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Eastern RPG
aka: J Rpg
The term "Eastern RPG" can be used in two different ways:

A Role-Playing Game developed in East Asia, especially Japan.

Or a "Light RPG", a Role Playing Game following certain styles popularized by Japanese console developers

In either case, differentiated from Western RPGs by having some or all of the following features:

  • Created in Japan (or in China, Taiwan, or South Korea, though each can have differing styles).
  • Generally found on consoles (and more recently, handhelds) rather than a PC, though in the past many Japanese RPGs were also released for Japanese PC platforms before the country's PC game industry declined in the mid-90s.
  • Aimed to satisfy the player's need for a well-crafted interactive story with interesting characters and complex interactions.
  • The art styles can often resemble those of Anime or Manga.
  • Many can tend to follow linear plots, with less of a Wide Open Sandbox setting, and many may not feature discrete "quests". However, there are many Eastern RPGs that do offer non-linear narratives.
  • The player usually controls a party of pre-designed characters. The player is sometimes offered a choice of what characters to use, but not the option of designing his own protagonists, which allows a more cinematic and tightly-scripted story. But again, there are many Eastern RPGs that deviate from this.
  • The party members are usually written into the plot, rather than blank slates.
  • Later games tend to have one or more elaborate, minigame-like "systems" (such as the License Grid in Final Fantasy XII) that allow skill and ability customization.
  • Random Encounters are a common gameplay element, especially in older games.
  • Turn-Based Combat and the various Combatant Cooldown Systems are prevalent, although action-based combat has also been popular at different times.
  • A degree of Level Grinding is strongly encouraged, if not outright required, to proceed through many of the games.
  • Most encounters are resolved through combat or cutscenes. Most quests and abilities are combat-oriented.
  • Dice rolls are always hidden and stats are given as arbitrary numbers. Sometimes dice rolls aren't used at all, and fights are based on your stats versus the enemy's stats alone.
  • Often contain a few Mini Games.
  • Often targeted towards a broader audience, including female audiences (hence the Bishōnen characters often found in this genre).

Console RPGs can encompass several different diverse sub-genres:

The style that was arguably the most popular from the SNES to PS2 eras is the turn-based RPG, which has been building on the classic Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy formulae for a long time. With later generations, the gameplay has been mixing up with other genres (including Action Games, Adventure Games, Simulation Games, and Strategy Games) though the general "explore / get into battles / some variation on turn-based combat" is still going strong for many games within this sub-genre. Ironically enough, despite being characterised by their Asian heritage, this Eastern RPG style has partial roots in the West. Dragon Quest, which in many ways was the Trope Codifier, if not Trope Maker, was directly inspired by Ultima and Wizardry, some of the earliest Western RPG series and hits in Japan (where the NES ports of Ultima III and IV were remade in a more Dragon Quest style). If it wasn't for Richard Garriot (who based his operations out of Texas) and especially the creators of Wizardry, Japan might never have developed this unique style of role-playing game. Another major influence on this style were Visual Novels, Japanese Adventure Games that emphasized storytelling (though ironically, most Visual Novels revolve around non-linear narratives rather than linear ones).

Another popular subset of console RPGs is the Action RPG, which mixes this type of gameplay with the Action Adventure, so that while it keeps the strongly plotted story, occasionally anime-influenced characters, experience and statistics, the turn-based battle system is done away with in favor of a more real-time method of attack resembling Action Games. The Action RPG sub-genre has its origins in early 80s Japanese RPGs like Dragon Slayer and Hydlide, which combined traditional Western RPG elements with Japanese Arcade action elements. Up until the early 2000s, the majority of action RPGs were from Japan, but in recent years, it is arguably more common to see action RPGs from the West.

Also, many Turn-Based Strategy games are done in "Console RPG style" and are often referred to as "Strategy RPGs" or "Tactical RPGs", though more recent examples of the sub-genre have also incorporated Real-Time Strategy elements. In contrast to the traditional turn-based format above (represented by Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy), tactical RPG allow more freedom of movement in battle, while the narratives are also more likely to be non-linear, with strategic decisions often having an impact on the way the story unfolds. This tactical RPG style has traditionally been dominated by Japan, though there have been some Western RPGs also attempting it.

Another subset is the Dungeon Crawler, a subgenre that can include both Eastern and Western games. This subgenre was more common among Western RPGs up until the 1990s, but has today become more popular in the East than it is in the West.

In the past, the Eastern Console format was arguably more prolific and hence more popular than the Western Computer format, with even some Computer games mimicking Console ones. Lately, however, the Computer format is becoming more popular in the West, rivaling (and sometimes even trumping) the Console format in popularity, partly due to progresses in technology making arguably more immersive games, which in turn has led to rising budgets. As a result, many Console development teams nowadays focus more on handhelds due to lower budgets.

See also How to Play a Console RPG.

Games in this genre:


Driving GameVideo Game GenresEdutainment Game
Yu-Gi-Oh! (Carddas Version)Japanese GamesShiritori
Tabletop GamesRole-Playing GameAction RPG

alternative title(s): JRPG; Japanese RPG; Japanese Role Playing Game; Eastern Role Playing Game; Console RPG
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