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The JRPG Catch-All Dumping Ground


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I figured we could use a thread to compile all the chatter about JRPGs of a lesser caliber or with a small forum footprint (ie Mark & Brian) in one spot.

 

I mean, who has time these days anyway?

 

Case in point, I finally stuck a toe into Falcom’s ridiculously entry-stuffed Legend of Heroes series with Trails of Cold Steel and it ended up eating my June.

 

It has issues. The graphics are cheap Vita polygons. Lots of moving anime art to simulate animation. The pacing goes from full throttle to dead lulls of walking and talking.

 

But...

 

But...

 

If I wasn’t waiting for the pending release of Fire Emblem I’d have bought the sequel already and started right into it. This game has a charm to it and a solid game core that gets under my skin almost insidiously.

 

The battle system is a solid turn-based system with interrupts and a fun set of skills and linked abilities. It remains challenging right to the end on normal, rarely needing grinding to feel fair. The definitive edition lets you flip in and out of turbo mode at a button so you can zip through the easy stuff at 4x speed, excellent touch.

 

The story is anime trope as hell, but so well told. The characters are all fun (Rean is my favorite lead since Yuri in Tales of Vesperia - no moping!) and outside one boobs to the face gag early on it avoids the more annoying hyper-sex tendencies of the genre.

 

Being based out of a military academy means you spend a lot of time in the same area and rather than getting stale (well maybe around hour 55 of 70...), it really lets you get to know the primary, secondary, AND tertiary characters. I legit enjoyed watching students try to hook up, the drama amongst the clubs, even the secret of the town radio station.

 

The game’s lore and story read like somebody had a clue what they were doing and the fact that the sequel is a direct continuation has me really excited. The ending has a pile of shocking reveals that all make sense (mostly, it IS a JRPG) and at least one I had no idea was coming (some excellent misdirects that you don’t realize are setting up plot points).

 

It’s on sale on Steam right now and regularly pretty cheap for what you get. I dunno, it will appeal to a small niche but I was only wanting to test it out and then it ate me alive for a month.

 

I mean, I stopped playing Dragon Quest XI to play this, even though that is clearly the better game. This one is a weird kind of special.

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14 hours ago, Mark E said:

This one is a weird kind of special.

 

Now that's a recommendation I can get behind. I just so don't have the time/patience for angsty JRPGs these days, as much as I love 'em. Ni no Kuni 2's averageness took up a chunk of time + limited gaming energy last year, that it's going to take something special to kick out Destiny 2. 

 

But please post :)

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Yeah, I kept seeing good reviews and finally figured they had to be coming from somewhere. It definitely feels like the whole being more than the sum of its parts - I couldn't give you one thing that it does exceptionally well, but it just works.

 

It’s not angsty, the combat is JUST right, the characters have a lot of charm. It’s the only JRPG I’ve actually stuck with in ages and I didn’t even bat an eye at the playtime.

 

Actually, I was playing Shadow of War last night and wished I was playing the sequel to Trails instead. In fact, I read a review that told me how one of my favorite parts of the game is integrated into the sequel and now I’m dying to play it.

 

I can safely say in my many years of JRPGs that I’ve never wanted to hop into the sequel that fast before, so that’s gotta be worth something ;).

 

http://www.rpgfan.com/reviews/The_Legend_of_Heroes_Trails_of_Cold_Steel/index.html

 

This is the more balanced take on my gushing, but it’s pretty accurate.

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  • 3 months later...

So, I started Trails of Cold Steel II on Saturday and it’s fantastic. The gameplay is pretty much the same as the first game with some extra systems bolted onto it.

 

The story is a direct continuation, which is great. I haven’t enjoyed a long-form story like this since Mass Effect. For an RPG to continue this kind of through line is pretty rare and I’m down with it.

 

I played the first one so recently that the combat is a bit old hat, also it’s getting in the way of the story beats that I’m dying for (finding out what happened to everybody from the first game is taking forever...), but the turbo function is there to judiciously move you through the easier fights.

 

It’s also still pretty challenging, even at lower levels on normal difficulty. You need to keep your party healed most times. Just adore this series - I’ve already clocked over twelve hours in less than a week of starting.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Good god. Trails of Cold Steel 2 in the bag. I didn’t like it AS much as the first one, but it was worth my time.

 

It was stupid hard though - I had no idea how insane the system would get and had to learn how to game the shit out of it to make it through. And that was on normal.

 

The cast is sprawling by this point and the plot goes a little TOO anime battle with its bosses, but I loved these characters and there’s at least one good reveal at the end (speaking of, this game has a positively insane ten hour plus epilogue after the storyline mostly wraps up).

 

From what I’ve read, the third game basically takes the first game’s basis and reworks it to even better effect. I’m not sure I can handle anything this crazy long any time soon, but at the same time, I’m really looking forward to another adventure within his narrative.

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  • 3 months later...

Finally decided it was time for Trails of Cold Steel 3 and it’s started off SO good. It harkens back to the first title, but with stronger storytelling and some excellent tweaks to the combat system.

 

Quality series and it’s moving along at a brisker clip than the first two games. They really nailed it from what I’ve played so far - part of my problem with the second title was how they veered away from the school setting. It’s back and better than ever in the third game.

 

It’s astounding to see characters grow across three games too - I’ve been bumping up against people I’ve known since the first title and it’s a damn shame more games don’t get this through line of continuity with such a huge cast. It’s narratively rewarding.

 

Icing on the cake is that they replaced the old card game from 1&2 with a new one that’s sort of like Hearthstone with positioning. It’s one of the best mini-games of that type I’ve played since Gwent.

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  • 1 month later...

Finished Trails 3. It was much better than 2 and possibly the best in the series. It’s very Japanese in its writing and over the top everything but it has some fantastic boo-hiss villains and it really sets up for a killer finale in the fourth one.

 

94 hours well spent ;).

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  • 1 month later...

Oh hey, I just finished Persona 5 Royal. Guess I’ll play something in a different genre... not!

 

Started up Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dama this morning and after a sedate prologue I am very down with what they’re selling so far. It’s a very good action RPG with a fun story and some good mechanics.

 

Unlike many action RPGs you manage a team here and can swap them out at a button press - in fact you have to if you want to handle monsters properly.

 

Really strong start and difficult but not stupid - took me two tries to clear the first boss battle. So far a great little game and shorter than my last couple JRPGs to boot.

 

I think the last Ys game I completed was the third one on the SNES...

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  • 2 months later...

I’ve been wanting to return to this series for awhile now and after waiting for a good price for Lacrimosa which is quickly jumping in price for the US version, I snagged a European copy on the cheap.

 

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Lacrimosa is pretty fun. I never ended up finishing it because I got a little distracted and it was good but not amazing.

 

It’s solid though, and no mistake.

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  • 2 months later...

Well, I succumbed to one of my worst vices - I resubbed to FF14. It’s certainly my MMO of choice these days, but that’s like saying

you enjoy a particular flavour of crack over heroin.

 

I dashed through the original content and then when the going got tough in the first expansion, grind-wise, I just shrugged and moved on. So I came back and... went back to the original content. I swapped from paladin to dark knight and I really like the class. It’s a fun tank. Once I make it to 60 I’ll be checking out Gunbreaker to try yet a third tank role - I have a type.

 

Been playing with my brother as he levels up. I’m so impressed by how good the community for the game is still. They’re all super nice and welcoming, even when I try to tank a dungeon in a new class after I’ve been back in the game literally two hours :P.

 

It‘ll be a thing when Trails of Cold Steel IV comes out in just over a week and I’m trying to juggle two JRPGs I’m both enjoying the piss out of... but I can’t leave Trails after that cracking cliffhanger it ended on last time.

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I'm finding it really hard to dedicate the time/effort for JRPGs these days. I've enjoyed what I've played of Persona 4 so far, but that classic RPG structure is hard to find the time for. I did download Tales of Vesperia on Game Pass just for some flashbacks, and again I can't save anywhere AFAIK or play on my time schedule. 

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Yeeeeah, that saving thing can be a real dealbreaker. One of the things I love most about Trails is that its save system is very friendly in that regard. It might not be save anywhere but it’s very good compared to PS3 era stuff like Persona 4.

 

I imagine with a more hectic schedule it would be a nightmare :).

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