Tag Archives: Games

Endgame: Top Three Favorite Final Bosses

A common element of video games are boss battles. These are fights that test the player’s skill and ability. So with final bosses, it’s no surprise that they are a true test of skill. Every journey has an endgame, and video games are no exception. These are my top three favorite final bosses in gaming.

WARNING: There are massive spoilers ahead for the games that will be covered. So proceed at your own risk.

#3: Grima – Fire Emblem Awakening

There’s a lot I love about Awakening, and its final boss is no exception. The journey has led the main character and the Shepherds to their fateful encounter with the Fell Dragon Grima. It turns out the protagonist is the vessel of Grima, created to bring the Fell Dragon back into the world. However, given the events of the game, the protagonist chooses to defy their destiny and slay the dragon. Joined by their close friends and allies, the protagonist charges into battle atop the back of Grima.

This battle is a tough one. Players will need to bring their tactical A-game if they want to slay Grima. Plot-wise, it serves as a great ending to a marvelous tale. Also, the music track playing during the battle (Id-Purpose) is phenomenally composed. It adds to the grandness of this final fight. Overall, the final battle against Grima is a very enjoyable one.

#2: The Final Hazard – Sonic Adventure 2

Surprisingly, my favorite game of all time only has my second favorite final boss of all time. However, that is a not a sleight against the Final Hazard. This fight is just plain epic. Two super-powered hedgehogs fight a giant lizard that has merged with a space colony that is on a collision course with Earth. If that isn’t enough, a fantastic rock song is playing in the background too (Live and Learn by Crush 40).

There are only two other things I can say about this battle. One, it is an awesome wrap up to one of my favorite stories in the Sonic franchise. Secondly, it feels so good to lay the smack down on this lizard, especially after an earlier fight with it. All of that combined makes for one heck of a fight.

#1: Primal Dialga – Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky

Here is a game I haven’t talked about yet. Explorers of Sky is a phenomenal game already, and is another one of my favorite games. Consider it a #6 on my previous list. The long and epic journey that led our protagonist and their Pokemon partner to Temporal Spire is finally at an end. At least, it would seem that way. Enraged by the collapse of time, Dialga has gone mad, reverting to a primordial state. It’s up to the duo of Pokemon to defeat the outraged time deity and restore the flow of time.

This is my favorite final boss for many reasons. Primarily, it is an outstanding ending to an awesome story. Plus, I remember spending days as a kid trying to beat Primal Dialga. I will admit as an adult the battle can be pretty simple. If you know your type match-ups in Pokemon, then you’ll have this fight in the bag. However, it is still one of my favorites regardless. Lastly, the track playing throughout this clash (Dialga’s Fight to the Finish) is simply great. It adds an epic level to an already grand face-off.

Final Thoughts

There are numerous other final bosses that I have yet to face. So, this list is subject to change in the coming years. With that being said, what are your favorite final bosses? Let me know in the comments. As always, until next time my fellow nerds, peace.

Way Past Cool: 30 Years of Sonic the Hedgehog

If there is one series I’ve talked about a lot on this blog, it’s Sonic the Hedgehog. This line of games (and other media) is among one of my favorites of all time. Needless to say, I also have an extensive knowledge of the series’ history and lore. So, strap on your running shoes and grab a chili dog, this is a look at the Sonic series.

The Genesis of Sonic

Early on in the 90s, Sega had just released their Genesis console (also called “Mega Drive” in Europe and Japan). It boasted 16-bit graphics and “blast processing” (marketing mumbo-jumbo) that rivaled the Super Nintendo. However, the Genesis lacked a killer app to truly sell the console. Sega needed a mascot with true supersonic power.

Enter programmer Yuji Naka and artist Naoto Ohshima, the two men credited with creating Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic himself went through several different concepts before he became the iconic blue hedgehog. In fact, one of the designs had him as a rabbit.

Concept artwork of Sonic. (Photo credit: SEGAbits)

Once all was settled on the design, the game took shape. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991) was initially released on June 23, 1991 for the Sega Genesis. It would go on to be a modest success for Sega. From there on, the rest is history.

My History With the Series

I remember my first interaction with the Sonic franchise was the animated series simply called Sonic the Hedgehog. It was probably around 2003 when I was at a Blockbuster Video with my parents. I had picked out a VHS of the cartoon because it looked cool. After watching a few episodes, I became a fan. Little did I know that this hedgehog had a whole series of video games, comics, and other media behind him.

The intro to the cartoon. (Credit: 90sCartoonIntros on YouTube)

My earliest memory with the games is with Sonic Advance on the Game Boy Advance and Sonic Adventure 2 Battle on the GameCube. Sonic Advance is a two-dimensional platformer that returned Sonic to his roots. There wasn’t much of a story to the game, but it’s still a very solid experience. It eventually got two sequels.

Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was what completely sold me on the series. As currently being my favorite game of all time, there’s a lot I could say about this game. However, I already covered it in a previous post. Safe to say, the game means a lot to me.

From then on, I was a total Sonic fan. I read the comic books published by Archie Comics, I watched the anime, I bought the music CDs, and I even saw the recent movie. (In my opinion, the movie’s pretty decent!)

Final Thoughts

Though I have my gripes with the series’ current direction, overall I love the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. While I haven’t been around for all 30 years of its history, I’ve seen enough of it to be a fan. What are some game series you love? Let me know in the comments. As always, until next time my fellow nerds, peace,

A Simple Demonstration: The Need for Game Demos

As far back as I can remember, game demos have been a constant in the gaming industry. In the early days, you had demo discs or even kiosks at Toys “R” Us (or other retail stores). Nowadays, you have downloadable demos. However, it seems for a time demos weren’t as common. This week, I’m going to take a brief look at two demos, how they influenced my decision-making, and why demos are a good practice.

Exhibit A: Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl

I knew someday I would get around to talking about Etrian Odyssey, and today’s the day. Untold: The Millennium Girl is a full on remake of the first Etrian Odyssey. This series is a relatively niche one, as it is a first person, dungeon crawling, turn-based JRPG.

I had heard about the series for some time before I tried out the demo for Untold: The Millennium Girl. At the time, the only game I had played that was similar to Etrian Odyssey was Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth. I was at least familiar with the game play style, but everything else was brand new when I played the demo.

It was a bit different from your standard JRPG, which ultimately sold me on the game in time. The main point here is that the demo of the game was solid enough to get me to eventually purchase the full game. I still have yet to finish it, but I’m glad I bought into the Etrian Odyssey series. That is all thanks to the demo.

If you are interested in checking out the demo for yourself, it’s available for free on the Nintendo 3DS eShop.

Battle game play of Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. (Photo credit: Atlus).

Exhibit B: Balan Wonderworld

Here is a case of high hopes that turned into deep disappointment. To give a bit of background, Balan Wonderworld was being developed by ex-Sonic the Hedgehog developers Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima. These two gents were responsible for creating the Blue Blur. As a big fan of that series, I had my hopes for what they could with Balan Wonderworld.

Needless to say, those hopes were dashed.

When I tried out the demo for this game, I went in with an open mind. However. I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy what was an unfinished and bland platformer. I’ll admit, I originally planned on buying the game day one. Boy, am I glad this demo came out before the game itself released.

In this case, the demo gave me a good enough feel for Balan Wonderworld. Good enough that I canceled my order for the game. Ultimately, this is a scenario where a demo can help weed out a bad game.

If you are interested in experiencing Balan Wonderworld for yourself, there is still a free demo available on the Nintendo Switch, the PS4/PS5, and Xbox One/Series X.

Screenshot of game play from Balan Wonderworld. (Photo credit: Square Enix).

The Point of It All

Overall, game demos are an important part of the decision-making process for buying a game. They allow you to essentially take the game out for a test run. This helps you come to a decision on whether to a buy a game.

It can even be a source of change for game development. In some cases, some developers use feedback from demos to change or fix their games. This happened with games like Daemon X Machina and Octopath Traveler.

In short, game demos can be a great practice to employ.

Final Thoughts

I think game demos have a lot to offer for consumers and developers alike. What are some game demos that made or broke the game for you? Let me know in the comments. As always, until next time my fellow nerds, peace.

Archiving the Past: Why Game Preservation Matters

With the recent news of Sony shuttering the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita’s online stores, an important question has been raised: how do we preserve video games? This question has been around for quite some time now, but it’s all the more relevant as game companies are pushing for an all-digital future. In this week’s post, I will be breaking down what game preservation is, how it’s done, the challenges facing it, and why it matters.

What is game preservation?

Simply put, it’s exactly as it sounds. Game preservation is the matter of keeping games in-tact and saved for continued (and future) use.

To compare it to other media, think of film archives. There are whole foundations out there dedicated to the preservation of movies. These foundations do this so that older films (or even newer ones) aren’t lost to history. Believe it or not, lots of media ends up getting lost because no one ever thought to save them for later. In fact, it is such a common thing that there are entire forums and communities online dedicated to finding “lost media.”

So, is it as simple as just saving your discs or cartridges for years on end? Not exactly.

How are games preserved?

It really depends on the game’s format. DVD-based games can at least be put in a disc drive on a computer and have their data imaged onto a hard drive. Cartridges, on the other hand, take a bit more of a work-around to preserve. (That could be another post in and of itself, so for the sake of brevity, I will link you to a great post from Hackaday about cartridge preservation).

One way of preserving these games is through emulation. Software emulation allows for games on older consoles like the NES, PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast, and the like to be played on PCs (or even phones). Emulation is a thing that has been around for years now, with some consoles even making use of it these days.

There are other ways of preserving games, though it gets harder for a layman like me to explain. At the end of this post, I will link to other articles that can go into further detail.

The challenges of preservation

To be blunt, nothing lasts forever. Physical media is a great testament to this reality. Over time, the processes on these physical formats like discs and cartridges will be unable to be performed. Whether it be due to age or just physical rot, large sections of data will become inaccessible on these formats.

What about digital media? Well, so long as they are bound to physical devices, they have a limit too. Game consoles after a certain point just stop working, rendering the games on them unplayable.

A huge problem for both digital and physical game owners just reared its head recently with the PS4. According to Twitter user “Does It Play?”, once the internal clock on a PS4 dies, both digital and physical games are unable to be played.

Without even getting into the legal quandaries of game preservation, it is already easy to see why preservation can be challenging. However, I would argue that it’s ultimately worth it.

Why game preservation matters

To be brief, video games are an important part of modern culture. While other forms of media are often preserved, games don’t get the same treatment.

There is a lot to be learned from video games. Business, marketing, development, culture, and trends are just some things that can be gleaned from studying video game history. To lose a vital part of modern technology’s history would be a mistake. Heck, to lose any part of history would be a grave mistake.

Preservation of games and media in general is an integral part of remembering who we are as a species and where we came from. As the old adage rings true: those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it.

Final Thoughts

This was a topic that I wanted to cover for quite some time. Fortunately, the renewed interest in preservation gave me good reason to talk about it. At the end of this post will be links to other articles on the matter and to foundations committed to preserving games. (Just a note, I am not affiliated with any of these sites and am not receiving any type of gain from them).

What do you all think about this issue? Leave your comments and thoughts below. As always, until next time my fellow nerds, peace.

Further Reading



Groups for Video Game Preservation


Home page of the Video Game History Foundation

The Great Escape: Video Games and Escapism

We all know how great this past year has been. A global pandemic, draconian lock downs, civil unrest, etc. When the world plunges itself into utter and nearly inescapable chaos, where do people have left to turn? One method is escapism.

What is escapism?

Escapism is best defined as using fantasy or imagination to distract yourself from reality. At its core, escapism provides humanity a way to look away from their troubles and stresses, even if only for a fleeting moment. In some ways, it’s an essential part of life because it lets people cope with the negative aspects of their real lives.

However, too much escapism can be a detrimental thing. There’s a difference in indulging in escapist fantasy occasionally and literally living in a fantasy world. Escaping reality shouldn’t come at the cost of living your actual life. Though, that’s enough of my personal advice for one post.

Aside from that, at its most basic, escapism could be seen as idly daydreaming. However, it can take many forms: music, books, television/film, writing, art, or even sports. The form of escapism I’m interested in discussing here is, surprisingly enough, the world of video games.

How are video games an escape?

Video games provide a fantasy for players to partake in. This fantasy is all dependent on the person, though. Some wish to slay dragons and explore a vast open world. Others may just want to race around in luxury cars and wreak havoc in the city. Fortunately, video games offer a rich and diverse selection of worlds to explore, all with their own unique stories. I’d argue that there are games out there for everyone to enjoy, it just takes a little looking.

While this is all well and good, exactly how are video games an escape? Again, it’s all about appealing to the individual’s fantasies. Games allow players to actively engage in that fantasy, creating a stronger escapist experience overall. The level of need or want to see those fantasies satisfied is going to vary depending upon the person. When those are fulfilled, a game has done its job.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’d say video games are my go-to form of escapism. They provide just enough of an interactive fantasy that other mediums don’t. However, that isn’t to discredit other methods of escapism. That brings me to my question for the week: what are your favorite ways to escape reality? Let me know in the comments! Until next time my fellow nerds, peace.

My Top 5 Favorite Video Games

So, keeping in-line with the gaming theme, this week I will talk about my five favorite video games of all time. Bear in mind, this list is completely subjective and not fact. With that settled, let’s get right into it.

#5: Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate

While not my initial foray into the Monster Hunter series (that would be Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate), Generations Ultimate is what made me love the games. This series has you, the Hunter, track down and kill various monsters. There is very little story to this entry, but I feel it’s a game that doesn’t really need it. All I need, personally, are my weapons, some supplies, and a daunting monster to hunt.

Generations Ultimate fulfills that need to a great degree. Every monster has some unique elements to it, making it necessary to prep and strategize for your hunt. (Or you could just charge in head first without a plan, I won’t judge). I’ve died so many times to certain monsters (mainly the Khezu and Cephadrome) that after a while, I had to break from the game for a bit. Even still, I’d come back and try something different, eventually beating these behemoths. The game is all about learning, watching, and waiting for the right moment to strike.

Other things I love about Generations Ultimate are the monsters themselves, the weapons, and the armor. Mainly, I love the designs and motifs of these three. Monsters come in many varieties, ranging from giant fiery chickens to leech dragons. Weapons also share in this swath of styles. Some of my favorite weapons conceptually are the Windeater, Kut-Ku Pick, and the Airship Hammer. Finally, armor sets are no slouch either. Armor sets can either look sleek and cool or bulky and tank-like. Of course, these all depend on your play style. (Side note: I mainly use Blademaster builds and weaponry).

Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate may be a game where you hit monsters until they’re dead, but that process is very enjoyable nonetheless.

One of my many early-game hunts against the Yian Kut-Ku. (Copyright: Capcom)

#4: Persona 5

Here is a game I remember being rather hyped for back when I was a teenager. I had loved playing through parts of Persona 4 and Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, so it was only natural to be excited for the next installment. Simply put, the Phantom Thieves managed to take my heart after playing Persona 5.

There are many aspects of this game that I enjoy, like the story, characters, soundtrack, art style, and game play. To completely go over every aspect listed would take its own separate post, so I’ll try to keep things brief here. Persona 5 exudes style with substance all throughout the game. While it is a longer title (my first run of the game had taken me over 115 hours to complete), I feel it is an experience worth having.

To summarize my thoughts, I appreciate the themes and topics this game goes for. Persona 5 focuses its story on changing the hearts of corrupt individuals in society. It essentially asks the question: “Can people truly be reformed and have a change of heart?” I’m not going to spoil anything about the plot, so you will have to find out the answers yourself.

The game play, to me at least, is one of the better turn-based RPGs in recent memory. (Though, that isn’t counting out games like Dragon Quest XI or Etrian Odyssey). Its soundtrack is outstanding and its art style is rather unique. With all of these put together, it amounts to one of my favorite games. As far as Persona 5 Royal goes, I’d say play that version if you have yet to experience Persona 5 at all. It is the definitive edition of the two.

Screenshot of Persona 5 game play. (Photo credit: Atlus).

#3: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Now, this is a game that helped me get into RPGs in general. Fire Emblem: Awakening is the thirteenth entry in the long-standing Fire Emblem series. As it stands, this entry is my favorite of the series. (Though, Three Houses is certainly trailing it closely). Awakening is a lot of things to me, chiefly among them is being fantastic.

Everything about this game stands out to me still, even eight years after I initially played it. The characters are well-written, the story is gripping, the music is downright amazing, and the game play is great too. Awakening is an outstanding game and a rich experience.

Part of me thinks this much effort and detail were put in since this was potentially the last Fire Emblem title. At the time, the series’ developer Intelligent Systems was struggling financially. If Awakening did not succeed, they would have had to close up shop. Fortunately, the effort Intelligent Systems put forth was not in vain. Either way, I can tell the developers wanted to go all out with this installment.

Again, I could devote a post of its own to this game and the others on this list too. However, the main thing I love about this game is its cast of characters. They all stand out in my memory as characters that felt realistic for once. Plus, all of their backstories and personalities endeared me to the game even more. Overall, Fire Emblem: Awakening is a fantastic and memorable time to be had.

Screenshot of battle game play featuring Stahl and Sumia. (Photo credit: Nintendo).

#2: Pokemon Black/Pokemon Black 2

Ah yes, the Pokemon games. This was a truly difficult call to make, as a few games in the mainline series contend for being my favorite. (Ones that did not make the cut: Soul Silver, Platinum, and Emerald). Ultimately, it came down to the fifth generation of the series with a tied entry between Pokemon Black and its sequel Pokemon Black 2.

Honestly, this is where the series peaked in overall quality for me. There was a lot of heart and effort put into these two games. I always appreciate it when developers give it their all with games like these two. There are levels of detail and care put into Black and Black 2 that I could go on about for hours. Everything from picking your starter Pokemon in Nuvema Town (or Aspertia City) to the closing credits of Black and Black 2 is so wonderfully constructed.

If there’s one thing that should be obvious by now is that I am a sucker for a good story. The overarching story line in these two games is, in my opinion, the best mainline Pokemon has put forth yet. While simplistic, the story line is well-told. At the end of Black 2, it felt like the true end of a long and fulfilling journey through the Unova region.

Of course, need I say anything about the presentation of the games? The graphics and music help bring this game to life. Pokemon are, at last, fully animated in battle with beautiful sprite art. Its soundtrack is epic and fitting of a timeless adventure. In addition, the game play is the Pokemon standard I have come to love.

These two games are what I would call a complete package deal. That is the reason why the two are tied for my favorite Pokemon game. To fully enjoy the fifth generation, it is best to play both entries. In all honesty, Pokemon Black and Pokemon Black 2 are the definitive Pokemon experience.

So, while I may have gushed a bit here, what could possibly top #2?

Screenshot of the over world in Pokemon Black. (Photo credit: Nintendo).

#1: Sonic Adventure 2 Battle

Well, there’s one out of the blue. For a list that mainly consisted of RPGs, it may come as a surprise that my all time favorite game is a platformer. Namely, that platforming game is none other than Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. The Sonic the Hedgehog series has always held a special place in my heart for getting me into video games. I have been a fan of the series for about 17 years now, so I think it’s only natural that one of the games made this list.

Enough intro though. Why is Sonic Adventure 2 Battle my favorite game? Simply put, it’s a game I can go back to no matter the occasion. Whenever I get the itch to play a platforming game or a Sonic game, this one is usually the first I go to. (Although, Sonic Mania is another one of the hedgehog’s games I revisit frequently, too). This game is a real rush and thrill to play, especially when playing as either Sonic or Shadow. That’s not to say the other characters aren’t fun to play as too. Knuckles and Rouge’s treasure hunting stages are great for exploration. Meanwhile, Tails and Dr. Eggman’s mech shooting stages are excellent for wreaking havoc and destruction. All three play styles have their own unique charms and the like.

Otherwise, what else do I love about this game? For starters, the story is rather engaging and serious for a Sonic the Hedgehog game. It shows that this series can handle darker/more serious themes in its stories. Another thing I enjoy about this title is its soundtrack. There’s a lot of variety here, ranging from rock to admittedly cheesy rap music. The soundtrack is one of my favorites in the series just for its variety and greatness. Overall, these elements combine to give you a feeling of one epic adventure.

While the latest Sonic games have been disappointing (save for Mania), Sonic Adventure 2 Battle shows me this series has a lot of unused potential. However, that is a topic for another day.

I have a lot of memories of this game, and it is one of the reasons I even got into gaming to begin with. Even though there’s a little bit of nostalgia for it, Sonic Adventure 2 Battle reigns supreme as my favorite video game.

Sonic running through a checkpoint in City Escape. (Photo credit: Sega).

Final Thoughts

There you have it, my top five favorite video games of all time! Of course, there are tons of other games I love. However, to keep this post from going on any longer than it needs to, I shortened it to the top five. What are your top five favorite games? Or just your favorites in general? Feel free to let me know in the comments! Until next time my fellow nerds, peace.

The JRPG: A History and Analysis

There is a genre of games I love above most others: JRPGs. JRPG stands for “Japanese role-playing game,” and obviously, it means it is a role-playing game made in Japan. The most noticeable aspect of these games, at least at first glance, is their anime/manga art style. Though, there is more to this genre than just outward appearances. In fact, JRPGs can be much more than what meets the eye. Let’s take a look at the history of the genre and its common tropes.

A Brief History

From Tabletop to Computer

To understand the JRPG, we must take a look at the fledgling RPG genre back in the 1970s and 80s. Interestingly enough, the first RPG was not even a video game at all. It was a tabletop game called Dungeons and Dragons, which first released in 1974. Dungeons and Dragons is fairly well-known these days, though it was more of a cult phenomenon back in the late 20th century. The game allows players to create characters from a wide variety of races and classes. Players then take on the role of the characters they created in campaigns (basically like a story mode in a video game). It is easy to see how the game gained a large and devoted following, as it allowed a unique form of escapism.

Cover for the 5th Edition’s Player’s Handbook. (Photo credit: Wizards of the Coast).

In the words of my first Dungeon Master (or DM), “Dungeons and Dragons is essentially the granddaddy of all RPGs.” Indeed it is, as many aspects of this humble tabletop game would go on to influence the genre for decades to come. This influence can be seen in the popular computer role-playing games of the 80s, Wizardry and Ultima. These two were rather successful in western countries, however, they did not see much play in Japan. Though, things would begin to change in 1984 when The Black Onyx released in Japan for the PC-8801. This game was very similar to Ultima in design, yet it did considerably well in Japan. It was even the best selling PC game in 1984, selling over 150,000 copies. The success of The Black Onyx would help popularize the RPG genre in Japan.

Soon enough, one of the more famous JRPGs would draw near.

Making the Genre More Accessible

Inspired by the likes of Wizardry and Ultima, Japanese game designer Yuji Horii wanted to make his own role-playing game that would be accessible to those who never played the genre.

“At the time I first made Dragon Quest, computer and video game RPGs were still very much in the realm of hardcore fans and not very accessible to other players. So I decided to create a system that was easy to understand and emotionally involving, and then placed my story within that framework.”

– Yuji Horii

Dragon Quest would be released in May 1986 for the Nintendo Famicom, Players were tasked with defeating a malevolent being known as the “Dragonlord.” The game also featured a turn-based battle system, random encounters, and an expansive world to explore. These core concepts would go on to influence many JRPGs in the coming years.

Many people will cite the first Dragon Quest as the point where RPGs started to hit the mainstream in Japan. In fact, some even consider its release and success to be a paradigm shift in gaming history. Dragon Quest would go on to sell over 2 million copies in Japan alone.

So, what really makes a JRPG what it is? Time to find out.

What Defines the Genre?

It would be easy (and somewhat naive) to say that a JRPG is defined solely based on its art style. While again at first glance, the usual anime art style would seem to confirm a game’s JRPG nature, there are many other things to see.

An Emphasis on Story

The first major aspect of JRPGs is the focus on story. JRPGs feature a wide variety of story lines, from more lighthearted fare like the Neptunia series to philosophical/mythical fare like the Megami Tensei or Xeno series.

To give an example, a game like Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne focuses on a struggle between humanity and supernatural forces (like gods and demons). The game centers its conflict on varying philosophies of where creation should go in the aftermath of the apocalypse. Essentially, it is up to the player character to choose which philosophy to align with and fight to see it through.

Screenshot of game play in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. (Photo credit: Atlus).

That is just one example, though. While it is hard to pin down a unifying aspect for most JRPG stories (given how diverse they are), there is one common ground. This is the emphasis on storytelling that most have, as the developers behind JRPGs put a lot of effort into crafting well-told narratives. In fact, many fans of the genre flock to it because of the stories that are being told. Not every JRPG has the greatest plot, but the ones that do shine bright.

In addition, humans are inherently drawn to storytelling. This is somewhat of an evolutionary and psychological trait that we all share. So, when a genre is known for its stories, it is only natural that there are people who love JRPGs. Though, storytelling is only one part of the JRPG equation. The other part is the game play itself.

Playing the Role

There are a few different types of JRPGs, some of the most prominent being turn-based, action, and tactical/strategy.

Turn-based JRPGs are exactly as they sound, it is where you wait your turn to take action. Some might call this type of game play “outdated” or “archaic.” Many disagree, though, as turn-based JRPGs still have a lot to offer outside of a traditional feel to them. However, this is a topic for another day.

In action JRPGs, you are given near-total control over the playable characters. You dive right into battles that have a lot of flash and, well, action in them. Most modern JRPGs opt for this kind of style over turn-based. (On a side note: this has led to quite a divide amongst JRPG fans arguing over if turn-based or action is better).

Finally, there is the tactical/strategy JRPGs. This sub-genre can sometimes be compared to playing a game of chess. These games are often a bit slower-paced and methodical. Admittedly, this is what causes them to be more niche than the other two. Ultimately, this type is better suited for players who have some patience and tactical wit.

With all that in mind, what makes these types of game play important? Well, because they are united by one key trait: role-playing. Role-playing games, including JRPGs, are great at making you feel like an active part of the game’s world. It creates an unique kind of immersion that other genres do not. When you have your own character (or are represented by one), there is a greater tie between you and the game. In turn, that creates somewhat of a personal investment in the game play and the plot. It is this integration of game play, role-playing, and story that makes JRPGs (and RPGs in general) so enthralling to experience.

Final Thoughts

While there are numerous other tropes I could cover, I feel that this covers the basics well enough. If I wrote any more than there already is, I think my post would drag on for too long.

In short, JRPGs have a great deal to offer players in terms of story, immersion, and game play. It is such a rich and diverse genre below the surface of its “anime art style.” With that amount of variety, I believe JRPGs do have something more to offer as a whole.

Lastly, feel free to leave your thoughts on the genre or my post in the comment section. Until next time my fellow nerds, peace!