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Does Anyone Else Wish That JRPGs Were A Bit Shorter?

JRPGs are proper massive aren’t they? I still haven’t finished Persona 5 because it’s 50 hours too long and seems obsessed with taking its time at every turn. Royal improved upon a lot of this needless busywork, but it remains incredibly lengthy and requires a serious time investment to see the whole thing through. Yakuza, Fire Emblem, and Xenoblade Chronicles are the same, all pastimes you need to dedicate weeks to if you have any hope of seeing them through to the end. I just don’t have the time anymore and it bums me out.

I grew up with JRPGs. Final Fantasy is my favourite franchise of all time and I spent so much of my youth immersed in its myriad worlds and imaginative characters. So many days were spent squared away in my bedroom seeing these stories through, encouraged to check out similar franchises like Xenogears and Disgaea as I came to recognise how many sprawling adventures were out there waiting for me, and how many I’d missed that had emerged long before my time. It was magical, but it's hard to recapture that feeling as an adult without worrying that you’d be better off doing something else with your time.

When I started my career in games I became known as a reliable JRPG critic, editors often throwing massive game after massive game at me regardless if I actually had the time to play such titles, let alone complete and review them. I still remember taking on Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life back to back and living to tell the tale, even if my sleep schedule suffered as a consequence. I don’t regret it, and it’s not like I’ve gotten much better in the years since either given I’m currently mainlining Xenoblade Chronicles 3 and Live A Live. Jade, stop being a dumb bitch and learn to say no.

I adore these games, and want to play each one that crosses my path, so I can keep up with the genre’s evolution and sink into a deepening well of nostalgia. 2022 is still to dish up Digimon Survive, Soul Hackers 2, The DioField Chronicle, Valkyria Elysium, The Legend of Heroes: Trails From Zero, Star Ocean: The Divine Force, Pokemon Scarlet & Violet, and Final Fantasy 7: Crisis Core Reunion. That’s a lot of JRPG and not a lot of time, so I’ll be forced to pick and choose my battles very carefully.

I’m not alone in this, because the genre has a habit of producing lifelong fans who grow up with select properties and want to see everything they have to offer, even if it consumes them. Many of these games are 40+ hours long, others even surpassing 100 if you’re going the completionist route, so there is no conceivable way to finish all of them unless you’re willing to shut yourself off from the world completely. Would it really be a crying shame if some of them were a bit shorter, or some of the filler was stripped away in order to focus on the narrative and characters instead of the mechanical side of things?

Final Fantasy 7 Remake came close to this ideal, but even that was bloated. Lower difficulty options made most battles a breeze, eliminating the need for seeking out new equipment or grinding optional quests in order to progress. If you wanted, mainlining the story was totally an option. Granted, you’d miss out on some valuable world building as a consequence, but none of us have time for that sick lore. Remember that one dude you had to help find a necklace or something and then Don Corneo showed up for a scrap when you should have really been doing basically anything else? Me neither, and that lab sequence with Tifa and Aerith went on for fucking ages too. Square Enix, please just get to the point.

I’m still that girl who will pick up JRPGs even if they’ll sit in my library untouched for an age, and I don’t think that reputation is ever going to change. I’m in too deep, but part of me just wishes that the genre evolved to accommodate people like me with better things to do.

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