So about the whole "What is a JRPG" question...

Avatar image for mrwakka
MrWakka

326

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

2

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

Edited By MrWakka

There has been some discussion of late regarding what is and is not a JRPG, notably over if it is a JRPG if it wasn't developed in Japan. In most cases I find it an annoying question overall, a special bit of navel-gazing.

To that end I would ask if Italian cuisine is still Italian if made by a Swedish chef? The answer is that of course it is, because it isn't about the nationality of the chef, but that the food is made in a style recognized to be in the style of that cuisine.

A JRPG could be made by a team as diverse as imaginable based out of Stockholm, but if it is in the style, it IS a JRPG.

What sets that style apart is a couple key factors in my mind:

Linear Story: The narrative style of JRPGs are closer to that of a film or novel, player choice is minimal to the point of non-existence. You, the player, see the story unfold in a mostly linear fashion and have virtually no impact on the story progression typically.

Predefined Characters: You do not pick what role you will play, you are assigned a character(s). Customization of these characters is limited, typically minor variations with a set class if anything.

And...

That is it really to me, every other aspect you might see argued as a JRPG trope are not really inherent to every JRPG, but the above generally is. (Exceptions tend to prove the rule.)

Turn-Based combat? Well aside from the progenitor of the whole rpg genre being turn-based, you also have examples like Secret of Mana. Because the root of the genre is turn based, it cannot really be argued as a unique JRPG trait.

Random Battles: More pronounced in the sub-genre, but also present in the source genre. (random encounter tables.) Same as the above.

Wild Character Designs? The aesthetic isn't isolated to JRPGs, nor is the game dependent on it.

Summons? Not unique to JRPGs, and though they do tend to be more exaggerated, it isn't as consistent across the sub-genre.

Cecil!? It should also be noted certain studios have their own styles, and that shouldn't be taken as true across the wider genre.

So thats my .02 cents on the issue, how about the rest of you, agree or disagree with my assessment/definition of the sub-genre?

Avatar image for deactivated-629fb02f57a5a
deactivated-629fb02f57a5a

1124

Forum Posts

10

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 5

You forgot Waifu's.

I agree though. The J in Jrpg stands for a style originating in Japan, rather than a formal declaration of where a game was made.

Avatar image for rejizzle
Rejizzle

1488

Forum Posts

10

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 3

#2  Edited By Rejizzle

I fall squarely into the "A JRPG is an RPG made in Japan" camp.

The thing about Italian food, is that it became Italian food because its made from ingredients from that specific region and in the style of that culture. For things like videogames (or books, or movies, etc.) the ingredients aren't specific to any region. A computer is a computer and ideas like turn based combat flow freely and quickly thanks to globalization, so all that it comes down to is culture. Even when a product is localized, or if it draws influence from another culture, it's impossible for the creator to not draw from some aspect of their upbringing.

Honestly, the "J" doesn't denote anything more than a "je(J) ne sais quoi" that might be derived from sensibilities and themes found in Japanese language or culture. Just my two cents though.

Avatar image for lv4monk
Lv4Monk

508

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#3  Edited By Lv4Monk

JRPG is a genre and too often people take genres literally. Not every game is an action game in the same way that a game made outside of Japan can be a JRPG.

What a genre is called is more-or-less completely irrelevant by itself, simply having the same name as something appreciably similar is what matters. In this case the term "JRPG" became the norm after years of similar RPGs all came from Japan. Now that this style of game is considered a genre (how Doom-clone became FPS) it just made sense to keep calling it what we've been calling it this whole time. This could've happened to FPS had "Doom-clone" not sounded so derisive, just ask our friend the Rogue-like.

Avatar image for beachthunder
BeachThunder

15253

Forum Posts

313215

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 25

What about Chrono Trigger? I don't think anyone would say that isn't a JRPG, but there's certainly a fair amount of non-linearity. There's a bunch of endings and you can even have a go at fighting the final boss whenever you want.

Is the Witcher a JRPG? If it's not, why not?

I understand saying nationality doesn't matter. There's games like Cosmic Star Heroine that a lot of people will class as a JRPG, despite not being from Japan. Then there's something like Dark Souls which is a Japanese RPG, but most people won't say it's a JRPG. Which then brings up the question of whether the J should even be there at all...

Looking at your criteria, I fail to see the connection to Japan. Is there something specifically Japanese about predefined characters and a linear story? Because if those are the only "must have" criteria, and if the country of origin doesn't matter, then it seems like the J part of the label is only there to confuse people.

Avatar image for dr_monocle
dr_monocle

391

Forum Posts

12

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I don't really give THAT much of a shit, but I tend to think of JRPGs as coming from Japan. If a game is in that style I will describe it as a "Japanese-style role playing game." Doesn't take that long to say and gets the point across.

*shrug*

Avatar image for spoonman671
Spoonman671

5874

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#6  Edited By Spoonman671

It reminds me a lot of nerdy arguments I used to have about primate taxonomy. If "JRPG" trips people up, they'd put themselves in a coma over those damn prosimians (Oh God, I called them prosimians!!!).

Avatar image for sgtsphynx
SgtSphynx

2680

Forum Posts

682

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 28

#7 SgtSphynx  Moderator

My whole gripe with "JRPG" as a genre is that it is a bad genre name. I'm a proponent of the Narrative (JRPG) vs Player Choice (WRPG) driven RPG, but even those aren't great genre names. Mark me as firmly in the "it doesn't have to be made in Japan to be a JRPG" camp.

Avatar image for luchalma
Luchalma

575

Forum Posts

1

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It's about traits and tropes, not where it's from. I'm not a big fan of the name JRPG but it's what we have. The styles are distinctive enough that if I told someone I loved Skyrim and was looking for more RPGs and they recommended Persona 5 I might be a bit thrown.

I mean, not me personally because I love both of those games, but SOMEONE would, surely.

Avatar image for doctorchimp
Doctorchimp

4190

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

#9  Edited By Doctorchimp

Oh this old thing

The problem I have with it is this in turns gets to the point where the Souls games get the western RPG label when that game very much has japanese design sensibilities. Especially nowadays where everything gets blended together because every game wants to give the player some semblance of choice, they generally want the action to be more fast paced and people like seeing numbers go up.

JRPGs come from Japan, WRPGs come from the West, and Eastern Bloc games are Eastern Bloc games, Witcher 3 is Eastern Bloc. Mass Effect Andromeda is a terrible game. Undertale is a throwback of cool snes jrpgs, but it totally feels like an american indie game.

Avatar image for quantris
Quantris

1501

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#10  Edited By Quantris
@beachthunder said:

What about Chrono Trigger? I don't think anyone would say that isn't a JRPG, but there's certainly a fair amount of non-linearity. There's a bunch of endings and you can even have a go at fighting the final boss whenever you want.

Not only that, I feel like many good examples of non-linear RPGs fall firmly into the JRPG bucket. So IMHO OP is way off-base with naming that one of two defining aspects of the genre.

@beachthunder said:

Is the Witcher a JRPG? If it's not, why not?

I understand saying nationality doesn't matter. There's games like Cosmic Star Heroine that a lot of people will class as a JRPG, despite not being from Japan. Then there's something like Dark Souls which is a Japanese RPG, but most people won't say it's a JRPG. Which then brings up the question of whether the J should even be there at all...

Looking at your criteria, I fail to see the connection to Japan. Is there something specifically Japanese about predefined characters and a linear story? Because if those are the only "must have" criteria, and if the country of origin doesn't matter, then it seems like the J part of the label is only there to confuse people.

The label definitely sucks (well, just like most genre-labels do as soon as one tries to be specific in any way). The J is there because of historical happenstance, that at one time these were both one of the more recognizable types of games coming overseas from Japan, as well as one of the more popular type of games for Japanese developers to make. I'm not sure why the label itself became a thing but I feel like it's rooted in western developers (or reviewers?) wanting to differentiate their games from what had become the norm.

Personally, for me JRPG means EXP and a party, but there are definitely exceptions to those too. IMHO it's not worth putting too much effort into deciding if a game "qualifies" as a JRPG or not, since we can just describe what the game *actually* is in concrete terms (e.g. turn-based or not, linear story or not, etc.) and leave it at that. Hell, even "RPG" barely means anything specific anymore.

Avatar image for sethmode
SethMode

3323

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@rejizzle: Hmm...not sure about your reasoning for Italian food. Cheese, tomatoes, wheat, meat...none of those things really specific to that region. Those ingredients can be found almost anywhere and used to make food in the Italian style exactly in the same way that a computer program available in the US can be used to make an RPG in what is traditionally considered a Japanese style.

Avatar image for savage
Savage

810

Forum Posts

21147

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 86

#12  Edited By Savage

I think there are two complementary halves to what makes a JRPG.

There's the surface-level ingredients like turn-based battles, lots of menus, indulgent cutscenes, flamboyant character designs, predefined characters, linear storytelling, and so on. These things are easily identified as common traits of JRPGs, but still ebb and flow both in Japan and in the West. There are JRPGs that break with some of them and WRPGs that adopt some of them. These sorts of characteristics are what Japanese-style RPGs made outside of Japan most often and easily try to replicate. Those who agree with the food analogy are, I think, focused on this half of the qualities of JRPGs; they see JRPGs as just a set of quantifiable ingredients that anyone anywhere can assemble like a recipe to create a JRPG.

The other half of a JRPG is much harder to put one's finger on, but I think it derives broadly from Japanese cultural sensibilities. This includes stuff like storytelling themes and techniques, the relationship between storyteller and audience, pacing, how emphasis is used in drama, expectations of common experience, how the individual relates to the collective, cultural values, and more. These kinds of qualities are not as readily uprooted and mixed and matched as the former ingredients. It's hard for game creators who are not from Japan to create games with the same mindset that a Japanese creator would have. Likewise, Japanese game creators' efforts to create games that are culturally Western have often come across to native Westerners as somewhere between off-puttingly alien and hilariously nonsensical. I think those who reject the food analogy and feel that only Japanese-style RPGs created in Japan (i.e. created from within Japanese culture) have the unique feel of a JRPG are probably primarily looking at this half of what defines a JRPG.

Avatar image for gundamguru
GundamGuru

786

Forum Posts

391

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

@mrwakka: @beachthunder: There's a certain, for lack of a better term, "anime-inspired" quality to most traditional JRPGs. Using the Chrono Trigger example, almost all the characters from that game and the plot use anime tropes. I would think that is the key division narratively between the western and eastern RPG, their traditional storytelling and character conventions.

As far as combat systems, you usually have what Brad likes to call "menu driven combat" with a multi-man party. It's not so important that it be strictly turn-based, although that is what comes to mind for me.

I personally think you need one of those two key things to be a JRPG. It helps explain why things like Tales of games are JRPGs with their action-brawler combat, but stuff like Dark Souls isn't. On the flip side, things like KOTOR or Dragon age aren't JRPGs either because they lack that "anime-inspired" storytelling that is what makes the genre "Japanese."

Avatar image for teddie
Teddie

2222

Forum Posts

20

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

It's kind of a worthless term, basically every other genre is named for its gameplay since giving it the usual movie/book genres like "sci-fi" don't mean anything when the gameplay could be anything from a platformer to a character action game. Calling them "tun-based RPGs" or "action RPGs" makes more sense. Using it as a term to denote the game's origin is absolutely pointless-- all you're gaining is the knowledge of where it was developed, instead of anything about the game itself.

The main argument I see for JRPG as a genre is using it as a definition of "style", but there are so many factors and inconsistencies ebtween people's definitions, that there can never be a clear definition of a JRPG that everyone agrees upon. Hence, threads like this keep getting made and nobody ever reaches a consensus because "JRPG" doesn't work as a descriptor.

Oh, and the food analogy doesn't work for me because following a recipe is (mostly) binary, whereas a creative production like a video game has... well, creativity, and everything that comes with that going into it. You can imitate but never replicate it, unlike food.

Avatar image for ajamafalous
ajamafalous

13992

Forum Posts

905

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 9

It's a dumb argument because if JRPGs and Western RPGs just had different genre names we would have zero issue at all, but I think you're out of your damn mind if you think a Japanese RPG is simply 'an RPG made in Japan.' Dark Souls is not the same genre as Final Fantasy VI.

Avatar image for bocckob
BoccKob

507

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Don't think of "JRPG" as a genre and your problem is solved. Nothing is a JRPG, even RPGs made in Japan, because the style and execution is going to depend on the development team, their influences, and if their publisher requires they do something in particular. Anything else is just dumbass marketing to get people to buy it.

Avatar image for ripelivejam
ripelivejam

13572

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#17  Edited By ripelivejam

it feels like there was a point in the past where there was a more clear designation and each region had their own styles, but there's been a lot of crossbreeding as of late. still i think you can look at a majority of more current rpgs and say they're classically JRPG or WRPG, regardless of where they actually came from. those characteristics are just that ingrained, not that it's a bad thing. it's a clumsy label but it helps letting you know what you're getting, or defining disparate elements of more hybrid games like xenoblade chronicles x.

Avatar image for odinsmana
odinsmana

982

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#18  Edited By odinsmana

I definitely agree and I think the two main points you brought up are important parts of what puts the J in the JRPG. For everyone who has a problem with the term the reason we use it is because it`s a legacy term. Western RPGs back in the day (and to a certain extent still) were inspired by D and D and had a big focus on character creation and customization and on letting the player take part in creating the story and exploring a open world. The combat in those games were also often inspired by or just straight up used the D and D combat system. Japanese RPGs did not imitate D and D in the same way and instead focused on telling predefined linear stories with predefined and less customization characters.

There are of course alot of smaller stuff that are traditionally associated with on type of RPG or the other like western RPGs often focusing on the Main Character with companions (if they exists at all) being more tertiary and optional while JRPGs tend to have a bigger focus on the group (and pretty much always has a group) and having your companions play a more important part in the story.

Of course genres are pretty useless in todays gaming world since everything is a bit of everything. FFXV adopted a more traditional open world, added side quests and a quest log, and made the combat more actiony. It still tells a mostly linear story with a group of predefined characters, but it has adopted a lot of things that used to be characteristics of a Western RPG.

Avatar image for redhotchilimist
Redhotchilimist

3019

Forum Posts

14

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 2

I think it's pretty useless as a term if it doesn't refer to Japanese RPGs. Imitating them, or even hiring Japanese people to work on your western-directed game, isn't going to be the same thing. If I order a kimono and a katana made by traditional Japanese tailors and blacksmiths and then wear them around town, it's not gonna fool anyone into thinking I'm Japanese. It's the same for games in a JRPG style that's made by people who aren't.

The only thing JRPG is good for as a term is "RPGs from Japan". There are few other commonalities between those games. It's often used as a shorthand for "turn-based combat system", but that falls apart the first time anyone mentions a Tales of-game or Final Fantasy 15.

But at a certain point, whatever. It's just as useless as most other video game genre names. Define Action-Adventure.

Avatar image for thewildcard
TheWildCard

715

Forum Posts

64

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 10

@teddie said:

It's kind of a worthless term, basically every other genre is named for its gameplay since giving it the usual movie/book genres like "sci-fi" don't mean anything when the gameplay could be anything from a platformer to a character action game. Calling them "tun-based RPGs" or "action RPGs" makes more sense. Using it as a term to denote the game's origin is absolutely pointless-- all you're gaining is the knowledge of where it was developed, instead of anything about the game itself.

The main argument I see for JRPG as a genre is using it as a definition of "style", but there are so many factors and inconsistencies ebtween people's definitions, that there can never be a clear definition of a JRPG that everyone agrees upon. Hence, threads like this keep getting made and nobody ever reaches a consensus because "JRPG" doesn't work as a descriptor.

Oh, and the food analogy doesn't work for me because following a recipe is (mostly) binary, whereas a creative production like a video game has... well, creativity, and everything that comes with that going into it. You can imitate but never replicate it, unlike food.

Nailed it. That's the biggest problem with the terms, they tend to obfuscate as much as enlighten. They're descriptors that don't describe anything remotely concrete. Yeah "jrpg" generally means deriving from Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, and that "wrpg" generally descend from Ultima and Baldur's Gate, but you have to admit that saying "just because it's a Japanese role-playing game doesn't mean it's a Japanese Role-Playing Game" sounds incredible asinine. Hence the endless debates. Even "console-rpgs" and "computer-rpgs" at least clued you in as to why they are designed the way they are better than just solely attributing all differences to culture.

Oh this old thing

The problem I have with it is this in turns gets to the point where the Souls games get the western RPG label when that game very much has japanese design sensibilities. Especially nowadays where everything gets blended together because every game wants to give the player some semblance of choice, they generally want the action to be more fast paced and people like seeing numbers go up.

JRPGs come from Japan, WRPGs come from the West, and Eastern Bloc games are Eastern Bloc games, Witcher 3 is Eastern Bloc. Mass Effect Andromeda is a terrible game. Undertale is a throwback of cool snes jrpgs, but it totally feels like an american indie game.

Exactly. Hell, one of the first things I remember about Demon Souls was someone complaining on a forum about its "Japanese-ass" UI! But now some people want to label a "WRPG" because it doesn't look like anime (even though BERSERK).

Avatar image for ungodly
Ungodly

465

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

I mean, maybe you guys are over thinking it? Saying JRPG as a descriptor, let's someone know pretty clearly what you're talking about. A lot of this is just simplified language, like Brad calling that Cyber Punk game a JRPG, just to give the viewer an easier idea of how the game plays. Like saying that the Mass Effect games are "Choose You're Own Adventure".

I know what someone means when they say JRPG. Melodramatic, turn based, role playing game, that's more than likely to have originated from Japan, or is indicative of the types of RPGs Japan used to put out.

Avatar image for gkabooz
GKabooz

46

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

Let's take it like curry cause I like curry.

Indian curry is spicy, sweet and sour while Japanese curry is milder, less spicy and more sour at times than sweet.

Indian curry is often made from the ground up and Japanese curry often use curry powder

I like to eat both kinds.

Would you call them both curry or attach its originated home?

Avatar image for frostyryan
FrostyRyan

2936

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@teddie said:

It's kind of a worthless term, basically every other genre is named for its gameplay since giving it the usual movie/book genres like "sci-fi" don't mean anything when the gameplay could be anything from a platformer to a character action game. Calling them "tun-based RPGs" or "action RPGs" makes more sense. Using it as a term to denote the game's origin is absolutely pointless-- all you're gaining is the knowledge of where it was developed, instead of anything about the game itself.

This is perfect.

Certainly you can refer to a piece of content by referring to where it came from, but it doesn't necessarily pin down its genre. Japanese horror film, american horror film. They're both horror films. There's nothing wrong with indicating where it's from but it doesn't necessarily matter a lot.

Etrian Odyssey and Demon's Souls are both JRPGs. See how it doesn't freaking matter?

Avatar image for dafdiego777
dafdiego777

302

Forum Posts

23

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

@teddie said:

It's kind of a worthless term, basically every other genre is named for its gameplay since giving it the usual movie/book genres like "sci-fi" don't mean anything when the gameplay could be anything from a platformer to a character action game. Calling them "tun-based RPGs" or "action RPGs" makes more sense. Using it as a term to denote the game's origin is absolutely pointless-- all you're gaining is the knowledge of where it was developed, instead of anything about the game itself.

This is perfect.

Certainly you can refer to a piece of content by referring to where it came from, but it doesn't necessarily pin down its genre. Japanese horror film, american horror film. They're both horror films. There's nothing wrong with indicating where it's from but it doesn't necessarily matter a lot.

Etrian Odyssey and Demon's Souls are both JRPGs. See how it doesn't freaking matter?

Exactly. In the last 15+ years we've seen so many combinations of genres that I think genres are almost totally meaningless. What's the difference between The World Ends With You, the MyPlayer mode of NBA 2K17, and DS remake of Chrono Trigger?

Avatar image for gundamguru
GundamGuru

786

Forum Posts

391

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 1

User Lists: 0

#26  Edited By GundamGuru

@dafdiego777: @frostyryan: What literalists like you guys don't seem to realize is that JRPGs are named for their gameplay and their storytelling, not their country of origin. There is consensus on what a JRPG is, but it doesn't sum up into a nice neat soundbyte. Try defining prog rock with any clarity in a single sentence. It's a style defined by devs who were all from the same country at the time the style emerged. The reason that there's even any debate these days is because the JPRG has basically gone away as of the 360/PS3 era. The current output of Japan on the RPG front is trying to chase a different, more action-focused style versus what they used to make back in their heyday, and those games are not all automatically JRPGs because they're made in Japan. It's really not all that complicated.

Avatar image for lv4monk
Lv4Monk

508

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#27  Edited By Lv4Monk

If "Drama" can exist as a film genre then RPGs made outside of Japan can be of the "JRPG" genre. Saying JRPG isn't a genre means that there is no name for that style of game and that using the term JRPG is functionally useless since what a game actually IS trumps where it was made. In other words JRPG not being a genre is pointless and doesn't help anyone.

DON'T TAKE GENRE NAMES LITERALLY. They aren't official descriptors and they come from often arbitrary consensus. Language has power entirely through consensus, it's all that matters.

Avatar image for undeadpool
Undeadpool

8032

Forum Posts

10761

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 20

User Lists: 17

What about Chrono Trigger? I don't think anyone would say that isn't a JRPG, but there's certainly a fair amount of non-linearity. There's a bunch of endings and you can even have a go at fighting the final boss whenever you want.

Is the Witcher a JRPG? If it's not, why not?

I understand saying nationality doesn't matter. There's games like Cosmic Star Heroine that a lot of people will class as a JRPG, despite not being from Japan. Then there's something like Dark Souls which is a Japanese RPG, but most people won't say it's a JRPG. Which then brings up the question of whether the J should even be there at all...

Looking at your criteria, I fail to see the connection to Japan. Is there something specifically Japanese about predefined characters and a linear story? Because if those are the only "must have" criteria, and if the country of origin doesn't matter, then it seems like the J part of the label is only there to confuse people.

Chrono Trigger's whole "nonlinear story/bossfight" thing often gets overlooked as a result of New Game + (which I THIIIIINK that game may have coined. Or at least popularized). Your first playthrough is almost entirely linear, save for some side content after the Ocean Palace.

And Witcher isn't a JRPG because it features realtime combat, player agency/choice that affects the wider game (sorry, Persona, but giving me the option between "Not today" and "Not right now" is NOT an actual choice) and, perhaps most importantly, was made in Poland.

Avatar image for ungodly
Ungodly

465

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0

#29  Edited By Ungodly

@lv4monk: Drama is a genre, but Comedy/Dramas exist as a sub genre to both comedy and drama. So if you want to say that JRPGs are a sub genre of RPGs, then I'm right there with you.

Avatar image for lv4monk
Lv4Monk

508

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 0

User Lists: 0