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#1 Posted by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

It seems like almost every JRPG is this way. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Ni No Kuni, Kingdom Hearts, Persona. Their stories all feel like they were written by teenagers. I’ve struggled to get through almost every JRPG I’ve played in the last 10 years, except for Persona 5, in which the gameplay alone pushed me along. Why haven’t we seen JRPGs with more adult story lines? Where is the Witcher or Mass Effect of JRPGs? At this point it’s feeling stagnant, like the genre is just doing the same thing over and over again.

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#2 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

DQ11 had some really good stuff in act 2. Generally moving and emotional character moments. Otherwise, yes, they do; that is what they do. They've decided to cater to that audience and I guess stick with it.

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#3 Edited by Slag (8157 posts) -

Why haven’t we seen JRPGs with more adult story lines? Where is the Witcher or Mass Effect of JRPGs? At this point it’s feeling stagnant, like the genre is just doing the same thing over and over again.

The general impression I've gotten over the years is that these companies view their target audience as early teen Japanese boys and they still do. So they try to cater to what they perceive to be the whims of that market and if the West likes it too? great. But that is the business reason is the reason characters like Hope and Vaan have been inserted into Final Fantasy games where they don't seem to fit and why nearly every JRPg is a riff on the Hero's Journey starting with a young boy in a small town.

But I wouldn't expect much change until people can convince the Japanese publishers that adults are their biggest customer base.

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#4 Edited by BoOzak (2573 posts) -

You're right, but most western RPGs also involve toppling ridiculously evil bad guys/organisations/monsters, it's just different shades of simple storytelling. Even RPGs like the Witcher (Wild Hunt) and Mass Effect (Reapers) devolve into this.

If you're specifically talking about twee characters then yeah, that shit can be especially annoying in JRPGs.

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#5 Posted by imhungry (1115 posts) -

Your stated complaint is that these games feel like they were written by teenagers but it seems like your problem is more that they're largely about teenagers. Because it's totally true that a vast majority of JRPGs star younger casts, which I can understand being tired of, but as a pretty big fan of Witcher and ME, I definitely wouldn't call the plot of those games 'adult' or any more inventive than the average JRPG plot, they just happen to involve adults, blood, violence and nudity. There are certainly mature story threads in those games but those are also there to be found in a lot of JRPGs too, even if the overarching plot in the game is fairly standard.

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#6 Edited by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@imhungry: I guess my point is that games like The Witcher and Mass Effect are about more than just “we’re all friends on an adventure and we’re gonna go kill bad guys!” Of course they have a big, evil enemy like any kind of fantasy or sci-fi thing but they also tend to have a more nuanced, emotionally resonant story with plots that don’t bang you over the head with the most worn out and obvious story beats. Even when fighting against the big enemy there’s also human drama and politics thrown in there, in subtle shades of good and bad. They also tend to have a lot of cool side stuff going on that don’t directly pertain to the main story, something that JRPGs seem to be severely lacking in.

Anyways I think Slag hit the nail right on the head. Most JRPGs are about the hero’s journey. That trope is so worn out at this point. I guess even some naive storylines could be refreshing at this point if it wasn’t that same old trope.

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#7 Posted by Efesell (4477 posts) -

Ehh, I would at least dispute the notion of both of those games not smacking you in the face with obvious tropes.

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#8 Edited by cikame (2793 posts) -

Could just be due to the culture of where they're made, they love colourful, bright and fun things in Japan, and while there is space for grim stories (i'm assuming Death Note is grim), you're just as likely to see a grown man watching an anime about fun loving school girls.

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This translates to game stories, while our writers strive to create ever more depressing worlds full of politics, gender issues, race issues, mental issues, death and despair, plenty of JRPG's will have fairy tale stories and juvenile characters. Not to say JRPG's are vapid no far from it, but there's a lot more room in them for jokes and silliness, which can also lead to people becoming more invested in the characters and story.

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I don't know about you, but my favourite moment in Persona 4 isn't the murders, kidnappings, world ending fog or other drama, it's the shenanigan filled camping trip, and for better or worse you just don't get that with western RPG's.

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#9 Edited by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@cikame: Funny you mention Persona 4’s camping trip. I mostly disliked that whole thing.

Anyways I think there’s some levity in western RPGs. There’s that whole sequence in The Witcher 3 with him getting drunk at Caer Morhen, I loved that. Just one example but there’s plenty more across western RPGs.

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#10 Posted by FacelessVixen (2577 posts) -

I don't know about you guys, but my idea of an "adult" JRPG (given my knowledge or lack thereof of Japanese culture) just revolves around being stressed due to six day work weeks and occasionally going to bars and hostess clubs to unwind; basically Catherine but significantly more mundane.

So honestly, though I'm not really a fan of them either (despite appearances), I appropriate the various sophomoric adventures as a foil to the "adult" western RPGs for the sake of variety. Besides, their educational system is pretty strict (again, give or take my knowledge of Japanese culture), so creating teenage characters and putting them on an adventure including the ever-so-ubiquitous high school setting can be a type of fantasy/form of escapism for them.

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#11 Posted by OurSin_360 (6158 posts) -

The shin migami games like persona seem to be what you would want.

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#12 Posted by Fezrock (727 posts) -

There's been a handful of exceptions, at least among what I've played (which certainly isn't everything), but overall, yeah, you're right. That's what JRPGs are; I assume that's what Japanese audiences like.

The exceptions I've played are: Final Fantasy XII (if you ignore Vaan), Tales of Berseria (especially the first half, the second half does start getting bogged down with a more traditonal plot). Nier (if you count it as a JRPG). Suikoden 3 (well, 2 out of the 3 storylines ), and Resonance of Fate (2 of the 3 characters are younger, but none are like usual JRPG characters).

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#13 Edited by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@fezrock: I really wanted to get into Nier but I hated that first sequence so much and then died at that saw blade boss and just didn’t have it in me to do it again. That does however sound like an exception, it’s just too bad I didn’t like the gameplay at all. Maybe I’ll give Berseria a try.

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#14 Edited by Efesell (4477 posts) -

Might just be a situation of just sayin' "I just don't really like JRPGs" and not bothering about goin' to find the one in however many that changes your mind briefly.

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#15 Edited by Vortextk (944 posts) -

I liked the characters in berseria but I hate playing that game. I quit past halfway in because nothing about running around this boring ass world with annoying combat was fun, but if you want different kinds of jrpg characters sure that has it.

Also I don’t know if fezrock wasreferring to nier or nier automata, but the first game is also very not standard jrpg. If you can’t play action games and automata is off the table nier is...not exactly that, but similar to.

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#16 Posted by Onemanarmyy (4316 posts) -

I feel like i should check out Vagrant Story. That seemed to be quite a different setting & tone compared to most RPG's at a quick glance. Interested to see what's up with that.

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#17 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

@onemanarmyy: That’s one of the most interesting games in my “I want to play list” personally. I did play a good chunk forever ago, when the ps1 graphics cinematic style intro(like cinematography, not cgi) wow’d me nearly 20 years ago, but the game has a fucking brutal difficulty curve and system learning which has kept me away. My save file was literally stuck because I didn’t have a weapon for the right affinities or types or whatever and I didn’t do any damage to the boss I was on.

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#18 Posted by Veektarius (6409 posts) -

I'm not going to try and tell you your complaints aren't valid, I think that, like anime, JRPGs are a genre with a lot of capacity to encompass many different tones of story but which generally represent a pretty narrow range of tropes. Ultimately, the only solution to your problem is to stop holding out hope that they will change, because they've been playing on the same overly earnest/sentimental/highschool plotlines for the past ten years and they're not showing many signs of stopping.

I'm sure that most Japanese are similarly disinterested in our output - when you think about it, it's a minor miracle that they produce as much content that we're interested in as they do.

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#19 Posted by Mittens (10 posts) -

@onemanarmyy: it is a different setting and tone from most JRPGs (though similar to other Matsuno games), but since it's a dungeon crawler, narrative elements stay very much in the background. You spend the whole game in a single abandoned location, and interact with very few NPCs.

Lots of depth to it though. In some ways more reminiscent of Shin Megami Tensei games than Square games.

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#20 Edited by Mittens (10 posts) -

JRPGs had times when they were more ambitious narrative-wise. For example, PS1-era Square, or PS2-era Atlus (there isn't much naiveté in SMT : Nocturne). Ever since JRPGs have lost popularity in the West, devs seem to have become more conservative in that regard. Played Ni No Kuni 2 recently; the Suikoden-like elements pulled me through most of the game, but every time one of these characters spoke, I felt like quitting. Makes me a bit sad.

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#21 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15698 posts) -

Japanese RPGs definitely love them some young, idealistic shounen protagonists. As someone who has, for better or worse, gotten a lot more tolerant of that stuff - and anime bullshit in general - over the last few years, I'd still describe it as an "acquired taste." I've found a lot of my recent JRPG favorites to be ones that focus a lot on characterization, even if the plot itself still revolves around a bunch of anime dinguses trying to save the world. It's like half the reason I've gotten into the Tales series, which often take initially tropey characters and develop them until they feel more interesting and well-rounded. Playing Tales of Vesperia, I can definitely say that Yuri Lowell is much more of a utilitarian smartass than your average JRPG protag, and I find him pretty great.

That said, for all the counterexamples I could give (main-series SMT has its share of plucky youths, but also literal YHWH as a final boss sometimes), I do think it's okay to say "These sorts of games aren't for me" and put your time somewhere else. I'm not convinced Western RPGs are much more sophisticated or mature, but it is fair to say that JRPGs tend to follow a certain template. If that template doesn't work for you, the only thing exceptions do is prove the rule.

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#22 Posted by Humanity (18725 posts) -

I think it's just how they do stuff over in Japan. A year or two ago I decided to try and get back in the swing of anime and started watching this Gundam show which was highly rated at the time. It was your standard story but it featured this one character, a young aristocrat girl that started living with the hardened orphans that piloted the Gundams. Over the course of the show it became so incredibly grating how this girl kept being so surprised by war, poverty, social class inequalities - you know the typical stuff that a "fancy rich girl" wouldn't know about.

Seems like this is a common and I can only imagine enjoyable trope if they keep recycling it constantly. Teenagers trying to get a grasp on their destiny, fighting the status quo of the world.

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#23 Posted by Slag (8157 posts) -

That said, for all the counterexamples I could give (main-series SMT has its share of plucky youths, but also literal YHWH as a final boss sometimes), I do think it's okay to say "These sorts of games aren't for me" and put your time somewhere else. I'm not convinced Western RPGs are much more sophisticated or mature, but it is fair to say that JRPGs tend to follow a certain template. If that template doesn't work for you, the only thing exceptions do is prove the rule.

Definitely agree with all this

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#24 Posted by Casepb (674 posts) -

FF XII is the most adult FF game I've played. I remember not liking it at all when it first came out because I was a teen and it felt boring. I appreciate the story much more now playing the remaster.

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#25 Posted by berfunkle (179 posts) -

For me, JRPGs are a guilty pleasure. Like eating a whole box of ice cream in one sitting. I don't expect anything complicated.

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#26 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8864 posts) -

There are a few quirky RPG Maker-style games out there that fulfill this role for me. I'm thinking mostly off the top of my head of To the Moon and Sometimes Always Monsters, but there others worth checking out. That said, I definitely agree that there should be a wider breadth of storytelling in JRPGs - and really, RPGs in general.

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#27 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (7537 posts) -

Dragon's Dogma is a JRPG, but it is done VERY much from a western story and art perspective. It not merely a jRPG because Capcom Japan made it, it has a lot of the trapping under thr hood of how jRPGs function just without the constant cute dilague in towns or between party members. (...Oh, the people in your party talk, they can talk a lot, it just not -"fluff".) The main story is like most jRPGs about a "chosen one"; there are random battle, but like modern jRPGs you can avoid or run from these; lastly that game is full of cool monsters that have "moves" or "a system" they player has to figure out to defeat them.

With that said do not expect much exposition or heavy handed storytelling after the first few missions. The story is not weak or not there, it just that after the first few hours that game just moves along with subtle pieces to teh puzzle until near the end where exposition and cutscenes pick up. In some sense, Dragon's Dogma simply does not repeat itself or care to remind the player what going on, it expects any player to be following along without needing to remind them like a child.

If you like the mechanics of JRPGs, but truely do not want the fluffy characters & story - then Dragon's Dogma. DD is a jRPG with almost zero "kawaii"; there is so little cute in the game At most there is one character- a witch - who is hundreds of years old, but who is perpetually look 15 years old; and there is a lady knight who is 5' 1" who is an ass to you until she breaks down crying if you choose the proper dilague choices. That is the only hints of "kawaii" in much of the game...maybe a bit of double entendre in some dilague that feel a bit Japanese RPG.

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#28 Edited by 11111110 (66 posts) -

@slag : There's some truth to this, the marketing of video games in Japan is almost entirely targeted at students and unemployed adult otaku. I can't speak to how accurate it is, but that's the common perception in Japan of who plays console games. And there's some data to back it up, the average Japanese adult works longer hours and spends far less time at home. Whereas its not uncommon for an adult in the west with a full-time job and family to still find 1-2 hours a week to sit in front of a console. It's gotten to the point where the Japanese government has considered implementing more regulations to limit overtime as a measure to actually boost the economy and consumer spending.

Portable gaming is another matter, everyone has a smartphone.

Someone else commented that a lot of JRPGs are "pure fantasy" and don't address modern-day socioeconomic issues like western RPGs try to. Which is false, many of them do explicitly political messages, about Japanese issues. Unsurprisingly a lot goes unnoticed by people outside of that culture. Persona 5 had a lot to say about Japan's current (nationalistic) government! And to westerners, FFXIII has the appearance of a sci-fi dystopia and not, say, a commentary about a Japanese economic system that eagerly and permanently casts out anyone that breaks from the rat race even for a second. As bad as the employment prospects for American ex-cons are, it's magnitudes worse in Japan. And people with college degrees who dare quit find their employment experience not worth much, because the biggest employers in Japan prioritize hiring fresh graduates whom are expected to serve for life.

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#29 Posted by fisk0 (6867 posts) -

I'm not convinced Western RPGs are much more sophisticated or mature, but it is fair to say that JRPGs tend to follow a certain template. If that template doesn't work for you, the only thing exceptions do is prove the rule.

I'll say western RPG's definitely have two or three templates as well. I was hoping the CRPG revival would result in more experimentation after the beat for beat remakes of Baldur's Gate and Planescape Torment were done with, but I've been really bummed out seeing that they were just followed by more games that are essentially the exact same thing.

Nobody seems to try to do another Jagged Alliance, Alpha Protocol (not in gameplay, but in themes and setting), or even another Arcanum (though Divinity: Original Sin has hints of that), they all just seem content in retreading the same grounds but this time without the Forgotten Realms/AD&D licenses ... but as similar as they can get them without getting sued.

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#30 Posted by someoneproud (563 posts) -

@imhungry: I guess my point is that games like The Witcher and Mass Effect are about more than just “we’re all friends on an adventure and we’re gonna go kill bad guys!”

Mass Effect is 100% this... also pretty guilty of a typical "hero's adventure" trope. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of western RPGs I like but they do still largely follow the 'gather a band of heroes to beat the world ending big bad' template, same as most JRPGs. JRPG protagonists just happen to be teenagers most of the time.

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#31 Posted by NTM (11750 posts) -

I've seen way too many JRPG's that deal with stories about 'friendship equals power!' kind of BS. It's very cringe-worthy to me and I wish they went in other directions. I mean, I don't have an issue with the group element and them overcoming an enemy (I mean, in the Mass Effect games, that's an awesome part to look forward to in the end), but the dialogue in many JRPG's points it out every time in the worst, most derivative way. Really, it's anime. My brother plays a lot of JRPG's, and any time he gets to a point in the game where they talk about overcoming hardship because of the friendship they have with others, I just shake my head. I thought Kingdom Hearts 3 did some fun things with it though. Anyway, that might not be what you're talking about exactly, but it's one of the biggest annoyances I have with the genre.

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#32 Posted by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@ntm: That’s definitely part of what annoys me.

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#33 Posted by ArbitraryWater (15698 posts) -

@fisk0: I mean, there are a couple of recent games I think are very much not trying for the classic D&D fantasy setting. The Wasteland games doing the post-apocalyptic Fallout kinda thing, the Shadowrun games doing Shadowrun's goofy fantasy/cyberpunk mashup, and a couple smaller games are getting a little more weird and experimental with their settings. (see: Underrail, Serpent in the Staglands, Aeon of Sands, Copper Dreams etc.) but I totally get what you mean.

We've talked about this a little, but I think it's two things: A. CRPGs are still on shaky ground. You have stuff like Divinity Original Sin and its sequel (deservedly) selling over a million copies each, but then you hear stories about Pillars of Eternity 2 and Torment apparently selling poorly despite raising impressive crowdfunding sums, or Tyranny's poor performance turning Paradox off from ever wanting to fund another RPG. It's still very much a corner of the industry trying to play it safe, and safe in this case means trying to make something like those successful, beloved games from 20 years ago.

B. For better or worse, the history of the genre is pretty entwined with Dungeons and Dragons (starting with Wizardry and Akalabeth and moving on from there) and thus high fantasy has always been way more of a default (which is a pity, since there are plenty of D&D settings that would make for great esoteric CRPGs. Bring back Dark Sun you cowards.) Fallout kinda made way for the post-apocalypse, and KotOR made enough room for Sci-Fi stuff, but once your setting gets a little too weird, the game never quite seems to sell all that well. Games like Alpha Protocol, Arcanum, and Vampire the Masquerade Bloodlines have dedicated cult followings, but never quite did well enough to warrant a sequel (or in Troika's case, save the company from its demise.) And then you have whoever owns the Jagged Alliance IP pumping out crappy games over and over again for the sole purpose of making @sparky_buzzsaw cry.

This is only tangentially related to the forum thread at hand, but I felt inspired enough to just kinda go on for a bit. I have opinions on RPGs, it turns out.

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#34 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8864 posts) -

I’ll add another meandering thought. Tropes sell. Familiarity sells. Superhero films get audiences despite you knowing exactly what’s going to happen. People drown themselves in reality TV, police procedurals, doctor shows, whatever. Genre writers can’t escape the characters and worlds they build for fear of fannibalism. Yes, I made that word up. Yes, I know it’s fucking awesome.

Point is this. You want to see something different? Support something different.

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#35 Posted by kid_gloves (498 posts) -

Its a specific trait of japanese genre fiction, its not even particularly unique to JRPGs which IMO are less overrun by hero's journey than they are coming of age stories. A good example would be the Yakuza games, starring a man who starts in his late 30s then eventually is near 50 by the end of his arc, Kiryu is every bit as naive and idealistic as your typical JRPG lead. I think it comes down to a larger focus on ideals as a story telling device, they are less interested in gritty details and minutia and more on bigger ideas that divide or lead people/groups. You point out the plucky heroes but just as common is the well meaning idealistic bad guy who believes what they are doing is for the better of all. I do not see this as a bad thing or even an annoying thing, its just a different perspective on plot and character..... the very good ones do more with it and develop beyond cookie cutter characters and tropes while the lesser games use it as a crutch. As others have pointed out the western style is just as trope heavy and filled with identical plots but just with different tropes they focus on, to me an idealistic romp for well meaning good in a jrpg is an antidote to the countless gruff cynical everyone and everything is fucked tales coming out of the west. They are different types of unrealistic, in the jrpg sense it is realistic that a person would believe those things and work towards them..... unrealistic that they would accomplish much with it; for the western ones its realistic that a world is not black and white and good doesnt always triumph.... but unrealistic that the violent cynics are or would be heroic in any way (I BELIEVE IN NOTHING BUT KILLING THE BAD GUYS).

Anyways its not counter to your criticism of JRPGs sharing a lot of DNA but a game series like the Falcom Trails series or the Suikoden games take those starting points of common tropes, then just go the extra miles developing the characters and situations into being far more complex and interesting. Suikoden with its plots of civil war and family, Trails with its intense focus on developing every character (even npcs) into being fully formed 3d characters. And honestly that is what tropes are for, they are a shorthand so that we can understand a character quickly and get up to speed, the good stuff builds off that. Tropes are not bad.

There are JRPGs that deviate from this stuff, but they are rarely the big budget mainstays. Absolutely never expect DQ to be anything but what it has always been, the series is great but its almost about being a comfortingly similar tale each time, FF is designed to market to the largest base possible. Try stuff more off the beaten path, SMT games are rarely about coming of age (outside persona), the tactics genre is usually not as well so try Tactics Ogre or Front Mission. Radiant Historia is a really overlooked DS (and recently re-released on 3DS) traditional time hopping jrpg starring an adult mercenary with loss issues. The Shadow Hearts games are really good too (getting kinda expensive though) in their strange setting and oddball characters. I would stay away from Tales of games, I enjoy them enough but they are jrpg/anime trope heaven and much of the enjoyment is getting to know the characters and seeing how they will slightly tweak expectations of those tropes game to game.

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#36 Posted by TurtleFish (231 posts) -

Also, don't forget that as you grow older, your own tastes can change, and your time available changes. I've been playing video games for 35+ years (I'm older than Jeff by a few years) - I went through the "I need more sophisticated storytelling" phase about 20 years ago :) and, in the past few years, I've discovered a hard swing back to simpler stories because games have become way more about escapism than they used to be for me.

But as other people have pointed out, most JRPG authors have a target audience, and while they may adjust things to try and increase reach, their target audience is their target audience -- and that's true of most genres. There are very few games that subvert their tropes successfully with mainstream appeal and still maintain their genre fan appeal.

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#37 Posted by Sombre (412 posts) -

Li Tao

I hate to say this friend, but you're probably growing up.

What might have seemed epic and cool and world defining when you were a kid, just doesn't "do it" as an adult.

When I Was growing up, I was playing all the classic JRPGS. Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, etc. They really ticked my box cause I hadn't seen anything like them. Now, as an adult, I've tried playing NNK2 (Finished begrudgingly), DQ11 (Stopped playing at the Colosseum arc cause it was fucking terible) FF15 (Christ that story made ZERO SENSE) and a whole cavalcade of others.

It takes something SPECIAL to turn me on nowadays. I think a big part of it is me playing D&D. Over there, if I don't like a story, I just do something and alter the way it goes. Don't get me wrong, I fucking hate open world RPGS, and love linearity and a good story, but bugger me these modern games are boring

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#38 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2961 posts) -

It's just 'cause the target demographic tends to be kids to young adults, as opposed to wrpgs who aim more for a young adult to old-ass men kinda demographic.

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#39 Posted by The_Ruiner (1774 posts) -

@sombre said:

Li Tao

I hate to say this friend, but you're probably growing up.

What might have seemed epic and cool and world defining when you were a kid, just doesn't "do it" as an adult.

I feel like it's less about growing up and more about it just feeling tired and predictable after a while. So many of the characters are just carbon copies of characters from other games. There's like a trope quota they all hit with zero self awareness and it just starts to become stale.

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#40 Edited by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@sombre: I’m definitely with you that it takes something special. I think the last RPG I really connected with was The Witcher 3 and it’s been 4 years since that came out already. So much about it was just so different, I’m sure largely because it comes from an Eastern European culture that hadn’t made much of a mark on America yet in terms of popular culture. I guess there are probably some tropes in there but what isn’t a trope at this point? I just don’t think the tropes are quite as worn out as the coming of age hero’s journey you typically see in RPGs. There’s definitely a lot of the dark cynicism that people often complain about in western fantasy but there’s also an earnestness there, a heart to it that really pulled me through the story. All without this naive view of the world that you see in JRPGs.

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#41 Edited by Efesell (4477 posts) -

@the_ruiner said:

@sombre said:

Li Tao

I hate to say this friend, but you're probably growing up.

What might have seemed epic and cool and world defining when you were a kid, just doesn't "do it" as an adult.

I feel like it's less about growing up and more about it just feeling tired and predictable after a while. So many of the characters are just carbon copies of characters from other games. There's like a trope quota they all hit with zero self awareness and it just starts to become stale.

Or it's that for a variety of reasons your tastes have just changed. It's not necessarily that something you liked turned out to be bad or that you've just left a bunch of kid shit behind.

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#42 Posted by mathewfinch (23 posts) -

JRPGs are largely inspired by shonen anime and are mostly targeted towards the same target demographic as people who consume shonen anime.

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#43 Posted by Sombre (412 posts) -

@sombre said:

Li Tao

I hate to say this friend, but you're probably growing up.

What might have seemed epic and cool and world defining when you were a kid, just doesn't "do it" as an adult.

I feel like it's less about growing up and more about it just feeling tired and predictable after a while. So many of the characters are just carbon copies of characters from other games. There's like a trope quota they all hit with zero self awareness and it just starts to become stale.

@sombre: I’m definitely with you that it takes something special. I think the last RPG I really connected with was The Witcher 3 and it’s been 4 years since that came out already. So much about it was just so different, I’m sure largely because it comes from an Eastern European culture that hadn’t made much of a mark on America yet in terms of popular culture. I guess there are probably some tropes in there but what isn’t a trope at this point? I just don’t think the tropes are quite as worn out as the coming of age hero’s journey you typically see in RPGs. There’s definitely a lot of the dark cynicism that people often complain about in western fantasy but there’s also an earnestness there, a heart to it that really pulled me through the story. All without this naive view of the world that you see in JRPGs.

Both totally valid and thoughtful points :)

I have this weird...thing that I do nowadays. I START a lot of RPG games, and never bring them to fruition...or play them AT ALL.

Take for example, a handful of RPG games that I started in the last...6 months? I'll be expanding on what I posted earlier:

Dragon Quest 11: Boring combat and awful music was the nail in the coffin. The fact that at level 1 I was doing 18 damage, and 20 hours later I was doing 30 damage? I know this is a TOTALLY personal preference, but I like to see my numbers going up significantly. Not "Get 2% damage increase with daggers from 11 to 12 damage". Combine that with some of the absolute worst RPG music I've ever heard, and that was an immediate quit.

Octopath Traveller: This was a tricky one. The actual combat was really well realised, and I enjoyed what I played. The music and art was breathtaking aswell, and I really was into what I was seeing and hearing and playing. What "did it" for me was the story, or absolute lack of it. I HATED the fact that every characters story acts as an individual little tale, because in my JRPG games, I like a culmination of all different races and cultures coming together to fight a greater cause. This was just "Hey it's Olberic's tale and I guess Ophelia, Cyrus and Tressa just happen to be there because...RPG's have 4 party members?"

Xenoblade Chronicles 2: This is still on the table so far. I did the first maybe...hour or two? Then just kinda ended up playing games on my PC. I got up to the point where you meet the blades, and get prepared to go down on their ship. I can already see me disliking how many ridiuculous systems are in it, but I adored XBC on the Wii, so I'm very eager to give this one a proper go.

Pillars of Eternity: A great little throwback to classic CRPG's that I grew up on, like the NW series, and BG games. But I haven't been urged to carry on. I just got to the part where you get the castle and can expand, but I've just been...uninspired to carry on. Like I said earlier, it didn't GRAB me like I wanted it to. I forsee it being really cool, as Obsidian games tend to be, but I need that HOOK that will pull me in.

Divinity: Original Sin 2: I fucking adored this, but the story did NOTHING for me. The game encourages so mucuh side questing and exploring, that by the time you get to a main story hook, you don't have a fucking clue what's going on. A shame, as the combat was best in breed, and the writing was...mostly ok, but kinda boring. I did 50 hours in this, getting up to the Nameless Isle, but I had no desire to finish this off. Disappointing.

I think a part of it has been growing up and getting a job for me, really. I turned 30 last week, and I work a lot more than I used to. I know it's not a lot, but I'm on about 30 hours at work, including 90 minutes commute, so I'm running out of time to play games, except at weekends (And even on Saturdays I have D&D). So if a game doesn't IMMEDIATELY pull me in, I can't afford to waste that time trying to get into it.

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#44 Edited by haneybd87 (390 posts) -

@sombre: Funny you mention the music in DQ11, my first thought when I started that game was "wtf is this shit?" It felt like a bad 90s tv show or something. Luckily I found out there was a mod you can get on PC that puts in Sugiyama's original orchestrals that were apparently not put in due to licensing issues. That solved that complaint at least. I haven't played enough of it to have an opinion on much else but it seems like so far it has the same naivete problem.

As for octopath, I also thought the combat and visuals were amazing but thought the story was abysmal.

Pillars of Eternity 2 and Divinity Original Sin 2 I had the same problem with, I couldn't seem to figure anything out by myself and had to keep looking at guides for anything and got kind of tired of that. Those games are TOO in depth IMO.

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#45 Posted by Undeadpool (6973 posts) -

Gotta say: I don't think it's an either-or proposition as much as has been put forward in this. I think JRPGs have some truly excellent serious stuff, and WRPGs have some amazing levity. And I'm fine with broad strokes being similar across games, Bioware's been guilty of that going all the way back to Baldur's Gate, but here's something I could do without for the rest of my game playing career: my party talking about the protagonist as if the sun sets and rises on them. Persona 5 toned this down, but it's still there, and going back to games like P4, if I have ONE MORE character fall all over themselves to talk about what a badass, cool, detached, emotionally invested, ladies' man I am, I might JUST start to suspect I'm being pandered to.

It feels like it started around the PS1 era, but that could just be that I'm more familiar with games like Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Breath of Fire, and Final Fantasy VI (though I'll say for VII: there's no hero worship of Cloud), but it truly feels like the game is going out of its way not just to have a "chosen one" story, but to be a full-on ego stroke of me personally.

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#46 Edited by Onemanarmyy (4316 posts) -

I'm playing Breath of Fire IV right now and it's characters are actually pretty okay (perhaps a bit too quiet & objective focused). But it's pretty funny how that game starts you off with the ability to turn into this dragon form in battle. I'm now about halfway through the game where i talk to an actual dragon that confirms that this character is some sort of a dragon. The lady who has been with me from the start was very surprised and asked if that meant that i was not an ordinary boy :D

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#47 Posted by Justin258 (15647 posts) -

@undeadpool: Chrono Trigger definitely has a fair bit of undeserved "hero worship" for the main character. I love that game, I think it's damn near perfect, but Chrono is supposed to be a representation of the player and girls definitely fawn over him at times and his strength definitely gets commented on.

Final Fantasy VI, from what I remember, sidesteps this by not actually having a main character for the game to fawn over. It seems like it's going to be Terra for a little while, but then you start controlling other people and you realize that everyone is going to have their own important moments. Well, almost everyone. I should probably replay that game soon.

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#48 Posted by Sombre (412 posts) -

@undeadpool: Chrono Trigger definitely has a fair bit of undeserved "hero worship" for the main character. I love that game, I think it's damn near perfect, but Chrono is supposed to be a representation of the player and girls definitely fawn over him at times and his strength definitely gets commented on.

Final Fantasy VI, from what I remember, sidesteps this by not actually having a main character for the game to fawn over. It seems like it's going to be Terra for a little while, but then you start controlling other people and you realize that everyone is going to have their own important moments. Well, almost everyone. I should probably replay that game soon.

The main player in FF6 is whoever you want it to be. I liked FF6 in that same way I was kinda into Octopath- You can follow the story of an individual character and get a good payout because of that. Also, I thinkt he main character in FF6 is Mog!

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#49 Edited by ArjanN (264 posts) -

@haneybd87 said:

It seems like almost every JRPG is this way. Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Ni No Kuni, Kingdom Hearts, Persona. Their stories all feel like they were written by teenagers. I’ve struggled to get through almost every JRPG I’ve played in the last 10 years, except for Persona 5, in which the gameplay alone pushed me along. Why haven’t we seen JRPGs with more adult story lines? Where is the Witcher or Mass Effect of JRPGs? At this point it’s feeling stagnant, like the genre is just doing the same thing over and over again.

It's less that they're written by teenagers and more that they're written for teenagers. It's like, say, watching a Disney movie as a grown up and then realizing it's all very formulaic and tropey if you're not a kid with no real frame of reference, even if you still like the music and animation.

I guess stuff like Nier Automata and Dark Souls would be more mature japanese RPGs but those are action-RPGs and not the typical JPRG formula.

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#50 Posted by ChelseyDagger (7 posts) -

I feel that like FF6, FF9 has more nuance than all following Final Fantasy games (except 12 if you ignore Vaan).

I suppose the dawn of voice acting added that extra layer of insincerity, a lot of lines are delivered in such a bombastic over-the-top fashion that does the writing no justice. Scenes I imagine in older JRPGs as being heartfelt might come across as pretty naff with a lot of the shonen style voice acting.

I feel 9 has a sort of story book quality, like a lot of good children's fiction it's simple on one level, but also filled with moral dilemmas and existential questions. I never connected with these that much when I was a child (though I did think they were very 'poignant') and I think as an adult I can relate more, not less, though that might change as I approach the conclusion.