By dankempster 18 Comments
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.
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.
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.
Currently playing - Dead Space (X360)