Yeah, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was inspired (openly admitted) by Western, open world games.
Not saying there is something wrong with it per se, I just think Japanese developers should do their own thing, as Western developers should. There's way too many things that influence a game coming from it's origins, that "faking it" doesn't often work. That's true diversity for ya.
Western games tend to have more complex gameplay systems. Not gameplay itself, but systems. Japanese games can ofter plenty of depth, but it's all scripted and pre-planned, while western devs (or more specifically devs who started their carreers making PC games) tend to create systems that combined make the stuff come out organically instead of being scripted. The end result is not as tight, but much more freeform.
That said, I think the big differences between western and japanese come out mostly in huge AAA games. When you're going middle or low budget they dissapear, as there's plenty of small PC devs pulling crazy worlds, as well as japanese indie devs trying out some simulated gameplay aproaches.
Better, more memorable characters. Male and female. Mario, Bayonetta, Link, Solid Snake, Jill Valentine, Samus, Ryu, Ken, 2B, Kat, Chun Li, Dante, etc.
More attractive and feminine female characters who happen to be strong. Just because you have a strong female lead doesn’t mean she can’t accentuate some feminity.
Better, more in depth, refined and polished gameplay. Imho, Japanese games just “feel” better to me. Look how Japanese effortlessly dominate fighting games and combat. Even a small game like Onechanbara has a better combat engine than a multi million dollar Western game with hundreds of people behind it.
Better, more memorable soundtracks. Imho, there’s no comparison here.
More imaginative games and willing to take more risks.
I like their survival horror games, RPGs such as Dragon Quest and Persona, and Hideo Kojima's creativity. Japanese publishers also seem to be more open to new ideas compared to western publishers (Square Enix acquiring the rights to Sleeping Dogs as an example). Their fighting games are also really good, namely Guilty Gear and Virtua Fighter.
They do non shooter combat especially action and fighting games way better.. and even in terms of turn based combat i do have to say just looking at polish of a combat system and usability... jrpgs are way ahead of most wrpgs.
I agree about the action (melee/non shooter) combat being better, but give me some Jagged Alliance 2, Temple of Elemental Evil, Knights of the Chalice, AD&D Gold Box games when it comes to turn based combat.
Feel they have a way better handle on characters (of all types and male and female) than the bog standard of Western characters. In general, characters are a lot more colourized and each design is unique even if everyone may not like them- they stand out. In terms of story, the thematic approaches are written in a way that's easy to understand and tied to whatever crazy fun plot there is without the necessity of realism. They just do what they do and while it may not work all the time for people, at least they try.
Gameplay is a big focus as much as story than any effort to focus on realism so I get the more game-y/mechanic feel from them.
It is not that I developed a distaste for Western games, because I spent a lot of time on 'em over the last couple of years. But I have to be honest; Japanese games are ultimately more my thing, especially when it comes to the RPG side of things. It is often said that Japanese RPGs are more linear, more hand-holding, and I actually am ready to embrace that aspect more.
See, the idea of "infinite possible scenarios" might look good on paper, but it is a double-edged sword; what if your choice left out others you don't even know about? What if you've only seen a fraction of a game? Is that the definition of fun? I am worn out by these "open, freedom to explore" titles.
Off the top of my head, japanese games are in general a lot more colorful and more diverse in their art direction (some even take inspiration from western games). They can be light-hearted and shamelessly ridiculous, in a good way. The characters are fun and memorable, and japanese developers aren't afraid of designing hot women. Also, the have zero politics shoved in their games and the soudntracks are brilliant.
Edit: holy crap, that moment when you realize you have already shared your opinion months ago... lol
Gameplay as many have said and "closures"..... You know, most japanese games have a ending, a true end... See Death Stranding and Sekiro for instance last year, those games had a story to tell and even even if they left something open to a sequel, that doesn't affect the game story at all...
While western stuff.... well, usually there is always that hook for a sequel.... that they almost always follow.
And in japanese games, even in games with multiple versions, like Dark Souls or Persona, the stories are self contained and they don't push a sequel or a DLC or a fucking "live service".
For example, you can finish Persona 5 and ignore Persona 5 Royal, because Royal it's an afterthought, it didn't affect P5 development at all.
These days I feel that most western games are made with sequels/dlc in mind.... while in Japan thats really rare.... However, there are exceptions, sure.... but in most cases japanese games follow this idea.
this mostly my personal opinion but In most cases thats why I like story in Japanese games more than in western games. They not realistic but they are absolutely fun. I'm currently playing Ace Attorney trilogy and the story as anime as it gets but its super fun with really interesting characters, I don't think I would having this much fun if the game was more "realistic".
Better worlds with a variety of get this a color pallet,
Art styles are unrealistic but have tons of charms,
Characters have way more thought and self reflecting then most western games Barret in FF7 is a good example Snake in MGS the whole crew in Persona 5
A lot more en fesses and care on gameplay and depth instead of just out right accessibility
Willing to push boundreys and be way more creative tokyo jungle, madworld, no more heroes,
In game politics/world are handled with decency thought in fact most games even stay as netural as neutral can get
Story that are there and presented in a way to let you the player decide how you should feel most western games literally force into caring about certain characters
Japanese games controls tend to have their own feeling even between each other. I gravitate to those games that have immediate, arcade-quality controls yet feel like you have to put in some effort to learn them because it's part of the fun to me. Whereas in a number of western games (not all) it often feels like the developers want you to forget you're using a controller, and the games controls tend to end up feeling too similar to each other.
But in the west often indies end up feeling like japanese games because of their controls.
I feel like western developers are under the watchful eye of CEO’s who would do better running car dealerships. Western games flaunt great graphics, push agendas, and make things easier based off Twitter remarks. That’s probably a bit irrational.
Without going into great detail, Japan has turned things like Back to the Future on Super Famicom into a better game than the west could make. Japan pushes combat, characters, and story to their limit without any holds. Resident Evil, Silent Hill, Final Fantasy, Metal Gear Solid, and a ton more defined their genres. The west does a great job when they want to, but I feel like the industry as a whole doesn’t want to make those types of sacrifices. The western side is very practical with their design. I think it all boils down to how you can express your ideas. There are so many talented developers and artist. Yet there’s only so many games that stand the test of time. A lot of my favorite games are from Japanese developers. You didn’t get a ton of Silent Hill type games from the west or survival horror. The greatest survival horror games come from Japan. Some of the greatest RPGs are from Japan.
The west is good at science fiction and D&D. They’re good at military games and etc. sports games, racing, and the like come from the west. I think it all depends on genres. Some of the best shooters are from the west and things like Kotor. I think the attitudes tend to suck at times.
I find that most Japanese games tend to fit my mold of what I picture as the standard good “Video Game”.
Western games tend to actually be more ambitious (which often isn’t necessarily a good thing) and usually have more relatable characters with more realistic emotional reactions to how I expect people in western society to respond, naturally.
To be honest i think your point about better stories is partially the point of a fan. I mean, I've played JRPGs, some great ones, and while i recognise that they focus highly on story and characters, i don't feel much more attachment to those characters than, say, some of the characters in Witcher 3, or Deus Ex HR, to name a personal favourite..
I do agree that maybe there is more emphasis on characters in Japanese games, in that sense i think you have to hold them above Western games, but i think that the trade off is often one of gameplay and frankly i think gameplay is at least equal to story in terms of importance.
The JRPG i have to date loved most was Tales of Symphonia, it came along at just the right time for me and it had a dynamic real time battle system. Straight up, i can name a host of Western pc games with more fun battle mechanics than that. Hell, Diablo 2 was more fun that that and it's pretty far down my list (by dint of age if not greatness)
JRPGs have so many gameplay touchstones, around which they are celebrated for introducing small adjustments... If Western games were like that i don't think there would be much games industry~
That's just my feeling. Japanese games are a nice niche, but in general i think Western games are better games. There are of course exceptions where hybrids are industry leaders/icons. See metal gear solid, Zelda and other Nintendo flagships, resident evil, etc. And one final disclaimer to take the edge off what I'm saying here: on certain rainy afternoons I'd take a good JRPG over anything else.
Also i live in Japan so the cultural cache of these games coming from this mythical land is somewhat lessened with me.
As a whole? Nothing. You're using extremely sweeping generalizations, conveniently ignoring all but the games that best support your point of view(regardless of which group you think does what best).
Additionally most of what I see one side saying a particular group is better at is something that group does a lot more than the other, simply because that is what sells in their region. It isn't a measure of how well they do it, it is a measure of how well they know their audience and cater to them.
No, really. Japan can make their plots tropey as hell, impossibly convoluted, and with a bunch of characters you'd punch in the face all day long. Yet their stories tend to be more memorable than the typical western stuff.
And when Japan goes stupid, they really go stupid, which is absolutely a plus in my book. Yeah, I won't show some Japanese video game stuff to people coming to my house. I remember playing the FFX-2 massage scene with my mother in the house... luckily she didn't hear the moans before I could turn the volume down, LOL.
Japan isn't afraid to make things very, very weird. Western devs are scared to death to step outside invisible boundaries. Japanese devs smash those boundaries with a sledgehammer. They just don't care. I love them for that.
Gameplay. Japanese games usually don't try to put everything and the kitchen sink in their games, mapping 5 actions to the same button. Japanese gameplay tends to be straightforward. It can also be very repetitive, but that's a problem most games have anyway.
Cuteness. No one makes cute like Japan.
Creepiness. So many things and characters in Japanese stories and games are more or less intentionally ambiguous or creepy. Fridge horror is a strong feature of Japanese media.
Music. Japan still makes "gamey" music. The west has mostly abandoned that in AAA productions, and even indies (see: Hollow Knight) go for sombre ambient soundtracks. Hard to find "gamey" soundtracks in western games outside of indie retraux productions (see: Shovel Knight).
Japanese games can have stellar sound design that goes way beyond bombastic orchestral tunes and 7.1 surround. The sound design in games like Silent Hill and Breath of the Wild is phenomenal. It's not about making memorable music, it's about telling things and creating experiences with music.
Boobs. Sexualization, basically. Japan can get extremely ridiculous on that front, mind. Stupidly big boobs, boob windows on everything, skimpy armor suits (I'll never forget the armor set you can buy for Jessica in Dragon Quest 8 right before entering the snowy area, LOL). There's a lot of bad-taste designs. Still, the good thing about Japan is that they prioritize a striking character design before other considerations, so they can produce characters that you'll never, ever, ever see in western games. Stuff like the notorious Dragon Crown Witch and Valkyrie design is kinda gross, but it's tremendously funny, and it's still better than a lot of equally stupid Rule 34 fanart.
Excessive body and costume design can be funny as hell. I remember my mother and my aunt giggling maniacally while watching me and my cousin play Soul Calibur IV. "Look at those tits!" they went, and they were never worried we'd fap to Ivy (though I'll admit to fapping to Sophitia and Seung Mina back in the PSOne days ).
Women. Seriously. The best thing about the Japanese is that they can design stupidly busty characters like Senran Kagura's girls and still make them more interesting women than you'll find in the majority of hyper-realistic western games. Women in Japanese games can be sexy and cool. They can be complex, relatable and believable, something that so many western devs still struggle to come up with in spite of all their tech and all their female quotas in dev teams. There can be a lot behind the body of a female Japanese video game character, even if at the end of the day, you may still want to bang her.
In a nutshell (there are obviously exceptions from both sides):
Japanese games have less of everything but done better, the focus is primarily the level design and the main mechanics, the rest (including the story) is literally a side dish.
Eg. Resident Evil stories set the tone, but the games aren't masterpieces of story telling and you don't play them primarily because of that.
Western games are very ambitious (going for the best graphics, the most hollywood-like story, the biggest open world map,...) but they can't succeed at making everything mechanically sound, they always have jank here and there.
Eg. God of War is an amazing action adventure game, it borrowed a lot of things from other games like Metroidvania elements, but its combat is still nowhere near as satisfying as a DMC or Bayonetta.
Or like after decades of experience and unlimited resources Rockstar games still have janky controls. (most recent example Red Dead 2)
So to me Japanese games tend to have a clearer vision on what you're going to play, what is the main appeal, so you can expect that one part of the game to be excellent (but if you want more you may not find much else to enjoy) while western games have a lot more going on, but with various degree of quality.