6 Differences Between RPGs And JRPGs (2024)

The most obvious answer to what is the difference between JRPGs and RPGsis the region these games are developed in. A typical RPG is used to refer to a Western game and/or a blanket term for the genre. A JRPG then is anything developed in Japan aka a Japanese role-playing game. It should be as simple as that, but of course the answer is more complex.

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If one could break down the gameplay, design choices, stories, and so on, one could better understand the differences between the two. As games evolve, the differences between the two are becoming thinner and thinner. It’s similar as to how some Western cartoons look like anime now, making it hard for casual fans to tell the difference.

6 Gameplay

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Back in the day, most JRPGs were turn based. While there are still some turn-based RPGs, like Dragon Quest XI and Persona 5 Royal, most Japanese companies are trying to appeal to modern times. That is to say they are trying to mirror Western RPGs.

Final Fantasy went down this road with Final Fantasy XV and now again with the remake of Final Fantasy VII. For Square Enix’s big games, action will probably dominate their strategies but turn-based will assuredly still stick around in some capacity. Western RPGs have used turn based tactics as well, but these games are, and were, few and far between comparatively.

5 Multiplayer

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JRPGs rarely add in multiplayer to games. There are plenty of examples one could cite on the contrary though. The Tales series as one example and some of the Mana games have used it as well. These were more like options than full-fledged things compared to how something like Diablo used multiplayer.

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Without multiplayer, that series would probably not be as huge or at least not have as much replay value decades after releases. Again, there are examples to contradict both cases, but for the most part JRPGs don’t usually have a lot of multiplayer and/or co-op involved. That’s not just a JRPG stigma but a Japanese developer thing overall.

4 Parties

Both Western RPGs and JRPGs usually tend to have parties. That is to say the main character is often assisted by NPCs. Where things diverge are in the numbers and placement. The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, for example, allow for one assist member. Mass Effect allows up to two guests to join Shepard. There are plenty of examples of JRPGs that have similar constructs, but most usually have more.

This is especially true in turn-based games. The Final Fantasy series usually ranges from three, four, or five total members. Dragon Quest XI and Persona 5 Royal allows up up to four apiece and both series overall have that number change. By and large, parties are just more important to gameplay in JRPGs.

3 Story

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This is hard to focus in on on a definitive answer as there are so many Western and Japanese RPGs. One could say that JRPGs tend to be about saving the world, but Western RPGs use this concept as well. It might be easier to say that JRPGs use more than fantasy as their settings, like Final Fantasy VII and its tech, but that too can be likened to quite a few Western RPGs like Fallout.

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The one thing that does come to mind is the status of religion and gods in JRPGs. Some of the most fantastical ones are Final Fantasy X and Xenogears. There’s nothing quite like how religion plays out in these stories which is the biggest distinction one can make between these two cultures.

2 Dialogue Choices

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For the most part if there are dialogue options in a JRPG they are just that, options. Western RPGs tend to have consequences to dialogue choices which can shape how a story plays out. BioWare is the biggest defender of this idea. The biggest Japanese exceptions to this are the Persona series and NieR: Automata. The former has players unlock stuff through optional hangouts and the latter has big ramifications on endings. These are great exceptions to the rule but are not the norm.

1 Design Choices

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How can one tell the difference between these two RPG types? The actual easiest way is by design. Japan, because if its high culture based on anime, tends to use these ideas for RPGs. Even though gameplay and stories might be similar, one can always tell if a RPG was made in Japan just by the anime influences.That can be true for all Japanese games for that matter. Western RPGs tend to be more realistic even in fantastical settings like Fallout.

NEXT: 10 JRPGS That Are Better Than You Remember, Ranked According to Metacritic

6 Differences Between RPGs And JRPGs (2024)


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