Friday, 25 December 2015

My Five Favourite Games I Played in 2015!

Somehow, I managed to play next to no new JRPG releases this year. In some ways, I regret missing new games such as Tales of Zestiria and Sword Art Online: Lost Song. On the other hand, I caught up on some classic games, along with others I'd been curious about (I'm looking at you, Conception II). With this in mind, my list of favourite games this year includes the favourites of what I played this year, regardless of release year. I love these games all for very different reasons and each minute playing them is a fond memory from this year.

With this in mind, I hope you enjoy this list and Merry Christmas dear readers!


5. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax (PS3 and Xbox 360)


Persona 4 Arena was fun, but Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's character roster and streamlined story make for a polished and fun experience that made it fly right into being one of my favourite fighting games ever. I never fully the finished story mode of this game (I want to finish Persona 3 before going deeper into it's part of the story), but it was my go to game to play with friends and my boyfriend after a long day of work. With plenty of modes to play, there will always be many reasons to come back to this game.

It's not a JRPG, but fans of either Persona 3 or 4 and fighting games are highly likely to enjoy the game because of the new chapter of the story and the return of many important characters from Persona 4.




Persona 4 Dancing All Night is the Persona spin off that shouldn't have worked, but it excels as a rhythm game and has a pretty nice story too. I didn't want to wait for the localisation, so I bought the Japanese version so I'm not as well versed with the story as I'd like to be, however Kanami and Nanako made an adorable duo and the rhythm game portion had me tapping and pushing buttons to trump all my high scores over and over again. I'm excited to put this game in my Vita and try platinum it sometime (91% so far!) and the soundtrack was great enough to make me buy it as a standalone after I'd finished playing it.

I love rhythm games anyway, so this game was easy for me to digest but if you have any love for Persona 4's soundtrack, this game is a must try and as probably the last spin-off of Persona 4 since Persona 5 is coming, it's a fun end to a great series.


3. Danganronpa 1 + 2 (PS Vita and PSP)


As a huge fan of deep, JRPG stories, Danganronpa's complex story was more than enough to satisfy me in it's visual novel form. Both the first and second games are full of intricate mysteries, colourful characters and enough game mechanics to make it satisfying for fans of both visual novels and exciting storytelling. Not only does it have a great story, the class trials feel incredibly satisfying with the variety of game mechanics incorporated, making it more than just a visual novel. As a series I had never delved into, Danganronpa has become one of my all time favourites very quickly and I'm very excited for the third installment to hopefully come out next year.

Fans of the mystery aspect of Persona and Phoenix Wright should find many reasons to love this game and I honestly can't recommend it's story enough.


I really want to play all the old Final Fantasy games, especially since I started my journey into Final Fantasy from X meaning that I missed out on the classic Final Fantasy games before it. I began my journey backwards into the series from IX and it was well worth it to find this gem of a Final Fantasy game.

What it lacks in modern day graphics is made up for by a solid story, fun battles, cool equipment mechanics, side quests and beautiful music. The story's strong characters are just as interesting without voice acting - it's hard not to fall in love with characters like Vivi, Zidane, Garnet and even Steiner!

If you missed this one and you're a fan of long, old style JRPGs, go back and play this game because good golly it's worth it!





Final Fantasy Record Keeper has a special place in my heart this year. Record Keeper came out when I was very, very tight on money after moving and became my addition very quickly because it's free. There's in-game purchase options of course, but it's extremely easy to enjoy the game without spending a cent, like I did for months. Basically a JRPG without the story, Record Keeper's equipment system, perfectly timed new/weekly dungeons and level challenges keep me on the game on the go and in my house. It manages to be both very involved because of it's many systems (and they're only adding more) but also easy enough to pull away and jump back in later. It has a decent nostalgia factor, thanks to the game being filled with the best boss fights, characters and music from the main Final Fantasy series. There's many reasons to love this game if you're a Final Fantasy fan and if you don't have time to play or money to purchase a long JRPG, this is one of the best substitutes out there.

I stopped playing this game only because after four months of playing, it inspired me to go back and try the older Final Fantasy games. It's my top game of the year (although I love the other games on an extremely close level) thanks to it's additive and fun nature, it inspiring me to finally (no pun intended) play older Final Fantasy games again and it being the only mobile game that has ever inspired me enough to put down my consoles for awhile. It doesn't replace a full length JRPG, but it's extremely satisfying on the go!

You can pick up Final Fantasy Record Keeper from the App Store for iPhone users or the Google Play store for Android people!
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What were your five favourite games of the year? Leave a comment below or send @JRPGJungle a tweet and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Some of the Best JRPG Trailers of 2015

In honour of the fact I got a PS4 two years ago with Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 in mind, I put together this list of great trailers from this year. I'm always truly happy for the developers to take the time they need to make great games, however I'm also crossing my fingers that they will be released next year, because they all look really good so I want to play them. Enjoy and let me know your favourites of this years trailers in the comments!

Final Fantasy XV

Although Final Fantasy XV was not released this year, many trailers were released for both the gameplay and story portions of the game. I'm very excited for the open looking world, epic looking battles and that end-of-day cooking activity.

Kingdom Hearts 3

The non-release of Kingdom Hearts 3 was no surprise, as Square Enix has been very ambiguous about any release date for Kingdom Hearts 3. But this year's E3 trailer was worth getting hyped for, thanks to the smooth, beautiful and fun looking as the trailer. If the game is even close to how fun the trailer looks, I'm completely on board for whenever it's finally released.



Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Final Chapter Prologue

Kicking Kingdom Hearts 3 out of being the first Kingdom Hearts game on PS4, 2.8 was announced for 2016. With Kingdom Hearts 3 being dateless, I'm assuming this will probably be the first Kingdom Hearts game we see in 2016.

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 will feature two previous Kingdom Hearts games, Dream Drop Distance and Back Cover x. The game will also feature Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage, a new part of Kingdom Heart's story told by the character Aqua and set right after Dream Drop Distance. Since I haven't played Dream Drop Distance, I'm very excited to finally play the game and look forward to it hitting PS4 next year.



Persona 5

As an avid Persona fan, I was a little bummed (although not surprised) that Persona 5 got delayed until next year. However, they released this really cool trailer with the news of the delay, so I didn't know whether or not to be mad. With the trailer looking this good, the delay is probably for the best and I can't wait to play what I'm sure will be another top quality Persona game.



You can pre-order Persona 5 (PS3, PS4) from Play-Asia.com!

Gravity Rush 2

After years of people hoping, the news of Gravity Rush (or Daze, depending where you are) 2 was very exciting and a little unexpected. The world in the trailer looks stunning and it looks like Raven may have a more prominent role along side the game's star Kat as well judging by all of the advertising so far.


Danganronpa v3

Although it is a visual novel and not a JRPG, Danganronpa's story is deep enough to satisfy many fans of Japanese games, including myself, so I'm chucking it in here as 'related gaming'. The most recent trailer for Danganronpa 3 generously reveals three characters, but is still keeping a lot of the details of the story hidden. Interestingly though, this will be the first Danganronpa game involving students outside of Hope's Peak Academy, so I'm very interested to see how they will tie in with the story so far.


Ni no Kuni II

In another unexpected PSX announcement, Ni No Kuni II was revealed and it looks incredibly beautiful (as to be expected from Level 5). I'd like to also thank this trailer for reminding me I need to play the first one....hopefully I'll do this sometime next year.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

After years and years of people begging for a remake, Square Enix granted many wishes with the announcement of Final Fantasy VII Remake coming to PS4. Although there was a little controversy recently with the announcement that it will be released in episodes, the plus side is that we'll only get to see the game sooner if they release it in small portions. If waiting for the Remake is difficult, they also just ported the original game to PS4.


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Which game are you most excited for? Did I miss any important ones? When do you think these games will be released?
Leave a comment below and let's talk!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Friday, 11 December 2015

2015 New Years Resolutions Revisited! Success or Failure?

Generally, people have trouble keeping New Years Resolutions, myself very much included. However I had never tried doing Gaming New Years Resolutions, so last year I wrote a post containing five New Years Resolutions for my gaming life. It's not totally the end of 2015, but it's close enough to know results and to start thinking of a game plan for next year's. Here's a progress report on the progress and failures of last year's gaming resolutions.

1. Platinum Final Fantasy X HD



Result: Not Platinumed

Looking at my gaming habits of last year, this was a pretty ambitious one. With a very full backlog and no guarantee of a working TV after moving my life to a new place, I didn't really have a method for this one. By the time everything was set up, I really just wanted to play games I hadn't experienced before.

However, after a very delayed start, I am playing Final Fantasy X HD again on my Vita and I'm loving it. I bought it in an attempt to consume more Japanese media and to get the platinum and it's been a great solution for when I need a change of pace from any game I'm playing. I've set aside a little time each weekend to work on platinuming games and replaying old favourites, so I'm confident I will platinum it sooner rather than later. I will be sure to report back when I do!

2. Play a native Japanese RPG from start to finish.


Result: Very close to finishing this one. Likely to achieve this before the year ends!

I was super excited and confident in this goal, despite my Japanese level at the time. Once I arrived in Japan, I realised a lot about Japanese - mostly that I didn't know as much as I thought. So along with being overwhelmed with the language being all around me, when I began trying to play Ciel no Surge, the amount of words I didn't know was overwhelming enough for it to only last a month in my Vita.

Instead of totally giving up, I switched my 'game' plan and started playing less story orientated Japanese games, like Hatsune Miku Project Diva and Persona 4 Dancing All Night. Not only was this fun, I got a lot more comfortable with not understanding things, which I think is essential for playing Japanese games when you're starting out.

For my Platinum goal, I needed to play a FFX HD again which was fine. But playing in Japanese would mean I could grind both resolutions and hear the infamous 'hahaha' scene in Japanese. The experience has been really enjoyable thus far (I'm almost at the Calm Lands FYI) and if you're okay with not understanding everything, I definitely recommend trying games in another language. It's a very cool way to experience games again or ones not available in your region and with some patience, you can find ways to get around things you don't understand.

3. Chip away at my backlog



Result: Nailed it!

This is one of the best things I've ever done for my gaming life. It's funny how gaming libraries pile up - we buy games because they seem cool and then get distracted by another 'cooler' game and then have a pile of unplayed cool games. I definitely still have plenty of games in my backlog and probably added many more. But I also have a new found love of the Danganronpa series, an appreciation of Final Fantasy IX and closure for Conception II that I wouldn't trade the time back for.

I recommend doing this to every gamer. Your new favourite series may be waiting for you!

4. Play more PS4 Games



Result: Yes and No.

This was kind of difficult, especially when this goal directly contradicted with getting through my backlog. While PS4 games like Sword Art Online: Lost Song and Tales of Zestiria definitely tickle my fancy, the Australian PSN store prices always kept me away, because I would be like 'I could pay $100 for a new game...or I could play through the great games I already own'. Persona 5 was meant to be my ticket to PS4 heaven, but that got delayed until next year so there weren't many JRPGs to keep me to it. Not only that, but the TV that came with my new place had no HDMI, so I had to save some money to buy a monitor to even play my PS4 at all. Things were looking pretty grim for my PS4 life....until I renewed my PS Plus subscription.

The PS4 Instant Game Collection is kind of a goldmine, especially if you've had it since the PS4 was released. I was pleasantly surprised when I continued my subscription after missing a month or so to see all of my previous games from PS Plus still waiting for me. This allowed me to continue playing games like Resogun that I loved at release. My boyfriend and I also love having random Rocket League matches nowadays and I'm looking forward to diving into Fallout 4 more. Things are definitely looking up in PS4 land right now, so I hope to play more next year (however I probably won't make a resolution about it this time).

Hindsight note: If games you like are on an older console, it's totally okay. I don't feel bad for unplugging my PS4 to play Persona 3 on PS3 anymore, which is the opposite to the resolution but that's okay. I love my PS4. I love my PS3. Other consoles are cool too. I'll play whatever has the coolest games at the time because both are great.

5. Buy a 3DS XL



Result: Technically a failure, but I'm getting it as a gift for Christmas.

I've had many opportunities to buy a 3DS this year. There are many new and pre-owned ones around for decent prices, but I never felt the need to buy it because I have so many games in my PlayStation backlog. But, when my boyfriend asked if I still wanted it for Christmas this year, it was an easy yes. Although it's a terrible decision for my backlog, I really want to play some modern Pokemon, Yo-Kai Watch, Persona Q and Phoenix Wright. My love for PlayStation is pretty real, but I'm also excited to branch out into the world of Nintendo.
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Looking back on my gaming life this year, I really put a priority on balancing playing new games and getting through my backlog. I didn't play a large amount of games right on release this year but I still had plenty of fun exploring series that were new to me, like Danganronpa (which has become a big new favourite in my collection). I'm excited to try make a gaming plan for the new year again, perhaps with less contradicting goals this time. It was a lot of fun and I think even though I failed a few of these, the small changes made to my gaming life have all been for the better.
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Did you make any gaming related New Years Resolutions this year or last year? How did you go?
Leave a comment below and let's talk!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Friday, 4 December 2015

Review: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair (PS Vita)

When the first game in a series is incredible, it sets very high expectations for the next one. Thankfully, Danganronpa 2 takes all expectations brought from it's predecessor and hits them with the hard-hitting visual novel mystery that it does best, with added new features partnered with the best ones from the first one. Delivering the epic battle between hope and despair back once again with just as many passionate and colourful characters as last time, Danganronpa 2 is definitely special in it's own right and is worthy of being part 2 of Danganronpa's thrilling mystery.

Giving a new layer to the classic 'stranded on an island' dilemma, 16 students of Hope's Peak Academy find themselves trapped on Jabberwock Island alone with a strange magical rabbit. To begin their school trip gone wrong, the rabbit insists that they must travel the island to collect the Hope Fragments and become friends with one another...that is until Danganronpa's original evil bear Monokuma arrives and takes over, turning it into a tropical killing trip where the students are expected to kill one someone without getting caught. If successful, they can 'graduate', have their classmates punished (killed) and leave the island. If unsuccessful, the killer (known as the blackened) is punished and the rest of the class stays on the island.


The story runs over six twist-filled chapters, all compelling enough to have me glued to my PS Vita for about a week straight. The new cast is just as funny and zany as the last, to be expected when the talented cast of characters includes such titles as the Ultimate Team Manager, the Ultimate Yakuza and even the Ultimate Gamer. The characters aren't just amusing though, they're all complex personalities with different backgrounds, therefore reacting in very different ways. Throw in Monokuma and Monomi and you have a cast that perfectly compliments the deep, but cheeky storytelling of the Danganronpa series.

The consistent flow established in the first game continues in Danganronpa 2. Each chapter is divided into two parts, Daily Life and Deadly Life. During Daily Life, the story progresses and you are also given a chance to collect Hope Fragments with your fellow students. Once the story progresses to a climax (when a character has been killed), Deadly Life begins and it's time to Investigate and do a Class Trial to choose who is the blackened. Making friends with characters during Daily Life is encouraged to add more depth to the story, although it can be bittersweet, as you never know if they might be killed by the time it hits Deadly Life.


During the Class Trial, the group discusses at length the murder case in an attempt to weed out the blackened. The protagonist must use his Truth Bullets - facts uncovered during the Investigation - to shoot down or support his classmate's arguments. Supporting character arguments during the Non-Stop Debates hasn't been the only thing added to the Class Trial, in fact for better or worse the whole experience has undergone a revamp, along with some new additions. My favourite new additions were Logic Dive, a cool snowboarding mini-game that utilities ramps as choices when thinking out an argument, and Spot Selection, a simple new feature which presents a photo and you must choose the area being discussed or that is a contradiction.

On the other hand, the revamped Hangman's Gambit seemed much more complicated than it's original form and Rebuttal Showdown was cool, although my Vita sometimes couldn't handle some of the button mashing required of it. Initially when playing, I found the sheer amount of mechanics needed for the Class Trial overwhelming, but the way they are used add for a nice variation during the trial. Another small, but nice addition is that each trial is split into two parts, meaning it's possible to save partway through, which is appreciated when the length of each Class Trial is considered.


Outside of the main story is enough content to put most DLC to shame. There's Island Mode, an item collection cross social/dating game much like the original Danganronpa's School Mode, Magical Miracle Girl Monomi, a mini-battle game where you can fight small island enemies and Monobeasts, a digital novel called Danganronpa IF covering an alternative story line to the first game, unlockable art and movies and even your own Tamagochi like pet to raise during and after the main story is over. I was overjoyed when these features where unlocked at the end of Chapter 6, as the game had not only left me wanting more, but had willingly given me it. There's also a Japanese voiceover option and in-story collectibles that are also an excuse to playthrough the thrilling story a second time, making Danganronpa 2 highly re-playable even after the 40 hour story.

If you loved the first game, Danganronpa 2 does nothing but add to the thrilling story and world from the first game. With many more activities and a gripping story that ties in perfectly to the first one, Dangranronpa 2's mystery kept me coming back for more - and then kept giving me more. If more thrills, chills and kills is what you're looking for in a story, letting yourself become absorbed by Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair's many mysteries is completely worth it.

Score: 9.7/10
A gripping tale and new game mechanics and modes make this game beary, beary good.


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Did you play Danganronpa 2? Are you itching for V3 as much as I am?
Leave a comment below and let's talk!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Review: Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core - A Fan Novelization by TeamWingless


Final Fantasy VII is deep in the hearts of many gamers. For a lot of gamers, it's something that marked an important period of video game stories and visuals, making people demand a remake for a long time. If you've owned a PSP or were a fan of the series, you also probably know of (and have maybe even played) Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which acts as the highly regarded prequel to the beloved Final Fantasy VII game.

My many articles about various Final Fantasy games show that my love for the series, although unlike most fans, my experience with VII is kind of low. Crisis Core was the game that got me back into portable gaming, which involved me being convinced into borrowing my friend's PSP to play half of it because as a Final Fantasy fan, he thought I needed to play it. Playing Final Fantasy VII has been on my gaming 'to play' list (and in my Steam library) for a long time, although I have seen the movie, albeit a long time ago. With these facts, it seems unlikely that I would review a fan novelization of a Final Fantasy VII game. However, as a fan of Final Fantasy, reading and the promise of an alternative ending that possibly wouldn't the real ending, when I was asked if I wanted to review Team Wingless' novelization of the game, I decided it could be an interesting ride.

Team Wingless' Crisis Core novel delves deeper into the story of the Crisis Core game than I remember. The novel's version of the story was inspired by the writer's feelings towards the PSP game's ending, but it takes on more than just the ending. The story adds depth to many of the characters and adds emotional details that weren't explored. Although the story follows it's source material, the new layer of exploration and character developed allowed in the novel world gives the story a new depth. Partnered with the polished writing, the novel reminded me of other game's novelizations that I read and really took the original story to a new place.

Like the game, the story revolves predominately around the game's protagonist, Zack Fair. Well known by his mentor Angeal and his teammates at SOLDIER to be as enthusiastic as a small puppy, his main goal is to become a hero. He begins at SOLDIER as a 2nd Class SOLDIER, but his goal is always to get to the top, like a hero. The story doesn't just cover his journey to reach his goals though, as Zack's journey is littered with hardships, romance and moments that will force him to grow, as both a SOLDIER and as a person.

The universe of the Crisis Core novel is as players of the game would remembered: it's based around the same area and universe, with locations and certain key story events being easily recognizable. The world, however, feels different thanks to the effort put into fleshing out each character's perception of all parts of the story - of relationships, of locations, of SOLDIER, everything. The story's world just feels deeper now that gameplay time has been replaced with character and world developing moments. These include priceless moments of Zack interacting with his teammates, getting to know important characters like Angeal and Sephiroth more deeply through private conversations and getting to know Aerith on a much more personal level.


On the topic of the story's deep characterizations and additional story elements, because there is more time to develop side characters and romances, I was surprised by the changes to some characters. On one hand, there is Zack who is portrayed very much as boy his age and the fun personality that is shown in the game is explored much further, but he still feels like the Zack I played as in the game.

On the other hand, I didn't expect myself to feel a dislike towards certain important characters in the story, including Aerith. Her innocence and gentle personality initially was what I perceived her as from the game, however the way her character evolves seems to be a little more selfish, unable to understand Zack's position and job properly for some reason. This is coming from someone who hasn't played Final Fantasy VII but I was definitely surprised at quite a few of her reactions to Zack's life and decisions and because this side of her was shown more, I couldn't understand her, let alone Zack's feelings of unconditional love towards her at times. In contrast to this, characters that were more faithfully followed like Angeal and even Sephiroth helped heighten the story's important points and reading about Zack's feelings towards them as his superiors were some of the emotional highlights of the story.

One of the things the writer of the story excels at is giving great descriptions of feelings, action scenes and subtle character traits. The reason the world feels so deep is the way the weight of each Zack's emotion is portrayed. For Zack in particular, we feel the weight of his joys, of his heartbreak and of his loss through his emotively written internal monologues, which makes it easy to follow his development as a character and the decisions affecting the world around him. In the game, his feeling's were mostly displayed in dialogue or visuals, but in the fan-novel, feeling his heartbreak colours the world with his thoughts and emotions, adding to the rich feeling of the story's world.

A small thing that did sometimes take me out of my immersion in the world's feelings and developments however, was the decision to include of real world media and brand. This included the mention of Zack enjoying bands and mentioning songs, brands and music from the real world. While such a small thing like this doesn't affect my overall opinion of the story, after all the great world building made by the story's internal monologues and time spent on fleshing out events, the mention of things from outside of the world of Final Fantasy VII was sometimes guilty of taking me out of the story. It's a small thing, but I felt it affect me in multiple chapters.


Above all an enjoyable read, Team Wingless' novel's take on Crisis Core is as much as it's own story as it is faithful to the original PSP game. The exploration of the close relationships between characters heightens each of the moments players will remembers and adds an interested take on the world with it's additional moments. While this novel works very well as a novel, Team Wingless' fanfiction.net profile suggests interest in turning this into an RPGmaker style game. I definitely support this idea, as if done well the world building events partnered with gameplay elements would make for a strong, story driven experience. But for now, for those who's interest was taken by the idea of an alternative and deep version of the Crisis Core universe, I recommend giving it a try.

Score: 7.8/10
A nicely written new take on the original Crisis Core game. The time the novel spends growing the world and the characters is definitely well spent and benefits the depth of the story. (Even if I didn't agree with all of the character developments.)

You can read the first two chapters of Team Wingless' Final Fantasy 7 Crisis Core: The Novel at the Team Wingless website or the full version at fanfiction.net.

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Are you interested in revisiting the Crisis Core world?
Leave it in the comments below and start a discussion!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Note: In the interest of transparency, this novel was asked to be reviewed. However, all thoughts and views expressed here are entirely my own and not influenced by the creators or any other outside parties or incentives. Honesty all the way!
Photo note: all photos are not my own in this post! They are sourced from the wikia page for Final Fantasy VII Crisis Core and are art or screenshots from or based around the original Square Enix game.

Friday, 13 November 2015

JRPG Appreciation Post: Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid


Revisiting old games definitely has it's perks. Not only do you get that cool, video game nostalgia feeling, but you also get to remember why you loved that game in the first place. There are always things that stand out as what we appreciated most about the game and revisiting them can almost feel like being with an old friend again. For me, as I take myself on another Platinum trophy journey, Final Fantasy X HD is being that game for me once again.

Final Fantasy X was a notable change in Final Fantasy's direction, with areas and visuals being beautifully upgraded when compared to it's predecessors and voice acting being added for the first time. I loved the game's story, but with this game being my first 'big kid' JRPG (when compared to something like Pokemon that I played as a kid), the Sphere Grid system was a breath of fresh air from the grind and level up formula I was so used to. Many years and many JPRGs later, I know it's not the only skill tree type leveling system around, but these are a few reasons why it remains one of my favourite leveling mechanics of all time.

It's Linear, Yet You Have Control

For the most part, once the sphere grid is completed, you'll end up with the same stat increases across all your characters, just at a different pace due to the different starting points of the sphere grid. But even though you're bound to the same skills and stats, you do have control over the order you get them. Thanks to Level spheres, you can break the locks that make the standard sphere grid so linear as soon as you get one. This allows you to turn Auron into a mage for awhile or make Yuna a combat beast early on in the game and can make for a very different gameplay experience to the easy path set out. This welcome choice makes leveling much more interesting and creates an importance in choosing the right stats for the right point in the game. I usually find myself following the main path (the one not closed off by locks), but I love that point after finishing the main story of breaking into another characters grid and sharing their abilities with another character.

It's Huge and The Whole Process Is Kinda Intricate

With all the level blocks, ability and character placements around the board, completing the Sphere Grid isn't a small feat. And beyond that, limit break (that awesome ability that allows you to deal over 9999 damage) isn't even on the board, adding an important extra step! Even if you goal isn't to complete the Sphere Grid, the sheer size of the sphere grid is just enough to show the amount of stats on the board and it's long journey encourages much grinding and strategy to get as much EXP as possible and as many sphere levels as possible. Then there's going back and filling in the empty nodes with even more stats by using Teleport spheres!


Even Though It Takes Forever, It's Still Fun To Watch The Characters Progress

Each unlocked node or stat shows you exactly what has been upgraded to your character. I love unlocking a stat and noticing the effect immediately in battle. A little bit of extra strength can go a long way, as can an ability or a little HP. Other game's leveling mechanics just show you a quick summary of your characters improves but in the sphere grid, because you unlock it yourself, you're way more involved and it's awesome.
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Feel like a trip down memory lane but in beautiful HD? You can buy Final Fantasy X HD from Play-Asia.com!

What's your favourite JRPG levelling system? Leave it in the comments below, I may just play with it!
Did you this type of post? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter and I'll do more of them!
Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Note: This article does contain an affiliate links to Play-Asia to help support this site. You can read our Affiliate Link Policy here.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Six JRPGs With Great Music (Volume One!)

JRPGs have unique gameplay, brilliant stories and lovable characters. Most of them also have music that brings these experiences to new heights in the form of catchy emotive tunes and pumping battle melodies. Some of the best, most unique pieces of music can be found in JRPGs and luckily there are many games full of them. Here are six of my current favourite JRPG tracks from JRPGs full of great music.

Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star

I love the music in the 'nosurge' games. The interesting mix of melodic and tribal vocal styles against a complimentary mix of orchestra and electronic sounds is like nothing I've ever heard before. One of the best parts of Ar nosurge's soundtrack is that each track is significant to the game's story because the game revolves around the power of Song Magic, making music and singing a big part of Ar nosurge's story.

There are so many tracks I could have put here (special shoutout to the beautiful Russian vocal track 'em-pyei-n vari-fen jang;'), but the soundtrack's standout track has to be CLASS::Exsphere nosurge. It's featured in multiple important parts of the story as powerful song magic and there's enough variation in the tune to notice something different every listen. I love the experimental feel and use of white noise to show the feeling of the song's user and the track's many changes make it sound like an epic, destructive journey. Honestly one of my favourite video game tracks ever.

CLASS::Exsphere nosurge - Composed by Morrigan


Kingdom Hearts

All of the Kingdom Hearts games have brilliant soundtracks, with a perfect a mix of songs from famous Disney franchises and new original songs that capture the magic of Disney while creating the right mood for Kingdom Hearts' story. The soundtrack creates a great feeling of nostalgia mixed with playfulness and also throws in a pumping battle theme.

Out of all of the versions of this song (including Utada Hikaru's original version, the dance remix and the orchestra version above), the orchestra theme to Kingdom Hearts' trailer is my favourite. Whereas the Ar nosurge track perfectly fit it's scene, Hikari is a reflection of Kingdom Hearts' journey - gentle and sweet at times, but strong and powerful, with a hint of magic. This song is brought to life by the incredible orchestra and is one of my favourite video game themes of all time.

Hikari - Composed by Yoko Shimomura (based off Utada Hikaru's song for the game)



Persona 4 Golden

Spanning many genres and moods, Persona 4 Golden expands upon an already great soundtrack for Persona 4. Each track is filled with emotions that reflect the characters feelings, which is fitting for the rich story and characters. Most songs are fun and upbeat, mixing jazz and rock sounds with beautiful melodic themes, and give the game a youthful feeling. With all the fun tracks, it's no wonder the series now has it's own rhythm game.

-Reincarnation- I'll Face Myself features some of the best music from Persona 4 Golden, specifically the battle themes mixed with some of the more emotive themes. The opening melody gave me chills the first time I heard it and the scene it's featured in feels 100% more epic, thanks to the feeling of nostalgia created by using many tracks from the game and the pumping, rock orchestra.

I'll Face Myself (-Battle-) - Composed by Shoji Meguro



Final Fantasy X

Nobuo Uematsu, the mastermind behind most Final Fantasy soundtracks, created a diverse soundtrack for Final Fantasy X. With his unique melodies, the mood of Final Fantasy is set with a mix of ambient, melodic music and heavy rock tracks (such as the awesome 'Otherworld'). The soundtrack's music also plays a big part in the games famous scenes. I hear 'Suteki da ne' in my head everytime I see a photo of the famous Tidus and Yuna scene and the below, slightly gloomy track To Zanarkand is a great opening theme to the game that captures the story's theme of longing.

To Zanarkand - Composed by Nobuo Uematsu

Child of Light

As French singer/songwriter Coeur de Pirate's first video game composition, her piano based tracks and beautiful melodies are a perfect match with the feeling of the magical, unique world of Child of Light. Feeling of loneliness and strength are heightened with each track thanks to the unique melodies.

Boss Battle Theme 2 (great name) is a great example of the strong orchestra pieces in the game. Coeur de Pirate steps outside her signature lighter piano sound and adds a booming orchestra to heighten the tensity of the battle. When I was playing Child of Light and this track came on, I felt like I was concurring the world in the most epic way possible.

Boss Battle Theme 2 (With Chorus) - Composed by Coeur de Pirate


Disgaea 5

LieZe Rock - Tenpei Sato

Spoiler alert - I haven't played Disgaea 5 past the first cutscene in the demo. I put this track here mostly as a reminder to myself. Whenever I'm visiting my family, my brother is playing really cool video game music most of the time and he's a big Disgaea fan. Everytime I hear the epic-to-a-ridiculous-extent music, it reminds me that I want to play the game, if not for it's crazy opera rock, theatrical sounds.


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Credit/shoutout to the composers of these tracks and the people who uploaded them to Youtube!

I love finding new music (and games of course), so comment below with some of your favourite music pieces from the JRPGs above or your own favourites!
Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Friday, 30 October 2015

A Few Tips For Common Import Game Hurdles (for non-Japanese speakers and Japanese Learners)


Have you ever wanted a game so bad that you decided that you were okay with sitting through a language you didn't fully understand? Chances are you have if you're reading this article. It's a perfectly acceptable train of thought - localisation takes time for a majority of Japanese games, which can leave fans waiting for months or even years for some releases to hit their side of the world. It's frustrating, which is why importing can be an attractive option to some players, especially fans of genres such JRPGs and Japanese games.

Thanks to the language barrier, import games can be a daunting experience for some. After going through the trouble to find out if your foreign game of choice will work on your console or not, you also need to be able to worry about playing and understanding the game. Speaking from a JRPG and Japanese game perspective, if Japanese isn't your first language or you haven't been studying it for a long time, this is obviously difficult. Some people become motivated to learn entire languages for this purpose, while others just want to play the damn game. While there isn't a simple solution to getting past the language barrier in imported games (other than just waiting for the localisation or taking hours and hours to learn a new language), there are helpful apps to at least pull the text from the game and get a digital translation or other methods to help general understanding. While these methods aren't perfect, I use some of these to try learn new Japanese words and to make things a little easier during the tougher parts of playing import games and am sharing them in the hopes of helping others on their import game journey.

Note: I own an iPhone, so the apps mentioned here are mostly for iPhone. However, these apps may be available for Android. I may update this article to reflect this soon, but for now, please be aware when reading!

Story/Text Problems

Problem: I want to use Google Translate or something, but I can't type in Japanese + typing Japanese I've only just seen for the first time is time consuming and pretty difficult.

Solution: A photo translation app, like 'Translate Photo'.

For a long time, my biggest problem with playing import games was even if I wanted to use a translation site, typing in the Japanese was way too time consuming, which is not good if you only have a limited amount of game time every week. I remembered someone mentioning using a photo translation app to translate signs while traveling and I figured there should be an app like this for Japanese. Luckily in our lovely modern age of cool apps, there was.

I tried a free trial version for an app called 'Translate Photo' (the paid version has a red icon and the trial has a blue icon) and quickly ended up buying the full version. Translate Photo allows you to take a photo of anything or use a photo saved on your phone and as long as the photo is clear, it can usually accurately pull the text from the image into a copy and paste-able form. Using this app, you can take a photo of the screen (or send a screenshot to your phone, but that takes longer) and select the text you want to translate, crop and edit the image (which can be helpful if the text is a different colour or smaller) and let the app do the rest. This version of the text allows you to either look up the words in the dictionary, use the in app translator (which seems to work like Google Translate) or copy it into another translator to get something that's at least close to the meaning.

Problem: Translated text is kinda weird. Is there anyway I can get a more natural translation?

Solution: A Japanese dictionary that can give definitions for a bunch of typed text or copied text, such as 'Imiwa'.

If you can't find a fan translation, but the digital translation isn't perfect (which is likely), you can try working out the meaning from the context of the words, using a Japanese dictionary. I highly recommend the free Imiwa app for iPhone - it can detect words from a bunch of text, meaning you can just read the definitions and go from there. An added bonus for Japanese learners is you can favourite the words you don't know so you can add them to your vocabulary. It's so great, I don't understand why it's free.

Using Imiwa and looking up the words is my preferred method when playing games, even if it involves a little more brain work. Other than wanting to learn Japanese, I find once I scroll through the words, I can make sense of the text in a way it makes sense to me rather than becoming confused by a digital translation. However, while less natural sounding, a digital translation is the easier of the two methods as it tries to also translate grammar.

Note: Apparently JSho is a good alternative for Andriod users!

Playing the Game

Problem: Working out the story is good and all, but working out the mechanics of the game is hard without instructions.

Solution: Try a walkthrough.

Especially if your game is one that is a few years old, there's a surprising number of walkthroughs available for Japanese games. A simple Google search of the game you want to buy/already own will show this. This is especially good if you're considering buying an import game - you can gauge how easy the game will be to play just by using walkthroughs and Youtube 'Let's Play' videos.

Gameplay and Story: Alternatively, Wing It

Once I accepted the fact I wouldn't understand everything, Japanese games became instantly more fun. If you're trying to learn Japanese or you're a JRPG story junkie (I'm both), it can be tempting to pick apart every line, every word and every grammar point. However, this just isn't realistic if you actually want to play a game, not study I game. I found this gave me way too much 'stop and start' to actually enjoy the game and it took quite a long time just to get through initial cutscenes.

Nowadays, I try to only look up the sentences that really stump me or that seem important to understanding the plot. You can pick up a lot from context and cutscenes and thankfully the great button mashing method can help one learn the mechanics of a game. I think it's good to use a combination of all of these methods, but remembering that unless you're a native Japanese speaker or a master of the language, understanding everything probably isn't realistic. It's a game you probably picked because it looked fun, so just have fun!

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None of these tips are perfect or a one size fits all method and this certainly isn't a comprehensive list as I'm only just finding my feet in the unlocalised game world myself. I hope this helps you guys get through your imported games, let me know what you're playing or recommend playing in the comments below!

You can buy import games online at sites such as Play-Asia.com.

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Note: This article does contain an affiliate links to Play-Asia to help support this site. You can read our Affiliate Link Policy here.
Note 2: Even though this article mentions some specific apps, this article is not at all sponsored or officially associated with the apps mentioned. I just use them regularly :)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Figure Review: Marie from Persona 4 Golden Sega PM Figure


I have an addiction - Persona 4 character figures. They're so colourful and loveable in the games that whenever I see them (especially at a good price), I can't stop myself from buying them. During a recent visit to a pre-owned figure store, I was about to leave the store empty handed when I saw this figure of the adorable tsundere Marie for $20, boxed and all (which can be rare when shopping at pre-owned stores).

The Marie figure I purchased happens to be a 'prize' figure. Upon doing some research on the 'myfigurecollection.net' forums, I found that prize figures are different to scale figures. To put it simply, they're a style of figure made more cheaply than scale figures and are sometimes known to be of a lower quality. While I can maybe notice my Marie figure is shinier than my other very 'matte finished' figures and some of her accessories feel a little cheap, I'm happy to say that I love looking at my Marie figure just as much as my other figures and that's really what matters.

Chillin'
Marie is featured wearing her signature outfit from Persona 4 Golden, complete with her bag and her hat as removable accessories. Each piece is shaped to sit on it's intended area - the hat can be sat on Marie's head and the bottom of her bag is perfectly flattened in order to sit on top of the mini TVs included for her to be perched upon. A small complaint I have is that Marie's hat is a little difficult to put on and is guaranteed to come off when I move it - there's no proper way to secure it onto her head and balancing it can sometimes be difficult. Apart from that, I love how accurate her outfit is and am very impressed with small details (such as her belt buckle) that I had long forgotten about until inspecting this figure.


Complimenting her look and personality is her pose. On the box, she is sitting in a relaxed fashion on top of one of the two included TVs. Her body parts are not movable, but you can pose her with or without the TVs. The bigger TV is actually slightly molded and indented to perfectly fit her backside so she can sit easily, and the smaller TV sits just under one of her feet. Thanks to this pose and the smaller TV, she is well supported and easy to pose and turn after moving her. The additional display without the TVs is possible thanks to her flattened behind area to help her sit comfortably on the TVs and lean her on bench tops or against other items to have a perched cutely on a shelf or leaning back slightly on a bench.


Quality-wise, Marie is at an average level. The figure itself is visually very good, especially an average distance. Close-up though, there are a few paint smudges here and there and a tiny chip on the bottom of the back of her vest. As I mentioned, the figure was bought pre-owned so I'm not sure if these slight differences were there before her first owner had her, but I've never really noticed these kinds of things on any of my other figures. Also, the TVs Marie sits on feel like cheap plastic and are noticeably shiny. Even if this is intentional, the TVs feel incredibly light, almost hollow in fact. This does have it's benefits though, as as a lighter figure does equal lower shipping costs, but I was a little surprised. However when you factor in the price of Marie, this is probably the type of quality I would expect for price and for the low price, these things are definitely forgivable as she looks nice enough.


She may not be the most perfect or most expensive figure, but considering the cost she's pretty great. Despite some very minor chips and paint smudges, I totally appreciate the attention to detail in Marie's features and the cute customization options, thanks to the included accessories and posing options. From far away, Marie stands out against other figures thanks to her clothes and her pose that completely reflects her attitude and all the flaws I mentioned definitely aren't noticeable unless you have a very good eye. If you're a fan of the Persona 4 characters and Marie, until there's a higher grade option, this PM Figure is a fine addition to anyone's P4G character collection.

Score: 7.3/10
Not perfect, but still very cute, and totally worth the cost.

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Do you dig this figure or will you buy another Persona 4 character instead? Comment below and let us know!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Friday, 16 October 2015

PS Plus Review (A JRPG Fan's Perspective)


Over my adult life, I've found that I seem to gravitate towards PlayStation products. This is probably because I grew up with a PlayStation in my house and my friends owned a N64, which I was pretty jealous about until I fell in love with classics like Spyro, Tomba and Crash, which then evolved into Final Fantasy, Digimon and Kingdom Hearts as I grew older, all of which I still love now. It was because of the PS Vita (that some have lovingly dubbed the 'JRPG Machine') I discovered many great JRPGs, such as Persona, Gravity Rush and Danganronpa and because of this love of my Vita and wanting to use my PS4 more, I gave into purchasing a PS Plus subscription because of the allure of six games being adding into my game collection every month.

For most PlayStation fans, the PS Plus experience is almost a no brainer because of the six free games a month but if you're a JRPG fan like myself, other aspects of the subscription may seem more attractive because they include JRPGs. Here's a breakdown on my own thoughts as a JRPG fan on PS Plus into this review to help you decide if you really need it or not. Enjoy!

(Note: I use the European/Australian PSN, so if any of the facts, figures or features listed in this article are incorrect in your region, that is why!)

Instant Game Collection

To most gamers, the biggest incentive of PS Plus is the Instant Game Collection, which provides subscribers with six games a month, at no extra cost until the end of the subscription. This feature has the potential to be a major hit to some or an unfortunate miss to others as most of the games are either older triple A games or new indie games.

If you're someone who is 'JRPGS ONLY' in your approach to gaming, the Instant Game Collection may not appeal very much to you. The only JRPG I remember receiving from PS Plus is Muramasa Rebirth for PS Vita (which I still, unfortunately, haven't played past the tutorial). Looking back at the last six months of PS Plus, there haven't been any JRPGs featured on PS Plus, making it hard to see much incentive if you don't spend a lot of time with other game genres.

On the other hand, if you enjoy spending most of your gaming money on JRPGs, the lack of JRPGs can have it's benefits, if you like Western games too. If you're like me and like spending your money on JRPGs and other Japanese games and merch, the instant game collection gives me access to games like Transistor and Rogue Legacy that I otherwise would not have checked out for a long time because I would rather spend my money on JRPGs. It's thanks to PlayStation Plus that I've head the chance to try critically acclaimed Western games while still building my JRPG backlog.

Exclusive Discounts

The exclusive discounts are where it's at for me when it comes to PlayStation Plus. The PlayStation Network already has amazingly good discounts, but it's thanks to PS Plus' extra discounts on top that I've tried many games I otherwise would have thought are too expensive.

Take this month's October sale as an example*. A game I'm interested in for PS4 is Natural Docturine. This month's PSN sale is up to 50% off, but PS Plus offers 70%. Not to get too mathsy, but for a game that was originally $77.95, then $38.98 without PS Plus, with PS Plus I save an extra $15 which is both an awesome saving and also enough to buy a cheaper game on top. Of course, I haven't kept track of the savings I've made from PS Plus, but I am happy with how many games I've been able to buy, even on months when I've had little spending money and I credit most of this to the PSN and PlayStation Plus.

*Note: Example used is based on the European/Australian PSN store, using Australian Dollars.

Online Storage

PS Plus provides 1GB of space for each PlayStation device you own (for PS4, PS3 and PS Vita only. Sorry old mate PSP <3). This has been super convenient at times, if you own a PS Vita with a 4GB memory card like myself - it saves me from having to use my PS3 to back everything up if I'm feeling lazy.

It's also very good backup from a JRPG/general RPG perspective for any games you've spent 100s of hours playing and completing. It's nice knowing that my Platinum Trophy save files for games like Persona 4 Golden and Danganronpa are backed up on both my PS3 and the cloud (even if I'll probably never use them). Even if my PS3 dies (please don't), I have piece of mind thanks to this feature and can keep my saves.

Exclusive Early Access and Demos

Occasionally, PlayStation Plus will give players the change to try exclusive demos, betas and if developers are feeling really nice, sometimes whole games.

During my time as a subscriber, none of this has ever been that JRPG related, but I'm not one to complain about more free things to try. It may not be a standout feature for now for JRPG fans (I'd honestly for the most part forgotten about it), but is a great feature when it features a game you're interested in.

PS4 Online Multiplayer Features

Online multiplayer on PS4 is locked unless you have PS Plus, which isn't a big deal to me as JRPGs are generally single player-based games.

If you enjoy other Japanese games like fighting games or occasionally play Western games like Destiny, you may be interested in this feature. I don't use it often as I usually prefer to play single player games and haven't really dived into PS4 land enough to have even found any JRPGs that can use this (while writing this article though, I did find that Natural Docturine does use this feature). Maybe in future this will be a more important feature, but for now it's not a feature I utilise much and will be more important to other people.

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Ultimately, you may not find the same value as other gamers do in the monthly free games, but features like the exclusive discounts cam save lots of money and the cloud service works across all my devices, which gives me piece of mind for my platinum saves. As with anything, your enjoyment of this subscription service will depend on your gaming preferences, but as a person who probably plays 75% Japanese games and JRPGs and 25% other games, I find value in the free games because I never feel like I'm missing out on other games while I purchase the games that I'm drawn to. Having features like Online Multiplayer and Exclusive Access might not be features I've used much now, but they add to an already good value subscription service. If you buy games from PSN regularly and predominately use PlayStation consoles to play your JRPGs, Playstation Plus is great way to make sure you can always save during sale time and enjoy a bunch of other bonus features.

If you're interested in PlayStation Plus, you can purchase a subscription from your local PlayStation Network Store.
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Leave your opinion on PlayStation Plus in the comments below!

Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Note: Not sponsored, just love my PS Plus.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Some Screenshots Showing Why Conception II is Awkwardly Hilarious


Last year, I purchased Conception II after picking up the free demo cause I enjoyed the dungeon crawling and the characters seemed like they could be interesting. While I will be writing a full review soon (35+ hours in and I've still got over four dungeons to conquer), I wanted to touch on how awkward and hilarious this game can be, because over the past 35 hours, I can safely say it's been one of the stranger games I've played (which, let's be real here, is saying a lot in the JRPG genre). As this is my first proper dating sim, some of the overtly flirtatious and creepy dialogue caught me off guard and has mad me laugh just as many times as it's made me cringe. Using screenshots to preview some of these, here is a summary of some of the awkward moments you can expect to find if you play Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.

Note: some minor spoilers are ahead, so proceed at your own risk!

The Girls are 'Unintentionally' Inappropriate

In Conception II, there are seven different girls to choose from, all with different personalities and different looks to provide variety for the player's preferences. What they all share though is the ability to randomly sprout surprisingly innuendo-filled or completely straight forward lines without even intending to, because dating sims.

....a logical conclusion after someone says "I want to get to know you.", Torri.
Does anyone even say 'in the buff' anymore?
Okay, that one was completely intentional.

Admittedly, this probably wasn't her fault, but this was so anime I had to include it.
Chlotz, in general

Chlotz (a character I actually enjoy) is the definition of hormone-filed teenager. He is never subtle and often just creepy, although for the most part manages to pull this off in an endearing, weird friend kind of way.

Narrowing things down in a dating sim.
A reply to the protagonist going to photography club.
The thing I appreciate most is Chlotz's trademark grin when he says most of these things.
Classmating and It's Brother, Classmanting

Now I have absolutely nothing against same-sex relationships, but Classmanting is the worst part of the game. None of the guys seem like they want to do it, rumours get spread about them and it's all round only for the benefit of science and for Ruby to get totally weird.

#chlotzgrin
Initially, I shamelessly chuckled at this
....Until this happened
The adults are pretty crazy too

Most of the adults in the game do seem like they're just trying to do things for science and for the better of the universe...usually. Other times they remember they're in a dating sim and say really strange things to high school students.

Could be said about most of the game really
Who let this guy run the church?!

Mattero is the church's priest, who serves no purpose as a character for the most part other than to be a helpful NPC or a total creep.

This was one of the first dialogues in the demo. Pretty much if you survive/continue after reading this line, you're ready to play Conception II
No hate, just amusement Conception II. Pure amusement.

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If you want more strange dating sim amusement, you can purchase Conception II for 3DS and PS Vita from Play-Asia.com now.

Leave your favourite awkward Conception II moment below!
Thanks for stopping by and make sure to follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter for updates on content and random, shorter musings on JRPG news and games!

Note: This article does contain an affiliate links to Play-Asia to help support this site. You can read our Affiliate Link Policy here.