JRPGs that Aren't Final Fantasy Catch-All 2.0

I'd trust that impulse. I've found the Tales of battle system quite challenging in the past, and if you didn't like it in the demo you might not like it in the main game.

Get in the Car, Loser! by Christine Love et al is out and free on Itch and Steam. The combat system is interesting but a little finnicky and hard to read. It's got a bit of an FF13 vibe where you're switching through stances/moves for your party as a whole and managing a stagger meter. The writing and character and world are all great fun, though. It's breezy but doesn't shy away from serious topics, and it's not too lore-heavy while leaning into the absurdity of the traditional JRPG quest and being aggressively, unabashedly queer and horny.

I heard about that one on the podcast, it sounds great!

Oh it's free?!

I've been following her on Twitter for a long time. Analogue: A Hate Story and Ladykiller in a Bind were both incredibly interesting, but I'm not a big fan of VNs so seeing her do a RPG had me really excited.

Will download now.

I wanted to check in regarding Fire Emblem 3 Houses. I know there's a FE thread, but I chat with you guys a lot more frequently and it still fits the thread.

For some context - and if you hadn't seen me moaning before, I REALLY didn't enjoy FETH at first. I'm not particularly a fan of the heavy focus on relationships the series has now, I thought the graphics were awful, and it was overall way too easy. I watched my partner play a good chunk and overall felt the series had lost that special "something" that I loved playing the GBA games onward.

I'm not 20 hours deep into a Blue Lions playthrough and I'm having way more fun this time.

For the sake of brevity, I'll do some dot points.

The bad

  • Even on hard, the difficulty is a bit lacking. However, I'm not utilizing the rewind feature and I'm only fighting non-main story battles when absolutely necessary. While being able to craft your characters into any class/specialization you wish still skews the difficulty a little too far for my liking, I'm finding the challenge about on par with the other titles this way. It's "hard enough", though a bit frustrating having to intentionally handicap myself.
  • I hate the monestary. It takes up so much time, and a lot of the activities are utterly mindless. It's frustrating sitting down to play and being forced through 20-30 minutes of tedium. Fishing is the same thing over and over, greenhouse is the same thing, instructing is the same thing...
  • While I still think the graphics are very rough, the animations are actually really nice! Bit of a neutral point here I guess.
  • The map design is a bit lacking. Lots of large open fields requiring you to ball up your troops and just press forwards

The good

  • The combat and systems are the best they've been. Gambits and Combat Arts are a fine replacement for the weapon triangle. I do miss it from time to time, but the additional strategic options these open up is fantastic.
  • The story is really ramping up. Despite some frustrating downtime, I'm slowly starting to lose myself in the characters and enjoy seeing their little quips here and there
  • I can...mostly skip monastery activities! I know a lot of people play the game for this part, but I've been skipping a lot of my free time and it's made my run a lot more enjoyable.
  • Further to the last point, I'm learning that this game offers multiple ways to play. I can do the content I like, skip features I dislike, and still get a full "Fire Emblem" experience. Challenge runs are possible, maddening is there if I REALLY want to try. The DLC is supposed to be a good challenge too. It's nice.
  • I'm just having fun :)

TL;DR FETH gets a bit easy due to the flexibility it offers, and I miss the challenging permadeath style of game. FETH isn't that, but that's okay and I've finally accepted it. While I don't enjoy the downtime, I REALLY enjoy the combat. I'm glad I've come around on this title because it always bothered me that I couldn't get into it.

It's not my favourite in the series, not by a long shot, but...Fire Emblem is still like pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still really good!

The DLC is supposed to be a good challenge too.

Cindered Shadows is some nice old-school Fire Emblem. No grinding to customize and optimize your students; just win with what you're given.

A_Unicycle wrote:

I wanted to check in regarding Fire Emblem 3 Houses. I know there's a FE thread, but I chat with you guys a lot more frequently and it still fits the thread.

For some context - and if you hadn't seen me moaning before, I REALLY didn't enjoy FETH at first. I'm not particularly a fan of the heavy focus on relationships the series has now, I thought the graphics were awful, and it was overall way too easy. I watched my partner play a good chunk and overall felt the series had lost that special "something" that I loved playing the GBA games onward.

Fire Emblem is ugly (graphically, not style) for a 2020 console video game. There is nothing wrong with that assessment. I think Nintendo is currently struggling with converting their mobile (DS not phone) games to full console games. Pokemon was VERY lacking in graphics and animation. The "in-between" battle stuff definitely takes A LOT of time, but as someone who plays Persona games, this felt good for me, especially since that stuff directly affected your battles. It could have been faster, or added to a quick menu that didn't require me to remember locations of people and walk around everywhere (or at all). I also appreciate the ability to make the game easy by over-grinding, but that's how I like to play SRPGs.

I can't remember, but I thought there was a difficulty setting that turned on perma-death AND locked side battles so you couldn't repeat them for extra xp - I don't use that because I like seeing the class tree and marking exactly what classes I want for each character and grinding until I get them to where I want them. The thing that puts this entry higher than the others for me was the relationship stuff. You really get to see into the life of the folks you do battle with and their stories are very interesting. Someone who you might hate could turn into someone you truly love because you see WHY they are the way they are and they do change a bit after you "finish" their backstory (again, it's basically what you do in Persona games).

I liked the 3 different story views as my nephew played as the Black Eagles and I was the Golden Deer and after a certain point we had VASTLY different experiences. I won't be playing this game 3 times though...if I could carry over all my best free agents, then maybe I would.

A_Unicycle wrote:

It's not my favourite in the series, not by a long shot, but...Fire Emblem is still like pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still really good!

I don't know man. I read your whole post, but it really feels like you're trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Sure, you can make it work with some force, but wouldn't it be better to find a round peg? There's plenty of other SRPGs out there that have the highs of FE:3H with none of the lows.

I know you said you're really enjoying the game, but honestly you reaffirmed my decision to never play it.

Honestly, you may be right. I have my highs with it and my lows, I love it and hate it at different times and it's frustrating. When it's good, it's REALLY good, but when it's bad it makes me grumpy.

For a palate cleanser (and because I can't seem to ever just sit down and play a single game), I put a few hours into Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia and I have ZERO complaints. Nothing making me say "this is good, but only if I ignore XYZ". Playing on hard, classic and loving every second of it. It's Fire Emblem without the nonsense, solid mechanics all the way through, topped off with a gorgeous presentation.

I feel like my feelings towards FETH are always in limbo, whereas Echoes is just pushing all the right buttons for me right now.

Labyrinth of Refrain. So this my random hidden gem of a game. I’ve been dabbling in it a bit and realized that it tickles my particular likes. (Make your comments now). It is in broad stokes an anime dungeon crawler in the vein of Wizardry and Etrian Odyssey.

Is it as hard as those games?

No but it can utterly destroy carelessness. You can create a team of puppets that can be your standard classes. It is fun to be thrown into a dungeon and fight monsters. You play as a book trapped with a soul and command the puppet mercenaries to do your mistress’s wishes.

The game is beautiful and the music is great. The English dub is spot on.

I really love this game so far and it plays with the mechanics of a dungeon crawler nicely. It can go on sale for 20 freedom eagles USD.

Labyrinth of Refrain sounds like its right up my alley. Who knows if I'll get around to it though, I have a little bit of a backlog at the moment.

Mantid wrote:

Labyrinth of Refrain sounds like its right up my alley. Who knows if I'll get around to it though, I have a little bit of a backlog at the moment. :?

I feel you. Wait for a sale.

It's funny, I started playing the demo a couple days ago. Was feeling the itch for a dungeon crawler and hadn't ever bothered with NIS's offering.

So far so good. Might end up buying, though with Caligula Effect 2 dropping I'm sorely feeling the desire to finish the original. I know there's interesting stuff to mine from the game, even if it would've probably been better as a book or anime.

And Fantasian is in the books, ~62 hours. What a great game. The best turn-based combat system I've played so far. The soundtrack starts out understated but has some bangers later. It's a little hard to compare from a value perspective, but I feel like if I'd paid $60 for this back in the day when I still bought a lot of games for full price (360/PS3), I would have been totally satisfied. It's mind blowing to have a game like this on Apple Arcade. And, being on Apple Arcade, no paid DLC/boosts/timers which I'm not sure would be true on any other platform. The version 2.5 drop just added NG+ and a high level area.

Some points:
- it's hard, sometimes brutally so. There are very few bosses that you can just brute force. Every area has a recommended level but there was one particular boss (side-quest) that had a recommended level of 47 but kept kicking my ass until I was about 56. The good thing is that you are forced to explore all the systems of the game and this does help you in later encounters. After being brutalised by so many of the bosses in the game, I actually felt ready to take on the end game boss even though it was objectively difficult.
- Lost Odyssey's short story cut scenes make a return but they are quite a bit shorter in length.
- The main character looks like a bit of a goof. On the whole the cast is pretty cool though.
- It was very technically robust on my iPhone. I could switch out to check faqs, play podcasts, etc. The game had one hiccup in the entire playtime. Well done.
- The game justifies the 60 hours I put in, in terms of gameplay, but the story content peters out towards the end.

A top 10 game.

I can't wait for it to be freed from its platform shackles.

I definitely want more people to be able to play it. But it was only in hindsight that I realised the Apple Arcade model made the difficulty an easier pill to swallow. If there'd been some xp/power boosters behind a pay wall, I could see myself being very cynical about the designers juicing the difficulty just to sell micro transactions. Ideally there probably should be a lower difficulty setting for accessibility purposes but at least there is very little that requires twitch reflexes.

Hopefully they stick to their guns for the ports.

I feel like if I'd paid $60 for this back in the day when I still bought a lot of games for full price (360/PS3), I would have been totally satisfied.

I'm just nibbling at it while the meter runs on Apple Arcade, so in the end I might do the math and discover I payed $60 to play it.

Yeah, I honestly don’t see much else on the service for me. I just started dabbling in World’s End Club but probably won’t renew.

For those interested in Blue Reflection: Second Light, a demo is now available on Playstation and Swtich. Haven't tried it myself, and likely won't, since I'll be picking up the game anyhow.

Holy snap, tri-Ace isn't dead.

Every time there's a new Star Ocean, I keep hoping it'll finally be a significantly sci-fi themed game instead of a fantasy with a brief sci-fi prologue. I'll keep watching and hoping!

I'm only vaguely aware of Star Ocean, but that was my take too watching the trailer. Oh cool, spaceships! Oh, but now he's just running around swinging a sword...

Digimon: Cyber Sleuth. So on the Switch the game clock keeps going even in sleep mode. Since that clock keeps going it also makes it real easy to get high level monsters if you place them on the farm. I didn’t know this and I guess now I won’t be bringing my high level monsters through cyber space.

Oh that's annoying. I'm a bit pedantic about my in-game hours so it's good to know I should shut it off when I stop playing!

How are you finding the game? I picked it up when it was cheap but haven't had the time to commit to it. I've heard they touched up some of the difficulty woes with this release.

SMTV review embargo is up. Strongly positive with numerous complaints about performance. Lackluster characters is the second biggest complaint, but that's par for the course for SMT games as it's not meant to be Persona.

garion333 wrote:

Strongly positive with numerous complaints about performance.

Yeah, I was afraid of that. I never get the Switch version of anything when there's another option, but no avoiding it this time and I had a feeling they were probably pushing its limits or slightly past. Hopefully it doesn't end up detracting too much; I had to stop reading reviews pretty quick after I stumbled across a minor spoiler right out of the gate in one, so I didn't get many details on how ick the performance gets.

It still got strongly positive reviews like you said, so hopefully that means it isn't too big a deal.

Dang. Yeah I got P5 Strikers on PC. Current handle the Switch load times.

Poking around in my "backlog" while I wait for games I want to be cheaper. SMTV is looking real good so that inspired me to up my copy of SMT 3: Nocturne HD Switch. I've been sinking a few minutes into it here and there.

It's...confusing. Sometimes hard to know where to go, and the random encounter rate is higher than it needs to be. A lot of it feels archaic compared to other SMT games I've played. I'm enjoying the ~~~vibe~~~ of the game, but am finding it a bit frustrating to play.

It's still got something special about it that I can't quite pinpoint. I teeter between frustration and awe so frequently that it's giving me whiplash. It's a good game, but I do find myself comparing it often to SMT:Strange Journey which is one of my all-time favourites, and it's not quite as engaging yet. To make myself feel better, I then compare it to SMTIV which I didn't like very much, so we've reached a middle-ground. Yay.

The "remaster" is barely that. It's a tidied up port at best. The battle music is shockingly compressed and the cutscenes remain in 4:3 ratio. In some ways, that makes the experience all the more surreal, but in other ways it makes me feel sour about paying close to full RRP.

All in all, it's a bit of a mixed bag but I'm excited to plow through some more. This may be one of those games I put ~15-20 hours into and drop, happy to have had the experience I did with it, but lacking the motivation to see it through to the end. I'm finding myself in that position more and more lately, but I'm slowly learning to be okay with leaving RPGs unfinished and moving onto other things.

Yup, me too. The old bits feel old.

I made a thread for SMT V. Last year I finished Tokyo Mirage Sessions and (mostly) finished Persona 5. I want to give this one a go.