#JRPGJuly 2021 – Week 3 Round-up

Welcome to another year of everyone’s favorite monthly gameathon. #JRPGJuly was created as a community game-along by Anne Lee @ Chic Pixel, and hosted by Nitro. Once again the RPGamer team is showing their support for the event by playing some JRPGs. If you’re participating make sure to use #JRPGJuly or share your feelings over on the RPGamer Discord server.

July is quickly passing by, so let’s see everyone’s progress in week 3!

Sam Wachter

Golden Sun

Golden Sun continues to be such a delightful experience. I constantly feel a sense of joy when I boot up the game. Even when I’m not enjoying how an element is designed, I still find happiness playing it. This week I put in about seven hours and we have made it to The Vault Cave. The story is definitely moving in an interesting direction, but if I never have to go through the desert level again, that would make me beyond happy. In the Lamakan Desert, players have to worry about their water intake as they move through the desert. There’s a bar on the left that once it hits a maximum, characters start to take damage. This element is fine in theory, but in practice, the bar mores too quickly, and some rock areas are less likely to be an oasis that brings the bar down! I didn’t enjoy this area and the boss at the end of it was challenging to say the least (though he offered great XP when he died!). I don’t know if I will finish Golden Sun by the end of the month, though I have six days of vacation coming to me, so I feel like it might be doable. Here’s hoping I finish it! 

Joshua Carpenter

NieR: Replicant

I had gotten distracted by other releases from finishing off the final endings in NieR: Replicant, so I decided to dive back into that this week. It’s not a secret how good that game is but after finally finishing the C and D endings — and getting the save deletion that ending D is famous for — I found myself blown away all over again. NieR has a weird and interesting setting that overlays on a traditional videogame pastiche of the main character on a quest to save a girl. The characters are what make NieR so special and elevate it above the typical JRPG. Whether it’s Kainé and Weiss bickering at one another or Emil being an adorable cinnamon roll, I grew to love these characters and it made the events in the final climactic scenes all the more tragic and heartbreaking. It’s one of the few games I’ve played that gets to me emotionally. I still don’t know if I’m pleased with having to play through 3+ times to see the original endings — Automata pulled off the subsequent playthroughs for other endings much better — but I had a much stronger connection to the cast in the original NieR. It’s one of those situations where the sequel is undeniably superior on a technical and design level, but the story and characters leave me loving the original more. Now it’s on to see if I can make it through the new for the remake E ending.

Phil Willis

Trials of Mana


While I stopped streaming Trials of Mana in favor of rogue-like games, I continue my run on the side. I recently unlocked my third-tier classes for each character and defeated the eight benevadons. This, of course, causes unforeseen opportunities for the plans of the evil forces to move forward! The stakes have never been higher! In fighting eight bosses in a row, some of the weaknesses of the battle system come up. With really tough bosses, I have to constantly micromanage the entire team. Any mistake tends to result in a death, and when the AI controls two characters, mistakes happen often enough. If I allow the real-time combat to play for ten seconds without pause, I usually end up with a game over screen. Moments like these make me wish the game was turn-based instead of real-time. However, in fighting the clumps of monsters along the way, the real-time combat feels fun and satisfying. I continue to enjoy the game and it does a good job of giving some very powerful options later on. I hope to get it finished this weekend.

Ryan Costa

Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light

I’ve been dealing with a really bad toothache the past week, and the appointment to see a dentist isn’t till Monday. As a result, it has been hard to hop back into Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. The game just has so many archaic systems even for the time it was released in. I only got a few hours further this time around but playing as the cat was some fun. In the next part, I wanted to keep my black mage even though they were by themselves. Unfortunately, the next area has Hellhounds, enemies that are more likely to take you out before you can finish them and their helpers off.

After many unsuccessful attempts to reach the next town, I had my first encounter with item upgrade shops, which reminded me that the one-of-a-kind sword that I lost previously could have been even better now. Even more frustrating is the currency to upgrade equipment is the same gems that are used for upgrading classes, which means even more grinding for a chance to get more. Many systems in the game might not be as fun as I’d have wished, but even then recalling the fun story and cool monster designs has kept alive the flame of why I love JRPGs and has not dissuaded me by any means…though if anyone wants me to swap games I won’t put up too much of a fight.

Jervon Perkins

Final Fantasy XIII

This admittedly wasn’t a productive week as far as #JRPGJuly goes. I did finish getting out of the Taejin’s Tower, which was the first lengthier dungeon in Final Fantasy XIII. I made it to Oerba and forgot how peaceful and heartbreaking the event is. Oerba’s desolate, isolated atmosphere is pierced by the song “Dust to Dust”. A disembodied female voice warbled as I ran through Vanille and Fang’s hometown and read the descriptions of items left by a now-dead society. Playing as Hope, the party met Vanille’s old miniature robot friend Bhakti, who shuts down just as she says hi. I’ve never fixed him, so I spent a chunk of time grabbing parts so Sazh could get down to business. I received an achievement, with the fuzzy Xbox 360 notification giving me a nostalgic feeling. I got some nice items for apparently trekking around Gran Pulse quite a bit too. All in all, it was slow goings, but progress is still progress.

Anna Marie Privitere

Doraemon Story of Seasons

Well, my #JRPGJuly has been taking unexpected turns! I’m reaching the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake on our twitch channel, and I’ve been dipping into backlog games this week. First was the aforementioned Arc of Alchemist, which ended up being a bust; I played it for a couple of hours, and nothing about it was grabbing me, so I five-hour rule’d it and moved on to Doraemon Story of Seasons instead.

I picked up both at the end of 2020, combining together discounted eShop cards with big holiday sales because if I’m not 100% sure I will adore a game, I’m happy to wait for a sale. Setting down a $60 game hurts; setting down a game I paid $8 for is far less painful. I’ve been having a lot of fun farming, mining, and throwing material stones at everyone’s face to increase their friendship. It’s a fluffy, relaxing game, though it lacks any direction on how to progress so I’ve been cobbling together my own mini-guide from a few different sources. I’ve also been pairing together the relaxing gameplay with a gritty audiobook in the Dresden Files series, a strange combination that somehow works magnificently. Off to go butter up the townspeople with random stuff I’ve picked up on the ground!

Michael Apps

Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin

Well, my progress with Neptunia ReVerse has unfortunately hit a major snag. Even after some grinding I still failed to beat the back-to-back bosses, getting consistently wrecked by Noire (the PlayStation goddess). Hopefully, I can get a bit further in the game before the end of the month but this does seem to be an odd difficulty hurdle early on in the game that I don’t recall from the original. I shall keep trying though. I did not progress much further in Disaga 6 this week but my enthusiasm for this entry remains. The level designs are making me think strategically, and managing and improving my party continues to be a blast.

Finally, I continue to plug along slowly in Monster Hunter Stories 2. The world is gorgeous and it’s fun to explore and collect monsters so I haven’t found much reason to advance the story just yet. It’s great to see so many newer Monster Hunter fans taking a liking to the game, and hopefully more will revisit the original. I’m looking to make some leaps in Disgaea 6 and Monster Hunter Stories 2 in the final week to have more to report.

Paul Shkreli

Star Ocean: First Departure R

Another week has gone by in #JRPGJuly, you guys! Although it isn’t my selected titled, I did play Mario Golf this month. You could threaten to say it has an RPG mode included, so check out my review. Concerning Star Ocean: First Departure…I’ll admit I am ready for this maiden voyage to end. I haven’t seen this much backtracking on an underdeveloped world since the most recent Star Ocean title. Playing this game after playing the universe-altering third game gives some perspective on the whole narrative, but it mostly makes me wonder whether it was a planned arc. I doubt it.

One of my favorite things about the Star Ocean series is the non-battle skills, and this game delivers. I am having so much fun cooking in the game. I find some of the other talents to be more effort than they are worth. And pickpocketing? Forget about it! It also took me a dozen hours to realize that the two abilities I set for my other party members are the only abilities they can use during battle? Not a good look.

Ryan Radcliff

Scarlet Nexus

Scarlet Nexus would be my GOTY right now…if NieR Replicant didn’t exist! This game came out of left field and has really surprised me. Sure, the story is a little bonkers with all the plot twists and silly shenanigans, but I dig it. I think I am nearing the end of Yuito’s story, and the game does seem to have enough replayability to check out Kasane’s journey. Fights are really neat for an action RPG, and this game boasts a colorful atmosphere that rivals Persona 5. I was not expecting much from this game, but it has definitely exceeded my expectations thus far. Let’s see how they finish it off and if my opinion changes by the end.

Zach Welhouse

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Fódlan is saved! The last few battles of Fire Emblem: Three Houses were pretty anti-climactic thanks to my resilient crew of heroes and abundant Divine Pulses. Finding the perfect challenge band in a tactical RPG – even a fun one like this one — is often more of an ideal than a promise. I want to feel smart, like it’s possible to make bad decisions, but I avoided them thanks to my knowledge of the game and its systems. However, I don’t want to repeat a battle too many times either. The struggle is real!

At the end of the day, I want more details on Fódlanian political system and the ramifications of the secret history uncovered in the last few chapters. I’m hoping playing a second route will give the big picture a little more oomph to complement the enjoyable side stories. Speaking of which, Lorenz (who did come into his own) paired up with Dorothea. Cyril and Lysithea enjoyed a cute epilogue, as did Ingrid and Raphael. Next week, I’ll be taking a look at Fuga: Melodies of Steel.

Scott Wachter

13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

This week in Visual Novel with Tower Defence Punctuation — otherwise known as 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim — we have a character caught in a time loop, the implication of parallel dimensions deepens, and more of the cat. The visual novel section features a story diagram that offers hints at how to go down the other branches; when I first saw it, I assumed I would have to manually select repeating chapters, but now I see that I get lead down them when I select continuing with a character. Is this a time loop or a dimension-hopping trick in the story or just the game? Do these characters have any free will? The box on the main screen says I’m 70 percent from being finished, so there’s more room to answer.

Another question for you at home – concerning the characters that are ‘native’ to 1945, are the writers gonna drift into that awkward right-wing imperialist-ish place that American fans insist isn’t political at all? Also, I am resigned to tower defence not getting any more interesting.

Erik van Asselt

Final Fantasy XIV

After last week’s high of beating Earthbound, it was a surprise to see that my body found it necessary to start this week with a low and get sick. So my plan to beat The Final Fantasy Legend on the RPGamer Twitch stream got postponed and I have spent most of my days feeling sick and sorry for myself. But I did play a game for #JRPGJuly.

About two years ago I started my Final Fantasy XIV journey and only last year I finished the main story of the vanilla game. I was super hyped to finally get into Heavensward, the first expansion, but I found something in my path: around a hundred quests. The quests have little stories and they feel like a chore to get through, but it is the perfect thing to do when you are sick. In the end, I have finished the Crystal Tower quests, my first Alliance Raid, and defeated Leviathan with a group of people I will never see again. Hopefully one day I will reach Heavensward, but I believe there are still some Primals in my way.

Michael Baker

Grandia II

I rolled credits on Grandia 2, and my reactions are kind of mixed. On the one hand, it was a lot of fun while it lasted, but it lost some of the charms of the first game in exchange for generic JRPG tropes and associated plot holes. The witty banter started running thin halfway through, and the final 45 minutes or so was nothing but grandiose soliloquies assaulting the moral foundations of the villain or heroes. Also, while every prediction I could have made concerning various characters and their personal development did in fact come to pass, I’d rather they did so before that final 45-minute block. Give the main cast some time to actually grow and develop organically, please!

Cassandra Ramos

Bravely Default II

I was cutting it close this week, but I did it! I rolled credits for the third time and saw the final ending of Bravely Default II. I’m not done with the game yet, as there are still the Halls of Tribulation and the trials within them, and there may yet be post-game stuff I am unaware of. New Game + has been unlocked, but I don’t think I’ll be replaying the whole game anytime soon. Even so, I think I’ll play at least one of the other games I brought up in my introduction next week.

I would say it’s a satisfying ending, if shorter than the previous two games. Overall, while I really enjoyed Bravely Default II, I don’t think it’s as good as its predecessors. The battle and jobs systems are excellent, and I rather enjoy the difficulty. The music is absolutely exquisite, and I appreciate it more after becoming a connoisseur of Revo’s band Sound Horizon. Yet the story and characters just aren’t as strong as in Bravely Default and Bravely Second. The world-building in BDII is also weaker, even compared to the first game. I don’t even mind so much that the meta elements are downplayed, but after how strong Bravely Second‘s characters and story are, this feels lesser in comparison. Bravely Default II is still an excellent game, but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be. Having said that, I still got really excited when I heard the final part of the ending theme. With it and a final boss theme even better than “Serpent that Devours the Horizon,” I am so very glad that Revo came back for this game!

Sarah McGarr

Final Fantasy XIV

As I continue my quests in Stormblood, I’ve hit an important milestone! I have met the enemy with a pearl in his face, and have finished all the sidequests for the north part of The Peaks, which felt like perfect timing.

I am hoping for a better story in the next chapter, as it was starting to get a little monotonous. The Ala Mihgans not wanting to join in with the Resistance was pretty much the only thing happening. Though one of the side quests had me help repair this crack in a house for some grandma, and I remember that quest in particular because she was pretty rude. She said, “Yo, fix my house!” I really didn’t want to help this old lady; the Warrior of Light does not like to help ungrateful people. When I finished getting her crap and brought it back, and she was still mean.

However, I’ve advanced to the next chapter of Stormblood! It opened with a cutscene showcasing the new Garlean Empire Imperials in their big, shiny armor with lots of spikes with the main villain – Zenos yae Galvus. I can’t wait to see what the new chapter brings!

Ryan McCarthy

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky FC

I only managed to make a couple of hours of progress in Trails in the Sky this week since I ended up getting distracted by certain Zelda HD re-release. It doesn’t help that what I did play involved the introduction of a bisexual character that, unfortunately, had some homophobic framing as Estelle acts with disgust with regards to the character’s attempts at flirting with Joshua. Joshua and Sherazard’s reactions don’t help things as this character’s attempts to hit on them get him labeled as a pervert even though he textually doesn’t do anything too out-of-line. Not exactly a shining moment in this game’s favor and quite off-putting to boot. Hopefully, how this is handled will improve over time but I have my reasons to be skeptical.

That’s all for this week. Let us know what sort of progress you’re making in your #JRPGJuly game in the comments!


Joshua Carpenter

Josh joined RPGamer in 2017 and is currently the Features and Editorials Director. This involves reviewing games and occasionally opining in opinion format.

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