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Lost odysseys: are JRPGs about to explode?

Wednesday, 30th January 2013 08:10 GMT By Dave Cook

Ni No Kuni launches this week in Europe, but will it help rekindle the West’s interest in classic JRPG larks? Dave Cook argues that yes, it will.

“It’s incredibly smart design on Level-5′s part, and it treats you like an adult which, after the abysmal string of pre-Xmas games that intrusively held your hand last year, is highly refreshing.”

Role-playing games are in an odd place right now. Skyrim has done huge, brilliant things in bringing interest in the genre to the masses, and it has even converted the steeliness of naysayers into the stat-crunching, monster-twatting fold. But would the majority of Skyrim players try their hand at the JRPG forefathers of the genre? I’d bet all 99 of my Gyshal Greens that they wouldn’t.

Out this week, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is an exciting prospect in that Western gamers have been pre-ordering it in droves. One stockist even oversold its batch last week which, while annoying for customers, suggests that the title is firmly on the radar of many gamers. Even ‘everyman’ players seem to be aware of, and curious about the game’s existence. That’s highly encouraging.

I saw a superb tweet from columnist Rab Florence last week that read “This generation, the JRPG came back in style. Final Fantasy forgot to come with it.” As much as I adore the classic Final Fantasy games, the man is absolutely correct. It’s become a series that belies its roots in an attempt to speed up combat and Westernise its DNA with a string of concept misfires that truly began with dual pistols and a pair of hot pants.

I’d argue that Square-Enix doesn’t need to pander any more, given the visible resurgence of JRPGs today, and if anything, Ni No Kuni seems on-track to give gamers a perfect gateway drug to the many treasures of the genre. This interest could make the scene really explode. Perhaps this notoriety comes from the Studio Ghibli tie-in, or the fact that it’s a PS3 exclusive, but the game – quite simply – deserves to be played by everyone.

Level-5 has wisely included an easy mode for newcomers, while the ‘Normal’ setting delivers enough difficulty spikes to satisfy veterans. Plus, while the game’s combat mechanic – which sees boy-wizard Oliver and his chums battling monsters with a range of Familiars – is turn-based, players can still move around the field at will. It’s a hybrid that blurs the line between action-JRPGs and veteran franchises while retaining its purity.

It’s incredibly smart design on Level-5′s part, and it treats you like an adult which, after the abysmal string of pre-Xmas games that intrusively held your hand last year, is highly refreshing. Oh hello Assassin’s Creed 3, I almost didn’t see you there.

I’m a big fan of the JRPG genre – with Mistwalker’s impeccable Lost Odyssey standing as one of my favourite games of the generation – but even I have to admit that my interest has waned in recent years. Games like Dragon Quest XI and Bravely Default would have got me properly excited just a few years ago, but now I’m either too busy to commit to the length of your typical JRPG, or they simply aren’t grabbing my attention due to the glut of Western console crap clogging up my brain.

But now – thanks to Ni No Kuni – I’m interested again, eager to go back and re-play Lost Odyssey, keen to man-up and face Ornstein and Smough and to stop pretending they don’t exist. Maybe I’ll finally crack open that borrowed copy of Valkyria Chronicles I’ve had for almost two years? If the person who loaned it to me is reading this, I’m sorry, it’s truly shameful I know.

But if you’ve ever felt jaded with Western games or the few JRPGs you’ve tried to play but just couldn’t get in to, you should check out Ni No Kuni. It has the charm, plot and pacing to hold your interest. It’s a welcome splash of colour in a Western industry that gets greyer by the year.

Disclosure: To assist in writing this article, Namco Bandai sent Dave a copy of Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. No merchandise or advertising was offered or accepted.

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94 Comments

  1. Telepathic.Geometry

    TG argues that no, it won’t. It’s a very very pretty game, but at the end of the day, it’s just the same old grind-fest.

    #1 2 years ago
  2. friendlydave

    I agree with TG, I love JRPG’s and I can’t wait for this game, but all my friends show no interest in it at all. Skyrim has ruined the RPG genre for them, they now expect all RPG’s to be like it.

    “but now I’m either too busy to commit to the length of your typical JRPG”
    I hear this quite often from my friends, which baffles me, as they have sat and put 100+ hours into Skyrim.

    “crack open that borrowed copy of Valkyria Chronicles”

    Do It!

    #2 2 years ago
  3. orakaa

    “I’m a big fan of the JRPG genre – with Mistwalker’s impeccable Lost Odyssey standing as one of my favourite games of the generation”

    Oh, how I agree with you on that. Brilliant article, as always.
    I’ve played Final Fantasy VI 4 times in total, to get each secret, each character, etc. I felt that I lost my appeal towards traditional JRPGs… but truth is… it’s just that there haven’t been good JRPGs at all lately (or only very few).

    When I discovered LOST ODYSSEY (most underrated game of this generation in my opinion), I felt like playing a new Final Fantasy in HD. Got sucked into it just like old times and played it for dozens and dozens of hours, without counting. I’ve bought Ni no Kuni’s collector edition, even though I know I won’t have time to play it before next summer, but just to support the effort (and because I loved the demo so much, with my 5 years old daughter amazed at it).

    #3 2 years ago
  4. orakaa

    And unfortunately, I played Oblivion, Skyrim… and while the gameplay is a LOT of fun and opens a lot of possibility… I felt that the story was REALLY weak, as if it was really minor, in the background or even non-existent at times. WHATEVER you do, it doesn’t matter, and things don’t change.

    Seriously, played the sh*t out of both games, and see the exact same dialogs from all characters really feel awkward. You’re supposed to “save the day”, go into an epic quest… and in the end, it feels like you made absolutely no difference AT ALL. Not even a “oh thank you” from villagers or stronghold chiefs. It’s highly frustrating (to me).

    I prefer a well directed story over a sandbox game where nothing you do ever matters.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. IrrationalGamer

    @orakaa I recommend you try Fallout 3. Same team, but the story and mini-stories are infinitely more satisfying. I felt the same way about Skyrim. It has a nice overworld, but the combat is too basic, and I think I found only one or two mini-stories in the game that were decent.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    Why not to make it multiplatform first of all?

    “I recommend you try Fallout 3.”

    Lol

    #6 2 years ago
  7. DrDamn

    JRPGs as a genre seems to have remembered what it is and what it shouldn’t be. Real-time combat is not a natural progression from turn based, it’s just another valid approach. I love me a bit of turn based.

    Another fan of Lost Odyssey here too. That was very old school in a lot of ways but very well done … is it available on Games on Demand?

    I’m revisiting White Knight Chronicles currently – which is actually a lot of fun behind the awfully told story. That fuses the traditional JRPG stuff with MMO like elements and combat.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    Dave Cook might well argue that, but behind the first 5-7 hours, where literally ALL of the voice-acting and Studio Gibli stuff is, it may seem that way.

    The other 30 hours? No bespoke animation, almost no spoken dialogue and generic-as-hell, repetitive battles, limited upgrades and gameplay needless of strategy: not so much.

    Interested to find out how much of it he played before labelling it so worthy, because the head of this game is an entirely different animal to the body.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Telepathic.Geometry

    If I had to nail it down, I’d say the major sticking point for me is, a WRPG usually allows you to progress through the main quest quite quickly, and there’s loads of side shit there for you for when ya want a break. By contrast, JRPGs seem like the main-quest is really long, and occasionally, to get over difficulty spikes, you have to go and grind out time-consuming random bullshit which compounds the feeling of the story dragging on.

    Even the dialogue is just too long. In other types of games, a bugbear of mine is every time there’s a long cutscene, I feel like screaming “Let me get on with it FFS!” at the screen. In JRPGs, it’s these long LOOOONG dialogue trees. ;/

    #9 2 years ago
  10. IrrationalGamer

    @Erthazus Are you saying Fallout 3 has a bad story? Are you saying that Skyrim has better stories within it than Fallout 3? Really?

    One or two locations alone in Fallout 3 trump all of Skyrim in terms of storytelling.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. DrDamn

    @8
    Interested to find out how much of it you have played before making that comment.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. manamana

    #6 has a point, why isn’t it multiplat, inkl. WiiU and handhelds? It was first released on the DS and never available in english. Now you have the beefed-up version but only on one system? Come on!

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Erthazus

    @10, Both games have bad stories. Fallout 3 is Oblivion with guns compared to the old games (Fallout 1,2) where storytelling was something cool, fresh and interesting. Dialogs were simple and attached too much to your intelligence ability or speech skill.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. DrDamn

    @12
    DS version was a different game, same for of story arc and setting but a different game developed separately – at least according to the wiki.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. YoungZer0

    I never liked any of Gibli’s animes. I really, really hate the art-style. It looks like old-man anime drawings to me. That is reason enough for me not to check out this game. Apart from it being a JRPG i mean.

    Something needs to happen. JRPGs might have a story that is better told, yet the dialogs and characters are mostly written for mentally challenged people and children. I find them to be extremely boring, even Persona 3/4 had a few of the cliche character. Though they had a few twists and turns that would separate them from the shitty rest.

    And then there’s the combat, aka the grindfest, yes, my favorite Persona games also feature a lot of that.

    I don’t know about you, but combat in Western RPG’s always seems to be more fun. Apart from old school RPG’s that are just as tedious.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. manamana

    @14 of course it was a different game developed separately. The cutscenes and gameplay is the same, imo. But it’s still the Ni No Kuni game and just different developement because of the limited plattform.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    @11 Completed.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. hives

    I’m not big jRPG fan, but I enjoyed couple FF games – VI, VII, but I didn’t like XII at all… Don’t know why.

    And I really, really like Xenoblad Chronicles but… I don’t know if it’s 100% proper jRPG. Fighting was more like in action games there.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. DrDamn

    @15
    “Something needs to happen.”

    Maybe you just accept that it’s a genre you don’t like and play something you do? Why should a genre – a well loved one at that – change because you don’t like it?

    #19 2 years ago
  20. YoungZer0

    @19: Because videogames have to adapt to new things and try to actually battle the western market otherwise they will disappear?

    I’m not saying they should do the exact same thing, but something new would be interesting.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. DrDamn

    @20
    They do change, there is loads of variety within the JRPG genre. Very rare that a battle system will be the same even within two games in the same series.

    One man’s grindfest is the core that makes another man’s game though. Have you tried some of the bigger action RPG examples? The Tales series for example?

    #21 2 years ago
  22. YoungZer0

    Nope, never liked the mediocre art-style.

    To add to the conversation: I don’t think the MMORPG battle system a lot of JRPGs seem to use is the right approach either.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. The Dude

    @15: “I never liked any of Gibli’s animes. I really, really hate the art-style. It looks like old-man anime drawings to me.”

    *speechless*

    *needs to sit down*

    #23 2 years ago
  24. Erthazus

    Personally, can’t wait to try this game. Hayao Miyazaki touched this thing, so I should do the same.

    @23, He likes new DMC. What can you say.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. YoungZer0

    Hayao Miyazaki also touches his own ass, does that mean you would too?

    #25 2 years ago
  26. DrDamn

    @22
    What about Nier?

    #26 2 years ago
  27. YoungZer0

    @26: Never had the chance to check it out. Is it worth it? What’s different about it compared to your usual JRPG?

    #27 2 years ago
  28. DrDamn

    @27
    Very underrated. Battles are proper real-time – just one character, story and quests really quite nicely done with some particularly memorable side quests. Should be very cheap to pick up now too.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. YoungZer0

    Gonna check it out, thanks. I hope it plays nothing like Folklore, because i was immensely disappointed by the combat. Soooo boring. The forced Six-Axis controls didn’t help either.

    But the art-direction is pretty unique and the music is fantastic. The story seems to be interesting, though i doubt i will finish it and see the whole picture.

    So far i have Valkyria Chronicles and Nier on my list. I’m only limited to two platforms, so that might be a problem. PS3 and PC. Always wanted to check out Lost Odyssey.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. friendlydave

    @28 Best part about Nier is the music. Brilliant soundtrack.

    #30 2 years ago
  31. freedoms_stain

    I spent from Christmas to mid-January beating Square’s The Last Remnant (PC version). Although the game has plenty of flaws, I couldn’t help but feel that if Square took all the good ideas (or at least complimentary ideas) from FFXII, The Last Remnant, FFXIII and Final Fantasy Tactics they could have actually produced an outstanding game.

    I think Square put too much effort into completely retooling their games instead of taking a step back and looking at their past to see what worked, what didn’t, what was a good idea and what wasn’t and what features across different games might have worked better if they were paired together.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. Ireland Michael

    Be careful with Nier.

    It’s basically an interesting story with some amazing music housed in a shell of utterly terrible gameplay. It’s good… so long as you’re willing to ignore everything immensely wrong with it. Some will, some won’t.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. DrDamn

    @30
    I really liked some of the side quests too. The lighthouse one in particular was quite touching.

    Oh and the way they implemented faster travel. That was awesome :)

    #33 2 years ago
  34. Ireland Michael

    As for the JRPG genre…

    I think as gaming has become more popular, our consumption of games has become a lot quicker too. We speed through games because we want to play the next big thing coming out, to the point where many of us end up with quite an extensive backlog of unfinished games.

    Ten years ago, I wouldn’t leave a single game unfinished, and I wouldn’t even bother buying a new one until it was. Now? I’m sitting on a dozen unfinished RPGs that I never have the time to get around to touching…

    Why is this relevant? Because I think the JRPG genre is doing just fine.

    think people just aren’t aware of how much fantastic stuff is out there. The DS and PSP are practically drowning in the stuff, and both the PS3 and Xbox 360 have been home to some pretty great games in the genres. Sure, unlike first person shooters there isn’t a new one coming out every second week, but considering the time it takes to play them, thats probably a good thing.

    And complaints about the genre are just as true of any genre. There are plenty of terrible western RPGs, and many WRPGs are also depressingly simplistic now… ironic considering how JRPGs were very much influenced by the D&D formula, but simplified.

    I could name at least two dozen decent JRPGs released this generation that are worth playing, as long as you’re platform agnostic. The genre never want anywhere. I think Ni No Kuni is a great little title, but it isn’t going to set the charts alight or certainly make JRPGs big in the west again,

    #34 2 years ago
  35. YoungZer0

    I just wish we had more games like Vagrant Story. ._.

    @32: Can’t be worse than Folklore. It. Can’t. Be.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. ManuOtaku

    All i care is that iam still waiting for dark cloud 3, and persona 5 for that matter.

    Having said that i think JRPG games this gen has been strong, on all consoles from last oddisey on 360, to valkyria chronicles on ps3, xenoblade on wii, there are really gems of this genre, and the great thing about them is that they are new ips.

    Of course theres a lits of other great games which are also new ips like folklore, nier, blue dragon, eternal sonata, last story, etc and the usual suspects like tales of vesperia, star ocean, magna carta, etc, i think this gen JRPG games were strong, we did have a lot of great games, i dont think they need to explode, they alredy did this gen.

    p.s right now iam having a blast with persona 4 golden on vita an paper mario sticker star on the 3ds, talking about great RPGS

    #36 2 years ago
  37. NinjaHart

    I’m very much looking forward to this game in just 2 days now.
    I love the JRPG genre in general and Final Fantasy, but it feels like the Final Fantasy developers doesn’t care anymore. They just give out a beautiful game like Final Fantasy XIII, knowning that it removes about ALL freedom players has had in previous games. They are forcing people to go a straight path, which in my opinion is boring as hell. They are simply selling the Final Fantasy name, not the games.

    I have actually never played Lost Odessy, but my all time favorite JRPG games are Suikoden I and II. They are simply awesome and unique with their system to recriut 107 Stars of Destiny to get the best ending.

    #37 2 years ago
  38. Ireland Michael

    @35 I don’t even consider Folklore a JRPG. It’s an action game (and a very basic one, at that) with some RPG elements. I thought it was a fun enough game while it lasted, though it was incredibly limited in both scope and execution.

    #38 2 years ago
  39. YoungZer0

    @38: You might be right about that, though i don’t share you opinion that it’s fun. I’m at the second world and it’s just tedious and boring. I rather the game would just be walking around talking to people.

    We need a detective game in a parallel demon universe!

    But Nier’s gameplay is better, isn’t it?

    #39 2 years ago
  40. friendlydave

    @33 That side quest was pretty sad. The game definitely pulls of some touching moments.

    Just got the Confirm that my order has shipped. Hopefully be playing this tomorrow.

    #40 2 years ago
  41. Ireland Michael

    @39 No.

    It moves at a snail’s pace, and it takes a dozen hours before you get anything even remotely approaching decent abilities. By that point, it’s playing more like a free form version of space invaders and less like an RPG.

    Folklore’s gameplay is quantum physics in comparison.

    Still, it does have some great story and music. It’s a game that you really, *really* have to be willing to ignore / accept some glaring flaws to enjoy, honestly.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. YoungZer0

    Valkyria Chronicles it is then.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. Dragon246

    JRPGs are well , as Michael said. As a gamer who primarily uses handhelds, I seldom faced shortages on psp, and now vita has some good ones too.
    Japan pubs on whole have lost some of their sheen, but still good jrpgs are coming. VC, VC2, VC3, Crisis Core (psp), P3P, Phantasy Star portable 1 (2 was worse) and so on were great imo.

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Da Man

    Final Fantasy used to be the CoD of Japan, with the same screen swirling bs being churned out regularly on a yearly basis.

    Now it’s basically the same, but takes SquareEnix four times as long to develop.

    #44 2 years ago
  45. polygem

    i have never been the biggest fan of jrpg´s. i played some of the genres gems and while i sometimes really enjoy them, it´s still not my favourite genre. not a huge rpg fan in genereal. i am just not into the grinding. i really do like rpg´s on handhelds, not so much on home consoles though strangely. that said: ni no kuni has my full attention. i cannot wait to play it later this weeek. i´m on board of the hype train for sure. why? loveley artdesign, just nails it for me. beautiful. such a charming game, turn based but still fresh gameplay, mixed with a grain of pokemon. easy mode for starters…i think this is a true system seller too and a great coup from sony that they grabbed this as an exclusive. made me excited about my ps3 again…and that´s a great timing now with wiiu out and all.

    #45 2 years ago
  46. Clupula

    @30 – My only complaint about Nier’s soundtrack, which is absolutely haunting, is that there aren’t enough tracks. You hear the same song way more than you should, even if those songs are some of the best I’ve veer heard in music.

    #46 2 years ago
  47. Clupula

    As for the article…first, Dave, it is a crime that you haven’t opened Valkyria Chronicles. It’s probably my second favorite S/JRPG of all time (behind Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne).

    Ni no Kuni, I am about 30 hours into, and I am absolutely in love with the game and it pleases me to no end to see it get the amount of love that it deserves. Beautiful graphics, a very fun battle system, a story that has a great sense of wonder about it without being childish, and just stunning orchestrated music. I was hugely surprised when I went to Gamestop to pick it up and saw that they had about 20-25 other pre-order copies of it there. I figured this would be like the Atelier games or something, where I play it and no one else I know has even heard of it. But this, appears to be selling and that’s just great for me.

    I hope Tales of Xillia gets the same amount of love when that comes over and we can start on our way back to the PS1 days, where there were so many great JRPG’s that I couldn’t even afford to buy them all (still never played Wild Arms 2 and just got Legend of Dragoon a few months ago).

    #47 2 years ago
  48. PC_PlayBoy

    I can’t stand JRPG’s. The generic & emo character designs, cliché narratives, hideous voiceovers, over-long cut scenes, grinding and save points is enough for me not wanting to play one ever again.

    #48 2 years ago
  49. Clupula

    Strangely, I thought someone with the word “Playboy” in his screenname would enjoy grinding by himself.

    #49 2 years ago
  50. DLTDawnlight

    My favorite JRPGs this generation:

    #1 – Xenoblade Chronicles
    #2 – Ni No Kuni <- I'm not finished with this game yet, but it has the potential to be in this spot
    #3 – Tales of Vesperia
    #4 – Valkyria Chronicles
    #5 – The Last Story
    #6 – Lost Odyssey
    #7 – Resonance of Fate
    #8 – Radiant Historia
    #9 – Eternal Sonata
    #10 – Devil Survivor 2

    There are a bunch of hidden gem JRPGs that are way better than Final Fantasy XIII. The problem is that most these games listed above are likely to be overshadowed by Western games.

    Why do people call JRPGs cliched while Western games are equally as cliched as JRPGs? Western RPG cliche = Take to NPC, go from Point A to Point B while hacking and slashing enemies along the way. Shooter cliche = Go from Point A to point B while shooting enemies along the way (maybe even shooting down enemies with RPGs). See what I'm saying?

    #50 2 years ago
  51. Digital Bamboo

    I’ve been playing JRPG’s since the mid-90′s, first on SNES, and then PS & PS2. Now, between my DS, PSP, Wii & PS3 I’ve got more than I can handle. Actually, there’s always been more JRPG’s released than I could ever play.
    Missed out on too many to list–entire series even–but Rogue Galaxy looked particularly promising. Anyone ever play that?

    Ah, the musical brilliance of Nier is burned into my brain. I can hear it now.

    I look forward to getting Ni No Kuni ASAP.

    @Da Man: What’s your favorite Final Fantasy game?

    #51 2 years ago
  52. Da Man

    FF IV.

    #52 2 years ago
  53. Clupula

    @51 – Rogue Galaxy is a game that starts off great and then falls apart halfway through the game. The first 15 hours, I was in love with the game. The last 20 or so, I just wanted it to end.

    #53 2 years ago
  54. Kabby

    I’m pleased Level 5 got this out before PS4 was released. Perhaps this one won’t slip under the radar like Rogue Galaxy.

    #54 2 years ago
  55. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    Lost Odyssey>Everything else.

    #55 2 years ago
  56. Clupula

    @50 – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not get the love that Eternal Sonata gets. I found that game’s story and characters so tedious, even if the battle system was pretty fun and the graphics were nice.

    On the other hand, I don’t get all the hate that Star Ocean: The Last Hope gets, so different strokes, I guess…

    #56 2 years ago
  57. Clupula

    @54 – As I said, I think Rogue Galaxy was on a lot of people’s radars, but there was bad word of mouth from a lot of the first day players, like myself. I remember a big deal being made about the game, but then all the hype drying up once people got to play it. I think there’s definitely a group who love the game, which I guess you’re a part of, but most people I know who have played it say it was underwhelming and that’s a view I share about the last half of the game.

    #57 2 years ago
  58. DLTDawnlight

    #54 – I always relate Eternal Sonata to games like Flower on the PS3. It’s one of those “play to relax” type of RPGs.

    My problem with Star Ocean: The Last Hope is that the boss battles can get excessively long (the final boss took about an hour to beat) and the limited save points was such a pain in the butt.

    Saving anywhere should be a standard for JRPGs today.

    #58 2 years ago
  59. DSB

    JRPGs are forefathers of the genre?

    I’d say the western RPGs were born from the pen and paper scene. Rogue was directly inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, Stackpole and Pavlish from Wasteland were both pen and paper writers, and Black Isle famously jumped on DnD with a vengeance.

    #59 2 years ago
  60. Clupula

    Well, while we’re here and discussing JRPG’s might as well go into what got me into them… I had actually played the first Final Fantasy on the NES and was really, really bored by it. I had played text adventures and Kings Quest before that, so I was totally into the idea of a game that focused on story, but the first FF was just boring. I never finished it. Rented it, played it for about 3-4 hours and then returned it for Fester’s Quest or something like that.

    It was until I was an avid reader of DieHard Gamefan and they were really hyping up Lunar: The Silver Star for Sega CD, so I figured I’d give it a try, and that game blew me away. I had never gotten so emotionally attached to videogame characters before. So, from that point on, I was a fan of the genre. I got all the Sega CD JRPG’s and then started on the Phantasy Star series.

    I liked FFVII, thought FFVIII was awful, and absolutely loved FFIX, but what I think the best thing about Final Fantasy during the PS1 days is that its sales created such a huge boost in the genre. The PS1 days were so amazing. Every month, there’d be like 2 or 3 new JRPG’s to play. There were so many, I ended up missing out on Suikoden II when it first came out.

    Anyway, since we also seem to be making lists, here’s my top 15 of all time JRPG’s.

    15. Final Fantasy X (PS2)
    14. Persona 4 (PS2)
    13. Xenogears (PS1)
    12. Skies of Arcadia (Dreamcast)
    11. Tales of Graces F (PS3)
    11. Phantasy Star 4 (Genesis)
    10. Persona 3 FES (PS2)
    9. Final Fantasy IX (PS2)
    8. Xenosaga I (PS2)
    7. Ni No Kuni (PS3)
    6. Suikoden V (PS2)
    5. Lunar: The Silver Star (Sega CD)
    4. Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)
    3. Suikoden II (PS1)
    2. Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
    1. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (PS2)

    #60 2 years ago
  61. Clupula

    @58 – I’m of two minds about saving anywhere. I think it’s pretty annoying when I can only save at churches or whatever, like in Dragon Quest, but I don’t think you should be able to save anywhere in a maze.

    Perfectly okay with saving anywhere in a town or on the world map (remember those?), but in an actual maze, there should be save points.

    #61 2 years ago
  62. Da Man

    #48 As you can see, Cu**pula’s level of intelligence can be obvious from their passionate list of favourite japanese computer software..

    #62 2 years ago
  63. Clupula

    @59 – Yeah, I’d assume they’d both, WRPG’s and JRPG’s, come from the Dungeons and Dragons type stuff and then from the early computer RPG’s, like Wizardry and stuff like that. The ones that were all text and you had to make a map of your own. Then that concept was expanded upon. Ultima and the like…

    I had always thought that JRPG’s were the Japanese attempt at making a Dunegons and Dragons type game in video form. I mean, if you look at stuff like Shining in the Darkness or Phantasy Star I, how different is that from some of the American computer RPGs of the time, you know?

    #63 2 years ago
  64. Ireland Michael

    @56 Entirely agreed. Eternal Sonata was pretty damn tedious. It has a nice idea going for it, but it suffered from every bad anime cliche possible. The storytelling was aaaaawful, and that’s saying a lot consider how bad a lot JRPG stories are.

    Star Ocean: The Last Hope had some great gameplay, but fuck, whoever created those characters and those cutscenes was a raging pervert. Another one or those horrible anime stereotypes that the medium is (rightfully) blasted for. It doesn’t benefit the medium in any positive way whatever.

    @60 Shin Megami Tensei 3. Yum. What a fucking masterpiece that game was.

    #64 2 years ago
  65. Da Man

    FAK!11 Must be really boring in the kitchen, lolcon :( . N33d sum medium to ease the pain of inferiority.

    #65 2 years ago
  66. Clupula

    @64 – Fun fact about Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne: It was the game that made me start playing the Devil May Cry series after having Dante try to fuck me up through half the game. I loved SMT 3 so much, I wanted to know more about the character that was stalking me.

    #66 2 years ago
  67. friendlydave

    I like Eternal Sonata because of how easy it was to just pick up. When I played it I was to busy with a new job to concentrate on a demanding RPG but still had that urge to play one. Eternal Sonata done a good job at fulfilling that.

    I never played Star Ocean: The Last Hope. I did purchase a copy for £3. The back of the case reminded me of Infinite undiscovery and I quite enjoyed that.

    #67 2 years ago
  68. GwynbleiddiuM

    @59 couldn’t have said it better myself.

    @Dave I never cared for JRPG, as I said many time in the past. It just isn’t for me. So, please don’t mix up JRPG with CRPG Dave, they have two very different fan-base, and if someone enjoys one of them, it’s not a guarantee that they will enjoy the other. Sinking hours into Skyrim is a lot more different than going through hours of insufferable amount of bishounen art works.

    A History of Western RPG, a good read if nothing else. The forefathers of RPG is in fact Pen and Paper, and goes way beyond the era of graphical advances of video games. We used to play text based RPGs like The Legend of the Red Dragon (1989) way before any JRPs were born. There were older PLATO based titles that I haven’t played myself. :P

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Western_role-playing_video_games

    #68 2 years ago
  69. Clupula

    @68 – You are completely right on the different fan-bases. I found Oblivion to be one of the most boring experiences I’ve ever attempted to suffer through, videogame-wise.

    Fallout 3, I liked, but the majority of Western RPG’s just are, as you put it, insufferable.

    #69 2 years ago
  70. Dave Cook

    @68 I wasn’t getting them mixed up, I know the differences ;)

    Id like to see some players of western RPGs getting into JRPGs too. More sales for jRPGs on these shores is always a good thing – more localisation, greater interest from publishers etc. It’s a good thing.

    #70 2 years ago
  71. Clupula

    @70 – It would be cool if more people got into them over here. I keep bringing up how awesome the PS1 days were. i think we certainly have a glut of WRPG’s right now.

    Then there’s games like Mass Effect, which are third person shooters, being called RPG’s for some reason. I love the Mass Effect series, don’t get me wrong, but the only one that really tried to seriously implement role-playing elements into it was part one and that did it very sloppily. Once it just accepted that it was a cover-based third person shooter with more story than usual, it was a lot better game, imo.

    #71 2 years ago
  72. silkvg247

    I hope they make a comeback.

    I still remember when I was 12 years old, literally hunting for my copy of Phantasy Star on the master system. It’s a wonder they released it in the UK at all! Found it eventually, good times indeed.

    My favorite JRPG is Xenosaga 1, which sadly never came out here.

    For FF, I agree with Da Man that FFIV is the best of the lot. I feel FFIX was the last “good” FF game.

    The phantasy star series is good, four is an average end to them though. Three is the black sheep, but still enjoyed it. PS2 is rock bloody hard, I wonder if anyone here has completed it.. I have, but only after obtaining a hidden “save anywhere” item for the last boss.

    A good JRPG is basically an interactive story with memorable characters. Gameplay, I daresay, hardly matters at all. I mean it has to be playable and non-buggy, but any fancy battle mechanics (FF13, sigh) just take away from the experience.

    #72 2 years ago
  73. Cobra951

    @72: Yes, I completed Phantasy Star 2. My problem with it, iirc, was the randomness of the difficulty. You could get killed summarily in one advanced encounter, or sail through it. Enough repetition conquered all of them.

    That was my first PS game. I later tried, but could not get into, PS1. I played through PS3 and enjoyed it. 4, not so much.

    #73 2 years ago
  74. fearmonkey

    I have pretty much lost interest in Japanese adventure games, as they are usually that and not really an RPG. The linear paths, the same old gaming experience in 90 percent of the games. I have rented quite a few this gen and found them all boring and lacking.

    I loved the genre on SNES, PS1, and Dreamcast but after getting an xbox and then the 360, i found myself not enjoying them, preferring western RPG’s instead. Im happy that games like Capcom’s Dragon’s Dogma and Dark souls exist now, but would love to see game in the genre transcend the gameplay of old. IF I want a retro game with that gameplay, my IOS devices have that covered.

    #74 2 years ago
  75. Hellhound30x

    I liked this article. I will say this, “I didn’t come away from it feeling like I’ve been pitched to.”

    #75 2 years ago
  76. Ireland Michael

    @74 I’m not sure what JRPGs you’re playing, but “90% of them” have completely different systems and gameplay mechanics to them.

    There is far more diversity and experimentation in most JRPGs than you’ll ever find in… say… Bethesda RPGs, which are all very similar experiences in slightly different shells.

    I’ll agree on the linearity thing, but thats very much a matter of preference, I think. Freedom and linearity both have different benefits and cons.

    #76 2 years ago
  77. Clupula

    @72 – Phantasy Star II was the only game I’ve ever needed a guide to beat. Luckily, it used to come with one. I’m not sure if that was from the first run or if they eventually packed in the guide because people were bitching about the difficulty, but I remember using the guide because the maps were incredibly confusing. Most JRPG’s at the time saved their teleporter mazes for the part leading up to the final boss. Phantasy Star 2 had the first maze be one. I hate using guides. I have not used one since or before, but I remember going in circles in the second maze for about an hour before I finally just gave in and started using the guide. And every maze afterwards, I’d say I wasn’t going to use it, only to get completely lost by the tiled graphics and end up using it.

    Also, the way to find the unlimited saves was absolutely ridiculous. You couldn’t buy it. You couldn’t find it anywhere. You had to bring a certain character to a certain shop and hope that she would randomly shoplift it.

    Of course, that is the one thing I will give Phantasy Star 2 over every other RPG I’ve ever played with a thief character: the thief was an actual thief. She’d shoplift on a regular basis and I’m surprised no one since has ever taken that idea.

    But yeah, I beat Phantasy Star 2 on the Genesis, but I did need a lot of help to do so. Phantasy Star 4 was actually my first of the series. If I had started on 2, I’m not sure I would have bought the rest.

    #77 2 years ago
  78. manamana

    Final Fantasy I and II are on sale for iOS right now. For those of you, who dig the oldschool pixelated stuff.

    FF I $3.99 instead of $8.99
    FF II $3.99 instead of $8.99

    #78 2 years ago
  79. mistermogul

    I know it’s not strictly a JRPG but IGN just gave the new Fire Emblem 9.6 which sounds like more Japanese loveliness!

    Problem with these types of games is they drain too many hours of your time!

    http://uk.ign.com/articles/2013/01/30/fire-emblem-awakening-review

    #79 2 years ago
  80. polygem

    @mistermogul: thx for posting that the review is online! great score. will read it now. cannot wait for this game. really nice games coming out atm.

    #80 2 years ago
  81. PC_PlayBoy

    ANACHRONOX
    ARCANUM: OF STEAMWORKS AND MAGICK OBSCURA
    BALDUR’S GATE
    BALDUR’S GATE 2
    DARKLANDS
    DIVINE DIVINITY
    FALLOUT
    FALLOUT 2
    GORKY 17
    ICEWIND DALE
    ICEWIND DALE 2
    INQUISITOR
    LEGEND OF GRIMROCK
    HEROES OF MIGHT AND MAGIC 3
    NEVERWINTER NIGHTS
    NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 2
    PLANESCAPE: TORMENT
    SPELLFORCE
    STAR WARS: KOTOR
    STAR WARS: KOTOR 2
    TEMPLE OF ELEMENTAL EVIL
    TITAN QUEST
    TORCHLIGHT
    TORCHLIGHT 2
    WITCHER
    WITCHER 2
    VAMPIRE THE MASQUERADE: BLOODLINES

    …I could go on forever. Those are proper RPG’s and none of that fucking JAP crap every other numpty on here seems to love.

    #81 2 years ago
  82. Digital Bamboo

    @81 You must be great at parties.

    @Da Man – I honestly didn’t expect you to answer what your favorite FF game was. I was under the distinct impression that you hated the entire Final Fantasy series, JRPG’s, Japanese-made games, and perhaps even anyone who played them. I guess I was mistaken.

    IV, eh? I’m partial to VII myself.

    #82 2 years ago
  83. Da Man

    Ha.

    Yep, pretty much one of the last few good FFs. Didn’t try to be art or leverage the nonexisiting medium. Then they started releasing FFs aimed at overgrown nerds who make friends on the internet.

    #83 2 years ago
  84. YoungZer0

    That pretty much sums up everything i don’t want to see in any JRPG ever again:

    http://youtu.be/0e727H81IAs?t=2m10s

    I want to hurt myself.

    #84 2 years ago
  85. Zana

    Oh well, FF games are not trying to be RPGs anymore. If you don’t get that, you probably won’t enjoy them to the fullest. I’m amazed that some people are happy a game “didn’t try to be art”! If you want to play a RPG with no ambition, just go for Tales of.

    Final Fantasy is still a good series and I don’t see why main titles should be affected by crappy side games such as All The Bravest. Some people are *really* too passionate there.

    #85 2 years ago
  86. Da Man

    Tales of, despite that they used to have gameplay, and generally still have (which is rare in post Snes jrpgs) are for.. a certain niche audience.

    #86 2 years ago
  87. Deacon

    You play this game, so that makes you an inbred tax-avoiding baby-rapist. Your butthurtedness knows no limits DM.

    Your presumptuous judgemental attitude will see you go far in life, for sure.

    #87 2 years ago
  88. Da Man

    Now now, let’s not rrod ourselves there by trying to figure out why adults who play Tales, analyze Mgs storylines and watch anime tend to be inferior, if not mental. Keep fighting the Apple system and brainwashed casuals instead.

    One of the more fun jrpgs I played was Vampires Dawn for mobile phones a few years back. reminded me of their golden era, when they used to have more gameplay than 3 second long midi loops and passionate cutscenes.

    #88 2 years ago
  89. DLTDawnlight

    #81 – As expected from an anti-JRPG PC gamer.

    Can someone explain how WRPGs are so “innovative” and uncliched? I always look at them as being just as equally cliched as JRPGs.

    Go from Point A to Point B while hacking and slashing enemies = WRPG.

    #89 2 years ago
  90. Ireland Michael

    @89 In fairness, there are plenty of well written, well designed WRPGs, with great gameplay system. Likewise there are plenty of JRPGs with the same.

    Of course, both sides are just as guilty of cliched ideas as the other. Neither is better or worse.

    #90 2 years ago
  91. silkvg247

    @77 Haha, yes those mazes were utter bitches. The only time I ever used a guide was to beat the second to last boss, and it was then that I discovered the save game item. I think PS2 took me 60 hours to beat, a huge chunk of that was spent learning the mazes for sure.

    I forgot to give an honorable mention to the original Grandia, also on my favorite list.

    I think one massive difference between JRPGs and WRPGs that is almost always overlooked is musical score. I think back to practically any scene in any of my favorite JRPGs and I have the full audio track in my head, start to end. I cannot say the same about any WRPG. I feel music is important in games and good music makes games more memorable and enjoyable.

    #91 2 years ago
  92. Deacon

    @91 – good point on the audio.

    Skyrim aside, I don’t have any Western RPG soundtracks stuck in my mind like I do with pretty much EVERY jrpg I’ve touched. I’ve still got some tracks from Terranigma knocking about in my head, and that shit was way back in my youth.

    I think with the arrival of Skyrim most Western RPG devs will now pay a lot more attention to the soundtrack. The only caveat to what you said is that the Skyrim soundtrack beats Dragon’s Dogma hands down. I guess maybe Capcom were trying to ‘Westernize’ their OST on this one? Bar a couple of tracks, it really hasn’t moved me.

    The Uematsu days are all but gone. From what I played of Lost Odyssey the soundtrack to that game was fantastic.

    From my experience then, the JRPG’s generally have the more memorable score. All preference at the end of the day though. Music is a pretty broad field eh!

    #92 2 years ago
  93. Clupula

    @82 – I doubt he’s ever been to a party that didn’t have “LAN” in front of it.

    #93 2 years ago
  94. Clupula

    @91 – The original Grandia was a lot of fun, but the translation and dubbing were so incredibly bad that they ruined a bit of the fun for me. I had been used to voice acting in JRPG’s coming from Working Designs, which, while not exactly AAA quality, still put a lot of personality into their English dubs. Grandia’s was almost Resident Evil 1-quality. The gameplay and the story were very cool, but that dub…ugh.

    And I’m not even one of these people who insist on everything being in Japanese. I tend to play my JRPG’s with English voices. But wow, was that one bad.

    #94 2 years ago

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