If you happened to read my review of World of Final Fantasy this week, then you know I was over the moon with how creative Square Enix was with the stacking technique. Which of course got me thinking about how often Square Enix tries to be creative in their games, but they fall flat because of how they are creative. It’s not that they don’t try to be creative; they simply find weird ways to do so that are often more frustrating than they are truly innovative and entertaining.
On the one hand, I totally get why that happens. JRPGs want to stay unique from western RPGs, which is excellent. They should keep their unique mark in the world of video games, and I wouldn’t want them to conform to what is hip and popular for this week. But they do need to step up their game a bit to capture new audiences without frustrating their older, already loyal audience.
The time being, here is everything wrong with current JRPGs:
Everything Wrong With JRPGs (and How They Need to Improve)
How Can They Improve?
What Square Enix has done with World of Final Fantasy is a step in the right direction. I’d even say that they took a good step with the Paradigm Shifts in how they were perfected in Final Fantasy XIII-2. But as I mentioned above, they went overboard in Lightning Returns by combining the paradigm shifts with the outfit changing from Final Fantasy X-2. What they need to do is rather simple. The following needs to be removed entirely from the system:
- Spikes in difficulty that require extensive grinding – I’m not talking about five or ten levels; I’m talking about the games that require an additional 20-30 levels that you need even after completing all of the main missions and a good portion of the side missions.
- Nakedness for the sake of nakedness. – Don’t think I need to elaborate here. I said enough above.
- Random encounters. – Put the enemies on the screen. Just throw them on there. No more of the random battle every five feet nonsense with enemies we can’t see.
After developers cut those things from their storyboards, they need to find creativity without going overboard on the complexity. It’s fine to trick up your battle systems and skill trees, but there’s no reason to go so crazy with the various features that players have to practice for hours to get the hang of it. It’s one thing to need practice to perfect using the system; it’s another need hours to even understand it.
Lastly, let’s write some good stories, ja? Don’t make plot twists be huge WTF moments where the world suddenly blows up for no reason. Don’t copy and paste the same amnesiac girl story who teams up with the reluctant hero to save the world.
Too few JRPGs have innovative, uncomplicated gameplay with fantastic stories, which is exactly why the genre has such a bad reputation. I’d love to see the surge of the great JRPG once again, and I know I’m not alone.