Ascendant - Izanagi | Nic Liow

Everything Japan - from Anime to Myth!

Hello TAY! My name is Ascendant, and today I’ll be rambling talking writing discussing about RPGs!

It’s pretty inevitable that you would’ve played an RPG before, if you’ve played any games at all. This is even more pronounced now that most games blend genres willy-nilly. I’m pretty sure we all know what an RPG is, but do we know what they’re capable of? What it truly brings to us?

I am an avid RPG gamer, and across many games, I find that I still love RPGs the most, in comparison to anything else. So, I’ll be discussing some stuff across a few articles, about what I think RPGs do great, and of course, the opposite too.

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What is an RPG?

Not This. Not At All.

Basically, RPG is an acronym for Role Playing Game(s), where you control a character or characters through adventures and towards a goal. That’s what most RPGs are. But I want to argue something here. If an RPG is a game where you slip into the role of a fictional character, then wouldn’t most games be a RPGs? The name is ambiguous enough that it doesn’t even have to be a character in the game. You’re still playing a role in StarCraft 2, as the overseer or commander; you’re a soldier in most shooting games; etc.

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Of course, we know that RPGs pretty much started with D&D, which is a name synonymous with nerdiness and geekiness now. The original, published in 1974, was a very different, unique, thing. A boxed set where you play as an adventurer in an unknown land.

The idea was revolutionary. Introducing nearly every precept of RPGs known today, ranging from classes, races, abilities, combat, movement........ You get it. It defined something that was totally new, and changed the way people looked at games. Even until now, the core rules of D&D are still the same, and still one of the best ways to enjoy games.

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Sorts of RPGs

TRPG

The Table Role Playing Game has been a staple of gaming since its inception, the first D&D, and continues to create unique experiences for kids and adults everywhere, heck, there’s even D&D camps! (There’s none where I live D: )

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Game : Dungeons and Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt

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I absolutely love R.A. Salvatore’s epic tale of the rogue Dark Elf, and his journey to find peace in an unknown land. The books are some of the best fantasy books I have read, and I read a lot, and though some may dispute it, Salvatore is the main creative mind behind the enigmatic Drow, a feat which I often hear is credited to Blizzard’s Warcraft series.

Boasting a large figure collection, multiple pre-made adventures, and a large assortment of monsters, skills, and items, this iteration of the famous D&D game featuring the first ever Drow is undoubtedly a great game. You can easily sink hours and hours into this game, whether single handedly travelling through Mithral Hall, or slaying Errtu with a few of your friends!

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It’s also compatible with any other D&D box sets, and you can even make your own adventure! The nature of Table-Top gaming is very flexible; too hard? revive endless times; too easy? Draw two monsters every time you explore! This is again, the ultimate must-have for any RPG fan; it’s a piece of history!

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Drizzt being the awesome Drow he is.

WRPG vs. JRPG

Western RPGs are self-explanatory, they’re made in the Western hemisphere(duh), and like-wise for JRPGs. They’re both RPGs, and definitely fit well under that genre, but of course, there are enough differences to make possible yet another sub-classification. So what are they?

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** DISCLAIMER** Please be aware I vastly prefer JRPGs to WRPGs, though I love both, so I may will be biased. Please direct your own thought and opinions to my justifications and also to the topic to the comments section. I would love to hear from you!

I will try to pick a variety of different games that fit both genres, from what I’ve played, but feel free to point out some I may have missed. Click the links to head to their respective sites.

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WRPG side Game(s): Dragon Age : Inquisition / Mass Effect 3 / Skyrim / GTA V / Minecraft

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You may notice that the first two are from the same company, BioWare. BioWare is undoubtedly a powerhouse in WRPG creation, and also very creative storytelling and world building. Dragon Age and Mass Effect, both Intellectual Properties that are in their third iterations, a testament to their popularity.

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One set in a Tolkien-esque fantasy world, filled with elves, dwarves, and magic, and the other in deep space, involving intergalactic warfare and alien races, they prove BioWare’s ability as creators. Their gameplay is also very different; one allowing you to take center stage as a warrior or mage, the other placing you in the battlefield, armed with guns and biotic implants.

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Skyrim is not a very new game, but with the recent implementation and subsequent removal of paid mods, it has enjoyed the spotlight once again, though it doesn’t seem to have dropped out of it for any reason whatsoever. As the Dovahkiin, you travel through a world teeming with Dragons, Vampires, Orcs, and all sorts of other standard and unique fantasy fare. A consistent fan-favourite, it has withstood the test of time, thanks to it’s impressive scale and readily available mods.

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Everyone knows about the notorious Grand Theft Auto series, infamous for its brutality, famous for its open world and near total freedom, and everything else in between. Arguably not an RPG, I still feel it fits under the RPG category, because you are stepping into the role of a character. In any case, if car chases, insane plane stunts, and sale of drugs falls within your suppressed desires, this is definitely a game for you.

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Ever felt an inexplicable urge to build? To explore uncharted lands, and to fight off creepy purple men? Well, then Minecraft is the game for you! Ever since it was released way back in 2009, this IP pushed Mojang, and it’s creative head, Notch, into becoming a household name. (slight exaggeration there. SLIGHT) Its block style world and simple controls allowed easy access to the game, even for inexperienced gamers, yet its surprising complexity and endless creative potential kept veteran gamers in for an amazing ride. The fact that it spawned near endless amounts of gaming streams might have helped a bit too.

Characteristics of WRPGs

All of the above have one thing in common.

They’re all open world, and open-ended games.

You have the ability to do nearly anything, provided it’s within the boundaries of the games, and in the case of the most of them, you can change those boundaries, with mods. This near unlimited freedom is definitely nice, and you can spend endless hours doing just mods, and not advance in the story at all.

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WRPGs are also often more action based, requiring constant watch of movements, and quick reactions when playing. The world and stories are also very big in scope, and often encompass many different parts of the world. There is also a big emphasis on player choice, another great example of the freedom you can achieve in WRPGs.

JRPG

JRPG side Game(s): Pokemon Alpha Sapphire / Persona 4 Golden / Final Fantasy XIII / Fire Emblem : Awakening / Dark Souls 2

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Pokemon is one of the biggest gaming franchises to ever exist, with a massive fanbase ranging from kids to adults, this animal abuse simulator cute monster fighting monster battle arena JRPG that Nintendo will endlessly milk periodically introduce a new iteration of, definitely would have a place on any JRPG fan’s top lists. Featuring over 700 different pocket monsters to collect, and eight Gyms and also the Pokemon League to overcome, this pocket sized JRPG definitely packs a huge punch in terms of content.

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Albeit not as well known as Pokemon, this amazing JRPG handles many real-world emotional issues, from homosexuality to gender-bias, with a mature hand, and amazing story-telling, not to mention the combat and Persona system, still one of the best in the biz. Sporting one of best cast of characters anywhere, and anime-esque style, this JRPG oozes quality and style. The classic turn based combat allows noobs to jump in easily, and also allows pros to work out the best strats possible. And did I mention the robust Social Link system? It’s like a beginner’s VN as well, which is amazing, of course.

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Final Fantasy XIII is nearly infamous for its entire linear story, and Auto Battle system, and is often ridiculed, but this was one of my first JRPGs, so I definitely feel a sense of attachment to it. Though it lacks the amount of characterisation and sense of time like other FFs, it is still a mainline Final Fantasy, so expect recurring enemies, summons, Cid(s), and the like. The sequels improve on the gameplay and story somewhat, providing a bigger world to explore. This is also arguably more action based than turn based, so It may break from the usual JRPG style.

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The Fire Emblem series, also owned by Nintendo, is in its ump-teenth iteration, but still feels as fresh as if it was the first. Featuring one of the largest casts of characters, and if you don’t have enough, you get their children too! A SRPG, the gameplay focuses on winning battles through tactical planning, and this newest iteration introduces the Pair Up and Dual System(s), allowing for even more depth to the combat. The social aspect of the game, while not up to the par of P4G, is nonetheless still amazing, and it’s always satisfying to see your chosen pair(s) fall in love.

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Yes, Dark Souls 2 is a JRPG. There’s no two things about it. It undoubtedly feels like a WRPG, with it’s mostly open world, and action based combat, but it was made by a Japanese Company, From Software. DS2 and its other iterations all encompass grueling combat systems, excrutiatingly(is this even a word) steep learning curves, and WILL make you die. Countless times. It’s the game-ification of Sadism, and it hurts, but is definitely worth the time to learn.

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Characteristics of JRPGs

These represent a more diverse sort of gameplays, ranging from Action Based, to Strategy Based, to Turn Based. Most of them also rely mostly on linear story telling, and this may be a point of contention for WRPG gamers, who enjoy the freedom they have in WRPGs. These are also mostly unmoddable, with the exception of Dark Souls 2, which seems like it should be classed under WRPGs.

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JRPGs often rely on deeper characterisation to draw attention, unlike WRPGs. Their characters, although seemingly 2 dimensional, often have hidden motives, which may lead to head smacking (I’ve done it before), and the occasional “Oh, I get it.” moments. Their stories are also more character driven, and they usually allow only small amounts of control for the player, though as usual, there are many exceptions.


Well, that’s it for this article, but I’m not done with this topic yet. There will be future articles discussing RPGs, inclusive of the other sub-categories, such as SRPGs, or ARPGs, so please look forward to that!

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What is an RPG to you?

If you have the inclination to do so, please answer this question! I would love to reads what others think of RPGs, as I love them so much, and of course, recommendations would be great!

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