Tag Archives: Sega Saturn

All-time Top 5 JRPGs (wot I’ve played…)

Yeah a bit of a cheat this one, as I’ve only properly played 5 Japanese Role Playing Games (JRPGs) so that’ll be why your favourite isn’t in the list… I have tried to play plenty, but never got more than 2 hours into anything other than these 5.

I have really enjoyed the ones I have played (well the top 3 anyway) so I wouldn’t rule out playing more in the future. Anyway, on with the countdown!

Number 5 – Final Fantasy VII (PSX)

headerMy first JRPG, and apparently, the first one many of my friends played too. This game was a major event back in a high school, and for a while it seemed everyone was playing FFVII. I was quite enjoying it, albeit a departure from my usual choice of game. I do remember that trying to navigate the world map while also dealing with random encounters tested my patience, but the whole thing collapsed when my memory card corrupted around 20 hours in. I appreciate in the grand scheme of things, 20 hours isn’t very long, but that was pretty huge for me at the time, and certainly more than I’d be happy to play over.

I pretty much swore off the genre after this, and it would be quite a few years before I was to try them again.

Number 4 – Bravely Default (3DS)

BravelyDefault-810x449I gave this a go when struggling to find something other than Animal Crossing or Mario Kart to play on my 3DS. Discussions about it described a game with a similar feel to Final Fantasy VII which made me think perhaps I’d enjoy it. I was aware of the “outrage” at the changes made for the Western release from the anti video game censorship crowd, but they all seemed like changes for the better to me, so figured I’d give it a go.

I mostly enjoyed the game for maybe 18 hours. The story was nonsense and even with the localisation there was a a sufficient creepy ‘ick’ factor that never quite went away. (I think it was hard to distance from the fact that these characters were originally written to be 15 years old). However, the gameplay mechanics were fun, and I liked the ‘job’ system in building my party. It all got a bit grindy and dull though, and I just lost the will to come back to it.

Number 3 – Lost Odyssey (Xbox 360)

landscape-1481743951-lost-odysseyA game I played mostly by chance, got a bargain on release without knowing anything about it and fired it up just to see what it was. I was blown away by the graphics, it was easily the best looking game I’d seen so far on a console, and at first was just playing to admire the aesthetics. I got sucked in though, and it became the first JRPG I ever saw through to completion. The story was ridiculous, which I suspect may be an essential criteria for a JRPG, and the costume designs left me questioning the usefulness of such armor in a swordfight.

I really liked the combat though, and the timing based boost you could give to your attacks was surprisingly satisfying. I sometimes think I might replay this, but then I laugh at the thought of me replaying anything, never mind a 40+ hour epic, and the impulse goes away.

Number 2 – Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)

Panzer-Dragoon-SagaOnly played through this for the first time last month, and I am amazed how well it has held up. I was a big fan of Panzer Dragoon and Panzer Dragoon Zwei first time round on the Saturn, and this is doubtless the main reason I took to Saga the way I did. The art style was consistent with the previous games, and immediately felt like a comfortable return to that world.

The shift to turn-based combat was a concern before I started, I didn’t know how the previous rail-shooter style would translate. I need not have worried, the combat is superb, with the two basic attacks being lifted straight out of the other games to feel instantly familiar. The need to constantly keep re-positioning around the enemies and the bonus to attack speed granted for attacking as you move ensures that the combat remains engaging.

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I found the controls in general to be very well done, particularly in the parts where you’re navigating the world on your dragon. When revisiting early 3D games you often have to make allowances for the controls and/or camera, but I can honestly say I had no issues with either.

While the story here is no exception to my understanding of the JRPG norm, I did find myself happily reading all the subtitles and enjoying the many cut-scenes. This extra flavour for the world is a big part of why I’ve gone back to playing the original games, and why I’m optimistic that I might even beat them this time round.

Number 1 – Eternal Sonata (Xbox 360)

Eternal-Sonata-810x456Or, the one time I liked cel-shaded graphics.

I know about as much about JRPGs on the whole as I do Classical Music. The only composer I really like is Chopin, so the premise of this game immediately had me intrigued. The game is set inside a dream Frédéric Chopin has while he dies of Tuberculosis. Yeah. We’re well set up for another nonsense story, but this one did really hook me.

Until Eternal Sonata, I always found cel-shading to be a bit of a novelty. It’s such a perfect fit for making the whole game feel like an elaborate cartoon. It’s joyful, twee and yet manages to be interestingly educational at the same time, as along with the story cut-scenes it also has video history lessons relating to Chopin’s life. (From reading some commentary these weren’t to everyone’s taste, but I loved it)

The music in the game is obviously Chopin influenced, and accordingly spectacular. There are very few game soundtracks I listen to outside of playing the games, but the 4 disc album produced for this is still a staple on my iPod.

I remain annoyed the PS3 release afterwards had extra content, as I didn’t want to start over from the beginning after I completed it on the 360. I think I’d happily replay it now though if it was given a refresh for the modern consoles.

I’ve heard plenty of critique about Eternal Sonata, more than one person declare it “the worst JRPG I ever played”. I take some amusement from this, as it seems likely that as a generalisation, I can still say I don’t like JRPGs, and perhaps I like the ones I do because they are outliers within the genre.

What next?

I remain open to suggestions from anyone who can suggest games I might like based on what I’ve written above. I’ll be honest though and say there is next to no chance of me playing anything 16-bit or earlier.

I am thinking of playing Skies of Arcadia Legends, it always sort of appealed to me on Dreamcast, and now I’ve got the GameCube version which I’ve heard is generally an improvement.

March Gaming

Games completed this month

I’m three for three so far in gameplay months worthy of an update. Some progress has been made, and I’ve identified a few more games I might pick up due later this year.


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Rise of the Tomb Raider – Xbox One: No surprise here, as I was fairly close to completion in February. I finished the main story early in March. Really enjoyed the game, but the Challenge Tombs remain the highlight, and the parts that feel like the games I remember. I won’t be going for 100% completion, as there appear to be hundreds of pointless collectables, but I do fancy going back and clearing the few Challenge Tombs I missed on my way.


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Panzer Dragoon Saga – Sega Saturn: One from my long term bucket list, it’s only taken almost 20 years to get around to. A game that by all accounts was well out of my price range, but the recent addition of a modded Saturn to my collection changed that. I’m going to write a bit more about this game in a following post, but I’ll just say how well it holds up considering its age, and how satisfying it was to play. My getting through any RPG is a rare thing indeed, and should be acknowledged.


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Firewatch – PS4: I picked this up along with the other PS4 games mentioned below in a recent Playstation Store sale. I was a bit wary getting another “Walking Simulator” (urgh) as I bounced off the Vanishing of Ethan Carter and actively disliked Dear Esther. I enjoyed Gone Home however, and the art style of Firewatch was instantly appealing. I was hooked pretty quickly and played it over two nights. At 4 hours long it’s still a short game but about twice the length of Gone Home. The story is engaging, and as I’d done a good job of avoiding any spoilers, I also found it surprisingly tense.


Also played in March

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Epistory – PC: Grabbed this in a Steam Sale as it had been on my radar for a while. It’s a sort of cross between an isometric Action RPG and Typing of the Dead. Great little game where all the combat and some of the exploration is done via typing. I love the Typing of the Dead games, and played the second one to death (ahem) when it came to Steam. More games should have Typing combat as a mechanic.

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Panzer Dragoon: Playing through Saga this month really got me back in the mood for revisiting the original games. Haven’t quite managed to beat it yet but I think I’ll keep it in the Saturn for a while.

 

8a407642-56b7-4327-bd86-1bd8bb3d757bForza Horizon 3 – Blizzard Mountain: This month I grabbed the DLC expansion as it was on offer for 50% off. Played a couple of hours of it so far and it is good fun. Like the main game it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and delivery an enjoyable arcade style Rally in the Snow experience.


Games picked up:

header (2)Abzû – PS4: Not really sure what to expect here, all I know is it’s an underwater adventure game along the same lines as Journey. However I still have Journey in my “to play” pile, so we’ll see. Looks really pretty though, and I’m a sucker for the theme.

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Inside – PS4: The follow up to the superb “Limbo” looking forward to getting on this one, I’ve heard lots of good things!

 

header (1)Caladrius Blaze – PS4: Was a bit disappointed with this, and glad I only paid a small amount for it in the sale. At its core it’s a fun vertical shmup, but unfortunately has an overdose of Japanese “fanservice” that gives it a disturbing creepy vibe. When choosing your ship style, you’re also effectively choosing a pilot. The pilots are mostly (possibly all) Anime women, in revealing attire (so far so par for the course). However during the game whenever you take damage, you get a pop up graphic of your clothes gradually disappearing. To make this even trashier than it already is, they also manage to call this the “shame” system, because getting your clothes ripped when fighting to save the world/galaxy/whatever is obviously shameful.

I did discover after my first go that you can turn this shite off, so the game is at least playable. I’m annoyed I didn’t know about it before I started, and have to live with the trophy it awarded me for having ‘experienced’ all the shame breaks of the first character I chose. *shudder*

Gears-of-War-4-01-HDGears of War 4 – Xbox One: Won’t be on this yet, as I will be playing it in co-op with a buddy. However we’re half way through Halo 1 on the Master Chief Collection atm, and intend to play Halo 2 before we start Gears 4. Was a great price though, and it is one from my list of games to play in 2017.


More releases I’m looking forward to:

When I compiled my list of 2017 games, I struggled a bit to find many games due this year to add. Indeed of the three I did select, I don’t think Life is Strange 2 will appear till at least 2018 (if at all). I’ve since found a few more that I’m now intending to play however, although all but 1 are remaster/reboots of games I’ve played before.

crash-bandicoot-trilogy-trailerCrash N Sane Trilogy: I was a big fan of the Crash Bandicoot games on the original Playstation, but don’t think I ever finished any of them. Looking forward to putting that right with this collection.

 

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Wonderboy – The Dragon’s Trap: A game I remember fondly from my Master System days, and another I never finished, although I put that down to my still being in single digits at the time.

 

wipeout-omega-collection-listing-thumb-us-03dec16Wipeout Omega Collection: Essentially the third time I’ll have bought some of this content, it represents a collection of the PS3 & Vita Wipeout games, but delivering them at a crisp & smooth 1080p 60fps (hopefully).  Let’s be honest though, it’s Wipeout and I was always going to be buying it.

maxresdefaultNex Machina: The one new game in this list is a new shmup from Housemarque. Big fan of their previous games, and optimistic that this could do for Robotron what Resogun did for Defender.