First of all, I'd like to introduce myself as a 25 year old gamer who, although he has spent almost 20 years as a gaming nerd, no longer has the time to devote to his once most passionate hobby. However, after reading a few of the fine editorials posted here (at RPGfan), I figured that I would throw my hat into the discussion and see if I can clear up a few of the points that have been made here.
Drexle (Who happens to be almost as big a Persona Fan as I) made a fine point when he said there should be even MORE RPGs in North America, simply because there are so many different gamers, each with different tastes. However the one thing he left out is the one negative aspect of our favorite genre going mainstream, and that's new hobbyists.
Sure, new fans to the hobby means more money going to the companies who make these games, and that means MORE RPGs, but it also means a "shift" of sorts in the kind of games that are produced. What kind of shift you ask?
Well, ever since Final Fantasy 7, a lot of "casual gamers" have entered the hobby, and have grown accustomed to flashy graphics, incredible fully orchestrated sound tracks, and unheard of depth and challenge. These gamers have no idea where the hobby once was, when companies such as Enix, Squaresoft, and even Capcom, focused on simplicity, gameplay, and smooth learning curves.
The major RPG companies have forsaken the older demographic.(25+) They realize that the new breed of gamers, these younger players who put a higher value on graphics and extreme difficulty instead of simplicity and ease of play vastly outnumber the "Golden agers" such as my friends and I. We, the gamers who made this industry as popular as it is, have now been thrown to the wayside.
My point is simple: modern RPGs are TOO complicated for gamers of my age group and experience. One of my friends has been so turned off by the majority of today's RPGs that he's bought only two RPGs in the past three years (Lunar for PSX and Zelda 64). This from a man who at one time, would complain there wasn't enough, and now says there's too many.
Sadly, I know where he is coming from. I'm a man who finally has the money to buy any games he wants, but sadly, has very little time to play those games. This being said, you can imagine how angry I get when I take a game home and find it to have so much micro management, (FF8) unbalanced combat (Thousand Arms), and confusing plot lines (Xenogears) that I put the game away forever and fire up my SNES to play a relaxing hour of Lufia.
To some of you "youngsters" out there, you may laugh and tell me how you killed the last boss in FF8 in under 4 rounds, or how you can finish Xenogears blindfolded, but for me and my friends, it's impossible. I've just recently beat Evolution, and I bought it three months ago!! Anymore, if I beat a game, I call my friends and plan a celebration, since most of the games I buy go unbeaten, or worse yet, unplayed.
Take the last boss in Xenogears.....I had everyone up to level 100, and outfitted with Z-chargers, plus the best equipment, and the thing bent me over and spanked me. I took the CD, scratched foul words into the bottom of the black coating, and smashed the plastic case with my fist. Needless to say, Xenogears is no longer in my PSX CD holder.
For every Legaia, for every Lunar, for every Earthbound, there are ten Final Fantasy 8's. This is a sad fact, since games that focus on graphics (and quite obviously, linearity) and difficulty are selling much, much better then those which do not.
So I say, to all you "youngsters" out there, don't blame us for whining about the old days. 10 years from now, you'll be doing the same thing.
So until Lunar: EB for the PSX comes out, you'll see me playing Cosmic Fantasy and Ys book 1&2 on my TG-16... and believe me, I'll be enjoying every second of it.