It is with great regret...


29 Responses to “It is with great regret...”

  1. kromekoran says:

    hilarious letter, Rob. loved that.

  2. HaRyu says:

    Is there even one Japanese RPG that fits that flowchart? I can’t even think of one that has you starting off with amnesia, let alone you starting off with a village festival.

    • Anonymous says:

      Amnesia? Just sticking with the Final Fantasy series, V had one of the main characters, Galuf, start off with amnesia. VI started out with something similar; the first main character, Terra, was basically enslaved by the Empire and even after she was freed didn’t know where she’d come from. But the one that the flowchart authors probably had in mind was VII (as evidenced by the inclusion of Cloud in the center of that layout) who while not suffering from amnesia right at the start, still had some … issues with his memory and his sanity that became apparent later in the game.

      Village festival? Probably the best known example is the Millennial Fair in Guardia that started off Chrono Trigger. [If you haven't played it, you should, as long as you don't think too deeply about some of the temporal paradoxes that are caused deliberately by the heroes and/or villains.] Wild Arms (the original) also started off with a festival/fair of sorts, and Xenogears started out with preparations for a wedding celebration that would have included most/all of the town’s population, which is close.

      • Metostopholes says:

        Chrono Trigger, while it has the festival and meeting-a-cute-girl-your-age-who-turns-out-to-be-a-princess, really doesn’t follow the chart at all after that.

        Maybe it’s because I’ve played few JRPGs, but it seems like this is based on a handful of popular titles (Final Fantasy, mostly).

    • El Mariachi says:

      Chrono Trigger starts off with a village festival. No amnesia though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aveyond: Rhen’s Quest starts off with a village festival, and while the protagonist doesn’t have amnesia, she’s unaware of her true origins and the circumstances of her birth. Technically though, this RPG isn’t Japanese – but it’s definitely trying to imitate the style.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Guess that chart didn’t apply to Legend of Zelda :)
    Ah, and the chart lacked sidequests.

  4. dinara says:

    You know, yesterday was the most unpleasant period I’ve ever experienced. We were looking for a good moving company during the all nights and days. But this day is more pleasant,because I laugh reading all thoughts here

  5. Anonymous says:

    Shin Megami Tensei series.

    There we go, now the little formula is disproven.

  6. travtastic says:

    Let’s see a flowchart for all these formulaic sports games I have to slog through every time I go to a game store.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The existence of Shadow Hearts disproves this. The fact that it got two sequels could justify this list’s use as toilet paper.

    Also, Earthbound and Baten Kaitos.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Good article and a nice summation of the problem. My only problem with the analysis is given that much of the population joined the chorus of deregulatory mythology, given vested interest is inclined toward perpetuation of the current system and given a lack of a popular cheerleader for your arguments, I’m not seeing much in the way of change. discussion

  9. SuzetteC says:

    The existence of Shadow Hearts disproves this. The fact that it got two sequels could justify this list’s use as car shipping toilet paper.

  10. Teapunk says:

    “Press button to skip?” “You wish.”
    This really sums up every Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest I’ve ever played. well done.
    Although in the last two or three Final Fantasy titles there seems to be now a mandatory scene “princess gets married to guy (possible villain!!!) she does not want to get married to”.

  11. JOBVACANCIES says:

    A nice summary of the problem with a solution, which unfortunately is rare these days jobvacancies

  12. Tynam says:

    Anon@10 somehow missed out the Final Fantasy VIII, in which essentially every character in the game has amnesia. And grew up in a village together. Which they’ve forgotten.

    But yes, one reason the JPRG is suffering is because they’ve turned into a structure so formulaic, even Microsoft can do it. Twice. Last Remnant is mediocre – and at least as original as the other stuff out there.

    I lived for FF7, at the time. Now FF13′s out, I sort of bothered to borrow it from a friend. Eventually. For a few days while he was on honeymoon.

    Meanwhile, we have Bioware and CD Projekt and Bethesda and the sadly defunct Troika and others pushing RPG in a dozen different and cool directions. I can’t even tell what counts as an RPG any more. (Mass Effect 2 is a cover shooter. But with character growth and interaction and romance and mining for upgrades. Genre Boy gives up, confused.)

  13. Daedalus says:

    It’s still awesome. ;)

    I’d like to see a flowchart for your average FPS game.

    Run Down Hallway -> Shoot Guys -> Run Down Hallway -> Get Car -> Shoot Guys -> Drive Car -> Shoot Guys -> Shoot big guys -> run down hallway…..

    hehehehe, formulaic gameplay.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Heh, I bet RPG developers already use this :3

  15. medway says:

    Agreed this is pretty much how they all go, that being said they can still be enjoyable if executed correctly.

  16. smeej says:

    What game has profanity filters for naming? My pokemon are a cavalcade of disgusting slurs…

    And the chart doesn’t match up to any Shin Megami game or Front Mission so it’s USELESS TO ME.

  17. Kyon says:

    It’s not like formulaic gameplay is a bad thing. You can make a game that, underneath, follows all the same formulas, but still make it good. You can flesh it out with a good story and believable characters. We tend to value games that break the mold, and rightfully so; but that doesn’t make a good (albeit formulaic) game any less good.

    • sloverlord says:

      I agree, but only up to extent. Lately Kotaku et al have been flooded with articles about how the Japanese gaming industry, and JRPGs in particular, are in a slump, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say one of the reasons is because all of these games are exactly the same. Even the best formula gets tiresome eventually: FFVII is still my favorite video game of all time, bar none, but I’ve played it a dozen more times under different guises and the magic just wears off. A shakeup is sorely needed.

      Also: your username. I wants it.

  18. nnguyen says:

    This actually kinda sucks. They’re blatantly trying to lay out the plot for FF7 and somehow derive that into the plots for other RPGs, but really the last 2-3 RPGs only fit like 10% of this chart. I mean you would have to take several parts from many RPGs to make up this chart, which defeats the point that this chart fits most RPGs. I couldn’t even begin to go into details of how this is wrong.

    Very nicely produced, though.

  19. eShock says:

    Well, JRPGS are after all “a bit” cliché than other genres. Kind of reminds me Linear RPG.

    Loved the letter. Reading Steven Erikson lately? :)

  20. ianmalcm says:

    Great flowcharts like this do a disservice by not adhering to the diamond/circles/square rules of proper diagrams.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I thought it was clearly all about Secret of Mana…

    Maybe it’s an age thing – SNES RPGs were all pretty similar (including Chrono Trigger).

  22. SuzetteC says:

    What on earth are you telling them? Flamboyant, brightly-dyed hairdos confer no advantage whatsoever in a tactical car transport situation, Mr. Carmon.

  23. Daemon says:

    People who complain about JRPGs being all the same just need to stop playing nothing but a tiny slice of the games produced.

  24. ooloros says:


    this chart is in the latest issue of GameInformer.

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