What JRPGs to play?

In my last post, I talked about what makes a JRPG different than a WRPG due to a personal conquest of mine to take on all JRPGs ever made. But this leads me to the next query of what JRPGs I actually will be playing for this quest. Obviously i cannot actually play them all for a number of different reasons so I figured I’d spell out what those reasons are and where I will be going with the project.

The first issue at hand is availability. JRPGs get made on every console and while emulation is great, I would like to play a real version if I can. Part of the reason for this is that I am a game collector and I think the practice will help me enlarge my collection. But also because there is something nice about sitting down, controller in hand, and playing a game that you just don’t get as much sitting at your computer. Keep in mind, while there are many JRPGs on PC (MANY), the genre largely was popularized on the console so most of the games were made with the console in mind.

Being a collector, I do have a good number of consoles. As of this writing the consoles i own are as follows:

  • Atari 2600
  • NES
  • Genesis
  • SNES
  • Playstation
  • N64
  • Dreamcast
  • Playstation 2
  • Gamecube
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • Wii
  • Wii U
  • Retron 5
  • Game Boy
  • Game Boy Color
  • Game Gear
  • Game Boy Advance
  • DS
  • PSP
  • Playstation Vita
  • 3DS
  • New 3DS
  • And of course… the PC.

As you can tell, I have A  LOT of systems to choose from. But I have some obvious gaps in coverage and many of these gaps are strong in the JRPG genre. My collection of consoles is going to grow as time goes on but to begin with, my selection of games will be limited by what I can play. For fun’s sake, the consoles that are currently highest priority for me to purchase going forward are as follows in no particular order:

  • Playstation 3
  • Playstation 4
  • Sega Saturn
  • Neo Geo AVS
  • Virtual Boy

Availability of what systems I have isn’t the only issue. Many JRPGs were made in Japan and were never brought over to the United States. And while I have limited knowledge of Japanese, it is that of probably a 5 year old if that lol. I do have a Rertron 5 so this keeps the door open for me to be able to import Japanese games and play them, and not only that patch them with an English translation. It is quite wonderful. But I am sure there will be more than one game where there is no English translation and/or the game is just too rare to be able to find.

EDIT 4/4/17 – Since this article, I have attained a Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and Nintendo Switch. I do believe that these will be the last major system purchase for quite awhile. I’m pretty happy with what I have overall.

The next issue we have revolves around which version do we play? Meaning, many JRPGs in particular tend to find themselves with re-releases and remakes. Final Fantasy is a good series to point to to see this happening. But you see it with Pokemon as well and many other games. I am obviously not going to play the same game 5 times just because it gets re-released.  For this, it’s going to largely be a judgement call. I will need to look at each version and see what it offers. My general feeling is to stick with the original version for Square games whenever possible because they like to change game mechanics in a bad way. For instance in FF1 newer versions take out the strategy of guessing how much health a monster has so that you don’t double up on one foe, and they also add in true random creature generation. Both of these features that they “fix” I feel make the game worse, Square is known for this sort of thing. Pokemon however gets updated well. For instance they add in breeding into FireRed since it wasn’t available in original Red, this coupled with graphics update and new dungeons enhances the experience instead of detracting from it.

Speaking of Pokemon, we may also have games like it where there are several of the same game with minor differences. For instance, Pokemon Red, Green, Blue and Yellow are all essentially the same game. For these types of games I will choose just one per generation unless the differences in the games provide a completely new experience. (For instance, what we see from the different versions of the latest Fire Emblem.) For Pokemon, I would likely pick the “3rd version” as Nintendo usually adds additional features for it and that version is generally considered the best. However, again, it depends on what is available.

There are a few unknowns to me right now on whether I will play it or not…. Strategy/Tactic JRPGs… such as Fire Emblem. Do I count it a JRPG or a tactic RPG?  Essentially do I play these games or not? I don’t know right now. They definitely hold strong themes along with RPGs and usually are games I enjoy playing, but I don’t know if I want to go for the tried and true RPG or include tactic games. Decision to come later.

Similarly, RPG Maker games. These are a toughy because there are virtually unlimited amounts of games made by amateur designers. Many of them are crap, a few are good and worth playing. I can’t discard all of them just flat out, but I will say I think the majority of them I will leave out of this project. This will be a case by case decision, I think, for the most part, with the intent of leaving them out almost entirely. If I include one, it will be the exception. Truthfully, there’s so many of these, you could probably make an entire project out of RPG maker and have it take years.