Jin, I've seen the pods in Akihabara. You are talking about some niche novelty arcade game which is kind of irrelevant.
A niche novelty game? You mean the line-creating, money-gobbling hit that has consistently for over a year been a huge draw? It's not a niche game at all. I mean, very few Gundam games are. It's freaking Gundam, the Star Wars of Japan.
I'm talking about Jp devs working on current consoles. You can't tell me that game is graphically on par with the best of current gen games either.
So? The technology is an impressive new feat. You obviously don't understand. If Japanese developers were interested in pushing new graphics tech on the PC, Xbox 360 or PS3, the vast majority of them would. It is hard to support those platforms though due to them selling so little and not being fertile ground to make profit on, so they make technologically ground-breaking games for the DS, PSP, arcades and Wii, the popular platforms.
Even so, those that do make games do accomplish good-looking achievements or technological feats on them, ala Dead Rising or Tales of Vesperia, both of which accomplish what they're looking to do in an attractive, forward-pushing way.
As for VC and Miyazaki, when asked which artists influenced him VC's director Shuntaro Tanaka said:
"I respect and like Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki a lot. I believe that Miyazaki's anime style is fantastic -- the way that he takes something that is totally out of the norm and incorporates it into his world is amazing.
On the other hand, it is more difficult for Miyazaki to really engulf the theme of war in his anime movies, and we were able to do that because we're creating a game. I hope that our team has encompassed and achieved more than what Miyazaki can do in his anime movies."
Oh boy. He's basically saying he respects Miyazaki, but he wanted to go in a very different direction with Valkyria in this quote. And if you HAD PLAYED Valkyria, you would see that. Other than some simularities in their depiction of vintage European countries, the two artistic styles don't resemble each other a whole lot.
They are going for different areas. The developer himself is trying to get that across in your quote. If you look at Howl's Moving Castle or Porco Rosso, it's a totally different atmosphere and look at war. Valkyria on the other hand, is more interested in combining imperial artistic tones and contrasting with pastoral ones. It does not even try to evoke the same kind of feel you get in a Miyazaki movie of wonderment from character animation alone.
Does anyone remember the main character of VC? No, it is generic anime character number 997.
Let me repeat this again. You have not played the game. You cannot make a judgement like this, because you have not played the game. You seem to think just because it resembles an anime, that means it lacks creativity.
OK, so some game from years ago had some moral choices about siding with angels or demons. I don't think it had the same sort of breadth as Fallout 3 though which has hundreds of different scenarios, not the least nuking an entire town. What is the modern Jp equivalent?
Again, you have not played these games. They were a great deal more impressive than that. Until you have played Ultima IV and gone through the dungeon of humility or been tempted to steal, don't knock them. Until you have played something like Ogre Battle and seen how damn hard it is to win a war in a moral fashion, don't knock it. Have you played the original two Fallouts? Are you even aware of how much of what Fallout 3 is doing is really old hat? Not that it's bad, there just isn't much that hasn't been done before on the moral level.
The modern Japanese equivalent would be something like Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume, wherein you play a protagonist whose personality changes based on how much you're willing to please a goddess or use a weapon of war to kill your comrades. The difficulty in the game makes it so that unless you figure out something really clever, you'll have to make that choice sometimes. It's a fresh way of encountering the same problem. Avalon Code allows you to rewrite people's personalities and then get closer to them, at the same time as you make choices for how a new world will be reborn. And so on and so forth. These are interesting, because they are more advanced form of the concept rather than pick and choose between morally ambiguous choices, they incorporate them into the very difficulty of the game. Something like World Destruction is interesting because it takes on the perspective of the side that has motives in destroying the world you so often see in these games and actually brings to light some of the psychology and reasoning that hasn't been done a thousand times before. Kuzunoha Raidou 2 actually does a better job of making dialogue impact the plot and gameplay than Fallout 3 does. And it's a considerably more unique dilemma.
That many Japanese devs are not interested in making games geared towards western audiences is fine, but it is that insular attitude that has left them falling behind. The best Jp devs are the ones that have realised this, the Kojimas, the Takeuchis, the ones that realise they need to keep up.
There is nothing to fall behind in, as not everyone has the same priorities. Not all Japanese developers are interested in pursuing the same goals and that's a good thing. If you didn't have things like Quest deciding to do A2 or Nippon Ichi deciding not to play the graphic's game, the SRPG genre would have not have advanced as quickly as it is. If you had Square's top teams being put on more PS3 games, then you would have not have technologically stunning games like Revenant Wings and Final Fantasy IV on the DS or Dissidia and Crisis Core on the PSP.