When I was surfing at “my” other blog, I found that somebody made a comment to an article that David wrote about, “what makes a good RPG?” And I thought to myself, why don’t I do that exercise for myself? So, I started thinking and thinking. What makes a good RPG? I tried to think back at all RPG’s I played and now I think I finally have an answer. I’ll be commenting on the original article David wrote on ButtonSmashers. My goal is to check how much opinions actually differ. Just a fun little experiment. But feel free to comment here about my view on things. And don’t forget to leave a like on that article.
J-RPG vs RPG
So David claims that J-RPG wins over the Western RPG’s. Let’s do the test. Is this true? Or is it just his personal preference? If I need to answer the question myself, I would agree. Japanese RPG’s are better. I find myself liking it’s content more then western RPG’s. But which RPG’s have you played? Final Fantasy? Dragon Quest? Golden Sun? Skyrim? I hate to break it too you but 3 out of these four are J-RPG’s.
But if you look at it, David has a good point. If you try to list the amount of known Western RPG’s against the known J-RPG’s, it’s clear who wants that round. It’s Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Fall-Out, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic VS Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, Dragon Quest, Lufia….
Does that mean that J-RPG’s are better the Western RPG’s? Well, no. Actually not. Does one suck? No, not at all. Or are the Western RPG’s better then the J-RPG’s? No, that’s not the case. In fact, they are actually equals. Let me explain. J-RPG’s and Western RPG’s have a very different style of gameplay. The core idea of leveling up a character is still there. But the execution is too different to say which one is better then the other. In my opinion is as stupid as trying to decide which kind of soccer is better. In a hall, on the street or professional level. Since it are two separate worlds, So, why comparing and trying to decide which one is better. Silly stuff in my book.
Importance of the elements.
So, here is where I actually disagree with David.
So what about art, music, mechanics and voice acting? Surely a good RPG needs those elements?
With the exception of music, the answer is no, none of the stuff listed are needed. They add icing to the cake definitely, and increase the enjoyment of some games. But the only thing that’s really needed is a great story backed by a killer sound track.
I simply don’t think so. Honestly, the mechanics are truly important as well. Yes, the music is important as well. And it’s true that the voice acting isn’t that crucial. Like one of my favorite RPG’s on the DS, Suikoden Tierkreis has terrible voice acting yet it’s an amazing RPG.
A killer soundtrack, well David, let’s be real here. How boring would a game be with repetitive music or no music at all? Music spices everything up.
But mechanics are important. And why? Well, let’s take a J-RPG to explain my point. Final Fantasy 13 for the XBOX360. From what I read, the mechanics are so watered down that you can’t explore and like in a spoof that JonTron made, “the game plays by itself.” So, hold the phone here. This game has barely no mechanics yet a killer soundtrack… Oh dear.
Mechanics are important to help the player go to guide through the game. If the only thing you need to do is use some different attacks without it really having depth, a game becomes boring. And it may even have the best story ever written, only the patient and dedicated players will play it. But it wouldn’t make for a good RPG.
Lux Pain is another example for on the Nintendo DS that came dangerously close for me. In this game, you do the same thing over and over again. There was little to no variation in that game. Lucky enough, near the middle it truly picked up and it became interesting.
To close this segment off, the fact that you need a good backstory goes without saying. It keeps the player engaged into your game.
When I continue to read the article David wrote, it becomes more and more clear to me that the article is pretty much his opinion. And while I respect his opinion, I clearly showed I disagree when even reading the first few paragraphs.
And that’s the beauty of blogging. You can look at other people’s article(s) to get idea’s and maybe you can react. But if I would talk about my opinion about the whole article, we would be here another day as well.
So, that beauty boils down to personal preference. A good RPG would be one where all the elements that make a good game, mix together quite nicely. A good soundtrack, with a great story, enriching gameplay and great mechanics. Add some great mood setting graphics and some nice sound design with it and you have a great RPG. But if you give us voice acting, then the RPG isn’t anything short for amazing. While, truth to be told, maybe RPG’s are really great without it. Early RPG’s serve as a great example.
But if I really need to try to answer objectively on the question “what makes a good RPG?” well, then I would need to say that a game is a good RPG when it’s successful in tricking you or making you believe or making you feel like the main character. If you feel as a lonely survivor in Fall-Out or as a world saving hero in Final Fantasy, then the game is a good RPG.
Personally, a good RPG is a game that challenges me, gives me a story I’ll remember and is one where you grow along with your character. How more grinding there is, the less happy I’m. I like to continue on. I dislike being stuck.
Anyways, I think I’ll close off my article here. Thanks David from the ButtonSmashers for writing this interesting article. It was surely a nice read. You made some great points. I silently hope you give this article a read and made a comment? Thanks for reading and hopefully until my next article!