So, guys, I'm having a thing right now.

Like, now that I'm back into modern gaming thanks to the Switch, I kind of want to see what the JRPG genre is doing.

Here's the problem tho... I kinda got sick of this genre during the PS1 era (an era everyone else remembers as a golden age for some reason... I just remember it as a time where things got crap and I started preferring games like Mega Man X4 and Resident Evil, in fact I recall being one of the few people who thought King's Field was good when everyone else ignored it).

And it's kinda hard to put a finger on everything. However, one issue was RPGs became a little TOO involved. Like, there's a lot where I feel like they absolutely need you to have a strategy guide, if not to beat the game, at least to forewarn you of B.S. you won't be forewarned about. Jumping ahead a bit I remember not liking this aspect of Star Ocean on PSP because there were these skills everyone could learn and I had no idea what the various benefits were or even if this was a thing worth pursuing. Although to be fair, a bigger problem with First Departure was just that the story begins and then just kinda stops going anywhere for awhile.

Getting back now, well...

I gotta say this: when I say "JRPG," I just mean the style associated with that term--the game doesn't have to actually be Japanese. I've kinda started disliking Japanese media as sometimes it feels hopelessly stuck in its ways and Japan is prone to something I call "Toxic Capitalism" where basically it really does feel like they care about profit above all else and their artists think more like business executives (I tend to immediately hate any anime or manga whose box art is just "here are three buxom schoolgirls on a generic background, if any background at all, and you'll buy it because men are controlled entirely by their hormones amirite? Nevermind that all these anime schoolgirls look exactly the same, we have no faith in your intelligence").

Part of this is JRPGs kinda started feeling like anime TV series in game form. Which at one time I would've seen as a compliment, but well... these days I'm more demanding. In terms of storylines, I want something interesting. To be fair I have heard of one game on the Switch that sounds like it has an interesting premise--Lost Sphear--but the video which mentioned that game also immediately said the game introduces its premise but then just meanders immediately. Which admittedly is a longstanding bugbear--I recall Star Ocean First Departure on the PSP having the same problem and it was one of the reasons I lost interest, and back on the SNES the Lufia games start strong but then devolve into an episodic "heroes go to town X, local situation happens, then they go to town Y and a different local thing happens..." type of stuff. Video games really need to be a little more cohesive than that.

Another thing with gaming in general lately is... well, there seems to be a trend of games going aggressively for a stand-out aesthetic. It's not just limited to RPGs either, but just in general: Guacamelee, Deltarune, Yoshi's Crafted World... I dunno, its like, if I like these games at all then its in spite of their art styles, not because of them. One game I played was called Cat Quest, and while it was sort of cute there was a lot about it that just didn't sell me--the aggressive amount of cat puns, the predictable aspects like the king being a lion, and the art style which had this sort of "trying to look like a children's storybook" thing going for it.

I dunno, I'd rather a video game look like... well.... a freaking video game, though I'm not sure what that "means" anymore. I'm kind of a basic guy when it comes to art styles. I do kind of like, in concept, games that try to look like playable anime, or games that replicate a pixel art style, but I'd rather the art altogether be something that's just there, not something that draws attention.

(Kinda makes me wonder why I liked Earthbound so much back in the day then).

On that note, one thing I'm absolutely not interested in is JRPGs that are trying to be humorous. I'm kind of in a serious mood, and I want something that'll make me think. Also, to be honest, I find most JRPG humor to utterly fail (in fact most comedy these days utterly fails). I also won't even bother with the South Park games--not a huge fan of the franchise (though there are select episodes I enjoy).

That though is likely to be the dealbreaker. My friend Geo once accused me of having a condition where any story I hear has to be the best story ever or I will hate it, and... he's sort of right. Being thirty, I would like something that appeals to me as an adult, not a teenage hormone fantasy where all the girls want to bang the clueless male lead (though I can find this stuff fun in a wistful/nostalgic "man I remember when I would like this kind of crap" way, it really only works if I'm watching Tenchi Muyo or something--seeing it in something new would just be depressing).

Okay, a big thing with me lately is I like stuff that questions our view of the universe itself. Like I just watched a video that mentioned the concept of Quantum Immortality (that's a theory that you can never actually experience your own death, because any time you die your consciousness will just jump to an alternate timeline where you didn't die), and I'm into lucid dreaming because I've gotten this idea that it might be the way to bring real magic (as opposed to stage magic) into an as-far-as-we-know magicless world... I'm also writing my own webcomic retelling the Bible with, among other things, a new concept of what God looks like... and I'm into H.P. Lovecraft because of his stories like From Beyond and Beyond the Wall of Sleep which deal with these sorts of reality-breaking questions.

I once had an idea of my own for an RPG which would've involved your standard adventure, but with the catch that there was a kaiju on this planet that was just completely a chaos factor--neither your heroes nor the evil faction you were fighting could control it, and it could wind up screwing up everyone's day (this was brought about because I realized how weird it is that evil villain plans are never screwed up by mere happenstance or just having a bad day... or when it is, its in a comedy RPG that is playing it for laughs).

And see, that's the kind of crap I'm into right now.

JRPGs (and anime) however seem to always be stuck on the most teenager-ish, prosaic of ideas. Clueless boys dealing with romance, the Church as an evil organization all about control and social engineering and if there are any gods, they're evil and have to be killed because "men should control their own destiny" (because that's worked out SO well for us in real life! *cough*AtomicBomb*cough*), evil corporations, the villain who thinks the only way to fix everything is to do a cosmic reboot (I mean at least my own evil plan involves trying to improve the world that's already here), characters who wear absolutely stupid and impractical costumes...

This is where I'm not sure I should even ask for recommendations, because the type of things the masses like tend to be the opposite of what I'm interested in. I mean Final Fantasy VII was the most popular RPG ever and I hated it, even back when it was new. It's story was nothing special--I mean it was about an evil dude who wanted to slam a meteor into the planet like a silver age superhero villain, except with stuff about gaia energy and evil corporations... so Silver Age comics with a dash of Captain Planet and a generous helping of Hippie ideology. Greatest RPG ever, ladies and gentlemen. (I do recall liking Parasite Eve and Xenogears, but admittedly I haven't been able to beat the latter a second time because I just keep getting bored despite being obstensibly interested in its narrative. That might be a gameplay issue though).

Then there's how I often feel like gamers get euphoric over the most mundane stuff. Like Undertale was apparently enlightening because it preached that violence is bad. I'm like, "Wow, you needed a video game to tell you that?" Tune in for my own upcoming work, where the all-important humanist theme is the sun is hot!

And not to be typical, but... well, I actually do like cute girls, but me and Japan seem to disagree on what "cute" entails. Just having big eyes, ponytails and a smile is not enough. I recall seeing this clip of an anime girl who gets a cut on her wrist and starts licking it like a cat, and it not only grossed me out but it also struck me as trying too hard to be cutesy and having entirely the wrong idea. I think the last anime girl who really struck me as adorable was Konata from Lucky Star. One of these days I'm gonna have to do a dissertation on how to do cute cartoon girls because its something everyone tries to do and most of them either miss the mark just slightly or shoot too wide of a mark.

But cute girls aren't even really necessary--after all, several of my friends have real kids now and once you've had the experience of real kids jumping on you while you're trying to take a nap, its hard to appreciate the Hatsune Mikus of the world who you can't even poke the noses of.

On that note, love triangles can just die. I don't really care if two people do or don't fall in love. I'm sitting here thinking about things like quantum immortality, what the hell is a love story to me?

I probably wouldn't mind a standard "defeat the big demon" plot though as long as the game isn't a million hours long. To give you an idea, two video game storylines I liked (though these aren't RPGs) were Ib and The Crooked Man... the former was a straightforward almost Goosebumps-level horror game that succeeded because the characters were just so unique and likable (plus the game can be beaten in just like two or three hours), and the Crooked Man is something that deals with adult issues I could actually kinda appreciate (its sequel, the Sandman, however, was kind of lame and felt more child-oriented to me).

Also, I can't stand Pokemon or any game where you have collectable monsters that fight for you. Well, sometimes I can but I have to specifically be in the mood for it, or the game has to have such an interesting concept that I don't even care its that type of game (Shin Megami Tensei ALMOST succeeded here, but unfortunately it falls afoul of the "you have no effing clue unless you buy a strategy guide" rule). Pokemon also tends to have pretty lame stories. Kid who wants to win a cockfighting competition (using animals that could never have naturally evolved in the wild--seriously what is with the monkeys with Mega Man X-like armor?) and also winds up fighting generic evil-for-the-sake-of-evil criminal organizations that don't really make a lot of sense. I've also really never gotten behind the whole "literally everything in this world revolves around the Pokemon culture to the point where the carriages on a ferris wheel are designed after Pokeballs" thing--anime and video games really need to stop doing that.

As for setting... I'm not picky. I do actually really like classical fantasy medieval settings, though I prefer them to be colorful and not full of faux Celtic bull, and "realism" is usually something I at best tolerate and at worst run away from really fast. But I'm open to sci-fi, modern, futuristic, wild west, set entirely aboard a submarine, or whatever... again as long as its not a joke game entirely played for laughs. Like, if you have a game where every player character is some sort of sentient octopus and you're playing it entirely serious, I would actually be okay with that. In fact, that would probably sell me, right there.

In terms of gameplay, I want an RPG where I can figure out the basic mechanics with a minimum of fuss. Like I'm even fine with just a standard menu interface like we saw on the SNES all the time. It's okay if the game allows movement or a modicum of strategic positioning, like in Lunar or Grandia, or has something like a Timed Hits system. Skills are okay as long as they're clearly explained. As for weapons and armor, again I'm basic--the most complexity I'm comfortable with is something like "this breastplate is less defense than that other one, but it raises your speed by ten points" or "this fire sword does increased damage against ice-based monsters." I might become more lenient on this as I ease back into the genre.

So yeah... that's my feelings on the RPG Genre right now. I kind of want to play one on the Switch, I want to see where the genre is, but I have this feeling anything I try out will be full of the trappings I hate... especially since any time I hear of an RPG its because it does something "unique" or that "stands out," usually either the artstyle or some gameplay gimmick, and I want to get invested in the genre again before I go playing something with a gimmick. Although it can also depend on the gimmick--a friend of mine says Octopath Traveller is good and its only gimmick is interconnected stories from different viewpoints, which sounds safe enough to me.

Anyway, now that I've rambled.... can you guys think of anything available on the Switch that might scratch my itch, or am I best off looking at freeware RPG Maker titles?

(Also I would prefer something new... not necessarily Switch exclusive, but something that didn't exist on the PS2 or before. I mean, I know what old stuff I will like. This should be about finding a new squeeze)