Final Fantasy XIII certainly looks like a Japanese RPG, but according to Square-Enix, the game is NOT a Japanese RPG, despite being an RPG that is developed for and by Japanese people in Japan.
Game producer Yoshinori Kitase does not view his game as conforming to Eastern or Western standards, preferring to see the XIII as a true genre-straddler. I won’t be the one to break it to him that if a game looks, feels and plays like a JRPG, it’s probably a JRPG.
“There’s a trend these days to strictly categorize games as western RPGs or Japanese RPGs, but Final Fantasy is something that we don’t try to categorize as either/or,” he explains. “For us, the game straddles genre.”
There is a good reason WHY we have the Western and Eastern clarifications for RPGs, because there is a very clear divide between Final Fantasy games and Elder Scrolls games. Whether Kitase wants to admit it or not, JRPGs and Western RPGs are very different beasts, and I’ll be damn shocked if Final Fantasy XIII manages to blend elements of both styles into one game. At least in a way that won’t totally ruin the experience and turn it into a mess.
XIII so far looks like a JRPG through and through, and I really hope Square Enix isn’t going to piss on its own winning formula because it wants to be pretentious and “innovative.” The worst thing that could happen is for XIII to try and be everything all at once, to the point where it doesn’t even know what it is anymore. It’s worked with the PSP enough to know how badly that can go wrong.