Have you misplaced a part of your youth? A convoluted, engrossing story? Individualized, quirky characters? A grossly overpowered, unusually stylish protagonist? Looking for that four person party? That menu driven combat? The countless amount of grinding? The four to six stage final boss? If you’ve answered yes to one or all of these questions, then you, like me, are itching for a traditional, console-style RPG.
I, more than most, am an RPG whore, and will play most anything that receives a decent amount of buzz. I’ve tackled everything, within the last few years, from Fallout 3 to Eternal Sonata to Rise of the Argonauts to Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, with most titles offering an engrossing experience that I can thoroughly explore and enjoy a fulfilling journey. But most action RPGs (and similar variations), unless new aspects are added along the course of the game, get boring and repetitive. I don’t know how many times I had to put down FFVII:Crisis Core in disgust because I just couldn’t take the monotonous combination of mission-driven sidequests and mindless repetition of the “x” button. Or how I maxed out my level in Mass Effect before I could finish masturbating to the alien lesbian sex romp.
Yet, I cannot dispel (you see that I did there?) my anger onto this sect of role playing games. I enjoy the adventure they produce, while also finding myself becoming completely engulfed by their respective worlds. And it is this fascination that has spread over the consumer faster than a chimpanzee can destroy a woman’s face (what, too soon?). The industry is driven by the consumer, and today, the largest group of people within the video gaming world is your 18-to-25-year-old male who’s looking for everything to be on a fast-paced track to EXTREME.
With the fast-paced, action obsessed youth being popped out of the uteri around the globe, it’s no surprise games like Mass Effect, Fable, The Elder Scrolls series, Tales of Vesperia, Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, and Valkyria Chronicles have become the norm for RPGs on this 7th generation of console gaming. Yes, there have been some solitary, traditional releases over the three year span of this generation, but Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, as much fun as I had playing them, haven’t exactly satisfied this ongoing hunger that previous generations never failed to conquer. I have also enjoyed the re-releases of past classics; both Star Oceans and Chrono Trigger provided a great deal of fun, not to mention the resurgence of my youth. But on such a small screen and all three being games that I’ve beaten before, my role playing desires haven’t exactly been met. Planned RPG releases for either the 360 or the PS3 are somewhat numerous, albeit far between, but are either action or PC styled, with no satisfaction in sight. The traditional, console-style RPG, or sometimes “jRPG,” is a dying breed. A genre being slowly murdered by the consumer.
If we focus our attention to one of, if not the most, popular game of all time, (by numbers, no, but by sheer commonality) World of Warcraft, we witness the murderous foundation of the traditional role playing game. With its introduction back in 2004, WoW has exponentially grown to a subscriber list of more than 11 million players in just over four short years. Because of its immense popularity (as well as its “predecessors”), many console games have tried to mimic the overall feel of an MMORPG, without becoming a massively multiplayer online experience.
And whether we realize it or not, both traditional and modern console role playing games are measured against Final Fantasy as a series, which has simply become a single player, offline MMORPG in its most recent endeavor (and its upcoming one). And with 11 million subscriptions for WoW, why not tinker with a couple features, add some new ones, call it your own, and try to mooch players from the MMO mammoth?
Like the current stock of MMOs, console RPGs (and video games, in general) have transitioned “nicely” to serving the persistent world community, with many other games featuring mission based extras, collection quests, and the focal point of the game shifting from plot to action-oriented gameplay. And if Final Fantasy is doing it, the entire genre should follow suit, right? Wrong, but until a new fad emerges, this is what will continue to happen.
Epic stories and convoluted plot twists are sacrificed for character customization and grittiness. Menu driven battles are exchanged for real time encounters. Grinding is replaced with “event experience,” where you gain experience just for playing out a plot point (something that has gotten absolutely ridiculous). Where is my cigar smoking, booze drinking, resident wise-ass? My cute, quirky, disproportioned jailbait? The omnipotent main protagonist? I know these stereotypes have been both overused and don’t appeal to every gamer interested in the role playing genre, however, when I hear, as I’m sure most other hardcore gamers do, the acronym “RPG,” this is what my whorish little role playing brain visualizes for me. I do not think of playing as either good or evil, real time battles (or strategy-RPG style battles, for that matter), or collection quests.
I’m afraid, though, that my ranting (see: bitching) is for naught, as there is not one solitary JRPG release slated for either the PS3 or 360 (in America, that is). Nor have I caught wind of anything in the beginning stages of production. There ain’t nothin’ out there. Maybe I was wrong. The traditional, console-style role playing game is not dying; its already dead (or I need to learn Japanese).
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