Where Did All The JRPGs Go?

Posted on November 11, 2010

As a longtime fan of JRPGs, I often find myself wondering what ever happened to all of the Japan-developed RPGs that I grew up playing on the SNES and PlayStation. Triple-A million-dollar-budget behemoths like Final Fantasy XIII (pictured above) are very much the exception these days. Obviously much of the genre has moved to handhelds, but will we be seeing any of these series return in current-gen console games? I decided to look back on some of my favorite JRPG franchises and explore what happened with each series and whether or not there’s any hope of them making a comeback.

Breath of Fire

What was it? Beginning on the SNES in 1993, the Breath of Fire series became Capcom’s primary RPG franchise (possibly helped along by the fact that Square Enix published the first game in North America). It became known for sharing certain elements between each game, such as shapeshifting lead characters named Ryu and Nina, false religions, and, well, fishing.

How did it do? The first two Breath of Fire games were well received, even with the sequel coming late in the SNES’s lifespan. Despite being criticized for a fairly generic story, most reviewers appreciated the giant open world and epic adventure boasted by both titles.

Things started going downhill with Breath of Fire III; despite making the leap to PlayStation and featuring improved graphics, the series’ slow pace and traditional story was not improved upon. Breath of Fire IV fared a bit better with critics but was censored in its English release, with several scenes cut and some of the more serious plot elements, such as one character’s alcoholism, removed.

Finally, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter arrived on the PS2 in 2003 and took the franchise for a loop. Breaking away from retelling an extremely similar tale as previous BoF games had done, Dragon Quarter was set in an underground bunker and introduced a unique new system where players had to restart the game numerous times (carrying over their skills and items) if they wanted to see everything and make it to the end. Capcom would employ a similar system in the Dead Rising games. Though many fans were bothered by the unexpected changes, Dragon Quarter is often remembered as one of the most singular RPG experiences on the PS2.

Where did it go? While there hasn’t been word of a new Breath of Fire since Dragon Quarter, Capcom hasn’t totally abandoned the series. Breath of Fire III was ported to the PSP in 2005, and you can download Breath of Fire II through the Wii’s Virtual Console. In a 2008 interview, Capcom’s Keiji Inafune [who recently departed the company] said there are “currently no plans” for a revival of the Breath of Fire series. In fact, Inafune said of RPGs in general, “Capcom doesn’t really need to even consider making these titles as an option,” given the small size of their staff.

Go to Source (Game Informer)

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Categories: Game News, Game Secrets

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