games / Columns

411 Games Top 5 10.19.12: The Top 5 Japanese-style RPGs

October 19, 2012 | Posted by Sean Garmer

Hello everyone, I hope it has been a good week for all the readers out there, Everyone loves a good old Japanese RPG right?

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Stephen Randle (Writer of Wrestling News Experience in Wrestling Zone, Quizmaster of Four Player Co-op)

All right, because I’m sure everyone’s tired of me gushing about both Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger, and they would have dominated my list originally, I took it upon myself to modify the requirements, so these are my Top 5 JRPG’s that are not from the FF series or Chrono Trigger. Everyone got that?

5. Earthbound (Mother 2): These days, more people know Ness from his presence in Smash Bros, but back in the good old days, he was the main character of this quirky little RPG that led to many people to get really, really upset with Nintendo for not translating Mother 3 and bringing it out of Japan. I don’t go that far, but I do enjoy this game and recognize how unique it is among all RPGs.

4. Suikoden: The original tale of the 108 Stars of Destiny, an RPG that’s simple to play but difficult to master. It’s probably one of the first games I attempted to “100%” by finding all 108 characters, so that I could have the bitchingest castle ever, and yet I still find myself using the same group of six because let’s face it, there are way too many playable characters in this game.

3. Super Mario RPG: This was the greatest melding of minds in an RPG that some have ever seen, and the unfortunate thing is we’ll never see its like (or many of the characters it introduced) ever again because of all the rights issues that followed. Come on, Nintendo, I want Geno and Mallow in the next Smash Bros!

2. Shining Force: Much like Suikoden, others will say that the sequel was the better game, but I have always preferred the slightly more streamlined gameplay and story of the first iteration of the series. Would you believe how long it took me to figure out how to make this game much easier with abusing the EGRESS spell? I swear, I should have never gotten as far in the game as I did the first time I played it.

1. Persona 4: Years ago, I heard of the Persona series and even played P2: Eternal Punishment. It was a frightfully difficult game that gave you no assistance in figuring out what you were supposed to do and I gave up on it in disgust after getting far enough in to be totally screwed. Recently, after re-discovering Persona 4 (and backtracking to P3: FES), I’m now eagerly awaiting the release of the next game in this awesome series. Come on, P4 has everything: clever writing, great voice acting, a riveting story involving murder, mystery, and magic, the incredible Social Link system, an alternate dimension full of monsters in multi-level themed dungeons, a giant blue teddy bear…what more do you want in a game?

Lee Jones (Reader Voice)

5 – Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice – The one and only Disgaea game I’ve played, I enjoyed it, it had great tactical depth and the humour had me laughing but talk about ‘grind’, I just can’t face another one. So this will remain my perfect Disgaea bubble that I will look back fondly on.

4 – Shadow Hearts – Def the most Japanese game on my list. I fought alot of cats in this game, demonic cats of course. I never fully appreicated this game first time round, now I realise it was due to the culture difference. I did quite like the story though, pacing was good and it just seemed to get more epic.

3 – Valkyria Chronicles – Oooo look pretty, this game is entirely hand drawn, I feel bad for the person during development days but they should be mighty proud of the result, and they actually stuck a good game on there too. A turn based game where you can freely move around the map until your time is up to get to the best positions. Death is actually meaningful so whilst you want your favs to be in the fight it’s always a risk that you could lose them forever. Sure you could reload last save but then you might lose someone else you like so sometimes you just gotta cut your loses cause those battles can run on abit.

2 – Final Fantasy X – My fav Final Fantasy, I never really like the scientific future one’s so 9 and 10 were more to my tastes. Yes I know 10 had that but it wasn’t a focus. This game has the best love story in gaming and I was glad to see my fellow contributors agreed with me in our Valentine’s Top 5. Good cast of characters, abit of grinding needed but never felt like one (although my brother grinded up so much he could beat anything in a few hits, end bosses included), I’m hoping that HD version actually comes out at some point.

1 – Demon’s Souls – Who’d have thought it, gamers like a challenge. This game stuck 2 fingers up at the ‘games need to be easier nowadays’ line of thought and it made this title. It’s a good game outside of the difficulty though and looks incredible. Every inch gained on map feels important as you never know when death will greet you, and it will, ALOT. Good use of other players, a form I hope other games incorporate rather than cut single player. This is a game that doesn’t want you to beat it, so go prove it wrong!

Marc Morrison (Games Zone Reviewer)

Honorable Mentions — Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII – This is the only real good (new-ish) Final Fantasy. I’ve not played any of the older ones, but from FF7 on, I’ve dabbled in them. And they are usually mostly terrible. Crisis Core isn’t terrible though, because the hero isn’t a brooding jackass, the battle system is dynamic and fun, and it actually made me care about some of the FF7 characters, something I never thought possible. It’s the best Final Fantasy game by a WIDE margin.

Rogue Galaxy – I haven’t dived too deep into the game, but it appears to be quite solid. It’s basically anime Star Wars (complete with a homo-erotic robot companion) so hey, that’s always fun. It didn’t grab me enough to continue the game much, but I appreciated the work that went into it.

5. Kingdom Hearts 1 and 2 — Both Kingdom Hearts games were really good on the PS2. KH1 had a slightly better (re: understandable) story and a novel idea, while KH2 had a better battle system and better RPG mechanics. Both games had their faults, notably the Gummi ship stuff, and the story in KH2, but it can be overlooked. How Square has ruined the Kingdom Hearts franchise with banal spin-off, prequel, and side-story garbage on every hand-held system has saddened me deeply. Hey Square, make Kingdom Hearts 3 already. And make it multiplatform.

4. Eternal Sonata/Tales of Vesperia — I’m lumping both of these games together because they complement each other fairly well. Eternal Sonata brings a good story, some great characters (Salsa and Viola), and a basic but fun battle system. Tales of Vesperia is like Sonata but on steroids, trading in the good story for a slightly worse one, but pumping up the battle system immensely, and all the side stuff you can do. You didn’t really do any side activities in Sonata, but you can do a ton in Vesperia and it adds to the overall quality of the game.

3. Shadow Hearts: Covenant — Yes, because when you think JRPG, you think of a Midway published game. Actually though, the Shadow Hearts series was pretty solid, with Covenant being the best in the lot. It had a really interesting story, a neat “Judgment Ring” battle system, and some good character work as well. I actually own two copies of the game because I bought one, it didn’t work (about half-way through), and I got another. Turns out it was just my PS2’s laser that died. Still, that should tell you how much I enjoyed the game, for having gone out and got another copy.

2. Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne — While Persona 3 and Persona 4 tend to get high accolades; Nocturne is still the best in the series. While it doesn’t have the school/dating sim of P3/P4, it does have a much better battle system, and deeper overall battle mechanics, with Press-Turns, and the moon-cycles effecting demon behavior in fights. The story is also completely crazy which adds a lot to the game. If you like anything Atlus has done in the past, you owe it to yourself to play Nocturne.

1. Suikoden 2 — I keep bringing this game up in these lists for a reason: it is one of the best games ever made. The rune system is fun, the way it feeds into the other Suikoden games, the battle system is simple at first, but hard to master, and the story is masterful. Any Suikoden game can be played and enjoyed (except for Tactics, and the hand-held stuff), but Suikoden 2 is the best of the lot, and one of the all-time best games ever made. Also, Viki is such an adorable character, I wish she would have her own game.

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Killzone Trilogy (PS3 Only)


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Sean Garmer
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