JOYSTICK: Can JRPGs survive the recent slumpPublished 5:00pm Saturday, March 5, 2011
Japanese Role Playing Games have taken a shellacking in recent years.
Whether it’s accusations of static gameplay or the bright lights and cartoonish quality of some of the most serious JRPGs, it seems Japanese developers have a lot to prove right now if they want to compete with American game companies. Right now, there’re a lot of signs they just might come out strong in the North American market this year.
JRPGs are still in demand, regardless of what some gamers think. That’s one of the reasons why classic JRPGs are being re-released online for consoles. Look no further than Vagrant Story, a cult classic game and the predecessor for several Final Fantasy games which hit the Playstation Network this week. Its gameplay may be a bit tedious at times, but the game is heralded for having a breathtaking story and a wondrous use of cinematography using PS1 graphics. It’d be a real surprise if it didn’t make the Top 10 list on PSN this week, as gamers have called for Square Enix to put the game out again for quite years.
Pokemon Black and White will overtake the bestsellers’ list this month, as the latest installations in the long-running franchise are due out today. Don’t let the cutesy, almost child-like art design fool you: Pokemon is a ruthless Nintendo DS game enjoyed by gamers of all ages.
It will undoubtedly become a top seller for several weeks and win some sort of award for RPG of the year, especially with the early buzz that Black and White have a more adult story and tougher challenges this time around.
Speaking of tougher challenges, the Namco Bandai-published Dark Souls is expected out on consoles by the end of this year. The spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls, a medieval open-ended RPG infamous for an abominably punishing difficulty, Dark Souls is said to have more weapons, spells and enemies while managing to be “significantly harder,” according to developers.
Demon’s Souls was the surprise PS3 RPG of 2009 and sold more than 500,000 games within a few months with almost no marketing to speak of. There’s no conceivable reason why Dark Souls, Pokemon, a rumored FF13 Versus or other top-quality JRPGs won’t do better this year.