Tag Archives: Ar Tonelico

Seven Arbitrarily Chosen Things You’re Missing Out On If You’ve Been Operating Under the Mistaken Belief that JRPGs are “Dead”

It seems that every time we get a new Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy or Persona release, we have the same old “we’re having a JRPG renaissance!” discussion.

Well, dear reader, with my coverage of Death End Re;Quest on the horizon at the time of writing and plenty more RPGs in our shared futures, I’m here to remind you that RPGs have been alive and well ever since what people think of as their “golden age” — the SNES and PS1 eras. This will not be a shock to some of you reading this, of course, but I’m sure there are quite a few people out there who have passed up some wonderful experiences for one reason or another.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d do a list of seven arbitrarily chosen things that you might have missed out on if you’ve been operating under the grossly mistaken assumption that the role-playing game genre has somehow been “dead” despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Here we go!

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From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers

One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”

Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.

This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.

Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Let’s Go Round Again

What do you think of lengthy games such as JRPGs (or indeed Western RPGs) having multiple endings?

I remember having this discussion with a friend a while back, and he commented that he hated it when there was more than one possible outcome to the story, because he 1) hated having to repeat things and 2) hated feeling like he was “missing out” on part of the game that was “locked off” to him when he started down a particular route.

Obviously this applies more to games where your actions throughout the whole story determine which ending you get rather than a Mass Effect 3-style “which ending would you like?” decision point, but it’s a valid concern that I completely understand in this day and age. Gamers on the whole are getting older and consequently tend to have less time on their hands for lengthy games anyway – so to expect them to play through one game several times in an attempt to see different endings is perhaps unrealistic on the part of developers.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Nights of Azure: Introduction and History

2015’s Nights of Azure — or Yoru no Nai Kuni to its Japanese audience — was something of a departure for veteran developer Gust.

Primarily known for unconventional turn-based role-playing games with heavy crafting components, a style of game best exemplified by the developer’s flagship Atelier series, Gust opted to step out of their comfort zone with Nights of Azure by making it an action RPG with elements of monster raising.

It turned out to be a highly successful experiment for the developer, and what appears to be the beginning of a new series for the company, since a sequel is on the way at the time of writing. Yet despite Nights of Azure’s relative freshness compared to Gust’s other output, the game never forgets its heritage, and is recognisably “Gust” in both style and tone.

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Ten Great RPGs That Came Out After Final Fantasy VII

As we saw recently, there are those among us who believe that the Japanese role-playing game has been in consistent decline since Final Fantasy VII, and that only now are we starting to see a “comeback”.

We’ve already talked about how this is a load of old nonsense, and that in fact the role-playing game genre has been healthy for a good few years — just a little different to its mainstream status back in its PlayStation heyday, instead preferring to cater to a niche audience of passionate fans rather than attempting to be everything to everyone; the latter option is now the domain of the triple-A sector.

So with that in mind, what better time to contemplate a selection of great role-playing games from the last few generations of console hardware, all of which have been released since the Squaresoft classic first wowed everyone back in 1997?

Note: As with any list, this isn’t intended to be an exhaustive or authoritative selection. These are my personal picks for games that I’ve found noteworthy and particularly enjoyable from the PS1 era and beyond; I’d love to hear some of your favourites in the comments, too.

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Are JRPGs Primed for a Comeback? No; They Never Went Away

If IGN’s Colin Moriarty is to be believed, then Japanese role-playing games have been in a “steep decline” since Final Fantasy VII.

You and I, as fellow enthusiasts of Japanese gaming, both know that this is perhaps a somewhat questionable claim to make, but it’s also worth examining, particularly in light of the fact that Moriarty doesn’t stray very far from the Square Enix comfort zone during his ponderings of this supposedly fallen genre.

In fact, the genre has been extremely healthy for many years now; it’s simply undergone some fairly significant changes from how we knew it in the mid-’90s. And why shouldn’t it? Stagnation isn’t fun for anyone, particularly in the fast-moving realms of technology and entertainment — two fields that are notorious for fashions and trends changing, at times, overnight.

So, with all that in mind, let’s ponder the changing face of the JRPG over the last 15 years or so.

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