Do JRPGs Need To Be Social To Survive?

Do JRPGs Need To Be Social To Survive?

Some people believe that Japanese role-playing games are meant to be single-player experiences, enjoyed alone in the dim blue light of your living room during marathon binge sessions involving little to no contact with other human beings.

Other people believe that the first group of people are totally boring and that the single-player-only model is as obsolete as VHS tapes or paying for music. And also multi-player games make lots and lots of money.

“So who’s right?” you might ask. “The hermits or the money-mongers?”

Good question. I don’t know if there’s an answer.

On one hand, if you ask the business executives behind gaming’s biggest companies, single-player games are on the fast track to extinction. Square Enix Europe CEO Phil Rogers said as much just this week.

“The industry as a whole is realizing that all games, whether they be on console, PC or handheld, need to be social to survive,” he told Gamasutra. “There are, of course, many different aspects to online play, but we see social and collaborative play as something that players of all types are increasingly interested in.”

Square Enix is, of course, the publisher behind mammoth series Dragon Quest andFinal Fantasy and one of the biggest players in the world of JRPGs. So when one of the company’s top executives says that games can’t survive without some sort of social play, it’s worth a listen.

Not that Rogers’ comments are much of a surprise to JRPG fans, who by now have probably noticed that the industry’s most talented designers are focusing on social and mobile projects. The creator of Final Fantasy, who left Square Enix a while back, is now working on a mobile surfing game (that will likely have some sort of social aspect). Other big names that you may or may not have heard of are also working on games in the mobile and social sectors.

If you’re a fan of traditional JRPG experiences, this might all seem nothing short of terrifying.

Even Dragon Quest, a series that for decades has been the Republican Party of JRPGs, is going all MMORPG for its next release, out this summer in Japan.

This is because social games make lots and lots of money. Loads. More money than your average game maker knows what to do with. (This is generally a good reason for a business to chase a trend.)

So if you’re a fan of traditional JRPG experiences, this might all seem nothing short of terrifying. You might hear the word “social” and instantly shudder, your mind filled with dancing Zynga cows and endless pop-ups about sharing things on your news feed. You might envision a world where the only way to play a JRPG is to dish out $15/month for the privilege.

This kind of future is indeed worrying. Even with smaller developers like Falcom and Atlus and tri-Ace pumping out single-player JRPGs on a regular basis, we could see more and more talented designers heading to the social sector in droves.

But social games are making money for a reason. So let’s not condemn them. Let’s be more creative. Why are multiplayer games so appealing to so many people, even when they’re saddled with repetitive, grindy gameplay (“go kill 20 slimes, please”)? What is it about interactive entertainment that makes multi-player components so essential?

I think the answer is simple. We enjoy playing games with our friends because, as a general rule, our friends are more interesting than video game characters. This is because our friends are actual human beings. But it’s also because video game characters tend to be boring.

Have you played Persona 3? It’s a beast of a JRPG, a critically-acclaimed delight that I’ve been grinding through for the past few weeks. I love it to death. And I think it’s just as social as any multiplayer title.

Persona 3 is successful because its characters are just as, if not more interesting than human beings.

Here’s the part where I sound like a mad man. Persona 3 is a social game because it lets you interact with people who feel real. Its cast of characters—genuine, oft-crazy personalities like the goofball Junpei and the sweaty Gourmet King—are Persona would never work as an MMORPG because its inhabitants would be more boring than the characters that have populated the series for years. In other words, Persona 3 is successful because its characters are just as, if not more interesting than human beings.

That takes a lot of skill to pull off, of course. And not all games can do it. In my review for Xenoblade, released last month for Wii, I pointed out that it felt like a single-player MMORPG. I also pointed out that its characters, with the exception of a rogueish Han Solo-type named Dunban, had the personality traits of your average MMORPG player: stuffy and dull. Xenoblade would be the perfect MMORPG because its strengths lie in its world and its environments, not in its characters.

Of course, “make interesting characters” isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to the debate over social gaming. There are other solutions. Why not try out an episodic JRPG, released on a regular schedule that almost feels like television, giving fans cliffhangers and story theories to discuss and debate on a weekly basis? Or what about a single-player JRPG that ships with a hefty multiplayer component, like Final Fantasy VIII‘s addictive Triple Triad card mini-game or Final Fantasy X‘s blitzball?

The possibilities here are limitless, and I hope JRPG developers decide to explore them before jumping ship for straight-up MMORPGs or Facebook clickfests. “Social” doesn’t need to be a curse word.


Source: Kotaku

What Makes RPG Dialogue Great (And How It Can Go Wrong)

What Makes RPG Dialogue Great (And How It Can Go Wrong)

We spend a lot of time watching video game characters talk.

Sometimes they’re perched in dimly-lit inns, plotting out their next moves over frosty mugs of Genuine Medieval Ale. Other times they’re exchanging snarky quips between rounds of troll-hunting or alien-squashing. Or sharing awkward pleasantries afterrobotic sexual encounters.

Japanese role-playing games are especially dialogue-heavy. When we’re not watching our characters talk, we’re seeking out new conversations; if you enter a town and don’tgo around starting chats with everybody you see, you’re totally doing it wrong. Non-player characters usually have interesting or at least helpful things to say about a given situation. When they don’t, we get mad. It feels like a waste of our time, a disrespectful abuse of an important gaming ritual. It’s frustrating.

(Incidentally, I’ve never seen an RPG that tries to justify these non-stop verbal volcanos. It’s never quite clear why random people are always willing to jabber at your character before he or she says so much as hi. And how the hell does your entire party fit into one tiny little tent? Let’s move on.)

But for something we spend so much time reading and watching, dialogue is sure hard to properly analyze. What makes a given line or scene interesting? What makes it work? What makes it not work? What makes you want to chuck your computer at the screen and tell Vincent Valentine to stop whining about how sad his life is?

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what makes dialogue flow, which may be why we’re so quick to jump to easy adjectives like good, bad, and all of their respective synonyms when we describe the way characters are written. It’s also tough to look at dialogue as an objective art; like food or paintings, your average character’s line could be delectable to some people and dull to others.

Like any good video game, great dialogue has a certain flow.

But there are tricks. Rules. Rhythm, for example: like any good video game, great dialogue has a certain flow. Words bounce and move in certain directions, with certain cadences and beats. You can tell when the pulse isn’t there.

Sometimes this rhythm is achieved through mirroring language, synonyms or antonyms that echo and play off one another like dance partners at a ball. “Such a big sword for such a small girl,” a character might say. Other times it’s about striking balance between long and short sentences: “My life is a chip in your pile. Ante up!”

Some game designers even play around with what the video game form can do to the rhythm of dialogue. In the adorable lawyer sim Phoenix Wright series, for example, text makes bleeping and blooping noises that vary speeds depending on how fast a given conversation is moving. And the music pulses alongside the beat.

Sharp writers have mastered techniques like the rule of three, a well-regarded principle that can be used both for drama and comedy thanks to its timeless formula: setup, climax, payoff. Sentence construction is made much easier when you have rules to follow.

Dialogue in a video game, like dialogue in a movie or a television show, should ideally sound like real life, but smarter. This is easier said than done. It’s particularly hard for video games that take place on planets full of elves and space orcs and magical crystals. It takes a certain level of talent to make dialogue sound natural when you’re stuck with names like Balthier and Cait Sith.

But even when a line doesn’t sound like something any sane human being would say, it can still be memorable. It can still be catchy. Final Fantasy IV‘s classic “you spoony bard” is part gaffe, part translation quirk, and 100% unforgettable. And it’s hard not to be endeared when FFVI‘s Kefka spits out ridiculous half-curses like “son of a submariner.”

Let’s look at some dialogue in action. Take a look at these lines from Lunar 2: Eternal Blue, a wonderful classic JRPG that was released for the Sega Saturn and then again for the PlayStation in 2000. Some background: you’ve just met a wayfaring gambler named Ronfar, who has agreed to join your party and help you save. This is because Ronfar is a good guy, but it’s also because he feels extraordinarily guilty about his inability to save his lover, Mauri, when she suffered some mysterious illness a few years back. (There’s more to the story, but I won’t spoil it here.)

Here’s what he says (to himself) a few minutes after agreeing to help you out:

What Makes RPG Dialogue Great (And How It Can Go Wrong)What Makes RPG Dialogue Great (And How It Can Go Wrong)

There are two main problems with these lines:

1. They’re completely on-the-nose. There’s nothing to think about, nothing to infer. Ronfar is saying how he feels when he should be showing how he feels.

2. Who the hell would actually say something like “All that I care about now are the dice”? Even as an internal monologue, it just sounds clunky. Say it out loud. It’s tough to get through. Ronfar might be trying to convince himself to forget about Mauri and whatever psychological issues he’s associated with her trauma, but these few lines just don’t feel natural. They don’t feel like something anyone would think to themselves.

Not to pick on Lunar: Eternal Blue, a game chock full of hilarious writing and charming characters, but it’s this sheer lack of subtlety that often hurts JRPGs. People don’t say what they’re thinking. We don’t need to see what goes on inside their heads. And if we do need to peer into their internal monologues, we should see something a little more interesting than blunt variations on “here’s how I feel right now!”

Ultimately, dialogue is at its best when you don’t even notice that it’s there. If a writer is doing his or her job well, you won’t spend time thinking things like “what a witty line” or “that language sure felt clunky.” You’ll just think of a game’s characters as people on your screen, people with personality traits and quirks and interesting things to say. They’ll just feel real.


Source: Kotaku

Why We Love Persona 4

Persona 4

Ask ten people why they play video games and you’ll get twenty different answers. Some will say they like taking out their anger on a military battlefield, shooting up friends and enemies for better ranks on a virtual scorecard. Others might want to go on surreal, dreamy adventures through deserts and mountains and rivers of fire. At least one or two people will say they just like to have fun.

But one of the more interesting answers is one that fewer people would like to admit: Video games are an escape. They let us forget about our troubles and inhabit other peoples’ brains and bodies. The problems in video games always have quantifiable, achievable solutions. Where life is messy, video games are neat.

Maybe that’s why everybody loves Persona 4.

Persona 4, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a Japanese role-playing game designed by a quirky company called Atlus. It’s a high school simulator, a murder mystery, and a hardcore dungeon crawler. You, a high school student, might spend a morning taking a history exam, lunchtime eating ramen on the roof with the girl you want to date, and the afternoon fighting shadow monsters in the fantasy world you access by walking into your television.

Yeah. It’s a weird game.

It’s also a beloved game, and over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a great deal of time playing the Vita remake, Persona 4 Golden (out Tuesday—our review should be up around then) and trying to figure out what makes it so special. This is my first time with the game; I’ve played Persona 3, but this is my maiden voyage through its sequel, which is considered by many to be the superior experience.

There are a lot of reasons to love Persona 4. For Americans, interacting with virtual characters in the sleepy city of Inaba, Japan is like peeking into the window of another world, a world where people sit on cushions to eat dinner, where they address each other with honorifics and go to school on Saturdays. It’s culture shock in a way that few other games have captured: Japan’s take on Japan is absolutely fascinating from an outsider’s perspective.

The real fantasy of Persona 4 is not the talking bear or the monsters that live inside your television. The real fantasy ofPersona 4 is the seductive lie of perfection.

The writing is also stellar: the translators over at Atlus have done a tremendous job bringing Persona 4 to English. Everything follows a certain rhythm: whether you’re taking a pop quiz in class or sitting out to lunch with some friends, the structure is so tight and punchy that it feels like a sitcom whose writing has been workshopped over and over to the point of perfection. Video games are usually much looser. Even when the game is barking orders at you—annoying lines like “You should go to sleep” or “You shouldn’t talk to him right now” must make some game designers want to take an Evoker to the head—it’s hard not to be charmed by the experience.

And the people, the characters inhabiting this world ofPersona 4, are appealing even when they’re one-note. These high school kids are also just like us—or at least like we were when we were in high school. The characters are confused, emotionally charged, jacked up on adolescent hormones. When they talk, they leave important things unsaid: one character, Kanji, spends a great deal of time dealing with sexual confusion, but never makes his sexuality quite clear, probably because he’s 15. He has no idea what he wants, how he feels, how he thinks.

But these people are also very much not like us, and we find solace escaping into their world because of that. Real humans are hypocritical, inconsistent, constantly questioning themselves and hurting each other. Each member of Persona 4‘s gang of Scooby-Doo-like misfits is driven and confident. They build up their stats and level up and grow more powerful in mechanical fashion. No matter how frustrating it might seem when they have no leads on their ongoing murder investigation, we all know they will find something. It’s a video game. There’s always an answer.

The real fantasy of Persona 4 is not the talking bear or the monsters that live inside your television. The real fantasy of Persona 4 is the seductive lie of perfection. This is a world where building friendship is a quantifiable activity, where you can start a relationship just by selecting the right bit of dialogue from a list of three options. Relationships are straightforward and concrete, even when the characters are ambiguous and confused.

To build relationships in Persona—an activity that is essential for improving your characters’ performances in combat—you simply have to talk to people. If you want to go on a date with a girl, you walk up to her and say “hey, let’s go on a date.” If you want to hang out with your goofy best friend, you call him up at the movie theater and say “get on over here, buddy, we’re watching Star Wars.” These people never say no to you. There is no rejection. They are always upset if you turn down their requests.

In the real world, people will betray you. Your friendships can be frustratingly ephemeral, and your relationships can be as torturous as they are blissful. You will never get everything you want. You will be rejected.

In Persona 4, your character is silent and suave, beloved by every girl he sees. He has a rolodex full of people to see and hang out with, and building up a connection with someone is as simple as going to band practice, or heading downstairs and talking to one of his many friends and girlfriends. They always want to talk to him. They don’t betray his trust or break his heart.

Developing relationships in Persona 4 is a mechanical activity, like piecing together a watch or solving a puzzle that always has a guaranteed, if not always obvious solution. You won’t regret leaving someone or missing an opportunity to find love, or friendship, or comfort. You rarely have to worry about losing someone forever; if you make the wrong choice today, all you have to do is come back tomorrow and start up another conversation. Keep on leveling up that relationship.

The world of Persona 4 is surreal and unusual and fascinating and, in many ways, despite its hardships, it is also ideal. Intangible qualities are measured by statistics. Want to be more manly? Go read a book called Forever Macho. Want to learn how to be more diligent? Sit at your desk and start folding envelopes. Need a quick burst of knowledge? Head to your room, pick up a book, and watch your stats go up.

You never fail at studying. You are never sent to remedial courses because you just can’t seem to keep pace with your classmates. You never have to deal with financial hardship or losing the spark in a relationship that seemed like it was going to last forever.

Even when it’s capturing real life, Persona 4 is absolutely nothing like real life. Maybe that’s why we like it so much.

The characters in Persona 4—fascinating, relatable characters whose internal dilemmas are as interesting as their awkward encounters—confront their demons as literal demons. To fight off her indecisiveness, Yukiko fights a shadow of herself. When dealing with his sexual ambiguity, Kanji has to confront a giant, sexually confused monster. Problems are solved with fights. Some of these boss battles are difficult, but they can always be overcome. They can always be confronted. There’s always an answer.

Don’t you wish real life was that easy?


Source: Kotaku

Why Do People Care About JRPGs?

Why do people like Japanese role-playing games? What is a Japanese role-playing game? Why the hell do I write a column about them every week?

Welcome to the Random Encounters Explainer. Consider this a primer on JRPGs, your introduction to the genre and a piece designed to answer many of your burning questions. Whether you’re an expert on all things Atelier or you don’t know the difference between Final Fight and Final Fantasy, allow me to help you develop more appreciation for an under-appreciated genre.

Let’s do this.

So what is the deal with JRPGs? Why should I care about them?

Well, they’re awesome. More than any other genre of video game, JRPGs are adept at playing with your emotions and crafting the illusion that you’re fighting your way through grand adventures. They tend to focus on narrative and exploration. Sometimes they tell wide, sweeping stories about angry gods and evil empires. Other times they keep things simple and adventurous. And sometimes they let you hang out in high school.

In general, the experience you can get out of a JRPG is drastically different from the experience you can get out of any other genre of video game. Although you sometimes have to be patient with them.

Hold up. What’s a JRPG?

You know, this is a surprisingly tricky question. By its strictest definition, a JRPG is just a role-playing game made in Japan: a Japanese role-playing game. But there are also a ton of Western games designed to look, feel, and play like Eastern RPGs: games like AnachronoxCharles Barkley’s Shut Up And Jam: Gaiden, and the latest Penny Arcade.

In many ways, the genre has evolved to become something more than just “a role-playing game made in Japan.”

Then what makes a JRPG a JRPG?

Any number of things. One common factor is turn-based combat—that is, combat in which every character stands around and waits for some arbitrary clock to run out before they attack. You’ll usually gather a party. You can usually visit a variety of exotic cities, dungeons, and other locations. You’ll usually participate in some sort of character progression system. Maybe there are airships. World maps. Lots and lots of bosses and monsters and tough challenges. Awesome music. A whimsical sense of humor.

But it’s not those parts that make a JRPG a JRPG; it’s the sum of them all. JRPGs are JRPGs because they’re dream-packed, emotion-triggering, hair-raising adventures that make you laugh, cry, and everything in between.

In other words, JRPGs are JRPGs because they feel like JRPGs. Helpful, right? Really, though, it’s like porn: you know it when you see it.

Sounds boring. Why do people like them?

Lots of reasons! For one, there’s a certain rhythm to turn-based combat that a lot of people enjoy. We might love their stories and characters. Or maybe we just like getting lost for a while in experiences that we can’t get elsewhere.

I find JRPGs intimidating/archaic/obsolete/annoying. Why should I care?

Well… give them another chance! The genre has much more depth and breadth than you might believe if you’ve only limited yourself to games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest.

Okay… then what should I play?

Have you tried the Paper Mario series? Or Mario & Luigi? Both are hilarious, fast-paced twists on the genre.

If you want something really unique and special, get your hands on Valkyria Chronicles, a strategy role-playing game with an unusual setting, some lovely cel-shaded graphics, and one hell of a combat system.

Want something faster? How about the action-packed Kingdom Hearts series? Or the hack-and-slash Ys games, several of which have been repackaged for Steam and PSP?

What if I’ve never played a JRPG before? What game should I play?

Good question! Let me give you a few options:

Final Fantasy VI – The best game in the most popular RPG series on the planet. It packs one hell of an emotional wallop. Its characters are subtle, interesting, and hilarious. And that music.

Suikoden – A fast-paced, politic-heavy game that places you in the shoes of a rebel out to fight against a nasty, oppressing empire. It’s a little rough around the edges, but that’s part of the charm. And it’ll help you segue into my favorite game of all time, the illustrious masterpieceSuikoden II.

Mother 3 – Charming, easy to get into, and poignant as hell.

Lost Odyssey – Old-school sensibilities in a new-school package. If you can get past the awful voice acting (and a few annoying characters), you might really enjoy this console JRPG. Worth playing if only for the dream sequences, which make up some of the best writing I’ve ever seen.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky – About as awesome an adventure as you can find nowadays. A little too text-heavy for some peoples’ tastes, but I love it to death.

Final Fantasy VII – You might as well see what all the hype is about.

I loved Final Fantasy VII. But I haven’t played a single good JRPG since then. What game should I play?

Check out Radiant Historia, a DS game that is something of a spiritual successor to Chrono Trigger. Or Persona 3, an addictive (albeit way-too-long) dungeon crawling high school simulation. (It’s better than it sounds.)

Or spend some time with the dark, surreal, sometimes-repetitive Nier.

I find JRPGs to be slow and plodding. Is there a JRPG that’s awesome before its third hour?

There are many. Try an old action-JRPG like Soulblazer or Illusion of Gaia. Or a new one, like the bizarrely awesome The World Ends With You.

Okay, seriously, I can’t find a single JRPG story that keeps me engaged. Why are they all so awful?

Because you have no soul. Also, maybe you just haven’t found the right story for you. Check outFinal Fantasy Tactics, a Shakespeare-inspired tactical RPG with a plot that rivals Game of Thrones in betrayal and medieval badassery. Or Xenogears, a sci-fi masterpiece that’s up there with the most ambitious (and strongest) RPGs ever.

If you want a simpler, more romantic tale, check out the aforementioned Trails in the Sky orMother 3. The Suikoden series is also chock full of masterful storytelling.

Why are JRPGs so afraid of innovation?

They’re not.

Are JRPG creators consciously recycling tropes?

In some cases, yes. The Tales series, which is particularly popular in Japan (and has its own loyal fanbase out here), is purposefully designed to be built around stereotypes and fantasies and nostalgia and all that jazz. It has its pros and cons.

But a lot of the time, JRPG developers are very careful to avoid and subvert their own tropes. Hence the new wave of RPGs that try very, very hard to be different. Some work. Others don’t.

Why are the swords so big?

To overcompensate.

Just kidding. Maybe they started out ginormous so you could see them among the 8-bit pixels of old-school sprites, and as characters grew, their swords grew along with them.

Well… thanks. I sure have seen the error of my ways. I love JRPGs now.

You’re welcome.


Source: Kotaku

Four Reasons You’re In Love With That JRPG Character

Four Reasons You're In Love With That JRPG Character

When I was a kid, I used to spend almost every summer at day camp. I’d ride the bus up across the Tappan Zee Bridge to upper-lowstate New York, where I was unceremoniously dumped on the grounds and told to go hang out with the other kids in my age group. We’d run around fields and go swimming and play basketball and just generally frolic around, being kids.

But I didn’t want to play sports or hunt for weird animals in the lake. I wanted to think about video game characters. They were more interesting than the people around me. And since I couldn’t spend all day in front of my Super Nintendo, I’d hang out with a small group of close friends and we’d all pretend to be characters from our favorite Japanese role-playing games. I was Shadow.

Today, I don’t spend a lot of time pretending to be video game characters. But I do spend a lot of time thinking about what makes video game characters work.

See, the word “compelling” has become something of a buzzword in today’s gaming industry, but it’s a fitting adjective for great gaming characters. A good character is interesting, relatable, sympathetic, entertaining, and just all around badass. Even the silly ones.

But what makes a character resonate with an audience? Why do we care about the people we play? What makes us want to pretend we’re them, even when we’re away from our television screens?

Here are four potential explanations for what makes a JRPG character compelling.

(And, yes, these reasons can apply to all games, not just JRPGs. But this is a JRPG column. So.)

They’re Really, Really Good At What They Do

As a general rule, human beings are attracted to skill. We’re drawn to people who are capable of feats we can’t accomplish, whether that’s climbing up mountains or sorting through tax code. We’re even willing to forgive or ignore a character’s more despicable traits, if he or she is remarkable in some way. It’s why we fall in love with the superstar thief, the hardened killer. The criminal mastermind.

Maybe that’s why I dig Final Fantasy VI‘s Shadow oh so much. He might have been a coldhearted, nasty piece of work (who would “sell his own mama for a nickel,” according to another character), but he was one hell of an assassin. He knew his shit.

Cloud Strife (Final Fantasy VII) is in a similar boat. He’s whiny. Often annoying. But damn if he isn’t one hell of a mercenary, capable of all sorts of near-impossible acrobatic moves and tricky sword techniques. He’s got balls. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goals, even if that means dressing up like a woman to do it. Why wouldn’t any RPG fan want to be like him?

And there’s that whole save-the-world thing. (Even if he couldn’t save Aeris.)

They Have Genuine Flaws

We fall in love with characters we can relate to. And we relate to characters who share the same flaws and weaknesses that we do.

Look at Junpei, the bumbling goofball (and overall terrible student) who serves as one of your closest friends in Persona 3. He plays both comic relief and actual human being, showing the type of fear, humor, lust, and overall laziness that we can imagine we’d feel if we were in his situation, forced to battle demons after school every day.

Suikoden II‘s Jowy is as flawed as a character gets. His misguided beliefs about the inevitability of war wind up triggering a bloody, multi-year brawl that costs tens of thousands of lives. His mistakes cause nothing but heartbreak for your protagonist and everybody around him. But by the end of the game, we can forgive Jowy for what he did. We can forgive his transgressions because we see part of ourselves in his decisions—we totally understand that he plotted to take down an empire and stick himself in charge because he thought it was the only way to maintain peace. We can relate.

They Make Us Laugh

It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with Estelle Bright, the peppy protagonist of The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky. She’s the type of character who always has something amusing to say, no matter how dire the circumstances. She’ll crack jokes in the face of dangerous bosses and insurmountable obstacles. You’d want to hang out with her.

Final Fantasy XII‘s Balthier, one of the most beloved characters in RPG history, is an all-time favorite because he knows how to make you laugh. He’s a constant waterfall of charm, always offering some sort of witty quip or harmless sexual barb to lighten FFXII‘s overwrought tension. You might not want him around your girlfriend (or boyfriend), but you’d definitely share a beer or three.

The minds behind the various Mario RPGs have also mastered this idea, peppering their characters with warm humor that never gets old. Although the plumber himself never talks, his pantomimes and bizarre movements are as entertaining as it gets. You wouldn’t mind sitting in an audience and watching him goof around for hours on end.

As in real life, we fall for JRPG characters who know how to keep us amused. We love them because we’d love to chill with them.

They Don’t Have Voice Acting

Seriously.look, I went to film school. I’ve seen student movies. I know how tough it is to bring a character to life with nothing but a voice. And I know how many people fail at it.

But as disconcerting as it is to play a game without voice acting nowadays, a bad piece of vocal work does more harm than good. Grating, unappealing voices are a good way to turn an audience against a character and even a whole game. Just ask Infinite Undiscovery. Even when it’s tolerable on the ears, voice acting drowns out the awesome tunes and tracks that makeJRPGs really special.

Bad vocals can undermine just about every other aspect of a great game. They can make a game hard to sit through, embarrassing to play, and just straight-up unpleasant to experience. Can you think of a single great character with an awful voice actor? It’s a shame more JRPGs aren’t willing to keep quiet.


Source: Kotaku