-by Dylan DiBona
The JRPG genre has always one I’ve had an affinity for, but was never well versed in. I’m trying to change that, but there are always some common roadblocks that stop me from having a truly great time. These five gameplay aspects almost always detract my joy from Japanese role-playing games.
5. Main Character Death = Game Over
Granted I haven’t played too many JRPG’s with this idea implemented, and the main one I have in mind I love. One of my biggest complaints I had with Persona 4 was getting a Game Over because my main character died.
Even if I had three other party members willing to fight, the game was over if I died. It’s annoying for a game that emphasizes friends and connection, that your friends can’t fight for you when you’re down.
I don’t know if this aspect made it’s way into Persona 5, but I really hope not. And for the other series it’s in: stop.
4. Two Bosses in a Row with No Time to Save
Unless the player is properly warned, how is this even remotely fair? For many JRPGS I’ve played, they set up a formula of doing “this, that, boss” but sometimes they like to spontaneously change things by making the pattern “this, that, boss, boss”.
More than a handful of times I was caught off guard by a surprise second boss. With no time to save in between and not having enough items, if you die you have to do both bosses over; which is just not fair. If a video game offers a challenge to it’s player, it should at least be fair.
3. Difficulty Jumping
The two boss nonsense can be triumphed over by a simple death and going to the store and buying extra gear; but when a game overall jumps in difficulty, it can be unbelievably discouraging.
When I tried more than a handful of Final Fantasy games, I’d get into a new area and all the enemies could now destroy me in a few hits. Even though I successfully beat the previous area and boss, that proves useless in a new area. I understand grinding is necessary in some JRPGS, but when a game makes even grinding a challenge with high leveled enemies, there’s a problem.
Even worse is when in a dungeon in a JRPG has mid level enemies but a high level boss. Difficulty and pacing are linked very tightly in this genre.
2. Bad Endings
Why is this even a thing?
So let me get this straight: in a genre in which it’s games are typically over twenty hours (and that’s being modest), developers think it’s fair to reward players with upsetting endings?
I understand that the power of choice is becoming more popular in gaming, but it’s not like Fable where you specifically have to act like a jerk to become evil.
Sometimes all it can take are a few missed conversations with comrades or secret items to be found and you’ll get a heartbreaking end.
My poor eleven year old self still remembers pumping in hours in Tales of Symphonia Dawn of the New World, just to have the main character kill himself. I don’t mind normal endings and better endings, but straight up bad endings? No.
1. No Sense of Direction
This is something that might plague newcomers mostly. Part of the reason I don’t love Chrono Trigger as much as I should is a general lack of direction. Sure there’s the old man who can tell you what place looks “suspicious”, but I need a bit more than that.
I don’t want the game to scream it out for me, but I feel like with the classics from the PS1 era and before, they just said “go explore and find what’s next”, and I’m not crazy about that, especially when the worlds hit me with random encounters every five to ten seconds. When a world is large and filled with random encounters, it can make that necessary exploring pure gameplay hell. A good plot has a good sense of direction.
Maybe I’m just too impatient, or maybe JRPG’s are an acquired taste. It feels great when you get into them, but whenever theses aspects pop up in my games, I get discouraged. As part of an effort to get into JRPG’s more, I’m going to persevere through these trials.
Any JRPG fans want to dispute something with me? Do you think these ideas are actually good for a game? Let me know down below and I’ll try to reply! As always, thanks for reading.