Top 10 Lists : The Top 10 Console JRPGs Of The Seventh Generation
Japanese Role Playing Games have always been a popular genre of video games ever since the NES days. Many fans fell in love with the, at times deep, gameplay mechanics, many people loved the open worlds they got to explore, and a lot of people also enjoyed the "full" storylines these type of games featured as well. JRPGs really were like no other type of video game out there, and they could easily pull you into their worlds. Since then, many different types of JRPGs have hit the market, and they have all tackled a wide verity of themes! From the middle ages, to games that stared modern day kids with baseball bats, JRPGs have covered it all, and due to their adventure-like nature, developers were really able to go all out.
While with games such as platforming games, developers were really limited with the type of story they could tell, or the type of gameplay they could use; however JRPGs were completely open, and they offered endless possibilities. Well now here we are, four generations later, and the JRPG genre is still pretty popular! Sure some might say that they no longer hold the same magic they did back in the day, after all games are no longer as limited so even puzzle games can take you on a huge adventure, but that doesn't change the fact that there are still some really great games that came out this generation.
The following is a list of what I would consider 10 of the greatest JRPGs to be released on consoles this generation. Now I know many of you may not agree with all of my selections, but hear me out, and you will see why I made my selections. (Please keep in mind that this list will only include console releases, and not handheld releases. Yes there are MANY great DS and PSP JRPGs out there, but they will not be included in this top 10.)
Ok so I'm sure a lot of you are already turned off by this list, but like I said, hear me out. Final Fantasy XIII was the long awaited Final Fantasy sequel that was first announced in 2006, and finally released in 2009. Back when it was first announced, Final Fantasy XIII really showed a lot of promise, and it quickly became one of the "most wanted" video games in the world (heck, many people even bought Playstation 3s just for the game). Even so, despite all of the hype, when the game finally hit the shelves peoples opinions of the game became split.
If you have ever played a Final Fantasy game, especially Final Fantasy XII, you would know that Final Fantasy games are normally huge open games with a lot of side quests, a deep character and equipment system, and a long storyline to guide you from the beginning to end. Well, basically, Final Fantasy XIII is everything except the "standard" Final Fantasy game.
Final Fantasy XIII threw out just about everything series fans have come to know and love, and replaced them with a more straight forward style of gameplay. While past games had world maps for you to explore with hidden areas to find, a standard level up system which sometimes required you to level grind to become strong enough to beat the next boss, a standard equipment set up where you could outfit your characters however you wanted, and a standard (although still somewhat real time) turn based battle system, XIII is the complete opposite.
In Final Fantasy XIII the focus has been taken away from exploration and brings the series towards a more "movie like" experience. During the first half of the game, the game switches back and forth between the main characters, who split up into groups early on, and the game forces you to continue onward. Every section of the game has a point A and point B, and there is no backtracking what so ever, the "levels" play just like levels you would see in action games, the combat system and level up system has also been completely revamped (replacing the standard level up system with a point based system where you learn different ability upgrades), and the battle system was replaced with a real time system where you pick attacks to chain together (it also uses a quite advance role change system as well). To go along with the linear level progression, the way the level up system is limited (there is a cap which prevents you from over leveling), enemies appear on the field so you can choose to fight them or run past them, and even the equipment system is limited with weapons that you upgrade as you progress through the game. In short, the game is set up like an action game with a movie/anime style storyline.
Really the thing about Final Fantasy XIII is that it has a VERY long tutorial, and that alone was more than enough to turn a lot of people off. The game basically holds your hand and walks you through the game step by step for the first 20 or so hours, only to then let you go on your own and watch you struggle. Still because of the long tutorial, there really is just too much content for me to cover on this top 10 list... So let me get right to the point. Just why is it on this list?
Well, although it isn't the game Final Fantasy fans wanted, and due to it's major changes even JRPG fans may be turned off from it, but that is actually the reason I put this game at number 10. I can honestly say that Final Fantasy XIII is unlike any other JRPG I have ever played, and in my eyes, that is a good thing. Sure I still love old fashion JRPGs, and I hope game companies continue to make them, but once in awhile it is just nice to see something different. I loved XIII's story (although it started out pretty slow), the new battle system was pretty nice, the characters were interesting, the movie like set up was really nice, and overall, the game was just a really nice change in pace.
Like I said, this really isn't a game for everyone, but if you can get past the changes (and the long "intro") you may just find Final Fantasy XIII to be a pretty good game.
Now I'm going to come out and say it. Originally I had no intention of putting Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny on this list, but after some careful thought, I realized that it actually was a game I really enjoyed. So anyway...
Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is the second Rune Factory game to be released on the Nintendo Wii, and the first to be released on the Playstaiton 3. Although Rune Factory is in fact a spin off, or side game, of Harvest Moon, Tides of Destiny decided to take the standard formula, and put a twist on it. While past games focused mostly on the farming aspect, Tides of Destiny decides to put the farming aspect in the care of your monster helpers, so that you can focus on exploring this new massive world.
Tides of Destiny starts out with our two main characters Aden and Sonja waking up in a strange version of their island home called "Fenith Island." The little tree next to the pond has grown big, the buildings have changed, people they have never met before walk the streets, and to top it all off, Sonja's soul is apparently stuck in Aden's body. Although at the time they really had no idea what was going on, both characters decide to make the most of what they have, and, with the help of the locals, they decide to start their new life. Sure they know that challenges are going to await them, but soon after finding a strange seed and planting it, they find themselves standing face to face with a huge golem that is now theirs to command. Soon after the two main characters begin to explore the world, and slowly get to the bottom of what is going on.
Although, like I said earlier, Rune Factory is a Harvest Moon game, this time around the focus is on exploration and not farming. Throughout the game you'll uncover different islands with monsters you can then befriend and have work for you. Each monster can grow different types of plants, or even materials, and by using your magic wand to plant seeds, these monsters can then turn them seeds into whatever crop they specialize in. Really there isn't much more to the farming aspect than finding islands, planting seeds on the few spots you can plant seeds on, and finding monsters to turn them seeds into plants, but it can take awhile before you actually find monsters that can grow what you are looking for.
The second use for the monsters is actually in the combat system. Rune Factory uses a real time combat system with a wide verity of weapons, and monsters that you can use as party members. Due to the game's advance crafting and cooking systems, you will have to revisit islands many times, grind on monsters to get materials, use them materials to upgrade your weapons/build armor, and then use your new weapons and armor to move onto the next area and do the very same thing over and over again. The game does in fact take a lot of time, but due to its wide verity of weapons and monster party members, the combat can be quite fun, and it never really does get old; however all of this is only really half of the game. The thing about Rune Factory is that EVERYTHING you do is actually progress. There are many different stats to level up, and basically every single thing you do in game will be increase your skills one way or another. If you run, your running skill levels up, if you talk to someone, your social skill goes up, if you jump, your jumping skill goes up, and if you cook, your cooking skill goes up. There is nothing that can't be leveled up in this game, and you will constantly be getting better.
Like with most Harvest Moon games, the social aspect in Rune Factory is still another important one. By talking to villagers, taking on job requests, or giving them gifts, you can actually develop your relationship with them, and you can advance on with the story. Each character has different events that you can see at different friendship levels, and in order to go through the game you MUST increase them. This can really take a lot of time as well, but going on jobs for them can be quite fun, and it also gives you more of an excuse to explore that massive ocean.
Really the best way to describe Tides of Destiny is as followed. It is Harvest Moon + Legend of Zelda Wind Waker + Kingdom Hearts + monster catching games like Pokemon. It has aspects from each of the series, and it blends them all together into one massive adventure that will take hundreds of hours to complete, and that right there is why this game is on this list.
Sure it isn't the farm sim Harvest Moon games are looking for, and it isn't the full JRPG adventure that you might expect from a JRPG, but it is a great time killer, and it is packed full of content. From buying and making furniture for your house, to becoming friends with your neighbors, to exploring the massive ocean and fighting monsters. The game is one heck of a game, and really an underappreciated gem on the Wii and PS3.
White Knight Chronicles II is a PS3 exclusive JRPG and it is a sequel to the original White Knight Chronicles; however that isn't why it is on this list. White Knight Chronicles II on its own actually isn't that much better than the original game, and it even reuses all of the maps from the original game. Even so, the thing about White Knight Chronicles II is that it not only includes the second game, but it also includes a completely remastered version of White Knight Chronicles as well!
The original White Knight Chronicles is basically as follows. It is the game you would get if Final Fantasy XII and Monster Hunter had a baby, that was then adopted by the .hack series. Yep, that about sums it up! At the very start of the game you'll find yourself creating your own character with a pretty deep customization system which fully allows you to control what they are going to look like. Want to make someone who's one foot tall, with a messed up face, and very over weight? You can do it! Want to make someone who is extremely tall and old? Sure, why not? There's a wide verity of features you can customize on this character, and it is something you can easily spend an hour or so on before you even begin the game; however once you do start the game, everything changes. While the character you just created is a "main character," he/she never talks, and they mostly just sit back and enjoy the ride as you play as a completely different set of characters.
The basic story of White Knight Chronicles is as follows. In the past huge knights were created, a war broke out, and now these legendary knights have been sealed away, until one day our main character, Leonard, just happens to come across one and his life is changed forever. Soon after Leonard sets out on an adventure to save the captured princess, and along the way he meets up with not only others who can use the knights, but he also finds himself battling the Evil Black Knight as well. Throughout his adventure, Leonard slowly begins to learn the dark truths behind the knights, and he also finds himself fighting not only to save the princess, but to save the world as well.
Basically White Knight Chronicles is an RPG mixed with an MMORPG, and because of that it has both an online and offline mode. While in the offline mode you explore massive field areas, fight monsters, and go through the story, the online mode plays a lot like Monster Hunter as well as .hack. You use your player created characters, you create your own towns, you visit other peoples towns, you take jobs/quests from the quest board, and you then team up with others to tackle these quests. Sometimes these quests are monster hunting missions, while other times they simply require you to collect items. In the end, the more quests you do, the higher your guild rank becomes, and the higher your guild rank is, the more missions and equipment you have access to. The online mode really is fun, and most would agree that it completely overshadows the game's main story.
When it comes to the actual gameplay of White Knight Chronicles, well, lets just say there's actually a lot to learn. There are many different weapons in White Knight Chronicles, and each weapon has its own skill tree that branches off from it. Each skill/attack has different uses, but the thing is, you can only equip so many of these at a time. White Knight Chronicles uses a style of attacks that you would expect to see in a MMORPG, and basically uses a battle system that is a mix of real time and turn based battle systems. While you can set many different attacks to your attack bar to use, you actually have a cool down period after each attack, and each attack is stronger against different types of enemies so the game also requires you to plan out your attacks well. White Knight Chronicles really isn't a game that you can just spam attacks on, and due to all of the different weapons in the game, it may actually take awhile before you find your weapon of choice and learn how to use it properly.
The second key feature in the battle system is the knight itself. As I said before, knights are these huge robotic like creatures which the main characters can fuse with to use their power. Whenever you use your knight you will become much stronger, you will gain new attacks, and well, you can basically flat out crush anything that gets in your way. The knight truly is a powerful form to change into, and it can make the game a bit too easy at times, but even so it does have a limit to it's uses, and it cannot be used online until White Knight Chronicles II.
Now as you may be wondering, if White Knight Chronicles is such a great game, why didn't I just include that on the list instead of II? Well, White Knight Chronicles II actually includes a lot of changes that actually improved the original game. The battle system is much faster, hundreds of new side quests have been added, new weapon skills have been added, and overall, the game just plays a lot smoother. It is basically White Knight Chronicles with all of the improvements made in White Knight Chronicles II, and it also allows you to play the games in order. Since White Knight Chronicles actually ends to be continued, and since White Knight Chronicles II uses your original save file to continue the story, it really is just best to buy the second game, play the remastered version of WKC, and then move onto the sequel (which is more along the lines of an expansion). The online mode in White Knight Chronicles II is also improved, you can go with a larger party than was allowed in the first game for example, and the level cap has been brought up as well.
So in the end, if you liked the gameplay style from Final Fantasy XII, you like hunting monsters in Monster Hunter, and if you like the MMORPG style of .hack and always wished for a real version of it (minus .hack//Fragment), then this game may just be for you. In this one little disc you get hundreds of hours worth of content, two full games, a full FREE TO PLAY (well, it requires an online pass...) MMORPG style online mode, and a pretty good story. White Knight Chronicles II is easily not just one of the best JRPGs this generation, but it is one of the best PS3 exclusives out there
Although Monster Hunter isn't quite like most "JRPGs," this is one game I just couldn't ignore. Monster Hunter Tri (3) is the third "main" game in the Monster Hunters series. Although the game was originally going to be released on the Playstation 3, development was soon switched over to the most unlikely console. The Nintendo Wii.
So, what is Monster Hunter? Well, even if you haven't heard of it yourself, Monster Hunter is actually one of the most well known games in Japan, and is one of them games that has a HUGE cult following. From life size monster statues, to massive events dedicated to the series, Monster Hunter is one of them few series to really take off, and become the next big thing... In Japan. Although Monster Hunter isn't as popular everywhere else in the world, that doesn't change the fact that it is a great game! Basically Monster Hunter is what you would call a "boss fighting game" that has a VERY strong focus on its multiplayer aspect, but there is much, MUCH, more to it than that.
Like in White Knight Chronicles, when you first start up Monster Hunter you'll find yourself creating your own custom character. Although the customization really isn't that deep at first, the game really makes up for it later on with the equipment system, and you will soon find yourself spending hours just trying to get what you want. Basically, Monster Hunter is completely based around equipment and your skill as a player, and the game will require you to practice a lot. The game runs on a mission like system where you take a job, and then set out to complete said job, but these quests aren't always as simple as they seem. While some quests may just ask you to find some items, others will actually have you fighting massive bosses that will take a lot of skill to take down.
When you first start a mission there is a box in front of you which offers you some free items to use, such as health items and a map, but these items don't always quite cut it. There are thousands of items in this game, and every single item has its own use. While some items are used to make other items for you to use, such as traps and bombs, other items flat out already have uses, and it is up to you to decide how to use them and when to use them. Since your character does get tired over time you have to stay stocked up on food, since you'll most likely be taking damage you need to keep some healing items on you, and since it can sometimes be hard to find monsters, you may also want to have some tracking items as well. Really it is up to you to decide what items to bring with you on each hunt, and it is also up to you to figure out how to use these items to your advantage; the game does NOT hold your hand at all. Anyway, once you're all set and stocked up on items, you can then set out on your mission.
There are many different monsters in each area, and each monster will react to your actions in different ways (for example a mother will try to kill you if you harm her young), but for the most part, these monsters wont get in your way. The real reason you're going to be out on the field is for the huge boss monsters, which will actually take quite a lot to take down. Every single monster has its own attack patterns you must learn, different monsters have different parts of their body which can be damaged (or cut off), and also each monster has a different weakness/armor system. For example some monsters may have a soft underside which can be easily cut with a sword, but others may have strong scales you will need to crush with a hammer, and to top all of that off, there is also the whole element and weakness system. Different monsters are weak to different elements, but at the same time they attack with different elements as well. Once again it is up to you to decide what type of equipment you should bring into each battle, and you really need to play it smart if you want to survive.
The equipment system in monster hunter is also very advance, and takes quite a lot of time. Whenever you kill a monster, doesn't matter if it is a boss or a small monster, you can then carve into them to get supplies. There are many different armor and weapon types out there, and each one requires different amounts of material to make. Basically what ends up happening is, you'll fight the same bosses hundreds of times as you farm for the items you need, you'll then make a new equipment set (or weapon), and you will then use that stronger set to take down the next boss in line. You will then repeat this process over and over again, until you have finally made all of the sets/weapons you want, and then you will move on to making other sets just for the heck of it.
Fighting bosses and getting material to make the next cool piece of equipment becomes very addicting, and the wide verity of monsters help keep this task from becoming boring. Sure for awhile you will be fighting the same monsters over and over again, but as soon as you unlock more of them, especially the unique bosses, the game really picks up. Heck there's even a full second set of stronger versions of each monster to fight!
Besides the core gameplay, the main feature that really stands out in Monster Hunter, and not just Tri, is the whole online mode. In the online mode you get to team up with other hunters as you take on even stronger versions of the single player bosses. Although the game is based on skill and equipment, there is a ranking system online which allows you to access more quests, but leveling up the rank does not effect your abilities at all. Still, going on hunts with a few friends, or even random strangers, is always fun, and sure to give you many, MANY, hours worth of gameplay. On top of that, Monster Hunter Tri also doesn't use the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection set up for its game servers, but instead it runs on Capcom's servers! So, what does that mean? Well, as you may know by now, Nintendo has always had this thing for child safety, and because of that most games require a friend code if you want to play with people you know. Well, that is not the case with Monster Hunter Tri!
Unlike almost every other Wii game out there, Monster Hunter Tri is completely open to everyone, and plays just like a MMORPG when it comes to its online aspect. You pick a server to log into, you pick a channel, and you can then pick a room (or party) to join. Yep, that's all it takes to join up with someone, even if they are a complete stranger! The game even allows you to talk to strangers with both keyboard and voice chat, and it also runs off of its own friends list which allows you to add people you met while playing. Really these are all VERY nice features, but it is still too bad that not many other Wii games can do this sort of thing... Normally you can't even talk to your friends...
Although Monster Hunter Tri is still Monster Hunter, Tri is actually the first Monster Hunter to allow underwater combat, it features new underwater bosses, and it is also the first Monster Hunter game to be on a Nintendo system. In short, the game is everything fans have come to know and love about Monster Hunter, and more. Monster Hunter Tri is easily not only one of the best JRPGs this generation, but like with White Knight Chronicles II on the PS3, it is easily one of the best games on the Wii console.
If you're anything like me, this is a game you'll play for hours, only to stop playing when your Wii's disc drive finally dies out. (Sadly, this has happened to more than just one Monster Hunter Tri fan....)
Tales of Graces f is an improved version of the originally Wii exclusive title "Tales of Graces," but also with a sort of sequel added in as well. Originally Tales of Graces, and Tales of Graces f were two of the long list of Tales of games that were exclusive to Japan, but after Namco Bandai decided to hold a special request event over Twitter, where they would bring over the most requested game, many fans across the world jumped on the chance and requested one game above all the others. What was that game? Well none other than Tales of Graces f of course!
Unlike other Tales of games, Tales of Graces f is one of them games that basically tells the story of a character's life, and because of that it features a great deal of character development. Like in games such as Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Tales of Graces f starts out with our main heroes when they are only 11 years old with little to no understanding of the real world around them. Everyday is magical, and the game really draws the players in; however, as you might have expected, the magic of childhood does not last. After one major incident, the main character's outlook on life is completely changed, he runs away from home, and he decides to join the knight academy so he can gain the strength to protect the ones he cares about.
Jump forward 7 years, and everything has changed. After the death of his father, Asbel decides to leave the knights and finally return home to take over has the new lord, but not everyone is as accepting of this idea. One of the major themes Tales of Graces f uses is how things change over time, and it is easily a theme most of the players can relate to. Asbel is no longer close to his best friend Cheria, his brother Hubert apparently hates his guts, and even his friend, and prince of the country, Richard has completely changed. Everything in Asbel's life, from the world he lives in to the people he knows, has been flipped upside down, and there really isn't anything he can do about it. In the end, Asbel finds himself going on an adventure as he reunites with old friends, gets caught in the middle of a war, and even gets caught up in a mysterious girl's past. What simply started as a story of child's play soon becomes an emotional adventure based around change, and friendship.
The thing about Tales of Graces f is that, unlike other Tales of games, it doesn't feature a world map. In Graces f everything in the world is connected with different paths leading to different, and towns serving as a hub that allows you to access other areas. This world set up is very much like the worlds found in older JRPGs, especially Pokemon, and not only is a nice change of pace, it also helps shape the world a little bit more than past Tales of games did. With the world map set up it mostly came down to you running across fields that are who knows how many miles long in a mater of seconds, and travel just really didn't feel like travel. Thanks to the now passage based map, when you walk to a town, it actually feels like you are walking to the town.
Once again enemies can be seen on the map, and fights are triggered by running into them, but the combat system this time around is completely different. Although like in other Tales of games the combat is locked onto your main character and the enemy he/she is targeting, the actual combat isn't quite the same. While before combat was more along the lines of a 2D fighting game, Tales of Graces f does away with that system and focuses more on a 3D stylish system. There are two different types of attacks, A attacks and B attacks, and each one of them can be used in different ways, and each type also shows off a different type of fighting style. In Graces f attacks are more of "in your face" type attacks where both you and the enemy will trade series of different strikes and blows, as you both try to block and dodge others, and because of this you can actually chain your attacks.
Although there is an attack limit, where after so many hits you have to back off, by using more advance skills, such as the side stepping skill, you can actually increase your attack limit to go for longer combos. For example if you are playing as Asbel you can trade a series of melee attacks, quick step around an enemy just as their attack is about to hit you, and then pull out your sword and unleash a few finishing strikes. Basically, the combat is very fast and heavily focused on combos, and because of that it has quite a bit of a learning curve. Each character also has their own two different fighting styles, so even if Asbel's sword fighting style doesn't fit your play style, chances are one of the other character's will.
The game also features a brand new title system where doing just about anything in game will earn you a title. Each title has a set amount of skills that a character can learn, and by equipping that title you can level it up and teach them skills to whatever character it is that has access to it. These skills range from both attack skills and even stat upgrades which, in the end, actually make the titles much more important than leveling up itself.
As expected from a Tales of game, Graces f is a VERY long game, and it can easily last you around 80 hours if you choose to allow it to go on that long. The thing is Tales of games normally have hundreds of side quests that, although they are important to the story, can be missed, and it also has hundreds of "skit" cutscenes which can be missed as well. Normally every save point in the game has a skit for it, so its easier to see them and not miss them by mistake, but side quests aren't as easy to spot. Sure sometimes the game flat out points these quests out to you, and other quests are actually requests from the inns, but many of them are events that can easily be overlooked and completely missed, and this can be a problem. Sure you don't have to do these side quests, but if you are the type of person who has to 100% a game (or simply see the full storyline), it can take quite awhile to find and complete them all. Graces f also includes a "future" story arc which takes place quite some time after the ending of the game, and it also includes a few new gameplay mechanics, but since it is a spoiler I'm going to avoid explaining it in this top 10 list. Either way it is a nice addition, and it adds quite a few extra hours to this already long game.
Tales of Graces f is one of them rare JRPGs that can really get to you. The game will remind you of your childhood, it will remind you of how everything has changed in your life as you've gotten older, it uses an old fashion style world set up, the combat is very fast and fun, the characters are VERY likeable (in fact this is the first JRPG I've ever played where I liked ALL of the characters from the moment I saw them), there are quite a lot of funny moments which will make you laugh, there are darker depressing sections as well, and the game also uses a really nice cell shaded art style (unlike the previous games on this list which go for a more realistic feel). Tales of Graces f is an amazing JRPG, and it is a good thing that Namco Bandai was able to come through and release it to their fans in the west!
Star Ocean: The Last Hope (AKA Star Ocean 4) is the 5th Star Ocean game (7th if you count the remakes of Star Ocean 1 and the improved port of Star Ocean 2) in the series, and the first SO game to be released on the seventh generation. Although this game is in fact Star Ocean 4, the game actually serves as a prequel taking place 30 years before the "past" the main character's visit in the first Star Ocean.
As Star Ocean: The Last Hope first opens, we learn that World War III has completely destroyed Earth, and that human's only hope now relies on escaping to space. Edge Maverick is a young man who dreams of going into space, and as one of the crew of the first space launch, he couldn't be any happier. Along with his best friends Reimi and Crow (who is on another ship), Edge is ready to finally see what else is out there; however things soon make a turn for the worst.
After their launch, Crow's ship vanishes, Edge and Reimi's ship crash lands on a strange alien planet, and to top it all off, they are attacked by some strange alien creatures which for some reason cannot be harmed by their guns. Although at the time all hope seemed lost, Edge decided to strike back once again, but this time with his sword which, to his surprises actually worked. Soon after the attack both Edge and Reimi end up searching the rest of the planet for survivors, only to learn the truth behind their space travels.
It turns out humans have been in contact with aliens for years, and if it wasn't for this contact they would have never been able to develop the technology that allowed them to come as far as they did. While fighting a strange monster on the beach of the planet, Edge and Reimi meet up with a young alien named Faize, who is a part of the race that had been helping the humans, and they all end up teaming up to stop the rampaging beast. Still despite the fact that Faize himself was an "alien," it seems that this creature is even unknown to him.
After the incident was finally over, Edge and Reimi are given command of their ship, Faize is ordered to go with them, and the three characters end up setting off for parts unknown to find out just what these strange creatures are. Along the way the characters meet up with many others who decide to join them on their quest, and each time they land on a new planet, they find themselves being caught up in that world's problems. Although at first each of these stories seem to be stand alone stories, in the end everything ties together in one huge adventure.
Unlike past Star Ocean games, SO4 has a larger focus on the sci-fi theme of the series, and it also gives you more control over your ship. While in past games you may have visited a ship from time to time, they mostly took place on underdeveloped worlds, where you are the most advance thing they have ever seen in their life; however that is the complete opposite in Star Ocean 4. Sure you are still going to visit worlds that are "underdeveloped," but for the most part everyone else is much more advance than you are. Aliens have built massive cities and ships which make your ship look like a toy, and most seem to know a bit more about the world around you than you do. Still because of this the story stays interesting, and it makes traveling to the next world something to look forward to. You just don't know what to expect, and it is a really nice change of pace from past games.
The other thing that makes Star Ocean 4 different is the fact that it completely in 3D, and uses a fully 3D real time battle system. Now it is true that Star Ocean 3 was 3D as well, but its battle system was completely different. In Star Ocean 4 whenever you get into a battle the game is shifted into a battle arena where you are free to run around and fight as you see fight. Although the game has your basic combos as you might expect, SO4 also uses a completely new system called the "BEAT" system which takes full advance of your enemy's blind spots. By going into a special mode you can pull off moves that allow you to dodge enemy attacks, get around them, and flat out hit them where it hurts the most for massive damage. The system is very fun to play around with, and unique to Star Ocean 4, but because of it battles can also take a bit longer than in most games.
Boss fights take skill and the use of blind spots if you want to be able to take them down, and these fights can sometimes last longer than 30 minutes. On top of that, you will also have to make use of your other characters, command them to preform different attacks, and even take complete control of them if you want to be able to take each enemy down. Combine this party switching system with the BEAT system, and the special attack skill tree (special attacks are chained to the L/R buttons and advance to the next special attack as you use each one), the battle system can become quite advance, and it can take a lot of getting used to. Still this is what makes the game fun!
Although The Last Hope's story might start out a bit slow, and although it does have a few annoying characters, the combat system is fun, the worlds are huge and open, there's hundreds of extras and side quests to complete, and above all, it is the game that serves as a back story to the rest of the Star Ocean universe. There's quite a lot of fan service from the first Star Ocean, and it is also nice to see how the events of this game actually effected the future as well. If you are a long time Star Ocean fan, this game is well worth it for the story alone, and if you are new to the series, this is the perfect place to start.
The story can be both quite deep and funny at times, and in the end, you will find that it was a story worth going through. Heck it even has a crazy deep weapon and equipment crafting system, and extra bosses to fight! This game is filled with content, and well worth it if you have a 360 or PS3. (Note: The game was originally an Xbox 360 exclusive, but has also been ported over to the PS3. It only features minor changes, and Reimi has been made weaker, but the fact that the PS3 version is on one disc instead of three makes the PS3 version the much better choice.)
Yep, that's right. Final Fantasy XIII-2! Although much of the Final Fantasy fan base was split by Final Fantasy XIII, the fact is that the game sold well enough for there to be sequels, and one of which was in game form.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 takes place years after the ending of Final Fantasy XIII, where apparently things have gone strange. Lightning vanished, Serah is the only one who remembers that she was there, and everyone now much begin their new life on Pulse. One day in the middle of the night Serah has a dream about Lightning fighting a strange man in a strange world, and she is then soon waken up by the sounds of explosions. It turns out her village is under attack by some strange robotic like creatures, and on top of that, a strange young man named Noel has come to the rescue.
It turns out Noel is from the future, and he was sent into the past by Lightning to help Serah. Although at the time Serah doesn't quite understand what is really going on, she doesn't know why Lightning is fighting in the future, and she really doesn't understand why Lightning sent Noel to help her, but none of that really matters. What matters most to Serah is that Lightning is in fact still alive, and she needs help. And so, with that, Serah sets out on an adventure through time, to reunite with her sister. Only thing is, when time travel is involved, paradoxes are created...
For the most party XIII-2 is Final Fantasy XIII, but it also has a lot of major improvements, which caused this game to be a bit more well received than the original. The camera angle now follows the characters like a normal camera, instead of the "movie like" camera from XIII, you can now switch between party members in battle, there is a more standard "level up" system where you level up your roles instead of simply buying abilities, and the game also uses a Kingdom Hearts like set up. For example, instead of traveling from area to area like in other JRPGs, each area has to be selected, and plays like a level of its own. Since each area is at a different point in the timeline, you must return to this "stage select" screen if you wish to move from area to area, but at the same time, you often have to actually unlock each area by opening different gates in your currently opened areas. The thing is, to get to the end of the game you do NOT have to actually play through each time era in the game, but if you want to see the full story you will find yourself backtracking. Another major change was the fact that the 3rd party member slot was replaced with a monster slot. Basically every time you kill a monster in game you have a chance to capture it and use it as a party member. Each monster has its own role and abilities, and by feeding it different items (and by fusing it with other monsters), you can level it up and build your monsters to fit your play style. Besides all of the changes, XIII-2 also brings back quite a bit of the older features as well. It has a standard money and shop system, side quests are back, the game features a more "standard" type of "main bad guy" (or rival), and it also brings back a type of random encounter set up as well.
Although Final Fantasy XIII-2 isn't as long as the original, unless you want to go for the secret ending which will take you around 80 hours or so, it is still a nice solid game, and it makes a lot of improvements. It still isn't quite the next big Final Fantasy that many fans are looking for, but it's a great sequel to the original, and it's really nice to see old (core) features return. Sure there's only two real party members and one hundreds or so monsters to use, but that doesn't change the fact that this game deserves a spot on this list for being what it is.
Although Valkyria chronicles is a mix between a Real Time Strategy and Turn Based Strategy game, it is still a Tactical Japanese Role Playing game, and because of that, I decided to include it on this list.
Valkyria Chronicles is a Playstation 3 exclusive which follows the story of a young man named Welkin, and a young woman named Alicia as they fight during this world's version of World War II. After their home is attacked, and they are forced to retreat, both characters, and Welkin's sister/ace tank driver Isara, find themselves joining the militia, and fighting to take back their home from the Imperial forces. Along the way they meet many different people, Welkin reunites with his old friend Faldio, and during all of the chaos, they end up uncovering the truth about the legendary valkyria (an ancient race with amazing powers). The game's story is filled with action, drama, romance, and mystery, making it one of the best stories you'll ever see on the PS3.
The gameplay of Valkyria Chronicles is just as good, if not better, as the story as well. Although the game is a Turn Based Strategy, it does not follow the traditional set up. At the start of each turn see a map view of the entire battlefield, with all of your units marked, and all enemy units within your unit's eye sight marked. Really the overview basically is just there to give you an idea of what is going on in the battlefield, and help plan your strategy, but it also allows you to pick the units you are going to move as well. At the start of each turn you'll gain command points which you can spend to command your units, but unlike in other TBS style games, you can move the same unit more than once.
Every time you take control of a unit you switch to a third person point of view, and you have FULL control over said unit. You can move anywhere you want, you can aim your guns to shoot at your targets, you can take cover behind objects, and you can also get shot by enemy units! Because of this set up, you really aren't limited on what you do, but you are limited on how far you can walk, and you are also limited on accuracy. While snipers allow you to zoom in to get head shots, other weapons, such as SMGs, have a much wider spread of bullets, and because of that you need to get in close if you want to land your hits. Throughout the game you can buy new equipment and upgrade them, but different types of weapons still have their own strong points and weaknesses. Still, like I said, you can spend as many CP to move each unit as many time as you want, up until you run out of CP. The only down side is that your movement is decreased by half each time...
Like in other TBS games units can also die in Valkyria Chronicles if you don't save them in time, there are extra challenge missions to play through, you can train classes and level them up as groups (which means you don't have to worry about using a new unit for the first time), and each character has their own stats as well; however there is one completely new feature that Valkyria Chronicles brings to the table, which really adds a lot of thought to your team set up. The personality/ability system.
Every single character has their own unique personality, and because of that they all react differently on the battlefield. Characters who like to talk a lot will talk to the units around them and distract them, units who are scared of getting dirty will do worse when they are laying in tall grass, units who have phobias will have a hard time facing them phobias, units who hate other units will do worse around them, and units who have friends will fight harder when around them as well. Because of this system you really have to plan out your units, and figure out who is best where, and who you should keep away from who. You really don't want units that harm other units crossing paths, or else you may find yourself in some serious trouble.
Valkyria Chronicles really is a unique game, and is one of them few rare TBS games that actually give you FULL control over what is going on. Just like in a RTS, you can move anywhere you can see, and all attacking is done in real time as well. It really is a unique game, and it has a great story to top it all off. If it wasn't for the next two games on this list, this one would have been number one.
Tales of Vesperia is widely known as one of the best JRPGs on the 360, and I have to agree. Like other Tales of games, Tales of Vesperia is a "standard" JRPG with a world map set up, there are dungeons you must run through, towns you will explore, NPCs you will talk to, side quests you will complete, and a main story, but there is really much more too it than that.
Tales of Vesperia follows the story of young man named Yuri who wakes up only to find that the power source of his town's fountain has been stolen, and water is spraying everywhere. After deciding to go up to the higher class areas of the city to track down the thief, Yuri gets arrested by some knights, and gets thrown in jail. After spending most of the day in the slammer, Yuri finally decides to sneak out at night to check up on the town, but on his way out, once again, something completely unexpected happens. He meets the princess, who is also trying to escape the castle in order to warn a man named Flynn (who happens to be Yuri's best friend) about some upcoming danger. Long story short, Yuri decides to help her escape, both of them leave the city (which most people never do since it's so dangerous), and they both end up setting out on a quest to complete their own goals. Estelle, the princess, decides to search for Flynn, while Yuri heads out looking for the missing power source.
At first Tales of Vesperia may seem like the standard JRPG story, but it really isn't! Yuri's character is the complete opposite of what you would expect from a JRPG hero, and that really adds a lot to the game. He's the more calm, cool, and collective type of character who is also willing to take risks, play jokes from time to time, and get his hands dirty if needed; Yuri is basically that "darker and cooler" character who you would expect to show up the main character later on, while his friend Flynn is actually what you would consider the standard JRPG hero. The fact that Tales of Vesperia switches these roles around really helps keep the game interesting, and it really helps make the story unique. On top of that, Tales of Vesperia really doesn't have that "save the world" style storyline that most of you may have come to expect. The characters move from town to town, they meet other unique characters, and they slowly solve other peoples problems as they work toward their own "small" goals. Sure things do pick up near the end of the game, but for the most part, the game is a nice change of pace.
Like in Tales of Graces f, Vesperia also has hundreds of side quests which can be missed, there are extras to unlock, mini games to play, hundreds of extra skits to watch, and all of the characters are VERY likeable! Sure you may find one of the characters annoying, but one annoying character is a small price to pay for having such a great game packed full of content! As for the combat... Well... It's real time! (Just like always!)
Although Tales of Vesperia's combat system is different than Graces f's, it is still in real time, and it still focuses heavily on combos. Each battle plays from a side view like a 2D fighter, and just like in a 2D fighter it requires you to pull off different combos in order to take down your enemies. Once again you can switch between different characters, and each character has different play styles, but most of the time you'll just end up sticking with your favorite character.
So anyway, Tales of Vesperia is a great game, especially if you love "classic" style JRPGs that use the world map set up! The characters are great, the story is great (although it starts out a bit slow), the gameplay is addicting, the cell shaded graphics are really nice, and the world is a world that can easily pull you in. This game really deserves the second spot on this list! (Sadly the PS3 version, which has more content, was never released in the west.)
Here we are, what I would consider the best JRPG of this generation! Xenoblade Chronicles!
Xenoblade Chronicles is easily one of the biggest JRPGs to be released in a long time, and the funny thing is, it was released on the Nintendo Wii! The game takes place on the bodies of two dead giants which apparently destroyed the world as they battled for control of it. After the battle ended, both giants were killed, they were frozen in place, and life was soon born on their corpses. While humans (homs) and other organic races were born on the giant known as the Bionis, mechanical lifeforms, known as mechon, were born on the Mechonis; however, the races didn't really get along.
After his town is attacked by mechon, a young man named Shulk finds himself setting out on a quest to get revenge. It turns out that Shulk is the only person who can control the legendary sword called the Monado, and with it he plans to completely destroy the mechon once and for all; however he soon learns there is much more to the world than meets his eyes. Although the monado itself is a mystery, and one that he has been studying for a long time, the true history behind the Bionis and Mechonis is a mystery as well, and Shulk, as well as his friends he meets along the way, find themselves caught in the middle of that mysterious past. They soon learn that everything isn't as it seems, and the true nature of the monado comes to light.
So, Xenoblade sounds like it has some generic JRPG story right? Well, that couldn't be any farther from the truth! Although the story really doesn't pick up for quite some time, there is one element which helps keep it unique. The element of not being surprised! Thanks to the monado (or xenoblade), Shulk has the ability to see short glimpses of the future, and by using this he is able to fight to change fate! Throughout the entire game you'll see pieces of the future, and you can't help but feel on edge as you see poor Shulk try to do everything he can to stop it. It really helps add tension to the story, but at the same time, it leads the story down MANY different plot twists which, as a player, I would have NEVER expected! I can't count the times the game just left me looking at the screen in total disbelief, and that is something I've rarely had happen to me while playing a JRPG!
Still, the story is just a bonus, the real reason this game stands out above all others this generation is it's gameplay! Back when Xenoblade was being released the developers stated that the game's world would be close to the size of Japan, and, well, they weren't kidding! The world in Xenoblade is MASSIVE! Everything your eyes can see, can be walked to, and you can easily spend hours just traveling through and exploring this world! Fields are wide open, monsters roam around as the game's wildlife, there are rivers and oceans you can swim across, you can climb up and jump down mountains, there are caves and hidden paths to find, there are towns to explore (and even a town to rebuild), and to help bring it all together, the world is a living one!
The game uses a full 24 hour clock system, where different events happen at different times, and different weather systems as well, but that isn't all. Yes to go along with the open world is the clock system, but to go along with the clock system is this whole friendship and quest system! Every single NPC in the game has an opinion about the other NPCs, and they will treat everyone differently based on YOUR actions! The game features hundreds of side quests which will require you to fully explore this world, but by doing these side quests, and by helping different people, you will cause others to form opinions on you, as well as the people you helped. For example if you help one person fall in love with someone else, you may actually be hurting another person who was in love with the person you just helped. In return this person will now most likely hate you, they'll have strong feelings about the person who married their true love, and it also might keep them from giving you the quest that they might have sent you on. On top of that, each and every single NPC has their own daily schedule, that they WILL follow, and because of that you will only be able to do different events/quests at different times. So basically, in this game's open world there are hundreds of people, each of these people have their own personalities and feelings and daily schedules, and because of these personalities and daily schedules, you just never really know what will happen, or what kind of side quests they will send you on.
Besides the whole world and NPC set up, there is also a great amount of customization in this game as well! Every single piece of equipment changes what your characters look like, each piece equipment has its own pros and cons, there are MANY different types of gems you can craft to put in your equipment slots to get different abilities, there are different passive abilities your characters can learn (and share with their friends), and there are also different attack abilities your characters can level up and learn as well! Although the game's combat is a lot like White Knight Chronicles, where you set attacks to your quick bar and use them to attack, thanks to the monado itself, there's also a much more advance system as well.
Like in the story, the monado allows you to see the future of your battles, and because of that you can actually try to prevent anything bad from happening. For example if an enemy is about to kill you, you can use your manado's shield power to protect your party member from getting killed, or you can even just flat out kill the enemy before it even gets a chance to go through with it! Yes there is much more to this system and the monado's powers, but this is such a great game, I really don't want to spoil it in this top 10 list.
Anyway Xenoblade is, well, flat out massive! The world is huge, you can spend HOURS exploring it, all of the characters are unique and fun to play as, you can preform actions that are normally left out of JRPGs (such as jumping and swimming), the gameplay is great, the story is filled with twists which will SHOCK YOU, there is a great amount of customization, there are hundreds of side quests to complete, the NPC system is deep, and above all, it is just plain fun! Due to the scale of the world, and this game's content, by the time you finish it, you will actually feel like you had an adventure. You walked through that world at a 1:1 scale, you lived the life of them characters, and you got to be a part of that world's community. It truly is a unique game, and it is by far, not only one of the best JRPGs of this generation, one of the best JRPGs ever created.
So, in the end, even after all of these years, JRPGs are still popular, and just as fun as ever. While the handheld JRPGs tend to stick to the JRPG roots, this generation's console JRPGs aren't scared to take risks, and because of that, they have became known as some of the most unique games this generation. While other genres tend to stick to their "safe zone," these JRPGs decided to do both, head for parts unknown, and stick to what fans know and love.
Whoever said JRPGs are dead, hasn't played one in awhile.
Also I would like to point out that there are many, MANY, other great JRPGs out there, and I recommend for any of you JRPG fans out there to play them. From games like Resonance of Fate, to The Last Story, I'm sure you'll find most of them to be quite enjoyable. It really is too bad that there was only room for ten spots on this list...
List by NettoSaito (08/29/2012)
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