Fantastic worlds dyed by bright colors led by predestined heroes, treacherous antagonists in castles that have fallen into ruin, enemies that are actually sometimes even funny ones; when it comes to this type of fairy tale it is almost inevitable to think about JRPG. This type of video game it definitely has marked a generation – not only of consoles but also of gamers – has managed to give a sense of concreteness to the evergreen phrase “daydreaming“.
What sets JRPGs apart from other RPGs, at least in most cases, is undoubtedly its combat system strictly marked by turns. In fact, the terminology Japanese Role Playing Game (literally translated as Japanese role-playing video game) nowadays simply adapted “Japanese style”is no longer used only to define the country of origin of the development team, but also almost erroneously also the various game systems typical of the genre.
Frequently compared to Action RPG, predominantly preferred by the western market, the JRPGs, in part initially conceived with static fights to accommodate an engine limitation, continue to be favored today in the design and planning stages to bring titles to life with easy-to-learn systems. Modern giants like Person 5 And Dragon Quest XI have in fact shown that, while retaining the classic formula from Turn-Based RPGthese manage quietly to keep up with their busier counterparts, and that unlike what one might expect they have managed to find their place not only in the Japanese market, but also in the West, without having to make any changes. From this we deduce that in reality comparing them as if they were each other’s enemy, besides being limiting, is also wrong. The two genres, often referred to as eternal rivals, are indeed both of them shades of the same veinwhich often in various titles even go so far as to hybridize in trying to create something creatively valid and innovative.
Two sides of the same coin
This fight, supported by the sympathetic factions of the two game systems, inevitably led to no longer being able to ignore “The elephant in the room”. So we ended up with it needlessly discredit each otherwhen it is evident that they both stand out for totally different features: where the action provides that sense of freedom, frenzy and immediacy, while being criticized for the alleged lack of moments of reflection, the Turn-Based RPG is exalted for the strategic components but mistreated for its slowness and now considered “old”. At the end of the day, even if there are those who present themselves as champions of their own tastes, it is easy to imagine that this is nothing more than a simple matter of preference, as the shifts really like, and therefore it is not necessarily a taking of part.
Whether in terms of development or as users, in fact, the reasons for preferring a Turn-Based RPGalso sometimes called Command-Based RPGhave always been multiple. It could be said that the JRPG, as a genre, was actually established during the life cycle of the PSX. This console, in fact, offered several top titles soon spread on everyone’s lips, like the omnipresent saga entitled Final Fantasybut also others less famous but today they are finally recognized for their own merit, such as The Legend of Dragoon And Suikoden.
Often, but not always, developers selected this genre to overcome the technical difficulties of trying to create a Action RPG excessive demands, given the technology of the time; gamers, especially Japanese, simply instead they ended up passionate about it, as these games not only offered an immediate and easy to learn system, but also hundreds of hours of play, ending up being counted, even today, among the longest-lasting videogame products of all.
A constantly evolving tradition
Tend to i JRPG they offer an individual storytellinga unique combat system is one meticulous and slow character developmentnot to mention one rich history it’s a vast cast of protagonists and non-protagonists, most of whom usable in battle at the same time. The combat system, in fact, prefers the preparation of the latter and the corresponding tactical development. To cadence the turns, the battle is marked by cinematic executions of selected skills and spells. In return, generically the Action RPGalmost in contrast, they prefer a single protagonist and a narrative that is certainly faster and more immediate, which fits perfectly with the dynamic and frenetic rhythm of their combat system.
Although therefore characterized by very specific specifications that have been handed down over the years, i JRPG they hugged several changes aimed at improving the experience. The first video games used to feature very tedious systems, such as the excessive need for grinding (i.e. having to earn many experience points and consequent levels before being able to defeat the boss on duty), a single level of difficulty sometimes too easy or too difficult, and probably the system that continues to give nightmares to many gamers who love the game. genre: the so-called “random battle“, Or the random battles.
To overcome the first problem most modern JRPGs present different selectable difficulty levels at the start of a new game, in order to accommodate all types of players, allowing the customization of their videogame experience. As regards the random battlethese were totally eliminated and replaced with enemies on the screen. This last improvement has allowed the developers to give the player more control over the start of the battle, as they will have the ability to avoid or attack the opponent before the battle screen, allowing for ambushes that generally reward the player with a variety of bonuses.
Experimenting with the turn-based system, one of the most famous examples of combat not conforming to the classic turn-based system is certainly the ATBor Active Time Battle: this system consists in the presence of time bars added to each character which determine the order in which your turn will fall for act by selecting the appropriate command.
In short, each JRPG presents the own individual shadeswhether they are ATB, static shifts, or a mixture of the two mechanics: each single title offers its own original item which tends to offer a breath of fresh air without betraying its own formula or distorting the genre.
“Today the cat is saved, tomorrow God is defeated”
A necessary and equally important parenthesis is certainly the impact that JRPGs have had on the indie market. Although the triple A productions that favor this genre are very few and can be counted on the fingers of one hand, the Turn-Based RPG are almost the salvation of developers who try their hand in this area for the first time. Although part of this choice undoubtedly falls on the greater ease of programming a turn-based video game, the fact remains that there are many indie productions of a certain importance as the most recent Rise of the Third Powerwhich surprised gamers with its story, its music and an impressive and detailed Pixel Art.
To try to recreate the charm of this genrehave joined the list of successful experiments in recent years games like Ruined King: A League of Legends Story And Yakuza: Like a Dragonwhich has blown away fans of the franchise, who expected everything except the classic turn-based combat.
Established that i JRPG have already evolved previously, however, we continue to look for ways to innovate them homogeneously, creating fresh titles that are in step with the times. The most recent size 2.5which combines the depth of 3D with the drawings of 2D, officially introduced with Octopath Travelerstarted what is considered a real trend for this genre of video game. The announced Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes by Rabbit & Bear Studios, as well as a spiritual sequel to Suikodenwhich has sent the famous crowdfunding site Kickstarter into a tailspin, wants to draw on this legacy by trying to elevate this technology as much as possible.
Regarding the triple A titles, between Dragon Quest XIIto which the creator, Yūji Horii, has specified that the announced changes will not scare the lovers of combat in turns, and Dragon Quest III HD-2D Remakewhich instead is developed in a size 2.5, looks like the beloved progenitor series of the Turn-Based RPG he’s doing well enough to even experiment.
But also if this new dimension seems to be the natural graphic evolution of the JRPGvideo games like Sea of Stars by Sabotage Studio, drawing inspiration from the memorable Chrono Triggerare determined to show that even a faithfully retro style can be enough to reach great heights.
By adding One Piece: Odyssey and the noisy Person 6whether they are large or small projects, it is clear that, unlike what you think, i JRPG with a lot of classic turn-based combat system are not outdated and that, on the contrary, are destined to regain their success just like in the past.