We get half-decent games like Eternal Sonata or Resonance of Fate, but none like the games from the genres glorious days. Still I see light at the end of the tunnel. Here is the top five hopes I see for the genre and why.
Ni ni Kuni: The Queen of White Sacred Ash (PS3)
Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki is mostly known for their work on movies like Spirited Away and My Neibour Totoro. Now they take a swing at resurrecting the JRPG genre their own way. And it looks cute, and is kind of what I expect from Ghibli. I therefore have no doubt in my mind that the story will be really great. For the game itself, the fact that Ghibli haven't developed a game before troubles me, but I think with the support of Level 5 they can do it.
Kingdom Hearts III (PS3)
Well, the game has been confirmed so I'm putting it on the list. But it's here on the assumption that it's going to kick the other two games asses. That, and the fact that the series main titles have been really well met. Tetsuya Nomura has gotten more experience and the other games were great, why wouldn't this one be? I long to kick some ass with Donald and Goofy again. The greatness in the game is there, I love Disney, I love Final Fantasy, so naturally, I love Kingdom Hearts. I just hope that the flaws in the gameplay will be fixed. Then this is going to be another great game in the world of Final Disney Fantasy.
The Last Story (Wii)
The Father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, is in the same seat as when he was to make his final game, Final Fantasy, and we all know how that went. I hope that the pressure makes him and Mistwalker work at 110 percent. It seems that people finally starts to see that you need to step away from what has been the norm for JRPG's for a great while. The Last Story picks a lot of inspiration from games like Mass Effect and a renewal of the genre is what is needed. My worries of this game is that it will seize being a JRPG and turn into a more Americanised game. The Characters surely look the part but it's still a worry. I just hope that things that makes a JRPG, like the style, the quirky but complex story and the unhollywoodish music, remains intact. The other worry I have with the game is not really about the game in itself, but the platform. Even if the game turns out to be great, I'm not sure if it will sell well on the Wii. The fans of JRPG either got a PS3 or a Xbox 360. But nevertheless, The Last Story looks like an interesting title, it actually looks great but I just hope that Sakaguchi knows what he's doing.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII (PS3)
Another game that walks away from the norms of what a JRPG should be. It's futuristic, yet near in time. You wouldn't think that the game was fantasy if you saw it. Tetsuya Nomura is the big brain behind the game and it surely shows. I thought that the gameplay looked kind of stiff, I hope that the system for fighting is fluent and fun, but I didn't think so when I watched the trailer. But this game just looks so great. The surroundings in the cut scenes are almost photogenic. The characters, as expected of Nomura, are greatly designed and this will probably be a great game, and the second to biggest hope the JRPG has to survive.
Persona 5 (PS3)
Yeah, not a big surprise for me to put Persona 5 here after praising the fourth game and the Persona-teams Catherine. But I really think that this is the new king of JRPG, Final Fantasy is stepping down from the throne. At the same time, I kind of feel like it's the evil brother taking over the power and I pray that Final Fantasy XV will be everything Final Fantasy XIII wasn't. The Shin Megami Tensei-series have always been targeted at adults and that is where the big difference is. The Persona-series is different from the others, other then the adult tone, in that it doesn't step away from what is JRPG is, like The Last Story and FF vs XIII. It's a basic, almost boring system for fighting bur for some reason it's fun, it adds small things to the system, and that's it. What is awesome for the Persona-series is how the move the focus away from the battles and focus on the characters and puts a lot of effort in the dialogue and the script. The thing I'm a little worried about for Persona 5 is that Persona 3 and 4 where not that different, Persona 4 is basically a fine-tuned Persona 3, and as I said in my review of the forth part, the story was better in the third one. So I hoping for a little more of a difference in the gameplay, while still keeping what makes the Persona-franchise so amazing. And if it can attract not only the hardcore-gamers, then it will save the Japanese Role-Playing Games.