Thursday 29 December 2016

JRPG Jungle's 5 Favourite JRPGs of 2016

My favourite games this year were surprisingly easy to choose. While there were a lot of good games I played in 2016, after many months have passed there are five games that stand out as truly great JRPGs to me. There are games I would've loved to include on this list that were supposed to come out  in 2016 (Hi Persona 5!), but there were some major delays in 2016 that mean certain games will hopefully make the list next year. Regardless, I had a lot of fun gaming experiences in 2016 and this list represents the best parts of my JRPG year.

In order to keep things fair and to show why I included certain games, here are some rules I gave myself when making this list:
  • The game must be a full game or at least a full experience (no demos or DLC, but finished mobile games that get updated are okay)
  • Since this list is based on what I've played, JRPGs from any year can be included as long as I played it in 2016
  • Games from previous year's lists cannot be included unless they were remade or remastered.
So without further ado, here are my top 5 favourite games I played (in order) in 2016!

Last year in a move that was a little odd to me, I made Final Fantasy Record Keeper my favourite game of 2015. I thought it would be something I would play for a really long time, until I played Final Fantasy Brave Exvius. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius features a similar character collection system like Record Keeper, but also adds its own story and mechanics that are much closer to the ones on console Final Fantasy games. The main thing I thought Record Keeper was missing was a decent story and playing purpose, and Brave Exvius fixes that for me with gameplay that is genuinely better, incorporating the Espers, spells and classes that Final Fantasy is known for. While I don't have so much smartphone gaming time these days, I still enjoy opening up Brave Exvius when I can and hanging out with the charming characters and exploring my way through the fascinating pocket-sized world.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is available for free on iOS and Android.


X-Tactics is my favourite smartphone JRPG of 2016, which is kind of amazing to me since two of my favourite series released multiple mobile games this year. Since being heavily updated and improved throughout the year, X-Tactics has become my go-to tactical JRPG experience for on the go because of its smooth, quick battles and unique characters that are free from many common tropes seen in Japanese games. There are extra missions to find based on your location, regular updates and an incredibly fun touch mechanism that make executing attacks kind of addictive. With its quick and quirky story and gameplay style, everything about X-Tactics works perfectly for a light mobile experience and for a quick tactical fix. It's the first thing I open up if I have time to play a mobile game and with my trusty Kuu by my side, I'm sure I'll be having mobile tactical fun well into the New Year!

X-Tactics is available for free on iOS and Android.

I played this back in March and I still regularly think about picking up Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth to catch and digivolve more Digimon because it was so much fun. There are so many reasons to love Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth - the dialogue is hilarious, the evolution mechanics were really smart and all the characters are highly entertaining, along with the Digimon collection itch leftover from my childhood Digimon World days finally being attended to. I became heavily invested in its digital world throughout my 50+ hours game and I look forward to platinuming this one day because it’s a world I don’t want to leave alone.


2. Final Fantasy XV (PS4, Xbox One)
Ever since Final Fantasy XV was announced for this year, I truly hoped it would be good enough to be one of my favourite games of this year and I’m so glad it was. The best way I can describe my love of Final Fantasy XV at this point is that its the open-world Final Fantasy x Skyrim I always dreamed of. It’s the big wide world I love from Final Fantasy XIV combined with the usual Final Fantasy story I like, complete with more side quests than I ever expected and a group of four guys that I feel surprisingly connected to all packaged in a fun road trip. I’m having so much fun exploring the wide world of Eos and I hope it keeps giving me great surprises as I continue playing.


What a great surprise World of Final Fantasy was to me. Originally described as an experience for a younger audience, World of Final Fantasy brings back the charming characters from old Final Fantasy games and the tried and true turn-based battle system Final Fantasy does best with a monster hunting twist that can appeal to fans of old and new. And somehow World of Final Fantasy feels like the best monster hunting game I played all year, taking advantage of all the wonderful creatures in the Final Fantasy universe by making them capturable. On top of being the best monster hunter I've played this year, it's also my favourite JRPG of this year. I’m in love with the skill tree upgrading and transfiguration systems for upgrading my mirages, I've had new favourite moments with some of my favourite Final Fantasy characters such as Tidus, Yuna and Vivi, and I found myself moved to laughter and tears thanks to the well-written story on multiple occasions. It’s an absolutely wonderful game that I hope Square Enix turns into a series of its own, with Lann and Reynn being my new favourite twin protagonist duo and the world of Grimoire being one filled with magic that I wished would never finish.

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What were your 5 favourite JRPGs of 2016? What did you play in 2016?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

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Thursday 22 December 2016

The Results of My 2016 Gaming New Year Resolutions - Success or Failure?

There's a special feeling that comes with making New Year's Resolutions. The main reason I like them is because it's promising yourself you'll be better next year, which can't be anything but positive even if the resolution isn't always kept. The Gaming Resolutions I made at the beginning of this year were in the back of my mind all year and somewhat guided my gaming choices in 2016. But with only so much gaming time in my life thanks to working full time, my successes and failures with these Resolutions mostly came down to what I was most excited to play. While my overall success with these resolutions may be questionable, the ones I did the best with did had a positive effect on my gaming life and that's all I can really ask for. Here are the results, successes and failures of my 2016 Gaming Resolutions, hope you enjoy!

1. Play (and finish) a Pokemon game

Result: Played a bit of Diamond and the Sun and Moon demo. Didn't finish one.

Having just gotten a 3DS when I wrote my gaming resolutions last year, I definitely had some 3DS fever influencing my Resolutions and forgot about the fact that I'm invested in so many PlayStation series having almost exclusively played PlayStation games since I was a kid. I did however try my best to play Pokemon Diamond in Japanese without a dictionary and while it was pretty fun, I kept getting lost in a town and not playing for a bit and well, I haven’t touched it in months.

I played the Pokemon Sun and Moon demo in English and enjoyed it quite a bit, but with World of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy XV out around the same time as Sun and Moon, there wasn’t much chance of me committing to buying the game. So while I did play some Pokemon games this year, I’d say I didn’t play as much as I intended to when I bought my 3DS. I’d like to play more Pokemon sometime, but perhaps when there are less exciting games that I'm invested in just released.

2. Branch out to some different series

Result: Successful!

While I didn’t play Atelier or a main series Hyperdimension Neptunia game like I intended to, I can happily say I did try a bunch more series this year. I tried Indie JRPGs for the first time, such as the very fun X-Tactics and the intriguing Legrand Legacy and Light Fairytale, and I also tried other notable JRPG series such as Fire Emblem, Lost Dimension and Sorcery Saga that all left good impressions on me. I still have a big list of JRPGs I’d like to play still, such as the Disgaea series and Atelier, so I look forward to getting to them eventually.

3. Play some 3DS-only titles

Result: Played Fire Emblem Awakening and not much else

I had really good intentions with this goal. I've been really excited for some 3DS titles that I thought I'd never play such as Fire Emblem and Bravely Default and when I finally got my 3DS, I thought I'd play them all immediately. I got really good at diving into my backlog in 2015 and I kept getting into my backlog this year, which counter-productively is mostly PlayStation games. I did however finally play Fire Emblem: Awakening and it was one of the most fun games I played this year. I hope to play more next year but I don't know if I'll make any promises this time.

4. Play the Tomba! series
Result: Itch not scratched

I'll keep this brief since Tomba is pretty much not a JRPG - I didn't play Tomba and I don't know when I will. I would love to sit down and replay games such as Tomba, Spyro and Sonic from my childhood sometime, but I'm so focused on catching up on the JRPGs I haven't played that I don't know when I will. Maybe I'll play them in Japanese for study sometime, but it's unfortunately not high on my priority list at this point.

5. Play another classic Final Fantasy game
Result: Should’ve done this...didn't though

I played every new mobile Final Fantasy game, saw Kingsglaive twice in cinemas and am currently playing two console Final Fantasy games. Playing a classic Final Fantasy game crossed my mind multiple times but when it did, it was at a point where I felt like something different and since I consumed so many new Final Fantasy things in 2016, I don't think it's strange that I didn't finish this one. I would still like to play my way through the old Final Fantasy games so I'll be keeping Final Fantasy VIII in mind the next time I'm out of new games to play.
I spent most of my gaming year focusing on balancing my favourite franchises with new experiences. Although I only truly completed one out of five of my resolutions, it was a nice change to my gaming life. I'm really certain JRPG series but it's nice to remember there are other great franchises that I may love just as much, if not more than ones I'm familiar with. I'm also very thankful to everyone who recommended games to me in 2016 and in my new (potentially smaller) list of resolutions I hope I can be recommended more great games.
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Did you make any gaming resolutions for this year? How did they go?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

PS. Merry Christmas! <3

Thursday 15 December 2016

First Impressions: Legrand Legacy (PC)

If there's one thing that can be said about Legrand Legacy, it would be that it has incredible potential. Just from watching its trailer, the well-rendered 3D cutscenes set it apart from a lot of Indie projects and show the tremendous game Legrand Legacy could be. I’m happy to say this potential shines through in the demo of Legrand Legacy, which shows off its gameplay, cutscenes and gives a glimpse into the beginning of the protagonist’s journey. Although it's a pre-alpha version, the 2-hour demo is an incredibly enticing look at a clear tribute to JRPGs, complete with likeable characters, a nifty battle system and a punishing final boss that kept me keen, on my feet and ready for more.
Legrand Legacy is set in the unique world of Legrand, filled with thieves, desert sands and demonic creatures. The protagonist Finn awakens with no memory of his past and having to fight for his life in an Arena. Luckily he wins against the odds thanks to a power from within him, which leads to him traveling with a mysterious mage and starting his journey without any memories to guide him. The characters that he meets and that accompany him on his journey come across as likeable, thanks to well-written dialogue that gives each character purpose and personality from the get-go. While the characters are more serious than silly, small bits of humour are inserted here and there that give the experience a nice balance of light and heavy moments. While I liked all of the main cast featured in the demo, I was particularly intrigued by Finn’s trusting nature and softness. I was a little critical about him initially as he goes from being the tough guy in an arena fight to being a really soft-hearted character, but his subtle caring nature is a nice contrast to his strong-willed sub-characters. All of the characters had very different personalities and I found myself intrigued by each of them in different ways.

Complementing the interesting story are the beautiful 3D cutscenes and visual novel scenes that tell it. I don't play many PC games but I can say the graphics, particularly the 3D cutscenes, aren't far off what I'd expect from a console game. The version of Legrand Legacy available on Steam is a pre-alpha build, so outside of the cutscenes the graphics aren't perfect but all graphics look good at worst, with the gorgeous cutscenes feeling like a fresh cherry on top. The game map and landscapes are also nice to look at and the desert world is complemented by good music and sound effects. It's the combination of all of these quality aspects that make Legrand Legacy stand out as an indie experience and while it's not completely the same in smoothness and polish as bigger games, for a pre-alpha experience it's doing a pretty good job.
The combat system in Legrand Legacy is a turn-based one that smartly takes advantage of the system its played on to make it unique. Accompanying the usual spells and physical attacks featured in usual JRPGs is Legrand Legacy’s Action Circle Tempo mechanic, which involves hitting a direction key indicated in a circle at the right time to either get a Perfect, Good or Poor attack. While I’ve seen this kind of mechanic in other games (namely the mobile game X-Tactics and most rhythm games), in Legrand Legacy the mechanic adds a nice bit of flavour to a familiar system.

Adding more uniqueness to making the most of combat are Grimoires, which are basically magic. Magic will be familiar to most JRPG players, but the way Grimoires are gained is what I found most interesting. They're unlocked through earning points in battle and giving them to the appropriate skills. For instance, a powerful water spell may involve raising your strength or intellect stats, and another power skill may need strength and luck raised instead. This creates an interesting choice between making your character the most skilled or most powerful and while I couldn't work out which was the better choice (and my inner completionist picked having all of the skills anyway), it was certainly an interesting choice that I liked having.
My feelings about Legrand Legacy are mostly pretty positive, but one thing I did find questionable at times was its difficulty. While I initially found the random battles difficult until I got the hang of the ACT system, the real thing I found difficult was the final boss. Don’t get me wrong: as a JRPG fan I love a good final boss battle, but this one kinda felt borderline cruel. The group attacks and the amount of damage that boss is capable of is seemingly much higher than any of the random battles prepare you for. I found myself having to go grind and really get the hang of the ACT system in order to have any chance of winning. In saying that, I did feel determined to take on the challenge (and I won!) but other players, particularly of more modern JRPGs, may not be used to this kind of difficulty. Legrand Legacy does describe itself as a tribute to classic JRPGs and this tough fight certainly echoes the tough boss fights of old JRPGs and ultimately I felt a huge amount of satisfaction when I won, so I wasn't that bothered by it in the end.
Legrand Legacy is certainly a modern homage to classic JRPGs, but it’s also much more than that. With a modern aesthetic which will appeal to fans of modern JRPGs, its characters and unique gameplay make Legrand Legacy its own unique experience, I felt a good majority of my JRPG needs satisfied, with the best part being I also wanted more once the demo ended, which is exactly how I want to feel at the end of any demo. I want to get to know Legrand Legacy’s characters more, see where the story goes and most importantly, play more with the fun, timing-based mechanics. Legrand Legacy has the ambition and execution to be a unique addition to the JRPG genre and I hope that with enough support, whether through its crowdfunding endeavour or otherwise, that this is an experience I will get to play more of in the future.

Legrand Legacy is on its final day on Kickstarter! If you like the sound of it, considering helping Semisoft reach its goal of funding Legrand Legacy here!
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Will you try Legrand Legacy? And if you already have, what did you think of it?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Notes: In the interest of transparency, this game was requested consideration, but I can promise this post is 100% honest and written without bias.
Also, digital games are regularly updated and changed. My opinions about this game are based on the condition of the game at the time and with the version I played and may not cover any future important changes to it.

Thursday 8 December 2016

The Ultimate Dilemma: Naming Your JRPG Protagonist

There's a part of JRPGs that is a small struggle and it's not a boss battle. It's a highly personal decision that subconsciously can affect the JRPG story experience considering how often it pops up. The decision I'm talking about it naming the character, whether it be using the name provided, creating a new one or making an all new name to embody your new character. It may seem like a small decision, but this is the character that'll be presented to a new world for potentially hundreds of hours. The right name must be chosen to go alongside a hopefully great gaming experience and although a simple task, there's nothing worse than going through character interactions saying ‘I hate my name.'

What made me think about this was my dictionary playthrough of Persona 5. Since my playthrough is based around story, I absolutely needed the supposed real name of the protagonist to witness the story properly in my eyes. I found myself Googling his name, which was a little strange to me because I’ve done all of the naming methods at some point but I’ve recently found myself looking for the Default button. Perhaps it's because I see games more now as individual stories as I play more, or I've gotten less creative with my naming. What I noticed most is that there was a certain mindset between each way I played. These are some of the mindsets I found myself go through when naming my characters and are what I think are the pros and cons of these methods.

Using Your Own Name
The way I started playing games with a naming feature as a kid was with my own name. Whether I wanted to actually be the person with the sword or not, I gave the character my own name as a way of putting myself into the game. This had mostly good results since a lot nameable of characters are designed with a blank canvas mentality. When a lot of customization is available, it can be a lot of fun to see your own name on the screen. Take Persona 4 Golden for example, the protagonist (known as Yu Narukami to some) has a little bit of his own personality in the game, but has plenty of dialogue choices that make it feel more like you. Being able to choose which girl I wanted to date or the answers to the questions on my school test really made it feel like I was in the drivers. When NPCs would say ‘You’re amazing, Tara!’ I really felt like it was more because of me than because of the protagonist.

A game I love that I don’t think suits the character naming is Final Fantasy, namely Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy X was one of the first JRPGs I fell in love with while playing as Tidus, who I had given my own name. But Tidus makes it clear a number of times in the story that it's his story and because of the story is pretty linear, there are things he did that maybe I wouldn’t have. While it didn’t ruin my playthrough, the whole time I was playing I was very aware that I was a small part of the story compared to Tidus’ choices and always refer to my character as Tidus when I’m talking about Final Fantasy X, whereas when I talk about Persona 4 I find it much easier to talk about decisions as my own. When a game puts you in the drivers seat, using your own name feels great but when it doesn't, it feels a little strange.

Making A New Name
There was a small point in time where I didn't use my name or the default name in JRPGs. I made up a totally separate name, away from any characters I loved or usernames I had. I tended to do this for big, open world games such as Final Fantasy XIV or the Western RPG Skyrim where I really wanted to be apart of the huge fantasy world and using my own name felt too close to reality. I often went with the name Aurora because I thought it sounded cool, but I hit a point where that name felt so established in one world that I felt like I needed a different name for another. I realised how many names I’d have to think of if I kept doing this, so I abandoned this method mostly for that reason. It was a fun idea for big games where my decisions were a large part of the story, but in a regular JRPG I’m happy enough to use my own name or the default instead.

Using the Default Name

My latest method of naming characters is simple: just using the default name. I was pleasantly surprised in a recent Twitter poll I did that a majority of my followers also do the same thing. The creativity of inventing a name can be fun, as can the immersion of using your own, but using the default name definitely has its place, especially if you’re a fan of witnessing a story above all else. I talked about my experience with Final Fantasy X when using my own name and feeling strange, so in my second playthrough of Final Fantasy X I played as 'Tidus' instead. That way, the story felt entirely like his and while I was influencing his decisions, I knew that I was only a part of the story I was watching unfold. This is how I love to play through story-driven games and since a majority of JRPGs are more about experiencing a story than creating my own, I find myself using the default name much more often than not these days.

The most recent time I did this was with my new Persona 5 playthrough that I mentioned, although I’ve done it plenty of times in other JRPGs such as other Final Fantasy games, Conception II and Persona 3 and 4. Frankly nowadays, even if it’s a more customised game experience, I feel more comfortable playing as the default now. I’d miss being able to name my character if the option was gone, but since a lot of games have it, I’m okay with not choosing a more unique name. For me it takes out the careful consideration of creating a new character name while avoiding the decision influence if I’m using my own name. I think all the methods have their own value, but for now like most of my JRPG friends, I’ll be hitting that default button with no regrets.
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How do you name your characters? Is being able to name your character important to you?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Special thanks to those who took part in the Twitter poll!

Thursday 1 December 2016

JRPGs I Played in Fall 2016

Fall marked the release of three long-awaited games: Persona 5 released in Japan and is now my main Japanese study tool, the delightful World of Final Fantasy and the very recently released Final Fantasy XV. Other than having some of my most anticipated games come out, I'm also really pleased with the amount of new JRPG worlds I explored in Fall. I had a silly curry adventure with Sorcery Saga, deferred moves and made relationships in Lost Dimension and tried multiple Indie JRPGs that all were very different. All these games left me with a really optimistic feeling coming into Winter, particularly with the release of Final Fantasy XV. Here's my list of what I played in Fall, feel free to let me know what you played too!

Final Fantasy XV (PS4)
Status: Only a couple of hours in as of writing this. Hoping to sink A LOT of hours into it!

I've barely scratched the stunning surface of Final Fantasy XV, but what I've played was certainly satisfying. I'm amazed by its giant looking world and while I'm a JRPG fan at heart, I love how it's so far a nice combination of the good parts of WRPGs such as choices and open worlds with typical JRPG’s skill trees, stat-building and unique dialogue. I haven't played nearly enough to give a full opinion, but I hope I remain this positive about it throughout my time with.


A Story of the End - Revere (PC Demo)
Status: Finished the demo multiple times

Revere serves as a great indie cherry on top of my Fall gaming season as one of the last games I played this season. It was an enjoyable 45 minute experience that involved talking rabbits and bears, sprites and a surprisingly emotional twist in its story. The version I played had some grammar errors and a lack of tutorials, but the new version on Steam fixes a lot of what I talked about, so I recommend checking it out if you think it looks interesting!


You can try A Story of the End: Revere's demo for free on Steam, for download at Itch.io or Game Jolt.
The full version is scheduled for release in Fall 2017.


World of Final Fantasy (PS Vita)
Status: Playing the absolute honk out of it

If my JRPG Appreciation Post didn’t get this message across, let me say it now: I love World of Final Fantasy. It may even be one of the best games I’ve played all year. It combines so many things I love from Final Fantasy and other JRPGs: monster hunting, interesting evolutions, the Final Fantasy battle system and a quirky story mixed in with many characters I love and many new ones that make me want to get to know more about them and their respective games. I’ve been a fan of plenty of games that combine Final Fantasy characters from various series, whether it be Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius or even Kingdom Hearts, but World of Final Fantasy is pretty much a perfect tribute to the series so far and I really don’t want it to end. Planning to platinum it!


You can pick up World of Final Fantasy for PS4 and PS Vita at Play-Asia.com!*

Pokemon Sun and Moon (3DS Demo)
Status: Finished the demo

While I'm not playing the full version of Pokemon Sun and Moon like most JRPG fans, I did take a peak at the gameplay with the 3DS demo. To my delight, the Japanese demo included the English language version so I was able to play my absolute best. While the demo is played with an OP Pokemon, I enjoyed seeing how far Pokemon had come since the last full Pokemon game I played. The Alola Region looks beautiful and I like the idea of the challenge system rather than versing gym leaders. I'd like to revisit Alola in the full version sometime, but with all these Final Fantasy games to play, I may be a little while.


Light Fairytale (PC Demo)
Status: Finished the demo

I played Light Fairytale thanks to noticing the adorable 3D-sprite character designs when the developer tagged me in a Twitter post. I honestly checked Light Fairytale based on the cuteness of its sprites, but I was pleasantly surprised with an interesting little demo experience. While I haven't finished Final Fantasy VII, I have played Crisis Core and I can say the maps and music of Light Fairytale is reminiscent of Final Fantasy VII in a good way. The demo is pretty short, but it looks like an interesting story and world to run around in and I'll definitely be checking this out when it's released.

You can download a free demo of Light Fairytale at Gamejolt!

Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God (PS Vita)
Status: Finished the main story. Still eating curry multiple times a week.

I downloaded Sorcery Saga a few years ago, played the first dungeon and jumped out because it wasn't what I was used to. I decided to jump back in a month ago as I remembered it's quirky dialogue and after a few heavier games such as Lost Dimension and Fire Emblem: Awakening, I was missing silly JRPG humour. Sorcery Saga couldn't have been a more perfect game for this.

Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is an extremely silly search for curry ingredients in a ruthless roguelike dungeon. As my first roguelike, I had to learn about item management and knowing what fights are worth it or not and had plenty of game overs, yet it was strangely a lot of fun. Now that I've finished it, there are a lot of things I miss about Sorcery Saga. The silly jokes about curry and wannabe heroes gave me a lot to love about Sorcery Saga. In the next quiet gaming point, I’d love to try another silly game like this, whether it’s Neptunia or another series, for some more laughs and good JRPG times. If you know of a good, silly JRPG with interesting gameplay I might like, please comment and let me know!


Dragon's Crown (PS Vita)
Status: Too many boobs?

I really wanted to enjoy Dragon’s Crown. I’d heard so many good things about it, one of my favourite voice actors (Erin Fitzgerald) was in it and although the art style was different to what I was used to, it looked like a deep fantasy experience and I'm always up for trying something different. When I was looking through the character selection screen, I noticed the art style had a lot more….flesh than I was used to, even as a JRPG player. I’m far from a prude, but as I got into the first stop in Dragon’s Crown and noticed the zoomed in cleavage of the NPC, I realised I could not play Dragon’s Crown comfortably in the Starbucks seat I was sitting in. Or the train. Or any public place.

I think most people don’t care what other people do in public, but for me I would rather play this at home without the fear of prying eyes thinking I'm doing something much more inappropriate than playing a video game. Since I’m not the biggest fan of beat-em-up side-scrollers, it’s not high on my priority list after this experience. Let me know your experience with Dragon’s Crown in the comments below and if it's worth playing in the privacy of my home.


Persona 5 (PS3)
Status: Played 40 hours, then started all over again to play slowly with a dictionary to understand the story. Almost at the second save point.

When Persona 5 came out, there was no question: I needed to play it, regardless of my Japanese level. I could sit here talking about how much I love the combat, how I love the delinquent main characters and how I think it somehow improves all the things that were already great in Persona, but the reality is after getting past the first dungeon, I’ve been slugging through with a dictionary and I'm barely through the first month again. Even if it's slow, this is probably one of the most engaging ways for me to improve my Japanese since I want to know every little thing about the story. I know it's gonna take me awhile and I'm okay with that as I'm also excited for the localisation in April. It's definitely a game to be excited for and the language barrier will definitely keep some surprise in store for me in April.



Lost Dimension (PS Vita)
Status: Finished the main story, want to play again for the true ending.

Lost Dimension was a nice way to fill my Final Fantasy XV delay void. I had a lot of fun with its Defer system, the magical gifts and the deeper side of the characters found in the social aspect of the game. The only problem is my experience feels a little incomplete since I didn't get the true ending and I didn't get to know some of my favourite characters (AGITO!) because well, they were pretty much randomly selected to die in my playthrough. I hope to come back to Lost Dimension next time a game delays and truly finish the game. If you want some suspicion mixed in with your JRPG experience, Lost Dimension is pretty interesting!



Mobius Final Fantasy (iOS)
Status: Not playing

I was super excited to try Mobius Final Fantasy, particularly since I was moving apartments as it came out. Only problem is that I didn't like it nearly as much as I expected and now it's just chilling on my phone taking up data because I feel bad deleting it. It's been announced for PC though and I'm keen to give it another try there. I thought it was too complicated and had too many tiny buttons for a smartphone game so I'm hoping it'll be a more comfortable experience so I can try the story out a bit more.


X-Tactics (iOS)
Status: Playing occasionally

I was pleasantly surprised when I booted up X-Tactics last month as it ran so smoothly it almost felt like a new game. The Gamkin team have obviously been working hard since I reviewed it as they've gone well beyond the version number I played during my review (they’re past version 20, I reviewed up to version 4.4) and it really shows. The gameplay has been slightly altered to remove some of the touch mechanics, but it actually makes the experience much faster and smoother. Speaking of speed, X-Tactics is downright zippy in the speed department. I used to try have 10 minutes aside for an X-Tactics game but I can fit an average mission into about 5 minutes now, which makes me really happy when I’m transferring trains. Also, I finally got my beloved Kuu thanks to free X-Coins and he's adorable. I’m really impressed with how far X-Tactics has come and will be sticking around as it continues to improve.

X-Tactics is available for free on iOS and  Android.


Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ (iOS)
Status: Logging in during free AP events, at around quest 120

While I had a lot of fun with Kingdom Hearts Unchained during it’s beginning no-AP campaign, I haven’t felt as compelled as I did with other mobile games to come back to it. I didn't play it much due to the slow moving story, but I did log back in for a few days during one of the recent no-AP events to try get further through the story. While I only get 10-20 quests ahead and didn’t find any significant story, Unchained is still fun, even if it’s a little repetitive.

Check out my review of Kingdom Hearts Unchained X here!
Kingdom Hearts Unchained X is available for free on iOS and Android.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (iOS)
Status: In Lanzelt, slowly getting through the story

Brave Exvius is probably the mobile game I’ve been playing most recently, as its quests are fairly quick and I’ve been playing my Vita at work a lot these days. I had a few good draws from the random unit draw, including a 5-star Lightning but I'm more into the story than collection at the moment. While I’ve been playing extremely slowly, the story has great dialogue and I hope to get through it and I'm glad the charming characters are keeping me interested.

Check out my review of Final Fantasy Brave Exvius here!
Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is available for free on iOS and Android.

Digimon World Next Order (Japanese, PS Vita)
Status: Played an hour or two, not actively playing

When I got Digimon World Next Order, despite playing another game at the same time I was so excited that I had to try it immediately. One of my favourite games as a kid was the original Digimon World and when I saw how similar Next Order was in its trailer, I was filled with nostalgia. Next Order is currently only in Japanese so I had a little trouble understanding the new mechanics, but since it was so similar to what I played as a kid, I was able to have fun doing my first Digivolution and getting a Digimon to come to the city. The only problem is I got a Veemon instead of an Agumon to hang out with my Gabumon and I'm very much an Agumon fan. I will have to fix this as soon as I get back in, but I don't know if I'll play before or after the localisation is released.


Winter Gaming Plan

With Final Fantasy XV having just been released, my gaming plan is pretty simple: play Final Fantasy XV. I expect to be playing it at least until Christmas (but probably well after), so that will take a majority of my console gaming time. It's looking like I'm nearing the end of World of Final Fantasy in my portable gaming life and after that I have far too many things to play. I'm quite tempted buy Pokemon Sun and Moon, but I'm also tempted to pick up an older game. I did make one of my JRPG new year resolutions to play Final Fantasy VIII so that's an idea, but I also don't know how I feel about playing two Final Fantasy games simultaneously. I may try Hyperdimension Neptunia: Re;Birth1, but obviously I'm quite undecided. In regards to my Japanese gaming for my language studies, I'm easily going to be playing Persona 5 for awhile so I'll stick with that. I can't see myself finishing it with three months but I'm enjoying taking my time with it.
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What did you play last season? What will you play this season?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

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Thursday 24 November 2016

First Impressions: A Story of the End: Revere (Played on PC, also on Mac)

Next to the commonly 3D and realistic animation of modern JRPGs, I can't help but feel nostalgic when playing A Story of the End - Revere. Whether it’s the sprite style characters walking around the map, emotive music or extended dialogues, Revere is very accessible to the average JRPG player. But Revere doesn’t just show more of what we already know about JRPGs, rather it adds its own unique story and battle mechanics to the mix. The intriguing story of a soldier on his quest for redemption in a unique world filled with creatures peaked my interest during its demo, even if it's missing some polish to make the experience as smooth as possible.
Revere is centred around the main protagonist Troy, a Lumerian soldier who is coming to terms with the fact the Empire he works for isn’t what he thought it was and follows his journey to break away from them and do what's right. He wakes up in one of the villages he was sent to purge, being looked after by a human-like rabbit creature, known as a soul beast, named Farrah and a seemingly cold villager and archer named Roland. The serious themes of war and beasts being accepted into human society has humour and banter sprinkled throughout, which nicely breaks up the heavy tone of Revere’s story. However, these interesting themes and funny quips are sometimes let down by unusual grammar and switches from extremely casual speech to overly polite fantasy language that distracted me from feeling fully immersed in Revere’s story. I found myself pausing on some lines just because they seemed slightly off and while it didn't necessarily ruin the experience, it was a little distracting.

The 45 minute demo spends it time showing off its quests and characters, along with a look at the battle system that will be familiar to most JRPG players. Revere features a predominately turn-based battle system and quests in the demo, with weapon upgrading and crafting said to be in the final game. The demo’s main story is progressed by completing the quests on the city notice board, a simple enough system to understand although I found myself lost on one of the three quests available. Since Revere doesn't give many hints or tutorials and the NPCs are busy making funny jokes about being NPCs (my favourite being “I stand next to signs. Please don't judge me.”), these quests mostly left me to my own devices with mixed results. On one hand it made me explore the city and see most of the pretty maps and stores (which are ‘currently closed’ in the demo), and I was able to chance upon two of the quest items I needed. On the other hand I found myself running around for longer than I would've liked to, only to find I'd just gotten unlucky and hadn't randomly encountered the enemy where I was supposed to. While Revere features adjustable encounter rates, not being told where I was to encounter the foe meant running around slightly frustrated for 10 minutes.
The battle system also doesn't have much explanation, although for the most part it doesn't need it since it will be very familiar to most JRPG players. No skills are available to use in the demo, so it's a case of mostly hitting the Attack button and watching common RPG enemies such as Treants and Wolves fall. What adds a new layer to the turn-based is the Overclock system, a system that allows you to execute multiple attacks in one turn by delaying your next one. The Overclock mechanic allows you to take out all enemies in one turn, a powerful attack that seems a bit much on the weak enemies displayed in the demo but could be useful in tough boss battles in the final game. I haven't encountered a system like this before so I found it quite interesting and it'll be fun to see what it's really capable of in the full game.
The main character is part Celestial being according to Revere’s descriptions, which is revealed after an emotional lead up to a boss battle. I found this final boss battle a tad confusing; one minute I was hitting the Attack button hoping for the best, the next the cool-looking Celestial being appears and I'm expected to understand I need to switch to clicking the enemy as fast as possible. Revere’s ‘Read Me’ file included in the download does explain this, but I definitely feel like it would be more immersive as an instruction within the actual game. In saying that, the more active mechanic is a nice way to break up the turn-based system and adds a much needed other layer to battles.
While I didn't have the most seamless time with Revere's demo, the premise and the final story moments reminded me that it has a world I'd like to know more about. The story of the Lumerians and Soul Beasts is given a good foundation in the demo and even with some unusual grammar, the story moments in the demo show the potentially emotional journey that the story could go on. A Story of the End: Revere has a good amount of potential that is suppressed by some language errors and a lack of user-friendliness but I hope that Revere spends more time making sure the quality is on par with other JRPGs. It has the potential to be a complex story in a visually pleasing world with an interesting dynamic and I hope that shines through even more in the final product.

You can try A Story of the End: Revere's demo for free on Steam, for download at Itch.io or Game Jolt.
The full version is scheduled for release in Fall 2017.


Post upload note!: I downloaded Revere from Itch.io about two weeks ago to check it out and play it for this post. Since that time, the game has been updated on Steam with some extra tutorials and some of the English errors I mentioned have been fixed. I encourage anyone who's going to download Revere to play the current version to get the best experience possible!
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Will you try Revere? And if you already have, what did you think of it?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Notes: In the interest of transparency, information about this game was sent to me for consideration, but I can promise this post is 100% honest and written without bias.
Also, digital games are regularly updated and changed. My opinions about this game are based on the condition of the game at the time I received it and may not cover any future important changes to it.

Thursday 17 November 2016

JRPG Appreciation Post: World of Final Fantasy's Mirages

World of Final Fantasy features an interesting new concept for Final Fantasy games in the form of monster capture. While World of Final Fantasy’s gameplay is closer to more traditional Final Fantasy games, Imprisming monsters (known in World of Final Fantasy as Mirages) and using them in battle by making a stack is a very new mechanic to the Final Fantasy world. The best part of this is the Monster Stacking isn’t just visual: monsters are helpful in many ways in World of Final Fantasy and collecting a variety monsters and abilities makes the monster hunt a highly useful new mechanic. Being able to use both friendly and enemy monsters in battles serves as a fun new concept for past Final Fantasy fans and a great way to introduce the famous Behemoths, Tonberries and Moogles to those new to Final Fantasy.

Monster Capture may be a new concept to Final Fantasy, but the series isn’t a total stranger to having monsters in your party. After all, most Final Fantasy games include a Summom mechanic that involves summoning powerful but friendly creatures that are fairly well-known in the Final Fantasy community, such as Ifrit, Shiva and Bahamut. These monsters are pretty awesome, but there are many other famous monster friends and foes on the other side of the battlefield that have only served the purpose of getting beaten up so far. Whether you want to summon the epic Ifrit, an adorable and friendly Moogle or a big, enemy Behemoth in your party, all of these Final Fantasy creatures are available to be used in battle in World of Final Fantasy. Having these different types of creatures usable together is an interesting take of Final Fantasy’s creatures and although putting a Chocobo and a Behemoth in the same stack may seem strange, it’s a cool new way to use some of my favourite Final Fantasy creatures.
If collecting Mirages wasn’t cool enough, putting them in Stacks is even better. The main characters of World of Final Fantasy, the hilarious Lann and the cool older sister Reynn, are divided into a Left and Right stack in battle and each stack is comprised of a Small, Medium and Large Mirage that literally stack on top of each other to combine stats. Aside from combining stats (and looking hilarious), mirage stacking also ‘stacks’ skills. If all your mirages have Fire, they will combine to make the much more powerful Firaga. Lann and Reynn also gain a very AP cheap skill called ‘Channel Element’ with whatever element the stack is overall that makes hitting an enemy’s weakness very easy. A great part about this is also that a Mirage’s size doesn't matter when it comes to skill stacking; tiny Flan’s skill or a giant Behemoth’s stats have an equal increase, making both just as useful as one another for once.
Speaking of skills, Mirages are useful on and off the battlefield thanks to their skills. In World of Final Fantasy, certain areas are blocked off due to gaps, icy peaks or big rocks and are only accessible by using a Mirage with the right skill to get past, comparably to in Pokemon where you need a character with a certain skill to another area. I've used my Black Nakk many times to burn down big vines down to get treasure and I've used my Mythril Giant to knock down big rocks that block paths. I like how these path-blockers encourage me to carry a variety of Mirages to help me find bonus items to help me on my journey and it feels like a great reward when I've unlocked the right skill to help me find treasure or something cool.
Mirages can also be transfigured into bigger or alternative mirage forms by unlocking nodes on World of Final Fantasy's skill tree system called a Mirage Board. If you've enjoyed the evolution aspect of other monster collection games such as Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth (which I loved), the Transfiguration aspect is probably something you'll like. Since I also love skill trees, I have a lot of fun using my SP points on each monster’s Mirage Board to unlock bigger versions of my Mirages, such as making my way through the S-sized Chocochick’s Mirage Board to unlock an M-sized Chocobo. The best part is that unlocking a Mirage Board keeps the smaller Mirage’s Board too, meaning you have two sets of skills to play with to make a really strong Mirage.
Stacking monsters together may look silly, but all the different things that can be done with Mirages are really fun to play with and make an enjoyably complex battle system. Use of abilities on the field and stat stacking in battle are cool ideas that give a use to all Mirages and gives monster collecting real purpose. Although stacking will be new to Final Fantasy players, as a Final Fantasy fan I think it’s a great way to refresh the familiar battle system and is a nice way to add depth while making it accessible to those who have used monster hunting systems in other games. I'm looking forward to finding even bigger Mirages throughout my World of Final Fantasy journey and so far definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks it sounds interesting!

You can pick up World of Final Fantasy for PS4 and PS Vita, and a cool limited edition World of Final Fantasy PS Vita at Play-Asia.com!
(This is an affiliate link that helps supports the site, so if you use it, thank you!)
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What's your favourite Final Fantasy Mirage or Monster? If you could use any Final Fantasy creature to get around, which would you use?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Thursday 10 November 2016

SPICY!: Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God Review (PS Vita)

When a JRPG promises curry, magic and dungeon crawling, it's hard to know whether to expect a light appetizer or a full course meal, game content-wise. So imagine my great surprise when this humorous and charming yet punishing JRPG managed to frequently amuse me with it's silly humour all while challenging me in its tough roguelike dungeons. With plenty of banter and a whole lot of silliness mixed with dungeons ready to challenge even the best dungeon crawlers, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God is a charismatic, engaging change from the serious side of JRPGs that balances humour and good gameplay admirably.
Sorcery Saga’s story is based around Pupuru, a sweet and spunky student of a Magic Academy who just so happens to love curry. She’s not an A-grade student, but thanks to some luck she gets to go on a quest for her school, where she finds Kuu, a funny creature that eats pretty much everything, and an ancient curry recipe. When she fails her quest and finds herself suspended from school, she decides to spend her time helping her friend’s curry store by promising to make the Legendary Magic Curry. Pupuru’s journey is not a serious one; it's a colourful tale populated by quirky characters, including a love sick prince, an unintentionally creepy wizard and a group of young wannabe heroes named Udon, Panna and Naan. Despite repeating a lot of the same jokes and letting banter go on a little too long, the humourous script is very well-written and really creates a lively feel throughout the entire 30 hour long story. I found myself genuinely laughing out loud on multiple occasions and because the dialogue is so engaging, long dialogues are easy to overlook as the script really keeps things amusing.

Heavily contrasting the lighthearted story are the punishing Roguelike dungeons that are the core gameplay of Sorcery Saga. If you’re like me and had never played a Roguelike before, it differs from regular dungeon crawlers because your character always starts at Level 1 in each dungeon, no matter how much you grinded in the previous one and if you get a game over, you have the extra tax of losing most of your items to deal with. This means being smart about planning how you’ll make your way through the dungeon rather than leveling as high as you can to overpower enemies. You can hoard and enhance equipment to make your dungeon crawl easier, which is important since it seems Sorcery Saga wants to make things as hard as possible. There are traps to look out for, Monster Houses where you get suddenly surrounded and items with seemingly intentionally vague descriptions that mean you only know what they do when you try them, and sometimes that means Game Over. Even your helpful pet Kuu can be hit or miss, as his AI means he will either jump in front of you and protect you from an enemy or run in another direction just for fun.
Despite Sorcery Saga’s harsh nature, I actually found myself enjoying the challenge after a rocky learning curve that lasted a few chapters. Winning a dungeon is very much about choosing which risks to take, such as grinding on a floor and risking dungeon collapse or considering the chances of your final hit defeating an enemy when their next hit could kill you. It's about using stat boosts, such as the Curry On Demand mechanic where combining three ingredients creates one of many energising curries, at the time it will benefit you most to smartly get to the final floor safely. While some Game Overs may feel rather harsh, such as trying a new scroll only to have it put your own health to zero on the 11th floor, victories feel well earned and like you faced a true test of strength and strategy in the randomly generated dungeons.

If you're having a hard time dungeon crawling, players can take a break by watching extra moments with the cast in the library. Since Sorcery Saga’s dungeons can be an intense and sometimes long experience, watching fun, extra banter with Pupuru and friends is a nice way to break up the experience. These dialogues aren't essential to the main story and tend to ramble on a little, but are a nice addition for those wanting more time with Pupuru and friends, or for those who like unlocking items going for the platinum trophy. There are also rewards given for collecting items and fulfilling certain requirements such as clearing a dungeon 15+ times, along with a huge bonus dungeon towards the end of the story for completionists and while I don't feel mentally strong enough to go through these at the moment, I appreciate having a reason to go back to Sorcery Saga if I want to.
Sorcery Saga’s randomised Roguelike dungeons and fun characters are its best strength and create a charming environment to get totally destroyed in, one dungeon at a time. The great script made me weirdly invested in its quirky characters and the grueling roguelike dungeons were an interesting new way to dungeon crawl, albeit if I met a lot of Game Over screens before understanding how to win sometimes against the odds given. For dungeon crawling fans looking for something light in story but challenging where it counts, Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God left a satisfying taste in my mouth and was a great challenge to enjoy next to a fun narrative.

Score: 8/10
This surprisingly challenging Roguelike dungeon crawler partnered with its fun, lighthearted story really amused me in its 30 hour long campaign. While it sometimes punished me a little harshly, winning a dungeon has never felt so rewarding and I've found myself missing it now that it's done.

You can pick up Sorcery Saga: Curse of the Great Curry God for PS Vita at Play-Asia.com!
(This link helps support the site, so if you use it or buy something from there, thank you!)

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What do you think of Sorcery Saga? What's your favourite Roguelike JRPG?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3