Games that I've recently been playing that have lead me to blog about my views on this are Atelier Rorona, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Trinity Universe, Ar Tonelico Qoga, White Knight Chronicles and what is still my favourite JRPG of this generation, Star Ocean the Last Hope International.
It's not very often I actually pay any serious attention to a JRPG review. JRPGs were a large part of the culture of RPG gaming on PS1 and PS2 and although the seemingly bottomless hole of new games this generation has made JRPGs less prevalent, I still find that they're often quite engaging and well worth playing.
Although I understand that most reviewers out there don't seem to be into JRPGs and thus their reviews and sometimes unjustifiable low scores will obviously reflect that, I can't help but notice the lack of objectivity. Perhaps this is subject to the fact that the reviews I read are often done by Western reviewers who are reviewing an entirely different cultural experience within a game and simply don't understand it. More often than not this cultural experience isn't really taken into consideration.
Characters in very strange and often skimpy costumes, exploding penguins, dialgoue that almost appears to have been mistranslated at first glance. To those of us who watch anime or read manga regularly or just enjoy and try to understand more specifically Japanese culture the strange characters and extremely odd dialogue are somewhat par for the course. While often found to be weird or at times perhaps a little disturbing these things are almost expected and thus often not worth shining a spotlight on as if it comes as a great shock; I can understand the need to point it out as not everyone reading the review will play JRPGs or watch anime etc. More often than not I find myself laughing at the dialgoue that appears to have missed the square completely and landed somewhere between the circle and the hexagon.
I'm a purist when it comes to anime so I always watch it subbed instead of dubbed. The voices nearly always seem incredibly wrong in English. There's really no other way I feel I can describe it. It's often the same with JRPGs. The casting for voice acting is very deliberate to give the characters the perfect fit to the voice - it's a cultural fit. Far too often this doesn't happen with the english voice actors. Through no fault of their own, they just can't fit the spirit of the character. They're often too angry, too whiny, not ridiculous enough to fit the intention.
Graphics are another sore point for me when it comes to western reviews. The games are often not intended to be of a high graphical quality. Graphics are done in a certain style, and although these days that's often 1080p HD graphics, it can still be reminiscent of how things looked in the last generation of consoles. This again comes down to a cultural/traditional fit more than a lack of ability on the part of the developers. This point also fits into how graphics orientated gaming seems to have become this generation and how any game that doesn't have graphics up to a certain standard is reviewed lower. It seems especially true in the case of JRPGs that the graphics are negatively highlighted far too often as a reason for not playing the game at all.
I will take a moment to mention here that some JRPGs do have very nice looking graphics. Star Ocean 4 and FFXIII are the two that stand out the most to me, not that amazing graphics could save FFXIII in any case.
These are just a part of the problems I have with most of the reviews I read, admittedly some of the reviews out there are quite contextual with the spirit of the game and genre. Often though the games seem to be compared with their more western counterparts. I find those comparisons would be like comparing an MMO to a solo RPG, the intended experience, although the same in terms of enjoyment and satisfaction in the game itself, is extremely different and thus a pointless comparison.
When it comes to what games you enjoy playing it's obviously going to be personal preference, but when writing a review the general expectation should be to put most of personal preference aside and provide an overview of the games features. Most JRPGs really don't deserve the reviews they get. Posting a review of a game you don't like in a genre you don't play that dervies from a culture you don't really understand isn't a testament to a good presentation of the game or even a good read, it's just plain pointless...unless of course you're being objective, but why would reviewers want to do that?
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Birthday: 13th December 1985
Interests: Gaming on PS3, PSP, PC, Vita and recently 3DS. I play a lot of RPG's, action/adventure games, strategy games as well as the odd racing and fighting game. I'm a collector of RPGs on PS1, PS2, PSP and as the PS3's getting older I'll include that too. Some of my favourite games of all time are Shining Force 2, Phantasy Star 4, Final Fantasy VII, Grandia, Suikoden 2, Wild Arms, anything Assassin's Creed, Star Ocean 4, Baldur's Gate and Valkyria Chronicles. I also enjoy sports, especially football (soccer) and archery. I'm into watching a lot of different anime, my favourites being the .hack series Trinity Blood, Naruto Shippuuden, Airgear, The Knight in the Area, Tsubasa Resevoir Chronicles, Fate/Zero and Code Geass.
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