And on that note, I have to ask: do you know why I prefer JRPGs to shooters? If you’ll let me make a blanket statement, it’s that shooters (especially today’s shooters) are eerily similar. If you’ve shot with one machine gun, you’ve shot them all. If you hide behind one wall of sandbags, moving to the next one becomes second nature. And the less said about the narratives attached (Gears of War 3 being a prime example), the better off we’ll all be. That’s not to say that all shooters are stupid and identical -- Bioshock and Borderlands say hi -- but in theory, JRPGs are the more varied genre.
Don’t get me wrong, the genre’s LOADED with clichés and trite elements -- Magnacarta 2 says hi -- but the lynchpins of JRPGs, the story and especially the gameplay, are what make each one distinct from one another. Turn-based games. Strategy hybrids. Real-time combat. ATB systems. Speaking as someone who’s played his fair share of JRPGs, I’d argue that if you’re running away from battles, you’re not getting your money’s worth. Fighting, and getting stronger, and turning your ragtag team into harbingers of destruction are as valuable as the story itself. At least, they should be if the game is doing its job.
Which brings us to Kingdom Hearts 2.
Readers, you might want to go grab your favorite snack. This is gonna be heavy.