Let's Have a Discussion: Are JRPG's Really RPG's?



  • @FF7Cloud said in Let's Have a Discussion: Are JRPG's Really RPG's?:

    @CGamor7 i always assumed what the difference between a action adventure (zelda for example) and a RPG were number based stats and equipment

    Yeah that's kind of how I always saw it. But I have just thought way to much about it and now im wondering what makes a game really an RPG lol. The lines are being blurred now where devs are taking things from all sorts of games and putting them in one. But i guess a good question is, what is role playing defined as in a game? Maybe destiny is an rpg. You're a guardian. you interact with real people to act as guardians to raid dungeons to increase stats.



  • @CGamor7 yea devs are putting rpg element in everything now, by my definition botw is a RPG


  • Banned

    If stats make a game an rpg then every metroidvania is an rpg.



  • @Art so you dont count symphony of the night as a rpg?



  • @FF7Cloud SoTN is many things (amazing for one), but an RPG? I've never seen it that way



  • @bard91 i always put it as a action platformer with rpg elements



  • I always disclaim that genres and labels are best for marketing and not necessarily best for critically analyzing a game.

    With that out of the way, it seem like WRPGs allow for more player agency (but in recent example like Fallout 4, even then you don't have much say) as opposed to JRPGs that provide greater world context and you unfold the story as a more pre-determined protagonist. However, you still have agency in a JRPG. Your choice to explore, say, a village in such a way that limits story or enriches it, is entirely on the player.

    You also RP when you choose what types of attacks or spells to use. Your version of the hero in Persona 4 can be drastically different from another persons.

    Just my 2 cents.



  • RPGs are almost a useless genre at this point since almost every game does something that used to be associated with the genre.

    Hell, as far as I see it a role playing game is one where you play a specific role. That can mean making up your own character and role, like most western rpgs, or playing the role of an established character with a previously designed history like most japanese rpgs.



  • You shouldn't look to deep into game genres. An RPG at this point is just a game that is generally focused on storytelling and has some kind of player choice involved (in terms of gameplay, not necessarily tied to the story).

    If you get fixated on the name Role Playing Game then just look at how dumb some other are like Real Time Strategy (they're pretty much always Real Time Tactics games). Then look at others like "Fighting game", Beat em up, Shoot em up, etc. and how broad they are.

    Genres at this point are mostly just there to give you a general idea of what they're about. There is no set in stone definition for what an RPG is when it comes to videogames. If you can find something online then it's just made-up by them.



  • I had this discussion with a friend a while back. We were thinking 'What makes games an RPG, when talking we came with another question. What makes games NOT an RPG today?'
    The short answer was, pretty much everything has RPG elements but doesnt mean its an RPG. We also came down to the D&D conversation.
    Some games give you total control of your character to progress through a story you have 'control' over( MMORPGS, Elder Scrolls, Fallout.)
    Some give you a preset character but a flushed out story line that you get to play and develop (Final Fantasy, Tales, Dragon Quest)
    Some give you some of both

    I feel RPG's require the elements below, while some will be flushed out, others take a back seat but they are still there. These are elements that may be in other games, even all might show up but i think are required to be an RPG.

    1. Long over arching story line with the stories between that develop the characters and the world you live in and seeing its effects throughout
      -- Think of the early shooters or side scrollers. Metal Gear games. You're a solider, get in kill win. Why? Because save the world. SoTN kill Dracula, why? Because he is bad and save the world. Now these games have developed out, and have stories now yes

    2. A perception of control over parts of the story. You feel your characters thoughts, feelings, and may have some control of how a character perceives the world.
      -- JRPG's Final Fantasy Tactics or Front Mission 3, or WRPG Mass Effect where there is a predetermined script but you have a feeling of control over paths and a way to project your thoughts onto the character. Other RPG's may have side quests that let you do some of this if not in the full story

    3. A D&D/LARP combat system. Turn based, or Real time but has pen and paper type rules
      -- ‘Real' FPSs a shot to the head kills you, no damage maximum, no ability to walk away with an arrow in your head because you had the best boots equiped in the game... looking at you Bethesda.

    4. Character Progression (levels, abilities, skill tree, equipment layout)
      -- Basically every game has some element of this now.... but if an RPG doesn't it can be quickly denied and casted aside. If CoD or Overwatch removed leveling and weapon progression nothing changes in the game itself. It's a number you can look at, but if Final Fantasy or WoW didn't have leveling or progression... numbers would drop (Warlords of Draenor)

    5. Dungeons/Bosses to progress the story or arc. Can give insight to the world you’re in rather than just a test or to move the plot
      -- This kinda goes back to the smaller stories and at this point also finds its way into many many games that aren't 'RPGs'. Most RPG’s will have side quests that give you extra insight, or story of the land its in. And yes some RPG's do have crawling through a dungeon looting, a boss that is just a test or to go "oh need to move the plot some how"

    The difference between a JRPG and a WRPG and other types I think is normally in the decsion of what takes backseat and what is the driving force. WRPG may give you that large free roam perception of 'You are the character', an understanding of the world around you and a small push to get you moving in it. While JRPG's will focus home on that large quest driven story, a background on the world that changes around you and give you a character that you assume the role as in it.

    **Note: This is not a full list and games will/do vary outside of these. L&R



  • ^ I don't exactly follow the first point.

    Another point:

    I honestly feel like genre labels don't make much sense (as I said). As long as a game provides role playing options as opposed to "RPG-elements" then it is an RPG. Like leveling up is what I consider an RPG-element that is in a million games since 2007, but nothing about leveling up specifically allows one to RP.

    Gaining XP in CoD is generally considered an RPG-element but that's specifically from a genre-normative context and has nothing to do with role playing itself.

    JRPGs do not fall victim of such simple RPG checkbox padding as many other games do. I don't really wanna elaborate much more but, yeah, I personally feel that JRPG games are also RPGs.


  • Global Moderator

    I agree with other people here. It feels like JRPGs are kinda labeled as such as we dont have another category to put them in. Personally I really like JRPGs as I feel they keep my attention in a better way than WRPG (with a few exceptions). I just feel like JRPG focus more on story telling and characters rather than other genres that are about mechanics and such.

    Over the past years other games are loaning elements from RPGs in terms of progression and so on. I think that a game that "identify" as a RPG needs to reach a few criterias.

    Like deep story, characters and progression, dungeons and so on. I feel like JRPG really pulls me in and it makes me think and reflect about the game even when im not playing it.



  • They most certainly are, and like its been explained many a time, this issue lies in a mistaking of what the genre is called and how its defined as a video game genre.

    I'll try and elaborate further when I get home, but please understand now that the game genre of role playing game is much less of what the term "to play a role" means than you think.



  • @CGamor7 said in Let's Have a Discussion: Are JRPG's Really RPG's?:

    I agree with the statement about RPG's, like dragon born , and this is very much an issue with Fallout 4. I know Mass Effect only came down to Red or Blue but other RPG's go beyond morality. For example Torment: Tides of Numinera and other similar CRPG's like it, allow you to make several choices in which you as the person playing are given to define how your character wants to act. It's not defining you as good or bad, its just freedom. Something JRPG's have none of. But your right, ultimately games suffer from the issue that they cannot be open ended and completely mutable to how you wish to play.

    and like I said, hundreds of visual novels let you make choices in how the story proceeds, would you define THOSE as role playing games?



  • @Sieghardt said in Let's Have a Discussion: Are JRPG's Really RPG's?:

    and like I said, hundreds of visual novels let you make choices in how the story proceeds, would you define THOSE as role playing games?

    Actually thought about that last night at some point. its a good question. Maybe they should be considered. They do tend to have far more choices on how you wish to act. It's probably more a RPG then most games.



  • @Sheria said in Let's Have a Discussion: Are JRPG's Really RPG's?:

    They most certainly are, and like its been explained many a time, this issue lies in a mistaking of what the genre is called and how its defined as a video game genre.

    I'll try and elaborate further when I get home, but please understand now that the game genre of role playing game is much less of what the term "to play a role" means than you think.

    I look forward to it :)

    For me I don't understand calling something it's not. If the name doesn't describe the most fundamental aspect of the game then it shouldn't be used at all. maybe something like CMG (character management game).

    It' a horrible name by the way, meant to be a joke :)



  • So there's a famous quote by a Bioware developer that states JRPGs aren't really RPGs. Edgy stuff.

    I definitely echo the sentiment that has been shared here that genres are a little silly in the first place, especially considering how homogenized the industry has become. Just looking at language in general, words do not always mean the same thing throughout all of time. The definition of irony has eventually changed because people were getting it wrong for so long - but if the vast majority of people believe that definition, who are we to deny it? "Role-playing" will never be all inclusive in games, western or Japanese, because a game will never be able to fully account for the roles a player wants to play. Until a better term is invented and adopted though, I'm perfectly content with classifying a JRPG as a role-playing game.


  • Global Moderator

    Random thought. If we didnt place JRPGs as RPGs... what would we lable them as? "story driven combat games" are simply too long


  • Banned

    @Lotias SDCG



  • Are JRPGs really J ?