Are Japanese games slipping?

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Are Japanese games slipping?

Postby yyr » Wed Sep 01, 2010 12:52 am

Heck no! I just responded to another Kotaku post, here:
http://kotaku.com/5625222/final-fantasy-dev-japanese-games-slipping-because-of-technology-passion

And here's what I write:

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I still maintain that the main difference these days between Japanese games and Western games has nothing to do with quality...and has everything to do with the audience and its expectations.

These days, it seems that the average Western player just wants an escape, something relaxing, something enjoyable. Like a movie, for example. These players feel that difficulty should be modest and progress shouldn't be too hard to achieve. In their eyes, games should be lengthy, storylines and strong characters should be prevalent, and replay value is not so important (why else would so many used copies turn up in Gamestop?). This desire and resulting game design philosophy are not necessarily right or wrong; they are just the direction that the West has gone.

Japanese players are looking for more of what video games used to be in the West, and what the majority of Japanese games still are: skill tests. Challenging, replayable skill tests. Some require memorization. Some require great reflexes and quick reaction time. Some pit you against a live opponent and others put you up against an AI army. And while some Western elements have found their way into these games, on the whole they are still skill tests.

When the average Western player encounters a skill-test game like this--especially a really challenging one, such as a shmup, light-gun shooter or deep, challenging fighting game--they often miss the point, continuing their way through it until they reach an ending and accuse it of being too short, or button-mashing through a single-player mode in order to fight a boring final boss and see a pointless pre-rendered "ending."

Are these games similar to those that were played 20 years ago? Yes, in some ways. Do the new games of this type represent a backwards thinking, an obsolete era, or the "slipping" of Japanese devs? Absolutely not. They simply represent the fact that some players still appreciate games that test their skills. And the failure of many Western players and media outlets to recognize this fact is somewhat shocking to me.

Yes, folks, skill-testing games are still here, and they should be. I, for one, find most other kinds of games these days to be pretty boring. This year, so far, my most enjoyable gaming moments have come from the thrill of head-to-head SSFIV, BlazBlue and T6BR; the steep, addicting challenge of shmups like Espgaluda II and Ketsui; and the balls-to-the-wall adrenaline rush that is After Burner Climax, not to mention the intense physical challenge of In The Groove 2 and various iterations of Pump It Up. All of these games are skill-testers, and just about all of them are Japanese. Guess what? I'm not the only one out there who still loves them.

TL;DR: The West lets you chill; Japan tests your skill. They're not slipping...in fact, they're quite gripping.
Aaron Teplitsky
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