#JRPGJuly 2019 – Week 3 Round-up
Welcome to another year of everyone’s favourite monthly gameathon. #JRPGJuly is hosted by Anne Lee @ Chic Pixel, and once again the RPGamer team is showing their support for the event by playing some JRPGs. Here’s how week three went for the RPGamer staff!
Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed
I’ve spent over 15 hours on the second dungeon in Persona Q2. Yikes! This time wasn’t all spent in the dungeon specifically, of course; this includes sidequests (and their gratuitous quantities of dialogue), level and equipment maintenance across 15+ characters, and the occasional endeavor back into the first dungeon to take on once-impossible FOE battles. It’s still mostly fun, but my attraction to the game is waning. Maybe that’s because Bloodstained is still sitting on my nightstand, unopened, and constantly whispering sultry promises of a more succinct and action-oriented gameplay loop. But for #JRPGJuly I’m going to persevere!
The boss of the second dungeon has presented me with a major difficulty spike, even though I imagine I’m overleveled (Party Level 29, most characters 24-26). I’m annoyed that it seems to have no weaknesses, forcing some anxiety-inducing SP rationing. I’m also bothered by the fact that, after several failed attempts, I only seem to be doing marginally better because of my previous experience in the fight. The inherent guesswork when facing a new foe in the Persona series becomes a major game design flaw in such instances. But perhaps this is no different from the inevitable trial-and-error of white-knuckle boss fights From Software is known for, or even in the Mega Man X games, in which one “practices” any given fight through multiple attempts?
Also, as I adopt a new cardio routine focused on heart rate monitoring (ie, slower cardio on a steep incline to maintain a fat-burning, sweet-spot heart rate rather than going for distance or speed), I’ve begun to experiment with… gaming at the gym. I had a very solid session enjoying Lunar: Silver Star Story Touch, the turn-based nature of which makes it pretty easy to navigate while your body is occupied. It also looks marvelous on iPad, and the music is just astounding. It’s also tough as nails right at the top; I’ve done a few grindy dips into the first dungeon already and think I’m set to go straight through it during my workout this afternoon. Here’s hoping!
I actually had time to game this week! I am finally up to Chapter 9 of Judgment because, once again, I got caught up in a loop of side cases and dating. Those who do not know — I am a sucker for any game that has a dating element, and right now my sights are caught between Rising Idol star Sana and Nanami, the workaholic with a love for adventure. I have laughed so hard through a lot of these sections, but Nanami’s generally take the cake since her meddling friend Yukko is constantly trying to “help.” In terms of main story, more secrets have been unravelled and Hattori’s face still gives me nightmares.
— Sam Wachter (@merrygodown) July 15, 2019
I also managed to play more Suikoden II as well. At this point, I’ve made it to one of my favourite sections of the game: the Battle for Greenhill. In this section, Flik must chaperone some younger members of the party while they infiltrate Greenhill Academy in an attempt to find the acting mayor, Teresa. In this section we also meet Nina, the greatest videogame fangirl ever created. Stalker extraordinaire, she’s convinced he will marry her and make babies — oh yes, Nina is an 11 on the crazy dial. I cannot wait to finish this section because I have laughed so hard. I also gave Riou and Nanami their student names. Nanami for once got to be “Beth” while Riou said was named “Sexy” because dialogue changes.
I am so immature. It’s great.
I am continuing questing in Azys Lla to finish out Heavensward. I can tell that I am getting close as I am at a dungeon point. However, I am doing random quests around the area first. I’m kind of a completionist in that regard. I was able to complete my aether currents, so I can fly now! It’s so much easier here, since it’s just a bunch of floating islands. The good news about that is they are all given out in quests, so I don’t have to run around and find them.
Upon completing the set of aether currents, I have also gotten a new mount! I really wish my unicorn could fly, but oh well. This new mount will be my flying mount for now. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of other flying mounts, but this one is my favorite for reasons that I cannot discuss here.
Just getting those quests done and finding new locations have gotten me 3/4 of the way to level 61. The new balance of the White Mage class has also made this a much easier fight. I used to be too squishy to kill mobs that were 2 levels below me, and I wouldn’t dare think about fighting one my own level. Now, with Stone III at my side, (and my chocobo for heals) I can beat up mobs at level 59-60 fairly easily with only a few Regens here and there.
Now I just look forward to the story dungeon that awaits me, even though I still feel like a rusty White Mage, since I’ve only just been DPSing my way through quests.
Erik van Asselt
Another week of #JRPGJuly has passed and I can feel the end of Final Fantasy Tactics approaching. The closeness to the finale is becoming readily apparent as the game has started dumping me into missions that are drastically more difficult than anything I faced before. Nonetheless, I persevered and defeated boss after boss and now I’ve reached chapter four. We are in the endgame now.
My army to surmount these challenges is shaping up well. One of my main characters has been Kate. She has mostly been a Wizard in this playthrough, but I decided I could unlock more of her potential by changing her class to Summoner. It has turned out to be a lot of fun blasting half of the battlefield with powerful summons, leaving my ninjas to finish off the scraps. I’m quite happy with the way my army has turned out and I have the feeling that they are up to the final challenge.
Oh, remember how I mentioned that my party was being overrun with chocobos? Yeah, I ended up culling them for money. Maybe that seems cold, but any pangs of guilt are mollified by the massive heaps of gold keeping me company.
Will my army manage to save Ivalice by the end of #JRPGJuly? Maybe not, but I’m going to try. If anyone has some tips for how to handle these difficulty spikes in the endgame, I’d welcome any help.
I’m still trekking my way through Romancing SaGa 2, which has been quite a journey. Just like last week, a lot of my playtime has been meandering around and beefing my party up while trying to find quests to do.
The most noteworthy thing that has happened is a quest involving going up a volcano to stop it from erupting and destroying a village using a potion given by a shady NPC. I managed to freeze the volcano and made my way down. Well, I tried to. I ended up getting my party wiped and had to switch to a different emperor and set up my party again before going back to finish the quest and making the territory a part of the empire.
After 27 hours of gameplay, I finally discovered party formations which will probably be a great help in dealing with the challenges ahead. Oh, and I managed to finally defeat the Hive Queen, a boss that is the cause of a termite infestation in a village in the Savannah who was giving me trouble several hours ago.
The game is not without its frustrating moments yet it feels invigorating to overcome a challenge that was giving me problems before. I probably won’t be able to finish the game before the month is over but that won’t stop me from enjoying my time with it.
One more week has passed and I’m still not quite done with Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse. I’m at 6/8 moon, which seems to be what counts as chapters in this game. Something big is supposed to happen at the full moon since, at the last one, several partners left and returned to the party. Considering how late it is in the game and certain story events, I’d say I have all characters currently available. Nanashi and company also came back from infiltrating the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado, learning of their plans as well as finding out there’s more to Hallelujah than meets the eye. I’m currently at Camp Ichigaya, Lucifer’s stronghold, in the hopes of killing both him and Merkabah. Things seem to be coming to a head now, with the forces of Law and Chaos wanting each other destroyed before they reshape the world how they please. Considering how late it is, I imagine I should stay vague on the story since this game is only about two years old.
Nearing the end of the game also means I can fuse very powerful demons. I finally have two of my most favorite demons in the metaseries: Amaterasu and Huang Long, who is sometimes called “Kohryu” depending on the game. Both names translate to “yellow dragon” in Mandarin and Japanese, respectively. It is the oft-forgotten fifth member of the four symbols/four gods and their leader. Its stats are well-rounded and it’s resistant to every element save light, which it’s immune to. Plus it’s a honking-huge gold-colored dragon. What’s not to love? Amaterasu has a tremendously high magic stat and is very cool, too. Getting the right skills on the right demons is trickier in this game than others I’ve played in the franchise, though it’s about on par with Shin Megami Tensei IV. You can still pick any skills the resulting demon gets from its components in fusion, but the Devil Survivor series and Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey have ways to teach specific, single skills to demons. Both also allow for Mitama fusion, which is only available as enemies in Apocalypse‘s DLC. I suppose there’s no need to make the game too easy, heh?
I’m am nearing the endgame, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses is very close at hand. Will I finish Apocalypse? Will it take me months to get back to this game because of Three Houses? Will I get a chance to take on YHVH? I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if I can’t take him on until a second playthrough anyway. One thing’s for sure: I will be replaying this game in the future.
By the way, my New 2DS XL is back and is working in tiptop shape!
Atelier Lulua progress was a little slow this week. Part of that is a result of a lack of gaming time and part is down to the confusing structure of chapter 8. This chapter has Lulua pondering the purpose of her life and exploring the topic by polling the previous Atelier leads on what their life goals are. While I’ve previously praised and generally enjoyed the hands-off approach the game has taken with leading players between story beats, in this chapter the lack of direction caused some issues. I got really frustrated because I couldn’t trigger a story conversation with Rorona in her atelier. Instead, I had to go back to a completely different village to trigger the story scenes. It’s not a big deal, but it shows there are still a few rough edges in this game. At least at the end of that back and forth, Rorona taught me that there is no such thing as too much pie.
Also, for a game that trades on nostalgia as much as this one, the lack of English voice acting is a particular shame. I usually don’t mind subtitle-only games, but when I hear the Japanese voices for the old cast, it just never sounds quite right. If this were a game devoid of Arland trappings it wouldn’t be an issue, but I really miss the English cast for Rorona, Torori, and Meruru.
Despite those small niggling issues, I’m still loving the overall experience. I especially appreciate how the developers have tied in some of the mysteries that were hanging in the background of the original Arland games and expanding and explaining them. Barring some unforeseen issues, I should be wrapping up Lulua just in time to start on Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
There’s not much time left in #JRPGJuly, and my hopes of finishing Trails of Cold Steel this month are going up in smoke. This week, I wasn’t even able to clear a full chapter, and currently I’m somewhere near the end of chapter 4. Erebonia is hurtling towards war, opening shots have already been fired in the Nord Highlands, and the Summer Festival is in full swing. It does feel like I’m moving at a glacial pace, but I think that’s the right way to experience such a well-crafted world. Looks like I’ll be all in for #WRAPUPAugust.
It’s funny how, week after week, there continue to be quite a few parallels running through both of my game choices this month. Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception is also all about war breaking out in the country this week, but here it’s mostly noteworthy in how severe of a shift in atmosphere it represents. After spending hours and hours in lighthearted, friendly, and sometimes downright silly story scenes in the capital of Yamato (interspersed with the occasional steambath scene), there’s a sudden hard shift to extreme brutality and over-the-top, inhumane violence. It’s a bit jarring, to say the least.
Anna Marie Privitere
It happened — I got sucked into a Switch game for #JRPGJuly. And wow am I so happy I did! Dragon Quest Builders 2 takes all the things that I found a little lacking in the first game and fleshes then out, plus makes everything I did like even better.
Builders 2 starts off with a brief tutorial before sending you to the Isle of Awakening — a little spot of land in the vast ocean where a great builder once created a utopia. However, over time the island has fallen into a more natural state, and it’s up to you (a fledgling builder) to bring it back to its former glory. The Isle of Awakening fixes a big hole the first game had — mainly that it didn’t feel like your work had an impact after you left a story section. Now, each time you return to the Isle of Awakening you’ll have new goals to work towards in making your island the best it can be while retaining the knowledge you’ve already gained!
Also drastically changed is the way farming works. At best a half-baked concept in the first game, it’s now fully fleshed out and takes center stage in the first main story area. Exploration is also rewarded in ways it wasn’t in the first title, with mini-medals to win by completing small optional puzzles, multiple teleportation points… and no more chimera wings needed.
Builders 2 also gives players fully fleshed-out towns, with even more people coming to each settlement and taking on more roles, like farmer, arborist, miner, builder, dancer, and lots more. The game just feels more alive than its predecessor, which didn’t slouch in the personality department either, but this is just another step above.
I actually haven’t finished the main story because I’ve been so distracted by building up the Isle of Awakening and meeting the optional goals that I keep forgetting to actually continue moving forward. Oops?
As the only campaign from Fates I hadn’t sunk significant time into, I decided to give it a go prior to Three Houses coming out. Naturally, I got completely sucked in. The great thing about this campaign is the way it complements previous playthroughs of one or both of the other campaigns. You get to see characters from the rival nations interact in a non-hostile way and even get them to marry each other if you so choose. It gives a lot more depth to everyone involved, and most importantly doesn’t completely sell out the Nohr characters like Birthright did. I’ve been breezing through most of the battles on 2-star casual difficulty, and it is safe to say I am completely hooked. Now, in the later chapters of the campaign, I’m delving into the invisible kingdom that is the cause of all the nonsense in the other campaigns, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it all plays out.