, a true original in every way in gameplay design and party mechanics for SD2, and had built a fanbase around that style of play.  You don't fix what ain't broken, and SD2, 3, Legend of Mana all had gameplay that is very popular this day and age, the problem was always the cutesy art style for LoM, and lack of support too (I never heard of it until a year after release then frantically picked up a copy for fear new copies may soon disappear...and they did).

 

Where's a new Star Ocean?  Granted 4 had a god awful story and terrible 1-sided predictable characters, but play mechanics in battle are pretty tight, and the creation system was an improved version of 3's (still prefer 2's system).  All they need are better writers.  They have infinite possibilities to work with.  Past and future elements with even the same characters.  What happened to Claude and Rena?  Where's Fayte Linegod now, and who did he end up with in cannon?  Or ignore all that and hit up another planet, perhaps some users decide to have some "fun" and alter the mechanics in order to subvert and take over the system as a whole, and this is their experiment on one lone planet in the far reaches of space to test their attempt at universal domination.  Unlucky for them, it was previous explored and colonized, and while there is limited contact with the rest of the universe, a message gets out of a possible invasion...

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What a coincidence, just hit chapter 2 in FFD, using a save editor though, I want lot of JP and the AP band#.

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The Saga 2 and Saga 3 remakes for DS were really incredible, it is sad that they didn't come here. You can find some let's play on youtube they are amazing.

 

At least we did see Romancing SaGa's remake.  Though, I would kill to go after Ashura once again though, with vast gameplay improvements!

 

Also where are the other two Romancing SaGa remakes?  Personally I prefer 2's unique character system...and the specialized army battle system... and 3's story, definitely 3's story.

Edited by ignasia7
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  • 1 month later...

There are plenty of great JRPGs. Ni no Kuni, The Last Story, Fire Emblem: Awakening, Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Remnant, the Persona series, Pandora's Tower, Bravely Default, people seemed to like Blue Dragon for some reason. I could go on.

Yes, those are awesome RPGs actually.  I guess we're still all waiting for  Squeenix to put their money where their mouth is for the statement of how well Bravely Default did and how they are having to rethink their strategy.

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They're still being made.  Just not localized anymore.

 

Currently playing through FFD again.  Way better than Bravely Default

4 Heroes of Light had a better story than Bravely Default, that is sure. (Replaying it is on my to do list). For a so called "old style" game, it was surprisingly deep on many level (both story and gameplay)

 

Final Fantasy success always had been a mystery for me. For almost every other game serie, you know what to expect from new games. There may be some change, but the chores gameplay are at least the same (There is more similarities between DQVII and DQIX, than between FFVII and FFIX).

 

But FF game could all be named differently without any noticeable difference (just rename chocobo and moogle to something else, basically. And add a new victory fanfare). The more extreme example is FFX-2 who is nearly the exact opposite of FFX in term of gameplay and feeling.. Even the musics was entirely changed. (I actually prefer X-2, because it embraces the inner sillyness of the game.)

Why SE based most of their strategy on a serie whose main point is to reinvent itself completely each itteration is behin me.

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They're still being made.  Just not localized anymore.

 

Currently playing through FFD again.  Way better than Bravely Default

4 Heroes of Light had a better story than Bravely Default, that is sure. (Replaying it is on my to do list). For a so called "old style" game, it was surprisingly deep on many level (both story and gameplay)

 

Final Fantasy success always had been a mystery for me. For almost every other game serie, you know what to expect from new games. There may be some change, but the chores gameplay are at least the same (There is more similarities between DQVII and DQIX, than between FFVII and FFIX).

 

But FF game could all be named differently without any noticeable difference (just rename chocobo and moogle to something else, basically. And add a new victory fanfare). The more extreme example is FFX-2 who is nearly the exact opposite of FFX in term of gameplay and feeling.. Even the musics was entirely changed. (I actually prefer X-2, because it embraces the inner sillyness of the game.)

Why SE based most of their strategy on a serie whose main point is to reinvent itself completely each itteration is behin me.

 

I think the point about the similarities you point out with IX and VII really point out flaws in the FF series.

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