Friday 29 December 2017

My 5 Favourite JRPGs of 2017

I think in 2017 I played more new releases in one year than I have any other year. I made a conscious decision to try play more of the many new releases I get hyped for and it was a decision I don’t regret as I found some really great games to add to my personal favourites. The year started out with a bang with strong titles like NieR Automata and Persona 5 and the JRPGs kept coming. While some were hit or miss, there was something for every kind of JRPG fan this year. But there were five great JRPGs that particularly stood out to me thanks to their quality stories and endless amounts of things to do that have made me really glad I played them. These are the five JRPGs I loved the most in 2017 and the five I will look back on fondly and remember as my favourite JRPGs of this year.

Friday 22 December 2017

Review: .hack//G.U. Last Recode (PS4, also on PC)

A big four-games-in-one experience like .hack//G.U. Last Recode has the potential to fall down at some point in its long journey. As a package of three games that were released separately when they first came out with a brand new experience on top, I initially wondered if they’d work well played back-to-back, as well as how a much newer addition to the series would feel beside the older ones. Luckily for Last Recode, each volume contained plenty of new things and variation to keep things interesting, with each feeling like a new chapter for the characters and story growing in each one, building to a big story journey that felt very complete. With engaging reactive combat on top and a story with plenty of character growth, Last Recode’s smoothness makes .Hack//G.U. pass the test of time well and is an old story I’m glad I could experience in its upgraded form.

Friday 15 December 2017

The Ten 2018 JRPGs I'm Most Excited For (So Far!)

After a year full of JRPG brilliance with titles like Persona 5 and NieR Automata being released this year, 2018 has its work cut out for it already. Thankfully we live in a great age where great games are coming out at a rate pretty much impossible to keep up with and looking at the JRPGs coming out in 2018, it will likely be no exception. I’m already having trouble deciding what I want to play in January next year with multiple great JRPGs coming out, let alone for the entire year. With plenty of great JRPGs on the horizon next year, this is a list of the ones I’m most excited for so far, with no doubt that more releases will keep getting me keen from now until the end of next year.

Friday 8 December 2017

JRPGs I Played in November 2017

Usually when I sit down to write about the JRPGs I played over the past month, I’m a little surprised at how many games I managed to play and how distracted I managed to get from whatever JRPG I’ve been supposed to be focusing on most. In November however, it appears I was very true to my goal of playing a lot of .Hack// G.U. Last Recode as I only played a few other experiences on the side. Thanks to this, I made a bunch of progress in G.U. and I’m thankful for that, although I did occasionally get distracted by my new favourite JRPG mini-game ever and the time I wanted to put aside to get back to Persona 2 got completely eaten by the Alchemist Code’s surprise release. Even if it makes for a shorter video, I feel very satisfied with my JRPG progress last month, so here are all the JRPGs I Played in November.

Friday 1 December 2017

.Hack//G.U. Last Recode’s Convenient Area Word Dungeons

Have you ever been stuck at a point in the story of a JRPG and needed somewhere you can level up quickly but all the random battles are giving either too little EXP or are frustratingly difficult? I know it’s happened to me too many times. In .Hack//G.U. Last Recode though, this is an issue I haven’t experienced once, thanks to its convenient and forgiving dungeon creation system through Area Words that create custom dungeons tailored to the parameters of the words you used. Whether I’ve been under leveled or wanted to be safe before going into battle, .Hack//G.U. Last Recode’s innovative way to unlock dungeons both in and out of the story have been incredibly useful for leveling between story moments and I’m appreciative of how they’ve kept Last Recode both challenging, yet frustration-free.

Thursday 30 November 2017

Console First Impressions: Nintendo Switch (Trying the Nintendo Switch As a PS Vita Fan)

Before I got my Nintendo Switch, I was utterly determined to keep my feet planted firm on Vita Island. The PS Vita is a handheld I’d spent hundreds of fond hours with and on a sentimental level, I didn’t want to throw them away for another portable console. But the idea of a bigger screen, the total ease of switching between home and portable, and a more powerful handheld console had all been things I wanted to see for a long time, so with these in mind I eventually got a Nintendo Switch. I’ve spent less than a few months with my Nintendo Switch, but I already feel quite positive about it, with the portability and convenience of it already feeling superior to another portable console I loved for so long, I can see the Nintendo Switch already becoming a big part of my portable gaming life.

Friday 24 November 2017

Review: Despair Dungeon: Monokuma's Test (Danganronpa as a JRPG!)

Spoiler Warning: This is a video related to content in Danganronpa V3. It will contain no story spoilers, however it is related to end-game content unlocked after completing V3’s story. If you want to keep these features a surprise, you honestly probably shouldn’t watch this video. But these features and mini-experiences don’t tie in with the story, so it’s up to you if you want to proceed at your own risk!

Wednesday 22 November 2017

First Impressions: Ys VIII - Lacrimosa of Dana (Demo, PS4)

While I haven't played a full Ys game before, I've always heard good things about the series, but I never knew why it was good. Trying the Ys VIII demo and its highly explorable map as a fan of exploration in recent JRPGs really got me curious about the Ys series with its many collectibles and multi-floored areas. The demo doesn’t tell much about the story or its characters (probably for the best as I hear its localisation is getting an update) and it instead seems mostly focused on showing off its quick action combat and interesting landscapes. So far, these aspects made me really want to try more with smooth gameplay that was a fun peek into the full game, just like a demo should be.

Friday 17 November 2017

A Look at the Parallels Between Blue Reflection and Persona 5 (Is it Magical Girl Persona?)

If you’re anything like me, anything described as a magical girl JRPG mixed with Persona is almost guaranteed to be something I’ll be interested in. This was how I heard people describing Blue Reflection before I bought it and pretty much sealed the deal for me getting it, but I didn’t realise just how many similarities there would be. When I began to really see these similarities in Blue Reflection, I became a little skeptic at first. While the idea of magical girl Persona was why I bought it, I’m usually not interested in something that blatantly rips off story ideas. Luckily Blue Reflection for the most part makes the ideas it seems to have borrowed original, but I found the similarities interesting nonetheless, so I wanted to talk about the parallels between Blue Reflection and Persona 5 and how the two good games are similar, yet different.

Friday 10 November 2017

JRPGs I Played In October 2017

With a brand new Switch in hand, I entered October with pure excitement after an August and September fairly quiet on new JRPG releases. My main goals for October were to finish Blue Reflection and play my new Nintendo Switch, so I made sure to play any new Switch demo on the go that caught my eye and at home give my time to my new favourite JRPG magical girls in Blue Reflection. As usual, I also attempted to finish what I was playing before I dedicated myself to newer releases, but I let lots of little things use my time in between too meaning I didn’t get to focus on them much. I don’t regret a bit of it though as I wasn’t ever bored last month, so here are all the JRPGs I played in October.

Friday 3 November 2017

Five JRPGs I Ruined For Myself By Taking Too Long to Finish Them

Taking my time with games like Persona 2 and Kingdom Hearts at the moment has made me remember something about myself: I’m not the best at playing games over a long period of time. I fall in and out of wanting to play them, trying other smaller experiences in between, even if I'm enjoying what I'm playing. Mix it in with life taking up time and it really prolongs my time with certain games. Attempting to get my reviews out faster this year has seen me play and finish some great JRPGs more quickly, proving the fact that if I immerse myself in a game, I'm more likely to enjoy it or more quickly find out which games I'd grow tired of. No matter how long I take to play games nowadays, there are a few games I can look back on and say I temporarily ruined them for myself by playing them at a slow pace and this list is just a few of them.

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Phobos Children's Fun JRPG-Infused Tap Battles

When a friend recommended me indie studio Mirai Labo’s smartphone game Phobos Children, I was pleasantly surprised to see their take on a JRPG-inspired battle system as it was said to be an action-puzzle RPG. Interestingly, Phobos Children makes its own combat style that combines ideas from JRPGs and puzzles with the handy touchscreen to make an involved experience that relies on tapping bubbles to attack in a fun and unique way. As a fan of JRPGs and rhythm games, Phobos Children’s combat reminds me of both in an addictive way that makes me want to keep playing it.

Friday 27 October 2017

First Impressions: Lost Sphear (Nintendo Switch/PS4 JP Demo, also coming to PC)

There’s a certain nostalgia to old school JRPGs, but Lost Sphear is thoughtful enough to remember to make it special. With its emotive premise of watching all that you hold dear disappear, this literal take on loss somehow manages to keep things from getting too heavy, with the introduction to the cast being fairly light-hearted most of the time in this demo. This first look at Lost Sphear showed me a peek at the main objective of recovering the lost parts of the world and a new take on the active time battle system, and both seem interesting enough to make me think Lost Sphear is more than just its emotional premise.

Friday 20 October 2017

Review: Blue Reflection (PS4, also on PS Vita and PC)

Blue Reflection promises a lot at first glance by seemingly drawing inspiration from popular series like Persona, along with taking the wonderful high school magical girl trope into JRPG land. As a magical girl JRPG, it succeeds in a lot of ways with its enjoyable combination of a traditional turn-based battle system combined with active elements and a unique overdrive mechanic. In school life, it's an enjoyable social sim with clear progression that encourages exploration, even if it can feel a little repetitive sometimes. But this didn’t bother me much as between school and magical girl life, Blue Reflection’s enchanting story about emotions and wishes kept me fully engrossed and although it is not without imperfections, there’s a lot to love in this story heavy, magical girl JRPG.

Friday 13 October 2017

First Impressions: Project Octopath Traveler (Demo, Nintendo Switch)

As someone who tends to prefer modern graphics over the old-school JRPG kind, you can imagine my surprise when I found Project Octopath Traveler’s demo impressing me. Don't be fooled by its 16-bit art style; Project Octopath Traveler boasts the polish of a current gen title in every way it should, from its well-written engaging preview at its story to a fun battle system that makes simple strategic additions to the turn-based system I already loved. As a game that was nowhere to be seen on my radar prior to this demo, this introduction to Project Octopath Traveler puts its best foot forward and shows an intriguing concept with a well done delivery so far.

Friday 6 October 2017

JRPGs I Played in September 2017

During September, apart from playing some of the usual suspects and small bits of other games, I felt like I was playing the waiting game. The first new release I was picking up since God Wars: Future Past was coming out at the end of September and since I missed playing new stuff, I was really excited and spent most of the month anticipating that fateful day. But I couldn’t just play nothing until then, so I did my best to get into the games I’ve been trying to complete throughout the year, along with some DLC and demos to satisfy the need to play something new. With a mix of various series I love and new ones I hope will keep me interested, here are the JRPGs I played in September.

Monday 2 October 2017

A Definitive Ranking of the Square Enix Cafe Tokyo's Takeout Drink Menu

If you’re coming to Japan, forget maid cafes. Seriously. They’re overpriced and you can just look at the maids on the streets like everyone else does for free. You can also do this with a Tapioca drink in hand that you damn well know Ifrit spit a fireball into for about 600 yen if you take a detour and go to the Square Enix Cafe first.

Regardless of whether or not fireballs are actually in your drink*, if you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, NieR or other big Square Enix titles, the Square Enix Cafe in Akihabara is worth a visit if you’re looking for exclusive merch that you won’t always find in other stores. It even is a restaurant with regularly changing themes and corresponding foods based on their games, such as Ignis’ recipes from Final Fantasy XV or the fish caught in NieR Automata. But these are more expensive and require a booking and well, do you really want to spend your money on a delectable dish that's price is the same cost as a Moogle plushie? Of course not! Thanks to the takeout menu, you can have a little Square Enix Cafe and your Moogle too.

Friday 29 September 2017

Post-TGS 2017: My Favourite JRPG Trailers and Announcements

Tokyo Game Show this year was pretty good. Even if there wasn't an announcement that particularly blew my mind, there were enough trailers of games I was already keen for to keep my hype going hopefully until the end of the year. TGS 2017 for me is mainly just a reminder that the next 12 months are already looking fantastic, with interesting new IPs coming out, great remasters and spinoffs, and some of my favourite series getting new additions. With plenty of hope that it's given me hype that will last, these are my favourite announcements and trailers from TGS 2017.

Monday 25 September 2017

Five JRPGs I Like With Different Visually Appealing Styles

Since playing games on PS4, I’ve really come to appreciate how far graphics have come and just how beautiful some games can look. Even the simplest games are expected to look polished and pretty, and I really enjoy games that go the extra mile to make their menus, text dialogues and cutscenes all look like cohesive, good-looking experiences. Most JRPGs incorporate nice art is some way, with the expectation of nice anime visuals and character art often being a minimum for these kinds of games. The games I’m talking about today take this to the next level, whether it be with their art style, cohesiveness or beauty that make them just as fun to look at as they are to play.

Friday 22 September 2017

Why I'm Excited for The Alchemist Code

A few months ago, I played a Japanese smartphone game called To Whom The Alchemist Exists and was pleasantly surprised by its quality. I had to play its opening chapter to get into the Final Fantasy XV collaboration I’d downloaded it for and found myself absorbed by its voice-acted story, music and combat that seemed too good for a smartphone game. Because I liked it so much, you can imagine my delight when it was announced last week that a localised version called the Alchemist Code will be coming to smartphones in English sometime soon. With this in mind, these are some things I'm looking forward to playing with in the Alchemist Code and why I think it's a mobile experience worth looking out for.

Friday 15 September 2017

DLC Review: Final Fantasy XV Assassin's Festival

With Final Fantasy XV’s Universe constantly expanding, a free Assassin’s Creed tie-in chapter is a very unique addition. As a tie-in to a game that is from a different series, developer and world, it’s a wonder how this Assassins Festival manages to mostly fit itself into Eos convincingly. The gameplay in this expansion expands on Noctis’ ability to warp around areas by letting him traverse areas in new ways, at least when it’s not being plagued by XV’s old downfall of invisible walls. But if you want to spend more time with XV’s still likeable cast and play some fun side quests, the Assassin’s Festival may be worth your time.

Friday 8 September 2017

JRPGs I Played In August 2017

With no releases I was planning to pick up in August, it was a good time to catch up on JRPGs I’d put aside to play newer releases, at least for the most part, as I only ended up with a bit of gaming time as I tried to get ahead on other things, like posts and recordings for videos. I did finally get back to both games I’ve been playing since January, Persona 2 and Kingdom Hearts, to try get them finished by the end of the year and I also dabbled in a few mobile and console expansions that piked my interest. And of course, I couldn’t help getting back into my favourite JRPG of this year *cough* Persona 5 *cough* so far. Although it was a relaxed August, I did manage to play a few things, so here are all the JRPGs I played in August.

Friday 1 September 2017

The Pros and Problems of the Final Fantasy XV Universe

I love Final Fantasy XV on PS4. I love it enough to have played it for almost 200 hours. I’ve watched Kingsglaive and the Brotherhood anime, played A King’s Tale, a little bit of King’s Knight and having also played the Episode Gladiolus and Prompto DLC, I’m eagerly waiting for the Episode DLC based around my favourite XV character Ignis. When they first announced the Final Fantasy XV Universe, I was ecstatic. I was in the group who loved the characters and the story of XV and was excited to get more background into some of the main group. That was until the universe kept expanding.

Friday 25 August 2017

Review: NieR Automata - Route A-E Experience (Reviewed on PS4, also on PC)

NieR Automata is many things. It’s a long game, a short game. A platformer, a JRPG. An action game, a 2D shooter. All of these things come together to make an incredibly unique JRPG like none other. With its striking narrative and story-telling method partnered with great action gameplay and other styles to keep things interesting, NieR Automata’s emotional android world is well worth diving into.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

5 Things I'll Be Considering When I Upgrade My PC for Playing Games

Let’s be real for a minute here - my PC setup for gaming (and other tasks) is not ideal. I’ve been using the same laptop for almost five years and while it gets the job done for some games, blog writing and video editing, it’s generally my last choice when it comes to playing games, especially long ones like JRPGs. I would, however, like to upgrade my PC one day to experience more high quality JRPGs on PC and improve my PC experience in general. I may not be rushing out to get a new one soon, but here are 5 things I’ll be considering when it’s time as a long-time console player looking deeper into buying a PC.

Friday 18 August 2017

The Spoiler Awards: Persona 5 (FULL SPOILERS)

This post is apart of a potential series I'm doing called the Spoiler Awards. As the title implies, there will be full spoilers for Persona 5 in this, so continue at your own risk!

I thought Persona 5 was brilliant and outside of what I said in my review, there were many special moments that elevated the experience for me. From great dungeons to relatable characters, there are a lot of reasons to love Persona 5. Aside from Best Boy and Best Girl, there were a few things in Persona 5 that didn’t warrant a full post about them, but I wanted to talk about them in some kind of way. So, in what I hope will be a continuing series, here are some things in Persona 5 that I wanted to talk about that are full of spoilers and just for fun, I gave random awards to them. Enjoy!

Friday 11 August 2017

Review: God Wars: Future Past (PS Vita/PS4)

With its beautiful art style, tactical gameplay with some unique ideas and a mythological story, God Wars: Future Past seemed like a promising tactical JRPG after playing its Japanese demo. In reality, my time with the full version of God Wars: Future Past was a lot more mixed. I enjoyed improving my tactical strategies in its many truly challenging battles, but paired with imperfections in other areas and the battles themselves, I walked away from God Wars feeling very different to how I thought I would. Still, the 50 hour plus experience was fairly interesting to watch grow, even if it’s not the first tactical JRPG I’d recommend, and saw me in some of the toughest tactical JRPG battles I’ve ever faced, for better and worse.

Friday 4 August 2017

JRPGs I Played In July 2017

July was a very simple month in terms of my gaming time. I’ve been trying my very best to conquer the difficult tactical JRPG God Wars: Future Past and have also been trying not to get distracted so I actually finish it because it's taking a bit of time. I touched a few of my favourite console games when I needed a break and I also logged into some new and old mobile favourites to get some character rewards and be reminded I’ll never have enough time to truly conquer them. Although it was a straightforward month of JRPGs, I mostly enjoyed what I played and at the very least having a solid gaming direction, so here are all the JRPGs I played in July.

Friday 28 July 2017

Why I'm Not Ashamed of Playing on Easy Mode

Booting up most games these days, I’m met with a decision. A decision that affects important parts of my game experience, such as challenge or the time it takes to play, which has a large effect on my overall game enjoyment. This decision is choosing a difficulty mode. I find changing difficulty modes along the way distracting, so I want to get it right the first time and there’s a very easy way to tackle this decision - choosing Easy mode.

There may be a slight stigma towards playing games on Easy. I imagine some people have thoughts such as "It takes the skill or challenge out of playing", "It’s not really playing the game", "It’s for weaklings" etc etc, or at least that’s the internal dialogue I had with myself the first time I made the switch into easy town. But playing on easy mode has allowed me the opportunity to try more games by giving myself a little speed boost and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a relaxing experience in one’s gaming downtime.

Friday 21 July 2017

Persona 5's Perfect Transition to Set Dungeons (#JRPGAppreciation)

When I was nearing the end of Persona 5, apart from leaving characters that had stolen my heart, I felt sad that I’d never experience its dungeons for the first time again. With treasure, platforming, puzzles and stealth, Persona 5’s dungeons amplify the story unfolding while mixing in the exploration experience from past Persona games in an interesting way and left me more often than not in a mild state of awe at the end of each one. Persona 5’s dungeons are a great example of how impactful story dungeons can be and this is a list of the things I missed experiencing for the first time after finishing my Persona 5 journey.

Friday 14 July 2017

Platinum Trophy Experience: Persona 4 Dancing All Night

I played the Japanese version of Persona 4 Dancing All Night a few years ago out of impatience for a localised release announcement and found myself unintentionally raking in the trophies. At the start of this year, I made it my resolution to platinum at least one JRPG and as I was checking what seemed achievable, my over 90% completion of Dancing All Night made it feel silly not to get the platinum for, even if it’s more rhythm spinoff game than JRPG. As a fan of rhythm games outside of my JRPG life, I really enjoyed aiming for high scores and dance fever combined with one of my favourite JRPG series ever. As for the platinum trophy experience, aside from a couple of minor time-consuming trophies, compared to Persona 4 Golden’s platinum trophy’s multiple playthrough extravaganza, Persona 4 Dancing All Night’s trophy is a piece of cake that a majority of people can probably get easily with a little bit of time.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night has 40 trophies that break down into 21 Bronze, 15 Silver, 3 Gold and the Platinum. At the time of making this, no trophies on the list seem to go above a ‘rare’ in the PSN rating system and most of the trophies are based on just experiencing different aspects of Persona 4 Dancing All Night. The length of this trophy will depend on your skills and since I played it over a spread out period of time, I don’t have a solid grasp on how long it took me. However, since Dancing All Night’s story is in visual novel form and most of the trophies can be done in Free Dance, I imagine it can take much less time than the average JRPG Platinum Trophy.

Spoiler note: I have included Hidden trophies names in this post, but not descriptions to avoid spoilers as much as possible while still describing my Platinum Trophy journey. I don’t think there are any major story or event spoilers in this post, but proceed at your own risk!

The Easy

~9 Story Trophies
Time to Party Harder (Hidden)
To Greater Heights - Unlocked highest difficulty (ALL NIGHT)
Appearance Matters - Bought a costume for the first time
Best Dressed - Bought half of the costumes
Closet Full of Dreams - Bought all costumes
Lapidary - Obtained all accessories
Hooked on Shopping - Bought all items in Shopping
Regular Customer - Used a total of P$500,000 in Shopping
That Familiar Rush - Watched replay data from Score
I Am Thou, Thou Art I - Completed the Database
Empty Seats - A performance ended prematurely
Hit the Dance Floor - Clear 1 in Free Dance
The Party Never Ends - Cleared all tracks in Free Dance
What’s a “Miss”? - Cleared a track with no MISSes
New Personal Best - Beat your own high score
Fashion Police - Changed costume and began dancing
The Final Touch - Equipped accessory and began dancing
Costume Coordinator - Cleared a track with each character in changed costumes
Dream Team - Paired Rise and Kanami in Free Dance

= 28 trophies

In my opinion, a vast majority of Persona 4 Dancing All Night’s trophies can be classified as easy, as most of them can be done just by completing a basic task. There are trophies for trying on a costume for the first time or for pairing certain characters together, which can be done really quickly just by changing settings before you enter a Free Dance song. Even the story trophies are very easy, as the visual novel format allows you to skip through the story while still getting all of the trophies, which is what I did with the Japanese version. What makes these trophies and Persona 4 Dancing All Night’s platinum trophy so easy is that a good majority of them aren't based on skill, you just need to play a little bit to amass money, use items to boost your rewards and you're pretty set. If you're looking for a quick way to boost your trophy total, these ones will get you up 30 in no time.
The Challenging

Born Entertainer - Obtained top rank (King Crazy) on a track
Star Dancer - Danced using 2 or more items to raise difficulty

= 2 trophies

I put these trophies in the Challenging section of this post, but in reality you can just play Easy Mode and get these trophies very easily, which is what I did to be honest. I got the Born Entertainer trophy unintentionally while challenging myself for fun to try and get a perfect score in one of Persona 4 Dance’s songs and I don’t remember it taking very long at all. Star Dancer also wasn't that difficult to get after I chose the right song. This is because there's a secret to conquering most of Persona 4 Dance’s skill-based challenges and that’s using the super easy tutorial song ‘Specialist’ on easy when in doubt. This song is not difficult on most difficulty modes, so it made raising the difficulty of a that song feel only slightly harder and I was able to get it after only a few tries if that.

Everything Else

Love Connections - Performed a full combo on a track
Perfectionist - 50%+ Perfect clear on HARD track or higher
Working Together - Triggered a Bond Fever at least once
Inseparable - Triggered 30 types of Bond Fevers
Nanako Forever! - Triggered all dances/Bond Fevers with Nanako
Senpai, You're So Cool! - Seen all Bond Fevers between Yu and Rise
Red and Green - Seen all Bond Fevers between Yukiko and Chie
The Junes Special - Seen all Bond Fevers between Yosuke and Teddie
Beauty and the Beast - Seen all Bond Fevers between Naoto and Kanji

= 9 Trophies

I put these trophies here because they require a small amount of skill, but almost all can be done using the easiest song and/or difficulty to win. The only thing with these trophies is that they may take a little bit of time and playing, but if you enjoy rhythm games and the Persona 4 soundtrack as much as I do, this probably won’t be much of a problem.
The Persona 4 Dancing All Night Platinum trophy is definitely the easiest one I’ve gotten, especially once I realised most of the trophies could be done on easy mode. In saying that, it did take a little bit of time and since I was playing in Japanese I had to Google some stuff so I could understand the trophy requirements. Because of that, I still feel like I went to a small amount of effort to get this trophy, so my Platinum achievement was a small triumph to me, but a triumph nonetheless. Now that I have the Japanese platinum trophy, I’m going to look into getting Persona 4 Dancing All Night in English so I can understand the story and maybe if I have time, I might double platinum it for fun. And I say all this with the hope that Atlus will give us a Persona 5 Dancing All Night that I’ll be able to look forward to platinuming too because this Platinum reminded me just how fun a rhythm game with Persona and its great music can be.


Have you platinumed a JRPG recently? What's your favourite JRPG spinoff game?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

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Friday 7 July 2017

JRPGs I Played in June 2017

With the main games and DLC I wanted to play releasing in the later half of last month, my gaming time was pretty free for a bit, so I took the time to play demos, platinum and finish some stuff before new release time. I was kind of all over the place in my gaming time at first, but I did set a few solid goals that I completed. I finished all of NieR Automata’s main routes finally, played SINoALICE, God Wars and Episode Prompto at launch and platinumed Persona 4 Dancing All Night (because why not, right?). Most of all, I tried a few new interesting experiences I'm excited to talk about, so here are the JRPGs I played in June.

Friday 30 June 2017

Review: Episode Prompto (Final Fantasy XV DLC, PS4/Xbox One)

In terms of DLC, Episode Prompto is an experience of its own. It feels complete and fleshed out in its two hour play time and it delivers on its promise of giving a deeper look into Prompto. Episode Prompto is the strongest of the two pieces of Final Fantasy XV story DLC to date and gives much needed background to events that happen later in XV’s main story. Along with being able to play shooting mechanics very true to Prompto’s fighting style and having a decently detailed map to explore with different exploration methods, Episode Prompto feels like a well-rounded experience for a pretty reasonable price and this fleshed out DLC feels very much like a worthwhile chapter of its own.

Spoiler note: Due to the nature of when Episode Prompto is set in Final Fantasy XV's story, mild spoilers may follow

Prompto’s journey takes place fittingly from when he is separated from the group after Ardyn’s trick leaves him stranded and questioning his friendships. His main mission in Episode Prompto is to make his way out of captivity, but it’s also a battle of personal demons as he struggles to come to terms with his past. If you've seen the Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood anime or certain in-game cutscenes with Prompto, you'll know he already has some insecurities and the Prompto in this episode is still the happy one we know, but it mostly sticks to exploring the more emotional side of his character.

Prompto was always a character I thought was developed enough thanks to his Brotherhood episode, but I liked watching him grow throughout Episode Prompto’s journey much more than I had anticipated. Despite being two hours long, the story has a clear plot points with conflict and resolution, a start, middle and end, and while these are story fundamentals, in such a short amount of time, I really did feel like I went on an emotional journey with Prompto by the end of it. Like Gladiolus’ Episode, Prompto goes through a struggle and overcomes it, but to the merit of Prompto’s Episode, it features much more obvious highs and lows that made it really feel like its own Episode and even though other important characters are featured, Prompto is truly the main focus and I finished the Episode feeling a bigger connection to his character.
Since we know Prompto as the party’s shooter in Final Fantasy XV, Episode Prompto’s main fighting style is using third-person shooting mechanics and stealth, which suits Prompto’s goal of escaping captivity well. There’s a small variety of guns to use, such as rifles, sniper guns and even bazookas which all have their own specific purpose and were interesting to try out, even if shooting mechanics aren’t exactly my forte. I liked that since you can’t level up, choosing the right gun was the main strategy. Having to think of things such as if it was worth it to use up my super powerful sniper with limited ammo on a small group of enemies was an interesting new decision for me to make and I liked that were enough guns to give shooting variety, but not too much to be overwhelming. If shooting mechanics aren’t something you’re used to like myself, there is also the option of fighting melee style with a blade which came in handy many times I was surrounded by enemies and couldn’t decide which gun was best for the job. Prompto doesn’t have the same warp abilities as Noctis, but it was nice to have something more familiar to fall back on in sticky situations.

Along with new fighting mechanics, Episode Prompto features a new mode of transportation in the form of a snowmobile. Since I haven’t played the new update for XV, this was my first time driving off-road in XV and it was pretty cool, even if it wasn’t a perfect driving experience. I really liked driving downhills, speeding past enemies and occasionally taking them down with the vehicle and although the vehicle was much easier to control on downhill sections rather than rockier snow areas, it’s a novel vehicle choice that I’m really excited to try out more.
One thing that really pleasantly surprised me about Episode Prompto were the reasons to explore its map. Hidden around the first area are a bunch of Research Logs that gave a deeper look into XV’s world and events that related back to Prompto. These logs provided lore that told their own story and made this side of XV’s world feel more fleshed out. There are even a few side quests to help Prompto upgrade the snowmobile and while I didn’t do many of these, the fact that any were included helps Episode Prompto feel like a deeper experience than the last Episode and it’s something I look forward to going back to if I decide to go back to play through Episode Prompto again.

Side quests aren’t the only thing worth coming back to Episode Prompto for. Like Episode Gladiolus, there’s a Time Attack mode, but this time featuring a speed gem collecting time trial on the snowmobile to beat your own and others high scores. There’s also a battle with Episode Prompto’s co-star Aranea, which provides its own level of challenge with its lack of items and her powerful combat style that I was pleased to see differed a lot from the fight with Cor in Episode Gladiolus. With these features, a world with hidden lore and side quests, Episode Prompto feels like it really gave me a lot and as paid DLC, that’s something I very much appreciate.
Episode Prompto is a big step in the right direction for story DLC in Final Fantasy XV and adds a lot for fans of Prompto and XV’s story. The journey I went on with Prompto in the two hour experience was one that was touching and while I didn’t cry like the trailer had me thinking I would, I left the experience liking Prompto more and feeling like I really did witness a full story by the end of it. Even though I still prefer the melee combat in XV, the shooting elements had a nice amount of strategy incorporated into them and I like the thought put into making the combat fit the world, along with the other little details that made the places in this DLC feel interesting. Episode Prompto may only be DLC, but the well-told story and experience is certainly in my top chapters for Final Fantasy XV and I hope it’s what can be expected of the next Episode to come.

Score: 8.6/10
This score is much higher than my score in time attack.

Will you try Episode Prompto? If you have, what did you think? Are you as excited as I am for Episode Ignis?
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Friday 23 June 2017

First Impressions: Touhou Genso Wanderer Reloaded (Japanese Demo, PS4/Switch)

(Before the localisation trailer, I knew this game as Mystery Gensokyo TOD Reloaded, hence the previous title and how I refer to it in the video and post!)

When I saw Mystery Gensokyo: Tower of Desire -Reloaded-, I thought it’s main character looked familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. Turns out after doing some research, Mystery Gensokyo is the first Doujin spin-off style game I’ve played and despite having no experience with the genre or the Touhou series it was inspired by, TOD Reloaded doesn't seem like a bad place to start. With Roguelike gameplay that’s just the right amount of complicated and plenty of banter I could only halfway understand, Mystery Gensokyo TOD Reloaded was an interesting roguelike I'd like to get to know better.

Feel free to watch the video version here!

TOD Reloaded begins with a pretty but strange scene that sets up its premise. Main character and shrine maiden Reimu is curious about a mysterious gold ball her friend Rinnosuke is holding, but this ball ends up possessing him, causing Reimu to flee and make her way back to her shrine. It’s a quick scene that makes room for the roguelike gameplay exploration to start pretty quickly, arguably too quickly since the opening scene felt little vague, but nonetheless I enjoyed getting into the action almost immediately.
If you’ve played any roguelike games such as Sorcery Saga or The Guided Fate Paradox, you’ll probably recognise the roguelike elements of TOD Reloaded just like I did. The language barrier wasn’t the simplest in story moments for me in this demo, but since TOD Reloaded uses mechanics typical of roguelike dungeon crawlers, I was able to pick up the mechanics quite quickly. A few things made it an interesting and refined dungeon experience, such as having shortcut-ed special attacks to hit long range and in multiple directions or the ‘i’ function, exclusive to Reloaded, that speeds up movement speeds in long, curvy dungeon sections that prevents them from feeling long, leaving plenty of time to fight the amusingly moe-style enemies found in dungeons. I was able to travel through most floors in a short amount of time and partnered with the usual traps and equipment leveling often featured in this style of dungeon crawler, TOD Reloaded’s roguelike dungeons are something I’d like to spend more time with.

While dungeons get straight to business, the story takes a bit more of a relaxed approach, with a lot of long banter sprinkled throughout. Moments of long character dialogue can be found almost everywhere you go in TOD Reloaded, probably to the delight of Touhou fans, but a little overwhelming for someone new to the series like myself, especially since my Japanese is okay at best. Characters met along the way had a lot to say and they seemed be quite humourous in their delivery most of the time, which I tend to enjoy in most JRPGs but perhaps the language barrier was a bit big for me with the talk about ghosts, shrines and references to cultural things I just wasn’t familiar with. I can imagine enjoying it in a localised version, so I’m curious to see if a Western version can tell me what I’m missing out on. Regardless, I did like seeing how much dialogue was even given to characters such as shop staff or random NPCs standing around in the pretty explorable little towns between dungeons and I think the moments have potential.
Mystery Gensokyo TOD Reloaded is an interesting roguelike so far with some nice additions that make travelling through it’s dungeons very easy. Unleashing powerful attacks was easy and I found it fun quickly tearing through floors and watching my equipment level up while reaching my goal. Since I played in Japanese and haven't had much experience with the Touhou series, a lot of the humour and banter moments were probably lost on me, but with it’s good gameplay I’m curious to explore this aspect more if it ever comes out in English. My first doujin game experience with Mystery Gensokyo TOD Reloaded was just as good as original dungeon crawlers made by bigger developers, so I can definitely understand why more of these Touhou games are coming to the PSN in Japan and while I’m still more attracted to original stories, TOD Reloaded was an intriguing first look at this type of game.

Will you play Mystery Gensokyo TOD Reloaded? What's your favourite roguelike?
(Mine is probably still Socery Saga: the Curse of the Great Curry God!)
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

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Wednesday 21 June 2017

My Favourite JRPGs From E3 2017

E3 2017 wasn’t amazing for JRPG fans this year, but that doesn't mean it was without a few great JRPG announcements inserted between the usual E3 stuff. There were a few good surprise announcements in Nintendo’s show and other trailers for big titles sprinkled through the week of E3 that still made it a fun week to be looking out for game news. There are certainly some JRPGs deserving of hype that had me either excited for their story, gameplay or long off releases that I’ll be keeping in mind for awhile, so here’s a list of what I was personally excited by during E3 this year.

Friday 16 June 2017

First Impressions: SINoALICE (iOS, Android, Japanese Version)

I didn’t know I wanted to see all of my favourite childhood characters turned sinister until the announcement of NieR Automata director Yoko Taro’s smartphone game SINoALICE. Partnering with successful developers of smartphone games Square Enix and PokeLabo games, SINoALICE has a lot of potential as a quick and fun RPG experience, with bite-sized pieces of dark story that are quick and easy to cycle through, along with weapon-based combat that combines familiar elemental JRPG mechanics with interesting new ones. Although it has a few technical bumps in its current form, what I’ve played so far has given me confidence that with enough support technically and events to keep it fresh, in good time SINoALICE could be the dark and unique smartphone JRPG that the smartphone world was missing.

SINoALICE’s characters are all based off fairy tale characters that will be easily recognisable to most players. There’s Alice, Snow White, Cinderella and other familiar bedtime story characters, but they’re intriguingly different to the ones we know. They live in the Library world and share a wish to revive their creator in order to continue their story and get the ending they desire. In order to revive the creator, they must fight Nightmare creatures that destroy stories and will eventually have to fight each other. Their dark desires and tendencies were interesting to see detailed in the small bits of text displayed alongside battles, which made it easy to consume the stories little by little on the go.
Like the small pieces of story, the three round battles are also very quick to get through but are involved enough to feel satisfying. Enemies are all assigned an element and in order to deal the most damage to them, you can attack them with their opposing element and your own character’s best weapons to beat them with ease. Together with a party of 4 CPU’s, the three wave battles have all gone by for me fairly quickly so far, even with a boss battle at the end of most of them, but the higher level ones are just long enough to need strategies such as choosing the right weapon or summon to win and keep things interesting.
Challenge comes into SINoALICE in some of the later chapters of the stories. Attacking by using your weapons costs SP plus the weapon itself temporarily and in later chapters, in order to pack a punch they need to be used more frequently. SINoALICE allows you to carry more weapons into battle as you level up, but the more weapons you have, the more SP you are using, especially if you’re restoring your weapons to use them a second time round (which I’ve needed to do a few times). While the first couple of chapters I played through in Alice’s story weren't that challenging, I’m enjoying the balance between health and SP and am interested in how this will continue in later chapters.

The equipment/SP balance be better value if you level up your equipment using the experience giving rewards from battle. Since you can (and should) equip multiple weapons that are used very quickly, being able to raise the level and rank of your equipment is a good way to become stronger, aside from just grinding your characters in the unique, fun touchscreen quick Nightmare Cleaning mechanic to get quick EXP. Both work as good alternatives to replaying levels over and over and I liked the feeling of choice and involvement in these aspects instead of paying to restore things or for better resources.
Being a smartphone game, SINoALICE features a familiar gacha system to help get better equipment. Unlike some other gachas, characters aren’t won through this system, which made the system feel a little fairer than most other Gacha systems, as I wasn’t going to be that sad if I didn’t get the weapon I wanted because I could still upgrade what I got or unlock a character that better suited the equipment I won. It’s this kind of thing that makes me feel more comfortable in playing SINoALICE, as so far I haven’t at all felt the need to use real money in it to improve my experience.

While I’ve been enjoying my time in SINoALICE so far (particularly the last few days where maintenance periods have been much less), it still has a few kinks in it that make it not as easy to jump into as other smartphone games. I’ve had a few experiences where I’ve finished a battle and it hasn’t gone to the reward screen correctly unless I disconnect my internet, only to take me back to the top screen. It’s also had to boot back up while starting a few times, but this error seems to have been fixed as SINoALICE has more maintenance's. These are all problems I’m sure will be fixed very soon (possibly even by the time this is up) as it’s been pretty dedicated to fixing and smoothing things out in its first week and I’m sure that if it sees a localised release, these problems will likely be long gone by that point.
SINoALICE brings Yoko Taro’s standout unsettling narrative-sense into a bite-size form, with it’s storytelling and quick battles fitting well on smartphone. The weapon-based combat and gacha system created a unique take on turn-based smartphone gameplay and with access to plenty of characters and story apps without paying for a thing, whether or not players choose to pay for the experience, it’s easy to get into SINoALICE regardless. I enjoyed the innovative character leveling systems and branching stories and while the experience isn’t 100% smooth yet, I’m looking forward to sticking with it for awhile and hope it sees a localisation at some point to better understand these dark characters.

SINoALICE can be downloaded now on the Japanese App Store or Google Play Store.
No word about a localised version yet (but fingers crossed!)

Do you want SINoALICE to be localised? Which character design is your favourite?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

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Friday 9 June 2017

Five Ways Persona 5 Was Influenced By Old Persona Games

When I started going back and playing the old Persona games, I didn't realise how much more they'd make me appreciate Persona 5. Persona 5 takes a large amount of its influence from older Persona games in the series but makes what it takes way better, making Persona 5 still feel like a Persona game but at a higher than ever quality. The Persona series has a few key themes, such as the use of Demons/Personas, rumours and the social aspects that make Persona unique to its source material Shin Megami Tensei. Persona 5 takes what it can from its roots, whether intentional or not, and in my opinion masterfully succeeds in weaving them together into a fantastic experience of its own. Here are some of the things I noticed from other Persona games that may have inspired Persona 5 and how Persona 5 usually makes them way cooler.

I'm currently playing Persona 2 on my Vita (at a snail's pace) and one of the first things I thought was really unique about it was its rumours mechanic. This rumours mechanic made me realise how rumours play a strong role in most Persona games, with most stories starting with a rumour, such as the Midnight Channel one in Persona 4 Golden. Rumours are also an integral part of Persona 5, as they often lead the Phantom Thieves to their next target and directly affect their credibility as a group. While Persona 5 may not feature a whole mechanic based around making rumours like in Persona 2, they impact the story in interesting ways and the story wouldn't be the same without them.

Talking to Demons
Since I played Persona 2 after playing a bit of Persona 5 in Japanese, I was surprised to see a Demon Negotiation System in it as well. Persona 3 and 4 didn’t feature Demon Negotiation, so it’s interesting to see a throwback to this in Persona 5. Persona 5 does the demon negotiation system so much better than Persona 2 however, by making it feel more like an extension of its social mechanics more than anything else. Persona 2’s Demon Negotiation system usually lets players do one basic action to gain a demon’s trust and potentially spur a conversation with one, while Persona 5 offers the conversation from the get-go, adding to the social nature of Persona and making for some amusing mid-battle conversation.

Big Dungeons
One of my favourite dungeon experiences in Persona was Persona 3’s Tartarus, a massive dungeon that was the focus of Persona 3’s dungeon crawling elements and featured randomised floor layouts to keep things interesting. While Persona 5’s main dungeons feature a set dungeon layout, there is the sub-dungeon Mementos that brings the randomised layout element back in for side-quests in a fun new way. While the original Tartarus didn't feature a cat car to drive through in, Mementos’ constantly expanding nature reminded me a lot of the enjoyable Persona 3 dungeon experience and serves as a good, functional throwback to Persona’s old dungeon system.

Weather may not be the most riveting topic in most cases, but the way Persona uses weather has always been fascinating to me, probably because I hadn’t experienced many weather mechanics like it until Persona 4 Golden. Persona 5 brings in a few new weather effects, such as Pollen Warnings and Rainy Seasons that can affect Shadows in Mementos, by making them less aware during Pollen season. I particularly like this one on a personal level, as while I’m not a person who suffers from Pollen allergies, it is something I hear a lot of people talking in my everyday life in Tokyo, especially in April, so I got a little kick from seeing this in Persona 5’s version of Tokyo, as it strikes me as really realistic.

Persona 5 is a decidedly stylish game, which is a fitting evolution of Persona’s previous stylish tendencies. I’m still regularly surprised at Persona 2’s occasionally plain menus and maps, despite featuring characters just as colourful as the current Persona cast. Between Persona 3 and particularly Persona 4, Persona’s stylishness seem to have been slowly growing, with Persona 4 being the biggest jump in style and Persona 5 having stylishness in every aspect of it. It’s evolved from stylish characters and music to eye catching menus and some of the coolest load screens I’ve ever seen in such a way that it’s pretty much a Calling Card for the series. Persona 5 is so stylish in fact that I actually can’t imagine how Persona 6 will top it, but if Persona 5 has proven anything to me, it’s proven that a great series can continue to get even better every time.

Persona 5 is available now at!
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What updated mechanic did you like in Persona 5? What things keep you coming back to the Persona series in general?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

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