The JRPG; it’s probably one of the most loathed and loved sub-genre of games. It’s praised for hitting anime fans right in the feels, but panned for lacking depth and being quirky. As an RPG fan, I find that some things people find wrong with JRPGs are fair and true. The characters have annoying archetypes, black characters are comedy relief, and sometimes I can predict where the story will go after a few events because they can be so damned predictable. And, depending on who you ask, they’ll tell you that western RPGs reign supreme. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was praised for its story and expansive loot system. The Elder Scrolls series is praised for its huge world and large set of micro stories. Dragon Age is a critically acclaimed series. The western RPG, or WRPG, isn’t without its problems, which are normally more technical in nature. Skyrim had glitches, Fallout had a couple game breaking bugs, Kingdoms Of Amalur had glitches, and the Dragon Age: Inquisition multiplayer was down for a minute, but they are very popular, nonetheless.
To combat the WRPG’s superiority, some JRPG developers have emulated some aspects of it. The developer of the smash hit, Dark Souls, is primarily Japanese, but the game has a very WRPG audience. Capcom had its sleeper hit Dragon’s Dogma that emulated the art style and scale of western fantasy RPGs. The biggest new JRPG is Bloodbourne, which has a dark WRPG tone. There are some issues adopting some things that WRPG’s have, but they have improved as time passes. One of my biggest fears coming into this new era of JRPGs adopting WRPG aspects is that the JRPGs would lose their own identities, but I was wrong. I don’t wanna start a war between the weeaboo community and the live role players of the world, but the JRPG lineup is looking solid for this year and the next.
What can I say about the persona series that hasn’t already been said? It’s unique, quirky, and interesting. They will talk your ears off, but that comes with the territory and you have to pay attention to small things if you want the game to go the way you want it to. Persona 5 is no departure from that. The Persona series was always reflective of issues in society: fear, cowardliness, sexual confusion, truth, lies, and some other emo stuff, but it does so in a charming way. I’d advise you to do your homework on this series, and dive into its latest sequel dropping in winter 2015 in Japan and sometime in spring 2016 in North America. And grab the predecessors off of PSN and give them a try. A dating sim, an rpg where you collect and fight monsters, and deal with hyper masculinity; that’s what you’re getting. Below is a video from atlus’ youtube channel.
Xenoblade Chronicles X
I haven’t played Xenoblade Chronicles personally, but I have seen walkthrough after walkthrough of it. Xenoblade Chronicles is a sci-fi RPG that takes place on the back of some giant entity fighting another giant entity, whose denizens are fighting mech aliens called Mechon on top of the entity… Yeah, it’s crazy, I know, but it’s praised for its JRPG charm and WRPG content length. Its successor, Xenoblade Chronicles X seems more simple regarding the setting, but it still looks good. This one takes place in New Los Angeles, but from the videos I can tell the scale is still massive. What got me was the character creation demo. It looks in-depth, which is good because the developers realize how important it is to let players truly make their own way into the world. Give me a high fade, the spiky variants of an afro, and the twelve types of dreads we wear and the game gets a 10 for me. Here is a video from the official Nintendo YouTube channel. It should drop late this year or Q1 next year.
Tales of Zestria
The “Tales of” series has been one of my favorites since I got its GameCube iteration by fluke back in 05. Many people know that the “Tales of” series is great, but it skyrocketed to popularity in 2004 with Tales of Symphonia. It released on the GameCube, and it was co-op. I picked up the game on a whim in 2005 because I wanted a new game for my GameCube. I played it and it was fine, but then I read a guide online that told me you could play with friends. My world changed after that, and my house was loud for five days a week because me and my homies were playing it like no tomorrow. Zestria will definitely be released on PS4 late this year or next summer, and it was actually already on Ps3 in japan. Older iterations were on Xbox 360 at least, but this one only seems to be exclusive for Sony consoles and rumored for PC. Video from IGN’s YouTube channel.
This was first shown as a demo in February before the PS4‘s release. It was mysterious and sparked good conversations in the gaming community about it being a Dragon’s Dogma sequel. Time has passed and though we got actual gameplay and more and more details about it, like it being free to play, the story being set in different time periods, and that it was to be released on the PS4 on launch day, it’s still yet to come out. I guess something happened and Capcom held it back because there hasn’t been much word on it recently. I remain optimistic about its release though, and maybe Capcom will re-brand it as a Dragon’s Dogma sequel and show it at E3. Here a video from the GamesHQMedia youtube channel.
I know there are other JRPGs coming soon like Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy 15, Bravely Second, Disgaea 5, Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth, Altelier, Omega Quintet, and more, but I just wanted to highlight some that anyone can get into with no problems.