Gaming History 101

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Genre Study: The Niche Game

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I’m sick of hearing the phrase, “nothing is coming out,” in relation to video games.  That’s not true, so many games are coming out on a consistent basis that we cannot even have a single day of the week they all release.  What I feel most people mean is “there’s nothing coming out that interests me.”  That’s a much more fair appraisal.  Depending on your interests or tastes in games, this summer can either be chock full of great releases or a barren wasteland with nothing new to experience.  Personally I am enjoying Batman Arkham KnightGodzilla, looking forward to cracking the seal on Onechanbara Z2 Chaos, and of course the Mega Man Legacy Collection and Rare Replay retro efforts soon to hit.  Aside from perhaps Batman, the rest of these games fall into a specific category that has grown a lot of steam lately: niche gaming.  Niche gaming, much as the title suggests, caters to a dedicated but specific audience – not one unlike the audience here at GH101 I might add.  It’s easy to scoff at niche titles, especially when you consider that they often have frequent sequels that don’t appear to iterate much.  It’s good that these games exist because they are essential to keeping the experiences of gaming as a whole strong, not to mention they’ve been around as long as gaming has.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Blog, Features

Tagged with , , ,

Genre Study: Japanese RPGs (JRPGs)

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Nowadays when people refer to a “JRPG” it’s either associated with a flood of nostalgic love for a handful of long-running series or a groan as modern Japanese companies try to capture the form of evolution that many game players strive for.  This is because modern day JRPGs aren’t a whole lot different from the ones that started life and popularity back in the 16-bit era in Japan and the 32-bit era in America.  If you’re not too familiar with or have never played any of these games, modern or classic, you may wonder why games that follow a well-known and successful formula may fail.  Sure, gamers’ tastes have changed to a certain extent, but there’s still plenty of us that love to play these classic titles and have no problem sinking tens of hundreds of hours into beating them all over again.  Unfortunately for modern titles of this ilk, they suffer from a lack of resources and that personal touch that made the older games so charming.  Even when they do, like the recent Wii release The Last Story, these titles still can’t hold a candle to the heavy hitters of history.  As a result fans of the genre have pretty much independently decided to freeze this genre, and its subsequent games, in time and appreciate that era as exactly that: a specific time of genre-specific gaming bliss.  This makes it difficult for modern gamers trying to break into the genre because the amount of time to complete most games is much lower these days, lack of explanation and exploration are things of the past, and the price tags on the “classics” are either sky high or dirt cheap for the “poor ports.”  For that reason, we’ve compiled a basic overview of the genre as a whole, it’s roots, and the factors that make a title considered JRPG.  At the end we also suggest a handful of very accessible titles that are good for those starting out, especially with many of the classics porting to handhelds with varying results, and will continue coverage throughout this site.

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