In early March, Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida said that he feels the JRPG label is “discriminatory”, sparking a storm of debate about the history of JRPGs in general, as well as the term itself. . During a recent panel, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi spoke about the waning era of the JRPG in the 2000s, stating that he doesn’t feel the need to draw inspiration from Western games.
As IGN reported, the panel covered the entire history of Japanese gaming, from the rise of Dragon Quest in 1986 to modern hits like Final Fantasy XIV. Sakaguchi said that Japanese games dominated the 1980s and 1990s because developers dominated their native hardware, such as the NES and PlayStation.
“At that time, people in the West viewed pixel art and three-headed-tall characters as childish,” Sakaguchi said. “It was frustrating that our games were struggling there as we wanted to find a way to expand our business. That finally happened when we were able to incorporate CG for Final Fantasy VII.”
Sagaguchi further stated that when the differences between console and PC development began to fade in the PS3 era, Japanese developers struggled to keep up. He also pointed out that many Western games are inspired by Japanese ones, but he personally doesn’t see it the other way around.
“In the West, children often have their own room from a very young age, while in Japan the whole family sleeps together in the same room,” Sakaguchi said. “I think such small cultural differences can be felt through the games we create today. Even when Western games became mainstream, I didn’t feel the need to be inspired by them. I think appreciating my Japanese cultural background is what attracts people . towards my games first.”
Panelist Koji Igarashi, known as the director of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, offered his own take, stating that “Igavania”-style games like Hollow Knight have become one of the hottest genres. popular in the indie space. Jokingly, he asked those developers to “leave my field”, before saying that he should call his fellow Metroidvania developers his friends, since they are all learning from each other to try and make better games.
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