It's hard to say whether or not the Japanese RPG has any place in the gaming industry today.
In the nineties they were the in thing, and in the naughties they got bigger, better-looking, and somewhat more modern—albeit alongside every other genre that joined the HD generation. Yet despite massive investment and a fever pitch of interest, the JRPG simply couldn't keep up with the major new players in gaming, to the point that within weeks of its release, the last Final Fantasy vanished with nary a trace it had ever even existed. And let face it: there is no bigger name in the game than Final Fantasy.
Never one to learn its lesson, however, Square Enix is set to unleash a second sequel to Final Fantasy XIII this year. And who knows? Maybe the third time's the charm. But I doubt it. And speaking personally, I could care less. Not once but twice I got around 20 hours into Lightning's life, only to lose interest lest I lost the will to live entirely.
Granted, my interest in the genre had been flagging beforehand. And it's continued to do so since: the only JRPG I played in 2012 was Tales of Graces f, and again, I got about 20 hours in, looked at a FAQ to see how much more game I still had to play... and admitted defeat. I watched the end of the affair on YouTube. And I don't feel like I lost out on anything.
Be that as it may, I'm not quite ready to give up the ghost on the entire genre. I have at least one more attempt in me before I sign off once and for all: namely Ni no Kuni.
I've been holding out hope for this rare collaboration between Level 5 and Studio Ghibli (of Spirited Away fame—the very same!) since it was announced in 2008, and the copy I pre-ordered way back when finally arrived on Saturday. Despite having a hundred other things to do, I fed it to my PS3 immediately.
I'm 10 hours in already, and over the moon that I can say the time has flown by so far. So maybe Ni no Kuni is the game which makes the genre meaningful to me again. Or perhaps 10 hours from now I'll hit a wall that leaves me with no other option than to grind my life away, or give up on the JRPG after all.
I so hope it doesn't come to that. I feel like I'd be killing a large part of the kid I once was, and I believe it's important to stay in touch—to a certain extent—with the things we loved when we were young.
I'll report back on my progress through Ni no Kuni even if I don't make much more. Why, if I finish the thing, and there's interest, I might even review it!
But for the moment, the floor is yours, folks. Do you think the JRPG has a place in the gaming landscape of today, or it is as long in the tooth as I suggested earlier? Does the prospect of Lightning's return in Final Fantasy XII-3 excite anyone at all?
And if any of you have been playing Ni no Kuni, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Do tell, too, if for whatever reason you've opted not to.