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!
Continue reading Seven Arbitrarily Chosen Things You’re Missing Out On If You’ve Been Operating Under the Mistaken Belief that JRPGs are “Dead”
After the positive response to our pilot episode, my good friend Chris Caskie and I recorded a brand new podcast for you to enjoy!
We’re aiming for the MoeGamer podcast to be a bi-weekly sort of thing, but whether or not that is practical will, of course, depend on availability for Chris, me and anyone else who is interested in participating — there’s already at least one other person I can think of out there who it would be great to have on!
At present, the podcast is primarily a YouTube thing, but I’m currently looking into Soundcloud hosting for an audio-only version if there’s sufficient interest. Soundcloud limits the amount of audio (time-wise) you can upload unless you subscribe to a premium account, so if you’d like to contribute to making that happen don’t forget you can always become a Patron or drop us a few dollars via Ko-Fi.
Hit the jump for the new episode!
Continue reading The MoeGamer Podcast: Episode 1 – The Goosebump Effect
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Today’s suggestion comes to us from “riobravo79”, who doesn’t appear to have a website or Twitter or anything — not that I could find, anyway — but left a comment on the initial awards post. Thanks; hope you see this!
Balancing narrative themes and mechanical interest is always a concern for those making a game with any more complexity than a “walking simulator”, visual novel or similarly story-centric experience. And it’s with this in mind that one of the most common terms bandied about by people who like to pretend they know what they’re talking about is “ludonarrative dissonance”, intended to describe the disconnect between the narrative themes of the story and what you actually spend your time doing in the game.
Some games handle this better than others. Some games don’t even attempt to handle it, combining abstract mechanics with a more realistic narrative. But some games do a wonderful job with fusing their narrative and thematic elements with how the game as a whole works.
And the winner is…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Integration of Mechanics with Thematic Elements
Any dedicated JRPG fan will know what an uphill struggle it is to get people who have found themselves drifting away from the genre to actually play one of your favorite games.
All too often, people are keen to dismiss the whole genre as “Japanese bullshit” at best, depraved disgusting sexist paedophilic misogynist nonsense at worst.
Ever-determined and ever-optimistic, I took to a Google+ community (Editor’s Note: I know, I know, this ages this article a bit) I’m a member of that represents a small but diverse cross-section of gamers from all across the world, covering a broad spectrum of ages, experience levels and tastes, and I posed them a question. You can read an archive of the whole thread here if you like, but I’ll summarize my findings below.
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.
Continue reading From the Archives: Drawing the Line
Writing for The Atlantic, academic and media commentator Ian Bogost put forth the rather bold claim that “video games are better without stories” and asked “film, television and literature all tell them better, so why are games still obsessed with narrative?”
This is an interesting question to ponder in light of any discussion of video games, but it’s a particularly pertinent discussion to have when we’re considering something as ambitious and audacious as Nier: Automata — a game which not only tells a compelling story, it tells it in an incredibly fascinating way.
Bogost’s article meanders around the point somewhat, but ultimately seems to come to the conclusion that purely environmental storytelling — be it through the use of audiologs, a la BioShock, or less explicitly through the environment itself, as in “walking simulators” such as Gone Home — is not a particularly effective approach to presenting an interactive narrative, though it can provide an interesting playground for a player to explore.
And he’s not really wrong in this regard… apart from the fact that it’s only in relatively rare cases that a game exclusively relies on this approach.
Continue reading Nier Automata: A Game Better With — And Because Of — Its Narrative
Nier creator Taro Yoko is particularly fascinated with death: not only the concept itself, but also how different people respond to it.
Yoko’s interest in the subject, as we’ve previously discussed, stems from a traumatic experience in his youth when he witnessed the accidental, easily avoidable death of a friend and discovered, to his surprise, that there was something oddly humorous in the moment as well as it being horrifying. Someone’s existence had come to a premature end, yes, but there was something fundamentally ridiculous about how it had happened; how sudden it was; and how everyone was powerless in the moment to prevent it from happening.
The inherent ridiculousness of death — particularly accidental death — is something that gamers have been familiar with for many years. And so what better medium through which to explore the concept itself — and what better characters to do so with than those that can’t die through conventional means?
Continue reading Nier Automata: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation
Nier: Automata is a fascinating game in its own right, but it becomes even more of an interesting story when you take it in context of everything that led to its creation.
In order to understand Nier: Automata and its predecessors, it is particularly important to understand creator Taro Yoko, one of the most distinctive “auteurs” in all of video game making — albeit one who, until the release of Automata, had largely flown under the radar in stark contrast to his contemporaries such as Hideo Kojima.
Yoko is a creator who, it’s fair to say, has consistently pushed back against the boundaries of what is “accepted practice” in video game development — both in terms of subject matter and mechanical considerations. And the results of his resistance to conventions and norms are some of the most distinctive and interesting — albeit sometimes flawed — creations in all of gaming.
Continue reading Nier Automata: Introduction and History