Friends and the industry in general seem to be talking alot about RPG’s lately. All sparked by the much anticipated Japanese developed Ni No Kuni. So I got to thinking, with this generation of consoles coming to an end, which Eastern RPG’s have stood out as testament to these ageing machines?
Just a quick note, this is merely my humble opinion, so calm down internet. Do let me know any agreements, disagreemants etc you may have in the comments though
“This is the game Final Fantasy 13 should have been…” For a game which came out in 2008, Lost Odyssey still divides opinion and is still used a major talking point as to what seemingly has gone wrong with Japanese games development this generation. An epic story which spanned 4 discs, a turn based battle system, random encounters, explorable towns and cities, this was basically Final Fantasy…which wasn’t a surprise considering it was produced by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of that famed series.
A joint collaboration between Japanese developer Mistwalker and Microsoft, this was meant to be the game which made the Xbox viable on Eastern shores. It came out to generally positive reviews and sold well at retail across all territories. But even so, excitement faded relatively quickly and the lack of a sequel has meant this pretty epic, if by the numbers JRPG has only become a cult favourite among some gamers.
Zelda – Skyward Sword
“One of the few reasons why I owned a Wii…..” With each Nintendo console, you can be sure of one thing, some pretty special first party support. When it was first announced way back when, this convinced me and others that maybe we should dust off what Wii in the corner. It came at a time when the hype for the console was starting to settle down and it was largely regarded as the consoles swan song.
Boy did the Wii go out in style! The move controls actually added to the experience and reminded us all the Nintendo are the masters, when they feel like it. Sure it was never going to top Ocarina of Time, but the visuals, gameplay, friendly overworld and a pretty deep story (for a Zelda game) meant this game is regarded as one reason why Japanese development if given the time, can produce almost flawless results.
“Playing this is like running back to an abusive partner…” A game I’ve refused to play in depth as I just don’t want to put myself through it. This a game which only a certain type of gamer can invest their time in. A gamer who refuses to be beaten and sees the stats of swords, shields and armour in the same regard as that newly unlocked gun scope. However all the hard work does pay off in terms of items/achievements/trophies which can be thrown in the faces of somewhat lesser gamers.
The the spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls there was a stupid amount of hype when this was first announced and I think a few people lost their head, when it was revealed the game had an online component. I have seen first hand the horror of your game being “invaded” by another player and I for one thought it was a unique idea which only the Japanese would dare to implement. With DLC and the announcement of Dark Souls 2 last year, don’t expect discussion on this title to disappear any time soon.
Tales of Vesperia
“Did anyone else apart from me play this?…” It was me being stubborn which placed this game on the list. I have been a fan of the Tales series for years now, I find they have charm, personality, surprisingly witty dialogue and of course annoyingly high pitched American voice acting. It took over a year for the title to be released in Europe for the Xbox 360 and even longer for the extended PS3 port. And most who played it agree, the wait was worth it.
A problem with the Tales series has had, is people looking at the usually anime box art, anime filled trailers and assuming it’s just some kids game. For the most part this has been true, the combat system and narrative in the series has never really been complex. Some even call the combat a button basher. But what really stood out in this game for me was the story, it was the whole great evil needs to be stopped by kids scenario. But a few hours in, the story goes into some really dark places, with betrayals and the lead character Yuri taking the law somewhat into he’s own hands. It surprised me with the risk it took, which is why it stood out for me this generation.
Ni No Kuni
“No RPG has moved me this much since FF7…” The game which inspired me to do this post. Ever since it was announced, we all knew this title was going to be something special. Art direction from the much loved Studio Ghibli, with development by the Japanese powerhouse that is Level-5. When it was released in Japan, way back in 2011, it released to to near perfect reviews and stormed the gaming charts. Us westerners assumed this title would never hit our shores, the scope of the game meant localisation would probably be too huge a task to undertake.
Well Namco Bandai surprised us all and after a two year wait, the game has hit western shores. I’ve yet to play this title myself, but all I hear is, this is the greatest PS3 exclusive the console is and may ever have. When you think of the quality of some PS3 exclusives, that is a pretty bold statement. I personally cannot wait to jump into what looks like a world filled with enormous amounts of charm and to meet some of the colourful looking characters. The title looks beautiful and I think if this ends up being a one off collaboration between Ghibli and Level 5, then this could forever been seen as a modern classic and a plateau for the JRPG genre.
Final Fantasy 13
“Sigh…” I think we can all agree that Square Enix owned the JRPG genre in the PSone era and then nailed it again come the PS2. So the hype when FF-13 was announced blew the socks off many fanboy/fangirl. The visuals alone made my mouth water, HD gaming never looked so damn pretty. We all had dreams of this being “The” game, the game we would all be plunging 50+ hours into without an inch of regret. I will always remember talking to a friend in game journalism who attended a preview event and played an early build of the title. The reply he sent to my envy preaching text was simply..” This isn’t Final Fantasy…”
I blew it off and assumed it was just too early to judge. Then the previews kept stating that same tone, that this was awfully scaled back for a Final Fantasy title. And remember the rage when Square Enix said there wouldn’t be explorable towns and cities etc? When I finally got my hands on the game, what offended me wasn’t the scaled back scope or how linear it was, but the moody and bordering on manic depressive cast of characters. Sure Cloud was a moody as hell character and he is universally loved, but Lightning for some reason failed to warm people hearts, the game itself failed to do it for most also. Sales were still huge which quite surprisingly has spurned to two sequels, one of which was pretty much hated and the other which has people pondering, Why?
Fingers crossed Square Enix will attempt to reclaim their beloved status in the next generation. As this list has somewhat sadly proven that others are doing it bigger and better and reaping the rewards.
Stay tuned for a post listing which Western developed RPG’s have stood out this generation, there are quite a few.