Tale as old as time
In a group that I follow there recently was a debate over whether or not JRPGS are a different genre than traditional RPGS. While there are valid arguments on both sides of the aisle there can only be one decision at the end of the day. So, now I ask, are they two different genres or is the RPG genre a lot bigger than we give it credit for?
A role playing game has a very loose set of standards as to how it is classified, many games have RPG elements even though they don’t technically count as an RPG, games like Uncharted. However, when the script is flipped and the emphasis is placed on the progression of the character and how the story is played, much like an Elder Scrolls game that is what helps to classify what exactly is a modern RPG by today’s standards.
While the differences are more noticeable. It is equally important to talk about what is similar between these two styles. The presence of a progression system is vitally important to the genre. Both types of game have a very distinct way if leveling up. Progression generally flows the same way too. If you win enough battles you level up and can use better moves. Story is also a huge deal when it comes to these games. With the first two words in the phrase being “Role-playing” the world around the character(s) has to be entertaining and cinematic without taking the focus away from the gameplay.
The important part of this debate however, is what makes these styles of game different. How the game is played between the two systems feels much different. For example, a Pokemon game, the more traditional JRPG plays much differently than say Fallout. Many of the core elements are the same but how each game goes about presenting these are very different. Action based RPGS have less cutscenes and more fluid gameplay. While a JRPG has a slower, more methodical pace, opting for turn based strategy gameplay mechanic which is a huge distinction to make.
Both arguements are validated in their thoughts. And, a more broad reason for lumping these two styles together is that there are similar cases of game genres being very similar without being separate genres of themselves. First and Third-person shooters play very differently, however because there is enough the same that they can’t possibly be considered different enough to be separate genres. The same might be said about the difference between the two types of RPGS, they are mostly the same, except for a few minor tweaks to completely change up the system.
However, the differences between the two styles are stark, and play a huge role in how these games are played. Shooters like Call of Duty aren’t changed much between switching cameras and they play mostly the same. That can’t be said for RPGS, both styles can play very differently and much of the base game can change depending on how influenced by past styles the game can be.
Overall this is a tough question with no real clear answer, personally I feel that there is enough separation between the two genres to classify them differently. However, there are so many similarities that it is easy enough to say they are the same genre. But, it is the differences between the two that make the arguement. There is no denying that the two genres play vastly different compared side-by-side. That’s why I believe the two styles are different enough that they can be separate. Those are just my thoughts though. What are yours? Do you think they’re not that different at all? Did I leave out any important details? Let me know in the comments down below!