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Why end 80s/earlier 90s JRPG's so different than modern ones?

Cryomancer

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Take final fantasy 1 for eg >
  • Full party creation, if you wanna have 4 thieves you can.
  • Classes for the typical fantasy archetypes(Black Mage, Thieves, Warriors, White Mages, etc)
  • Promotion quests
  • Random/Dice based stat and hp progression
  • Spell slots and "tier based" magical progression where a tier 1 fire spell can deal 40 damage. A Tier 5, 500 damage in ALL enemies.
  • OHK spells like Bane.
On SNES JRPG that i loved was 7th saga. In that game, you could play as a ***** demon or as a cyborg. In the past, i criticized a lot JRPG's, but now i realize that there are good ones like Dark Souls and most critique that i had against JRPG's, applies to WRPG's. For eg, the nonsensical armor design applies to both, the lack of choices and consequences, the ludonarrative dissonance, etc.

I still prefer Dark Sun Shattered Lands over Final Fantasy 1, but playing a little of FF1 isn't being a bad experience.

Why they changed so much?
 
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Well, Japanese nerd media in general has declined in terms of overall quality because creators were inspired by superior source material, like global literature's best war novels (everything from the Iliad to Parade's End), because all they had to watch growing up was Astro Boy (which is a fine thing, so far as it goes) and they wanted to elevate the medium. In the 80s/90s, they were using video games and anime as new art forms for iterating on classic themes and ideas.

Now the new crop of creators are the kids who spent their time playing games and watching anime instead of reading the Iliad, so all they can do in cannibalize and regurgitate the old ideas without fully realizing or appreciating the deeper meaning and relevance of these ideas. That and read the Internet, usually fan fiction, which helps them narrow in one what types of content are appealing to the people who buy all of the toys and models and collector's editions (where they make their real money).

But a more relevant observation to your problem is that when games became more graphically intensive and story-driven (think FF7 remake, but also the original FF7) and less atmospheric (like Dark Souls), there there was less urgency to make the game design detailed or complex because eye candy is easy and attracts audiences, while complex games are difficult and repel everyone who isn't playing games for the sake of games.
 
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Vorark

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Think it's a matter of the Wizardry influence still being strong enough during late 80s coupled with tech limitations.

Well, Japanese nerd media in general has declined in terms of overall quality because creators were inspired by superior source material

Don't think it's unique to them, Western media has also declined hard.
 

Hyperion

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Samurai are no longer the masters of gaming as they once were. They've gone from prestigious dungeon crawler autists to handheld, mobile gaming babbys who do it strictly to keep busy while on their 2 hour subway ride to a 16 hour workday. JRPGs are developed for them, not the basement dwelling autists like us. They traded mercilessly kicking your ass for 10 hours with mindlessly grinding easy shit for 10 hours of busywork.
 

Cryomancer

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. JRPGs are developed for them, not the basement dwelling autists like us. They traded mercilessly kicking your ass for 10 hours with mindlessly grinding easy shit for 10 hours of busywork.

Except that you don't need to be a "basement dweller" to enjoy good RPG's. RPG's are a extremely costly effective hobby. Pathfinder Kingmaker, if you pay $50 hours on it and spend 500 hours(A lot of people reached it), you spended 0,1$ per hour. Everything that i like to do IRL is costly. For eg, Skiing on Bariloche(Argentina) is extremely cheaper than in North America or in Europe and still extremely expensive(here is a site of a place that i was in 2018 > https://www.cerrobayo.com.ar/en/ )

But backing to JRPG's, look to animes inspired by RPG's, some of then are nonsensical TRASH like SAO but some are quite good like Overlord. With JRPG's, where are the "overlord jrpg's?" And is not because the Overlord MC is a necromancer and Lich, is because is a mix of high fantasy, low fantasy and dark fantasy in a consistent way. Drifters is another example.

Think it's a matter of the Wizardry influence still being strong enough during late 80s coupled with tech limitations.

Nice point.

because all they had to watch growing up was Astro Boy (which is a fine thing, so far as it goes) and they wanted to elevate the medium. In the 80s/90s, they were using video games and anime as new art forms for iterating on classic themes and ideas.

Amazing post. You said everything..
 
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Modron

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My hypothesis is basically the same, dbz gave two decades of Japanese children autism and then they entered the workforce turning anime and vidyagaming to shiet.
 
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Think it's a matter of the Wizardry influence still being strong enough during late 80s coupled with tech limitations.

Well, Japanese nerd media in general has declined in terms of overall quality because creators were inspired by superior source material

Don't think it's unique to them, Western media has also declined hard.

More of the same, really. The circumstances, degrees, and process differ a lot in the details, though.

All media is developed with age groups in mind (PG, PG-13, R, etc) with a lot of effort going into devising ways to expand the appeal to other age groups (such as Pixar PG films having a lot of adult humor and subtext). In Japan, genre in terms of age is more strongly defined into Shonen, Seinen, Shojo, and Josei, basically:

Shonen: 14 years old boys, averaged
Seinen: 18-30+ boys/men
Shojo: 14 year old girls, averaged
Josei: 14-30+ girls/women

The prevalence of these four genres isn't equal, though. Japan suffers from a phenomenon where Shonen (basically stuff for boys on the same thematic depth as a Michael Bay film) is the golden standard of entertainment, with the broadest appeal among other genders and age groups outside the intended demographic of 14 year old boys.

These concepts don't translate well into foreign ideas of age demographics, but in comparison, the West is far more inclined toward Seinen (not really good Seinen so much, though).

Video games actually held out the longest, but eventually, the "Shonen Creep" ushered in by DBZ began to affect them as well (compare classic Fire Emblem games through the GBA or even the Wii to Awakening or Fates, games that have abandoned any pretension of serious war drama to be fully and totally Shonen to the point of rendering their material as absurd self parodies).

FromSoftware has done very well, thanks to a fortuitous (miraculously hired the right talent, miraculously found the correct audience) combination of circumstances, and companies like Platinum Games have redeeming qualities to compensate for their excessive utilization of Shonen themes and motifs.

Even Fire Emblem: Three Houses shows Intelligent Systems isn't totally without hope. Japan has fortresses against the decline, as well as unique advantages specific to their culture, but their bigger producers like SquareEnix usually aren't among them.

Western media nowadays is more mature in terms of content and mood, but equally dumb for the most part (so, bad Seinen).
 
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Zed Duke of Banville

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Take final fantasy 1 for eg >
  • Full party creation, if you wanna have 4 thieves you can.
  • Classes for the typical fantasy archetypes(Black Mage, Thieves, Warriors, White Mages, etc)
  • Promotion quests
  • Random/Dice based stat and hp progression
  • Spell slots and "tier based" magical progression where a tier 1 fire spell can deal 40 damage. A Tier 5, 500 damage in ALL enemies.
  • OHK spells like Bane.
On SNES JRPG that i loved was 7th saga. In that game, you could play as a ***** demon or as a cyborg. In the past, i criticized a lot JRPG's, but now i realize that there are good ones like Dark Souls and most critique that i had against JRPG's, applies to WRPG's. For eg, the nonsensical armor design applies to both, the lack of choices and consequences, the ludonarrative dissonance, etc.

I still prefer Dark Sun Shattered Lands over Final Fantasy 1, but playing a little of FF1 isn't being a bad experience.

Why they changed so much?
The original Final Fantasy was released in Japan in 1987, before the creation of the subgenre known to us today as JRPGs, and it cribbed so heavily from D&D/AD&D that a few names and images were changes upon its release in the United States for fear of a lawsuit from TSR. Around 1989/1990, a few Japanese RPGs (e.g. Phantasy Star II, Final Fantasy IV) moved heavily in the direction of telling a plot-heavy narrative constructed around predefined characters while simplifying combat, exploration, and character customization. The success of the first few games in this subgenre swiftly resulted in a horde of imitations on consoles, and Japan became best known for the RPG subgenre that we call JRPGs, but Japan has continued to produce Wizardry-likes not dissimilar to the original Final Fantasy as well as RPGs in various other subgenres (e.g. the King's Field series of Underworld-likes and the Demon's/Dark Souls series of action RPGs).
 

Norfleet

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Everything goes to shit for the same reason: In the beginning, there is nothing and so people shotgun out a ton of ideas. Most of which are shit and quickly forgotten, but if you throw enough shit at the wall, some of it sticks.

That which sticks spawns endless unoriginal imitations thereof, and this is how you get a "genre".

But remember, as the ancient Romans put it, "Omnia Merdae Sunt".
 

Cryomancer

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moved heavily in the direction of telling a plot-heavy narrative constructed around predefined characters while simplifying combat, exploration, and character customization.

That explains a lot. I mean, i don't midn playing with a fix protagonist. As longs the protagonist is interesting. Eg, a Doctor who got infected with vampirism and needs to deal with his new "condition", The androgynous teenager with a oversized swords nº 685416156165123264 is just a chore. Even BG2 : SoA would become unplayable if i had to play it as "Van" and BG2 SoA is my favorite game of all time... The protagonist of Planescape torment also seems amazing.

endless unoriginal imitations thereof, and this is how you get a "genre".

Well, the RPG started as a deviation of war gaming. And IMO most RPG's(and JRPG's) sucks due bad ideas, not copying old ideas.
 

Grampy_Bone

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Something happened in the 90s that caused everything made in Japan to turn to shit. Don't believe me? Just look at modern anime.

Story checks out:

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/in...m-with-the-anime-industry-is-it-full-of-otaku

According to the recent retiree, anime suffers because industry staff is made up of otaku who "don't spend time watching real people" and are "humans who can't stand looking at other humans."

On SNES JRPG that i loved was 7th saga

Fucking 7th Saga, gimping the player character to defeat rental chains.

Anyway, you have nostalgia goggles. A lot of JRPGs are straight up shit. I don't mean "bad in comparison to a WRPG" but just awful trash all around. No redeeming value whatsoever. I say that as a big JRPG fan.

What was going on during the 90s was filtering. Only the really decent games made it west, the trash stayed in glorious nippon. Nowadays the trash floods out with the rest and it's hard to find the good games. Like everything.
 

Ialda

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Penty of good causes behind the decline of japanese pop-culture, pretty much all of them already cited in this thread.

- economic stagflation from 89 onward, the lost decade and the rise of the NEET "no job security" generation - if you add into the mix the demographic decline, you can see why sophisticated cultural products aimed at the middle-class are declining, and why the anime industry must focus more and more on its "otaku" captive market (they aren't many of them, but they will not hesitate to pay 10K yens for a plastic figurine of their waifu). The turning point was probably around 2008, when Sunrise (the Gundam studio) produced My Hime, and when Kyoani did Haruhi.
- inferior source material : commoditized, industrialized cultural crap won the war and replaced classics at homes and at schools, with autistics kids from now on reading Harry Potter instead of Steinbeck, Verne or Ernst Junger's Storms of Steel from 2001 onward. Votoms, Gundam or Nadia Secret of Blue Water were all inspired by litterature's best; today, the best you can expect is another light novel adaptation where idiot oniichan must manage a harem of stereotyped cretins.
- genres shift : adventure, hard/space SF that reigned since the 70s are no longer in fashon.
- plenty of good creators dying without any good replacement coming up - see Satoshi kon, for example.
- design by committee has become the rule; at the same time, we have less and less original works, pretty much everything is an adaptation of the LN or a manga. All of this mean less and less creative agency for directors and scenarist to work out their own ideas.


Problem is, Miyazaki was already badmouthing the rest of the anime industry back during the 80s anime boom. At least he is consistent, in a "broken clock right twice a day" kind of way.

The guy had a crush on the heroine of 1958's Hakuja den that was the reason why he chose to work for Toei, and invented the moe girl with Cagliostro's Clarisse (and the beautiful fighting girl with Nausicaa). He is a dork for WW2 war hardware. He is pretty much the ur-prototype for Otakudom.
 
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Endemic

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Can't speak for all of the market, but dungeon crawlers are alive and well, and there's been a revival of the SRPG genre lately.

As for anime, the remake of LotGH is still ongoing, so there's gems to be found if you know where to look.
 

Ialda

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The trick as always is to identify which artists to follow : anything from Masaaki Yuasa or studio Mappa (aka former Madhouse's Masao Maruyama) usually don't suck.

Last winter season, Dorohedoro was pretty good; director Yuichiro Hayashi (also Garo and Kakegurui, among other things) is someone to look for.
 
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felipepepe

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Because the edgelords in this thread don't understand that those games were made for a niche of otakus, while what you're playing now is probably made for a mainstream audience. If you want the hardcore experience, go play the hardcore stuff, not complain about goddamn final fantasy.

This is the dumbest possible kind of elitism, is like only going to the cinema to watch superhero movies and then posting about how the art of cinema has declined.
 

Karellen

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The thing that happened to Japanese RPGs, as far as I can tell, is that pretty early on the field split into multiple subgenres. I think that early console limitations may have had a lot to do with it - it can't possibly be a reasonable thing to try and make an RPG that was good at everything on the NES, so it makes sense to build your game up from the start to be good at one thing instead. So games would end up specialising, to the effect that on the more hardcore end you get dungeon crawlers with full party creation and elaborate character building but focusing on a single dungeon and tactical RPGs with a lot of party building and complex combat but basically no exploration, and on the less hardcore end you have action RPGs with a lot of exploration but no party and Final Fantasy-likes with the focus on story, fixed characters and trekking around a big world map. Very different design goals.

I think that Japanese RPGs have suffered some degree of decline, though mainly from the PS1 era onwards, but this isn't strictly due to having given up particular mechanics or RPG features. Everything that was there in 80s RPGs is still alive and kicking in one subgenre or other. As far as I can tell, Japanese developers simply don't feel that their games should have every conceivable RPG element, so they specialise a great deal more than western developers do, and I don't think it's a bad strategy, it's lead to a lot of great and unique games over the years.
 

Cryomancer

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but dungeon crawlers are alive and well, and there's been a revival of the SRPG genre lately.

Can you name good dungeon crawler recommendations? I wanna check then out.

Problem is, Miyazaki was already badmouthing the rest of the anime industry back during the 80s anime boom. At least he is consistent, in a "broken clock right twice a day" kind of way.

Miyazaki criticize the anime culture BUT the last game that Studio Ghibli worked with it if i remember correctly was Ni No Kuni. Another game about children with swords saving the world and the PC can't even chose to use a spear or a axe.

while what you're playing now is probably made for a mainstream audience. If you want the hardcore experience, go play the hardcore stuff, not complain about goddamn final fantasy.

That is not the point. Nobody is demanding that FF should be hard and unforgiving as Dark Sun Shattered Lands(which i had a really hard time on end battle), only why earlier "JRPG" games are completely different than post FF 7 games made from Japan. One FF game that i did liked a little was Dirge of Cerberus. Finally a protagonist using something different than a fast swinging blade. Vincent uses a tri barrel revolver and he can get a rifle, submachine gun and fully customize his weapon.

d6l74ke-2fddbc26-6b01-4ed5-844b-932910627dea.jpg

source of the img https://www.deviantart.com/assert-revenge/art/Vincent-Valentine-Cerberus-Gun-1-398401502

The gun mechanics could be better implemented. Instead of a homogenized "pistol ammo", know what caliber that gun uses would be cool. Having different types of ammo, incendiary, explosive, armor piercing, hollow point, and even anti shield ammo would be amazing. But nothing is perfect. Was a interesting game non the less.
 
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Siveon

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Because the edgelords in this thread don't understand that those games were made for a niche of otakus, while what you're playing now is probably made for a mainstream audience. If you want the hardcore experience, go play the hardcore stuff, not complain about goddamn final fantasy.

This is the dumbest possible kind of elitism, is like only going to the cinema to watch superhero movies and then posting about how the art of cinema has declined.
A lot of misconceptions and poorly thought conclusions in this thread for the sake of looking smarter. It's easier to say everything has gone to shit, woe is all, without putting in the time to learn where your tastes can be found elsewhere and truly knowing about the trends of the culture.

Just on the anime industry alone, a lot of people always look at the outlier lightning in the bottle masterpieces without even bothering to look at what the industry was truly like. You think something like Gundam was easily attainable, that it was common? There's a reason it was a cultural phenomenon. But a thing that a lot of people seem to ignore is that media can't get that big like that as to inspire copycats. There's a lot more choices now to be made about what you consume so there's a lot more products gearing themselves to specific audiences when they're outside of the mainstream bubble.
 

flyingjohn

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Because the edgelords in this thread don't understand that those games were made for a niche of otakus, while what you're playing now is probably made for a mainstream audience. If you want the hardcore experience, go play the hardcore stuff, not complain about goddamn final fantasy.

This is the dumbest possible kind of elitism, is like only going to the cinema to watch superhero movies and then posting about how the art of cinema has declined.

It is crazy how much niche can you find in fan games and Japanese only games.Just touhou alone is worth mentioning.

One of the best spiritual successor to super mario rpg is a touhou fangame made by people who made a touhpou eroge.
Then you one of the best super robot wars like game with actual challenge called fantasy maiden wars.And then you get dungeon crawlers(labyrinth) and one of the more challenging jrpg's called devil of decline.
One of the best megaman battle network games is a cancelled touhou fangame that is beatable called shanghai.exe.
One of the more hardcore mystery dungeons games called touhou reloaded,which has a entire series.
Oh,and the pokemon fangames are actually quite decent.

Japan niche stuff is a endless variation between surprises and disgust,and i love it.
 

flyingjohn

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and one of the more challenging jrpg's called devil of decline.
First time I hear of this one. Has anyone played this?
I've tried The Genius of Sappheiros but it had too much bullshit hidden in wikis.
It is the sequel to that game and unfortunately there is even more stuff hidden in the wikis.
 

MpuMngwana

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Miyazaki criticize the anime culture BUT the last game that Studio Ghibli worked with it if i remember correctly was Ni No Kuni. Another game about children with swords saving the world and the PC can't even chose to use a spear or a axe.

Criticizing anime culture =/= weird autistic obsession with not using swords and poorly informed generalizations.
 

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