Let's discuss Avengers: Infinity War -- a movie BOUND to make you feel so good!

February 4, 2013

Let's discuss some good JRPGs.

“Better than Final Fantasy.”

That’s a phrase I throw out a lot whenever my brother asks me what I think of a JRPG I’m trying out for the first time -- usually one I say in the most deadpan, bitter tone I can muster.  Of course, we’re talking about post-FF13 Final Fantasy, not any of the other ones…though where exactly the series took a nosedive will vary from one person to the next.  In my case, 13 was the one that I consider to be an affront and betrayal.  And pretty much everything since then has not only affirmed that there’s still plenty of hope for the genre, but that in many respects Final Fantasy has been surpassed both before and after 13’s release.  There’s always a possibility that Squeenix can pull out of its tailspin with some massive changes, or the release of Versus 13 that will supposedly restore the faith (though I’m increasingly worried about how it’ll turn out), but until then there are plenty of games that’ll scratch that itch.  And I’m going to start naming them here and now.  Whether they’re underrated, unknown, or just plain under…a rug or something…let’s have a good long talk about some JRPGs.  Or…part one of a long talk.  Probably.  You know me.

...And this is the part where I wonder how many people actually read that paragraph instead of staring at the picture on its immediate right.

Well, whatever.  Go right ahead -- read on, if you’re looking for something to tickle your fancy.  And who knows?  Maybe you’ll get more pictures of Christina Hendricks along the way. 

And that’s how you dangle a carrot on a stick.

Part 1: GameCube Edition!

Ah, the GameCube.  So oft underestimated, yet leaving owners satiated.  There have been plenty of times where I’ve been thankful the Wii has backwards compatibility (how else would I ever play Mario Party and find a hidden block that let me get a star on the first turn?). 

Now, before I go any further, I want to make a few things clear.  First of all, the games I’m about to suggest are ones that I’ve played.  I’m pretty sure that Skies of Arcadia is fantastic, but I never got my hands on it, so it’s ineligible for this list and the lists to follow.  Second, there are going to be some sequels showing up, either immediately or down the line; unless noted, you can pretty much assume that the first game is as worthy of your time as the second.  Third, it's worth noting that I'm writing about these games from memory, and it's possible that certain elements have been poorly-remembered.  Hopefully that isn't the case, so as far as I know you can trust my word.  Fourth -- and most obviously -- if you have a JRPG in mind that you really recommend, say so in the comments.  Do all the gushing you can, so that together we can spread love and peace across the internet.

Got it?  All right then.  Let’s get it on.

Mega Man X: Command Mission!
(Or: X is Voiced by Domon Kasshu!)

Oooh, what’s this one?
It’s an RPG spinoff of the Mega Man X canon -- and if my guess is correct, it was a last-ditch effort by Capcom to save the X canon after the issues with X7 and (to a lesser extent, I assume) X8.  It didn’t work out, of course, but the good intentions here are palpable.

The story is a pretty simple one.  Maverick Hunters X and Zero try to infiltrate an island in the hopes of stemming an uprising led by the main villain, Epsilon.  But when an informant’s betrayal puts the two in dire straits, the plan goes awry, and the rebellion forces make a stake in Giga City in the hopes of securing “Supra-Force Metal” that’ll dramatically boost their power.  Good guy that he is, X ain’t havin’ that -- and so he bands together allies old and new in the hopes of bustin’ some ‘roids.  Reploids, that is.

Like I said, the story isn’t exactly hard to grasp -- but even so, it’s consistently entertaining.  There are themes of trust and betrayal, a few surprising plot twists (though one of them is spoiled if you pay enough attention to the manual), and a “shades of gray” element that underlines a few proceedings.  The cast is varied, and each party member -- and the story at large -- gets their moment to shine via the episodic format. 

So what’s so good about it?
Capcom plays to its strengths, and (for the most part) delivers on the gameplay.

Resource management is vital in this game, from both a defensive and offensive perspective.  While you have the standard status-curing items in your satchel (or wherever it is robots keep their items; my guess is their robo-fanny packs), healing is handled with an entirely different mechanic.  Taking cues from the Mega Man games, you have a certain amount of energy carried in your Sub Tanks.  You can do as little as heal 25% of a single party member’s health, or -- from the start of the game to the end -- restore 100% health to the entire party.  The trick, of course, is that once you use up that energy, it’s gone.  You can find items (albeit sparingly) in the dungeons that’ll fill it back up, but blow all your healing in a boss fight and you’re done.

But resource management is a vital part of your offense, too.  Each character has a “weapon energy” gauge that fills up by a fixed percentage each turn; while you can hit the A Button for a basic attack that uses no weapon energy, pressing X or Y will spend some of that energy to use your sub-weapons -- weaker weapons that’ll add a bit more damage, buff you, or hit an enemy with status effects.  The trick there is deciding whether you want to spend that energy immediately for your sub-weapons (and more damage), or stock it until you reach 50% to 100% power and activate your character’s Action Trigger -- i.e. a Limit Break that can truly ruin an enemy’s day. 

In addition to all that, you have to be mindful of each party member’s strengths, weaknesses, and HP levels (since you can swap them out during battle, a la FF10); each one brings a strategy to the table that can make or break a fight.  Do you want to stick with all-rounder X, whose Action Trigger focuses on multi-target damage?  Maybe Zero, armed with melee moves that are more effective in some instances than shot-type characters like X, along with the high single-target damage of his Action Trigger?  And what about each character’s Hyper Mode, turning them into enhanced versions of their normal selves for a short time -- and itself requiring heavy resource management?  Do you want to unload with Massimo’s Gold Armor buffs?  Go invisible with Axl, and render enemy attacks useless?  Or maybe use ninja-bot Marino, and double the amount of turns you get?  

There’s a lot that needs to be considered on both the short-term and long-term level.  Still, the ability to consider your next move, manage your turn order, swap out characters, customize your characters and more are all things that are much-appreciated.  Also, the music is pretty freakin’ cool.

Okay, so what’s wrong with it?
At the end of the day, Command Mission is too slow for its own good.

When walking around, X moves at a slow pace.  Not enough to break the game, of course, and he does have a dash you can activate by pressing B…but unfortunately, if you want him to hoof it from one point to another, be ready to hear the game go BSSSSSSH!  BSSSSSSSSH!  BSSSSSSSSSSH!  Over and over and over again.  And because battles in this game are random, it’s not uncommon for your pace to get slowed to a crawl as you navigate -- especially if you’re trying to search every nook and cranny for items and hidden goodies.

The same lack of speed applies to the combat as well.  There’s a lot to consider during a fight, but this is both a blessing and a curse (more of a curse if you’re the type that likes their fights done almost immediately).  Yes, it’s possible to cook up some nice strategies and get some high damage output, but there are two problems: one, that you have to wait to do the damage you’re pining for; two, that you can do fairly well for yourself by firing off your sub- and main weapon repeatedly.  It can make fights repetitive if you settle into too deep a groove.

Even the story is kind of slow-paced -- and beyond that, has its own problems.  The main focus is on canon contemporaries X, Zero, and Axl; the other characters have their moments, but after their “episodes” they kind of shift into the background.  There’s not as much interaction with them as you’d hope, and even less character development.  Much like the Mega Man games, each dungeon is dedicated to a single boss, and that cheapens the overall menace -- and worse yet, you start to realize that you’re not traversing a big, wide world as much as you are going from one level to the next.

So is it good or not?
Yeah, it’s good.  It has its flaws, yes, but it’s a very straightforward, very competent game.  You get the right amount of challenge, the right amount of customization, the right amount of strategy, and some addictive collection/robo-raising elements along the way.  The story isn’t something that’ll reinvent the disc, but in the end it’s more than satisfying.  Hell, there’s even some foreshadowing here and there if you talk with the characters between missions.  So considering that this game is probably about five bucks right now -- and available for both the GameCube and PS2 -- it might not be a bad idea to give it a shot.  Also?

This hat-wearing, camouflaging, poker-loving robo-son of a bitch shoots cards out of his cuffs like machine gun bullets.  MANLY AND COOL.

Baten Kaitos: Origins!
(Or: One Half of Guillo is Voiced by Kratos!)

Oooh, what’s this one?
It’s the prequel to the original Baten Kaitos, one of the rare JRPGs exclusive to the GameCube.  I would have figured that Origins, the prequel game (which dramatically improved virtually every aspect of an already-great game) would have made it more popular and admirable, but apparently that was where the developers decided to end the promising franchise instead of going on with plans for a DS version and beyond.  Why, I’ll never know…but I’m more than happy to blame every living being under the sun that refused to buy the game.  Thanks, guys!  Hope those Xboxes and avalanche of shooters was worth it!

 You play as Sagi, an improbably-young assassin working for the evil empire (well, maybe not pure evil…but then again, there’s almost never a benevolent empire in a JRPG).  As is the standard, a mission to assassinate a political rival goes awry, and Sagi takes the fall for a crime he didn’t -- but technically was about to -- commit.  So what starts off as an escape to a safe haven ends up becoming something much more, up to and including the origin of an all-powerful, nightmarish beast that cast a shadow over Baten Kaitos 1.  While there isn’t exactly a world map to speak of outside of a “select your stage” type of screen (justified, since this is all taking place on floating continents) the world is vast and varied, with locales across the world differing dramatically from one another.  But that’s perfect for giving you the sense that you’re exploring the world…and of course, letting you get swept right into some surprising plot twists.

So what’s so good about it?
Well, it’s a good-looking game.  You know…if you’re into that sort of thing.

One of the things that immediately jumped out at me is the main character.  The original game’s leading man was selfish and surly, a guy who in the opening cinematic shouts “Who cares?” after a spiel about relics best left untouched by man; in the actual game, he has no problems looting the corpses of a girl’s traveling companions.  In comparison, Sagi is actually a nice guy -- a peacemaker, a negotiator, and even a bit of a mama’s boy.  It’s refreshing to know that we don’t have to go through yet another character arc where the hero learns that maybe being a jackass isn’t the best course of action in life.  That way, we -- the characters and the player -- can focus on more important stuff.  You know, like the impending end of the world.  It’s also worth noting that instead of a party of six, you have a party of three; it’s an interesting move, but it pays off in that it provides narrative focus and keeps the character interactions more personal and more manageable. 

But where BKO really shines is in its combat.  Like its predecessor, it uses a card-based system -- all your attacks, healing, and offensive and defensive items are mapped to cards that you draw into your hand during a character’s turn.  By stringing together the right sequence of cards, you can either create powerful multi-hitting combos or give yourself equipment that’ll lessen the effect of enemy attacks or boost your own.  It takes some getting used to, but once you’ve got it down you’ll be amazed at how dramatic of a speed difference it has from the original game.  That’s not to say you can just spam your way to victory, though; the battle system is a far cry from the “just mash X to attack” stigma of JRPGs, requiring you to input certain sequences quickly as well as manage your hand and deck, AND build meter for your special attacks. 

BKO has the distinction of having one of the “hypest” battle systems I’ve ever encountered in an RPG.  Flashy special attacks are part and parcel of the genre, but you can string together multi-character combos with the right setups -- and the game rewards you justly, not just with bonus points, but with aural confirmation.  Hearing the game shout “Relay Combo” always put a smile on my face, and even the occasional YouTube video brings back fond memories.  On top of that, there’s the beloved “MP Burst”; build up enough meter, and with the press of a button you can enter a frantic super mode that lets you use as many special attacks as you can draw -- provided you put them all into big combos.  A siren blares, text scrolls, and the game shouts in a truly delightful way.  It’s a game that gets you excited for battle in a way few others can.

Okay, so what’s wrong with it?
If you played the original Baten Kaitos, then get ready for some serious rehashing.

There’s no denying that Origins is the better game (if only because the voice acting is light-years ahead of the original), but virtually every area is a copy of areas that appeared in the original game.  Granted, they’re fantastic-looking and imaginative, but they were fantastic-looking and imaginative in the first game.  It’s an unabashed copy-paste job -- and doubly so when you realize that the original game had a fully-rendered FMV opening, while Origins barely squeezes by with a choppy 2D animation that could probably be outdone by anyone well-versed in Flash. 

It’s also worth noting that there are some severe difficulty spikes.  One of the most infamous examples is the Holoholo bird fight -- a massive beast that has been known to wreck the shit out of players and their party members.  High damage output, attacks that can down your entire team and make them lose turns, high defense, an ability to summon additional enemies at will, and some serious healing ability makes it a nightmare for plenty of players…myself included.  But the worst part about the fight isn’t that it’s tough, oh no; see, the fight takes place immediately after transitioning from the first disc to the second.  That means that if you’re under-leveled, you can’t just load your save file and grind some more.  If you didn’t know the fight was coming, you saved during the disc transfer…which means that whatever level you are and whatever equipment you have is going to have to be enough.  I think it took me about eight tries to finally clear it, and I was probably sufficiently-leveled; it’s not hard to imagine other players who had their progress -- and maybe their entire playthrough -- come to an immediate halt thanks to that surprise boss fight.

Lastly, if you’re not into the card-battling aspect, this is probably not the game for you.  Doing high damage comes down to being able to assemble the right sequence of cards -- a layer of strategy that may require you to discard several cards, or pass on turns to get your party members fully-equipped and synchronized -- and end up getting slaughtered just before you can start your game-winning combo.  So if you’re the jaded type, you may start to think that the system is based a bit too heavily on luck…and I can’t deny that statement in full.  But I’d argue that if you make the right choices in-game, you become too lucky; by the endgame, I could assemble Sagi’s strongest combo -- the aptly-named “The Apotheosis” -- with ease, and tear my way through enemies and bosses alike.

So is it good or not?
Oh yeah, it’s a good one.  Very good.  Tight characterization, surprising (but sensible) plot twists, a vibrant and sprawling world, and a dope-ass battle system all make this game incredibly worthwhile.  The same can be said of the original, of course, but BKO takes it a step further.  And if you’re coming off of the original game, then you can consider this prequel not only a chance to revisit such an intriguing world, but a way to gain some new perspective on its elements and characters (just what is Queen Corellia?).  Find it, buy it, play it, and rock the hell out.  Just be ready for some hard fights ahead.  Know what I'm sayin', Sagi?

Yeah, he knows the score.

Tales of Symphonia!
(Or: Regal is Voiced by Straight Cougar, Siegfried, Jeremiah Gottwald, Itachi, Bruce Irvin, Helios, Iron Man, Rude, Sakaki, Albel Nox, Albedo, Kouichi, Togusa, Electro, Red Arrow, Alucard, Gaignun, and Setzer!)

Oooh, what’s this one?
I’ve spoken about the Tales series at length in the past, and while there’s no denying that the games aren’t faultless, they are some of the most consistently well-made and thought-provoking JRPGs around.  Nowhere is this more evident than in Tales of Symphonia, a game that I would be remiss to leave off any list of JRPG recommendations.  It’s not only proof of what a game (let alone a JRPG) can be; it’s proof of what a game should be.

The story has a simple start.  Sylvarant is a world plagued by mana shortages and harassment by the human-ranching Desians; in order to put an end to that, the Chosen is called into action by an oracle to fulfill her destiny, go on a pilgrimage, and bring peace and prosperity to the world as dictated by the church and countless scriptures.  The Chosen in this case is a clumsy sixteen-year-old girl named Colette, and in order to make it to each temple, she’ll need a solid entourage of guardians -- chief among them our main hero Lloyd (no relation to I Hraet You’s purple-haired prince).  And so their quest for “world regeneration” begins…and then the plot happens.

Yep.  That’s usually how people react.

If you’re one of those people that got burned by FF10, then at a glance Symphonia sounds like a carbon copy of it.  But it plays that story with far more intelligence and thought, and more importantly shows both the consequences of that line of thinking as well as the struggles that follow.  It handles my proposed “Chosen One Problem” adroitly, and is as much an exploration of the idea of being called on by destiny as it is a venture into themes like power, racism, idealism, and more.

So what’s so good about it?
You’ve got eight party members (technically nine), and you’ll know that well before the end of the game.  Each character gets multiple chances to shine, be fleshed out, develop, and come to their own conclusions about themselves, their desires, and their world.  Rather than just be a cheerleading squad for the main character or a two or three members of the cast, each person contributes to the overall narrative with style and substance.  If you’ve got a favorite character (and you will, I bet), you can even skew the game in their favor; make the right choices, and you can have additional cutscenes with them.  Granted this is at the expense of additional scenes with obvious love interest Colette, but that’s a small price to pay to have some MAN TIME with Regal.

Gameplay-wise, it’s an action RPG -- and a solid one that still holds up today.  When you’re in a battle, you move on a 2D plane toward or away from an enemy; get in the right spot, and you can start going to town with the artes and combos of your choice…provided you have the TP for it.  You can move, attack, and guard as needed, secure in the knowledge that your three battle buddies will lend support up close or from afar (especially if you’ve got some IRL buddies around; as long as you have more than one character in your party, you can have your friends take control of party members in combat).  It’s an inherently simple system, but it’s satisfying all the same -- and maybe even more satisfying when you consider all the possibilities.  You can customize your characters by equipping them with gems, and from there decide if you want them to specialize in one of two styles -- styles that will make enhanced versions of their moves markedly different from one another.  The systems are simple and straightforward, but certainly worth investigating; do you want Lloyd to learn Psi Tempest or Omega Tempest?  What Compound EX Skills do you want him to have?  Should you build a party that focuses on short-range offense?  Or let Lloyd do all the tanking while the others cast spells?

Even with that in mind, I don’t think I can stress enough just how valuable to the game its story -- and by extension its world -- can be.  While the areas don’t have quite as much visual flair as Baten Kaitos, they’re more than serviceable; they’re varied, numerous, and intriguing in their own right, conveying uniqueness and style without de-evolving into incomprehensibility.  When the plot gets in full swing and you travel from one zone to the next, you really understand the difference that mana makes in the world.  And even beyond that, ToS is a memorable experience; it remains one of the most quotable JRPGs I’ve ever played.  Though that just might be a consequence of playing it so many times…but then again, it gets better every time you play it.  Generally speaking.

Okay, so what’s wrong with it?
The cutscenes leave a lot to be desired.

That’s not to say that the writing in them is offensive; the problem is that the graphics and animations that go along with them are…well, awful.  Now, I’m not saying that I need perfectly-rendered, motion-captured visuals, because more often than not we end up getting something like this:

Or this:

But the stiffness and awkwardness in the characters motions is something that you really start to notice after a while.  This being a sixth-generation JRPG, you can expect a preponderance of cutscenes -- and with so many of them, you really start to notice little things after a while.  Even when Lloyd’s supposed to look angry, his baby-faced model makes it look like he’s smiling.  Some of the animations could be done with tools in PowerPoint.  There’s this undeniable sense of awkwardness to some of the proceedings; I’m wholly convinced that the Desians would be a lot nicer if -- judging by their walk cycles -- they would remove the sawed-off sequoia branches from their asses. 

It’s also worth mentioning that, if you’re going from a later Tales game to this earlier one, you may find some of the mechanics outdated -- and even if you aren’t, they’re still a little outdated.  Like I said, you’re on a fixed 2D plane with whatever enemy you’re targeting, but there are times when moving out of the way of massive area-of-effect spells is just not an option for your limited range of movement.  If you want to move out of the way, or just reposition yourself so you have a chance to score some back-attacks, you can do what I did and target a different enemy, run towards them, and then switch back to the original target…but then again, that’s a step that probably didn’t need to be added.  (You can also try jumping over enemies, but some are too large for that -- and again, it’s a step that doesn’t necessarily need to be there.) 

But the biggest problem is TP management.  Each character uses TP to perform their special moves, just like any other RPG.  The problem is that between four characters and an aggressive battle system like this -- that is, where using TP is a requirement amongst every character for doing even basic damage -- chances are they’re going to run out of meter before the big boss is done.  Lloyd is especially guilty of this; he’s got offense in spades, but he’ll blow through a third to half of his TP in a few attacks.  So you either have to keep your combos short, whack enemies with your basic A strikes repeatedly to build it back up, or pause the battle and use an item -- flow-breaking stuff, without question.  Future Tales games would fix this by having party members use items automatically (and Graces f ditches TP entirely to create one of the best battle systems yet), but it’s a reality you’ll have to live with if you want to regenerate the worlds.

So is it good or not?
Hell.  Yes.  If for some reason you missed this game the first time around, you owe it to yourself to track it down and add it to your collection.  You won’t be disappointed.  You’re not just getting a long game, but a fun one, and a deep one to boot.  Grab it any way you can -- no matter who stands in your way.

And that’ll just about do it for now.  Next time, we’ll switch to a different console, and see what I can recommend then.  What’ll it be?  Who knows?  I haven’t thought that far yet!

Oh right…I was supposed to add in more pictures of an improbably buxom, redheaded actress, wasn’t I?  Well, I think this should be enough compensation.

And that’s how you bait and switch.

I'm lucky Google doesn't exist and people can't find pictures for themselves!


  1. Sounds like you're out to increase the size of my game wishlist. It's long enough already, dammit! XD

  2. I'm with him. Darn it, I wish I had more time on my hands! I'm already really far behind on this stuff, having missed it the first time around. Looks like I need to get cracking on that time machine I've been meaning to make just so I can go back and play these games. Or, you know, find a wizard or something...

  3. And it's only going to get longer. I would assume that the PS2 is THE JRPG powerhouse, and while I haven't written out a list of recommendations for it, I'm guessing it's going to be a pretty meaty post. The same may apply to the DS, no doubt.

    But on the plus side, the games I'm naming have got to be dirt-cheap by now. Finding them, on the other hand...well, that'll be up to you. I recommend building a cadre of info junkies who'll hunt for clues and data on your behalf.

  4. If it makes you feel any better, it may be possible to time-travel if you have a ship that can surpass the speed of light. You wouldn't happen to have one lying around anywhere, would you?

  5. I totally got distracted by the boobs. Not gonna lie. Also, I started playing Command Mission on the PS2. Yeah, it is really slow. As for the Tales Of games, I never got into them. They drag on so long and never interest me no matter how hard I try.

  6. Actually, that also depends on how many copies were printed. I recently nabbed the first two Ar tonelico games for my PS2 and they were $25 each. (Though, to be fair, they were brand new, in mint condition.)

  7. Front Mission. All of them are good but three holds a special place in my heart. Engaging skill-sets, epic battle system and an awesome (yet somehow not brain numbing) equipment system.

    I'm talking about 1 2 and 3 (the RPGs) not the terrible Mech-combat garbage that they released.

  8. Well I DID, but the blasted thing didn't work right! Got it from this rather dapper fellow who only called himself The Master... kinda weird... but I got it for like $1000, so I thought I was getting a really good deal. I took it for a test ride, and everything was going fine right up til I got to near light-speed. Then my body started inflating like a freaking balloon and I had to slow down before I exploded, crash-landing into Iceland in the process. You may have heard about it... volcanic eruption a few years ago... I had to stay undercover for a while.

    I chunked that piece of trash somewhere in the Atlantic and did some research on the matter. Turns out, even though you can technically time-travel while surpassing the speed of light, the mass increases exponentially as well, due to the way acceleration works, making it impractical. (It never comes into play at normal speeds, but it radically jumps up once you approach the speed of light. Kinda weird.)

    So yeah, I can't do that anymore. Seems as though the only way to properly time-travel is if you can break into the 6th dimension and hop around in the time stream. Have no idea how to do that, though, so yeah, finding a wizard seems to be my best option.

  9. Oh jeez, you're right -- I hadn't considered that. Well, hopefully the prices for the games I name won't be a deal-breaker. Though now that you mention it, I'm kind of curious how many copies of Command Mission are out there...

  10. I believe a wise man once said, "To err is human; to stare at beautiful women, not something you should do in public under penalty of mace to the face."

    Anyway, in retrospect I'm a little worried about recommending Command Mission. I mean, I liked it, but I'm not sure if it's everyone's cup of tea. That speed thing could really be a problem down the line...but on the other hand, super fighting robots.

    As for the Tales games...well, same deal. Granted I haven't played enough of them to know their ins and outs exactly, but from my experience the first part (like any JRPG) is always the slowest -- but in that series' case it's part of developing the story. Maybe I just don't mind because I'm the kind of guy who likes a slow-burn...though after playing through Tales of the Abyss again, I can see what you mean about dragging on for so long. The third act in that game could have been cut entirely, and nobody would shed a tear.

  11. Yes, the wizard. Go with the wizard. One must always keep the lessons of "A Sound of Thunder" -- or the "Time and Punishment" short in one of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror episodes -- in mind. When a butterfly flaps its wings...

  12. Front Mission, eh? Yeah, I've heard of the games before, but never got a chance to try one for myself. Come to think of it, I don't think I played a single mech game until Armored Core 5.

    That needs to change immediately! Or rather, eventually! Time for a YouTube adventure!

  13. I was never much at video games, not like the rest of my family. I've heard a lot about Final Fantasy though, but none of the others. I have played Zelda once though, if that counts for anything.

  14. Well, if you've played one Zelda game, that's good enough. With the exception of a scant few (produced by other companies with...uh, let's call them "hilarious" results), pretty much all of them are considered masterpieces -- or at the very least totally rad. I've played through and analyzed two of them recently for my blog, and I'm convinced that the entire series is full of depth that few games -- and maybe a fair number of books -- have yet to tap.

    As for Final Fantasy...well, in general, the newer they are, the more problematic they tend to be. If you're interested, I would avoid anything with a 13 in its title; it'll save you a lot of headaches. Everything else? Fair game, I suppose -- though no one can decide exactly when the franchise took a nosedive (barring 13, but you get the idea).

    In any case, thanks for dropping by.

  15. I think Command Mission was specifically targeted for die hard Mega Man fans.

    Back to the Tales Of games, I liked the one for the SNES(I played the translated ROM), though I didn't finish it, but I liked the look. Now, it just seems to be that these games are pumped out due to obligation; much like Final Fantasy.

  16. To be fair, every company's pumping out games due to obligation -- almighty dollar and all that. It's just that some companies are better at hiding it than others...and given that Squeenix released FF: All The Bravest (a game so infuriating that reviewers and gaming sites are releasing PSAs telling people NOT to buy it), it looks like the house of Final Fantasy is not very good at hiding it. Namco Bandai and the Tales series can at least put out a product that'll give you a few laughs, or offer some fun battles.

    I don't know about you, but at this stage I would rather side with Namco/the upcoming Tales of Xillia than Squeenix/the upcoming Lightning Returns: FF13. 13-2 is just plain embarrassing -- and it'll probably get worse before it gets better.

    But enough of that. I'm actually glad you dropped by; I was just wondering what kind of JRPGs (if any) you like. Any games out there that have tickled your fancy?

  17. I think I would rather go back to my corner and pray that maybe in the future, S-E will make a new, GOOD Star Ocean game that brings the whole game back to its roots. Though, I feel this will be impossible because the last two, Till the End of Time and Last Hope, were SO TERRIBLE and completely RAPED what the first two games built, my hopes will probably be squandered on a sequel made out of obligation for money rather than a game given 100% attention. I mean, for fuck;s sake, S-E has Final Fantasy AND Star Ocean! Why do their games suck so much ass???

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  19. Oh yeah, I remember Star Ocean...though unfortunately, I ONLY played 3 and 4. Now, I don't remember enough about 3 to make any comments on that (though that's probably a good thing), but as for the fourth one...wow. Just...wow.

    I don't know much about the Star Ocean canon, but the fact that I could finish SO4 and joke to my brother that it was pretty much "the origin of that law Fayt kept whining about in SO3" means that somewhere along the line, something went wrong. And triumphantly so.

    Squeenix is not doing well this console generation. I don't know how they're going to pull out of this nosedive (if at all), but they need to do something FAST.

  20. How could you lave out Breath of Fire 3 and Legend of Dragoon, man? I remeber getting those games as an Easter present from my Godfather and going all "meh, maybe they'll be good" before I got my mind blown.

    Of course, you're talking about newer generation games, not the old stuff that PSX owners like me had been playing, but stiill, they were great examples of JRPG gaming.

  21. Yay, some JRPGs for my Gamecube to try out! I always saw 'Tales of Symphonia' on the shelf but I guess I was too busy renting and trying out other games. Now I really have to hunt it down. Another regret that needs to be nipped in the bud.

    Another thing though... a while ago I took your recommendation and bought 'Persona 3'... I hate you. I really, really hate you so much. That game filled me with so much rage, sadness, and excitement. I'm an emotional wreck thanks to you. Now I can't focus on my studies. @_@

    I can't wait to see what else you recommend. Meanwhile, I need to meditate and get my mind off things...

  22. I was hoping for more pictures of Christina Hendricks as promised, but instead got a creepy commander shepherd pic to haunt my dreams :(. In all seriousness though, good post.

  23. If it's any consolation, this won't be the last "good JRPGs post" I'll make, so there's a good chance you'll be justly rewarded later on. But come on -- surely the grinning, borderline Eldritch-bred face of Commander Shepard is enough to put your mind at ease?

  24. Oh man, you just made my heart skip a beat when you said "I hate you". Give me a little warning next time, yeah?

    In all seriousness, though...yeah, that's the usual reaction to people who experience one of the Persona games (or any Atlus game) for the first time. Once you try one of their games, it's hard to look at anything else the same way -- ergo, why I have absolutely zero love for FF13 and 13-2 (though they'd be bad even without the presence of Atlus games). And now you can get into the even BETTER Persona 4...well, there's no guarantee you'll enjoy P4's story as much as P3's, but I'd argue the gameplay is several degrees greater. Go get it, no matter what or who you have to trample along the way.

    Same goes for Tales of Symphonia. Grab that ASAP. As for the next list...well, let's just see how it goes. I need to flip through some of my old games for a refresher.

  25. Yeah, I never had the PS1, so I never got to play some -- and by some I mean plenty -- of the JRPG greats. But I HAVE played some Legend of Dragoon (since it was a package deal from a buddy when he sold my brother an old PS2) and genuinely enjoyed it. And while I haven't touched BoF3, I DO have the fourth game as a PS1 Classic on my PS3. It's pretty interesting, to say the least...and that sprite work...Mmmmm-MMMMM! Delicious!

  26. Heh, heh, sorry about that. XD

    Tone is a very hard thing to convey through written words on the internet like this. (Hence my adding emoticons whenever possible.)

    I got pretty far into the game and I bawled pretty badly at about... 60% through when shit started to get real. (A part of me still feels really depressed and dead inside...) I've been debating where I should get a PS Vita so I can get a hold of P3P (for some of the narrative and gameplay differences) and P4 Golden. Regardless, I have to save my pennies and do some research to get a hold of any of these games. But, yes, I had a far better first impression from Persona than any Final Fantasy game I tried.

    Take your time with your list. Quality over quantity. :)

  27. Eh, no worries about the tone. You'd be surprised how many of my jokes have fallen flat or have been misinterpreted thanks to the internet. I suspect I've made an enemy or two as a result...

    But enough of that. I've heard that P4 Golden is supposed to be the definitive version of the game, adding extra cutscenes and scenarios and bosses and such, so if you're willing, the Vita version might be the way to go. Then again, the Vita's supposed to be in a bit of a rut right now, so unless the release schedule picks up there's a chance you'd just be buying it for one game.

    Well, whatever you decide, you're in for a treat. Just be ready to lose another 80-ish hours of your life...maybe more.