#JRPGJuly 2023 – Week 2 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 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.
The second week brings us plenty of juicy updates, let’s see everyone’s progress!
With permanent death hanging over every encounter, it’s not surprising that Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2 has a serious undertone that belies the cute designs of its anthropomorphized feline and canine cast. Fuga 2 really starts to explore rage and revenge and the things that it drives people to do. The oldest of the kids and leader Malt loses someone and he becomes hellbent on exacting vengeance on Jihl, the game’s antagonist. Jihl has his own tragic history that is slowly revealed to the players which explains his intense desire to destroy the world.
As the game progresses, players get the opportunity to make dialog choices for Malt called Judgment Chance. Rather than a typical good/evil dichotomy, these choices are split between Malt being empathetic or resolute. These choices help you shape how Malt deals with the trauma he endures and it helps determine how the story plays out. Personally, seeing Jihl as someone that has fallen off the deep end and become consumed with rage has caused me to shift Malt to being more empathetic and conciliatory. So while this appears to be leading me towards one type of ending, I’m becoming really interested to give the game another playthrough and see how the story differs by taking the more resolute and vengeful path. I’m thoroughly enjoying Fuga 2 and I can’t wait to see how it finishes.
— Joshua Carpenter (@jscarpe) July 15, 2023
Well, after a few years of stalling, I finished my first playthrough of Final Fantasy X-2 in over a decade. Jumping back in felt a bit off at first, but once I got the hang of it, I was immersed again. What kept eating at me was that I didn’t get 100%. I finished with 93% which netted me the “Good Ending.”
There’s nothing like watching Yuna, my favorite character of all time, save the world. Whenever she waxes poetic about love and the power of telling your story your way, there’s always a spark of inspiration. My last experience with the ending scenes was over a decade ago. I’m sure the college me who obsessively listened to “Real Emotions” and “1000 Words” would be pleased.
I’m at a crossroads: should I continue playing toward 100% or try Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission? Revisiting many spots in X-2 is no longer as appealing. I’m not going to be effective with the rogue-lite mechanics of Last Mission. Let’s wait and see.
Anna Marie Privitere
Due to a variety of reasons, most of which can be summed up as “Paws couldn’t keep any semblance of a schedule this week” I haven’t had much time to delve further into Octopath Traveler II, despite dying to jump deeper in. However, that didn’t mean I was without a JRPG, as I’ve been recently streaming Persona 3 Portable.
P3P is such a weirdly comfortable game for me. I’ve replayed it more than any other game, hands down, and I never really get bored of it. A lot of the viewers in our Twitch chat were not familiar with the female main character path, which is absolutely my favourite way to play, as many of the social links are different when tackling the game as the male main character.
I’ve finally maxed out all my personal stats and maxed out several social links. I also recently completed the fourth section of Tartarus, and finally was high enough level to fuse Alice, which is one of my favourite personas. With my main character being level 56, it feels like the beginning of the end, but in a really good way. Join me Mondays, Wednesday, and Friday mornings beginning at 10am Eastern to see what I’m playing at Twitch.
This might be the most boring update I have given during any #JRPGJuly. In the past, I have written about slaying challenging beasts in Demon’s Souls, completing games, hot takes on the Tales series, but this week, I did sidequests. That’s it. Trails in the Sky FC has scratched an itch for me when it comes to JRPGs. While there have been some classic JRPGs recently released, I think Trails in the Sky‘s RPG mechanics may be my favorite to interact with. I love to mess around with the orbment system, trying to find the right combinations to get more skills, planning out battles, and figuring out what to spend on for gear/items. There’s so much to think about and do, which also includes sidequests. Sidequests take you all across the region, as the bracers take jobs to help NPCs with tasks. It’s the best way to locate every corner of Liberl and there are so many things worth discovering.
Although, if it wasn’t for the quality of life upgrades for the PC port, I’m not sure I would feel the same way. Being able to quickly run across each region with turbo mode is a time saver and if I forgot to trigger an event before moving on to complete any sidequest it wouldn’t become a frustration. Thank you for letting me enjoy this game, turbo mode. Next week I’m sure I’ll be able to discuss all the happenings of Chapter 3 and can’t wait to do so. For now though, sidequests!
Did anyone else buy an absolute ton of games from the 3DS eShop right before it closed down? I did, and that’s why I chose Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven for my second #JRPGJuly pick! Although this one evaded me during its 2015 North American release, I’d always been curious about what the Rune Factory series staffers were up to once Marvelous brought them on board. When I loaded up the game for the first time, I was instantly charmed by the cozy inn that serves as the characters’ home base. Conversely, it took a bit more effort for me to come to grips with the gameplay, which is how I spent the majority of my playtime this week.
The combat system feels somewhat like a cross between a tactical RPG and an Idea Factory game like Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth 1. Early chapters start off slow, with only two party members facing a handful of enemy squads. While the tutorials explain things fairly well, the game stops short of holding your hand; on the first map that let me deploy Luchs, Lottie, and Trixie, I started out thinking that I was doing terribly yet ended up feeling very satisfied with my victory! There may not have been much time for Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles this week, but I was glad I managed to wrap my head around Lord of Magna’s unique offerings!
This past week was an interesting one during the July RPG sweepstakes, as I “beat” both Castle of the Underdogs: Episode 1 and Final Fantasy XVI. I say beat loosely as Castle of the Underdogs was only a 5-hour experience and the story is not completed. It has a good premise and fun writing attached to it, so I’ll come back to the game when it’s fully released.
As for FFXVI, I enjoyed it. I feel the main characters and their emotional journeys really carry the game, though I can’t help but feel there were a lot of things missing from the game.
As for what’s next? I started Ara Fell on our Twitch channel during my early morning Sunday stream, and what little I played I enjoyed. I also booted Octopath Traveler 2 up again and am now dealing with the final questline after completing all the characters’ stories. Good times will be had, wait where did the music go?!?!?!
It’s the second week of #JRPGJuly and I’m still messing around in Disgaea 6. I finally caught on to the trick for quick leveling, so I’ve been doing a bit of reincarnation and building up karma. If you’re curious about what to do, you teach your character the Heal special and heal once every stage and you’ll get 70% bonus experience every stage. I’m surprised it took me this long to apply it to something other than a dedicated healer, to be honest. But the Disgaea series is all about breaking the game whenever possible and Defiance of Destiny certainly has lived up to that so far. It’s a real shame that instead of working on advancing the story I spent 14 or so hours in the item world as this game’s item world is probably the weakest in the entire series.
I’ve been in the mood for an older JRPG to play, something turn-based or maybe ATB, so I might hop into some Final Fantasy IX at some point. I know there are cheats you can use in the recent releases, though I only really want infinite money. Well, maybe stopping random encounters could prove useful as well. The weirdest thing for me, at 37 years old, is that FFIX is considered old school. All the stuff I grew up on is getting ancient which, of course, means I am too.
Galaxy Fraulein Yuna Final and Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny
Tactical Adventure Fraulein Yuna Final Edition has come to a close; the story is left open for more, but this was the last Yuna title to be developed. I really enjoyed my time with this game and seeing all the various characters from the earlier games and even the anime come back. As the game does have branching paths I may play it again so I can see some of the girls who were not included in the first set of paths. The game also has hidden levels and even secret characters. Maybe someday there will be more Yuna, but considering it’s been almost 30 years, I’m not holding out hope.
I also started up the second game of Atelier Iris series, Atelier Iris 2: The Azoth of Destiny, on the RPGamer Twitch channel. I had beaten it several years ago but I really wanted to go back and play this, especially after having recently beaten the first game. The game still has the same Atelier charm as the first game, with a more refined battle system. You can also see that Gust took some design aspects that were introduced in Ar Tonelico in regard to the limited number of battles per area.
I managed to complete Fire Emblem Engage and even saw the ending twice to compare what happens if Alear gives someone the Pact Ring versus if they don’t. Sadly, none of the other characters get paired endings like in prior games, although the supports themselves were rarely romantic. The only support I thought was a bit romantic were the ones between Alcryst and Lapis, and that could just be me looking for ships where they don’t exist. I wasn’t eager to pair Alear with any of the characters, but since I liked Yunaka as a character and she was one of only three characters she reach Support Level A with, I chose her. It was a cute scene, even if it didn’t tug at my heartstrings. It is neat that Alear can give the Pact Ring to every character, although not all of them are romantic from what I understand.
The plot genuinely surprised me. I’m going to be vague to avoid spoilers, but I was really not expecting a possible bootstrap paradox in this game. Engage‘s Fell Dragon, Sombron actually has a backstory and motivation that is given in-game. That’s more than can be said for the last villain to hold the title, Grima from Awakening. Despite the surprises, I still find the plot to be underwhelming. It does have good emotional beats and I like the characters. I also thought the music was weaker in this game than in the prior two Fire Emblems. Overall, I enjoyed my time with Engage, but it didn’t motivate me to check out the DLC. I may or may not complete the supports, as I still haven’t finished the ones in Three Houses. I also can’t help but wonder if the next game will be a Genealogy of the Holy War remake or something else entirely.
With Fire Emblem Engage done, I can move on to Fuga: Melodies of Steel 2.
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 15, 2023
— Cassandra Ramos (@BerryEggs) July 15, 2023
Note: Spoilers for Shadowbringers
I rolled credits on Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers and now I’m in that weird post-credits, pre-Endwalker area. I’m at a standstill at the moment because a lot of my quests are all dungeons, and I hate partying with randoms as I can get quite self-conscious of my white mage abilities. I’ll try any dungeon with the Trusts — parties of NPCs that can be used instead of other players — that I can, but some of the dungeons don’t have this feature yet. So I have to wait for the Free Company people to come and help or for friends to come online, which doesn’t always align with my timing since I play in the evenings on Pacific time.
For the time being, I am at a WHAT IS HAPPENING point. I found the first Sin eater that’s sleeping in The Empty. And I have to just go… in it and poke it? This seems like a very bad idea. Not to mention the other problem with Ardbert — The Warrior of Darkness — coming back and being like: “Hey guys, so I guess The First decided to bring me back to life and I’m the Warrior of Light.” So then I had to gather the masses and tell the true story of what Ardbert and the other Warriors of Light did with the Flood. But still, we all know the friggin Ascians are inhabiting his body because his soul is left with me. And then there’s the whole matter of the Emperor being killed by his own son who got his body back because, of course, Ascians. Seriously. Still really into the story but can someone just kill them all already?
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 14, 2023
— noodle (@yournoodleface) July 14, 2023
This week, I’ve made some decent strides in Shin Megami Tensei V. After the initial difficulty spike upon my entrance into the Chiyoda region, I managed to acclimate myself and my party of demons to the new demonic threats. I ended up having to help take down the giant fire demon Surt in order to get rid of a wall of fire that was blocking me from getting where I needed to go. In order to do that, I had to take a relatively long detour to a desecrated Japanese shrine where the demons currently stationed there gave me a special talisman that let me get through the first wall. I managed to defeat Surt on my first try thanks to correctly intuiting that I would need to have a party with strong fire resistance as well as the giant’s weakness to ice elemental attacks.
Once Surt was taken down, I headed over to the demon castle I needed to go to, only to be warned that the powerful demon Ishtar was going to be a hindrance. I deactivated the seven pillars that were empowering her, which is technically optional to do yet I would personally recommend doing so as it makes the fight more manageable. I managed to defeat her after a failed first attempt and made sure my party had resistance to Zio and Hama spells.
Afterward, I entered the Demon Castle, which is where I’m supposed to help a battalion of angels led by Abdiel take down a Demon King. Unlike the large outdoor areas of the game, this castle is more of a “proper” dungeon that is, unfortunately, a bit underwhelming from what I’ve experienced so far, as it mainly consists of boxed corridors and large rooms with wind blowing wall traps and touch encounters that are randomly spread out and too easy to avoid. I’ve only done the first stratum of it so far, so we’ll see how I feel once I actually get to the end of it.
— Ryan McCarthy (@LastZimOnEarth) July 12, 2023
I am twenty hours into Octopath Traveler II and let me tell you, I have many feelings. I started the game off with Ochette and she has so many useful skills from capturing monsters to cooking them into jerky! However, she is one of the only characters so far whose second chapter I haven’t done anything for yet. It’s because I’m distracted by the depressing saga that is Throne’s story, and the positive-attitude merchant Partitio.
Having not played the first game, I didn’t realize how grindy this game was. Each chapter has a recommended level and I’m now at the stage where I know I need to get every character at least over twenty-five to start their next chapters, but it’s quite a slog, and that is on top of the game throwing around more side stories, additional jobs (I’ve only found three so far), and other content; it’s all just non-stop! I’m easily going to put sixty hours in this game, and given how compelling the stories are, that isn’t a bad thing.
— Sam Wachter (@merrygodown) July 14, 2023
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!