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Updated on August 14, 2012

There was once a time when Japanese Role-playing Games (JRPG) were on top of the role-playing world, but this is not the case anymore. Now Western Role-playing Games (WRPG) are dominating the world of fantasy video gaming with games like Skyrim. There are some glaring differences between JRPG's and WRPG's and they seem to be attracting different types of gamers. JRPG's are tactical, over-the-top, and depend heavily on their story-line, while most WRPG's are expansive, action based, and give the player freedom to roam.


Since the 90's JRPG's have exploded in America. One of the most notably has to be Final Fantasy VII. Games like Square Soft's Final Fanstasy were loved for their pre-action preparation. For example, most JRPG's demand that the player set-up and configure what the characters attributes will be. A player could encounter a boss fight dozens of times and each time he would fine-tune his characters until the right string of skills were reached to win the battle.

Another attractive quality that JRPG's provided to its fans was the over-the-top settings and dialogue. These RPG's were comparable to actual anime. The characters are sometimes type-cast so tightly that it made them feel colorful. With this style in mind, JRP's have storylines that dominate the reason for playing. They kept fans on the edge of thier seats, immersing them into a world that was alien and a story that was like reading an epic fantasy


Western Role Playing Games are usually set in open world that resemble the usual medievel-roman-empire worlds that American fantasy ussually follows. Unlike a JRPG where there is a world map, WRPG's give the palyer a playground in which to roam around in. Also, WRPG's gameplay is more action based. The character roams the world and walks up to an enemy to iniate combat via button mashing. This doesn't mean that there isn't any role element. The player still has to set-up the character, but the player is also free to time his attacks by moving and then attacking.

Pros and Cons

While this article cannot cover all of the differences, some stark contrast are notable:

  • WRPG's are expansive but can sometimes feel like there are no real objectives
  • JRPG's have great storylines but lack the do-anything-freedom of a WRPG
  • WRPG's do not have intense tactics but allow the player to do almost anything he wants
  • JRPG's are usualy very tactical but do not have real-time action

Both kinds of role-playing games attract their own target audiences respectively, while some even convince gamers to switch sides. Role-playing in Japan and in America differ greatly although they are in the same genre. Japanese Role-playing Games focus on giving the player a great story to follow, while American Role-playing Games give the gamer incredibly freedom. It appears that WRPG's have became more mainstream, but JRPG's will always have loyal fans.

Which do you prefer?

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    • Willsummerdreamer profile image

      Will English. 4 years ago from Marietta, Georgia.

      I enjoy both genres. But slowly but surely I see more JRPGs adapting to incorporate more WRPG elements into their games (Dark Souls, Dragon's Dogma, The Last Story, Final Fantasy [on a more stumbling level maybe] and so on) while still retaining the plot and character driven stories that people like about them. I don't know if I'm making any sense but that's what I see happening anyway.

    • mrfigaro profile image

      Jon Myers 5 years ago

      Thanks! I feel the same way actually. I like both but lately I have been missing playing an old style jrpg. Nice to know I'm not alone in this.

    • eeymanjones profile image

      Eric Washington 5 years ago from Rochester, NY

      Nice article. I like both types of games, but I miss the old school jrpgs. I played Final Fantasy VI a few months ago and it holds up perfectly. Easily one of my favorite games of all time. Keep up the articles!