Friday 25 March 2016

JRPG Anime Appreciation Post: Why Persona 4 the Animation Episodes 13 and 14 Are Good Filler

I usually have mixed feelings about Persona 4 the Animation. On one hand, it's entertaining and a fast way to relive the original story of Persona 4, which is pretty convenient considering the length of the game. On the other hand, I'm a total sucker for small details in fiction and Persona games in general are full of details. Anime and TV by nature are shorter mediums, meaning some of these details are forced to be omitted just because of time. But there's one great thing about the Persona anime series and it's that it uses filler episodes really well to give extra insight into characters, even expanding on the game's detail. Persona 4's shining glory are it's characters, so building upon the complex universe made in Persona 4 is the best way to use this 

I've been recently collecting the Japanese Persona 4 the Animation Blu-Rays from my local electronics store because the first few were quite cheap. I'm always on the hunt for ways to incorporate my love of JRPGs into my Japanese studies, so re-watching the series with Japanese voice acting seemed like a great idea. While doing this, I recently came across one of my favourite episodes from the series and it reminded me of why I enjoyed the anime even though it's not as deep as the game.

Episodes 13 and 14 'A Stormy Summer Vacation' (part 1 and 2) document Yu Narakami's busy Summer Vacation, where it seems like he's grinding his social links hanging out with new friends and creating memorable bonds, just like in the game. The episode is divided into two parts, but explore the same time period from different perspectives. Episode 13 is from Nanako's perspective and Episode 14 comes back to Narakami's.

My favourite of the two episodes is Episode 13, in which the adorable Nanako could be considered the star of the episode. She's missing her big brother while he's spending time with other people so she becomes motivated and excited by her favourite TV show to find out what he's doing. There's a magical girl detective show on TV, so Nanako decides to 'investigate' what her brother is doing and the episode takes a mostly comedic tone from there, with Nanako and the main cast of Persona 4 making outlandish assumptions about what was going on with Narukami's life, causing Nanako to become even more worried.

Mixed in with the comedic stance is also exploration of Nanako's feelings of loneliness. Nanako's loneliness is explored a little in the Persona 4 game (and Persona 4 Golden), but this episode goes much more in-depth by exploring it in a lighthearted manner. Nanako begins her adventure as a cosplaying magical girl with the intention of seeing what he's up to. The episode does a great job at portraying Nanako's childlike determination and also the potential misinterpretations made when snooping, especially by a child.

While Nanako's story is a tale of loneliness, Yu's story in Episode 14 is one of balancing friendships and responsibility. The title 'Stormy Summer Vacation' is most appropriate in this episode, as Yu is so busy trying to please as many people as possible that his life could be feeling quite turbulent. Although I enjoyed the comedy more in Nanako's episode, this episode is essential as it clears up all the assumptions made in Episode 13 and shows Narukami's true intentions and endearing struggles he goes through for his friends. Episode 14 also shows most of the side Social Link characters from the Persona 4 game, a great move for the show as these characters are sometimes overlooked in favour of the main characters, but are an enjoyable and important part of the game, so it's nice to see them getting some screen time in the show.

These episodes are a high point in Persona 4 the Animated Series thanks to the extra insight into both Yu and Nanako. I loved seeing all the side social link characters mixed in with the main ones and enjoyed the comedic change of pace in the series. As filler episodes, I think they're a good addition to the series for character development. Even though they kind of reiterate qualities of Nanako and Yu that most fans would already be aware of, it's done in a chaotic and humourous way that portrays it well for the people who haven't played the game and gives a new piece of story for those who have. The balance of these things create a valuable filler episode that's worth not skipping over before moving back to the main story.

Which is your favourite episode of Persona 4 the Animation? What do you think of the series?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle and let's talk!

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Note: None of the photos in this article are my own screenshots from the show. All watermarks have been kept in tact to show where these photos came from originally.

Friday 18 March 2016

Review: Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth (PS4, PS Vita)

If you had a half cyber body, would you dedicate your life to being a digital detective? This unique premise is explored in Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, but it's not your average story about hackers and detectives because it's a Digimon game. While other Digimon games keep collecting Digimon as the core gameplay mechanic, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth focuses on the story of the half digital protagonist and the many adventures had uncovering the truth about the Digital World. But don't fret, as this turn-based JRPG boasts killer gameplay, a decent story and it's the most fun I've had evolving creatures in a game in years.

Friday 11 March 2016

JRPG Appreciation Post: Digivolution in Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth

The highlight of watching Digimon when I was growing up was definitely the Digivolutions. Rookie Digimon are really cute and charming, but in the show they were often put up against crazy huge beasts and it would be unrealistic to think those little Digimon could stand a chance. So appropriately, they Digivolve into equally large beasts and then proceed to kick a lot of butt while looking really cool. These Digivolutions include monstrous Dinosaurs, Wolves and Birds and the best thing about these forms was that they could Digivolve again into even more powerful forms such as Ultimate and Mega Digimon that have epic god-like powers, a huge contrast to their Rookie form. This kind of evolution kept me guessing what the next form would be and huge Digimon like WarGreymon and Omnimon always surpassed my expectations of power and general coolness.

When playing Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, I was pleased to find it's Digivolution system is a big part of the game. There are many benefits in Cyber Sleuth to Digivolving your Digimon, such as unlocking gates that lead to main story events that can only be unlocked if you have certain level of Digimon and of course, having the strongest party possible. For players of past Digimon games or even other games with monster evolution like Pokemon, Cyber Sleuth's Digivolution system adds it's own spin on the system by adding various different requirements to Digivolving into your favourite Digimon.

The Digivolution process begins in the DigiLab, Cyber Sleuth's hub for powering up the Digimon in your party and your Digibank (because yes, there are so many Digimon you need a bank). When you choose a Digimon you want to Digivolve, if you haven't met the Digimon before, you'll see a shadow, kind of like a 'Who's that Pokemon' guessing game. If it's a smaller Digimon, you'll probably have a few options to choose from, so depending on your guessing skills you could either get a really good Digimon or bad Digimon (good examples being Numemon or Sukamon). As you meet these Digimon during battles or through evolution, these shadows turn into pictures of the Digimon which makes things easier to choose. I've met a lot of Digimon now as I'm far in the game, but if there's an option of a mystery Digimon, I'll always take it because I love the element of surprise.

Choosing a Digimon to Digivolve into is only a small part of the Digivolution process. To Digivolve at all, you need to meet some requirements. Some Digimon only require a few requirements, like getting to a certain level and fulfilling certain stats.

Other Digimon require many special requirements, ranging from stats, to story events to quests being completed. It's hard to know when you'll even be able to do the story events of quests, which adds another element of mystery to the process.

Not only is this system good for appropriately progressing the through the game without being ridiculously OP, but it also makes me excited for what may be the end game quests and incentive to play further.

Most stat requirements are easy enough to raise, but two stats are more difficult than the rest - ABI and CAM. CAM is your 'Comradery level' with your Digimon, which is raised by having the Digimon in your party or using items. ABI is a more difficult to raise, as it's based on how many times you've Digivolved or De-Digivolved your Digimon. This isn't a problem for most Rookie and Champion Digimon, but when trying for strong Ultimate and Mega Digimon, I found myself De-Digivolving and Digivolving back and forth multiple times. This process may sound annoying, but I actually really like that Cyber Sleuth makes you work a little more for the powerful, God-like Digimon and considering how much stronger they are than the lower forms, I think it's fair. Most games if you grind your characters enough, you can become OP, but this system makes things much more interesting and challenging.

I've almost finished Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, but this kind of system really makes me want to come back and play it again after I'm done. I'm excited to see all the strong Digimon that I'll still need to complete quests to create and I'm sure they'll be well worth the wait. Of all the games I've played with creature evolution, I'm happy to say that so far, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth has my favourite evolution system. It makes me very eager to check out the new Digimon Story game for PS Vita that's being released in Japan in a few weeks, but for now, I'm going to finish the game and then hunt down some legendary Digital Monsters.


What do you think of Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth and it's Digivolution system? And since I'm keen for more games like this, what are some other games with great evolution systems?
Leave a comment below or send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle 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

Friday 4 March 2016

The Struggles of Being A Completionist At Heart

You could say I was once a completionist. When I was in high school, I remember multiple years in a row my Nanna came over to babysit and said 'Are you still playing that?!' because she saw me playing Kingdom Hearts or Final Fantasy X again. I was always hunting for some kind of weapon or an enemy in order to explore every inch of the game. You could say I definitely still have completionist tendencies, with my constant urge to get the Platinum Trophy for every game I love. I love playing new games as much as any other gamer, but I also crave the satisfaction and fun that comes from exploring every corner of a game. But with the amount of games that are around these days, it's sometimes hard to choose between being a crazy completionist or trying the constant stream of cool games being released every month.