JRPG Round Up Bonanza
I’m a little fond of Japanese Role Playing Games, especially of the turn based variety. I like quirky characters, immersive story lines, secrets that can only be uncovered with 40+ hours of gameplay, and hunting for hidden treasures. Yes, I’m a geek.
The next rainy day (or night, rather) that comes my way will see me begin Infinite Undiscovery, a game I had listed on my wish list way back in July.
Before I begin, however, I want to turn my attention to all the other great JRPGs I’ve played on the 360, and while I have missed out on a couple so far, a lot of people still ask me what I’d recommend. Oh, and I must point out I won’t be going into any of the plot details here, simply because JRPGs generally follow the same, cliched story line, OK?
In no particular order, let’s begin.
Enchanted Arms was the first JRPG I played on the Xbox 360. Despite the awful criticism it was met with (at the time my publication of choice was X360, and they awarded it an embarrassing 4/10), I still took my chances because there weren’t a whole host of other options at the time.
It’s perhaps the most linear JRPG I’ve played to date, with the main quest being followed rather rigidly with the ability to branch off and do one or two minute side quests. Sounds dull, right? Well, no, it wasn’t as bad as the reviewers made out.
What saved Enchanted Arms, for me at least, was the innovative turn based battle system, which required you to think tactically to make the most of your attack. The battles, however, were initiated at random and happened all the effing time, meaning the game did get tedious at times. Pro tip: you can buy an item in-game to cut down on the numbers of random battles.
The graphics were stunning, and there was enough variety in environments for the game to be worth exploring.
What the reviewers seemed to critique was the dodgy dialogue (though you could play with the original dialogue and subtitles turned on), as well as the many sexual innuendos shared between two male characters, Makoto and Toya. I think this perfectly sumps up the extent of Makoto’s campness.
Anyway, Enchanted Arms is definitely an acquired taste—not to mention a huge cliche, and despite it getting a bit of a beating in regards to reviews, it wasn’t as bad as the majority of reviewers made out.
However, there are better JRPGs on the market now, so I wouldn’t recommend this beyond an attainable 1000 Gamerpoints.
While you were most likely playing Bioshock, I was getting stuck into a 4-disc extravaganza.
Bioshock and Blue Dragon were both released on the same day in the UK, but I was far more excited about the latter because of the ‘big names’ attached to the title. The creator of Final Fantasy? The artist behind Dragon Ball? The composer behind Final Fantasy? Count me in!
Blue Dragon is a cutesy JRPG where you take control of Shu, a 16 year old boy who appears to have not yet hit puberty. There isn’t much to flaw with Blue Dragon, unless we head into Achievement territory.
Unlike Enchanted Arms where the battles were generated randomly, Blue Dragon displayed the enemies on the battlefield, so you could choose to avoid them entirely or sneak up behind them with a back attack etc. The battles were turn based, with a touch of ‘Shadows‘.
Again, Blue Dragon felt somewhat linear, as it’s not until later on in the game you are able to revisit locations by teleporting.
It’s also worth mentioning that this game has a strange fixation with poo. I’m not kidding. Poo. There are enemies called ‘King Poo, Poo Snake’ etc, and sometimes you’ll even find treasure buried deep within… POO. I wish I was kidding.
Admittedly, I haven’t played Blue Dragon for close to 2 years, and looking back there isn’t a great deal about it I remember, which is never a good sign. Having said that, it’s one of the few games I’ve kept in my collection since, with an eager intention of revisiting. And everything I do remember about it is with fond memories.
If realism isn’t a factor you require when gaming, Blue Dragon is a worthy purchase.
While Blue Dragon loved excrement, Eternal Sonata loved music, which is much more acceptable, no?
Eternal Sonata followed the same battle ethic as Blue Dragon—enemies can be seen beforehand, choosing to ignore them or attack, and it was all turn-based.
The premise behind Eternal Sonata is super quirky. Essentially the story unfolds in composer Frederic Chopin’s head as he’s dying. Kind of like a dream, though the other characters believe it to be real. Sounds weird, huh?
The art style is fantastic—a cel-shaded game with anime characters—and it’s definitely one of the nicest looking games I’ve ever played.
I played through Eternal Sonata twice (to get the full 1000), which is essential if you’re wanting to get everything possible from the game. A lot is unlocked only in the latter Chapters of your second playthrough, meaning it won’t be to everyone’s taste.
Having said that, it’s not a massive time-sink as it is fairly linear (I’ve said that about every game here so far). A decent RPG, but it lacks the epic feel I like my role playing games to convey.
I’m just going to say it right now. This is it. This is the JRPG you want. Lost Odyssey ticked all my boxes, and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone.
It’s a massive game with stunning graphics, interesting characters, a story that evokes the kind of emotion you’d get from watching a movie, humour, amazing writing, beautiful environments, convincing dialogue. It’s perfect.
Again, it’s another randomly generated turn-based RPG, with a world map you can navigate around as well as a ship you unlock later on in the game. Very Final Fantasyesque, right? Well, it is made by the Final Fantasy creator, as is Blue Dragon.
Lost Odyssey, however, is in a league of its own in comparison to other JRPGs on the 360. There are a multitude of side quests and battles, and the writing is of the best I’ve so far seen this generation. I can’t commend this game enough, and any RPG fan owes it to themselves to play it.
ust make sure you have a large chunk of time to let yourself get sucked in, as this beauty spans across 4 discs.
There are others. Phantasy Star Universe, The Last Remnant (which is in my collection, but so far unplayed), and Infinite Undiscovery off the top of my head.
Feel free to leave a comment if you’ve played any of these, including the ones I didn’t touch upon. You know where I stand with JRPGs on the 360—Lost Odyssey is the way to go, and I’m urging you to buy it!