Many have tried, but few have succeeded. The JRPG is a genre that by and large really only works when in the hands of a talented Japanese studio. When left in the hands of a Western developer, it often comes up feeling like an empty shell that goes through the motions of the classics you love.
The indie scene has come a long way in rectifying this shortcoming of the Western world, now that many of the JRPG fans of the 90s have grown up to make their own games, but can a AAA publisher also fill in the gaps? That is what Ubisoft hopes to achieve with Child of Light.
Many were surprised when the company announced its classic JRPG aspirations with this beautiful little title, and so far, we have no reason to believe that they will be coming up short of their promise to deliver. Aside from the gorgeous art style, which is clearly much more influenced by Western art than anime, Child of Light has a soul and a deep story to tell.
The mechanics also fall in step, combining platforming, character development, and the turn-based battle system which turned out so many hits from so long ago. The meter which runs along the bottom of the screen is a clear nod to the Grandia series.
Ubisoft has not only succeeded in creating a full blown JRPG, but it is also succeeding in pricing and marketing it as well. It realizes that this is a niche title and a smaller download, and the $14.99 price point is exactly what I would expect to pay for a game like this. It will be released for the PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Wii U, so there will be no shortage of channels to get a hold of this on.
I want this to be a success so badly. Now that Square Enix has finally acknowledged that the JRPG fanbase is much larger than it had expected, maybe the genre can see a comeback on consoles through smaller budgeted projects like this. I only fear that should this become a success, other AAA publishers might spring all over this trend and beat it to death with soulless copycats before it even gets a chance to thrive.
I beg that if you own a multi-million dollar publishing company and you want to contribute to this trend, please just let the developers make the games they want with as little interference as possible. Trust them to know what the fans who are going to buy it want. Thank you.