I've Got Those JRPG Blues

Suspension of disbelief is when a game convinces you that Cecil isn't a stupid name
It's been a long time since I got wrapped up in a JRPG. I've grown up being a huge fan of the genre, playing through instalments from well known franchises like Pokémon, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts and getting a great deal of enjoyment out of them. In fact, up until about a year ago JRPGs were responsible for pretty much all the defining moments in my gaming history. Hell, Final Fantasy VII was the game that converted me from being a casual player of games into a bona fide gamer. As somebody who likes to get lost in a deep story, I can honestly say that no genre of game offers opportunities for this more abundantly than the JRPG. Despite the major influence that the genre has had on me, though, I've found that their hold on me has been waning over the past year or so. The last JRPG I played through was Final Fantasy IV, way back in April last year. Since then, JRPGs seem to have been slowly sliding out of my interests. I've been trying to stave off this feeling, but without much success so far.

This is much more exciting than fighting from the back row!
It would seem that a new kind of fire now burns within my gaming soul, yearning for action in the form of games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Half-Life 2 and, most recently, Dead Space. While I played these kinds of games years ago, they seem to have become much more prevalent in my tastes recently, at the expense of my interest in JRPGs. They offer a much tighter and more exhilirating gaming experience than the methodical, plodding pace of your average JRPG, and in recent years they've starting telling more interesting stories as well. Furthermore, I've discovered the joys of open-world action RPGs like Oblivion and Fallout 3. While these games don't weave stories with the quite the same power or finesse as, say, Final Fantasy X, they offer the player complete freedom to explore the gameworld. Nothing is linear in these games, which actively encourage exploration right from the off, even if it does come at the expense of the plot.

Blue Dragon's lacklustre characterisation was a major disappointment
God knows I've tried to get back into the JRPG state of mind, but every game I pick up seems to fall drastically short of my expectations. Since finishing with Final Fantasy IV I've started up games on Final Fantasy V, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Xenosaga Episode II, Blue Dragon and Infinite Undiscovery. I gave all of them fair chances, playing each for at least five hours, and none of them have grabbed me in the way I had hoped them to. The game that's come closest to recapturing that spark is Valkyrie Profile 2. The game boasts a very interesting story and a sweet combar system, but the difficulty level is far too steep for a re-entry into the genre. After all, it's difficult to get immersed when you're seeing a Game Over screen every twenty minutes. Blue Dragon was a huge disappointment, too. Although I loved the old-school approach to the combat, I found myself getting frustrated with the poor quality of the storytelling. Every time something seemingly significant happened, Shu and his pals just shrugged it off. I'm fine with not getting an explanation, but given the ordeals these kids experience, you'd at least expect them to want some kind of clarification as to what the hell is going on. All the others just seem too bland and middle-of-the-road for me to get lost in.

Could Lost Odyssey be the solution?
Maybe I'm just waiting for the right game to come along. A JRPG that will reignite my love of the genre and remind me just how well they can spin an epic story - another Final Fantasy VII, if you will. There are a few contenders, I'll admit. One such game was Chrono Trigger, which I bought for my DS a few months back. I started playing it and was really getting engrossed, until I was burgled and my DS was stolen, along with the Chrono Trigger cartridge in the handheld's game slot. With that no longer an option, I could turn my attention to Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King, which I've heard nothing but great things about. Or, I could finally give in to temptation and break open the copy of Lost Odyssey that's been sitting on my shelf unplayd for about eight months now. Maybe instead of searching for something new I just need to go back to my roots, grab my copy of Final Fantasy VII and re-play the game that started this obsession. I don't know. Ultimately, all I want is a game with an interesting story and characters, and a solid combat system with a fair bit of depth. Something that can remind me why I fell in love with JRPGs in the first place. Because I don't want to lose sight of the games that made me the gamer I am today.

Thanks for reading, guys. If any of you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them. In the meantime, see you around.


DanK

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Currently playing - Dead Space (X360)

17 Comments
18 Comments
Posted by dankempster
Suspension of disbelief is when a game convinces you that Cecil isn't a stupid name
It's been a long time since I got wrapped up in a JRPG. I've grown up being a huge fan of the genre, playing through instalments from well known franchises like Pokémon, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts and getting a great deal of enjoyment out of them. In fact, up until about a year ago JRPGs were responsible for pretty much all the defining moments in my gaming history. Hell, Final Fantasy VII was the game that converted me from being a casual player of games into a bona fide gamer. As somebody who likes to get lost in a deep story, I can honestly say that no genre of game offers opportunities for this more abundantly than the JRPG. Despite the major influence that the genre has had on me, though, I've found that their hold on me has been waning over the past year or so. The last JRPG I played through was Final Fantasy IV, way back in April last year. Since then, JRPGs seem to have been slowly sliding out of my interests. I've been trying to stave off this feeling, but without much success so far.

This is much more exciting than fighting from the back row!
It would seem that a new kind of fire now burns within my gaming soul, yearning for action in the form of games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Half-Life 2 and, most recently, Dead Space. While I played these kinds of games years ago, they seem to have become much more prevalent in my tastes recently, at the expense of my interest in JRPGs. They offer a much tighter and more exhilirating gaming experience than the methodical, plodding pace of your average JRPG, and in recent years they've starting telling more interesting stories as well. Furthermore, I've discovered the joys of open-world action RPGs like Oblivion and Fallout 3. While these games don't weave stories with the quite the same power or finesse as, say, Final Fantasy X, they offer the player complete freedom to explore the gameworld. Nothing is linear in these games, which actively encourage exploration right from the off, even if it does come at the expense of the plot.

Blue Dragon's lacklustre characterisation was a major disappointment
God knows I've tried to get back into the JRPG state of mind, but every game I pick up seems to fall drastically short of my expectations. Since finishing with Final Fantasy IV I've started up games on Final Fantasy V, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria, Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Xenosaga Episode II, Blue Dragon and Infinite Undiscovery. I gave all of them fair chances, playing each for at least five hours, and none of them have grabbed me in the way I had hoped them to. The game that's come closest to recapturing that spark is Valkyrie Profile 2. The game boasts a very interesting story and a sweet combar system, but the difficulty level is far too steep for a re-entry into the genre. After all, it's difficult to get immersed when you're seeing a Game Over screen every twenty minutes. Blue Dragon was a huge disappointment, too. Although I loved the old-school approach to the combat, I found myself getting frustrated with the poor quality of the storytelling. Every time something seemingly significant happened, Shu and his pals just shrugged it off. I'm fine with not getting an explanation, but given the ordeals these kids experience, you'd at least expect them to want some kind of clarification as to what the hell is going on. All the others just seem too bland and middle-of-the-road for me to get lost in.

Could Lost Odyssey be the solution?
Maybe I'm just waiting for the right game to come along. A JRPG that will reignite my love of the genre and remind me just how well they can spin an epic story - another Final Fantasy VII, if you will. There are a few contenders, I'll admit. One such game was Chrono Trigger, which I bought for my DS a few months back. I started playing it and was really getting engrossed, until I was burgled and my DS was stolen, along with the Chrono Trigger cartridge in the handheld's game slot. With that no longer an option, I could turn my attention to Dragon Quest VIII: The Journey of the Cursed King, which I've heard nothing but great things about. Or, I could finally give in to temptation and break open the copy of Lost Odyssey that's been sitting on my shelf unplayd for about eight months now. Maybe instead of searching for something new I just need to go back to my roots, grab my copy of Final Fantasy VII and re-play the game that started this obsession. I don't know. Ultimately, all I want is a game with an interesting story and characters, and a solid combat system with a fair bit of depth. Something that can remind me why I fell in love with JRPGs in the first place. Because I don't want to lose sight of the games that made me the gamer I am today.

Thanks for reading, guys. If any of you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them. In the meantime, see you around.


DanK

---

Currently playing - Dead Space (X360)

Posted by theMcNasty

Holy crap, a formatted post!

*shields eyes from pure awesome*

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Persona 3 & 4 are some interesting takes on the genre. I'm currently playing through P3, and P4 looks awesome as well, judging by the Endurance Run.

Posted by Hausdog

Kingdom Hearts isn't a JRPG. Nice blog, though.

Posted by VWGTI

Dude, awesome blog!

I've had the JRPG blues for years now. I just can't seem to find a newer title that grabs ahold of me like JRPG's did in the 90's. I think the last JRPG I really felt engrossed in was FFX, which had awesome characters, an interesting story, and a fun and unique combat system (doing 99,999 damage per hit by the end of the game was really kick ass).

It sucks to hear that Chrono Trigger AND your DS got stolen from you. I just started playing Chrono Trigger again on the DS last week and everything is as amazing as I remember it being back in the day. I was going to recommend picking up Final Fantasy IV but without a DS that might prove to be a bit of a problem. Modern JRPG's don't really hold a candle to it.

I guess the obvious recommendation would be Persona 4. It's different and kinda neat, but I can't promise you that you'll enjoy the combat. It's pretty underwhelming and menu navigation is sometimes clunky. I don't have a 360 but I would assume Lost Odyssey is a safe bet. I've heard nothing but good things about it. Let us know what you end up choosing if anything at all.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Expecting other JRPGs to be of Final Fantasy quality is where your mistake is. They aren't going to be. Perhaps FF was a fluke?  Also, Lost Odyssey was the same way & you haven't even taken it out of the box yet?  I'd like to ask how you expect us to help you when you can't even help yourself?  The games are there on your shelf or in your lap. Play them!  Put forth more than 5 hours. Try two weeks per game, or at least 40 hours. Sometimes it takes awhile for you to get hooked into these kinds of games.

I've never played a JRPG in my life. However, I have bought a bunch of them & still haven't had a chance to play them. I currently own: Lost Odyssey, The Last Remnant, Infinite Undiscovery. I also own Culdcept Saga.  Strangely, I've not had a chance to play any of these games! 

I've been blinded by the giant, 800 lb gorillas that are Fallout 3 & GTA IV & Left 4 Dead.  I did try Lost Odyssey & some of the storyline at the start was a bit weepy & I really didn't want a game that was going to force depression.  One day, when I get through the giant-games, I will hopefully get a break to where I can try the JRPGs.  I'll probably get Star Ocean as well once the price goes down. I wanted to give the JRPGs a chance.  So far, the games feel a bit weird to me, but perhaps that is just Lost Odyssey & not the others.  It can be difficult to push a new IP especially if it turns out to be kind of bland.

Posted by Disgaeamad

DanK, you're missing out if you don't delve deeper into FFV. Sure, the plot isn't much to talk about, but the awesome characters, customisation and adventure will definitely appeal to you.

Posted by Eelcire

I'd definitely try out Lost Odyssey, as for me that was the next 'Final Fantasy' after X. Classic turn-based combat, interesting characters, and a decent story (Thousand Years of Dreams short stories are worth the price of admission alone). You have the game sitting on your shelf, play it!

Also, Final Fantasy IV for the DS :)

Posted by eroticfishcake

I gotta relate to you since the past few years for me have been pretty dull in terms of JRPGs, so I  ended up playing other games a lot more instead of sharing my time through all the genres. JRPGS havn't really been that great for me recently, I mean there are some great games but they don't really give me the thrill or sensation that I would've got from playing FF7 or Chrono Trigger. I've discovered the Disgaea series and I played Persona 3 and 4 a few months ago though which I thought were brilliant and they got me back into the genre.

Posted by Meowayne

Lost Odyssey is definatly the spiritual successor to Final Fantasy X.

Very weak in the storytelling department (apart from the dreams who just kick as in craft & presentation), but it plays and feels like a PSX JRPG 100%.

Posted by FluxWaveZ

I feel like I need to play a JRPG these days.  I think the last one I played was Pokemon Diamond (if The World Ends With You doesn't count).  I've not played many games in this genre and I've been searching for one for my Xbox 360 lately (it's the only console I own).  I really want to play a turn-based RPG.  Trying to decide on which one to buy is kinda hard, I've narrowed it down to either Lost Odyssey or Blue Dragon but I'm still not certain...  And there are some others like Tales of Vesperia or Star Ocean that I'm keeping in mind too (it's just because I really want it turn-based/menu-based.  I don't feel like moving around.). 

Posted by Gizmo

Never played a JRPG, never want to.

Posted by Red

Persona 4, Golden Sun or The World Ends With You.


Your mind will explode, you will cry, and you will love them. Also, if you're lookin' for some Turn Based Strategy, pick up Shadow Dragon; Fire Emblem's still pretty awesome.
Posted by Under_Influenz

There was a period of about 2 years when i stopped playing JRPGS as well. Recently I started Persona 3 and got really into it. I have Lost Odyssey waiting after i'm done with P3. Hopefully FFXIII will be out by the time I beat LO. So it seems like i'm back in JRPG mode. 

Posted by Optiow

There was a while when I stopped playing them as well, but thank god I play them now, I love FF.

Posted by addictedtopinescent

Awesome blog, I also want to play me some JRPG's

Posted by Plasma

Persona 3:FES, although it is pretty JRPG-ish

Edited by Al3xand3r

Wait for Crystal Bearers. Square's most refreshing game in quite some time. Hopefully.