The Exigent Duality
JRPG Renaissance - 07:19 CDT, 6/30/22 (Sniper)
Video gaming is a shadow of itself, and has been for years. Most genres are essentially dead: they may have modern entries, but those titles have completely lost the charm and atmosphere of their forebears. Play "Tekken 3" and "Tekken 7" back-to-back, for instance.

But there are a couple of genres which buck the trend, and are healthier than ever. Any genre which, by definition, is trying to mimic reality, is better in the modern era. The FIFA games on the Mega Drive may have their charms, but play "Pro Evolution Soccer 2021" and compare them. Similarly, compare "Test Drive" on the Amiga to "Gran Turismo 7".

Through sheer happenstance, the other genre which is better today than it's ever been, is the JRPG. They still have "real" music, mostly; they still have elaborate story telling; they still get decent budgets, and use modern game tech; and they still aim to create a strong sense of ambience; they all let you play with Japanese voice acting; they still emphasize exploration plus dungeon crawling. And best of all? Zero Cultural Marxism! They are untouched, and untainted.

If you take the window from a few years ago to a year into the future, these are your choices:

  • Dragon Quest XI (Intro).
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade (Preview).
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Preview).
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3 (Preview).
  • Star Ocean: The Divine Force (Preview).
  • Final Fantasy VII Rebirth (Preview).
  • Final Fantasy XVI (Preview).

And this is just a partial list. If there is a nitpick, it's that the genre is leaning too heavily into orchestra music: nothing here even remotely approaches the legendary JRPG soundtracks from the 90s, such as from "Phantasy Star II" or "Final Fantasy VII"-- or even Japanese action RPGs, such as "Ys Book I & II" on PC Engine. But it's still decent music, especially compared to most of the rest of the contemporary industry.