My experience with JRPGs

A Week of Gaming' will be taking a break this week. While I have advanced with FFV, I don't have an awful lot to say. I decided the best thing would be to put it off for a week. Instead, I'll talk about something close to my heart...

The Glorious World of JRPGs

I was about 12 when I first discovered the world of JRPGs. The game in question? Final Fantasy VII.

I first saw FFVII thanks to some guys who used to live over the road to me. My brother and I used to go over to their house pretty often. One day, I saw one of them playing it. I hadn't seen a game like it before, so I happily watched him play for a while. If you're wondering how I managed to avoid JRPGs before then, the answer is simple; I didn't own a console until around that time. Most of my childhood systems were computers (ZX Spectrum, C64 and Amiga). It was only in 1997 that my siblings and I got a PS1. Better late than never.

Anyway, after seeing FFVII in action, I eventually picked up a copy for myself. It went on to be one of the best purchases I've ever made. The story kept me hooked and I couldn't stop playing it for a while. But, most importantly, it made me think 'Wait...there must be more games like this...' (the 7 may have been a giveaway). It didn't take me long to find out that there was and my love for JRPGs was sealed.

While I can't really provide any real chronological order, I went on to play a lot other RPGs after that. The older FF games arrived a bit later for me, so I bought games like Jade Cocoon, Grandia (which I thought was awesome) and BoF IV (which I've since learned is not the best representation of the series). I continued buying RPGs on the PS2 (Shadow Hearts was my personal favourite from that era). When I could import games, I got hold of stuff like Chrono Cross and Xenogears.

Shadows Hearts still has one of the most interesting battle systems I've experienced.

Unfortunately, I haven't made the time for them in recent years. JRPGs, as awesome as they are, are usually on the long side. While it's a strength of the genre, it's also a negative point. Until recently, I've been a bit scared to start any in case I ended up neglecting it. I play a lot of other genres besides RPGs, so it's a case of balancing. After a long absence, I've finally returned to JRPGs in the form of FFV. While it's not the strongest RPG I've played, it's reminded me why I like them so much. The music, the exploration, the satisfaction of defeating a boss...all those are part of what makes them special. What's more, playing FFV has rejuvenated my desire to play through old JRPGs.

I made a list this week of the JRPGs that I've yet to play. It's right here on GB if you want to check it out. Some of the entries are entires franchises at the moment, but I may end up splitting them. I concede that I'm not going to play all of them in my lifetime. It's more of a 'I'm open to playing these games' list. That said, there are games I want to play more than others. Importing isn't a problem for most games, as I have an American PS2 for that very purpose.

Lunar Silver Star Story Complete (PS1) - I thought Lunar 2 was great, so naturally I want to play the first game. Unfortunately, the game is pretty expensive now. Not as hefty as some other games, perhaps, but still a lot to part with in one go. I think I'll definitely splurge on it one day, though. I've heard too many good things.

Radiant Historia (DS) - I'm very interested in it because of the time travel stuff. I've always been fascinated by time travel. There's not enough games with it, I reckon. It's still yet to be released in Europe, so I'll likely have to import it.

Breath of Fire III (PS1/PSP) - I actually own this already (for the PSP), so it could be a real possibility soon. I've seen it recommended by various places (including some friends), so I'm long overdue to play it.

Suikoden series (PS1/2) - I've only played the first game. Again, some of the games are pretty expensive to acquire now, but I enjoyed Suikoden. I like the fact that you can gain advantages by recruiting certain members to your army. I'll make sure to delve into the series again at some point.

Those are just four examples of the games I want to play the most. However, it'll be a while before I can grab hold of some of the games. Don't worry if you don't see any of your favourites mentioned. I know full well that I'm missing out on a lot of classic RPGs. I'll try to give each of them a fair crack. My greatest enemies are time and money. They may be strong foes, but they're not invincible.

'A Week of Gaming' SHOULD return next week. However, if you'd like me to talk about other things once in a while, just let me know. I enjoy talking about games at length.

28 Comments
29 Comments
Posted by AdzPearson

A Week of Gaming' will be taking a break this week. While I have advanced with FFV, I don't have an awful lot to say. I decided the best thing would be to put it off for a week. Instead, I'll talk about something close to my heart...

The Glorious World of JRPGs

I was about 12 when I first discovered the world of JRPGs. The game in question? Final Fantasy VII.

I first saw FFVII thanks to some guys who used to live over the road to me. My brother and I used to go over to their house pretty often. One day, I saw one of them playing it. I hadn't seen a game like it before, so I happily watched him play for a while. If you're wondering how I managed to avoid JRPGs before then, the answer is simple; I didn't own a console until around that time. Most of my childhood systems were computers (ZX Spectrum, C64 and Amiga). It was only in 1997 that my siblings and I got a PS1. Better late than never.

Anyway, after seeing FFVII in action, I eventually picked up a copy for myself. It went on to be one of the best purchases I've ever made. The story kept me hooked and I couldn't stop playing it for a while. But, most importantly, it made me think 'Wait...there must be more games like this...' (the 7 may have been a giveaway). It didn't take me long to find out that there was and my love for JRPGs was sealed.

While I can't really provide any real chronological order, I went on to play a lot other RPGs after that. The older FF games arrived a bit later for me, so I bought games like Jade Cocoon, Grandia (which I thought was awesome) and BoF IV (which I've since learned is not the best representation of the series). I continued buying RPGs on the PS2 (Shadow Hearts was my personal favourite from that era). When I could import games, I got hold of stuff like Chrono Cross and Xenogears.

Shadows Hearts still has one of the most interesting battle systems I've experienced.

Unfortunately, I haven't made the time for them in recent years. JRPGs, as awesome as they are, are usually on the long side. While it's a strength of the genre, it's also a negative point. Until recently, I've been a bit scared to start any in case I ended up neglecting it. I play a lot of other genres besides RPGs, so it's a case of balancing. After a long absence, I've finally returned to JRPGs in the form of FFV. While it's not the strongest RPG I've played, it's reminded me why I like them so much. The music, the exploration, the satisfaction of defeating a boss...all those are part of what makes them special. What's more, playing FFV has rejuvenated my desire to play through old JRPGs.

I made a list this week of the JRPGs that I've yet to play. It's right here on GB if you want to check it out. Some of the entries are entires franchises at the moment, but I may end up splitting them. I concede that I'm not going to play all of them in my lifetime. It's more of a 'I'm open to playing these games' list. That said, there are games I want to play more than others. Importing isn't a problem for most games, as I have an American PS2 for that very purpose.

Lunar Silver Star Story Complete (PS1) - I thought Lunar 2 was great, so naturally I want to play the first game. Unfortunately, the game is pretty expensive now. Not as hefty as some other games, perhaps, but still a lot to part with in one go. I think I'll definitely splurge on it one day, though. I've heard too many good things.

Radiant Historia (DS) - I'm very interested in it because of the time travel stuff. I've always been fascinated by time travel. There's not enough games with it, I reckon. It's still yet to be released in Europe, so I'll likely have to import it.

Breath of Fire III (PS1/PSP) - I actually own this already (for the PSP), so it could be a real possibility soon. I've seen it recommended by various places (including some friends), so I'm long overdue to play it.

Suikoden series (PS1/2) - I've only played the first game. Again, some of the games are pretty expensive to acquire now, but I enjoyed Suikoden. I like the fact that you can gain advantages by recruiting certain members to your army. I'll make sure to delve into the series again at some point.

Those are just four examples of the games I want to play the most. However, it'll be a while before I can grab hold of some of the games. Don't worry if you don't see any of your favourites mentioned. I know full well that I'm missing out on a lot of classic RPGs. I'll try to give each of them a fair crack. My greatest enemies are time and money. They may be strong foes, but they're not invincible.

'A Week of Gaming' SHOULD return next week. However, if you'd like me to talk about other things once in a while, just let me know. I enjoy talking about games at length.

Posted by The_Laughing_Man

Breath of fire 3 is awesome. Do they sell it for Vita (or PSP) In the states. 

Posted by Donkeycow

I can't get into JRPG's, the aesthetics just put me right off.

Posted by AdzPearson

@The_Laughing_Man: Apparently it was only released on the PSP in Europe (pretty sure the PS1 version never made it to Europe, conversely). That said, it can be imported by anyone outside Europe, so no worries there. As for the Vita...I guess there's a chance they may release it on PSN at some point, but I can't be sure..

Posted by Ducksworth

If you have a PSP not only can you import Breath of Fire III but Lunar was remade and it's pretty cheap to boot.

Posted by The_Laughing_Man
@AdzPearson said:

@The_Laughing_Man: Apparently it was only released on the PSP in Europe (pretty sure the PS1 version never made it to Europe, conversely). That said, it can be imported by anyone outside Europe, so no worries there. As for the Vita...I guess there's a chance they may release it on PSN at some point, but I can't be sure..

Its a great game. And I never got to finish it. I got to some giant eyeball boss and he kept killing my party. 
Edited by AdzPearson

@Ducksworth: ...I knew I wasn't imagining things. I had a look for it on eBay last night, but no luck. I'll have to find the actual name of the port and try again later. It's good to know they actually remade it. The same almost happened for Suikoden 1 and 2, but it was cancelled... -_-

@The_Laughing_Man: Yeah, it could be a real candidate for after I finish FFV. I've actually owned it for the PSP for ages, but I've never got round to it. I'm sure that'll be fixed sooner than later.

@Donkeycow: Fair enough. I realise JRPGs aren't for everyone. It's still a pretty niché genre. It was maybe a bit more mainstream in the 90s (after the success of FF7, especially), but those times have passed...which is why I'll have to loot and plunder for some of the classics.

Posted by PixelPrinny

Playing Radiant Historia right now, myself, and I'm rather enjoying it.

I don't think that many games have time travel in them because it's very difficult to do it right. Even Radiant Historia's time travel is fairly contrived and simplistic. With Chrono Trigger, it was pretty easy to forgive it its shortcomings in regards to time travel as the whole concept of it in rpgs was pretty much unheard of at the time, but nowadays, we're so accustomed to the trope that most can't help but expect a bit more. For example, wanting actions in past time-lines to actually affect the future, or for a legitimate explanation of how time paradoxes or loops get sorted out within the fiction of the game.

FFXIII-2 did an abysmal job of trying to explain such things, while Radiant Historia (so far) has just gone with basically, "It's magic, just roll with it, but please don't tell anyone."

If you're fascinated by time travel, though, you might wanna seek out a fan-translated version of Steins;Gate. It's a visual novel centering around time travel and it actually does a solid job of explaining how time-travel works within its universe. Or just watch the anime, if that's more your thing. :P

In other news, Suikoden 2 is fantastic. I really don't understand why it's not on PSN yet while Suikoden 1 has been for years; it's a fairly unanimous opinion that 2 is one of the best (if not the best) in the series. Hopefully you get a chance to play it at some point.

Posted by AdzPearson

@PixelPrinny: Yeah, I guess it's one of those things that's hard to get right. That said, I can kind of forgive plot holes involving time travel most of the time. It's such a mind-bending concept (even for quantum physicists). I think even the best time travel fiction has messed up somewhere along the line.

Funny you should mention Steins;Gate. I've not long finished watching the anime. I was so hooked that I finished it within 3 days. It was right up my street. :D Is the game much different? I'm guessing there are different endings depending on what gets selected, at least. If there's enough different stuff, I'll definitely try and track it down one day. More Steins;Gate? Yes, please!

I've never understood why some of the highly-rated games don't get re-released. I understand in terms of re-releasing boxed copies, but surely there isn't that much of a risk to put them up for download on PSN/XBL. As it is, I'll have to pay a small fortune to enjoy games like Suikoden II and Arc the Lad.

Posted by DeF

hurry up with getting Radiant Historia, it JUST got a reprint in North America so the time to import is now!

Posted by AdzPearson

@DeF: Yeah, I'm going to try not to daudle too long about it. The last thing I want is another 'awesome, but hellish expensive' RPG. I'm hoping to get a copy in a week or two.

Posted by vidiot
@AdzPearson said:

I've never understood why some of the highly-rated games don't get re-released. I understand in terms of re-releasing boxed copies, but surely there isn't that much of a risk to put them up for download on PSN/XBL. As it is, I'll have to pay a small fortune to enjoy games like Suikoden II and Arc the Lad.

Indeed. 
With everyone complaining regarding re-buying old classics, I get the impression that the manner we get those re-releases is starting to slowly change and we are on the cusp of hopefully something really special. The reason I have hope, is regards to how Sony is currently managing the re-release of it's PS2 library on PSN: Obscure stuff. Also, Digital Devil Saga will be appearing there soon apparently
 
I would like something more than emulated releases.  
While revamping a PSX game for HD seems a bit...excessive...I would like the idea of at least basic trophy support somehow. Right now those releases seem almost segregated from bigger franchise collections. Why couldn't the first Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill be part of the new collections? I think there needs to be some rethinking here.  
I am rambling.  
 
But yeah, it seems there are massive JRPG libraries that are primed and ready for re-releases. Hopefully something productive will happen.
Posted by PixelPrinny

@vidiot said:

@AdzPearson said:

I've never understood why some of the highly-rated games don't get re-released. I understand in terms of re-releasing boxed copies, but surely there isn't that much of a risk to put them up for download on PSN/XBL. As it is, I'll have to pay a small fortune to enjoy games like Suikoden II and Arc the Lad.

Indeed.
With everyone complaining regarding re-buying old classics, I get the impression that the manner we get those re-releases is starting to slowly change and we are on the cusp of hopefully something really special. The reason I have hope, is regards to how Sony is currently managing the re-release of it's PS2 library on PSN: Obscure stuff. Also, Digital Devil Saga will be appearing there soon apparently. I would like something more than emulated releases. While revamping a PSX game for HD seems a bit...excessive...I would like the idea of at least basic trophy support somehow. Right now those releases seem almost segregated from bigger franchise collections. Why couldn't the first Metal Gear Solid or Silent Hill be part of the new collections? I think there needs to be some rethinking here. I am rambling. But yeah, it seems there are massive JRPG libraries that are primed and ready for re-releases. Hopefully something productive will happen.

Of course you'd want trophies. Pssh, trophies, we don't need em! The classics are worth playing cause they're classics!

But I agree that hopefully we see more of these titles start to see at least digital rereleases.

Oh btw Adz, Arc the Lad is totally up on PSN for cheap... at least in NA. Dunno about Europe

@AdzPearson said:

Funny you should mention Steins;Gate. I've not long finished watching the anime. I was so hooked that I finished it within 3 days. It was right up my street. :D Is the game much different? I'm guessing there are different endings depending on what gets selected, at least. If there's enough different stuff, I'll definitely try and track it down one day. More Steins;Gate? Yes, please!

As for the Steins;Gate VN, I'm not entirely sure how much the anime deviates as I haven't played through all of it myself yet. I am assuming the anime follows the "true" path, as the final few eps of the series definitely feel like how a true end unlocks and plays out in a VN.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@PixelPrinny said:

For example, wanting actions in past time-lines to actually affect the future, or for a legitimate explanation of how time paradoxes or loops get sorted out within the fiction of the game.

Doesn't Radiant Historia do all that, though? I mean, time travel is definitely more integral to Radiant Historia's plot than it ever was to Chrono Trigger's.

Posted by Jimmi

I'm playing Final Fantasy VIII on PSN right now... The mechanics are insanely dense but I'm really liking the story and combat so far.

Posted by PixelPrinny

@Video_Game_King said:

@PixelPrinny said:

For example, wanting actions in past time-lines to actually affect the future, or for a legitimate explanation of how time paradoxes or loops get sorted out within the fiction of the game.

Doesn't Radiant Historia do all that, though? I mean, time travel is definitely more integral to Radiant Historia's plot than it ever was to Chrono Trigger's.

Haven't finished it yet so maybe it all comes together in a nicely explained package, but so far nope. It's just, "Here's something that lets you travel through time! Why it can? Top secret! Also please don't tell anyone you can travel through time. Just act like normal, even if you're reliving the same event over and over."

Posted by Video_Game_King

@PixelPrinny said:

Haven't finished it yet so maybe it all comes together in a nicely explained package

It does.

Posted by AdzPearson

@vidiot: That's pretty encouraging stuff. I hope it keeps up. As long as it happens both sides of the Atlantic, I'll be happy. That's not always the case at the moment (still no Chrono Trigger or Xenogears on the European PSN, for instance), but there have been signs of improvement over the years.

@PixelPrinny: Just checked and apparently it's also available on the European PSN. Awesome. Thanks for pointing that out. :D

That sounds about right regarding Steins;Gate. Well, I still might give it a shot one day. I'd like to experience the story again once enough time has passed.

@Jimmi: I didn't play much of that, but I remember the mechanics being a bit odd compared to most FF games. That said, I liked the setting and music of it. I'll start it again somewhere along the line (as I will with all FF games).

Posted by Nottle

@Donkeycow said:

I can't get into JRPG's, the aesthetics just put me right off.

Not even something that isn't spikey hair teenager? Like Earthbound or Darksouls? Or even a Tactics ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics?

Posted by vidiot
@PixelPrinny said:

Of course you'd want trophies. Pssh, trophies, we don't need em! The classics are worth playing cause they're classics!

I WAS GOING TO ARGUE WITH YOU BUT PARADOX HAPPENED. 
 
It goes beyond just having trophies for the game. I'm not 100% sure about the exact specifics, but Sony and Microsoft respectively now require you to have achievements and or trophies for packaged games. I could easily see this requirement being a major hurdle over the lack of repackaged older games, being part of broader collections. I want to have a day where I can own a Criterion "type of" Collection for Final Fantasy or Suikoden or -insert your favorite old-school JRPG series here-. 
 
@AdzPearson said:

@vidiot: That's pretty encouraging stuff. I hope it keeps up. As long as it happens both sides of the Atlantic, I'll be happy. That's not always the case at the moment (still no Chrono Trigger or Xenogears on the European PSN, for instance), but there have been signs of improvement over the years.

That's a shame, but I think that has to do more with publishers. It's complicated stuff, it could also Square being....Square... :/
In the same breath of pointing that Digital Devil Saga is getting re-released, it's also worth mentioning that it's been announced for UK Marketplace right now. I would be surprised if it didn't come over-sea's here but it also encourages perhaps something more than just a emulation job. Rights for different territory releases could theoretically be altered. 
Posted by AdzPearson

@vidiot: I wouldn't be surprised if it is down to Square-Enix. While they haven't upset me enough to boycott them, they have done some pretty disappointing things in recent times. But that's a different story...

If you think about it, online download stores may be the perfect test bed for new RPG franchises (not just old ones). They'd save a lot of money, I'm sure (hence less risk). I'll be curious to see if anyone goes down that road in the future. It's been already been done across other genres, so I hope JRPGs join the fray.

Posted by Jay444111

@AdzPearson said:

@vidiot: I wouldn't be surprised if it is down to Square-Enix. While they haven't upset me enough to boycott them, they have done some pretty disappointing things in recent times. But that's a different story...

If you think about it, online download stores may be the perfect test bed for new RPG franchises (not just old ones). They'd save a lot of money, I'm sure (hence less risk). I'll be curious to see if anyone goes down that road in the future. It's been already been done across other genres, so I hope JRPGs join the fray.

The only thing that Square has dissapointed me with is the fact that all their damn KH games are on completely different consoles all the damn time!

KH1, PS2

KH COM, gameboy advance. (of which I still own but still can't beat Marluxia... fuck that guy!)

KH2, PS2.

KH BBS, PSP.

KH, 300whatever the hell days. DS (Horrid name for a video game IMO.)

KH Recom PS2 (FAR better than the gameboy one.)

KH Recoded. DS (NO ONE CARES ABOUT THIS ONE!!!!!)

KHDDD, 3DS.

Square. Stop making me buy ever single handheld all the fucking time!!!!! I already own just a DS lite, stop trying to force me to buy game systems I don't want dammit!!!!

Posted by starleafgirl

@The_Laughing_Man: @The_Laughing_Man said:

Breath of fire 3 is awesome. Do they sell it for Vita (or PSP) In the states.

It's only for the PSP in Europe! ...which is why I ordered it from a guy in the UK on eBay today. :D I had soo much fun playing that game!

Anyway, great blog entry, AdzPearson. :)

"But, most importantly, it made me think 'Wait...there must be more games like this...' (the 7 may have been a giveaway)."

Hahahaha. So true. XD

Edited by Donkeycow

@Nottle said:

@Donkeycow said:

I can't get into JRPG's, the aesthetics just put me right off.

Not even something that isn't spikey hair teenager? Like Earthbound or Darksouls? Or even a Tactics ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics?

For the most part no. Not really sure why, however there is one exception to that rule. I'm a pretty big fan of the aesthetic of Ogre Battle 64, Tactics Ogre, Fire Emblem etc etc. That particular medieval fantasy look i can get behind and wish more games utilized it rather then the weird sci-fi fantasy hybrid that appears to dominate the genre.

Posted by AdzPearson

@Jay444111: Yeah, it sucks when franchises get spread across multiple platforms (especially when you have no intention of owning them). That said, no matter how much I like a game series, I always make sure there are enough other games I want to play on the same platform. I've never bought a platform for one game.

@starleafgirl: Thanks. :D Talking of imports, I took the plunge and bought Radiant Historia yesterday. I have high hopes for it.

Posted by AdzPearson

@Donkeycow: Well, Koudelka and Shadow Hearts are set in the late 19th and early 20th century and mainly have a horror setting to them. They're a little bit different from the more mainstream RPGs. I'd say Shadow Hearts is worth checking out, at least.

Posted by Nottle

@Donkeycow said:

@Nottle said:

@Donkeycow said:

I can't get into JRPG's, the aesthetics just put me right off.

Not even something that isn't spikey hair teenager? Like Earthbound or Darksouls? Or even a Tactics ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics?

For the most part no. Not really sure why, however there is one exception to that rule. I'm a pretty big fan of the aesthetic of Ogre Battle 64, Tactics Ogre, Fire Emblem etc etc. That particular medieval fantasy look i can get behind and wish more games utilized it rather then the weird sci-fi fantasy hybrid that appears to dominate the genre.

Yeah, characters in those games are designed with a simplicity that is not found in most other JRPG's which is why it is refreshing. Thats why I like the characters in Earthbound and the Persona games, for the most part they are dress like real people and the developers at least try to ground their worlds in some sort of modern reality... well half of the time.

Posted by starleafgirl

@AdzPearson: Yay, hope you have fun with it. ^^ Side Note: I HAVE bought a platform for only one game... thrice... XD A Gameboy Advance SP for Phantasy Star Collection, a Nintendo DS for Final Fantasy XII: Revanent Wings and a PSP for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Of course, since then, I've played a lot of other good-to-great JRPGs on all three platforms. ;D It's harder to consider picking up one of the home consoles for just one game, considering the setup and space that goes into it... a handheld is just plug-and-play! And it's small, to boot.

Posted by AdzPearson

@starleafgirl: Yeah, all three of those are good platforms for RPGs. The PSP library isn't as good as it probably should have been, but there are one or two RPGs I want to pick up for it at some point. Same goes for the DS. I prefer playing games on a console when I can, but I'm not averse to playing them on handhelds. That said, I'm going to need some convincing before I get a 3DS or Vita.