Game design in detail. 7 Japanese RPGs You Can Learn From (Topic)

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Game design in detail. 7 Japanese RPGs You Can Learn From


Japanese RPGs [JRPG] are a well-established genre from which you can learn a lot of interesting things. Often, Western developers take Japanese features or mechanics for their games to make their game better. Gamasutga author Stephanie Vogel spoke with various developers and asked them to share their favorite JRPGs that are examples of cool game design.

Valkyrie Profile 2 is a great evolution of the combat system

“The combat system in Valkyrie Profile is great,” says Mike Zymont, design director at Lab Zero Games. During a turn, all team members attack simultaneously, creating a powerful combo. The attack, in turn, fills the Hit Gauge counter. When it becomes full, then one of the team members can perform a special strong attack. At the same time, the Turn Charge counter prevents it from being used too often, which adds a strategic element.

A few years later, a sequel appeared, in which the same combat system migrated, but three-dimensional movement was added to it, which brought an element of positioning into the game. As the developer says:

Valkyrie Profile 2

Improving the combat system is one of the main conditions in the sequel to any RPG. In the sequel, I want to play the improved first part of the game. And if you can create a continuation without cutting out absolutely anything from the system of the first part, that will be fine.

Bottom Line : When it comes to improving any mechanic, less is more. If you can freshen it up a lot with little additions, it will be much better than overloading it.

Final Fantasy IV - Forced party line-up combined with custom boss designs

In modern RPGs, the player is free to choose the composition of the party himself. You are given a limited number of slots and many characters to choose from. But player choice isn't always good. Zymont gives an example of how forced party line-up improves boss fights in Final Fantasy IV:

Final Fantasy 4

In Final Fantasy IV, characters are added or removed to a team based on the storyline. And although the player himself controls his team, the developer knows exactly what characters he plays. During boss fights, opponents had special abilities that could be dealt with by certain combinations and order of attacks of locked characters. So the fight turned into a puzzle for the player to solve, and not into a simple fight where you have to inflict as much damage as possible.

Bottom Line: Restricting the player only makes sense if it helps improve other aspects of your game.

Valkyria Chronicles - Revelation in RPG Tactical Design

In many RPGs, movement is implemented as follows: the grid is taken as a basis, which divides the field into cells [cells]. Each character can move a certain number of cells, and before the move, the gamer is usually asked to confirm his move. In Valkyria Chronicles 2008, the developers found a way to make travel more comfortable and more difficult at the same time. So each hero has a stamina bar that replaced the grid: when he runs across the battlefield, his strength is depleted. If you do not calculate your path in advance, the character can be easy prey for enemies.

Valkyria Chronicles

Bottom line: don't be afraid to shake up the old formula and change it.

Disgaea - grind as art

Grind for many may be associated with something bad [for example, in light of the fact that many large publishers are looking towards the lucrative Chinese market, where endless grind is the key to success], however, developer Alain Puget from Alkemi Games recalls “Disgaea: Hour of Darkness "by Nippon Ichi 2003, which turns grind into an artistic component of the game. So after the end of the storyline campaign, additional content opens in Disgaea, which can be accessed using the grind. Fans of the game note that this is exactly the feature of the game.


The storyline has been pretty long anyway, but Disgaea offers a bunch of side-quests and secrets that only the most avid grinder would be interested in, ”says Puget. “What at first seemed unattainable to us, eventually became just another goal. To be successful, you had to discover new ways to earn XP exponentially. Since then, I have not seen such a system perform better.

Bottom Line: Grinding can be fun if done right.

Final Fantasy Tactics - Good Character Design

Not surprisingly, 1998's Final Fantasy Tactics is on this list, as she influenced many RPGs that followed. Turbo Studios Senior Producer Jim Green believes there is a lot to learn from Tactics today, especially when it comes to visual character design.

Final Fantasy Tactics

The early parts of this series, including Tactics, solidified the visual imagery that comes to your mind when you think back to a soldier, black magician, rogue, templar, and so on. These archetypes are so entrenched that even today they are used in character creation, as they have stood the test of time, says the developer.

Bottom line: visuals are important not only for aesthetics, but also to dilute the gameplay.

Steambot Chronicles - a huge number of side activities

The action-adventure RPG Steambot Chronicles is a great example of how the game overcomes itself and its limitations through rich content. It may not be the best graphically, but it gives the player a lot of freedom of action. Jonathan Kim, Senior Animator at Lab Zero Games, says this.

Steambot Chronicles

Steambot Chronicles is a mix of genres bursting with side quests, musical minigames, moral decisions, mech battles, and more. There were absurdly many activities, and not always well implemented, but this is what fascinated in the game.

Bottom line: Give the player something to do, and it will cover some of the issues that make the game not perfect.

Cyberdoll - be ambitious and take risks

Cyberdoll is a 1996 Sega Saturn game. In it, we are presented with a future where people are fighting a deadly disease and replacing their limbs with mechanical prostheses. Nercosoft Games developer Brendon Sheffield recalls the game as an example of a good idea with a bit of poor execution. He describes Cyberdoll with the words: “They [the developers] really tried something interesting, but went too far.”

The developers were able to come up with a cool world and basic mechanics, but did not finalize the combat system. In many ways, it was focused on blows to the limbs, which had interesting implications for the gameplay.


“It happened that you could get into a similar situation: you get hit on your legs, they stop functioning and you cannot move. If the enemy moves a sufficient distance not to get hit by your shots, you just have to wait for death. ”

And how did the developers solve this problem? They added the ability to self-destruct so as not to lose to the enemy! It was these ridiculous innovations that helped the game stay in memory.

Bottom line: an innovation in the game that will be remembered by gamers may appear as a reason for the fight against kluge.

What can I say, Japanese developers have come up with a lot of cool mechanics that can be used today. And these Japanese RPGs show that.

The Topic of Article: Game design in detail. 7 Japanese RPGs You Can Learn From.
Author: Jake Pinkman