Tag Archives: JRPG

From the Archives: The Last Story and the Art of Encounter Design

Although computer and console role-playing games share a lot of common ground with their tabletop predecessors, over time the two media have diverged significantly.

Western role-playing games arguably remain the truest to tabletop role-playing, which remains very freeform, flexible and sometimes even completely free of violent conflict. Titles such as Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls series allow the experience of living in a virtual world, exploring as you see fit and seeing what happens as you interact with it in various ways.

Japanese (and Japanese-inspired) role-playing games, meanwhile, are typically (though not exclusively) handled almost as “interactive storybooks” punctuated by regular, predictable and abstract battle sequences. This isn’t a criticism, mind; as any JRPG fan will tell you, this approach allows the games to focus on strong storytelling and characterisation at the expense of allowing you to steal every spoon in someone’s house.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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From the Archives: Birds Suddenly Appear Every Time You Are Nier

Nier is possibly one of Square Enix’s most misunderstood games.

Released to a rather lukewarm critical response back in 2010, this Cavia-developed PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 action RPG, directed by Taro Yoko, is actually a fascinating game that is well worth your time and attention — so long as you have a bit of patience to deal with its idiosyncrasies.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2012 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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Wii U Essentials: Xenoblade Chronicles X

While Nintendo platforms were very much the spiritual home of JRPGs in the 8- and 16-bit eras, in more recent times most of those games have jumped ship to Sony platforms.

This isn’t to say there’s a complete lack of JRPG goodness on Nintendo platforms, however; the 3DS has some solid titles, the original Wii had its three famous “Operation Rainfall” titles Xenoblade Chronicles, The Last Story and Pandora’s Tower — and the Wii U has Xenoblade Chronicles X.

Xenoblade Chronicles X is, it’s fair to say, a fairly different beast from its predecessor, and consequently it wasn’t to everyone’s taste. However, even if you didn’t enjoy it, it’s hard to deny that it’s a truly remarkable game, and a highly noteworthy entry in the Wii U’s library.

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Eorzean Diary: Lonely Explorer

One of my favourite additions to Final Fantasy XIV over time has been the randomly generated dungeon Palace of the Dead.

I actually like it specifically because it’s one of the few pieces of content in the game that can legitimately be run solo while it’s still “relevant” to you. Other dungeons and Trials in the game only really become soloable once they are so far beneath your character and item level that the only reason to run them is “for fun” or for the sake of their story, but Palace of the Dead is pretty much always useful for something or other, be it levelling an alt class or simply obtaining some endgame tomestones.

The other nice thing about Palace of the Dead is that it’s been specifically designed with soloing in mind, since it even has its own leaderboard for solo adventurers.

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Eorzean Diary: The Benefits of Being Left Behind

When I first started playing Final Fantasy XIV in A Realm Reborn’s open beta, I was keen to experience everything the game had to offer as soon as new things became available.

There’s a benefit to this approach, of course: coming into new things “blind” when no-one else knows what to do either allows the community as a whole to work together and figure things out for themselves, developing established strategies that simply become “the way things are done” from thereon.

But this also puts an undue amount of pressure on people, particularly in more “casual-friendly” content such as dungeons, non-Extreme Trials and even 24-player raids to an extent. If you weren’t there on that first day, expect to be admonished if you haven’t read up on an encounter beforehand; expect to be told to “watch a video”; and don’t expect any help. (Sometimes people will pleasantly surprise you, particularly in levelling content, but at level 60, this is unfortunately true for the most part.)

All that said, there is sometimes a benefit to being behind the curve, particularly when we come to the twilight hours of an expansion and await the next full installment in the game’s overarching storyline.

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Eorzean Diary: Tips for Being a Filthy FFXIV Casual

One of the biggest challenges you’ll encounter as an MMO player is the prospect of planning out your time effectively so that you can do everything you want to do.

I’m not just talking about in the MMO itself, either; if you’re anything like me, you don’t want just one game to take over every waking moment of your existence — you probably want to continue enjoying other stuff, too.

This is something I’ve been struggling with for some time now with regard to Square Enix’s wonderful MMO Final Fantasy XIV. After some reflection and some discussion with other people who are or have been in a similar situation themselves, I’ve come up with a set of effective tips to juggle your career in Eorzea (or equivalents) with a rich, fulfilling and varied diet of other games and media.

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Nights of Azure: Narrative, Themes and Characterisation

Nights of Azure is one of Gust’s most mechanically interesting games — particularly in how much it differs from the company’s usual output — but it also has a fascinating, ambitious narrative.

Combining a deeply personal tale with a more conventional JRPG-style “save the world” narrative, the overall atmosphere of the game is very distinctive and quite unlike your average JRPG, if such a thing exists. It blends drama, romance, action, horror and mystery together to create something altogether unique that is very much worth experiencing.

And it pulls the whole thing off with such wonderful style, such a beautifully clear sense of its own identity, that you can’t help but be compelled by the tale it tells.

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