Console role-playing game

Console role-playing game

A console role-playing game is a video game genre that has its origin rooted in video game consoles and includes game mechanics and, frequently, settings derived from those of traditional role-playing games. The term also applies to role-playing video games on handheld video game systems, such as the Nintendo DS and PSP.

Nomenclature

For historical, cultural, and hardware-related reasons, console role-playing games have evolved a very different set of features that mark them distinct from other electronic RPGs.Clarifyme|date=March 2008 Because the vast majority of CRPGs originate in Eastern Asia, particularly Japan, CRPGs are often referred to as Japanese role-playing gamescite web | title =The History of Console RPGs | publisher =GameSpot | url =http://www.gamespot.com/features/vgs/universal/rpg_hs/first.html | format =HTML | accessdate =2007-10-24 ] or JRPGscite web | title = JRPG - What does JRPG stand for? Acronyms and abbreviations by the Free Online Dictionary. | url=http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/JRPG | accessdate = 2007-03-30 )] (although there are non-Japanese console role-playing games in existence).

A computer role-playing game (also referred to as CRPG) may be marked as a "console-style RPG" by the gaming community if its gameplay and design philosophy is similar to that of most console role-playing games. Examples of such games that actively pursued an Eastern style of RPGs include "Anachronox" and "Septerra Core".

The categorization between console and computer role-playing games is sometimes ambiguous for cross-platform games such as the "" series, or for games that are ported from one format to another, such as the "Ultima" series, the "Wizardry" series, "Eye of the Beholder" or "Final Fantasy VII" and "VIII".

Overview

Most CRPGs place a strong emphasis on storyline-driven arcs and character development, with the payoff almost always based on storytelling instead of experiencing a more dynamic world via nonlinear gameplay.

In CRPGs, overall character competence or power is often represented by a statistic called a "level". Typically, characters raise their level by gaining experience through combat or by performing other actions. When the experience reaches a certain number, they gain a level, enabling them to attain greater attributes, abilities, and spells. In the process of gaining these levels characters may gain more useful types of equipment, such as weapons and armor.

Unlike most computer role-playing games, at the beginning of a console role-playing game the player is usually not given the option of customizing a character or making decisions on his/her nature or background. Instead, he/she is offered one or more predefined characters to play as for the rest of the game.

Attributes commonly represented as statistics in console RPGs include Hit Points, Magic Points, Strength, Defense, and Speed, alongside other characteristics which typically correspond to the ways in which the game expands on the average CRPG formula.

Navigation

A CRPG often provides several different layers of travel in the form of localized maps in buildings, towns, or dungeons, as well as an overworld with an associated map. At the widest levels, an overlying world map is often used for traveling between countries, continents, or planets. At the beginning of the game, obstacles on the world map such as mountains, rivers, and deserts may prohibit the player from visiting an area until the player has obtained appropriate skills or vehicles. Many CRPGs eventually allow the player rapid movement within the overworld, using such methods as flying, [Many games, such as Final Fantasy, will provide airships for flying. Other games will feature flying animals such as large birds or dragons] sailing, or teleporting [Often referred to as "warp"] to previous locations. For some games, the player never actually travels on the world map, but rather selects an adjacent location, which repositions the player to that location. [For example, the Wild Arms series.]

Plot

A CRPG plot is often crafted in an intricate fashion into a highly dramatic, strictly directed and linear construct, relying on the viewer to experience most of its twists and turns at predetermined specific times and certain ways. In this sense, a CRPG's execution is quite akin to that of a movie or a novel, using scripted sequences.

Few games in the genre offer branching plots, though some titles such as "Final Fantasy VII" and "Tales of Symphonia" do feature alternate storylines depending on the player's conversational choices regarding characters in his party. Other games such as "Chrono Trigger" and "Chrono Cross" were notable for offering a multitude of decidedly different endings.

Console RPG plots tend to resemble anime or manga adventures, often colorful and bright with light-hearted, self-identifiable characters. The storyline in these games usually involves an epic battle between the forces of good and evil, with the player's characters fighting on the good side to avert an apocalypse.

etting

The majority of console RPGs are set in fictional worlds, which the hero then explores and ultimately saves throughout the course of the game. In most cases (especially in early CRPGs) the game takes place in a medieval fantasy setting, and feature common elements such as mythological monsters to fight (most notably dragons), magic for the characters to learn, and kingdoms to save or conquer. Other settings include steampunk, science fiction and post-apocalyptic. The "Shadow Hearts" series takes place in the early 20th century. The "Shin Megami Tensei" series mostly takes place in modern Japan. The first two games of the EarthBound series, being parodies of the genre, take place in the late 20th century.

Gameplay

Much like traditional adventure games, most RPG gameplay is built around quest structures. The player is typically required to go through a series of challenges shared from pen-and-paper RPGs, such as clearing a dungeon of monsters, defeating an evil boss, or rescuing a princess. To do these tasks, one might be required to talk to an NPC to receive the quest. Other missions may include engaging in dialogue, item fetch quests, or locational puzzles, such as opening a locked door by means of a key or hidden lever.

The bulk of most CRPG gameplay is in combat with AI monsters. Traditionally, most games feature turn-based battles,cite web| url=http://www.rpgfan.com/editorials/old/1998/0007.html| title=The Definition of a Role-Playing Game] though several series feature real-time fighting (such as Square Enix's "Seiken Densetsu" series and Namco's "Tales" series). Active Time Battle and Conditional Turn-Based Battle System are examples of popular turn-based systems. There are other hybrid battle systems where the player can affect the outcome of battle through reflex timing. Examples of hybrid battle systems can be found in the games "", "Paper Mario" and "Shadow Hearts".

Combat in CRPGs is often heavily abstracted in comparison to other video games. Player actions, such as "attack" or "defend", are chosen through a series of menus. The results of a battle are regulated through statistical probabilities based on the characteristics of the opponents, such as a sword's strength level rolling against the armor class of an enemy monster. Combat in tactical RPGs is more closely related to that of traditional wargames. Combat in action RPGs is based on the reflexes and quickness of the player.

Strategizing also plays a larger role than in most video game battles. Nearly every CRPG has the player controlling a party consisting of several characters, each with unique abilities, and managing each character's powers and deciding when and where to use these resources adds to the complexity.

The majority of battles in traditional CRPGs are generated from random encounters. In modern titles, combats are increasingly becoming scripted with persistent monsters other than the requisite boss monsters.

Console RPGs are famous for their inclusion of "minigames," usually small puzzle or arcade games embedded within the main game itself to provide brief diversions and moments of relief from the main plot. Minigames may also be used to advance the plot or complete a quest. In ', the protagonist may free a Twi'lek slave by winning a game of Pazaak, while in ', the player must score in a "Yoshi's Cookie"-inspired crate pushing game to clear an area.

Notably, early games such as "Dragon Warrior" forced the player to repeatedly fight monsters unnecessary for completing the storyline in order to level up their character(s) to a point where the next challenge can be overcome, a process called grinding. Though grinding persists as a way to obtain powerful characters or items earlier in the game than is intended, CRPGs have gotten easier, partially in order to appeal to a larger audience.Fact|date=April 2008 This has led to criticism by fans and detractors of the genre alike.Fact|date=April 2008 Others contend that video games as a whole have gotten easier along a roughly similar timeline.Fact|date=April 2008 However, later in the development of the CRPG genre, games have often balanced these easy segments with the inclusion of optional and challenging boss battles and puzzles to appease more seasoned gamers. Some examples include the battle with Emerald Weapon from "Final Fantasy VII", Omega Weapon from "Final Fantasy VIII", and the Crossbone Island challenge from "Golden Sun". In these cases, the battles are typically more challenging than the game's true storyline-based ending.

History

The earliest console RPG was "Dragonstomper" (1982) on the Atari 2600. Later, in 1986, Chunsoft made the NES title "Dragon Quest" (called "Dragon Warrior" in North America (the series would retain that name until the 8th game in the series)). This was followed shortly by ports of the computer RPGs "Wizardry" and "Ultima III", as well as a number of Japanese RPGs, such as "Phantasy Star" (1987) from Sega, and "Final Fantasy" (1987) from Squaresoft. These games proved popular and spawned their own series of sequels. (The "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest" series remain popular today, "Final Fantasy" more so in the West, and "Dragon Quest" in Japan.)

The original "Dragon Quest" and "Final Fantasy" both borrowed heavily from "Ultima". For example, leveling up and saving must be done by speaking to the king in "Dragon Quest". In order to rest and get healed, the characters must visit the king ("Dragon Quest") or stay the night at an inn ("Dragon Quest" and "Final Fantasy"). The games are played in a top-down perspective, much like the "Ultima" games. The combat style in "Dragon Quest" was borrowed from the "Wizardry" series of computer role-playing games, and "Dragon Quest"'s medieval setting is also remarkably reminiscent of "Ultima".

"Dragon Quest" did not reach North America until 1989, when it was released as "Dragon Warrior", the first NES RPG, and, thus, one of the major influences on early CRPG development. Many early console RPGs were essentially clones of "Ultima" and various other PC RPGs until the genre came into its own in the following years.

The next major revolution came in the mid 1990s, which saw the rise of optical disks in fifth generation consoles. The implications for RPGs were enormous—longer, more involved quests, better audio, and full-motion video. The explosion of "Final Fantasy VII"'s sales and the ascendance of the PlayStation were proof of this and represented the dawning of a new era of RPGs. Backed by a clever marketing campaign, "Final Fantasy VII" brought the first taste of CRPGs to many of the uninitiated in 1997.cite web | date=October , 2003 | url=http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_zd1up/is_200310/ai_ziff109006 | title=Final Fantasy VII Advent Children | work= [http://www.findarticles.com/ Find Articles] ; originally published in [http://1up.com/ 1UP] | accessmonthday=August 10 | accessyear=2006Dead link|date=May 2008] cite web|url=http://www.usatoday.com/tech/gaming/2006-08-29-dirge-of-cerberus_x.htm|title='Dirge of Cerberus' defies expectations, for better and worse|author=Kraus, Alex|publisher=USA Today|date=2006-08-29|accessdate=2006-08-30] Subsequently, CRPGs, previously a niche genre, skyrocketed in popularity.

In 1997, a new Internet fad began, influenced by the popularization of console RPGs. A large group of young programmers and aficionados began creating and sharing independent CRPG games, emulating the gameplay and style of the older SNES and Sega Genesis games. The majority of such games owe their achievement to simplistic software development kits such as the Japanese "RPG Maker" series.

Popularity

The best-selling CRPG series worldwide is "Pokémon". It has sold over 155 million units as of November 2006. [cite web|url=http://www.n-sider.com/newsview.php?type=story&storyid=2543|title=Nintendo sales through end of November revealed|author=Behrens, Matt|publisher="N-Sider"|date=2006-12-01|accessdate=2007-10-30] The second and third best-selling series worldwide are Square Enix's "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest" series, respectively. As of December 2005, "Final Fantasy" has sold 63 million units, while "Dragon Quest" has sold over 40 million units. [cite web|url=http://www.square-enix.com/na/news/2005/12192005/|title=Playable Beta Disc for Xbox 360 Console to be included with February 2006 Issue|publisher="Official Xbox Magazine"|date=2005-12-19|accessdate=2007-10-30]

ee also

*Computer role-playing game
*Cultural differences in computer and console role-playing games
*Tactical role-playing game
*RPG Maker, a series of tools for non-programmers to create console-style RPGs

References


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