My favorite genre, JRPGs, used to excite me like no other games could. Back in the 8bit, 16bit, up until the PS2 era, JRPGs were great. In the HD era, it all began falling apart. Now my favorite genre has been reduced to almost nothing in this generation. What do I mean? I will explain. And I wonder if any others feel the same.
When I was 16, I had a Sega Master System. I never got into NES like most other Americans. I had some fun action games like Space Harrier, Kenseiden, Thunder Blade, Shinobi, etc., but knew nothing about RPGs. Well, I read about a $70 game called Phantasy Star. $70 back in the late 80s was a huge price for a game. But I heard it was so good that it was worth the money. Plus it was huge! 4 whole megabits! I read about 3D dungeons and imagined a really amazing action game. There was no internet spoilers back then. I only could read news that broke in magazines about 3 months after the actual news broke. On reputation alone I decided I wanted that game. I somehow convinced my father to buy the game for me.
Well, on the package it said "Role playing game" in the upper corner. I didn't really know what that meant. I excitedly read through the cool instruction book full of details on story, characters, weapons, etc. It was looking as amazing as I had imagined. Then I put the cartridge in the slot and turned on my Sega Master System. I was met by a title screen with a girl dressed in pink and armour with a sword: https://gamefaqs.akamaized.net/screens/5/f/6/gfs_3847_1_1.jpg
OK...? I then started the game. It had a nice cinema intro for the time. Afterward, I saw a tiny version of the title screen girl, named Alis, in a little town setting: https://gamefaqs.akamaized.net/screens/d/1/a/gfs_3847_2_8.jpg
I was very disappointed as I walked the girl around town and saw shops (probably thinking these were shops for clothing to dress up the girl) and walking up to ppl to read what they said. I couldn't jump, slash the sword, no battle, etc. The music was this happy kiddie music that sounded like Wonder Boy music. I was horrified. This is the game I've daydreamed about. This is the amazing $70 game?! A Barbie dress up game!? I turned it off. I thought about trying to return it.
I later decided to give it one more try. I don't know why. But I'm glad I did. I found my way outside of town and got into my first random battles, with a 3D perspective: https://gamefaqs.akamaized.net/screens/6/0/0/gfs_3847_2_12.jpg I also found one of the cool 3D dungeons that I had read about: https://gamefaqs.akamaized.net/screens/5/6/0/gfs_3847_2_10.jpg
I slowly figured out what hit points, magic points, and experience points meant. I discovered a whole new type of game! The battle options were exciting. Fight, run, talk, magic, etc. I could talk to some of these enemies! It turned out to be the most exciting game I'd ever played. I discovered a game that was like a fantasy book that had come in game form! The music outside of town was awesome. Exciting battle music, creepy cave music, etc. It would be the best gaming summer of my life. One day I even played over 24 hours. I was hooked. It took me 3 weeks of exploring many towns, discovering hidden treasures, fighting powerful monsters, traveling between 3 different worlds, talking with many characters, and going through many exciting random battles before I ended up at the end.
I even dreamed about the game in my sleep. It was a magical experience. It is still my favorite game to this day. But it was just the beginning of my RPG gaming.
I discovered other great RPGS. I played Ys, Miracle Warriors, and then the amazing FFII (IV) on SNES. That game raised the bar for storytelling in RPGs! And what an incredible music score! I continued on: Shining Force (My first strategy RPG), Phantasy Star II, Super Hydlide, Shining Force II, Final Fantasy III (VI), Lunar, Breath of Fire, Wild Arms, Vay, Phantasy Star III and IV (what a great ending), the jaw dropping Final Fantasy VII, then VIII, IX, and X, Grandia, Chrono Trigger and Cross, Dragon Quest VII, Final Fantasy Tactics, Golden Sun, Hexyz Force, etc.
I've lost track of all of the RPGs that I have enjoyed. Then, crash! The 360 and PS3 era came. The HD era. For some reason the RPGs that I'd once enjoyed, seemed to start vanishing! I'm talking true RPGs. Not stuff like Skyrim, Witcher, Fallout, Mass Effect 2 through Andromeda, Final Fantasy XV, etc. I'm talking RPGs with 2 things in common that are important to me: Random Battles, and turn based battles with no action. I like selecting text commands to fight, run, item, etc. It's kind of like playing a game of chess where you strategize your moves as apposed to hack and slash with less strategic thinking and more reflex skill. I also like not seeing the enemy on the map. I want a surprise screen flash with surprise enemies. I don't want to see the enemy and simply avoid them. Most of the games I listed above have those 2 qualities.
Less important, I want heavily story based gameplay, without the stupid sex scenes and relationships that I want in real life, not games. I don't mind characters having scripted relationships like in FF8, but choosing your partner and having a sex scene is just crap to me. I want explorable maps, but I also don't want it so open world that it weakens the story. FF7 is a good example of a large explorable world, but not too large and open. I guess large, but linear. I don't want online features. I don't want DLC. I want a complete game on disk for one price. I also want to earn everything through play, and no paying to win or unlock stuff. No patches like Skyrim.
The only RPG that I am excited about at all is Dragon Quest 11. It is turn based at least. I especially want the 3DS version with the old school sprites on the bottom screen! I also missed some classics back in the day, like Lufia 1&2, Breath of Fire 2 through 5. Wild Arms 3 through 5, etc. I still have those to look forward to, but I wish there were more modern RPGs with advanced graphics and sound that has the old qualities. RPGs are still my favorite genre, but mostly the ones made in the past. At least my second favorite genre, fighting games, are still alive and kicking. Dragon Ball Fighterz looks amazing!