Cthulhu Saves The World has done pretty well for itself since its release on steam [http://zeboyd.com/2011/07/18/zeboyd-games-revenue-from-steam-exceeds-1yr-xblig-revenue/]. Part of me thinks this is great, especially for the developer, but another part of me is annoyed by the hype the game seems to have garnered. The game is a basic 16-bit era role-playing game that adds contemporary necessities, such as a save-at-anytime feature, and puns the genre as much as presenting another entry into the epic-type story landscape.
This is the wrong type of nostalgia. If something is worth remembering about JRPG’s, isn’t the contrived storylines that repeat themselves in each new offering. What is worth honoring is the sense of adventure and the mechanics that made the endless bashing of monsters appeasable, if not outright fun. Case in point: while most would agree that Final Fantasy VIII had a more compelling story than FF7 managed to produce [a great memorial on FF 8’s story and other improvements: is found here:http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/70336-remembering-the-orphan-final-fantasy-viii/ ], FF7 was infinitely more loved in part due to the fact that the Materia system worked much better than the broken magic system its sequel introduced.
What killed the JRPG is the same adherence to traditional functionality structure that has recently destroyed the music-game genre is stagnating the Call of Duty type of first-person shooters. I wish Zeboyd games all the best, but what I want out of my RPG re-hashes aren’t the same old fighting system with a bit of a tune-up. That is not the reason why I remember the 16-bit era nor should it ever be. It is this type of misplaced nostalgia that killed the genre in the first place, stagnating everything into poorly made rip-off of Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest. Indeed, examples of recent RPG’s that have lauded critical acclaim and good sales are the games that have kept the sense of adventure the genre is so well known for while completely overhauling the dated combat system: DQ IX, Ys: The Oath in Felghana, Persona 3. Instead, what is referenced as a time honored tradition in releases such as Cthulhu Saves The Earth, and somewhat less recently Double Fine’s Costume Quest, is the antiquated battle system. Releases like this point out that it is the battle-system (and the inventory system, as well) that has been systemically retained in the consumers and developers minds as the indicator of a role-playing game, and it is this reason why we will never get to play English versions of some really cool and genre-innovating games like Last Story or Xenoblade. After all, they are RPGs, and those are boring.