RPG! Now With Added J!

This is girl is undoubtedly a deadly warrior, and not an undernourished April Ryan impersonator at all.

This week a great big game about playing roles* was released on those consoles that the kids seem to like so much. It had a picture of a FEMALE on the front! She was flashing a bit of thigh, too. These boys know their audience. Anyway, this game is Final Fantasy 13***, and it’s a bit different from all those other RPGs I can’t seem to shut up about. For one, it’s not by BioWare (steady on), and secondly it’s not an RPG – it’s a JRPG.

The JRPG is an excruciatingly bizarre thing, and a genre that I’ve never really been able to get on with. As in, I loathe the wretched things.  Call me a crazy, but shouldn’t hours and hours of non-interactive cutscenes have been gutted and buried at the four points of the compass when the interactive movie went to the wall? Maybe it’s the fault of my wildly liberal hippy PC gaming background, but I like a bit more interactivity in my RPGs. I like a combat system with a bit more going on than picking an attack off a list and watching a movie. Give me freedom or give me death! Or at least a tactical combat system and dialogue options, eh?

But I am nothing if not open minded.**** I’ve always wondered if I’ve been missing something beautiful. To that end, I’ve dabbled in Lost Odyssey (miserable), Final Fantasy 3 (agonising), Final Fantasy 4 (painful, but bearable) and, eventually, Chrono Trigger (surprisingly enjoyable). But even Chrono Trigger, which was perfectly passable, left me a little cold. While others drifted through spasms of delight at it’s various strengths, I was having fond thoughts of Baldur’s Gate and Fallout. Are western RPGs just, y’know, better?

JRPG fans seem happy to take what I would see as flaws in their stride, to celebrate them. Interminable cinematics and a story with as much room for deviation and individuality as Robo-Stalin come with the territory and are happily accepted. People come for the story, despite it being delivered in a manner which would surely be a lot more effective if it was just a great big twelve hour film (Metal Gear Syndrome). Interestingly, when I’ve introduced JRPG fans to the joys of the Black Isle or Bethesda Models (the prevailing and bestest models for the western role-players), they have managed to enjoy the experience. The same is not true in reverse – at least not for me.

But perhaps that’s the fault of my rabidly dogmatic nature. Maybe it’s just me being tribal. So, if you would be so kind, any JRPG fans reading should belt out some comments for that little offshoot below, and let the EDR devouring world know the perfect, non-interactive joy of the JRPG. They’ve been going hungry of late, so a word glut would surely go down a treat.

As a coda, I am actually considering picking up FF13. I can’t seem to shake the feeling that there must be something there to be enjoyed – after all, FF7 is widely regarded as the second coming in videogame form. Am I just doing it wrong? Is it worth shelling out forty British pounds to find out? Again?

Stay frosty, you lot. I’ll be back.


*Translated, this means numbers increasing and picking up new swords. And gold. And, in this instance, Phoenix Downs.**

**Record for post start to first asterisk? Must be.

***I’m in no mood for numerals.


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3 Comments on “RPG! Now With Added J!”

  1. NightHunter Says:

    I wouldn’t bother really Paul. If you don’t like JRPGs you won’t like XIII*. It’s hard to explain the appeal of JRPGs but I likes ’em. Maybe it’s the outlandishness of it, the massive hair, the even bigger swords. In the end I’ll admit I could wander round Vivec for days on end, but there comes a point in JRPGs, fun as I may find them, when you decide you really should take a break from looking at spreadsheets. Western RPG are about playing a role** of your own choosing, whilst JRGPs are more about playing a pre-determined role. In Baulder’s Gate I was playing how I want my character to be, I think that’s what most JRPGs lack.

    Also you didn’t capitalise the g in the second RPG in the first paragraph.

    *I’m always in the mood for numerals, or at least complete and infallible accuracy.
    **Funny that.

  2. Paul S Says:

    You clearly imagined this. As you can see, there is no such flaw.

  3. NightHunter Says:

    Wow I keep finding non-existent flaws. Damn I’ll just have to try to get better.

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