Friday 2 March 2018

JRPGs I Played in February 2018

February was an interesting month in terms of the way my gaming time went. With Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory all finished, I was left with time to come back to my long term JRPG quest Persona 2 and time to catch up on Japanese demos like Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time and Atelier Lydie and Suelle that had been sitting on my hard drive for a while. There were also a few random delays, with Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s New Game+ mode that I’ve been looking forward to ever since I finished it getting a delay and the full version of Little Witch Academia not coming out in English when most people (myself included) expected it to. Luckily, the main JRPG I was looking forward to did come out towards the end of the month in the form of Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet and I can look back on the last month and say I had a lot of fun with what I played, so here are all the JRPGs I Played in February.

JRPG of the Month: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
While I intended last month to go deeper into Digimon, I got hooked once again by the incredibly addictive open world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. I found myself opening it up with the intent of playing for just an hour and then hours later be absorbed in a big quest or grinding certain enemies to complete various tasks, wanting to keep playing for a long time. There’s something very satisfying about exploring its world through its many things to do and it definitely still has its hooks in me, especially in the post game portion where I can allow myself to explore areas with higher level enemies or run towards whatever shiny thing I can see in the distance. I was hoping to play its New Game+ to unlock and play with those special extra blades of some characters I found interesting, so I’m pretty sure my adventures in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will continue next month as well and with good reasons to play its New Game+ aside from witnessing its great story again, there’s a lot to keep looking forward to in it as it gets more updates.

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet
Shooters generally aren’t something I play a lot of, but thanks to it looking a little like Freedom Wars, I had to pick up Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet when it came out. I was wondering how I’d enjoy it since I haven’t watched Sword Art Online properly since its first series, but it hasn’t been a problem so far with both the original Sword Art Online cast from the show and also new characters making up the main cast, so I’ve been able to enjoy both the characters I know and the interesting new ones added for this game. The gameplay has also been fun too - it gives that Freedom Wars satisfaction of darting around a big field with your team against many enemies and lucky for me switching between swords and guns in it makes for a good strategy element while versing its various bosses and I’m able to balance the active gameplay style I know with the shooting mechanics the game’s world is based around. I’m around 15 hours in at the moment and may be approaching the end as I hear it’s a shorter game, but it’s a nice bit of active battle fun to end the month with as something different to the JRPGs I usually play.

Atelier Lydie and Suelle: the Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings
Since I had a bit of time before Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet came out, I took the time to play Atelier Lydie and Suelle’s Japanese demo which ended up being longer than I expected. I’m used to demos usually being just under an hour long, but Lydie and Suelle’s generous demo spanned over two hours and three chapters, along with the option to continue collecting freely after. Since this was my first dive into an Atelier game, I was fascinated by this glimpse into its interesting systems. Gathering materials by collecting them while exploring and beating enemies was enjoyable, especially in its pretty painterly world. I want to learn more about its systems properly when it comes out in English, but even in the Japanese the gameplay flow was intriguing and pretty fun. I hope to do a first impressions on the demo if I get the chance, but I can say its Japanese demo has made me feel good about its release next month and I am pretty sure it’s convinced me to pick it up when it comes out.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory
While I may have played more Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to satisfy the completionist in me last month, I didn’t forget about Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Hacker’s Memory and the quests and monsters I still want to collect in it. I’m a few hours into my New Game+ run of it and am collecting and Digivolving more Digimon to help complete my Field Guide, along with doing its side quests that I didn’t touch much during my main story run. I’ve found myself very impressed with these side quests in particular, as I mostly expected them to be basic fetch quests but they actually have more little stories with the type of amusing dialogue I enjoyed in its main story and I feel like I’m getting to know other players and Digimon in its online world of EDEN in an engaging new way. I know there will be plenty more of them down the line, so I hope that these first few side quests are a sign that there are more stories to find in Hacker’s Memory as I continue to complete my Digimon collection.

Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time
I’ve had the Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time Japanese demo on my hard drive since around the end of January since I was too busy with Digimon to try it right away, so it was one of the first things I played in February. As someone who hasn’t seen its anime, I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked its charming characters even with the language barrier and how its RPG elements mixed into a 3D side-scrolling beat em’ up made for an intriguing gameplay style I haven’t tried before. Unfortunately it had some weirdness around its release time with many people, including myself, believing we’d be able to hear more about it on what was supposed to be its February 20 release date, but that turned out to be unconfirmed and it isn’t out yet. I hope we can hear more about it soon, but for now I’m still intrigued by its colourful magic and unique gameplay style and look forward to hearing about it in its localised form soon.

Persona 2
As I’ve been slowly making my way through Persona 2, I was extremely happy to make my way out of the area I’ve been in for months during February in the few hours I got to play. I’ve been stuck in a somewhat complex area for a while since I play Persona 2 on and off and couldn’t get my bearings with the area quickly enough to get through it in the small bits of time I had to play it, so to finally see a new area was more exciting than usual. Since the main JRPG I want to play in March is due later in the month, as usual I hope to get more time to play Persona 2 before and I’ll keep working on my quest to finish it, even with its complicated dungeons.

March JRPG Plans
As I mentioned earlier, Atelier Lydie and Suelle sold me on it pretty well with its Japanese demo, which only solidified my plans to play it this month. I’m really excited to play it and explore its pretty world of alchemy and item collection and to hopefully complete one of my JRPG resolutions for this year as I’ll finally be playing an Atelier game. On top of that, I’ll be keeping an eye out for smaller experiences I can try out in between; I already know I want to try Valkyria Chronicles 4’s recently released Japanese demo, but so far my plans are pretty free. And since my plans are pretty free for new JRPG experiences, I hope to get time to get more into Persona 2 in my long quest to finish it. There are a few great looking JRPGs coming out all in series I haven’t tried in March, so I’m looking forward to checking out one of them and hopefully getting more into my quest to finish Persona 2.

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What did you play in February? What your JRPG plans for March?
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