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.