Western reviewers hate Japanese RPGs
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Disclaimer: All likenesses used are for parody and/or satirical purposes.
Skip: Welcome fans and viewers to this week`s episode of Skip and Max`s Prime Time Gaming. As always I`m your host…
Max: Wait, wait, wait, Skip. I have an important announcement to make.
Skip: You`re addicted to Monster?
Max: No, well yes, but I'm in rehab for that. No, my announcement is there is no announcement of something happening next week. Everything is normal here in the Tokyo Dome. Nothing at all to be worried about.
Skip: I, never mind, I don't want to know what kind of acid you're on right now. As always I'm your host with the most, Skip Williams with the doctor of trophinomics, Max Platinum. This week we get into the deep, nitty-gritty world of game reviews. More specifically trying to understand why the majority of western reviewers hate Japanese made RPGs on the PS3.
Max: It is rather elementary my dear Skip. They are Japanese.
Skip: It can't be that simple, Max. Reviewers used to love Japanese RPGs on the PS2, the SNES, the PS1, the Genesis, the…
Max: This is the PS3 era and things have changed. The cool, wavy, pre-made hair look of Chrono and Cloud are out, and in are the total customization of random name Shepard, random name Dragonborn, and random name Grey Warden. Being told what to do is no longer the 'cool' thing like in the 90s as this generation is all about rebelling without a cause. It has only been this generation that western companies have been making lots of RPGs for the PS3, giving gamers a choice between west and east instead of east and east.
Skip: Rebelling without a cause? How does that have anything to do with how critics look at reviewing games?
Max: Culture, Skip, culture. Asia and North America are two completely polar opposite places when it comes to culture. North America puts a high emphasis on freedom, any freedom, even the freedom to put on 500 pounds and then complain when you're kicked off an airplane because it is damaging for the self-esteem. Asia values uniformity and knowing what is what. Sure Japan has some crazy clothing styles and street culture but the moment the work hour tolls 9am those same freaks turn into business suit wearing automatons.
Skip: So the values instilled into society is translating into games and reviewing? You'll have to explain that in detail for me, Max, cause it is not computing this time.
Max: What is the main complaint reviewers have with Japanese RPGs? They are usually made from someone tripping out on acid while sniffing cocaine with a marijuana chaser, at least the ones that get scores lower than an Italian soccer match. Reviewers complain about how juvenile, wordy, and in-coherent the stories, characters, and everything in the game is. Well, when your culture in North America allows you to be an incoherent mess that never shuts up, why would you want to play a game that mirrors life? Coversely, in a culture where everyone looks the same, acts the same, thinks the same, and talks the same, wouldn`t a game where you can transform into a demon that deals one billion damage attacks, talks like an 80s rocker, and has hair that takes the killing of a dozen mousse to style, be awesome?
Skip: I see what you mean, Max. You know when I was in high school and had to wear a uniform, get a crew-cut, and have no life outside of the classroom, it was a nice change of pace. But why is there a schism in sales between North America and Japan? Why can Final Fantasy work in America but Fallout fail in Japan?
Max: A lot of western countries like America, Canada, and England are multicultural countries, whereas Japan is mono-cultural. In western countries there can be huge pockets of gamers of differing cultures who love Japanese RPGs enough to warrant companies to spend the time and money to localize them. Japan is culturally Japanese. There might be other nationalities living there but it is not an immigrant country that takes pride in being a cultural melting pot, and a lot of the western immigrants and workers are there because they like Japanese culture anyways. Final Fantasy, for example, can work in America because there are enough gamers who don`t care they have no freedom in the game. The characters, story, dialogue, weapons, everything is pre-chosen like a book. But Fallout can't work because there is not high enough of an immigrant population that are into that kind of game, as the Japanese are not into the fighting fantasy style of choose your own adventure game.
Skip: But for a culture that embraces being clones by day and crazy wild party animals by night, wouldn`t a choose your own adventure be the ultimate opposite form in line with your 80s rocker demon analogy.
Max: It would but western games are tame compared to Japanese creations. As fun as it is to punch a dragon to death in Skyrim, who are you?
Skip: What do you mean who are you? You're the Dragonborn, a half-dragon, half-man machine of shouting death. How is that tame?
Max: This is the land that created such masterpieces like school girls transforming with pretty, dazzling lights into sailor scouts aka sexier school girls that look legal, guys with no muscle mass being able to carry swords even Superman can't carry, blobs with smiley faces, and lest we not forget the tentacle porn. FYI for the parents, supervise your kids during this program or when allowing them to play any games from Japan.
Skip: But Skyrim has a world consuming dragon. How is that not epic?
Max: A generic looking world consuming dragon with the personality of a history book that can be punched to death. Where is the style, the substance, the force of personality? If this world consuming dragon was going to consume your child's fetus in some weird self-induced abortion, with the Dragonborn being antibodies to defend that fetus from the evil abortion dragon, then it would be stylish…oh…wait…where did I hear that story before…hmmm…
Skip: From one of your Monster-induced acid trips?
Max: No, I am usually passed out in my underwear with a por…I mean Victoria`s…errr…Sears catalog…yeah, Sears catalog.
Skip: I think porno magazine would have been a less humiliating answer.
Max: To use a reference from a game western gamers and reviewers did enjoy on a massive scale, Persona 3 has you shooting yourself in the skull to use your magic powers, lest we not forget in Persona 2 you fight Hitler. What in the west can compete with that on the epic insanity scale? Nothing that I know of when it comes to RPGs.
Skip: You still didn’t answer why the Japanese have not made their own version of a choose your own adventure game.
Max: In my rebellious Canadian spirit I was choosing not to answer that. Why do you have to weigh me down with answering logical questions, Skip?
Skip: It is part of our contract?
Max: Where is a contract abortion dragon when I need it?
Skip: I don’t think abortions work that way.
Max: I need to find a new agent then.
Skip: This is where your choice forces you into a dead end and you need to confront the question or die a horrible death in a pit trap full of Red Bull.
Max: I don’t know what is worse. I think answering the question is slightly better than Red Bull, only cause that stuff is worse than oil from a leaky Ford in the rust pits of Flint, Michigan. Give me a second to think about it.
Skip: We actually have a time schedule, Max.
Max: Don’t rush me…okay…I’ll answer the question, although that oil was a tempting choice. Even though we crave something different in our free time compared to our business lives, we still are conditioned to respond to how we are raised. So even though someone from Japan craves freedom when the work day is over, at their core they still respond best to authority aka the ‘do as you’re told’ style of RPGs prevalent in the country.
Skip: The doctor of trophinomics just tried to be a doctor of sociology, ladies and gentleman. We’re running over time in this week’s episode. For Max Platinum, I’m Skip Williams…
Max: Wait, Skip. I need to make another announcement.
Skip: Do you know how much the crew gets paid overtime?
Max: I just want to say that next week’s episode will not feature me, but it might, but I don’t know yet, I’m undecided.
Skip: You can’t be serious.
Max: Well, you know those Majiko fans sent in a lot of hate mail. Don’t tell anyone this, Skip, but I have a deadly fear of cardboard boxes. It all stems back to a dream I had where this imaginary man kept appearing out of cardboard boxes, like a vengeful genie seeking revenge for being kept in a miniature cell; a slave to the whims of its overlord.
Skip: Let me guess, this imaginary cardboard box genie shived people in the spinal cord and then scurried away, unknown to the next unwary wanderer who focused on the pile of dead bodies and not the magically inconspicuous box sitting beside that tower of corpses?
Max: How did you know? Are you afraid of the box genie as well? We’re not linked in some dream world, are we?
Skip: Tune in next week, live from the Tokyo Dome. Who knows what will happen because Max definitely fell off the rehab wagon.
Max: Skip, trust me on this, you need to not fall asleep anymore or that is when the box genie will get you. I have a stockpile of Monster in my dressing room, more than enough for the two of us to get through the week.
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