The JRPG flavor.
Just what is so appealing about JRPGs that keeps its little niche fanbase going? I’ve played many, many RPGs and although Japan has been at the forefront of releases for the good part of over 20 years, the 2000s saw a change. Has the typical formula of random battles and linear storyline really gone stale? There’s a distinct over-saturation of RPG titles on some systems (like the PSP) that most people in the U.S. would never touch, but somehow it doesn’t seem all too different from the abundance of poor-to-mediocre first-person shooters being released either.
But I do realize that something happened in the 2000s. Other than your typical flagship Final Fantasies, no other series really seemed to grip the west, and somehow I have an inkling it’s due to western player habits and their tendencies toward multiplayer. I’m fine with that.
I’ve been itching to grab the re-release of Dragon Quest VI for the DS, since I was thoroughly impressed with IV’s facelift. I’ve gone over a number of reviews (for fun) that dock it as particularly mediocre compared to your standard modern day RPG, and I’m inclined to agree … if you want to compare Dragon Quest VI to Mass Effect 2, there is no competition critically. But the JRPG flavor is something that gamers usually acquire at some point and eventually learn to like it. For me and probably a lot of players in my generation, that was a long time ago when we were (smaller) children. Unsurprisingly, it means that we are going to be inherently biased towards games that evoke that “I’m a Toys-R-Us Kid” feeling in us. I’d like to think that the re-releases are definitely targeted towards those of us who already look upon it favorably (which is further hinted due to limited release copies and low production values), but I still think that it’s a good opportunity for those who are curious about those JRPG roots to really dig in. I doubt that they’ll enjoy it quite as much, but on a handheld like a DS, it has a quaint little charm about it that wouldn’t be present if the player had to watch the aged game unfold on their 1080p.
I still enjoy the flavor, and I’m really glad that for the most part, Dragon Quest has stayed true to its roots. It’s one of the few series I can turn to and always expect a certain level of comfort when playing, as soon as I hear those trumpets blaring on the title screen.