-by Dylan DiBona
Not too many genres really get a “golden age” within gaming; a golden age being a time period where plentiful high quality games of a specific genre come out. Some would say the Nintendo 64 singlehandedly ushered in a golden age of 3D-Platformers with Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie/Tooie, Donkey Kong 64, Conker, etc.
At the 2017 E3 Conference, JRPGs were absolutely not in the spotlight, in fact the only ones I believe were present were remakes of Radiant Historia and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey on 3DS. It’s a tough pill to swallow but this genre is back to being niche and no so relevant with American audiences. It’s an odd thought because of all genres, JRPGs may just have had the longest and strongest golden age in gaming history.
The 16-Bit Former Half
While I acknowledge and endlessly respect the NES era of JRPGs for starting franchises such as Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, let’s be frank, those games have been topped. It just took a bit more technology to finally catch up with the imagination of developers.Do I need to list off the obvious names like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI? What about games like Lufia, Terranigma or Illusion of Gaia?
I don’t consider myself a connoisseur of this era mostly because I haven’t played, beaten or enjoyed enough games from it.
If you were the type of person who just loved leveling up and gobbled up any JRPG story or gameplay, there was so much to play. Unlike the few other golden ages I can think of, the JRPG golden age actually jumped into the next generation of gaming.
Three Dimensional Latter Half
It’s amazing to think of how many SNES JRPGs even got localized in North America, but it’s often times stated that the genre didn’t break out in the country until the PlayStation release of Final Fantasy VII. With such a huge list of titles, you couldn’t possible go one month without a JRPG without some sense of quality.
There was the obscure Chrono Cross, Final Fantasy Tactics and Grandia. Whether it be huge franchises or small little titles, the genre could not be avoided.
While some years were surely better than others, you could argue that the golden age of JRPGs lasted between 1991 and 2000. That long reign is quite the feat when you consider the status of the genre today.
With games like I am Setsuna Lost Odyssey and Bravely Default, it’s obvious that there are developers who remember these games and want to bring them into the modern age. It’s a true shame that the genre is struggling to gain a good reputation again, but let us not forget one of the most important eras in video game history.
So what do you guys think about the golden age of JRPGs? Funny enough, most of my favorite games of the genre come after this time period! Let me know your thoughts down below and I’ll try my best to reply. As always, thanks for reading.