GWJ Conference Call Episode 545

GWJ presence at Pax East, Zelda: Breath of The Wild, Nintendo Switch, Tales of Berseria, Ladykiller in a Bind, Mass Effect: Andromeda, we weigh in on East vs West: Video Games, Your Emails and More!

Click here to download!

This week Amanda, Karla and Lara discuss what's so great about Japanese games.

To contact us, email call@gamerswithjobs.com! Send us your thoughts on the show, pressing issues you want to talk about or whatever else is on your mind.

  • Subscribe with iTunes
  • Subscribe with RSS
  • Subscribe with Yahoo!
Download the official apps
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android
  • Download the GWJ Conference Call app for Android

Comments

00:01:28 Zelda: Breath of The Wild
00:12:06 Mass Effect: Andromeda
00:17:26 Tales of Berseria
00:31:36 Dragon Quest Builders
00:33:55 Ladykiller in a Bind
00:43:01 The Appeal of Japanese Games
01:04:36 Your Emails

Great show this week! Especially for someone like me who has barely dipped their toe in jRPGs. Mostly I've steered clear due to having roommates at various times in my life who were super into jRPGs and not great at sharing their passion for the material. I'd end up catching bits and pieces of a plot of a Final Fantasy game here and there (often 'lesser' Final Fantasy games, so I've been told) and I'd have a hard time connecting to it. Lara in particular piqued my interest though when she talked about accessibility and the more universal demographic aims.

I'm starting to think I should check out Persona 5 and try to engage, or make a visit to the jRPG club and see if the timing works out for me to hop on to something being played there. You all definitely have me wanting a Switch now too.

Why oh why did I think when I first heard that advisory that Lara was going to have another "Elk Hunt" moment?

Amanda please prepare your sentences a little bit better. Half of what you say is "uhh" and "umm", it's really hard to listen to and makes you sound like you don't know what your talking about. Take a moment find the words and don't start every other sentence with "uhhh".

Just an FYI; Mass Effect 3 was released in 2012, so 5 years old. ;P

No comments on how we skipped 100 episodes? ;p
(I haven't listened yet)

I'm dying to know what moment got to Amanda in ME3.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

I'm starting to think I should check out Persona 5 and try to engage, or make a visit to the jRPG club and see if the timing works out for me to hop on to something being played there.

I would suggest the latter, honestly. Persona can be a bit complex for a first JRPG--there are a ton of systems at work there. Unless it changes drastically in Persona 5 (I have been on blackout for any details with the game), you have to worry about a lot of stuff (collecting demons, managing social interactions when not in a dungeon) and each action you take ticks the game time forward a little bit. You can potentially miss out on huge chunks of the game (and even get a game over outright) if you haven't managed your time, demons, and party correctly.

Unfortunately, off the top of my head I'm having trouble coming up with a lighter JRPG at the moment. I'm sure someone here or even in the JRPG club thread can help you better.

CindyTheCat65 wrote:

Just an FYI; Mass Effect 3 was released in 2012, so 5 years old. ;P

Wink_and_the_Gun wrote:

No comments on how we skipped 100 episodes? ;p
(I haven't listened yet)

Where we're going we won't need... The Normandy.

Oh, and Lara is absolutely not the only person interested in Berseria. I think someone made it his game of the week, but I can't recall whom.

I've never played a JRPG in my life, but I'm very interested in Persona 5, and after listening to today's podcast, I'm more interested than ever in the genre. I might just need to give it a try...

Starman3482 wrote:

Amanda please prepare your sentences a little bit better. Half of what you say is "uhh" and "umm", it's really hard to listen to and makes you sound like you don't know what your talking about. Take a moment find the words and don't start every other sentence with "uhhh".

Starman, please, prepare your comments a little better. Half of what you write is poorly punctuated, poorly phrased, or uses the incorrect word (*you're). It's difficult to read, and it makes you look like you're trying to make some kind of intellectual argument against someone's use of filler words, but you don't know what you're talking about. Take a moment. Find the periods, commas, and apostrophes. And don't say you're not going to call someone out by name one week and then attempt to name and shame them the next on the same topic. It's very ungentlemanly.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Starman3482 wrote:

Amanda please prepare your sentences a little bit better. Half of what you say is "uhh" and "umm", it's really hard to listen to and makes you sound like you don't know what your talking about. Take a moment find the words and don't start every other sentence with "uhhh".

Starman, please, prepare your comments a little better. Half of what you write is poorly punctuated, poorly phrased, or uses the incorrect word (*you're). It's difficult to read, and it makes you look like you're trying to make some kind of intellectual argument against someone's use of filler words, but you don't know what you're talking about. Take a moment. Find the periods, commas, and apostrophes. And don't say you're not going to call someone out by name one week and then attempt to name and shame them the next on the same topic. It's very ungentlemanly.

Plus Starman3482, equating how someone speaks to how much they know is just... stupid. Thanks for sharing how much you actually know.

This is the most enjoyable episode I've listened to in quite awhile!

Wink_and_the_Gun wrote:

No comments on how we skipped 100 episodes? ;p
(I haven't listened yet)

Mea culpa! I fixed it.

What a fantastic surprise of an episode! Turned it on just as I was pulling out of my driveway past my neighbor, might need to explain to him that my shouting and flailing around in the car was in fact an expression of joy, and not in any way directed at him. Lara/Karla/Meebs episodes are always favorites. Now I just have to figure out where to fit Berseria into this year's already packed schedule...

Hi all! Thanks kindly!

One request: Please try not to dogpile?

I'm going to assume that at least the first post was made in good faith, despite the delivery. And that, since it wasn't immediately heeded and then remedied on the next subsequent podcast, this was the result?

Some casual patterns of speech are such because they've become ingrained habits. It takes time to consciously learn or change them. That doesn't happen overnight. It's something that I've been working on over the last year. Learning to adapt my voice and speech for radio has been an exciting journey.

It may surprise you to know that this isn't the first time I've dealt with this particular ad hominem. Just kidding! No one is surprised.

The Part of Mass Effect 3 That Slayed Me wrote:
Spoiler:

He fixed the Genophage. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.

Mordin, you noble son-of-a-bitch. You were my sweet, tender genius. My Gilbert & Sullivan boy. Now you are forever one with the stars.

1) Ah, now I see where the 'dogpile' thing on the Twitters came from, Amanda.

2) I barely notice 'ummms' and 'uuuhhhhs' I don't think you come close to the Idle Thumbs guys. Chris and Nick with 'like' are like clichés of teen girls. (weird how filler speech is criticised in women and girls and feminised isn't it? *chin scratch emoji*)These podcasts are an informal conversation, not a phd dissertation or political speech.

3) Ladykiller in a Bind is a Christine Love game, so it's always going to be well done. It sounds interesting and I like her work, but my gaming PC is in the family room so I'm not sure I can play it. Maybe one day.

4) I've never really done the JRPG thing, not through any kind of principled stand, I've just always been a PC player rather than a console one. And I've never been a fan of anime art styles, but I'm getting over it. The Tales of games sound interesting, and I'm hearing good things about the new Atelier games. It's just tough to know where to jump in based on being a complete neophyte playing on PC. Especially when playing on a PC 80 hours of grind is the definition of unappealing.

I do like the idea of the juxtaposition of light hearted art style with serious themes. Western games do have nuance and humour, as mentioned, but the overall setting is usually pretty grim. They approach similar issues from opposite sides.

Starman3482 wrote:

Amanda please prepare your sentences a little bit better. Half of what you say is "uhh" and "umm", it's really hard to listen to and makes you sound like you don't know what your talking about. Take a moment find the words and don't start every other sentence with "uhhh".

I will not dog pile in accordance with Amanda's request. In hindsight I guess I did go ahead and dog pile. This just hit me personally. But as someone that has a tendency to be overly critical of listening back to all their speech habits and flaws and has even thought things such as "Jesus Christ, even my voice sounds fat", such criticism is, quite frankly, infuriating. It's not productive and is born out of ignorance. There's no actual advice on how to improve something that comes naturally to everyone in improvised conversation.

Avoiding filler words and noises is a developed skill, and even when it becomes developed you tend to replace it with pauses because you need time to think and reflect on what those around you are saying, in addition to "does what I have to say push this discussion forward?" Because there's nothing worse than speaking for one or two minutes, realizing you gave your co-hosts nothing to follow through with, and then have to continue on just to see if you can find a hook for them to snag onto (this is not in direct reference to Amanda, but an example of something I run into that generates pauses and "ums" and "likes"). This isn't like writing a script or giving a speech. It's a conversation, which means needing to think on one's feet.

It's not something you can just "switch off" or "be better prepared for". So, please, do think through your criticisms more carefully beforehand. You're essentially asking for the podcast to be scripted or for Amanda to be a robot, and neither is realistic nor is it fair.


That said, I want this trio more often. So rarely does the podcast fall into my interests, and this was probably my favorite in a long, long time. Thank you for the conversation, Lara, Karla, and Amanda.


CptDomano wrote:
TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

I'm starting to think I should check out Persona 5 and try to engage, or make a visit to the jRPG club and see if the timing works out for me to hop on to something being played there.

I would suggest the latter, honestly. Persona can be a bit complex for a first JRPG--there are a ton of systems at work there. Unless it changes drastically in Persona 5 (I have been on blackout for any details with the game), you have to worry about a lot of stuff (collecting demons, managing social interactions when not in a dungeon) and each action you take ticks the game time forward a little bit. You can potentially miss out on huge chunks of the game (and even get a game over outright) if you haven't managed your time, demons, and party correctly.

Unfortunately, off the top of my head I'm having trouble coming up with a lighter JRPG at the moment. I'm sure someone here or even in the JRPG club thread can help you better.

I think the JRPG thread or the club thread might be a good place to start another endless debate of nostalgia versus modern sensibilities and endless rankings of games, but I don't think World of Final Fantasy is the best game to begin with. It has good beginner control options, but it takes what is already a beginner RPG (Pokemon) and adds new complexities and twists to it. Not to mention that it leans heavily on Final Fantasy nostalgia while also having some Japan-As-f*ck traits that could send people running.

I'll check the Steam list later and see if there's anything to easily recommend. I know there's some good games there, including Lara's beloved Tales of series. Honestly though the first thing that comes to mind is Valkyria Chronicles, simply because the tactical nature of the combat likely has the most in common with Western games and thus should make for a decent beginner without getting into some of the more questionable of Pandering Otaku Bullsh*t™.

The later Persona games are a fine place for JRPG newcomers to start. They're complex, but they ease you into that complexity over time. And frankly, if you can manage to make sense of the blizzard of options and tactics in a Western RPG, you can manage just fine in a Japanese one.

Finding a good "starter" JRPG on PC is a bit of a tough ask. Historically, the Japanese PC gaming market has been tiny. It has also, for a variety of reasons, attracted adult-oriented games; many of the worst habits of modern Japanese games in terms of racy and outright erotic content originated in Japanese PC games. It's only in the last few years that JRPGs have routinely begun to be ported to PC, and it's been largely to try to attract more Western buyers.

Browsing RPGs on Steam tagged with "anime" (the closest I could find to a JRPG category) is... Well, it's a wasteland. Unlike Lara, I really don't like the Tales of games, and I liked what I played of Berseria even less than usual.

The poorly-acronymed Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky is a decent game, although like a lot of the JRPGs on Steam, it's a bit older (it was originally a PSP game). I would, quite honestly, avoid anything published by XSEED or Marvelous that's not from the Legends in the Sky series.

The Atelier games are generally pretty good, and Valkyria Chronicles is well-regarded. Avoid anything from the Neptunia series. They're good, but they're also way off the deep end of JRPGs.

The elephant in the room that I'm trying to avoid talking about is Final Fantasy. Many of them are on Steam, but in my opinion, few of them are good. IX is the best of what's available if you're not willing to go with XIV, the secret best Final Fantasy game that's also an MMO.

Truth be told, if you're on PC and want to try a JRPG, you might be better off looking at some of the Western-made games with JRPG mechanics. Child of Light has a great battle system. The Costume Quest games use many classic JRPG mechanics.

I just wanted to throw my two cents in on how much I enjoyed this episode. I love hearing from the female GWJers, not only for the female perspective but also the more relaxed conversation that resulted. I've been listening for about 8 years now and the podcast is a highlight of my week, and while I completely understand the value in making the podcast accessible to young gamers, I find the casual honesty of an uncensored conversation to be very refreshing and hearkens back to earlier years of the podcast. Not all the time of course, but i would enjoy more of these uncensored style podcasts on occasion.

Wait... Lara, you finished a JRPG the first weeks after giving birth?

IMAGE(http://68.media.tumblr.com/a09ad427a69ad44db0106af98f489e55/tumblr_inline_mqzlns0vhr1qz4rgp.gif)

WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?

I was actually thinking about starting a thread about Japanese games vs Western games in the modern day, I noticed recently I've been playing nothing but Japanese games as I'm finding them a lot more enjoyable.

I'd say on thing in particular Japanese games do SO much better is know how to not take themselves as serious and having a bit more of a laugh. A lot of Western games tend to be very serious non-stop. Yakuza Zero is the perfect example, it was just a wacky adventure that wasn't trying to pretend it's not a game, and I thought it was great.

I enjoyed watching my wife play through Child of Light.

As far as complexity goes, I actually kind of like a little bit of crunch with my RPGs, so if that's the fear with Persona it shouldn't be. I tend to think about simple and complex as design choices where either can be utilized successfully or sloppily. If Persona is a lot of mechanics on top of each other that blend together in a satisfying fashion and are all executed well, then I'll probably enjoy it quite a bit.

I've glanced at some Let's Plays of the opening missions in Valkyria Chronicles and of Suikoden II. I was luke warm on the prior but intrigued by the latter. I think it had something to do with Valkyria Chronicles feeling less tactical and more puzzle based. The way it graded each mission made me feel like it had one critical path that leads to the best rating and that's it. As opposed to, say, XCOM, where any number of strategies can lead to the highest rating. This also isn't meant to be a knock on it - I think that's a fine way to construct a turn based game and I can see the appeal to that. I just tend to prefer the XCOM model where there is no one "best answer" and instead multiple critical paths.

In terms of playing Western RPGs, historically I tend to be attracted more to turn-based systems with robust character or party creation tools than I am to ARPGs with a narrowly defined character or team. I really latch onto character creation systems where I feel like I have a wide range of customization options at my disposal. My forum icon is from Might & Magic III for a reason! Even outside of RPGs this has appeal to me. Stellaris has so many hours from me in part due to how much I can play around in the empire generator.

Of course, this is probably the instinct that turned me off of jRPGs when I was younger - as they tend to deposit you into the game with preset characters. Which, today, I don't mind at all. Heck, I'm even well over my prior aversion to ARPGs. (Thank you Bloodborne for teaching me to love a well done ARPG with minimal customization again.)

The other big thing for me is writing. With RPGs I have a certain amount of tolerance for some nonsense, but man oh man am I into games that are willing to break out of the typical fantasy tropes in interesting and effective ways. The original Torment, holds a place of high esteem for me. I'm enjoying the story in Horizon: Zero Dawn a lot more than I was expecting to, and I found the writing in The Witcher 3 largely overrated. (Not bad, just a lot more uneven than its reputation.) Bloodborne's world drew me in a lot more than Dark Souls 3 ever did.

Immersive world building also matters to me, and my tolerance for clumsiness with representation is waning quite a bit as I get older. Unforced errors (like The Witcher having every character be white save for one, who happens to be a succubus) can really take me out of a game.

So, with all that in mind, would Persona 5 be a potentially good fit for me?

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

So, with all that in mind, would Persona 5 be a potentially good fit for me?

I say yes. You'll have a more defined team in Persona than I think you'd like, but your main character has a lot of flexibility in how they play and what they focus on. The writing in the Persona series is typically very sharp, the different mechanics overlap and interact in interesting ways, and there can be a fair amount of strategy even in trash battles. Knowing your taste in games, I think you'd like it.

And for what it's worth: if there's anything glaringly wrong with Valkyria Chronicles, it's that awful ranking system. It encourages a style of play that is tedious and grind-heavy, but it's also completely unnecessary. You get bonus experience for higher ranks, but lower ranks on story missions give you enough experience to get through the game just fine without grinding. But the way it's presented and the rewards it gives successfully convince a lot of players that you need to A-rank or S-rank every battle, and you simply don't. It's only a puzzle game if you let it be one.

Thanks Clocky (and the CC crew from this week!)

Hearing that I'd have some flexibility on how the main character plays is great, and I'm definitely going to line up Persona 5 as my next game purchase and get on this jRPG train after far too long hanging out at the ticket booth.

Also, that's useful to hear about the grading system in VC - knowing myself though I'd end up falling into the "must get this PERFECT" trap even as I recognize that it isn't necessary and really its just a wonky framing choice on the part of the devs. Which reminds me, I need to set an appointment with my therapist.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

And for what it's worth: if there's anything glaringly wrong with Valkyria Chronicles, it's that awful ranking system. It encourages a style of play that is tedious and grind-heavy, but it's also completely unnecessary

I agree, if you just look up on YouTube for some of the S ranks then it actually makes the game see a bit boring, it's a shame they didn't reward you for things like lack of damage taken, etc. VC is still a good game considering you can usually pick it up really cheap these days.

Amoebic wrote:
The Part of Mass Effect 3 That Slayed Me wrote:
Spoiler:

He fixed the Genophage. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.

Mordin, you noble son-of-a-bitch. You were my sweet, tender genius. My Gilbert & Sullivan boy. Now you are forever one with the stars.

To me, it felt like the game was setting up a theme with this (if this actually happened):

Spoiler:

Sacrifice and selflessness. If you did things a certain way, Mordin sacrifices himself to spread the genophage. If you do things a certain way, Legion sacrifices himself to give the geth sentience. If you do things a certain way, Shepard sacrifices themself (to one degree or another) to stop the conflict. The only way Shepard can survive the end of ME3 is to be selfish (and by either playing multiplayer or playing all the DLC) to the point where all sentient machines, be they Reapers, geth, and EDI, are destroyed. I never played the opposite outcomes, but I imagine the renegade way foreshadows the final decision to be one of selfishness.

dejanzie wrote:

Wait... Lara, you finished a JRPG the first weeks after giving birth?

IMAGE(http://68.media.tumblr.com/a09ad427a69ad44db0106af98f489e55/tumblr_inline_mqzlns0vhr1qz4rgp.gif)

WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?

All a newborn does is sleep, nurse, and poop. Two out of three of those activities lend themselves to sitting in one place for long periods of time -- perfect for gaming! (I mean, what else are you gonna do at 2 AM?)

That said, I didn't finish Tales of Zestiria in those first few weeks. I gave up on it 3/4ths of the way through, and read synopses/watched YouTube videos of the rest. I will always be fond of Zestiria for obvious reasons, but y'all, it is not a good game. Berseria is so much better.

RE: Good entry points to JRPGs --

This is one category where I think newbies are best off going old school. For my money, you don't get more accessible and delightful an experience than Chrono Trigger (which is available on basically every system there ever is and ever will be). The original Tales of game, Tales of Destiny, is harder to find, but I love it; it's just so darn fun (and funny). Final Fantasy VI is a game I play every couple of years -- and it's a great one to pick up if you're feeling despondent over the state of affairs in the U.S. right now. And Mario RPG, while not what most people think of when they think JRPG, is a lovely overlooked gem that never gets enough credit.

If you need something newer, then I recommend the DS version of Dragon Quest 8 -- it's LOOONG, yes, but probably the best of the Dragon Quests (YEAH I SAID IT), and if you need to quick-stop, you can always close the clamshell. Tales of Xillia is an excellent entry point into the Tales series, as is Tales of Symphonia (which I believe was the game that introduced character skits -- think BioWare party banter -- which are where the Tales series really shines). (Also, the later Tales games are available on PC, I think, if that matters to you.) Miyazaki fans shouldn't miss Ni No Kuni, and if you can't find Mario RPG, then the later Paper Mario or the Mario & Luigi handhelds should scratch the same itch.

I know I just threw a lot of names at y'all, so boiling it down -- if you can pick only one? I'd say make it Chrono Trigger. Then work from there.

KaterinLHC wrote:

And Mario RPG, while not what most people think of when they think JRPG, is a lovely overlooked gem that never gets enough credit.

Sometimes, I try to give it credit, and then Clock reminds me that it's bad. Good times.

Dyni wrote:
KaterinLHC wrote:

And Mario RPG, while not what most people think of when they think JRPG, is a lovely overlooked gem that never gets enough credit.

Usually, I try to give it credit, and then Clock tells me I'm wrong. Good times.

I have never warmed to that 16-bit era of Squaresoft games. Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 4 and 6, Super Mario RPG... none of them have worked for me across multiple attempts over multiple years. I just don't like them.

They don't have what I play JRPGs for. They're pretty for their time, and the music is often fantastic, but their mechanics are tedious and dull. The cliche of JRPGs as grand, melodramatic story beats broken up by hours of bland and grindy combat owes a lot to Squaresoft's '90s output. They're the kinds of games I like to read about and look at but never like to play.

(And the Nintendo 64 Paper Mario game is where it's at. At least until The Thousand-Year Door becomes more readily available.)