JRPGs: A Newcomer’s Perspective

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The Japanese Role Playing Game genre is one I’ve avoided for quite some time, apart from the occasional Pokémon game. I never liked the slow, turn-based combat or their general character design, plus my knowledge of Japanese culture is quite poor. Yet despite this shallow minded view, I’ve held for the past 10 years, 2017 has been the year I finally welcomed these games into my life. This is the story of how I fell in love with the JRPG.

It started my obsession this winter with the Dark Souls franchise. Although made by Japanese developer From Software, this is not the first game one might think of when talking about JRPGs as, well, it isn’t one. After becoming addicted to the aptly named ‘Souls-like genre’, even playing non-From Software games such as Nioh and the ever so underrated The Surge, I wanted more. I got a thrill from levelling up, upgrading my weapons and customising my character.

Nioh

The sense of progression was something that appealed to me as it presented an opportunity to waste countless hours on crafting a unique persona in an interesting world. It was at this point I decided to pick up Nier: Automata to fulfil my need to grind a characters’ level to unspeakable heights as well as slay androids with some finesse.

The sense of progression was something that appealed to me as it presented an opportunity to waste countless hours on crafting a unique persona in an interesting world.

The more I played of these games, the more I realised something: Japanese games are made so much better than Western games. This, in turn, made me realise that I have spent far too much of my time playing the wrong games. I knew what my goal was at this point before University starts up again, I needed to utterly engross myself in the genre.

I knew what my goal was at this point before University starts up again, I needed to utterly engross myself in the genre.

Before I got around to playing Final Fantasy XV, I gave Final Fantasy VII ago on PC and decided to purchase it for my PS4. I’m ashamed to admit that I haven’t played this game as much as I’d have liked, although it still held an impressive impact on me. Prior to playing, I never cared for a game’s story because most narratives in games tend to be pretty awful these days (apart from Far Cry 3, best story ever). For every generic and overly clichéd story there is in video games, there is Final Fantasy VII’s impressive amount of focus on narrative. From the opening scene which introduces Avalanche as a renegade terrorist group to Aeris sad backstory, I was hooked. Now if Square will hurry up and finish the remake, I’ll finally be able to experience it in 1080p, rather than playing the great yet dated original.

FF VII

Thus far, it’s been a great journey and I am happy to have embarked upon it. I am currently playing the legendary Persona 5, which has to be the best game I’ve played in the genre so far. I’m not going to harp too much on about Persona, but it seems like an amazing franchise. All in all, it’s always great to discover a new genre and indulge in many games from it. There’s something just so appealing about finding something new to spend time and effort into. Either way, I’m off to buy a PlayStation Vita for my new found passion.

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