#JRPGJuly 2022 – Week 1 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 MDi. 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.
The first week proved to be busy for our staff, let’s see everyone’s progress!
Dragon Quest VIII has certainly been a fun experience so far. My brain feels so baffled that I couldn’t get into the game years ago, but everything seems to be clicking now. I’m 13 hours into the game, and I’m off to save the Horse Princess from being kidnapped. I’m currently working my way through the Swordsman’s Labyrinth in search of Venus Tear so I can claim my horse back. I really love how entertaining the cast is in this game, though my favourite character may be King Trode. He’s just so adorable with his little hissy fits and stomps! I am really enjoying the amount of comedy in this installment, though I feel like that is going to fade the closer I get to uncovering more about Dhoulmagus. Given my new work schedule, I’m really trying to fit in as much time for DQ VIII as I can, because I really do want to finish it before the month is up, but given how long the game is, I’m not sure what my success rate is going to be.
Being more of a PC kid, I didn’t experience any of the golden age of Super Nintendo and PlayStation 1 JRPGs when they were originally released. That makes it fun and interesting to dive back into some of the beloved releases of that era to observe the thread lines that carry through into modern RPGs and discover which ones still hold up today and which were merely a product of their time. Returning to older Final Fantasy games has been really hit-and-miss for me as I felt that Final Fantasy IV was okay but didn’t live up to the “greatest RPG of all time” hype that sometimes surrounds it, but I loved the entertainingly breakable battle system of Final Fantasy V when I finally experienced the Pixel Remaster version earlier this year. So with those two games down, I figured it was time to finally dive into Final Fantasy VI and see where it comes in on the spectrum.
The first few hours have been really enjoyable, despite some occasional weird decisions in the Pixel Remaster version. While I don’t hate the default font as much as some, Square Enix made a strange decision to cut the opening credits but nevertheless leave the opening where they originally scrolled over so you have the characters trekking across the tundra in Magitek armor for minutes on end for no apparent reason. I had to ask someone what was going on in that scene. Despite these strange decisions, it’s interesting to observe FFVI become much more cinematic than the first two Super Nintendo releases and Kefka is delightfully over the top — just a cackling manifestation of evil for evil’s sake. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the story leads; I’m finding it more engaging than the other SNES entries and I think I’m finally coming around on the Active Time Battle system.
— Joshua Carpenter (@jscarpe) July 4, 2022
After avoiding spoilers for years, my journey with Persona 4 Golden has begun and I’m a fool for not playing it earlier! As a big fan of Tokyo Mirage Sessions, I understand some of the subtle references I previously missed. The part I was sad about, as a huge fan of randomization for loot, monsters, characters, etc, I knew about the dungeon layout shifting, but not about Shuffle Time. If there ever was a mechanic made for me in a turn-based RPG it would be Shuffle Time. As a gamer of only the early Persona games before this, the ability to swap Persona mid-battle is something I love to see.
Social links were also something I knew all about from other titles, such as Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, and while they’re a lot of fun here, I still feel like I want more to it, which I hope happens as the game continues. I was worried about running out of time in that first dungeon, due to how much I was working on social links. This led to a lot of grinding, but it all worked out and that dungeon is complete. Now I am excitedly waiting for the next story prompts to see where the story goes next!
Replaying Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (for the second time this year) proved to be both a satisfying and important decision. For years, I’ve wondered if I would ever come upon a video game narrative that influences me the same way Xenosaga did. Over the last couple of years, I’ve grown to not only love the Xenoblade Chronicles series but revisit the passion of experiencing video game narratives on a deeper level. I’m pushing 70 hours into the game and the big difference is that I’m taking my time, doing side quests, and taking a “self-actualization” approach to completing it. Accepting that Monolith Soft is big on the gamification of experiencing trials and tribulations with an existential payoff is making my love for the series grow stronger. It’s also making my hunger to play Xenoblade Chronicles 3 at the end of July more voracious.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’m lowkey jealous of Sharla. Reyn is my favorite himbo, and I wish he looked at me the way he looks at her LOL. #jrpgjuly #XenobladeChronicles pic.twitter.com/lCVybJrGvH
— Jervon (@QueerShapedLife) July 6, 2022
Anna Marie Privitere
It’s sort of becoming a tradition that what I expect to play in #JRPGJuly and what I actually play end up being two different things. When I wrote up my plans originally, I’d forgotten that Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes would be launching at the end of June. Unsurprisingly, it sucked me right in.
Like many RPGamers, I technically started before July, and I’m watching the credits roll on the first route I did, Golden Wildfire. Despite 55 hours into the game, I can say with confidence I’ll be jumping back in again on a different route, just as I did with Fire Emblem: Three Houses. The characters are compelling and relatable, the gameplay loop is super rewarding, the music and voice acting is stellar, and I love the rich fantasy world of Fódlan. However, before I dive back into the world of swords and sorcery, I do want to take a quick break with a slightly shorter game. Oh, and it seems there’s a summer eShop sale as well? My poor backlog…
— Anna Marie Privitere (@pawsrpg) July 6, 2022
Things are actually going well? Not sure I entirely believe it, but it’s somehow true. I’m breezing through Demon’s Souls so far. Although it took a change of class from Knight to Royalty after an initial four-hour playthrough to really get going. Since the change to Royalty and a magic build, there haven’t been many instances where I’ve struggled to progress. Magic certainly makes the game easier, but I enjoy it. One particular part of the game flow process that I enjoy is actually studying bosses beforehand as if I’m watching a film to get ready for an opponent on an NFL Sunday. It’s much more enjoyable to form a strategy at that point than to go in blind just to get thrashed. Some might not like this, but Souls games can sometimes feel cheap instead of difficult, so whenever I go into boss battles blind I just end up getting frustrated. While I am enjoying my playthrough, some of the same problems I had with Elden Ring are still present in Demon’s Souls, especially when it comes to lore. I couldn’t care less about it. The setting is nice, but I don’t care why anything is happening in it. If things continue the way they are I should have Demon’s Souls finished by the end of next week!
Death count: 33
Day 1 of #JRPGJuly
not going well. already had to restart a 5 hour play through because i didn’t like the class and was stuck on the second boss
restarted game, new class, best second boss on first try.
Death Count: 13 pic.twitter.com/HyOlVEFxi8
— Jonny Rackets 🎾 (@jjansen34) July 1, 2022
It’s been a long time since I played Tales of Symphonia, and the game is exactly as I remembered it, warts and all. There are charming cel-shaded graphics, a well-developed cast that may border on being cliched, and a battle system that is fun enough even if a bit button mashy. The only thing that I really think has aged poorly is the story. Within minutes of the game’s opening, it’s explained to players there’s a ranch down the street from a village and the cash crop is humans. There’s also a really early story reveal regarding Collete’s holy mission that is hinted at briefly before explained in what is a poorly executed bit of dramatic irony. The story feels hollow thus far, but I am admittedly in the early hours. I am excited to continue playing, even if playing the game at night on a handheld has led to more than one instance where I fall asleep in the middle of a battle.
— Paul (@paulwall217) July 8, 2022
I got to admit, I was still in vacation mode and have barely touched Shin Megami Tensei V. The crew just attended the Bethel summit and all hell broke loose during the event, so now we need to figure out what to do next. My character is in the upper 50s as far as levels go, so I am starting to get some of the more powerful demons to join me. Idun has been my MVP of summoned monsters so far. Her Golden Apple move is pricey, but a heal plus stat boost spell is perfect for this game. My Tuesday and Friday streams on the channel are my other avenue to play JRPGs as the retro wheel is filled with nothing but Super Nintendo RPGs. It’s a fun, fast-paced stream that the viewers dictate, plus I sometimes give people gifts, so show up and maybe win something, or possibly help me when I eventually get lost.
I haven’t done a lot of gaming this past week due to some ongoing tendonitis in my shoulder, but I did manage to figure out exactly where I am in the story and have gained a few levels along the way. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is still a joy to play and Daisoujou is, again, turning out to be the game-breaker because he can heal, damage, restore his own MP, and nullifies a ton of bad things like light, dark, and statuses. Just keep feeding him mitama demons and praying and meditation and you can also experience this joy. I’m supposed to be climbing the Obelisk but had to teleport out due to getting cursed on level-up. I was about halfway up too.
— lolwhoops – #teamhandheld (@lolwhoops) July 7, 2022
Erik van Asselt
Just like every year, I tried to fill #JRPGJuly with a game I have had on my backlog for a while. Last year it was Earthbound and the year before that it was Final Fantasy Tactics. So I had high hopes for The Legend of Dragoon. I played the game on our Twitch channel for two nights and here is my conclusion: it is painfully generic. The characters all felt really bland and boring. The battle system is really sluggish. I played over four hours of the game and the trickle of experience my characters got was so low, that I was only level seven at the end of the stream. At that point, I made the executive decision to stop playing The Legend of Dragoon. Luckily I had a backup plan. I switched to Dragon’s Dogma and wow, this game is fun. What did I do with my time in this game? I threw a random NPC off a cliff, was thrown into jail twice, accidentally shot a shopkeeper with my magic, and climbed on the back of some monsters. And there it is, I was actually having fun. I hope you will join in on the fun on RPGamer’s Twitch Channel and maybe we can drop some NPCs off a cliff together.
— HerrFrog (@FanFrog) July 8, 2022
I ended up having an unfortunate amount of time stuck at home this week, so most evenings were spent with Atelier Meruru. It’s been most of a decade since I last played one of the more classically styled Atelier games, and I’d almost forgotten how fast they fly by. I’m in the third and final year of Meruru‘s main game, with most tasks completed and no idea what to do with half the party members I’ve got available. If there’s one negative thing I could say, it’s that the locals of the Kingdom of Arles get edged out by all the repeat characters from Rorona and Totori. While I actually recall a good deal about who most of them are, the fact that I need to know who they are to properly enjoy their presence in the game diminishes the experience. I do wish that Gust had focused more on just Meruru and her inner circle for most of the character content, instead of leaning so heavily on the nostalgia factor from previous games. Li’l Rorona’s cute and all, but her story could have been better told as a side game, rather than a B-plot for this one.
I’ve spent about 11 hours thus far on Skies of Arcadia Legends for the Nintendo GameCube, but I imagine at least two of those hours are due to me falling asleep late at night or otherwise preoccupied. I made it through the beginning part of the game and just started on the main quest of collecting the Moon Crystals before the Valuan Empire gets their hands on them. I just barely started exploring the dungeon that is supposed to contain the Red Moon Crystal.
I rarely replay video games, particularly nowadays, and I have not touched Skies of Arcadia in about twenty years. It’s kind of crazy how long ago this was, as I was a sophomore in high school at the time. It really takes me back. Even in the early 2000s, Skies of Arcadia‘s story was considered clichéd. There was an ancient conflict between advanced civilizations that lead to their destruction, powerful artifacts from the old world, an expansionist empire that wants those artifacts to rule the world, a plucky band of rogues who becomes heroes joined by a mysterious waif, fictional nations based on real-world cultures, and so on. Yet that, as now, has always been part of the game’s charm. Skies of Arcadia doesn’t try to subvert conventions or break the mold; it’s just a fun adventure with characters and a game world that are equally engaging and engrossing. Skies of Arcadia certainly shows its age. The graphics look rough and muddy, battles can be a tad slow, and the random encounter rate can be a bit high, especially when flying. Despite this, I am enjoying my time revisiting this game. Not only do I like the party members and other named characters, I’m even remembering the quirky NPCs. I don’t think I’ve seen any reused models, outside of soldiers in armor. I also enjoy being reminded of scenes and dialogue I’ve almost entirely forgotten about.
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 4, 2022
Note: Spoilers for Stormblood.
Last year, I was trying to finish Heavensward. This year, it’s on to Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood. It’s been pretty boring in the beginning, but recent events have made it more exciting. Here’s to a better section of Stormblood.
I was able to get through Doma Castle last night, and I must say, I love that music. I also love seeing more of my husbando, Lord Hien. The dungeon’s final cutscene surprised me and left the story on a bit of a cliffhanger. Did everyone make it out okay? I may not know for some time, but I’m excited to see what happens next!
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 8, 2022
Currently, I’m pretty far into Chapter 3 of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, with about 20 hours of playtime so far. Despite the amount of time I feel like I’m still in the early parts of the game as aspects of the battle system are still being introduced and the story is pretty slow-going as subtle hints surrounding the connection between Rex and Pyra are being drip-fed as they travel to find their way to Elysium. As of right now, I’m on my way to Fonsa Myma, the capital of Uraya — a kingdom that is located inside a titan that the main party has found themselves trapped in.
That being said, I’m definitely intrigued to play further to see where I end up landing on the game’s story as there is potential here, with just enough amusing moments from the characters, especially the feisty catgirl Nia. I’m getting the hang of XBC2’s MMO-like battle system, using my party members’ various arts to maximize their effectiveness, and creating combo chains that will help me through the more challenging bosses as I reach the later parts of the game. In addition, I’ve enhanced the fun of exploration in the game by keeping the minimap toggled off, which has allowed me to better take in the fantastically designed environments. I hope to get to the end of the game by month’s end but it will no doubt be a long one.
— Ryan McCarthy (@LastZimOnEarth) July 1, 2022
That’s all for this week. Let us know what sort of progress you’re making in your #JRPGJuly game in the comments or on Twitter!