Friday, February 1, 2013

No, 1UP, Ni No Kuni IS the "saviour" of the JRPG

1UP, who is notably one of the very few publications out there that gave Ni No Kuni a generally negative review, has just published a piece in response to many people’s claims that the game is the “saviour” of the JRPG.

Predictably the author seems to have been struck dumbfounded by a bit of hyperbole that accurately describes people’s reaction to one of the most special games this generation.

But let’s pretend for a second that people genuinely believe that Ni No Kuni is a saviour for a dying genre. The author, Bob Mackey, is still wrong. It is far easier to argue that Ni No Kuni is the most important thing to happen to the genre in a decade than it is to suggest it’s just another JRPG.

Mackey’s argument is focused almost entirely on the existence of other JRPGs. Because there’s Shin Megami Tensei, and because Operation Rainfall convinced Nintendo and Xseed to localise three JRPGs on the Wii to the US, the JRPG genre didn’t need saving. The existence of good JRPGs means, apparently, that the genre is as healthy as it ever was.

He’s missing the point. Ni No Kuni is an important JRPG, not because it’s good, but because it is drawing mainstream media and consumer interest. From the anecdotal (people who have never played JRPGs are talking to me about this game), to the broader industry (I have not seen so many articles written about a single JRPG since Final Fantasy was in its heyday on the PlayStation and PlayStation 2) – Ni No Kuni is the “saviour” of the JRPG genre because it has put JRPGs back on the map outside of Japan.

For one fleeting second in an industry dominated by crimson and a childish infatuation with flesh a pure, innocent story about a boy running around trying to save his mother has done the impossible – it has become the most talked about game in the industry.

How anyone could underestimate the value of that for the entire JRPG genre, long struggling to hit the commercial peaks it once enjoyed, is beyond me.
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