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Nerds Without Pants   

Nerds Without Pants Episode 28: What's the Deal With JRPGs?

We criticize because we love.

It's time for another excellent episode of Nerds Without Pants! Oh, you lucky, lucky people. This week, it's all about JRPGs for the main topic, but as always we begin with Consumption Junction.

Since Julian and Angelo bored the pants off of everyone last time, the lion's share of the opening segment is spent on Patrick's vacation to New York City. Museums were visited! Broadway shows were watched! Miis were Street Passed!

After that, Patrick talks about how easily he breezed through the ending of Fire Emblem, much to Julian's chagrin. This leads nicely into the topic de jour: JRPGs. The crew talks briefly about their origins with the genre, and then try to put their fingers on where they each started to diverge from this type of game. Julian is the most negative, but that may come from the burnout of playing over a hundred RPGs before reaching the current generation. The guys debate the idea that voice acting may have ruined the genre, discuss Lightning's boob job, and more. It's a discussion that's sure to leave you wanting to either high five or punch certain members of the podcast. Oh, and here's the article by Ethan Gach that Julian was quoted in.


Wild Arms- Lone Bird in the Shire

The Phantom of the Opera- Music of the Night

Secret of Mana- Kind Memories

Suikoden 2- A Peaceful Mountain Village

Bonus- White Rabbit




08/09/2013 at 08:22 PM

Ahaha Sunny D pouch = win. xD


08/10/2013 at 02:51 PM

I think that season 4 of Supernatural was probably my favourite.  I have not touched it since the end of season 6.

I cannot vouch for the majority of grant morrison's work, but I am a fan of All-Star Superman and We3.  At the same time it might just be the artwork.

I was surprised at the pricing of Mirror's Edge.  Especially since the Xbox Live version ended up being the best deal for me.  I cannot say about the ps3 version.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/10/2013 at 04:57 PM

I just watched the black and white episode of season 4. May be my favorite episode since the Groundhog Day episode from season 3.

I hear great things about All Star Superman, and I'll probably read it one day, but it's drawn by Frank Quitely, and I really dislike his art.


08/10/2013 at 05:48 PM

As far as I recall, I do like Frank Quitely's artwork.  I really like how he drew Clark Kent in All-Star Superman.  The slightly pudgy and hunched over Clark Kent, well how could he possibly be Superman?

As far as JRPGs.  I like handheld rpgs because they remind me of the older games.  The problem is that I prefer sitting playing the games on the television.  I have Radiant Historia, DQ IX, SMT Strange Journey, and a handheld of others, but have never beaten them.  So, I can completely sympathize with that.

In the end, I prefer my JRPGs turn-based and I had a blast with the ones that came out on the SNES and psone.  Outside Wild Arms 3 and the brief time that I spent with Persona 3 I cannot think of any turn-based RPGs that caught my interest in the PS2 era.  It is even worse with the current generation.  Maybe I am not looking hard enough, I know that the Tales series exists.


08/10/2013 at 10:07 PM

I was introduced to the RPG genre at the age of 9, and simultaneously to both Eastern (Dragon Warrior) and Western (Ultima, Alternate Reality) RPGs. Since I had a PC at the time and had to go to friends' houses to play NES, I was more acquainted with Ultima and Wizardry than with Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy. That changed somewhat with the SNES, the first home console I ever owned, which had The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Final Fantasy VI. I also drooled over Working Designs' ads for Lunar, but I didn't get to play those games until their PS1 remakes came out since I didn't have a Sega CD. The Lunar games remain among my most prized gaming treasures.


FFVI was a great game, but it was FFVII, still my favorite video game of all time, that really ignited my current love for RPGs, and hence I don't think I mind Japanese RPG tropes as much as other people do.  I bought every RPG I could find from Square, Enix, Capcom, and Namco on the PS1, along with another perennial favorite o (I didn't get into Konami's Suikoden series until only a year ago, surprisingly). I still own almost all of them. The PS2 didn't have quite as many incredible RPGs as the PS1 did, although the PS2 is still perhaps the finest console ever made, but Final Fantasy XII inspired nearly the same amount of awe and wonder in me that Final Fantasy VII did.


I've actually been buying more Japanese-made RPGs (I hate the term "JRPG", it's all too often a pejorative term, as far as I'm concerned, Japan's RPGs are as legitimate to the genre as those from Bioware, Bethesda, or CD Projekt) the past couple of years than at any time since the RPG glory days of the PS1. And no, I don't mean buying stuff like Time and Eternity because I'm starved for RPGs. My favorite game this generation is Valkyria Chronicles, which is a magnificent evolution of the tactical RPG. I think Square's stumbles have unfairly colored the genre. Namco's Tales series, for instance, has been better than ever, and they're one of the few RPG makers in Japan that still heavily supports consoles as opposed to handhelds, which is something I appreciate - I like handhelds, but honestly I'd rather play on a big TV screen any day. Tales of Xillia has surpassed Symphonia as my favorite from that series, and it's actually a surprisingly dark, mature story compared to people's stereotypes of anime and RPGs. There's also Ni no Kuni, which I thought was amazing inside and out, as well as the Project Rainfall RPGs.


I also think that part of the reason Japan's RPG makers haven't been as prominent on the PS3/360/Wii generation is pure economics. None of the 7th generation consoles were big sellers in Japan. If the PS3 had the same sales numbers as the PS1 and PS2 in Japan, I believe that Square Enix would be devoting more resources and manpower to the PS3,  and that companies like Capcom and Konami that have abandoned RPGs would likely still be making RPGs for consoles.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/11/2013 at 02:57 AM

I know what you mean about JRPG being used as a pejorative. I never use it that way. I feel that the change in vernacular came this generation because games like Mass Effect and Fallout 3 brought the PC-style RPG to console owners in a big way. When I think Western RPG I think tech trees, dialogue trees, and typically a more open world. When I think JRPG I think high production values, sweeping soundtracks, a linear story, and unique battle mechanics.

It's true that none of the big consoles sold as well in Japan, but that's exactly why they should look into expanding their audience. It wouldn't take much for a JRPG to appeal to Western gamers, but to do so would require that Japanese developers take a long, studied look at Western games, which few designers do. I think that's why I like Hideo Kojima so much, because he's very aware of the entire video game market, not just his home turf.


08/11/2013 at 07:42 AM

Great episode, gentlemen!

Regarding the touch pad on the PS4 controller...  Since it does not do video, has Sony mentioned anything about using a Vita in a similar way as a Wii U gamepad? Sure, you're missing two shoulder buttons, but the back touchpad on the Vita should be an OK substitute. If the PS4/Vita features are good enough, that might make more people buy a Vita, too. However, those features would have to be non-essential, since I would not expect most PS4 owners to also own a Vita...

Julian Titus Senior Editor

08/14/2013 at 02:42 PM

They've gone on record that you can use tablets and smart phones as second screen experiences, but I have yet to hear of the Vita being used in that way so far. 

Personally, I think that's an E3 2014 announcement. It seems like an obvious fit, and I'd love for them to make the Vita a success.


Vic Roman Staff Alumnus

08/16/2013 at 06:10 PM

**EDIT** nevermind, Julian actually said he likes FF12 in this podcast. haha

I love how Julian's least Favorite Final Fantasy titles are two of my standouts - 8 and 12. I loved 7, but actually liked 8 more. I liked everything about its combat, levelling system, love story, epic battles, etc. I thought it was a neat departure.

The real time battles of FF12 had me hooked. The open sequence of that game actually had me immediately enthralled in the world of Ivalice. I was also a huge FF Tactics Advanced fan, so seeing Ivalice in FF12 was cool to me. I loved the characters, specifically Ashe, Balthier, and Basche, and thought the story of Ashe reclaiming her kingdom was awesome. The world was also beautiful in that game, and I was HOOKED to the hunts. And to end this ramble, the Judges of Final Fantasy 12 have to be some of the coolest villains in any game, period. That's my thoughts haha.

I definitely also agree with Mass Effect tipping the scale though. Mass Effect 1 I didn't like so much, I thought the shooting was meh, though the RPG aspects were great. ME2 was the perfect game though, one of my favorite of all time, so rich and diverse.

Vic Roman Staff Alumnus

08/16/2013 at 06:12 PM

Also, my least favorite of the FF series is easily 13, I tried so hard to enjoy that game and just couldn't get into it.

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