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marurun
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Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by marurun Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:06 pm

Inspired by the great discussion from the 26 RPGs you must play thread, I think it would be interesting to select the genre's historical landmarks. What games began the legacy of the JRPG? What games formed or altered the essential core of the genre? What games formed the branching-off points that lead to many great subgenres (like ARPGS and SRPGS)? This list isn't about the games that were the most fun or that hold up today. It's also not about fairness. Instead, it's all about impact, about those titles that were essential to the formation and growth of what we know today as JRPGs. Now, the genre of JRPGs is also somewhat nebulous, so perhaps creating and comparing lists can help us define, for ourselves at least, the contours of the genre space we collectively call JRPGs.

I will need time to mull over and research my own list. I'll be picking games I haven't necessarily played, but mostly in terms of older titles. I probably won't list much newer stuff (probably not anything after 2005 or so.) I'll leave that space to others who have more experience with that time frame. You're welcome to get started without me or ignore this thread until I put in my $.02. Your choice.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by Xeogred Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:18 pm

I can't get into the NES versions of FF1 or FF2 at all, but I beat FF3 and loved it. Between its refined ATB system and the menu design, that one feels like the ultimate blueprint for the seven games that followed from a gameplay standpoint, even though they only revisited the job system again with FF5 in the main line. But FF4 finally knocked it out of the park with actual characters and plot. So if you want to be objective about it, I don't think we'd go beyond FF4 here.

I've beaten various versions of FF1 and the PSP version of FF2. FF2 does have more plot than FF1 and FF3, but still nothing even close to FF4's level.

Bringing up cliche' Final Fantasy I guess. I know Wizardry is supposedly the ultimate blueprint or something though. I'm waiting to see where others take the discussion.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by marurun Tue Jul 19, 2016 9:38 pm

I've read in several sources that The Black Onyx, by Henk Rogers and Bullet-Proof software is the RPG that brought computer RPGs to the public, but I don't know much about the game at all.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by BoneSnapDeez Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:59 pm

JRPGs before 1986 (Dragon Quest & Zelda) are pretty fascinating. They tend to follow a Western formula or veer off into extremely experimental territory.

It's honestly hard to know exactly how influential the earliest games were to the developers in Japan in the late 80s and early 90s. Dragon Lair and The Dragon & Princess are generally regarded as the first RPGs developed in Japan (1982) - followed by stuff like Dungeon, Panorama Toh, and Ken to Mahou in 1983 - but how much of an impact did they really make? Surely the Western games that were released around the same time made more of an impression, I would wager.

The Black Onyx (1984) is an important one. It really helped popularize first-person dungeon crawler games in Japan and led to the development of others, like the Deep Dungeon titles and Shining in the Darkness.

Dragon Slayer (1984) is the big one that helped kick-start the action-RPG genre in Japan. Courageous Perseus and Hydlide, released the same year, were also important. And you can't discount Namco's arcade contributions (The Tower of Druaga and Dragon Buster).

Though not "technically" part of the genre ARPGs wouldn't be where they are today without The Legend of Zelda. Ys I and Ys II were also extraordinarily important, and led to the development of tons of imitators.

Speaking of Falcom, sidescrolling games like Xanadu helped kick off the "Metroidvania" trend.

Strategy RPGs is murky territory as it can be tough to separate these from "pure" strategy games. Koei's Nobunaga's Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms certainly can't be discounted though their status as strategy RPGs is debatable. Bokosuka Wars was a simple game with a combination of action and strategy RPG elements that surely influenced the development of console strategy RPGs. Important names that came later on of course include the likes of Fire Emblem, Shining Force, Langrisser, and Ogre Battle.

The "JRPG" genre started with Dragon Quest. No doubt about its hallmark status. Final Fantasy and Phantasy Star are the next two "big" ones to mention. Chrono Trigger is probably the most important one to emerge in the 16-bit era.

Roguelikes didn't hit Japan until 1990 or so with the likes of Fatal Labyrinth (and its companion Dragon Crystal) and the Fushigi no Dungeon games.

Sorry for the disjointed post. Not makin' a list yet just spitballin'.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by Ack Wed Jul 20, 2016 9:52 am

BoneSnapDeez wrote:Chrono Trigger is probably the most important one to emerge in the 16-bit era.


Perhaps, but I think Final Fantasy IV is also worth noting due to how it expanded on dramatic story presentation in JRPGs. Pretty much every JRPG to come out since then has benefited from FF4's groundwork. Since it also introduced the Active Time Battle concept, I think it's worth considering.

The Dragon & The Princess may have influenced the design of Ultima III, since it introduced that combat system a year before Richard Garriott got to it, though that is purely speculative.

While Bokosuka Wars laid the foundation, I've read that Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryū to Hikari no Tsurugi is considered the real start of the tactical/strategy RPG in Japan, though I couldn't say one way or the other for sure.

Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei is where the concept of catching monsters originates.

Do we want to talk about multiplayer entries, such as Dungeon Explorer, Secret of Mana, Phantasy Star Online, and so on?
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by Violent By Design Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:18 am

Chrono Trigger is well made, but why would it be the most important? It didn't really innovate anything.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:33 am

I think we're missing discussion of the most critical aspect of JRPGs - what game first truly implemented the glorious trait of "titty anime"?
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by Exhuminator Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:53 am

ElkinFencer10 wrote:I think we're missing discussion of the most critical aspect of JRPGs - what game first truly implemented the glorious trait of "titty anime"?

You'll probably find your answer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z67Z4NInYo
PLAY KING'S FIELD.
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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by ElkinFencer10 Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:01 am

Exhuminator wrote:
ElkinFencer10 wrote:I think we're missing discussion of the most critical aspect of JRPGs - what game first truly implemented the glorious trait of "titty anime"?

You'll probably find your answer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Z67Z4NInYo

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Re: Historical hallmarks of the JRPG genre

by Sarge Wed Jul 20, 2016 11:33 am

Violent By Design wrote:Chrono Trigger is well made, but why would it be the most important? It didn't really innovate anything.

Well, the thread says "historical hallmarks", and while it didn't necessarily innovate, it's pretty much the pinnacle of 16-bit RPG design, which is in itself a noteworthy achievement.

It's kinda like with first-person shooters. Even though DOOM wasn't the first, it was the game that absolutely crystallized aspects of the genre. Or for brawlers, even though I believe Renegade was the game that introduced belt-scrolling, it was Double Dragon that really solidified that genre.
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