Monday 27 February 2017

A Look at Final Fantasy XV's Latest 1.05 Update and Booster Pack+ (Mini-Review)

Final Fantasy XV is a gift that keeps on giving and is really doing its best to keep everyone playing, whether it's those who purchased it or those who bought the Season Pass holders like myself. This is a smart move considering the time between each of the upcoming character Episode DLCs and is a good way to stop the open world becoming stale and keep those still totally addicted like myself from becoming less addicted or worse, not playing at all. Normally I wouldn't write anything about an update to a game, but the 1.05 update added some really significant updates, such as timed quests and a higher level cap. On top of that, Season Pass holders also got the Booster Pack+ a day after the update so as a happy Final Fantasy XV fan, I wanted to give my thoughts on each new feature added to the game because some of them are pretty cool.
(Feel free to watch the video version!)
Update 1.05

The new update to Final Fantasy XV adds some significant features and is available freely to anyone who owns the game. An exciting thing for those who own a PS4 Pro is probably the new Lite Mode that has a maximum of 60FPS and probably looks absolutely stunning. I don't own a PS4 Pro so I can't comment on this much, but it gives me a reason to be a little more jealous of everyone who does.
Also something I can't comment on much is the raised level cap as my characters are only just at level 80 as I write this (note: as I edit this, I've hit level 100 woo!), but I'm pretty excited for this. Usually levels are capped at level 99 in Final Fantasy games, but Final Fantasy XV players can enjoy getting up to level 120, which is a really cool change. I recently maxed out my character's skills and have missed having a goal to work towards, so it's nice to know I can enjoy seeing my EXP go up for awhile. Also I'm keen to have some totally OP characters for when I go verse a certain boss for a certain gold trophy and an curious to see if it will affect my enjoyment of XV. I do wonder if level cap increases will be a trend with future Final Fantasy XV updates, but even if it's a one-off, it's pretty damn cool.
The thing that had me most keen for the 1.05 update is the addition of Timed Quests. I've written about how I'm totally addicted to running around in Final Fantasy XV's world and Timed Quests are a great way to keep this interesting. The first one is pretty rewarding, with the current fun and challenging cactaur quest giving 10,000 EXP, 333 AP and 150,000 Gil upon first completion, plus cactaurs being 1000 EXP each anyway add up to a fantastic way to reach that new Level 120. This update is guaranteed to keep me checking back for those awesome rewards and I can't wait for more quests and hunts.
The last few updates are minor updates, but nonetheless help enrich the player experience in Final Fantasy XV. In case you were getting sick of hearing the Chocobo theme (is that possible?) while riding Chocobos, you can finally listen to the Audio Player while riding and if you wanted to listen to two tracks from NieR’s gorgeous soundtrack, you can do that now too. Prompto can also store 50 more photos (200 in total), which is nice since I haven't been able to save new photos for awhile. The new update also takes out the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, which I’d already used to help me get my Fishing Skill to full and done pretty much everything in. The Chocobo music player and photo capacity probably should've been in XV already and are kind of insignificant at this point, but I'll take them and enjoy them anyway. All of these additions make a pretty solid upgrade to the base experience of XV and have already given me more reasons to keep playing.

Booster Pack+
The exclusive to Season Pass holders Booster Pack+ is a small little pack of items to mostly make fishing a little easier. The lack of a ‘wow’ item in this pack is probably due to the delay of the Magitek Exosuit that is getting a redesign due to similarities to the Power Rangers’ suits and was supposed to offer invisibility and a boost in fishing skills for a limited time. But the items are a nice little token for those with the season pass regardless. The Dragon Drain Rod and Avior Reel will be helpful for those upping their fishing skill; I don't overly care for these since mine is at max and I only really fished for new recipes and trophies. What I am enjoying is the Ragnarok sword, which packs a punch in battle and mostly just looks cool when warping due to it spitting a bunch of pink electrical looking stuff everywhere. It isn't however stronger than the Blood Sword I was using, so I may retire it soon, making the Booster Pack+ of little use to me.

Being honest, the Booster Pack+ is a tad lacklustre and is absolutely not worth getting the Season Pass for. But it's an alright bonus for those like myself who have it already for the story episodes and if I ever decide to complete Noct’s fishing collection, I'm sure I'll be at least a little happy I have it.
The real standout of these two additions to Final Fantasy XV is the free 1.05 update, but both it and the Booster Pack+ add nice little touches to enhance the current Final Fantasy XV. I enjoyed driving to the latest timed-quest while listening to music from NieR, and will be eagerly waiting for future timed-quests. Final Fantasy XV has been lucky to be getting so much support so far and I hope the addition of timed-quests among the other additions is a nod towards Final Fantasy XV getting support between each of its story episodes.

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What did you think of the Update and Booster Pack+? Are you still playing Final Fantasy XV?
(I sure am...but I may need to take a break for NieR Automata :|)
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
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Friday 24 February 2017

JRPGs I Played in Winter 2017

For those who don't know, I'm currently living in Japan and I'm from Australia. Australia is generally warmer than Japan and allow me to let my Australian out when I say this: Japanese Winters are freezing! On the plus side, cold winters mean wanting to stay inside and play JRPGs, which means I was able to play quite a bit this season. I mostly mean hours-wise, because I may have gotten a very big Final Fantasy XV addiction, which meant I only tried so many new games while continuing to run around in Recipeh Final Fantasy XV.

Looking back on my JRPG time in Winter, outside of my Final Fantasy XV time I'm really happy with the variety of JRPGs I played. I fell in love two Final Fantasy games, added a fun new mobile game to my regular rotation, played some really great Indie JRPGs from outside of Japan and got started on my JRPG New Year Resolutions. It was a fulfilling Winter of JRPGs, so I hope you enjoy reading about the JRPGs I played.

My Favourite Game of Winter 2017: Final Fantasy XV (PS4)
If it wasn't obvious from the amount of articles and tweets I've made about it, I really like Final Fantasy XV. I like it to the point where I limit how long I play it because it's the kind of game where I could do like I did with Persona 4 Golden and play it and nothing else for nine months straight. I love running around with the group of four so much finding quests, recipes and weird things to fight and having the (sadly now gone) Moogle Chocobo Carnival come out recently to give even more content was pretty much the icing on the cake. I reviewed it properly in another post, but I'm still having a ball with XV and am completely hyped to keep playing it into Spring with the new update just out and Episode Gladio coming soon.

Fire Emblem Heroes (iOS)

This isn't a ranked post, but I'd probably call Fire Emblem Heroes my second favourite JRPG of this Winter as it's taken over my mobile gaming time pretty much completely (and I may have my characters training on Auto-Battle as I write this). Fire Emblem Awakening has probably been my favourite tactical JRPG experience so far, so having a pocket-sized version of the Fire Emblem games constantly by my side is pretty awesome. Since writing my review of Fire Emblem Heroes, there have been a few updates to it, including events giving orbs and new story, which was exactly what I said I wanted in my review. I hope Fire Emblem Heroes keeps up the good thing it has going because so far, it's a really solid smartphone game.

Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix (PS3)
When Kingdom Hearts 2.8 was looming last month, I had the sudden realisation that I'm very behind on certain parts of Kingdom Hearts' story. I've played 1 and 2 back on PS2, an insignificant chunk of Kingdom Hearts Chain of Memories and not much else. I barely know who Aqua is and she looks cool and important enough in the 2.8 trailer that I decided (with some helpful nudges from lovely people on Twitter) it's time to catch up and if I start now, I might be ready before Kingdom Hearts 3.

I'm starting my Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix journey by playing through the first Kingdom Hearts again because it's been awhile. It holds up really well for a game released 15 years ago and I'm having a lot of fun playing it again because, well, it's still a good game. I am rushing through a little on Easy mode to get to the new stuff faster, but even on easy the combat is still active and rewarding. I'm playing at my own pace but it's a fun world to revisit and I'm looking forward to finally understanding it better.

God Wars: Future Past (Japanese Demo, PS4)

Despite the fact I don't write my JRPG-specific PSN summaries anymore, I do still lurk the Australian and Japanese PSN every week when they're updated. I discovered very recently God Wars: Toki wo Koete (known in English as God Wars: Future Past) in the demo section of the Japanese PSN and was curious as I didn't know a lot about it. Turns out it's being localised and is scheduled for release around late March, so I plan to do a proper post on it at some point. It had a really nice traditional Japanese feeling in the story and art and the tactical system used some interesting mechanics. I wasn't swayed enough to add it to my must-buy list (which honestly may just be due to my low level Japanese preventing me from understanding the story well) but the demo is over an hour long and interesting enough for those curious.

Tales of Berseria (Demo, PS4)
I had a phase where every time I saw Tales of Berseria, I wanted it more. Because of that, I was pretty surprised when the demo didn't have me throwing my money at it immediately. I think the problem with this demo was that it was too short and tried to show too much. I started off feeling like the combat was cool, then a few tutorials later, it was confusing as ever. I enjoyed the lengthy skits included, but there wasn't a lot of context given so some of the jokes were probably lost on me. Even though the demo didn't have me jumping for joy, I give Berseria the benefit of the doubt as the demo was rather short. The art, characters and story concept still seem interesting, so when I eventually play it I hope it's good.

Nier Automata (Demo, PS4)

NieR Automata has been slowly selling itself to me and this demo where I started to truly need it. The gameplay in the NieR Automata demo was much more epic than I expected. Its atmosphere was very unique and the action combat was even more fun than imagined. This demo helped put it into my March must-have JRPGs and I may make an article about how excited I am about it soon.

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X (iOS)
If I'm being honest, I very briefly logged into Kingdom Hearts Unchained X for a special login bonus and haven't played much else since. It's not a bad mobile game by any stretch, it's just the story moves so slowly and there are other stories I'd like to get ahead in more. But hey, it's not leaving my smartphone game collection anytime soon!

You can download Kingdom Hearts Unchained X for free from the App Store for iOS or the Google Play store for Android!

Persona 2: Innocent Sin (PS Vita)

I've had Persona 2: Innocent Sin sitting in my PSN downloads for a year or two so when I finished World of Final Fantasy, after hearing some of my Twitter and Instagram friends suggest it I decided it was time to finally play it. Persona 2 is a very interesting game to play as someone who jumped into the series at Persona 4 Golden - there are no social links and the graphics are pretty dated, but the demon negotiation system I enjoyed when I played Persona 5 in Japanese is there. It's a really cool system to explore in English for the first time and outside of battle, there are some characters I'm interested in learning more about. I'm only about 7 hours in but it's certainly an interesting look into the Persona series' history.

Persona 4 Dancing All Night (PS Vita, Japanese)
This is a random one but when I decided I wanted to platinum something this year, I looked in my trophies and saw I was really close to platinuming Persona 4 Dancing All Night. So now it's back inside my Vita and I did get one more trophy for it, but I'm so close to platinuming Final Fantasy XV that I'm in no rush to get the one in Persona 4 Dancing All Night. It's still a really fun rhythm game though and putting Chie in her special yellow body suit, putting on the ‘Best Friends’ Banvox Remix and making her dance is never a bad time.

Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (iOS)

Before Fire Emblem Heroes whisked me away from all my mobile games, I was actively planning to complete Final Fantasy Brave Exvius’ story - I even unlocked a new island in January. I don't know when I'll get back to Brave Exvius at this point but forgetting things like the weird Ariana Grande event, it's a good game that will remain on my phone for awhile.

You can download Final Fantasy Brave Exvius from the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android.

World of Final Fantasy (PS Vita)
I expressed how much I adored World of Final Fantasy in my review and I still look back on my monster hunting journey very fondly. But for the most part I've left it alone since I'm satisfied with the ending. You see, World of Final Fantasy’s ‘ending’ gave me some of the biggest JRPG-story feels I've had in a long time and now that I got the closure I needed in World of Final Fantasy, I want to leave it alone....Except I want Square Enix to make a sequel because collecting and battling with Final Fantasy monsters was freaking awesome and I'd like more of that in my life......Please.

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan (PC)
I'm really glad I played Aurion. It may not have been a perfect game, but it had a lot of heart and really great ideas in it. A small piece of me misses having new Aurions to find and learning a little about African mythology through the story. I enjoyed my Aurionic journey with the King and Queen of Zama and recommend it to those looking for a different kind of JRPG.

X-Tactics (iOS)

I'm pretty sure I logged into X-Tactics a few times for login bonuses and to try get X-Coins this month. I was considering completing all of the missions in X-Tactics before Final Fantasy Brave Exvius', but I seemed to be a little further into Brave Exvius. X-Tactics is next on my list though, so I hopefully I'll get some time to play it soon.

You can download X-Tactics free at the App Store for iOS or the Google Play Store for Android!

Legrand Legacy (Pre-Alpha Demo, PC)
Legrand Legacy is one of the best indie demos I've ever played. I really enjoyed the timing-based battle system shown off in the demo and the interesting characters that hooked me in early on and the art and ideas all make it feel really high quality. I will patiently wait for the full version of Legrand Legacy to be released and I'm really looking forward to exploring its world and story more. (Also can we all just take a moment to celebrate that Legrand got funded on Kickstarter?!?!)

You can help Legrand Legacy reach its stretch goals by supporting it on Kickstarter!
Also check out the demo on Steam!

March Gaming Plans
My Final Fantasy XV addiction shows no sign of stopping with the update being out by the time this goes up and Episode Gladiolus being released in late March. My season pass and I are very ready for this. Also, NieR Automata looks fantastic and I pretty much need it. And Persona 5's English release is slowly creeping up and while there's no chance of me completing the Japanese version before the English one comes out at this point, I hope to at least spend a little more time with it before playing it in English in April. I'll also definitely be continuing with Persona 2 on my Vita when I'm not home and probably Fire Emblem Heroes. I'm really excited for NieR and Episode Gladio next month though, so I hope they live up to my excitement levels!

Quick note: The next ‘JRPGs I Played’ post will be for March. Usually I've done these seasonally and this was appropriate when I was playing less games and making less articles, but as I'm starting to try keep up with new releases a bit better and get reviews done faster, I want to try doing these monthly to make it much easier for everyone to digest. If you have thoughts about this, please let me know by commenting or talking to me on social media!

What did you play in Winter 2017? What games are you looking forward to playing next month (NieR Automata hype!)?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
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Friday 17 February 2017

My Hourly Stages When Playing JRPGs

In the last few JRPGs I’ve played, I noticed something interesting: my general feelings during JRPGs remain almost the same throughout my hour count. If a game is good, I’ll usually know around the same hour count I realised other games were good. If a game isn't great and I decide to keep going with it, I can also see similar thought patterns based on how long I've been playing. I'm genuinely curious if other people have these, so here are mine and feel free to leave yours in the comments!

The first 10 hours: Learning the game
No matter whether a game is good or bad, I feel I never truly understand what the story or mechanics are until I'm coming up to the 10 hour mark. Personally, I'm not someone to get good at mechanics straight away, especially with JRPGs having different systems to learn among other things. While I can of course play the game before this, it takes me around 10 hours to feel like I’ve truly got the hang of the system (unless it’s really simple). There is something magical about the first 10 hours of learning a game though, such as learning about the characters and watching the game’s system slowly open up. I love the curiosity I feel in those first 10 hours and when I think back to my favourite games, often it’s these moments that spark my interest and love in a game.

10-30 hours: The honeymoon period
Now that all the systems are learned and the story has been established, it's time to enjoy them to their full potential. Since it’s still early days, this is the point I really feel like I'm in a game. I can understand everything going on, but it's still fresh enough to be exciting.

I call this the honeymoon period because it's the part of the game where my excitement is at its peak. Everything is unfolding, and mechanics and stories haven't had a chance to become tired. It's just fun, especially if the game is particularly good. This is also the stage where I get a clear feeling of my general feelings on a game. If I'm going to really love a game, I usually know at this point. If I'm not crazy about it, this is usually where it starts to annoy me.

30-50 hours: The “Forever or Please Finish” stage
This is probably the most general thing I'll say, but this is usually where something really important happens in the story and it either motivates me to keep playing or is the peak of my frustration in a bad game. I feel like this stage is the climax because the story should be at its most exciting, I should be good at the mechanics and the game should be showcasing its best moments at this point.

If a game isn't so good at this point, this is probably where I start considering bouncing out. Note that I say considering, because my completionist heart usually pushes me on as I pray the game will eventually get better, with varying results.

50+ hours: Point of No Return
There's no bouncing out at this point. Major things have happened in the story by now and I'm invested in seeing where they go, no matter how much I’m actually enjoying myself. By this point I usually have some grinding routines in place for leveling if needed and I can feel the end of the game on the horizon. If a game is really good at this point, this is probably where I feel like I don’t want it to end. I specifically remember this feeling from when I played World of Final Fantasy and Persona 4 Golden (and it usually guarantees I'll cry when it ends).

If a game has begun to either bore me or really annoy me at this point, I am powering through it as fast as I can so I can be done with it as soon as possible. The most significant time I can think of where I had this feeling last JRPG with was Conception II as I was so over the tropes in the story and dating portions of the game but had committed so much time into it that I had to keep going.

80+ hours: Either this is my life or I’m stuck

If I'm playing past the 80 hour mark, it usually means I've digressed from the main story multiple times, usually with end game quests. Doing that probably means it's because I like the game and its setting and characters enough to immerse myself in its little tasks and it probably means I'm a pretty big fan. I’m currently at this stage with Final Fantasy XV, tying up loose ends in quests and considering what things I want to do 100% (such as quests and leveling).

Alternatively, being at the 80+ hour mark can just mean I'm playing a big game or I was bad at the mechanics. If I'm still playing a game that's grating on me at this point, it's probably because of a tough boss battle. This may not necessarily be a game I hate (I'm usually done by this point because I rushed to the end), but at this point I will be itching for it to be over.

Finished the Game: Relief or True Emptiness
Many people talk about the feeling of emptiness after finishing a book series and I get this frequently with JRPGs. If I love a JRPG and I finish it, I usually have maybe an hour where I’m in a happy state before the emptiness sets in. Then I realise I can play something else and if I thought a game was just okay, this probably is fine. But if I was in love with a game, such as my recent love of Final Fantasy XV, this will not seem possible. I’ll consider platinum trophies, true endings, anything to keep me within the game. This is one of the many reasons games are my preferred form of media - there’s almost always a reason to come back.

I’m sure most people have had the experience of finishing a game (or anything) you dislike and feeling glad that it’s finally over. Thankfully, this isn’t a feeling I’ve felt for some time (let's not tempt fate) and I don't like feeling happy to be done with a game to be honest. The short term empty feeling is much more worth it for looking back on a good game experience in the long term. For good and bad games though, there's at least the satisfying feeling of having finished something to look forward to!

How do you feel at different hours of a JRPG?
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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All the games mentioned in this article are available at!
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Wednesday 15 February 2017

Previews and Spoilers: Where Is The Line?

Note: This post was meant to go up ages ago and for some reason I never edited it until now, hence a lot of what I discuss in this post happened many months ago in 2016. However, I decided to put the post up very close to its initial form as I wanted to show what fueled me writing this and since I still feel the same way about previews and spoilers. Enjoy!

Here's something I never thought I'd say: I've seen enough Final Fantasy XV and Persona 5 footage.

The release of Persona 5 in Japan put a spanner in the work in the everyday social media lurker in the form of potential spoilers. In the people I follow on Twitter, I saw multiple of them declaring that they will unfollow anyone who posts spoilers of the highly-anticipated JRPG. With plans to post a Persona 5 First Impressions, these points seemed extremely important to pay attention to and also as a fellow Persona 5 fan it made me think about how mad I would be if someone threw an extremely blatant spoiler in my face right now. It wouldn't be good and it would kill some of the magic gained from a high quality story.
On the other side of this, official video game YouTube accounts are posting previews with varying amounts of gameplay length shown. I've seen various videos, such 18 minutes of Persona 5 or 50 minutes of Final Fantasy XV. I don't mind these necessarily, especially when they're below the 30 minute mark. But when I see videos like 45 minutes of Final Fantasy XV, I feel confused. I understand that the strategy is to sell the game to those who need more convincing, but 45 minutes is a sizable portion of the game. That's half a movie. That could be the length of my first night of playing after work and suddenly when I eventually do, nothing is new and it makes the first playthrough much less exciting. I experienced this a little with Persona 5 since I watched the 18 minute preview before I played. I still enjoyed the start of the game since I could get to new material quickly, but I wonder how this would feel if I'd watched one of the longer previews.

These preview videos are kind of a small dilemma as there's a very easy solution - don't watch them. But if photos or things are said on Twitter, it's much harder to avoid without blocking hashtags and making a special effort. I'm slowly playing Persona 5 in Japanese myself, but I find myself doing the quick scroll when I see screenshots on Twitter because I want to find it for myself in my own playthrough of it. I love sharing funny screenshots with my fellow JRPG friends but I'd hate to ruin a joke for someone too. I like to think context is everything, but everyone’s personal line is different.
For me and what I try to stick to is that a spoiler is something that directly spoils an important plot point beyond the game’s description and advertising. In the case of Persona 4 Golden, I would post about the existence of the Midnight Channel, but I wouldn't post who I found inside the TV world. Posting party members would be okay, but posting their last social link conversation or the final forms may be too much. For some people, my spoiler rule might be too much and for others it won't be enough. Personally, I would never watch an hour of gameplay that involved story, but I might watch half. I try keep the magic of the first playthough as high as possible but in a day of social media, it can be hard.
Since writing the bulk of this article last year, the best solution I’ve come up with is just not watching that content. I’m lucky that a majority of my Twitter friends don’t spoil things for me, but I also am now in good practice of quick scrolling when I see a game I haven’t finished yet. I don’t think long previews will stop, so I guess all I can do as a gamer stick to the solution that works for me as long as I can. I would be happier I think if instead of posting these gameplay video demos online, the footage shown was released as a demo instead. That way, everyone wins and no one feels spoiled and video publishers can still publish these hour long preview videos. But for now, I have my scrolling fingers ready for any Persona 5 or Danganronpa 3 spoiler I see on Twitter and it will have to do.

What kind of spoilers bother you? Do you watch preview videos for games?
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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Make sure to follow the blog here, follow @JRPGJungle on Twitter and Instagramlike JRPG Jungle on Facebook and Subscribe to the mailing list and Youtube Channel for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3

Monday 13 February 2017

How Playing Games in Japanese Made Me Appreciate English Dubs

A short time ago, I could play JRPGs in subbed and dubbed forms no problem. JRPG voice actors are high quality in both Japanese and Western voice tracks nowadays, and I was lucky to be playing subbed JRPGs at all, right? There are certainly characters I have a voice preference for, such as Tharja from Fire Emblem Awakening's low creepy voice in the Japanese version and pretty much anything Erin Fitzgerald does a cartoon-style voice for in Western JRPGs including Chie Satonaka from Persona 4, but this usually never stopped me from enjoying the other version.
My opinion on subbed or dubbed games changed after I played Final Fantasy X HD in Japanese for fun study. I chose Final Fantasy X to play because I knew the story so well and could already play the game well enough to focus on the language learning for my Japanese. I found it really interesting hearing the Japanese voice track and actually preferred quite a few of the Japanese voices, not because the English voice acting was bad (I don't even mind the infamous ‘hahaha’ scene), just because of personal preference. I got very used to trying to get some sort of meaning from the Japanese which was great for when I play games in Japanese only, but pretty much ruined subbed games for me.

I'd like to stress that subbed games being ruined for me isn't anyone's fault but my own for the most part. What's happened is that now when I play a subbed game, I'm still trying to get meaning from the Japanese and during this, there’s a chance I’ll get completely wrapped up in the concept of exact translation vs localisation. I get tied up in really small localisation tidbits, not because I know better than the wonderful people who localisation, but just hearing minor differences. I can't think of any specific instances recently as I've been strictly using dubs for a while but it could be the difference between something in the Japanese track saying ‘yes’ and the English track changing it to ‘Yes sir’ or ‘Yeah man’. The meaning is the same but the personality being displayed in the speaking style is enough to set my brain into overdrive. For a lot of people this probably is a non-issue, but for me it really pulls me out of being immersed in the game.

And that's what I've come to appreciate about dubs: the true immersion they provide. I think most people would agree that hearing, reading and seeing something you 100% understand makes it much easier to take something in. Especially in cutscenes, being able to focus on the entire screen and not the line of text lets me pay attention to the small details the make a scene go from great to amazing. A non-JRPG example I've noticed this with is the Danganronpa 3 anime dub. When I watch the dub instead of the sub, my eyes are free to look for clues to the mystery. On top of this, English voice acting is at a very high standard at the moment and the voice actors in games do a great job of doing justice to the Japanese versions, often using similar pitches and tones to create the most faithful experience to the original character. I’m a bit of a purist at heart, so being able to feel like I’m getting something as close as possible to the source material makes me enjoy dubs even more.
Despite this, it hasn't completely ruined subbed games for me. If it's the only option between not having the game and having a subbed version, I will gladly take a subbed game any day. One of my favourite games of last year, Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth, is only available in English in subbed form. Even though it had a few very minor typos here and there, the deep gameplay and fun story was enough to keep me absorbed and hearing the great Japanese voice acting was a nice bonus. An English dub would have been nice but with all the Digimon to voice alongside the main characters, it would no doubt be expensive and for a smaller game, I can see why they saved the money and just released the sub.
It's fantastic that a majority of JRPGs offer both a subbed and dubbed option nowadays. There are definitely people who prefer one over the other and as a person who used to not be bothered, it's nice to be able to choose more often than not depending on what I'm feeling at the time. At the moment, I'm really enjoying the full immersion I feel from dubbed JRPGs and hope for more JRPGs to get dubbed for others who feel the same. Above all, I'm just happy we're lucky enough to get all these great games localised for our enjoyment!

Do you prefer subs, dubs or the native experience? What's your favourite dubbed-JRPG?
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on FacebookYoutube or Instagram and let's talk!

Thanks so much for stopping by!
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Thursday 9 February 2017

Review: Fire Emblem Heroes (Reviewed on iOS, also on Android)

JRPG fans have been pretty lucky over the last few years to be getting great smartphone games. There was Final Fantasy Record Keeper in 2015, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius and Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ in 2016. With great tactical gameplay reminiscent of the 3DS Fire Emblem games and a wealth of characters and things to keep players busy, Fire Emblem Heroes may be 2017’s killer RPG app.

Fire Emblem Heroes begins with the light premise that you have been summoned to help the Order of Heroes restore other hero worlds that are regularly being invaded by dark forces. You can do this thanks to your ability to summon powerful heroes to fight by your side, with these heroes being familiar characters from the Fire Emblem series. As I’ve only played Fire Emblem Awakening outside of Heroes, it wasn’t until the Awakening chapter that I realised each chapter was based around the world and characters of a Fire Emblem game. Particularly in the Awakening chapters, it was cool to be versing teams of characters similar to the ones I would’ve formed in Awakening and the chapters with characters I didn’t know were a nice introduction other Fire Emblem games.
The tactical system used in Fire Emblem Heroes will be very familiar to those who have played the series. Battles are done on a grid map and with your team of four, your goal is to wipe out your opposing team, whether your challenge is one of the pre-made teams in Story Mode or player-made teams in the Arena. The usual Fire Emblem rock-paper-scissors tactic applies in Heroes in a simplified form and is visible on the bottom corner of the screen, making executing good tactical plays in Heroes very easy to confirm and check. Since Heroes is a smartphone game, the main difference between Heroes and the 3DS Fire Emblems is that everything is easily done through dragging characters to enemies. Battles are pretty short, usually a couple of minutes unless you’re versing a particularly difficult team or you’re under-leveled. The short length of battles may seem like it would counter the tactical nature of Fire Emblem, but I actually enjoyed being able to have a quick battle using simple tactics when I only had a minute or being able to play many rounds if I had more time and stamina.
Speaking of Stamina, Fire Emblem Heroes is a free app with in-app purchases, so the usual limitations to free players apply, but I haven’t felt too restricted yet. All players have 50 Stamina points (with no plans as of yet to expand this), which means as your party levels up and you start playing harder levels, your play time slowly decreases. In the normal difficulty mode, story levels start at 2 Stamina, while the Lunatic ones start at 11 and go up to a costly 23. Stamina can be restored with Orbs or Stamina Potions, but these are mostly available in limited quantities. Orbs can be made less limited for those who want to spend real money in Fire Emblem Heroes. I'm the type of smartphone gamer (and person) who avoids spending extra money like the plague and I'm pleased to say I could do almost everything I wanted to in Heroes without spending a cent, especially with the extra orbs and potions given to celebrate the apps launch. I always like smartphone games that make payment an option rather than a must and so far Heroes is definitely one of these.

And that's the best part of Fire Emblem Heroes: there's a whole lot to do. There's the story and three difficulty modes, an Arena that can be played three times a day for free, and events with new heroes and orbs, plus a Training Tower where you can train the many collectible heroes. There's the addictive Hero Gacha system which will probably be the main draw to buy orbs, where you select from class colours and see which hero you get, as it's the main way to get heroes. For the casual smartphone player, all this content will probably keep you going until well after there is more released and for the dedicated, there's the promise of new content every couple of weeks. As long as Heroes keeps making events that support those who make purchases and occasionally gives orbs to those who don't, there's a good reason to keep playing and I'm already looking forward to future events.
With the already great Fire Emblem battle system, good tactical gameplay and accessibility is balanced well in Fire Emblem Heroes and it's a pocket-sized reminder of how fun Fire Emblem is. The Hero collection aspect is complemented well by the addictive gacha system and with a wealth of content and a nonrestrictive payment model, I'm happy to add it to my group of smartphone games I play on the go. If it keeps getting support like it has with its launch, Fire Emblem Heroes is a fantastic option for the casual tactical JRPG fan or the Fire Emblem fan who left their 3DS at home.

Score: 9/10
Now please excuse me, I need to gacha for my Tharja.

You can pick up Fire Emblem Heroes in the App Store or the Google Play Store.

Will you play Fire Emblem Heroes? Which characters do you want in your party?
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Monday 6 February 2017

Review - Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan (PC)

Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is one of the most unique JRPGs I’ve ever played for a lot of reasons. It’s from Kiro’o Games, a game studio in Cameroon, Africa, and it’s based on African mythology, something that I don’t think I’ve ever seen explored in a JPRG world. Reasons like this are probably why it was successfully Kickstarted years ago and would make it a one of a kind experience for any JRPG player looking for something different. Aurion has many highs, such as a deep story that challenges its player to think profoundly throughout the King and Queen of Zama’s story, a fun active battle system and its own different kind of class system. A lack of polish stops Aurion from being a great game, but the variety of gameplay mechanics and philosophical story do make it pretty good.
Aurion centres around King Enzo from the isolated city of Zama, whose world is turned upside thanks to his brother-in-law attacking Zama just after Enzo is wed with his childhood friend and new Queen Erine. This attack results in Enzo and Erine awaking suddenly exiled from Zama and having to find the answers, along with exploring the outside world for the first time. Aurion’s story explores existential questions and the growth of the individual and a relationship, together creating a great sense of purpose throughout the story and the true feeling of going on a journey. The story isn’t afraid to go deep, with the script describing some profound topics such as embracing anger and living with honour. Some of these story moments were let down by a lack of proofreading or varying pacing, but other times there were incredibly strong story moments with such inspiration dialogue that kept me going on my Aurionic journey.

One of the things that drew me into trying Aurion was the mention of a battle system similar to some Tales of games. Aurion features an active battle system in a platforming, brawler-like style that's fun to play if you take the time to master it. There is a variety of shortcuts for commands to perform, whether you're using a regular attack, transforming your class with Aurions or getting help from Erine, who packs just as much of a punch as her husband. These commands can be implemented very quickly in battle when used, but I had trouble sometimes since the commands were so similar instead of getting Erine heal me, I'd make her attack instead even when I was using a controller. I know this problem would’ve been worse on keyboard though, so I definitely recommend using a controller to anyone who plays.
While I found the controls a little tough at time, there’s a fun class system to use in the form of Aurions. An Aurion gives Enzo a set of moves to use, boosts his power and allows him to perform special attacks. Special attacks provide the kind of Dragon Ball Z attack realness that excited the anime fan in me and made Enzo feel like a really powerful character to fight as. The best part is there are so many Aurions to unlock that I was able to find multiple for different purposes, whether for exploiting weaknesses, hitting a bunch of enemies at once on the ground or raining down attacks from above. The best part of Aurions is how they're unlocked, which is either through story moments or by combining them. Even though I couldn't get the battle commands right every time, I was able to get around this by taking advantage of the many cool Aurions at my disposal.

To do battles and experience the story, Aurion’s world full of beautiful art and music must be explored. Exploration is done in many ways: there's platforming, puzzles to unlock blocked areas, the occasional dialogue-effecting choice and even visual novel-style moments to fill in story gaps. Aurion incorporates a lot of different styles into it, which reminded me of older JRPGs featuring puzzles and challenges to move forward. Certain things I loved, such as the interesting and challenging puzzles that used pattern memorization well, but other things were let down by the lack of polish in Aurion. There are certain sweet spots to buttons needed for puzzles and chests that caused to me to be running around in one spot until it let me press the button, text going outside the box and a regularly featured difficult wall jumping mechanic. These small things were regular enough for me to find them in almost every one of my gameplay sessions and while I love the variety in Aurion, I wish the quality of these many mechanics was made a little smoother and better.
Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan is a good first effort for the Cameroon studio, even if it’s a little unpolished. Its profound story features some of the deepest philosophical ideas I’ve seen in games for awhile and unlocking Aurions made its active battle system even more fun. If you can look past the lack of polish, there is a story like no other JRPG in Aurion and a variety of gameplay mechanics to keep things interesting. Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan may not be perfect, but its uniqueness may interest those looking for a new kind of JRPG.

Score: 7.1/10
A unique, unpolished JRPG experience away from the usual JRPG story content complete with Dragon Ball Z attack realness.

You can pick up Aurion: Legacy of the Kori-Odan on Steam

Will you play Aurion? What's the most unique JRPG you've played?
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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Disclaimer: I received a code for this game from Kiro'o Games, but I can promise this post is 100% honest and written without bias.

Thursday 2 February 2017

Review: Final Fantasy XV (Reviewed on PS4, also available on Xbox One)

“A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers”. This is what Final Fantasy XV opens with every time I boot it up and it truly echoes throughout the experience. The wide open world and the easy to learn battle system are much like a western RPG, while the story, character relationships and skill trees are closer to what Final Fantasy players would be used to. I wouldn't say it's a perfect balance of the two, with XV switching back and forth between the two from time to time, but in the end it doesn't need to be. Final Fantasy XV excels as an open world RPG and the dynamic friendship between the four men on their royal journey satisfied the Final Fantasy fan in me and created an addictive environment for me to run around and quest in with new characters I love. It’s not the Final Fantasy fans are used to, but with an open mind you may find yourself completely addicted to the open world, questing playground of Final Fantasy XV just like I am.

Final Fantasy XV is set in the world of Eos, a large world divided into three different areas, with two of the areas, Lucis and Niflheim, being in conflict. The story begins with Noctis and his friends Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus on their way to Noctis’ wedding to the oracle from Niflheim Lunafreya, only for a lot of things to go horribly wrong along the way and Noctis’ road trip becoming a much more consequential one with his throne at stake and a lot of loss along the way. As with a lot of stories involving royalty in Final Fantasy, I found the story a little convoluted at times even with prior knowledge from Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV and Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV. The story can go from zero to eleven at times, with earlier chapters feeling quick and light in comparison to the more linear and emotive last through chapters which had me glued to my console wondering what would happen next. I didn’t mind though, as I found myself engaged much more by what was happening to Noctis and his friends and watching their dynamic grow and change became my focus in the story.
What makes the group so engaging is the story moments being heightened by the open world aspect of Final Fantasy XV. While there is a large and epic story to be completed, Final Fantasy XV allows it to be done at your own pace, with plenty of side quests, photo spots and areas to explore until you feel like getting back to the core story. This open world is the heart of Final Fantasy XV, with story moments given weight along the way by the group that always have a lot to say, and the frequent conversation being a great way to get to know the characters. Whether it’s Ignis discovering a new recipe, Prompto falling in love with every girl he meets or Gladiolus’ deep care for the group, each character had something to add to Noctis’ hard journey. I felt satisfied by Final Fantasy XV’s story in the end and a lot of it is due to how much I loved the four together and their genuine friendship.

While the complex story and character archetypes feel close to Final Fantasy XV’s roots as one of the most classic JRPG series of all time, battle is where it starts to move away from this. Combat is action-based, with no Active Time or Turn Based system like previous Final Fantasy games being featured in XV. Instead there are shortcuts and easy to hold down attack buttons making battle intuitive and simple. My usual strategy of exploiting elemental weaknesses changed to one of blocking in time and using the cool warp-attack on unsuspecting enemies. Final Fantasy XV’s combat can definitely have strategy applied to it, but there’s also the option of just choosing a weapon, holding down the attack button and as long as your party are at a good level and you dodge sometimes, you’ll probably win. Don’t get me wrong - XV’s combat is fun and rewarding and boss battles had their fair share of challenges thanks to status ailments and near one-hit kill attacks. But it’s a clear difference to Final Fantasy games of the past and may not satisfy fans of the more traditional Final Fantasy experience. For traditional Final Fantasy fans, skill trees, summons and special attacks are present in the battle system to tie in that JRPG layer, but it is certainly on a smaller scale than previous Final Fantasy games.
Even though Final Fantasy XV is another step away from the more traditional Final Fantasy-style game, the incredible journey I had both in the story and outside it doing quests made me not really care. Running around the world of Eos and making my own experience made me not worry about its faithfulness to the genre and as I write this, I’m still pretty addicted to the freedom I feel driving around the big world in the Regalia with four great characters. There were a few things to stifle my enjoyment occasionally, the main thing being the long load screens I faced whenever I fast traveled or loaded my save. I bought my PS4 at launch, so it's definitely not a PS4 Pro and this is the first game I’ve felt like my game should have been really going faster than it was.
A genuine issue with Final Fantasy XV is also that despite how open the world is, there are definitely some invisible walls I found myself faced a lot of occasions I decided to free run in the world like I’ve done in western RPGs such as Skyrim. Noctis can’t climb or jump down everything for some reason, so I sometimes felt frustration when I could visually see a faster path to where I wanted to go but it was impossible to access. But as I mentioned Final Fantasy XV’s cast have a lot of little conversations along the way and the pleasantness of these outweighed most frustrations I have and I learnt to either accept or play around most invisible walls that stood in my way in favour of continuing the fun journey.

Final Fantasy XV may not be the most traditional JRPG in the world, but thanks to the vast world, I came to like the blend of old and new in Final Fantasy XV. For me, Final Fantasy XV is everything I like about western open world games blended with the JRPG elements that make me feel at home. By the end of Noctis’ journey, I felt like I had truly gone on a journey with the group in many ways - I watched Noctis and the group stumble and grow stronger along the way and I explored a great new world. Most importantly, I didn’t hesitate to come back again after the credits rolled, something I haven’t felt the need to do in a main entry of Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy XV’s journey is worth experiencing if you’re a Final Fantasy fan with an open mind or a fan of Western RPGs looking for something different. In my opinion, it was well worth the long wait for the great newest entry to the Final Fantasy series.

Score: 8.6/10
I'm so addicted to this open world that I literally have to force myself not to play sometimes. Not as 'JRPG' as other Final Fantasy games, but still incredibly fun.

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What did you think of Final Fantasy XV? Who's your favourite of the main characters?
(I like them all but Ignis and his recipehs give me joy)
Leave a comment below, send me a tweet at @JRPGJungle, hit me up on Facebook, Youtube 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 and Youtube Channel for updates on content and random musings on JRPG news and games. You're awesome! <3