As games such as Dark Souls and Persona 4 have recaptured the attention of players, it only shows that Japanese games are slowly making a resurgence. Prior to this, many Japanese game developers have struggled to make titles with hits that resonated with the American audience. Because of this, they went back to the drawing board.
When asked why the Japanese RPG game genre has faded, Level-5 CEO Akihiro Hino shares a couple of ideas.
If pushed, I’d say Japanese RPGs tend to cater to players who are not skilled at action games and prefer to have command systems that allow them to strategize, as well as those who enjoy stories that are similar to reading novels. So for fans of Western RPG, such JRPGs might seem somewhat antiquated.
Recreating the “Good Old Days” of JRPGs
Producer of Namco Bandai’s Tales of Xillia series Hideo Baba said that Japanese game designers are going back to what made their games so appealing in the first place.
I feel like a lot of Japanese developers, especially ourselves, we’ve really taken an effort to go back to our roots. We look at what we started with and what we’re good at, and we really tried to make an effort to strengthen what at our foundations are.
Akihiro Hino, CEO of Level-5, share the same sentiments, saying that Ni No Kuni is trying to recreate the “good old days” of Japanese role-playing games. In fact, he wants Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch to be “a restoration or reformation of an RPG from the good old days. He even cited that the game’s focus is on the “fundamentals that make RPGs interesting.”
Tales of Xillia: Meant for Japanese Gamers
The upcoming Tales of Xillia title marks the game’s 15th US anniversary. But with its big-eyed anime characters, it is obvious that the game is meant for Japanese gamers. As Baba pointed out:
With regards to the Tales franchise, we’ve never made an effort to “westernize” it. We feel that western developers are good at certain things, while Japanese developers are good at other things. Rather than us trying to copy Western developers, we really try to look within ourselves and try to improve ourselves. The Tales franchise has been a personal struggle to better ourselves and the franchise.
Subtitled in English, the Tales of Xillia will be released as a PlayStation 3 exclusive sometime this year.