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ThatMan avatar 10:24 AM on 08.17.2014  (server time)
Opinion: It's time to stop playing JRPGs

Or at least, it is for me. Letís admit it: Iím not getting any younger. I have a day job and I write silly editorials while commuting back and forth from it, and I find myself scribbling things like ďI really need to remember to buy milk from the grocery store tonight, if I donít want to skip breakfast for the third day in a rowĒ (hint: I wouldnít want to).

In the past four years at Uni, I focused on studying narrative techniques and fell in love with the endless possibilities that video games can offer. Itís a road barely walked on the way it deserves, and I would like to be part of those who will get there first. More recently, Gone Home, Journey, and The Walking Dead - alongside many other titles - showed me radically different ways of delivering strong narratives and innovative gameplay. Or think about The Stanley Parable, or the newly released playing teaser for Silent Hills, P.T. What all these games have in common are 1) a strong narrative and 2) they maximize such narrative aspects in a short time. Of all these games, TWD is possibly the longest, and yet it clocks out at less than 5 hours of gameplay. Iím not gonna argue about the whole more-bang-for-your-bucks thing (though I have strong opinions about it, this is a discussion we can leave to another time). When I was in high school, the longer a game was, the better. I also had the fortune of growing up in the golden age of JRPGs - I played the shit out of Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Suikoden, all the Final Fantasy andÖ No, wait. Not all the Final Fantasy. As a matter of fact, I stopped after playing FFVIII, which is when I graduated from high school.

Things have changed, and now I not only donít physically have enough time to play a 60+ hours game, but mostly, I donít really want to. My approach is to get the most out of what a game has to offer and move on to something else, and Japanese RPGs just donít excite me anymore the way they did in the past. Iím writing this with a sort of melancholic, sad attitude, as I would love to fell in love again with the genre, but what thrilled me in the past, I now found borderline disgusting.
When I came back from my holidays last month, I decided it was finally time to sit down and play Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. I bought it last year and never found time to play it. It was finally time. Being a long time fan of Studio Ghibli, I was sure this game was going to be the one who changed my mind about the genre. The game, developed in collaboration with Level 5, has stunning visuals. Iím not usually one of those fellas who play a game for its graphics, but this is different. Ni No Kuni looks like an anime, and plays like one. It is narratively brilliant, and it offers the same wonderful feelings Mihazakiís studio is famous for. As a plus, there isnít an endless character creation process, and itís obvious that the developers want the players to experience a strong, linear story in a very specific way. Itís cool, and the game starts with the right foot, but I stopped playing it slightly after five hours.
Once you finish the first main mission, the world map unlocks, and with it, an endless streak of random encounters. Damn, I hate them in such a visceral way that after a full 45 minutes of stupidly pointless repetitive battles, I took into serious consideration the idea of moving in a country in which video game consoles are banned. But then again, Iím not sure if pizza is available in North Korea and decided to stay where I am.
I donít need grinding in my life. I donít have time for it. I donít have patience. I want to get going and see what happens next.
My experience with Ni No Kuni ended up there. And itís a shame, because I was connecting with the narration, and I loved the magical world it is set in. I heard that in Bravely Default there is an option to shut the random encounters down and focus on the story. It is great, but Iím not sure I have the strenght for another JRPG in my life.
I feel like one of those couples that split up not because something went specifically wrong, but because they fell out of love for each other. Maybe it is simply time for me to move on to different genres.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you think there are JRPGs still worth playing? Is there something wrong with the genre? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear the communityís opinion about it.

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