#JRPGJuly – Final Wrap-Up
Welcome to the end 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. Let’s take a look at how everyone did at the end of the month. Who finished some video games? Let’s read on and see!
Lucas Tahiruzzaman Syed
After reorganizing my party based on knowledge from previous attempts to best the boss of the second dungeon in Persona Q2, I was surprised that they went down with relative ease. I was somewhat emboldened by this, but ultimately remained ill at ease; I had even done a round with the boss with no intent to win, only to explore which elemental weaknesses could be exploited so as to best maximize my SP on the subsequent attempt. It felt like cheating.
Needless to say the thrill of the next dungeon got me excited enough to carry on, but I was met with myriad amplifiers to my disillusionment: (1) the dungeon’s story had the same theme as others with regards to mob mentality; (2) cutscenes became a drag, as now nearly 26 characters feel obliged to chime in during any given conversation; and (3) the combat spiked in difficulty, neutering many of my strategies for a sustainable dungeon crawl. My first few dips into the third labyrinth had me considering retreat after only one or two encounters. All three of these factors united to give the game a glacial sense of pacing with regards to progression, and, with #JRPGJuly coming to an end, I’ve begun to make peace with the idea of retiring the title after writing this post.
Meanwhile, I had a rare opportunity for large-format home console gaming (ie, a 5-8 hour chunk of alone time in front of my TV), so I finally popped in Kingdom Hearts III. It’s an interesting simulation of a KH game, but not actually one in itself; in fact, it seems like the video game equivalent of a flashy theme park ride based on a beloved pop culture title. Combat is a spectacle but too cluttered for any given player action to feel meaningful. The plot lacks momentum to such a degree that characters in the first few hours are constantly asking each other “Why are we here?” or “What’s next?” Most egregiously, it is no longer a fusing of disparate franchises, with shameless Disney product placement at every turn and not a Final Fantasy character in sight. Every time I think about Maleficent collaborating with Pete instead of Kefka, well… That about sums it up.
I FINISHED JUDGMENT! I loved it so much! Sure, the detective mechanics weren’t the greatest, but by golly was I into the story and the silliness of those darn Side Cases. I enjoyed the fun twists and turns regarding the Mole, the Matsugane Family, and the ADDC. I have a crush on Yagami, and he may have over taken my love of Akiyama, which in itself is a true feat. I dated many girls; made tons of friendships; won the help of a dumb ninja, a crazy contract killer, and a man made of gold; and somehow also became less of a disgraced lawyer. Judgment does a great job of balancing the serious elements with the campy bits, and I look forward to seeing what case falls into Yagami’s lap in a sequel.
I also played three hours of Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Edelgard is the Mitsuru Kirijiro of the Fire Emblem series. She is hot, and I am into it. Black Eagles 4 EVA!!!!
WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME MY UNICORN CAN FLY NOW? Found that out by accident this week. Last week, I was all complaining that my unicorn didn’t fly. I was running around in the Sea of Clouds and did a double jump to try and climb a hill. Wouldn’t you know, Mr. Unicorn started flying. Well, I suppose that means my new favorite flying mount will have to be replaced. Sorry, [name redacted].
I’m still one dungeon away from completing Heavensward. Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty busy this week so haven’t done it yet. I was planning on doing it tonight, but those plans were scrapped due to helping a friend in need. It will be done before Wednesday!
Erik van Asselt
My journey through Ivalice has come to an end. Final Fantasy Tactics has been completed and what a trip it was. The past few weeks I have tried to illustrate my journey through the game with my updates. This time I would like to give my opinion on it and maybe some of the readers will pick this gem up for themselves during #JRPGJuly 2020.
— FanFrog (@FanFrog) July 25, 2019
Before I go into the things that made me really love the game, I would like to address a part I truly disliked. Near the end the game decides to throw you a few quite overpowered characters. You don’t have to do anything. You just get them. And to me it really felt like a blow to my experience with the game. I have spent quite some time making my team great and now the game gives me an easy way out. It almost felt like somebody provided me with a cheat code for the game, even though I really didn’t need it.
But that does not mean I did not like the game. No, it is amazing. I have spent time in the past with other SRPGs, but Final Fantasy Tactics provided me with a different depth. The way you are in control over your party was the main thing that kept me playing. Looking for crazy combinations with jobs and skills. Making the perfect army. And it got me hungry for more games like this. Maybe next year.
I just ate some mushrooms that took me on a psychedelic trip down memory lane full of monkeys, brothers, and evil smiling faces, but let’s talk about my progress in Mother 3 shall we? I am somewhere in Chapter 8, which leads me to believe I’m nearing the end of this journey. The Franklin Badge did help me against that vile masked man! Oh man I can’t wait for the shocking reveal of who he really is! Oh, I am in a town where an old ‘friend’ is the supposed King of the World. I’m really feeling the effects of having only two magic casters in this game. Duster and my puppy are without PP, so their options are limited which means they are usually relegated to tossing magic restoring items to my MVPs, Lucas and Kumatora.
— Ryan A. Radcliff (@RadShadow) July 26, 2019
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a JRPG, right? Last I checked Team Ninja is a Japanese-based company, so it counts as a JRPG! I just finished the main campaign, so this counts as the first JRPG I completed within the month. I’ll take it! I enjoyed this game from start to finish, but the camera angle can get pretty messed up during co-op runs, especially during the Bullseye fight. In single player, I preferred the Heroic camera option as opposed to the default. Funny that they don’t even mention there is a different camera option during the entire game. I have been testing a lot of different champions out, but Miles Morales has been in most of my parties. He can self-synergize, which helps me stagger downed opponents, plus being a Hispanic Spider-Man is nice. Now, I grind to unlock the secret champs. Most of the roster is underleveled, so that means a lot of new teams to try out!
Regarding Radiant Dawn and Final Fantasy XI…I’m still progressing through these, but my playing time has been sporadic because I usually play these with my better half and our work schedules have not been aligned lately.
I actually finished a game during this year’s JRPGJuly, yay! I spent some 84 hours on Shin Megami Tensei IV: Apocalypse, including beating the last boss at a ridiculously late hour. The last dungeon was difficult to get through, as it was very large and involved a confusing system of warps. It’s not as bad as some of the later dungeons in Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey, but it took me the better part of the night, and I followed a walkthrough to avoid getting lost. The last boss took a while to take down, but I knew what to do and had a bit of luck on my side. I rather like how the battle played out. Early on in the fight, all of Nanashi’s partners bad mouth the final boss, making it weaker. In the second part, he is literally demonized. There are some very interesting themes in the late parts of the game, but I fear explaining them may be too much of a spoiler. I suppose I can say this potentially cryptic statement: Stephen believes in the strong anthropic principle.
And yes, it was indeed the boss I’ve been hoping to fight all along, no new game plus required. Apocalypse is the game Shin Megami Tensei IV should have been, even if it can be rather idealistic for a MegaTen title. I enjoyed everything about it and would heartiy recommend it.
The reason I sped through Apocalypse‘s ending is because of my most anticipated game of the year: Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Staying up all night to finish one game, however, meant I was fast asleep by 9:30 PM, my Seasons of Warfare Edition untouched. I played for maybe three hours total or so, and am really early in the game. New systems are still being introduced; this particular entry seems to have a lot of them. I’ve long since decided I would join the Black Eagles House, almost entirely thanks to Edelgard. She just seems really awesome, and so far my opinion of her is high. The other characters are cool, too, though I’m still getting to know them. It’s far too early for me to form an opinion on the battle system, but I do find it interesting that there’s no weapons triangle. I’m also appreciating the lore, world history, and current political climate already dished out this early on, with more to come. It’s a welcome change from Fates‘ lackluster care of its own setting. The continent Fates takes place on never even got a name. Another thing that amuses me is that in Three Houses there exists another continent by the name of Dagda. After finishing Apocalypse, it’s weird to already see that name in another video game. Three Houses is chock full of references to Celtic mythology, but the coincidence is still funny, especially after Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE.
It’s far too soon for me to say much about Three Houses. I am liking it thus far. I’m keeping my expectations tempered and expecting to have a great time. Overall, I’d say I’ve had a fairly productive #JRPGJuly. I finished a fantastic game in a newish franchise for me and started the latest entry in one I’ve been following for over a decade. It was a month well spent on playing my favorite genre of video games.
I love sleep mode in modern consoles. The ability to start and stop what I’m playing whenever I want perfectly fits my gaming style of short bursts between interruptions. However, that can lead to some bad habits and one of those has burned me in my playthrough of Atelier Lulua. In the middle of a boss fight at the end of chapter nine, the game froze and dumped me back to the Switch main menu. OH NO! Once I started it back up, it turned out I hadn’t saved since chapter seven and there was no auto-save function to bail me out. Suffice to say, this setback prevented me from finishing it this week.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses thankfully has come along to extinguish the bitter feelings caused by Lulua. Early on at least, Three Houses is exactly what I wanted from the next Fire Emblem. There’s subtle political tension between the three nations on the continent of Fódlan. The church that runs the officer school that the main character teaches at seems to be playing a huge role in politics. Despite her demure design, Lady Rhea — the head of the church — is not a woman to be trifled with; she’s perfectly willing to cut the throat of anyone that crosses her.
There are an incredible number of somewhat superfluous mechanics in Three Houses, but they seem to marry well together so far. Players choose how to instruct their students, have tea parties with characters on their birthday, and host seminars to increase characters knowledge on topics among so many other options to spend time between battles. Now players are completely free to customize characters however they wish, meaning mages can also tote around an ax for close-range combat. It’s an almost daunting level of minutiae to manage, but there is an automatic option for those that just want to enjoy the story and experience maps.
I’m eight hours in and the gameplay has been fairly straightforward so far, but the game is still in the stage of slowly rolling out mechanics. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes, but with so many things to distract me, I can already see how Three Houses can quickly balloon to an eighty-hour experience.
Just in time for the end of #JRPGJuly, I did it! I finished Trails of Cold Steel...’s fifth chapter. Well, it isn’t credits yet, but it’s not terrible, either, what with such a massive game. At around 70-something hours, I’m near the end, close enough to where I’ll definitely be finishing very soon. I’ve got two new classmates, S-Breaks unlocked for each character, and I’ve come full circle with the narrative, overtaking the cliffhanger the prologue had left me waiting on for about six-dozen hours.
I’ve gotten similarly far, though without actually finishing, Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception. This last week saw the story hit me with an unexpected, mind-blowing reveal that I did not see coming. It’s the kind of thing I can’t even vaguely allude to, as it really is a spoiler of game-ruining magnitude. It does make me wonder what could possibly still be in store for me during the remainder of the campaign — the twist was so monumental, it’s hard to imagine anything else still topping it.
Anna Marie Privitere
Dragon Quest Builders 2 continued to amaze and delight me during the second half of the game as much as it entranced me during the first half. Each city I go to feels unique, even with the same sort of blocks in play. A mining city on the brink of collapse financially and geographically ended up flourishing into a beautiful new town, thanks to multi-level building opportunities and new materials. Introduced during this time were fanciness and room aesthetic, which alongside size introduces a new concept where individuals who return with you to the main hub of the game (Isle of Awakening) request their bedrooms be of specific design. Creating these isn’t necessary but it is really fun!
The third city was deep in the mountains and locked under perpetual snowfall. Crushed under the weight of unending waves of monster attacks, the citizenry has given up on ever living in their beautiful castle again. Naturally, as the Builder you have opinions on this matter. The third region is another place where exploration is strongly rewarded — not only can you find mini-medal puzzles scattered everywhere along with powerful mini-bosses to conquer for special rewards, but the region has oodles of materials squirreled away in many different corners. Good thing your Builder has a trusty cape which glides on the wind; find a high spot on any of the mountains and glide peacefully to your destination, enjoying the scenery of… poisonous swamps, snowfields, and graveyards along the way…?
Builders 2 also shocked me with a plot twist, where I thought I was heading to the final battle but instead was treated to some of the most delightful story yet. I’ve already put in 60 hours completing the main story and many of the Isle of Awakening goals and I’m looking forward to continuing to tinker with the game in months to come.
The best part is just getting to pair up characters who are bitter enemies in the other companies and seeing how they act towards each other. The conversations run the gambit from hilarious to touching and give more depth to everyone involved. The actual enemy you fight in the campaign isn’t all that interesting, but then again, as with the other campaigns, “the enemy” isn’t really the point. They’re just a plot device to move the story of the Hoshido and Nohr families forward. What a wonderfully entertaining story it turned out to be. Though Three Houses is already threatening to replace Fates as my favorite game in the series, for now I can safely say that I absolutely love this trio of games, even the lesser of the three, Birthright. I don’t think my time with these wonderful games is through quite yet, as I’m already pondering a replay of Revelation on hardcore mode. If you haven’t played any of the Fates games, you owe it to yourself to do so.