Actually, it's kind of interesting to compare CRPGs of Japan vs. the West.
Both started from tabletop RPGs - except that the West had a lot more actual players, and in Japan it was very niche (and expensive). In the early days, you could tell that quite a lot in Japanese CRPGs was mooched - such as many monsters in Final Fantasy from the Monster Manuals (beholders, mind flayers, etc.) - and of course the systems were heavily influenced from games like Wizardry (which was popular in Japan). As Japanese CRPGs became successful, though, they moved in a different direction - made easy since few players were tabletop RPG enthusiasts anyway - and copyrighted monsters mooched from elsewhere were quietly changed to other critters.
AD&D and other tabletop RPGs always had a strong thread of realism in them - like, actual medieval weapons and armor and such - and in a way was a good way to learn about some aspects of medieval times. Japanese RPGs were always more influenced by manga/anime, on the other hand... Other differences might be:
- Japanese CRPGs are always big on X element beats Y element; Western CRPGs tend to be more random (certain spells are more affective on certain monsters, but the pattern is not as predictable)
- Japanese CRPGs tend to have arbitrary systems of powering oneself up (say, by equipping crystals), while Western CRPGs are more about either gaining XP or skills.
- Western CRPGs often have actual deities that can be followed, with different results; Japanese CRPGs very rarely have anything like this (maybe because Japan is quite non-religious itself)
- Western CRPG characters seem to be 25-30 years old or so on average, while Japanese CRPG characters seem to be 11-22
Facial hair is almost unheard of...
- And of course, Japanese CRPGs almost never have character creation, while Western CRPGs usually like to have this on the other hand.