Category Archives: Swords and Zippers

Articles republished from Games Are Evil’s “Swords and Zippers” column, which ran from 2012-2013 and focused exclusively on JRPGs.

From the Archives: A Square Sequel

Final Fantasy is probably one of the best-known names in the JRPG genre. And yet even within this long-running series there are titles which have had more attention than others.

Everyone can vouch for the quality (or at least impact) of Final Fantasy VI and VII, but what about the ones people don’t talk about in quite such reverential tones?

Today I’d like to talk about one of the less fondly-regarded entries in the franchise and explain why you should give it another look.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Wandering the World

I’ve asked this question before in our visual novel column, but it bears repeating: why do we play?

The answer is different for everyone, even between fans of the same type of game. Some enjoy JRPGs for their heavy focus on story and character development in a narrative sense; others enjoy the gradual process of building up their strength and power and being able to take on the toughest challenges the game has to offer. Others still enjoy finding all the secrets there are to find in the game — and there are usually a lot.

For me, as a self-confessed narrative junkie, I primarily enjoy the experience of hanging out with the characters, of fighting alongside them and, eventually, taking on some sort of earth-shattering, physically-improbable Big Bad, probably in space. Battling against all odds. Building those bonds between people that the Persona series is always banging on about, you know?

But this isn’t the only way to enjoy a JRPG.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Wandering the World

From the Archives: Go, Unlosing Ranger!

I made a throwaway comment to a friend a while back that I wanted to check out more of Nippon Ichi’s games.

This was partly due to some past positive experiences with Disgaea back in the PS2 days, an enjoyable bit of time spent with the surprisingly tragic The Witch and the Hundred Knight as well as a great deal of enjoyment of products NIS had contributed to, such as the early Hyperdimension Neptunia games.

Zip forward to the time of writing (Editor’s Note: 2013… and this is a game I’d like to cover in more detail in the future!) and I’m thoroughly engrossed in one NIS offering in particular: a PSP game from the team behind Disgaea. And, boy, does its heritage show.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Go, Unlosing Ranger!

From the Archives: Xenoblade Chronicles and the Wii’s Swansong

If you owned a Wii, whinged about there being no good games for it and didn’t own a copy of Xenoblade Chronicles then, well, frankly we need to have words.

Xenoblade Chronicles, you see, is awesome. I’d probably go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite RPGs in recent memory. I’m not convinced it is my all-time favourite — with so many great games out there today, I’m pretty hard-pressed to pick an all-time favourite, to be honest — but it’s certainly right up there with the best of them.

Let’s take a closer look at what makes it such a remarkable game.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Xenoblade Chronicles and the Wii’s Swansong

From the Archives: Layers Upon Layers

One interesting contrast between Western and Eastern role-playing games is the way they each handle their core “rulesets.”

Western RPGs tend to follow a model that is somewhat closer to tabletop role-playing, whereby all the rules are set out clearly in front of you from the outset. You generally spend the entire game applying these rules in different ways, gradually growing in effectiveness (usually through increased likelihood to succeed at various challenges) as you proceed.

This is perhaps a side-effect of the fact that Western RPGs have their roots very much in Dungeons & Dragons — in fact, many early Western RPGs quite simply were Dungeons & Dragons games — but even today with franchises like The Elder Scrolls, we see what are often some relatively straightforward rules being applied consistently throughout the entirety of a game.

Japanese role-playing games, on the other hand, play things a little bit differently.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Yakuza’s Modern-Day Questing Makes a Fine JRPG

Sega’s Yakuza series is perhaps one of the most misunderstood franchises out there to people who haven’t played it.

Prior to its original release, it was assumed that the game would be a Japanese clone of Grand Theft Auto. Then people saw its real-time combat and started assuming it was a brawler.

It is neither of these things. It is, in fact, one of the most well-disguised JRPG series you’ll ever play.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Yakuza’s Modern-Day Questing Makes a Fine JRPG

From the Archives: Flying High in the Sky

There was a period in my life where I happily devoured every single JRPG I came across to the exclusion of almost all other types of game.

To be perfectly frank, I’m pretty much back in that situation now after a few years of feeling “obliged” to play the big triple-A games that everyone was talking about, but I still primarily associate my early 20s with “my JRPG period” — or perhaps more accurately, “my first JRPG period.”

Returning to the fold a number of years after my original JRPG binge has allowed me to both appreciate how the genre has changed and evolved over the years, and see the older titles I loved so much first time around in a new light. So with that in mind, let’s look back at a classic long overdue an HD remaster.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

Continue reading From the Archives: Flying High in the Sky