Spoilers: Culture Matters
Talking about video games, we often hear this term, RPG, as it is one of the most popular genres amongst the players. RPG is abbreviated from role-playing game which means that we, the player, will need to take a role of the character who is a protagonist in that game. Throughout the course, we will venture through many obstacles or story elements to the end out the game tailored by the team of the developers themselves.
It is obvious that many companies across the globe try their best to develop their own RPG games to the market. Then, it comes to point that each company has a different culture and belief, leading to the branches of RPG: WRPG and JRPG, coming from the western and Japanese developers respectively. Today, I, Makino Jou, will present you the 7 differences between WRPG and JRPG games. Without further ado, let’s started.
1. Story Direction (WRPG: Your story, your choices / JRPG: Everything has been set)
We cannot deny that the key element of RPG game is the story direction, (we all are curious of how the story will turn out to be, aren’t we?) WRPG mostly give the players freedom to decide what they are going to do, or where they are heading to. Players can just ignore the choices and there will be no harmful consequences. Nonetheless, it is possible that we will lose some offers or benefits.
JRPG, however, will destine the character’s story path and goal. The players will know what they are supposed to do during the journey. There might be some areas that allow us to freely explore, but we will eventually be forced to proceed to the next area. The advantage of JRPG story is that the developers will be able to put all the story element to the players so that we can get into it more easily, especially when we learn any character’s past.
2. Graphical Differences (WRPG: Realistic graphic, coming with the outstanding effect / JRPG: Unforgettable art style)
Technology advances rapidly these days. Same goes for video games’ graphic. We can see that WRPG will often feature an astonishing graphic, depicting the real life-like picture which ranges from character models, clothing and environment. Additionally, the developers will include some effects that will blow the player mind e.g. explosion or magics.
In the meantime, JRPG will not rely much on realistic art style, but they will turn their graphical powerhouse to something more memorable. Furthermore, they might even use 2D graphic in their games, despite already getting their hands on some advanced tools. Octopath Traveler is one of the good examples of how Square Enix can make a combination between old-school graphic and the modern art style.
3. In-depth Story Elements (WRPG: Focus more on the overall story / JRPG: Slightly focus on the story while adding the character’s complexity)
‘Hey, it is a good game, impressive one.’ We all know that the story elements will appeal and tempt every player to try one game out, right? The strong point of WRPG is that they will give the players full experience on each game’s overview. We will learn the past of the story as we progress. There might be some kinds of lore, and those things will be slowly revealed to the players until they know everything. Surely, this will turn out in ‘Whoa, it is epic!’
JRPG will also have to focus on story, of course! But, the developers will add some details on individual’s past or background. Mostly, it is a reason for their journey. This will help players understand their character’s motive and answer some question that everyone might be asking themselves at the start e.g. ‘Why did they risk their life?’ Furthermore, the characters will express their thoughts and feeling in such obvious way. The players will notice that easily as if they know each other in real life.
4. Myths (WRPG: Feature some lores and myths found in real life / JRPG: Make our own lore!)
Most fantasy RPG will include myths and beliefs and flawlessly tie it into the story. WRPG often use the myths or lores that was told for generations: for example, the western developers will have their background knowledge on Norse and Greek gods, or maybe mythical creatures such as elves and witches. When it comes to monster, they will not hesitate to use zombies or werewolves as enemies.
In contrast, JRPG will create a new legend and story which means the story is newly written and set in a different universe. Therefore, it is safe to say that we can expect the new story from the new JRPG if it is not a sequel. It can be refreshing, though the story might be strange sometimes. In this case, the western RPG game may appeal more to the audiences because we are used to Greek gods, aren’t we?
5. Choosing the Player Character (WRPG: Skills matter / JRPG: APPEARANCE matters!)
Most RPG in the present will feature more than one playable character to choose from. There are not many differences in appearance for the characters in WRPG games as what matters more is the skills and abilities of the character, just like in real life. Meanwhile, JRPG games will have take the appearance to another level with cutting-edge and memorable design as if they come from a different world. You cannot deny the fact that you will choose your playable characters by judging from how they look. Even though their skills do not go along well with your play style, you will somehow try to sharpen their skill by yourself.
6. Companions (WRPG: I do not need anyone in my journey / JRPG: Friendship is MAGIC!)
Most of the WRPG will not feature companions who will assist you throughout the adventure. This might be possible that the developers want the players to focus on the protagonist character’s perspective and make a decision by themselves. There will surely be sometimes that the other characters will join during the journey, but they will eventually be forced to venture alone like a lone wolf.
On the other hand, JRPG will let the other characters join in the party and set forth together. Moreover, the main character might be imperfect; thus, they will need to be supported by other members in the party in order to fight their way to the goal. Ha! Friendship is magic, eh...
7. Power (WRPG: Rely more on items / JRPG: Rely more on levels)
For gameplay, there are many ways to improve the playable character’s skill. The most obvious choice for WRPG is probably be the high-level items and accessories. Every item in the WRPG will always come with an ability boost that will be useful for some situations. There will be varieties of the attributes attaching with the item; for instance, an axe with a specific skill to break the enemy’s armor or a shield that will protect the character from a poison. Every time we go inside a dungeon, it is possible that we might need to prepare a different outfit in advance because we might find ourselves in the center of new enemies and a boss that will give you disadvantages.
At the same time, JRPG will rely more on character levels. It is that simple, if you want to improve your skill, you just need to collect the XP or experience points. Once you have gained enough points, you will gain a new skill or get stronger. As mentioned, if you find yourself amongst the high-level boss, just keep leveling yourself up until exceeding its level. You will be fine after that.
So, these are the differences found in WRPG and JRPG! I am pretty sure that most RPG veterans will probably understand and have experienced something like this, right? Actually, there are, undoubtedly, many and many more differences that will take a very long time to mention all of them which means this list includes only the major points that everyone would say ‘I see…’ when reading this.
However, both WRPG and JRPG have their own characteristic that makes everyone love it, right? This will depend on how the players will decide if they are going to like one or another, (I play both of them anyway!) Finally, we might not be able to tell if any of them is a better choice, but I can guarantee that they are both fun for sure.
Thanks to our talent from ThisIsGame Thailand for this wonderful article, MakinoJou!