Extra Credits: Western & Japanese RPGs (Part 1)

This week, we begin a three-part series discussing (and defining) Western RPGs and JRPGs.

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  • Hey, I just joined here... And this might sound crazy... But I'm bumping an old thread... So don't mind me, maybe...

    As someone who has made much of his career as a game historian, this really represents a horrendously poor understanding of game history.

    1) The western and Japanese RPG genres did not develop simultaneously/independently. Western RPGs developed a full decade earlier in the US than they did in Japan (10 years in gaming is a lifetime! How could anyone not recognize this?), and only Western RPGs developed out of an existing interest in table top RPGs. Games like pedit5, dnd, and Moria (the PLATO one) pioneered the RPG genre in the mid 70s, particularly among other developers, and games like Wizardry and Ultima popularized them beyond academics and coders.

    2) Japanese RPGs developed DIRECTLY because of an interest in western RPGs. Yuji Horii travelled to America and played Ultima, and as a direct result, he developed Dragon Quest. Wizardry, when localized to Japan, was more popular than it was in the West. The Black Onyx, one of the first JRPGs, was designed by a westerner, Henk Rogers. Japanese developers couldn't give a flying fuck about pen and paper RPGs, which NEVER caught on in Japan. They were imitating western computer games, and a lot of the conventions to this day come directly from western RPGs.


    Not true. Pen & paper RPGs were quite popular in Japan from the 80s to early 90s. In fact, even the most popular (arguably) fantasy anime franchise of the 90s, Record of Lodoss War, was based on a D&D campaign. Japan also produced numerous pen & paper RPGs of its own at the time.

    3) If any genre developed simultaneously in both regions, it's platform games. Donkey Kong borrowed from the western game Space Panic, and was designed for the western market, and both Japanese and Western developers immediately started making new platform games after its released. To act as if these games were a big hit in Japan first is a flat-out lie.

    If anything's a "flat-out lie", it's your assertion right here. Space Panic was not a Western game at all, but was a Japanese game developed by a Japanese developer called Universal (now known as Universal Entertainment Corporation). You probably confused them for Hollywood's Universal Studios (a movie studio, not a video game developer). Both Space Panic and Donkey Kong were Japanese games, therefore the fact remains that the platformer was indeed a Japanese creation, in much the same way the RPG was an American creation.

    Maybe I should have said "sandbox" instead of open world? (although that too can be confused for stuff like Sim City). I don't want to get into a semantics debate, but games like Adventure and Zelda are no more "open" than the 1970s computer RPGs I already mentioned. I'm not talking about a world that extends in all directions, I'm talking more about the free-form structure of the game itself.

    Elite literally had no object. You could do whatever you want, however you want, fly anywhere in the universe without boundaries. There was no right or wrong, the player had to make his own adventure. Mercenary did have a very basic goal: to escape Targ. But there was no right or wrong way to do that. It wasn't just non-linear, everything had multiple solutions, entirely different paths through the game. No two people would beat it exactly the same way. The story was told passively, it was about discovery.

    Damocles took this even further and had at least five completely different ways to achieve the end goal, each with countless ways of getting there, an entire planet system to explore where you could seamlessly fly to a planet, a city, a street, and land and walk into a building and up to someone's desk and read a book. It was a completely different level of freedom than anything that had been attempted in 2D.

    That a whole different thing than just being able to do one level first or another. The Japanese really never got hip to that style of design. Neither did Americans until like the mid-90s, really.

    Also, when I say that 3D and open world design were inextricably linked, I don't mean that there weren't 2D attempts at sandbox games, I mean that people often associated 3D graphics with a greater degree of freedom than was found in 2D games. PC game designers really tried to push these boundaries, where it wasn't really an option on consoles.


    Wait, are you referring to The Legend of Zelda series or the original Legend of Zelda? Because the original Zelda on the NES was a different beast compared to its successors...

    What you just stated about Mercenary is equally true for the original Zelda, which was a free-form action-adventure. While having a very basic goal, the original Zelda was pretty much a sandbox where you could go anywhere and do anything you want (within the confines of 8-bit technology, of course). Not only could you do any quests in whatever order you want, but you could even face the final boss without having to complete any of the other quests (or even without the sword).

    I didn't mean the OCD thing as a cultural stereotype, but I admit it was probably the weakest of my points anyway. I'm really trying to justify why the Japanese really don't seem to connect well to real "sandbox" gaming that expresses the player's creativity through gameplay. Something about that doesn't appeal as much to Japanese gamers.

    Which used to be true of American gamers as well, by the way. I'd identify that gameplay tradition as a predominantly British one, and it wasn't until a couple of those British games (chiefly GTA3) hit it big in America that American designers really started revising their approach.

    American and Japan probably had more similar tastes in games than America and Europe up until like the mid 90s. People always focus on the East/West thing but that's probably an oversimplification.


    It's a pretty huge generalization to say Japanese gamers don't like sandbox games... Because it's contradicted by the fact that the most popular RPG franchise in Japan this generation is a sandbox RPG franchise called Monster Hunter... not to mention its many clones which are also very popular in Japan. Let's also not forget how much more Dragon's Dogma sold in Japan than it did in the West. In other words, there are many Japanese gamers who play sandbox games, and many who don't... just like in any Western nation.

    While your theory about the British origins of sandbox gaming is interesting (since I'm a Brit and all), it would be inaccurate to say any single nation can lay claim to it... Because if you look hard enough, you can find examples of free-form sandbox games across the UK, US and Japan around the mid-to-late 80s. The evolution of sandbox gaming was a gradual process, not something we could trace back to a particular place or time.

  • This has to be the first time i largely disapprove of an extra credits episode... seriously whats wrong with eroge and VN eroges? (seriously i was so mad at your bad comments on those that... i couldn't catch anything you said for the rest of the episode...)

    Well, i'm touching on some adult topics in that spoiler so open it at your own discretion.

    [spoiler:org2ilep]Whats wrong with adult only games? seriously? haven't you yourselves been touching on the subject we need a more mature approach on sex in games? I even know a few girls who enjoy eroge...

    Well guess what, i've had lots and lots of fun playing eroge games, some mashup of rpg and vn like Kamidori Alchemy Meister (seriously play that game...) or Monmusu Quest (monster girl quest) altho that ones pretty linear and can get boring if you're not a fan of the story. Daibanchou Big Bang Age can be pretty great gameplay wise but the story is slightly lacking and the characters are sometimes a little hard to believe, but the world even if same as ours is different so they have good excuses for that.

    There are of course games like rapelay, artificial girl 3 and artificial academy that are pure fap material, but that has to be the most fun pornography i've ever discovered... (yes yes and sexy beach 3 and oppai slider 2)

    these are actually games i'd pay for if i had the chance, to help the market sustain them. in japan they often make games from good games to good eroge games just because the eroge is good for their marketing

    The ONLY flaw i see in it is that its usually centered around a purely male audience. its not gonna be easy to find yaoi eroge (hell its hard enough to find a pure yuri eroge but... lightning warrior raidy.) or an eroge where you play as a girl but... seriously. these games are enjoyable and just as much as any other. its just that our stupid western world isn't prepared for things like this because they're "embarassing" or something we don't seem to want to admit to ourselves or others that we like, lets change that instead. lets stop fearing that dreadful "Adult" rating and stop aiming only for "mature" rating on our games, seriously lets face it, there are games for kids, and teenagers. but adults need games focused for them aswell. and just violence and fun games isn't enough i want me some nudity aswell from time to time.

    let me put it like this... Eroge > Other "Hentai" > Real Porn.

    thats my priority, from fun and enjoyable to... "meh" because eroge often makes your fap material more than just fap material.

    other enjoyable games are katawa shoujo (recommend for anyone, even girls, its a good game, but pure VN) Sagara Family (centered on male audiences) custom maid 3d (good only as fap material) True Love (excellent dating sim) and theres tons more... i love eroge in fact so much that a big reason why i am learning japanese is so i can play more eroge games, and so that i can watch unsubbed hentai movies because... some of them may just be fap material, but some are just way more than that and just as good if not better than most other standard media.[/spoiler:org2ilep]

  • This has to be the first time i largely disapprove of an extra credits episode... seriously whats wrong with eroge and VN eroges? (seriously i was so mad at your bad comments on those that... i couldn't catch anything you said for the rest of the episode...)

    Well, i'm touching on some adult topics in that spoiler so open it at your own discretion.

    [spoiler:1vi4kue1]Whats wrong with adult only games? seriously? haven't you yourselves been touching on the subject we need a more mature approach on sex in games? I even know a few girls who enjoy eroge...

    Well guess what, i've had lots and lots of fun playing eroge games, some mashup of rpg and vn like Kamidori Alchemy Meister (seriously play that game...) or Monmusu Quest (monster girl quest) altho that ones pretty linear and can get boring if you're not a fan of the story. Daibanchou Big Bang Age can be pretty great gameplay wise but the story is slightly lacking and the characters are sometimes a little hard to believe, but the world even if same as ours is different so they have good excuses for that.

    There are of course games like rapelay, artificial girl 3 and artificial academy that are pure fap material, but that has to be the most fun pornography i've ever discovered... (yes yes and sexy beach 3 and oppai slider 2)

    these are actually games i'd pay for if i had the chance, to help the market sustain them. in japan they often make games from good games to good eroge games just because the eroge is good for their marketing

    The ONLY flaw i see in it is that its usually centered around a purely male audience. its not gonna be easy to find yaoi eroge (hell its hard enough to find a pure yuri eroge but... lightning warrior raidy.) or an eroge where you play as a girl but... seriously. these games are enjoyable and just as much as any other. its just that our stupid western world isn't prepared for things like this because they're "embarassing" or something we don't seem to want to admit to ourselves or others that we like, lets change that instead. lets stop fearing that dreadful "Adult" rating and stop aiming only for "mature" rating on our games, seriously lets face it, there are games for kids, and teenagers. but adults need games focused for them aswell. and just violence and fun games isn't enough i want me some nudity aswell from time to time.

    let me put it like this... Eroge > Other "Hentai" > Real Porn.

    thats my priority, from fun and enjoyable to... "meh" because eroge often makes your fap material more than just fap material.

    other enjoyable games are katawa shoujo (recommend for anyone, even girls, its a good game, but pure VN) Sagara Family (centered on male audiences) custom maid 3d (good only as fap material) True Love (excellent dating sim) and theres tons more... i love eroge in fact so much that a big reason why i am learning japanese is so i can play more eroge games, and so that i can watch unsubbed hentai movies because... some of them may just be fap material, but some are just way more than that and just as good if not better than most other standard media.[/spoiler:1vi4kue1]

    as someone who is currently playing Katawa shojo(and feels sympathy for Hanako), I will be the fist to say....you misread everything they said. first off, they said nothing bad at all about eroges-quite the opposite was said, as they said that is where the Japanese RPG developers got their ideas on how they approach narrative(and to a lesser extent, their combat systems.)

    and secondly, they never said all eroges are offensive anywhere really-though there certainly are some eroges out there that have deplorable narratives. Good Eroges approach relationships in a way that tey feel like actual growth, and only have sex to reinforce the importance of the relationship. bad eroges are ones that just create arbitray scenarios just to hev the characters have sex just to get people off. so in other words if a good one is like Monster's Ball, then a bad one is like Debbie Does Dallas(or in the worst case scenario.....Mr. hands).

  • Here's an excellent video about the history of WRPG's, and JRPG's. Alot of information on how they originated, how they're connected and why they're different


    http://clanofthegraywolf.com/30/

  • So I was going through old episodes and after watching the whole 3 episodes of this and I have to say one thing about the JRPG and where it lost it's way. I don't believe it was due solely on menu based combat. Menu based combat was very exciting at times. I remember way back when I was so tense I was sweating during my boss battles and fights against the underwater weapon in FF VII because I was on the clock.

    No, what I think "killed" JRPG's is when it became turn based menu combat. It turned into thinking on your feet and quickly going through the menu of what to do next because you never really knew when the enemy was going to attack, to a fucking slog fest of grinding. Battles never became exciting because there was no tension. You always knew what was happening next because you could clearly see it on the screen. Plus you add in moves that characters could do to delay the actions of the enemy and there would be times when they would die before ever being able to hit me. It's honestly one of the weakest parts about FF X and Lost Odyssey. Every single battle is dull, button mashing, and drug on too long to the point I've zoned out and almost fallen asleep.

    And so far most of their tactics to change this is to go from you controlling all your characters to just controlling one Kingdom hearts style. And some games it's alright, but for others it's not. Why haven't they just gone back to the original style of RTS menu combat?

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