#JRPGJuly 2021 – Final Wrap-Up
We have come to the end of another year of everyone’s favorite monthly gameathon. #JRPGJuly was created as a community game-along 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 the final week went for the RPGamer staff!
This year there were over 200 participants in #JRPGJuly playing 132 different games — what an incredible turnout! Also a huge thank you this year to Nitro who has been a huge influence the community game-alongs!
I am sad to say that I did not finish Golden Sun during this year’s #JRPGJuly, though I’m happy I did make it 25 hours in. I have just hit the Colosso Tournament and I’m going to be honest: I hate it. I don’t find the tournament fun at all, even with the fixed cheating the player can do beforehand. I am finding it’s adding nothing to the main story and I really want to get back to what is going on with our villains. Part of the reason I didn’t get as far as I wanted was due to working a lot, but I also got stuck on the Kraken boss as I only had around eleven Djinn, which made it a rough ride. However, once I realized I could use status effects on the boss, I took him out with ease. I’m still having a great time with the game and I’m looking forward to seeing how everything will wrap up. While I wish I had completed more games, I’m happy I finished Ys VIII. I still think this was a successful #JRPGJuly!
Definitely not going to finish Golden Sun by Monday, but I still really enjoying the game and I have been finding I’m learning the class and djinn systems a lot better now (I felt so dumb at first). Ivan is still precious! Time for a tournament! #JRPGJuly pic.twitter.com/BZCOtiKH9S
— Sam Wachter (@merrygodown) July 29, 2021
After Mario Golf: Super Rush turned out to be a bust from an RPG perspective, I’ve spent the rest of #JRPGJuly bouncing around my recent backlog trying to finish some games. At the end of the month, I landed on Fantasian, a game I liked quite a lot but didn’t have the motivation to finish since it’s getting released in halves on Apple Arcade. Mistwalker has been releasing smaller projects in recent years, but Fantasian is their return to a more console title experience. This game looks gorgeous; the diorama look is such a unique take on what a prerendered PlayStation One game might look like for a modern era. I’m thoroughly enjoying how strategic combat is with areas of effect and manipulating the path of attacks being key — though this is much easier with a controller than on a touch screen. This does mean that some of the battles can be a bit involved, so it won’t be perfect for those that crave fast battle systems. Fantasian is a perfect PS1 love letter that I didn’t know I wanted. Hopefully, it gets a release on non-Apple platforms soon.
— Joshua Carpenter (@jscarpe) July 30, 2021
My #JRPGJuly journey ended the same way it began: with lots of frustration and grinding in Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. This time my one-person party had to collect ten thousand gil to progress the plot. There is one cool feature where it would be pretty easy to accomplish this where one of the merchants gives up some counter space for a mini-game that allows items to be sold for set prices that are more than at a regular shop. To unlock this, I had to experience the other three quests merchants sent me on for a 2500 gil reward. These ranged from simply selling rings to townspeople, to collecting a bomb fragment from my old nemesis, the hellhound — which took an hour for me with some bad RNG — to tracking down and taking out a chimera. After that gauntlet, I just put the game down. Yes, this month ended with a flop, maybe next time I won’t stick with a game that reminds me of my sore tooth. However, with a near-endless supply of RPGs out there, I look forward to next year where I can dust off another and try it out. It just won’t be Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light.
Anna Marie Privitere
My fourth and final week of #JRPGJuly has been filled with newer games, rather than backlog bustin’. With both Ace Attorney Chronicles as well as NEO: The World Ends With You arriving, I was so torn about what to tackle first, but ultimately decided on NEO: TWEWY. It feels like coming home in a lot of ways — I played the original TWEWY on DS, iPad, and Switch, completing the game each time. NEO feels like all the things I loved are back, with plenty of mystery and plot twists wrapped up in a familiar combat system and map layout. I can’t wait to play more. On the flip side, I finished the Final Fantasy VII Remake on our Twitch channel and immediately jumped into another recent release with the Legend of Mana remake. I adored the original release back on the PlayStation, despite the game’s seriously janky combat and quirky progression system, and it turns out I still love it now too. Thankfully I have a friend who’s also obsessed with the game and is there to remind me how to get through the jungle…I really hate that zone. 23 chapters down, 45 to go.
— Anna Marie Privitere (@amprivitere) July 29, 2021
I finished Trials of Mana (remastered) and that says something. As a self-proclaimed gaming-polygamist, I often find my attention too divided to actually complete most games. Yet, this one had enough action, bright characters, and JRPG goodness to pull me through. I feel the length is just right, as I just about squeezed all of the fun out of the battle system. Better alternatives exist for fans of action RPGs today, but as a trip back to the old days of JRPGs, Trials of Mana pulls ahead of the pack. I can easily recommend it for those looking for some old-school goodness coupled with more modern-day graphics and game design.
I may have slightly strayed from the JRPG main road as the month comes to a close. I was able to vanquish demons, ace a few golf courses, and cleared the Nexus’ Scar, but to close out #JRPGJuly I decided to let Jesus take the wheel and pick my next game with a randomizer, and Cyberpunk 2077 was chosen. So I end up finishing this wonderful month with a game that most can agree is not a JRPG by any stretch. I will say, despite a lot of bugs and a few crashes, the game remains pretty darn fun. It reminds me of Grand Theft Auto with RPG mechanics. But of all the games I have played this month, I enjoyed Scarlet Nexus the most. Seriously, this game surprised me in a good way and was the best new IP I have played in a long time. Now if you will excuse me, I need to find my next underground fight club to conquer in Night City.
I think I am halfway done with 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. I haven’t run into anything new to discuss in a game critic-y way, but I will try to gather all my thoughts so far: ighting bad sentinels isn’t so much hard as it is chore. Time-travel shenanigans and robot duplicates are fun twists. The talking cat is still the best. The characters that are native to 1945 probably won’t go full Wings of Rean, and at least one of them will become a designated bad guy. Natsuno and Yuki are tied for the best girl because they care about things other than dumb boys. Miura needs to stop doing that thing where he removes his hat, adjusts the peak from the inside, and puts it back on Every Single Time he talks to himself.
Wow, what an emotional end to #JRPGJuly! I was all hands on deck with completing Final Fantasy XIII. I made my way to Orphan and forgot how difficult he is as a final boss. There were constant retries between the three different fights. In the end, it seemed like controlling Hope was the way to beat him. That’s not surprising as I’m always more intuitively a support/healer character in RPGs and MMOs. Ironically, it was Hope’s “Last Resort” that took down Orphan’s second form (the hardest of the three) right as he was about to obliterate my dangerously low HP party. There was a twist in my stomach as Leona Lewis’s “My Hands” played during the ending scenes. The sacrifice of some of the characters tugged at my heartstrings, and I was so happy to be alone and cry. FFXIII is a very challenging game. It’s not perfect, but I still consider it one of the games I enjoy and will want to revisit one day. It also piqued my interest in the rest of the trilogy so…it seems I’m adding XII-2 and Lightning Returns to this year’s game list!
That’s a wrap on Final Fantasy XIII for #JRPGJuly. I’ll admit I’m ugly crying… It compelled me to replay the trilogy, and I now have a new found respect for Fang. Her conflicting emotions of isolation and dedication are relatable. Challenging combat but worth it. pic.twitter.com/xM6bjuMT8y
— Jervon (@QueerShapedLife) July 26, 2021
I’m finally finished with Star Ocean: First Departure R. Getting to the end of this rather short game was still a bit of a struggle at the end. Most of the characters are either under or just barely-there developed, and I felt no sense of urgency to rush to defeat the final boss. Once I finished this game, I loaded up the revamped second game with Star Ocean: Second Evolution for the PSP. Playing these games has made me realize my appreciation for the series is mostly contained to Star Ocean 2 and 3, which I played when they were initially released.
Star Ocean: Second Story is where the series really gets going. It might just be the nostalgia, but the characters are well-drawn with deep personalities. I never felt tired of recruiting new characters, whereas in First Departure I was quickly overrun with new characters I didn’t want to manage. Even here, the story suffers from the same tropism that plagues every iteration of the series. Did I mention there’s an anime, too?
— Paul (@paulwall217) July 30, 2021
Since finishing Grandia 2, I’ve puttered around with some other games. The two I’m willing to talk about are Sorcerian and Your Four Princess Knights Chronicle, both of which pose interesting play issues. Namely, I’m not always sure how to go about playing them. Sorcerian is an old Falcom title that works like a combination of Ys and Wizardry re-imagined as a side-scrolling action-adventure RPG. It mostly consists of running around areas, often through monsters, and hoping to locate the next plot point. Your Four Princess Knight Chronicle, on the other hand… at some point, I shall figure out what the heck I am doing with that game. It shall not happen by the end of the month, however. I will say that it’s different, at least. Good? Not sure. Different? Definitely.
My plans to at least start the demo for NEO: The World Ends With You fell through, as I spent much of the week finishing another game for a podcast that I had already written about during a previous year’s #JRPGJuly. Since I had started the remaster of Legend of Mana earlier this month, I played a bit more of it instead. I have an odd history with the Mana series in general and Legend of Mana in particular. I played and really enjoyed Sword of Mana on the GBA, but I never played the original Final Fantasy Adventure or Secret of Mana. I have also played Children of Mana but thought that game was uninteresting. While I hadn’t played Legend of Mana before, I did watch my friends play it many years ago. I only put in about two hours, but I am charmed by the game so far. I feel very nostalgic for this game, even though I never actually played it. The controls take a little getting used to, and I’m finding combat a bit rough. However, I love the game’s aesthetics and I simply adore the Brownie Brown art style. It’s curious how fragmented the world is, but the characters are delightfully quirky. The music is great too, particularly the beautiful opening (and eventually closing) theme “Song of Mana.” I do wish I had been able to play more Legend of Mana, but this is not a bad way to close out #JRPGJuly.
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 30, 2021
At the end of this month, I feel like I still have barely started Trails in the Sky despite having put 17 hours into it. I would have played more of it this month if a certain other game didn’t end up catching my attention. I didn’t make much progress in the main story since I still felt sore about the parts I mentioned in my write-up last week. I did a few of the sidequests though a couple of them still elude me, which is unfortunate since they need to be done within a certain timeframe of narrative progression before getting locked off. As of right now, Estelle and company are still investigating the disappearance of the airship. They have gotten intel from Nial, a reporter they met back during the very early portions of the game, that gives them the idea to go to Ravennue Village and investigate an eyewitness account of a giant shadow in the sky. When I picked Trails in the Sky for #JRPGJuly, I thought that I would be able to finish it before the end of the month. That didn’t happen but I do intend to continue chipping away at it. The lesson I keep learning from the past three years of participating in #JRPGJuly is that I shouldn’t assume that it will go the way I expect it to.
— Ryan McCarthy (@LastZimOnEarth) July 31, 2021
Erik van Asselt
Final Fantasy Legend for the GameBoy is a strange game. I have started this game multiple times over the last decade but never got past the first town. There were just so many options and strange mechanics, so I got lost quite fast. During my birthday stream just before #JRPGJuly I tried the game again and after so many years it finally clicked with me. So in the last week of July, I dedicated my time to finish this game. It took only a few streams to traverse the tower to Paradise with my team of Bob the human, Nina and Jaz the mutant sisters, and Jeff the monster. I love how deep the gameplay is for such a small adventure. Yes, not leveling up is strange: Humans drink potions to gain stats, Mutants just get stat upgrades based on what they do, and Monsters eat other monster’s meat to evolve into a different monster. But I strongly recommend others to try out the game or just watch my playthrough here. It was a great way for me to close out this awesome #JRPGJuly.
Eight chapters in, Fuga: Melodies of Steel has succeeded at several complicated balancing acts. Although my giant tank full of World War II-adjacent anthropomorphized puppies and kittens has had its share of close encounters, the tone is never hopeless or exploitative. The battles are challenging enough that I understand the temptation of using my ultimate, orphan-powered Soul Cannon, but I never feel like I’m forced to use it. Through learning the game’s systems and attending to my crew’s needs, I feel like I’m just barely keeping everything together.
As each chapter progresses, battles become more challenging, and save points recede into the distance. A big enough mistake in battle means I either have to sacrifice an ally — which I won’t — or lose playtime. So I choose my tank crew carefully, directing them to where they’ll do the most damage and be at the least risk of fear, depression, or injury. Figuring out the best techniques to use against each wave of enemies is a fine puzzle. Surviving wave after wave while conserving resources, gathering scrap, and optimizing character growth ups the ante. Everything could all come crashing down in the game’s second half, but I choose to end #JRPGJuly feeling confident and hopeful for the future.
— Zach Welhouse (@ZachRPG) July 30, 2021
Sadly, my #JRPGJuly ended in a bit of frustration with Neptunia ReVerse. Still stuck on the same boss I have been for weeks, I came desperately close to success, only to fail and I can’t seem to get that close again. I still think the game is fun, but it can be rough around the edges difficulty-wise. Monster Hunter Stories 2 is incredibly engaging and probably the best game I played this month. Collecting the various monsters is addicting and the additions to combat add a lot of depth while still keeping battles moving quickly. With more DLC coming I can see myself playing this game for the rest of the year on and off. Overall, I didn’t get incredibly far into anything I played, but as far as a #JRPGJuly for sampling new games goes I’d call it quite successful.
Stormblood is getting more interesting! It started slowly and I was getting bored with it. It didn’t help that the Fringes are just mountainous desert, and after living in Utah for ten years I’m tired of that landscape. I’d much rather run around in Gridania-type landscapes. I was given a choice between staying behind and going out to fight at one point, and I just wanted to stay behind with Y’shtola and heal hot guys with her. Alas, duty calls.
I did hit level 65, which means a new job quest! However, I quickly realized that I had been neglecting my job quests since about 61, so I ended up trying to do a lot of that instead of the Stormblood main story quest. I decided to do that because I ran into one of those “set aside ample time for these several cutscenes after this trial” quests, and it was already pretty late. I hear good things though, so I’m excited for the quests to get ramped up a little bit. I’ve just been running around, doing odd jobs for random folks.
Unfortunately, that is all to report for this week; I didn’t get a lot of time to play, lots of other content to do.
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 30, 2021
That’s all for #JRPGJuly this year. We hope you enjoyed reading about our quests through JRPGs this month and share your experiences in the comments.