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Friday, August 5, 2016

Explainer: What makes a JRPG great? It's not the gameplay

Explainer by Matt S.

Last week I took a look at three of the key defining features that I felt characterised a good rhythm game. Perhaps surprisingly, none of those features was the music itself.

I’m going to do something similar this week in looking at the JRPG genre, because again I don’t think that one of the features that most people assume is key is in practice what differentiates a great JRPG from a lesser one. Many people assume that the way the genre uses statistics, as reflected in the combat system and the “levelling up” system, are what determines the quality of a JRPG. I disagree with this. I think that JRPGs need to have those quality systems by default, but what separates the functional examples of the genre from the truly wonderful are three features that are all narrative related.

This is because I believe that JRPGs are a storytelling medium first and foremost, and while a JRPG might have a simple story, if it’s not a good one, nothing about the gameplay will save it. With that in mind, here are the three critical components that I argue no JRPG can be great without:

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Explainer: What makes a JRPG great? It's not the gameplay
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