What are JRPGs? The answer is simple and yet complex. On the base level of things, it is fairly easy to distinguish JRPGs, but it goes deeper than you think.
JRPGs, or Japanese Role-Playing Games, have been a staple in the gaming industry for decades. These games have a unique style and gameplay mechanics that set them apart from other RPGs.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of JRPGs, what defines them as a genre, and what makes a game a true JRPG.
The First JRPG
The first JRPG was Dragon Quest, released in Japan in 1986 for the NES. Known as Dragon Warrior in North America, the game was a huge success and spawned a franchise that continues to this day.
Yuji Horii created Dragon Quest. He was also responsible for the game’s story and character design, and Akira Toriyama, the creator of the popular anime and manga series Dragon Ball.
Dragon Quest set the standard for JRPGs, with its turn-based battles, top-down view, and focus on story and character development. The game’s success led to the creation of other popular JRPG franchises, such as Final Fantasy, Persona, and Tales.
Definition of JRPG
While it’s easy to recognize a JRPG when you see one, defining the genre can be a bit more challenging. JRPGs are recognizable by their turn-based battle systems, anime-style visuals, and story and character development emphasis.
These games also often feature a party system, where the player controls a group of characters who work together to achieve their goals.
Another defining feature of JRPGs is random encounters, where enemies appear out of nowhere during exploration. This can be frustrating for some players, but it adds an element of surprise and danger to the game.
I’m not generalizing but the genre is fond of the grind. These games usually require maximum grinding to succeed. Others find it boring, but some love throwing hours to the wind. Either way, JRPGs live and breathe grinding.
What Makes a Game a True JRPG
While many RPGs may share some elements with JRPGs, certain qualities make a game a true JRPG.
- Focus on Story: JRPGs are known for their intricate and often emotional stories. They typically have a clear narrative arc with a beginning, middle, and end. A Japanese RPG often explores themes such as love, loss, and self-discovery.
- Character Development: JRPGs often have large casts of characters, each with their unique personalities, motivations, and backstories. As the player progresses through the game, they can also learn more about these characters. Undoubtedly, you will form emotional connections with them.
- Turn-Based Battles: JRPGs usually feature turn-based battles, where each character takes turns attacking, defending, or using spells. This allows you to carefully strategize their actions and choose the best approach for each situation.
- Anime-Style Graphics: JRPGs often feature colorful, anime-style graphics that emphasize the game’s characters and story. These visuals help to create an immersive world that draws the player into the game’s universe.
- Exploration: JRPGs often have large, open worlds for the player to explore. This exploration can lead to discovering hidden treasures, uncovering secrets, and encountering new enemies.
JRPGs are a unique and beloved genre that has been a part of the gaming industry for over three decades. These games offer players a chance to immerse themselves in a world full of adventure, danger, and emotion.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the genre, there’s no denying the impact of JRPGs. I hope you found the answer to what are JRPGs.