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Xenoblade and The Grand Games Journalism Narrative

April 8, 2012

Interesting, to say the least.

OK, read all the blurbs on that page. What do they all have in common, you ask?

It is, either, the best JRPG of this generation (which I will hold judgement on), or it is the first time Japan got it “right”, or took Western design concepts and made them work.

If there’s anything I am not quite clear on, it’s how a hundred different reviewers can, through some bout of collective unconscious writing, all universally agree that this is exactly how the game should be reviewed and/or described. I mean, I’ve never seen so many similar reviews, except for EGM’s notable low score by Andrew Fitch, whose experience with JRPGs does give him a great deal of credibility. You should see the comments on that thing; everyone tells EGM they are giving a biased review, as if every game must receive the same score from every publication.

Is that seriously the only way to describe the game? Is the only reason American reviewers are giving it high scores simply the fact that it panders to our idea of a RPG, rather than the game itself? Why is it the savior of the JRPG? I thought Lost Odyssey played plenty well, same as hosts of other JRPGs that came out this generation.

There is certainly some grand narrative that “this is the savior of the JRPG and Japanese games” that everyone has adopted before they even picked up the controller. All I ask is we judge the game on its own merits without some weird cultural biases already impinging on what kind of opinion we have on it. Like, for example, that it plays like a Western MMO! Which is in every review! Wow, guys, way to be original and not plagiarize each other!

I certainly appreciate Operation Rainfall’s efforts to get this released on our shores, along with The Last Story; honestly, I was completely mad that they weren’t getting a release over here at all! Now that I have a minty fresh, new game smell copy in my hands that I don’t need to modify my Wii in order to own, I am happy. But I am hoping that, sales wise and quality wise, what isn’t happening is that we’re propping this game up to get more JRPGs. It certainly appears that way from an outsider’s perspective.

I have my hands on it, but I haven’t played it, for the record. Given Xenogears (reviewed on this blog rather poorly), I am hoping for some amazement.

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