Dragon Quest Creator: Western Reviewers Dislike Turn-Based Games

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Dragon Quest Creator: Western Reviewers Dislike Turn-Based Games


Dragon Quest series creator Yuji Horii thinks that reviewers in the West don't always give turn-based games a fair shake.

In case you hadn't heard, Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies is out here in the West, the latest title in the long and storied JRPG franchise. Like all of its predecessors (and many other JRPGs in general), DQIX is turn-based - which series creator Yuji Horii thinks may be working against it in the Western media.

"I wonder sometimes why the US reviewers are more negative towards turn-based battle systems," Horii mused in an interview with IGN, arguing that a slower pace of play had its benefits. "Real-time play has fun aspects too, but for this type of game there is more strategy that comes with a turn-based system. Also, you can play with other people in [the game's multiplayer] and decide what actions to take together."

Honestly, I can't help but both agree and disagree with Horii's statement here. He's absolutely right in that a turn-based system is simply a development choice and doesn't inherently make a game any worse - chess is turn-based, isn't it?

But I'm not sure I agree with him that there is a noticeable anti-turn-based bias in the Western media, certain motormouthed Brits excluded. Pokemon is turn-based, and it still gets praised, and the same goes for the Civilization series. Meanwhile, Horii's own DQIX is performing perfectly respectfully in Western review circles.

Most of the bias I see against JRPGs has to do with their trappings and narrative elements as well as their linearity - not the turn-based system. But then again, I do love me some Pokemon, so it's possible that I'm biased against the bias of the rest of the media, perhaps.

Of course, that's not to say that Horii is against real-time combat in games, either - when asked what modern RPGs he liked and had influenced him, he gave a decidedly Western answer. "The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. I like that a lot."



I personally still love turn based... I realise it's not realistic... but I'm playing a game with dragons and spells in it so realism isn't high on my priority list.

Also I like taking my time with battles and slowly choosing what I want to do or multitasking and mainly playing for the cinematic experience.

But it seems like turn based is dying out somewhat... oh well I'll always have Final Fantasy 10.

We'll miss turn based JRPGs once they've gone and all the RPGs we play are Fallout 3 and Oblivion clones.

Basically what the Funkinator said:
I agree that turn-based games aren't inherently worse, but I disagree that there is a bias.
I just watched the Game-trailers review for Dragon Quest on the DS, and they gave it a glowing review.
I'm pretty sure others have been as well.

Didn't the Escapist just give a great review to Risk: Factions (Which I also love)?

Yeah, El-Funk-o speaketh the truth.

What reviews is he reading? Most of the ones I've read/seen have said good things about it. Granted almost none of those good things have been about the combat and almost all have been about the game design.

Similarly... Mr. Hori, I'm sorry but the turn based multiplayer... kinda sucks because now you only get to choose ONE action instead of four, hooray?

He's right I think, I myself have gotten the same impression from reviewers other than Yahtzee.

I've always felt that this comes down to reviewers largely being tools of game producers and developers who find that turning out a twitchy, real-time, action game or pseudo-action game is easier to develop than a turn based one, especially a really long RPG. It comes down to needing to take the time to create the statistical engine and test all the numbers and such and make sure it functions properly. I believe the term "deceptively simple" come to mind when it comes to most turn based RPGs and such. In comparison while there might be more graphics work, if your doing a real time/twitch based game, you can pretty much work around the idea of hit boxes without having to worry too much about accuracy vs. defense stats and differant classes of damage and whatever. You can simply use skills from "RPG elements" to scale damage that way with more skill amounting to more damage or whatever.

I got this impression years ago when I was reading stuff about the decline of RPGs in general and how while there is a substantial niche market for them, and a lot of money can be made that way, the potential investment returns from an action or real time game are substantially larger due to what amounts to less development time and costs. Not to mention all the time spent making and testing an RPG means that if it fails your going to lose more money than with say a shooter or action RPG. Making it easier to cut losses.

In this case I don't know how true it is, but it matches trends that existed then, and I see now. When it comes to reviewer bias we of course have the whole Gerstmann thing and other "similar' examples to look at as well.

Who cares what reviewers think? I love turn based games, and I'll be extremely upset if they go the way of the Dodo.

I think it all depends on who you talk to and who looks at it...some like it, some dont.

Its kinda like marmite like that...

Obviously the Author os guilty of the turn-based-bias, or else it would be as plain as day to him. American gamers are most often the type of "Hardcore" geeks that think that anything turn based is for "babies" and the reviewers pander to their flocks.

I don't think there's a reviewer bias but there is an industry one.
what was the last big budget turn-based game in the West?

When fallout 3 was an FPS people told the F2 fans to stop whining "they couldn't have made a turn based game, no-one would have played it." And yet many JRPG's sell well so why not. The view seems to be western turn based games won't sell well because they don't sell at the moment. and the reason for that is NO-ONES MAKING THEM.

Come on industry I'm sick of still playing enemy unknown and terror from the deep if final fantasy tactics advance and it's ilk sell well why can't cant you make something better.


American gamers ... think that anything turn based is for "babies"

Really? the only real time game that could hold a candle to the hardcore strategy and unit management of turn based games was Sid Meier's Gettysburg in '97 and that was made specifically to show real-time could be as complex as turn based. Turn based war gamers complained about how dumbed down it was back then.

Turn Based is good, it just gets old when you have too much of it. It shouldn't ever go completely, it's just nice when developers try to mix it up occasionally.

Maye he's upset because his game stinks?

I mean really, many turned based games have been given very good reviews and scores.

It's not just the reviewers that hate turn based games.

Maye he's upset because his game stinks?

I mean really, many turned based games have been given very good reviews and scores.

Don't know what reviews you've been reading but all the ones I've seen gave DQIX great scores.

Dragon Age is turned based, in combat. Dragon Age got good reviews.
The mommy of all strategy games, Civilization, is turn based. Civ always gets good reviews.

I think the bias against JRPGs has nothing todo with being turn based or real time. It probably has something to do with comical graphics style, huge eyes and cookie-cutter characters.

I don't like JRPGs and it's mainly due to the manga graphics.

When was the last time you heard an English speaking game journalist or industry figure trashing a game for having real time gameplay or for making a game more action based and removing strategy? You have to go to very specialist sites to get that sort of opinion. The criticism of turn based gaming might not be overwhelming but it's persistent and all going one way.

I despise turn-based, but there isn't a real bias (besides a few people such as Yahtzee).


I think the bias against JRPGs has nothing todo with being turn based or real time. It probably has something to do with comical graphics style, huge eyes and cookie-cutter characters.

I don't like JRPGs and it's mainly due to the manga graphics.

Precisely. The Western world just doesn't (understandably) adore the malformed manga styling as much. It's really a personal thing, but reviewers are going to be subjective; considering that most Western reviewers like realism more than the strange art style of Japanese games, there is an obvious bit of "subjectiveness" going on there.

Why does he blame it on the mechanic, rather than the content and execution?
For example, I loved FF2 and 3 (AKA IV and VI, respectively), when I was younger, but over the years the game became more and more tedious for my tastes (I don't want to watch that LOOONG summoning animation every combat round, during a million rounds of a trillion repetitive matches against the same enemy model. Skip please).
Plus, it caters too much to anime lovers, which I'm not. I bet westerners who go ape over every spiky-haired angst ridden crybaby with a giant sword they see would like these games too... and then write fan fiction (oh, the horror).

I play a myriad of other games who are turn based, and have no quarrel with them, so, to summarize, it's not about the particular mechanic - it's about the whole package.

But...I like turn based games D:

what absolute rubbish the genre has been stale and dying for too long not enough turn based games are trying anything and its been even longer since the last game actually changed the genre

other genres have things like mass effect and dawn of war 2 which breath new life last thing i know was jrpg and good was that gun one

pokemon gets high scores every time, so whats this about dislike turn based games

From personal experience I've got to agree with Horii somewhat. Maybe not an industry bias but there's a lot of people I've talked to that have refused to play Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest because "turn-based combat sucks." It's definitely a prevalent bias among gamers at least.

I'm a fan of turn-based and am currently playing DQIX which is nothing short of the best DS game I've ever played. I really hope turn-based doesn't go away. I couldn't stand an RPG market saturated with Oblivion and Fallout clones.

Nobody likes our games like they used to. *grumble grumble* Stupid Americans don't know good games when they see them. *grumble grumble* I mean, it's the same game we released twenty years ago, and they loved it then. *grumble grumble*

Oh please. I'm playing Puzzle Quest 2 right now. I don't like JRPGs because of their narrative trappings and huge time commitment, not the fact that they're turn-based. I will say I enjoyed The World Ends With You precisely because it was very different from most JRPGs in terms of narrative.

Turn-based just takes away the surprising factor. Like if an army is attacking a town and gets flanked in an RTS then you are surprised, if you try that with a turn-based game the enemies will most likely stop a few spaces before they reach your army.

I really don't see any such bias in reviewers, but in the gaming population there's a definite inexplicable hatred of it.. I love turn-based games and, like this guy said, they really do offer a deeper sense of strategy than real-time games could ever hope to.

Don't believe me? Just try Lost Odyssey or Persona 3.

We'll miss turn based JRPGs once they've gone and all the RPGs we play are Fallout 3 and Oblivion clones.

I won't.

Turn based games are the best!
I spent a day living life as a turn based videogame once...
Good times, good times.

At times like these I think Japanese developers deliberately misread how Western games and gamers react to JRPGs just to deflect attention from the real problem with most JRPGs.

Inordinate amounts of grinding. When you combine an essentially simplistic turn-based battle system (basically 'attack' or 'heal' in most JRPGs, without need for spacial and temporal considerations) with gameplay that required tens of hours of grinding just to progress a linear story, what you get is a tedious experience. And the effect is multiplied if you have to keep going back and forth between 'battle' and 'field' screens.

Generally, what JRPGS need is more genuinely sophisticated battle systems with less battles.

O...k... so are we supposed to suddenly forget the last 20 years of turn based combat/strategies and JRPGs popularity?

I agree with John on this one.

Westerners hate turn-based combat because it sucks! Have everybody attack except for one person on potion duty. Additionally, turn-based combat lends itself to the dreaded random encounters.

I did not like Elder Scrolls. So I disagree with him about everything he said.

I'm sick of it. I use to play them but I hate random battles and u need them in turn based rpgs. Breath of Death had a limit on the number of random battles in an area, that helped.

There is only 1 game that made turn-based combat good. Heroes of Might and Magic 3!!!!!!!!!!
Turn-based combat in anything other than some RTS is something that needs to be purged from this world forever!!

I'm in a weird minority here. I hate modern JRPGs....and I mean HATE in the strongest way possible and yet I love Dragon Quest. I think most of it stems from the fact that I grew up with Dragon Warriors 1-4 and loved the challenge, the exploration and the simplicity. Unlike some other franchises(such as FF) that have left their NES roots far behind, DQ has kept the formula largely the same and I love them for it. I'm really enjoying DQ9 thusfar and couldn't care less what reviewers say about it.

I'm also a huge fan of turn-based strategy games too, so maybe it's more about having the time to scratch my ass while I make complex, tactical decisions than it is about the type of game.

I swear I love my DS more than any other console since my original NES. There's been so many niche games for it that other developers won't touch with a 10-foot stick(except Atlus, God bless their little hearts).

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