As I’ve stated in a past post it’s a good bet that anyone who likes anime/manga probably does a good deal of gaming as well. Since I don’t want to wait to cover ALL my previous gaming experiences on “BrOtaku Plays” posts, I decided to throw some of my favorite Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPG) onto a list. These are going to be older ones too because, like I said in Monday’s post, it is the duty of the older generation of gamers/otaku to pass on the classics. Now to initiate the passing of the video game torch allow me to introduce you to…
I was going to save the best for last, but I couldn’t wait to tout the glories of Chrono Trigger. This is definitely my favorite JRPG, if not my favorite game, of all time! The story, art, soundtrack, and game mechanics all come together to deliver a Japanese gaming masterpiece. Some might dislike the stories pretty strong ties to real world religion, but the game isn’t preachy in that sense. Instead it just re-purposes the story to suite the world, and the time travel dynamic of the game. If you’re looking for a game to pass the time till “Persona 5” / “Persona 4 Dancing All Night” you can find this gem on the PlayStation Network (PSN)!
Chrono Trigger centers around the silent protagonist “Crono” (or whatever you name him). Crono goes to a local festival near his town to see his crazy inventor friend (Lucca) and hang out. There he runs into a girl named Marle, and the two go to see Lucca’s new teleportation device. Marle volunteers to be a test subject, but during the test her necklace interferes with the machine and a portal opens that sends her away. Now Crono must journey to the past to save Marle and find out what happened to open a rift in time. There is SO much more to the story, but that’s where the game begins. Give it a try to see where it ends!
Final Fantasy VIII
I can already hear the 7 fan boys clamoring against my picture caption. To them I say, “you guys are getting a remake, shaddap and let me have 8”. I had it not been for the past few iterations of the series I would have just put “Final Fantasy Series” as this entry, but that would be slightly disingenuous anyway since I’ve never played 3 or 5 and haven’t liked one since 10. Final Fantasy VIII was my second foray into the Squaresoft franchise, but it left the biggest impression on me. The music was superb, the visuals were stunning (for the time), and the story was interesting enough to keep a 13-year-old me from doing my homework many a day. It’s another game that is fortunately available on the PSN!
Every Final Fantasy’s story is different (in case you didn’t know) and in this vein 8 is a large departure from 7. It starts in a Garden (academy) that trains mercenary elites known as SeeD. Squall Leonhart (or whatever you name him) is a young cadet of this academy who keeps his emotions on a tight leash in order to complete assignments and guard against vulnerabilities. Squall’s final test to make SeeD comes in the form of an invasion of neutral Dollet by the Galbadian army. This is more or less where the game begins, but it’s a fantastic beginning that culminates in two of my favorite cut-scenes in gaming history. The escape from the mechanical spider, and dance set to “Waltz for the Moon” are two of the best scenes in the franchise. This game is worth a play through for those alone.
This one might take people a bit aback since it’s more of a tactics game, but you do play the role of a squad leader during an alternate univeres version of WWII. The combat was what drove this game, with multiple unit and terrain types to keep players on their toes. The story was told mostly in cut-scenes, but served to drive the severity of the cause you were fighting for. I’m one of the weird type of strategy players who hates to lose even a single man/woman, so I ended up playing maps multiple times towards the end, but I had fun even in repeating maps due to the possibilities presented by the AI. There was a second game that was exclusive to the PSP that was excellent as well. Both can be purchased on PSN, and the original is available on Steam!
This story takes place in an alternate world’s 1935 Europa (Europe) where a conflict between the East Europan Imperial Alliance and the Atlantic Federation has just begun. The source of conflict is a resource called Ragnite which is heavily used in both countries various industries. Gallia is a small kingdom between the two larger empire’s northern borders, and the Imperials decide to annex it to gain it’s Ragnite resources. You control Welkin Gunther’s Squad 7 of the Gallian militia and conduct a mostly hit-and-run campaign. Along the way you also have to deal with your squads internal disputes, particularly hate against the “darksen” troops, who’s race is distrusted by many in your squad. It’s an interesting, if at times childish, look at war.
Persona 3 Portable
I don’t think I’ll ever stop singing Persona’s praises (unless 5 sucks), but since I already covered 4 I thought I’d cover 3 since it was a good game in it’s own right. Like Persona 4 this one has a fantastic soundtrack, and a very engaging story-line. The protagonist is silent like many of these, but unlike many you have the option between male and female if you’re playing the portable version. The game has you summoning personas to fight and getting social links to attain greater power, so most of what I say here will be reminiscent of my review of 4. Still it’s a great game that should be played, and it’s also on PSN for you to purchase!
The key difference of course comes in the story. Rather than the midnight channel of 4, 3’s major combat takes place in the “Dark Hour”. This Dark Hour exists in the minute between 11:59 PM and 12:00 AM, and in it regular humans are turned into coffins who have no idea about the Dark Hour. In this time shadows feed on humans and leave them husks of their former selves. Of course you and your group (called SEES) can move around in the Dark Hour and employ Personas to help you fight off the shadows. I don’t want to give too much away, because it really is a great game. Just know that the game gets really intense later on!
Final Fantasy X
I really didn’t want to have 2 FF games on this list, but my love for 10 demanded it. Final Fantasy 10 was the last great game in the franchise, and I challenge anyone to say different. The musical score was grand on a level beyond previous games, and the story kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. To date the fighting system’s “switch ability” remains my favorite in all JRPG’s due the diversity of strategy it allowed. Its summons were great as well as they allowed for more interaction than a simple press of a button. The HD remake is available on PSN, and while I like it, I think the remake makes the characters look a little strange.
This story starts with Tidus who is a fully voiced protagonist, and a great blitzball (sports) star. His home of Zanarkand is attacked during a blitzball game by a monster called Sin. Auron, Tidus’ father’s friend, saves Tidus by transporting him 1000 years into the future where technology has been outlawed. Seeking to find his way back to Zanarkand, Tidus joins up with a summoner’s (Yuna) pilgrimage to stop Sin. Like many FF games this one is filled with great cut-scenes, but this one in particular has my favorite. YouTube “The Sending” and you’ll get the greatest Final Fantasy cut-scene of all time, trust me.
There, those games should keep you busy for a good year or so. Pass them on to the nerdlettes in your life too, so that we may never hear disturbing questions like “What’s Chrono Trigger?” Ugh, I know I’m going to hear it eventually in my life though. Well here’s hoping that’s a long way off. Did your favorite JRPG make the list? If it did or didn’t drop me a line here or on my various social medias! Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see ya’ll next week, but till then…
Arigatō my fellow BrOtaku!