#JRPGJuly 2023 – Final Wrap Up
It’s time to wrap up 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 staff 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.
How many staffers managed to complete their goals for the month? Read on to find out!
While I’m continuing on a second playthrough of Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2, I’ve shifted most of my attention to The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie. Reverie acts as a wrap-up for both the Crossbell and Cold Steel games and serves as a bridge to the next set of games that will be set in a new area of Zemuria with a new cast. I love the Trails series, but by the end of Trails of Cold Steel IV some of the series’ excesses had come to grate on me. I love how the Trails games build the world with a gigantic cast who all have their own unique stories that play out, often over multiple games. However, across four games in the Cold Steel series, the main cast got so huge and there were so many cameos from previous entries that Cold Steel IV lacked effective pacing and I was ready for it to be over long before it was.
I don’t expect Reverie to be a dramatic departure from the formula in Cold Steel — it is supposed to include the characters from the entire series to this point — and the opening of the game seems to confirm those suspicions. The first act starts with alternating between Rean and Lloyd and revolves around exploring their old haunts and only subtly hints at where the series may be going. At least Reverie allows the player to freely alternate between Rean and Lloyd so I’ll be able to have some control in managing the pacing of this game. The combat also has the same problems that I had with the later Cold Steel games. Enemies, especially bosses, are HP sponges and it causes battles to go on for far too long but it’s also lacking in challenge as it rarely seems that I’m in any danger of dying. Maybe I’ve just never gotten good at taking full advantage of the Break Gauge to maximize damage.
It always sounds like I’m more down on recent Trails games than I actually am. I hold the series in such high regard that I have high expectations for Falcom to live up to. Despite my gripes, I’m enjoying spending some more time with the Crossbell gang and I can’t wait to see where the overall narrative is going.
— Joshua Carpenter (@jscarpe) July 29, 2023
If there is one thing I was reminded of for #JRPGJuly, it’s that I can’t force myself to do something I don’t want to do. My goal for this month was quite lofty and would need a lot of dedication. Final Fantasy X-2 at 100% is NOT an easy task. I love the game, but there’s an awful lot of tedium in getting that 100%. That being said, I did get a chance to complete the first playthrough, so I am primed for New Game Plus. Will that be in the cards next year during #JRPGJuly? I’m not quite sure.
And as far as Last Mission goes… I’m going to have to think about that one. If X-2 at 100% is a chore then Last Mission is a whole list of chores. It feels half-baked and just thrown in there and because of its nature, you almost don’t hear anyone talking about it. Overall, I am glad that I dipped my toes in. Isn’t that the point of #JRPGJuly?
I’ll admit that #JRPGJuly was a busy one for me. Especially because “Barbenheimer” took control of me as I’m an avid moviegoer. Thankfully I was able to complete Chapter 3 of Trails in the Sky FC and I’m about to begin the final chapter! Safe to say, I love this game and will do my best to consume every part of this series that I can, which is something I hope to convey to anyone that hasn’t started this series. It is intimidating, there are many games in this series, but don’t get caught up in that. These games individually are great. I’m not sure if I’ll ever catch up to this story, but I don’t have to. This is a JRPG I enjoy immensely and I’m glad I finally jumped in. Don’t hesitate. Take the plunge into this series. Don’t worry about the number of games there are and just enjoy the ones that you can get to because it is worth it.
Where did July go? It passed in the blink of an eye! This week’s Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered Edition playtime was a real treat as we ventured into a dungeon that I remembered being my favorite when I was a child: Moschet Manor. So how did it hold up? Well, the most challenging facet of the place was standing and waiting, sometimes for a whole minute, on panels that are necessary to unlock doors around the mansion. But the storytelling was delightful, enough to make the whole experience worthwhile. If you ever play this game, I highly recommend seeing for yourself why poor old Jack Moschet just can’t get his dinner!
I dipped into Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven a few times too. By this point, the mechanics and controls feel pretty comfortable to me. Whenever new optional maps come up, I try to clear them all right away, but I think that habit is pushing my characters’ levels a bit too high relative to the story maps. Since I know I have several more party members to recruit, I’ll focus on the story for the time being and then go back to the optional content when someone needs an extra level or two. It was a joy to participate in this year’s #JRPGJuly, even if I haven’t finished my chosen games yet. JRPGs consume my free time year-round, so I’m definitely going to keep playing these two.
July came and went, and I’d say it was quite a memorable month. I was able to beat an impressive amount of RPGs, including Breath of Fire, Seiken Densetsu 3, Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy XVI, Octopath Traveler II, and Castle of the Underdogs: Episode 1, though that last one acted more like a demo. I am also knee-deep in Ara Fell (which you can watch during the early Sunday streams over on our Twitch channel), and I am slowly making my way through Trails into Reverie. I’ve enjoyed my time with all the games mentioned as they each provide unique gaming experiences. Fun times were had this month, and as always, feel free to stop by our channel and tell us how your adventures have fared!
I was hoping to actually finish Disgaea 6 this month, but being down for more than a week due to really bad pain caused by an infection made me not feel like doing anything at all. Thankfully there’s the auto-battle function, so I could still do stuff with little actual work. I guess that’s part of the reason people didn’t take to Disgaea 6 and I can totally get that. I’m sure I’ll beat it just as soon as I get tired of the item world.
Last week I talked about starting the original Final Fantasy. During the week I was able to pick up an OLED Switch and I double dipped on the Pixel Remasters; partly because I really like Final Fantasy and partly because the console version of these games have some features that the PC version continues to lack. I managed to beat Final Fantasy in about ten hours thanks to some of the boosts. I did see that applying Temper and Haste to a Monk is incredibly broken. I managed to kill Chaos in four turns just from a Monk punching him to death.
Over on Twitch, I’m still on the combo of Atelier Iris 2 and Mary Skelter, though I didn’t make as much progress in either as I would have liked. In Atelier Iris 2 the plot is alternating between Felt saving his home and him being drawn into a conflict between nations. In Mary Skelter I finished the Temple and started to move on to the Downtown area, when I promptly died and had to redo the boss I had just beaten in the Temple. The game is still a dark and bloody mess; however, it has been a really fun romp and I’m going to keep sticking with it during longer streaming sessions because it’s easy to get lost in exploring dungeons.
Imagine that; I actually managed to complete not one, but two games this July! Yes, I rolled credits on Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2, getting the good ending, empathy epilogue. Maybe it was because I played the first game a few months back, but I was surprised at how quickly I got through the sequel. I restarted the final boss fight twice, but managed to beat it on my third try. During my first attempt, I decided to use the Managarm since it was the last fight in the game and I figured it would be okay to forgo that EXP. Unfortunately, it still left the boss with a smidge of HP, and I let the countdown get dangerously close to zero. I will admit it was silly since I have one “Dummy Soul” from the Deluxe Edition, meaning I have one guilt-free use of the Soul Cannon, but I can’t help but feel monstrous using the cannon. This game in particular plays up what a terrible weapon it is. Thankfully, the final battle doesn’t take too long, and I managed to beat the game without losing any of the children. I rather like the mostly sweet ending. It’s too bad that the peace the children fought for likely won’t last, since Fuga is meant to be a trilogy. I do hope that Fuga 2 sells well enough for CyberConnect2 to be able to make a third game. Time will tell, I suppose.
I really enjoyed this game. The story is fittingly darker and quite engaging. The children are lovable, and I like the growth that Malt undergoes throughout the story. The gameplay is excellently strategic and battles are challenging without feeling unfair. I also get a kick out of hearing the French language track. Like with Solatorobo, it adds to the game’s charm. The music is fitting, if a bit underwhelming, but the main theme “Wherever the Wind Takes Us” is excellent. I think I like the first game’s main theme, “Flower on the Trail”, only slightly more than this song. If anyone reading this is at least slightly curious about this game, I highly recommend it. I do suggest playing the first Fuga game beforehand, though. I’m not completely certain if I want to do another playthrough just yet, as much as I enjoy this game. I do have quite the backlog of games to play.
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 27, 2023
And so ends Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2. I managed to get the good ending, empathy epilogue. This is an excellent game! I hope it sells well enough to complete the trilogy. #JRPGJuly pic.twitter.com/HfZuNmZrbm
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 29, 2023
Note: Spoilers for Shadowbringers and Endwalker
Huzzah! I got second credits for Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and was able to get into some Endwalker content before Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest! Unfortunately, while I did plan on playing some on this trip to Vegas, I did not have any time. I kept coming back to the room late and then had to do writeups until sleep. Somehow I think I managed to avoided a lot of spoilers at Fan Fest. The Piano and Primals concerts had those videos playing of Endwalker images and I just concentrated on the talent currently performing. Not knowing who certain characters are or what events were being displayed helped.
Turning to Endwalker, I am loving the Old Sharlayan area, and the new elephant-like Arkasodara. I do think the Forum has a lot to do with what’s going on with the Empire and the whole calamity thing. I loved seeing and hearing Hydaelyn again. There wasn’t much to tell since I was only able to play a few days this week due to Fan Fest.
However, I did some real-life Final Fantasy XIV quests with actual, living NPCs! That was a real treat. So technically, I was still participating in #JRPGJuly, just not with a gaming device. I even beat up some bosses, did some fishing, and played some mini-games.
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 30, 2023
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 30, 2023
The final week of #JRPGJuly turned out to be a bit anti-climatic as I wasn’t really feeling up to playing that much Shin Megami Tensei V this week. I did some clean up around the Chiyoda region and then hit a wall on a sidequest I still hadn’t finished as I was too underleveled to do so. After that, I ended up in a meeting with Bethel HQ where it seems like I’m being encouraged to pick a side in the angel vs. demons conflict and save Tokyo from destruction. Currently, I’m currently trying to get to Empyrean to seize the throne and shape the world to my will. I ended up in the Taito region of Da’at and then after exploring in search of the three keys I need to access Empyrean, I ended up wiping out in an enemy encounter and lost over half an hour of progress. Enemies in the Taito region are really stepped up in terms of the amount of damage their attacks deal.
I still intend to keep playing SMTV to the end, even after accepting that the story isn’t really gonna do it for me. The progress I did make in the game this month was still quite substantial considering how long it is. In that sense, #JRPGJuly was something of a success for me. Next year, I’ll try and tackle a current release.
— Ryan McCarthy (@LastZimOnEarth) July 28, 2023
As I predicted, there was no way I was going to finish Octopath Traveler II before the end of #JRPGJuly. At this point, I am sixty hours into the game and I have completed Castti, Hikari, Temenos, and Throné’s storylines. I’ve mostly had an easy time with the final bosses, though I was not anticipating there being so many in Hikari’s chapter and I did die to his final boss twice. So far, Castti has my favourite ending, and I think she deserves a big hug. Throné’s was messed up, but overall I still think her story was fantastic and memorable.
Right now I need to do a bit more grinding, as Partitio, Agnea and Osvald are much lower level than everyone else. I also need to finish Ochette’s story, and I’ve heard that the final boss is quite challenging. I’m starting to lose a bit of steam with the game given how long it is, and I anticipate I still have at least another fifteen hours to go… maybe more. Regardless I am still loving my time with this game and I cannot wait to see how everyone else’s stories come to a close.
That’s all for #JRPGJuly this year. We hope you enjoyed reading about our quests through JRPGs this month and please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments.