Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Japanese and Western RPGs 101

Hanging around K means I've picked up a lot of video game lingo. Makes me feel like one of the insiders, having that back pocket full of acronyms and l337 speak that says "I understand your crazy world; I married with one of their creators." So while hanging out with some fellow engineers after work, I casually threw out some phrase like "yeah K really loves his JRPGs but I haven't been able to get into them." The next obvious question was "What's a JRPG?" Uhhhh... I know it stands for "Japanese role-playing game" but as for the specifics, you got me. Time for a special K crash course on the main differences between Japanese and Western RPGs!

Japanese RPGs
  • Famous examples: Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger, Dragon Quest
  • Linear story line: there's some exploration available but it's like reading a book; it's designed to move the plot and get you to the next place.
  • Linear weapon system: you only use 1 sword until you pick up the next improved sword, and then you'll never use the old sword again because it's inferior in stats.
  • Turn-based fighting: uses menu selection to choose things like Attack, Use Item, Heal, etc.
Western RPGs

  • Famous examples: Oblivion, Fallout, Fable
  • Freedom: completely open world game play. Everything is defined by the user's decisions, and you choose to accept/decline any missions or meet any characters.
  • Inventory-based weapon system (crafting): when you get 1 sword, you can keep upgrading it by adding accessories (like power-up gems) or using it to create an entirely new sword
  • Real-time fighting: more action (involves aiming and firing/attacking) with a percentage hit rate

As a side note, there do exist hybrid RPGs such as Mass Effect, where the game is more plot-oriented (you alway play the same character in the story), but you can choose how they develop and what class they become. Feeling smarter already? As usual the Internet and Wikipedia have already dominated this subject thoroughly, so no need to take my word for it!


We have plenty of similarities... odd-shaped ears, form fitting outfits, and unpleasant expressions.

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