Friday, 9 February 2018

JRPGs I Played in January 2018


January was a very good month for JRPGs and also a month where I had to quickly accept that it would be impossible to play everything. After all, I started the month on the tail end of December’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and while I had a solid game plan in the form of Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory for January, various experiences from betas to demos to indies kept popping up and all I could do was try stick to my plan while playing what I could in between. I did manage to try a lot of the experiences I wanted to try in January for varying lengths of times and feel positively about most of them, so here are all the JRPGs I Played in January.

JRPG of the Month: Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker’s Memory has been the JRPG I wanted to start 2018 with ever since it got given a release date thanks to the first one making me fall in love with my PS4. Armed with my PS4 again, I entered Hacker’s Memory with not much knowledge of its story premise this time around and was pleasantly surprised with how interesting I found its different concepts of memories in its world, along with its likeable new cast of hackers. Also returning was the fun Digimon collection system that I think is really well done with how deep it makes working for certain Digivolutions end up feeling and I’m already itching to get back in and fill in my Field Guide with the 300+ Digimon available in it. While it closely resembles its predecessor visually, the new additions in story, Digimon and its new tactical Domination Battle system really make me happy that this series could got another good game and I hope I find myself back into collecting various Digimon (but mostly Agumon) soon.

Xenoblade Chronicles 2
During the time period of making and finishing my "JRPGs I Played" post early last month, I managed to finish Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and was satisfied enough with how it ended. However, if you’re any sort of completionist, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 doesn’t really “end” and I popped in multiple times during January to do quests, unlock more Blades and fill in the skill trees of some of my favourites. There is still a wealth of things to do in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and there are a lot of aspects I want to talk about in more detail in a review sometime. But for now I don’t know how long I’ll be picking it up for, but I know that every time I do, my intended one hour of play time turns into way too many more and I couldn’t have asked for a better JRPG to be the first full one I’ve played on my Switch.


Legrand Legacy
I owe a lot of thanks to you all for reminding me that Legrand Legacy was coming out last month. I’ve been interested in Legrand Legacy since I made my first impressions on its demo in 2016 and really thought it had a lot of potential, so seeing it finally come out in full is nice to see. I squeezed a small amount of time into it between playing Digimon and other things and I was reminded of why I liked it: its innovative timing mechanic when attacking, its lovely art and interesting characters are all there from the first time I played it, along with its challenging gameplay reminiscent of older JRPGs. I hope to get more into Legrand Legacy during February and I definitely recommend giving its demo a try at the very least if you’re interested in a challenging modern throwback to old-school JRPGs.

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (English and Japanese Beta)
I had a few chances to try the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Beta last month, once in early January thanks to the Japanese beta and late January in the English one. Since I’ve also played Dissidia NT in arcades, the Japanese beta mostly showed me that the game played well at home too and had a much nicer feel being able to experience the music and visuals that sometimes get drowned out in fun arcade settings. The English beta I was much more excited about though, as I’ve been playing Dissidia NT in Japanese by piecing together the mechanics I could understand in Japanese with a whole bunch of guess work, so I was weirdly keen even just for the tutorial in the English beta.

After learning how to play properly, I’m happy to say I enjoyed the experience even more. Hunting summon crystals during epic battles happening all around me in some of my favourite Final Fantasy areas was really cool after learning how to play properly. This also meant I could actually knock points off the other team and win which made things even more fun and I look forward to trying to get better at it so I can see more of the moments in its story mode, even if they were mostly just a little bits of fan service in the beta. I haven’t picked it up yet but I will definitely be picking it up when I can as the fields, remixed music and throwbacks to a lot of Final Fantasy games I love in an action-filled unique fighting game seems to be a lot of fun both at the arcade and at home so far and I’m always a fan of JRPG excuse to get into a fighting game.

Lost Sphear (English Demo)
Lost Sphear is another release I’ve been looking forward to for a while and if it wasn’t for my commitment to playing Digimon and one game at a time at the moment, I probably would have picked it up. But at the very least, Lost Sphear released an English demo before it came out that was surprisingly different to Japanese one and showed me a lot more about it, from how memories are used to its challenging boss battles that made me need to rethink my positioning strategy after I was met with a Game Over screen. It’s another I haven’t picked up yet that I wish I had the time for, but I’ve played enough of it so far to know its a game I want to keep in mind for the future.

World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo
Just before Digimon Hacker’s Memory came out, I remembered that World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo had come out on smartphones the month before in Japanese and as World of Final Fantasy was my favourite JRPG of 2016, I had to at least give this a try. There are a lot of things I find good about it so far - there are a lot of returning characters from the original, it seems easy enough to get monsters outside of the gacha system so far, the combos based on height remind me of the console game and some of the voiced dialogue has genuinely made me giggle at times at how adorably silly it is. I want to play more of it and talk about it in more detail at some point, but at the moment even though it’s not a console game, its gameplay and monster collecting have made it my current smartphone JRPG of choice as I continue to get to know it.

Persona 2
Also before Digimon Hacker’s Memory came out, I was absolutely determined to put some more time into Persona 2 and I did get to play a few times before I got busy with other games. It’s a little slow going as I get a kinda lost on its maps every time I come back to it after a while, but I did a bunch of grinding to make sure I’m ready for the time I hopefully get to play in February. I become more and more determined to finish it every time I play it, so hopefully I don’t get too distracted by little new experiences this month and finally do it.

Persona 5
As much as I wanted to give all my side gaming time to Persona 2, I also had that Persona 5 itch still going strong so I made sure to get a little more time into it during January. I’m getting a little excited as I know I’m coming up to unlocking Haru’s confidant story and I didn’t experience hers in my first playthrough, so that is something I’m glad I’ll get to do as I go for the platinum. I’ve been doing a lot of story parts in my very little time in Persona 5 over the last few months and have been finding it interesting since I played it in a much faster fashion in my first playthrough. After so much story, I’m now feeling ready to get back into its dungeons and have a bunch of freedom to rank up confidants and do little tasks, and I like the way that having these portions in chunks has kept the experience from getting stale. This platinum is not a quick one, but thankfully Persona 5 is a fun game to dive even more into and we’ll see if I get time to do it again during this February.


February JRPG Plans
I told myself during TGS last year that when Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet comes out, I should really play it since it looks a bit like Freedom Wars and it is finally coming out this month. But February is another good month for JRPGs, with interesting JRPGs like Radiant Historia and Secret of Mana coming out, along with Little Witch Academia which I’ve been trying the Japanese demo for recently and the potentially oddly-endearing looking Final Fantasy XV mobile edition and all these are all games I’ve considered playing sometime at some point or another. However I know I can probably only get through one JRPG this the month with both time and my budget, so I’ll probably stick mostly to Sword Art Online, maybe chip away at the backlog with Persona 2 on the side and play a few of the demos and free experiences that may or may not come out during the month as I usually like to do. It’s another great start to the year for JRPGs this month, so I currently feel like whatever I pick up, I can’t go wrong with and that’s a really nice feeling to carry with me from last month to this month as well.

You can pick up/pre-order most of these games on Amazon!
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What did you play in January? What your JRPG plans for February?
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Note: A digital copy of Legrand Legacy was provided to me, however all thoughts and feelings are my own.

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