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[Hironobu] Sakaguchi and [Akitoshi] Kawazu are living representations of the Japanese RPG's Yin and Yang. Sakaguchi relishes telling stories and designing worlds, while Kawazu lives to subject players to grinding, guesswork, and arbitrary chance. Sakaguchi wants to make a game that keeps you up at night; his aim is to compel to decide that you'd rather be deprived of rest than have to wait until you return from school or work the next day to find out what happens next, discover where the path leads, and unravel the next knot of the mystery. Kawazu wants his games to make you throw down the controller in a rage, shut the game off, go to sleep angry, and come home the next afternoon to give it another go like a black-eyed housewife convinced she can make it work this time.
The term "Eastern RPG" can be used in two different ways:
A Role Playing Game developed in East Asia, specifically Japan.
Or a Role Playing Game following a style popularized by Japanese console developers, which can be differentiated from Western RPGs by having several or more of the following features:
- Created in Japan (or, more recently, China, Taiwan, or South Korea).
- Generally found on consoles (and more recently, handhelds) rather than a PC.
- Tend to follow linear plots, with less of a Wide Open Sandbox setting. Many will not feature discrete "quests".
- The player usually controls a party of pre-designed characters. The player is sometimes offered a choice of what characters to use, but not the option of designing his own protagonists.
- The party members are usually written into the plot, rather than blank slates.
- A linear plot and lack of character creation that, hopefully, allows a more cinematic and tightly-scripted story.
- Later games tend to have one or more elaborate, minigame-like "systems" (such as the License Grid in Final Fantasy XII) that allow skill and ability customization.
- Random Encounters are a common gameplay element, especially in older games.
- Turn-based combat is also prominent, though action-based combat was more prominent in the past.
- A degree of Level Grinding is strongly encouraged, if not outright required, to proceed through the game.
- Most encounters are resolved through combat or cutscenes. Most quests and abilities are combat-oriented.
- Dice rolls are always hidden and stats are given as arbitrary numbers.
- Often contain a few Mini Games.
- Often targeted towards a broader audience, including female audiences (hence the Bishonen characters often found in this genre).
In the past, the Eastern Console format was arguably more prolific and hence more popular than the Western Computer format, with even some Computer games mimicking Console ones. Lately, however, the Computer format is becoming more popular in the West, rivaling (and occasionally trumping) the Console format in popularity, partly due to progresses in technology making arguably more immersive games, which in turn has led to rising budgets. As a result, many Console development teams nowadays focus more on handhelds due to lower budgets.
The Console RPG genre has been building on the classic Dragon Quest / Final Fantasy formula (ironically inspired by Computer RPGs such as Wizardry) for a long time. With later generations, the gameplay has been mixing up with other genres (including Action Games, Adventure Games, Simulation Games, and Strategy Games) though the general "explore / get into battles / some variation on turn-based combat" is still going strong for many games within the genre.
The Eastern RPG genre has several subgenres of its own. A subset of this genre is the Action RPG, which mixes this type of gameplay with the Action Adventure, so that while it keeps the strongly plotted story, anime-influenced characters, experience and statistics, the turn-based battle system is done away with in favor of a more real-time method of attack resembling Action Games. Also, many Turn-Based Strategy games are done in "Console RPG style" and are often referred to as "Strategy RPGs" or "Tactical RPGs", though more recent examples of the subgenre have also incorporated Real Time Strategy elements. Another subset is the Dungeon Crawler, a subgenre that can include both Eastern and Western games, though this subgenre has become more popular in the East than it is in the West.
See also How to Play a Console RPG.
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