JRPGs that Aren't Final Fantasy Catch-All 2.0

Darkhaund wrote:

So, sea of stars is THAT good?

Aesthetically, it's faultless. It aims to recreate the look, feel, and sound of Chrono Trigger and it succeeds a thousand times over. I struggle to remember the last game that impressed me this much in how well it carries out its artistic vision.

From a gameplay perspective, it's charming and fun, but not terribly deep. It's meant to be a light, breezy game, and so it intentionally doesn't get bogged down in complex mechanics -- just a core set of well designed and balanced, fun to engage with systems. Early on that does mean it can very of feel a bit simple, but it builds to a lot of very satisfying combat encounters later on (plus some very fun puzzles and exploration mechanics in between).

Narratively, it's a slow burn. Here too the game aims to be light and breezy, and even when things get dark at times, there's still a refreshing overall sense of optimism and good heartedness that always a delight. But, in the early phases of the story this can also lead to it feeling a bit innocuous and light on compelling conflict. As I mentioned above though, there's some late mid-game developments that really bring into focus the value and craft of how easy going things are early on, and from that point on I found myself deeply invested in a way I really didn't expect to be given the way I THOUGHT the early acts were light and forgettable.

So yeah, with the caveat that you shouldn't be expecting a deep, sweaty, crunchy mechanical experience, and that it takes its time getting started, I can't recommend it more highly and broadly. And especially to anyone with a soft spot for 90s era JRPGs, and especially fans of Chrono Trigger, Sea of Stars is an absolute triumph at capturing what you likely loved about those games.

Thanks for the explanation.
I try to play this game on my Switch lite on my spare times etc.
Having just finished persona 3 portable, I am deciding what to do.

I had Star Ocean 1st Departure R just there so I have it a go for now. Not too impressed but ok so far

zeroKFE, while I played Chrono Trigger way back when, it never really took me so I don’t even remember getting to the end. My things were always FF 2/4 and 3/6, and Dragon Warrior/Quest games, and some Shining Force sometimes. So I’ve held off seriously looking at Sea of Stars as it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me? Thoughts?

A favorite video of mine for instance, and yes partially for its length:

I think Sea of Stars plays huge on the nostalgia factor in terms of 16-bit visual art and music. I think it's a visual and audio feast for anyone who loved the Super Nintendo. The gameplay is fun but nothing crazy. The story is good but nothing crazy.

I have similar thoughts about Owlboy. They are both extremely similar to me though they are very different mechanically.

I loved DQ XI. I hope we get XII soon

The closest thing to Ogre Battle that I can recall in recent memory is Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga. It uses turn-based strategic turns instead of the real-time map march of Ogre Battle, but it does use the auto-combat over two rounds of units placed on a 3x3 grid with positioning mattering. But other than that, nothing like Ogre Battle has come out which makes me very excited for Unicorn Overlord. I was excited based on VanillaWare's pedigree, but the little bit I have heard about people being excited and impressed by gameplay makes me that much more interested. Just a shame it is coming out sandwiched between FF7 Rebirth and Dragon's Dogma 2. If I am lucky, I will be able to get to it in May/June before Elden Ring DLC comes out and eats all of July.

Keithustus wrote:

zeroKFE, while I played Chrono Trigger way back when, it never really took me so I don’t even remember getting to the end. My things were always FF 2/4 and 3/6, and Dragon Warrior/Quest games, and some Shining Force sometimes. So I’ve held off seriously looking at Sea of Stars as it doesn’t quite hit the mark for me? Thoughts?

I mean, first and very foremost it's an homage to Chrono Trigger, but there's a lot of shared DNA there with Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest of course, particularly from the SNES era.

Really, I guess it depends on what aspects of those games appeal to you and what about Chrono Trigger never did. Like, if you're looking for mechanical density and crunchy, grindy gameplay, Sea of Stars is NOT that. It's even more streamlined, chill, and laid back than Chrono Trigger was, which was already an attempt to sand off some of the more complex edges from most other JRPGs of that era.

But, like, many of the other aspects of that era of game design (like, many of the other things that Tim Rogers talks in depth about being so charming and out of the modern norm in his Dragon Quest 11 review) are definitely here -- particularly if are looking for a game with a bright, welcoming, hand crafted aesthetics, or narrative and characters that flip the bird to cynicism and stand firm in their optimistic, good hearted worldview.

So yeah, not sure if that helps a bit more? I definitely would say it's worth tempering expectations if you never really connected with Chrono Trigger for whatever reason, but there's still solid chances you might enjoy Sea of Stars anyway. (And if nothing else, it's a nostalgic-aesthetic masterpiece worth playing just to see and hear the things you liked about SNES era games done modern justice.)

zeroKFE wrote:

if you're looking for mechanical density and crunchy, grindy gameplay, Sea of Stars is NOT that.

Thank you. I spent 100+ hours in the Dragon Quest Monsters Dark Prince DEMO synthesizing EVERY monster possible to do so in it, and took something like 200+ MORE hours in its full release before deciding ‘ok, I should probably beat the story now’. (Most players beat the story after 20-40 hours.) So the combat is definitely important to me and was probably one of my big turn-offs from Chrono Trigger.

Yeah, the combat systems are very refined and balanced, but very simple. On par with or maybe slightly simpler than Chrono Trigger, except that they've added Mario RPG style timed button presses to allow you to actively increase the effectiveness of your attacks and defend against incoming damage from enemies.

I raved about Unicorn Overlord on the podcast when we recorded on Saturday and since then I have almost completed the demo (jealously guarding my final hour lol.) That game is going to be a sleeper hit. It is absurdly good. Possibly the GOAT in the demo department.

I have been trying not to get too hyped for Unicorn Overlord ever since learning it's essentially a new spin on some of the core concepts from the original Ogre Battle (and consequently Ogre Battle 64), as that's one of my all-time favorites.

This year is just looking absurdly jam-packed with great games month after month.

I am seriously considering playing the demo a second time on the Switch lol. I will need to finish this game before Dragon's Dogma 2. And my wife is going to have dibs on PS5 time for the new Final Fantasy VII.

This goes into some of the nuances of combat I didn't touch on.

I got the demo of Unicorn Overlord the other day and am in love — which is a bad sign because I also have so many other big games I want to play right now.

8 hours of free play time is absurdly generous, what a great concept for a demo.

I have no time for more JRPGs in my life (Disgaea 4 and Neo:TWEWY and various unbeaten FFs say hi), but damn that looks cool AF.

JRPSs being my favorite genre I have had to be very very selective on which ones I play!

I don't even want to look at that demo the DEVIL LastSurprise posted because I know it will be tempting as hell itself.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QMeF7UM.jpg)

LastSurprise wrote:

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/QMeF7UM.jpg)

Every year for the last 3 years has been "the year I finally go through all of Persona 5 Royal". How could I not? I found P5 so nice I beat it twice. I have P5R on both PS4 & Switch at this point, yet it somehow hasn't happened yet.

But surely, 2024 for sure...

Astonishingly, I haven't made it all the way through P5R either. I stalled out in Shido's palace. But, then again, I also beat P5 twice, so maybe at about 250 hours (+ Strikers, + Dancing in Starlight) I've gotten all I'm going to get out of Persona 5?

P5R came out right after we played P5 for the JRPG club, which was my second run of the game. With no way to transfer save data between the two, I just gave up playing Royal, especially since the story stuff is mixed into the game.

With SMT5 also getting a new version soon, I think from now on I will wait a couple years before picking up SMT/Persona games to just get the complete version.

Malkroth wrote:

With SMT5 also getting a new version soon, I think from now on I will wait a couple years before picking up SMT/Persona games to just get the complete version.

They have become so consistent in doing this that I don’t blame you. At least in most cases there’s the addition or change of/to a different console, but with P5 there wasn’t even really that.

They had to actually say that there wasn’t a complete version of the P3 remake planned which leads me to think others feel the same as well. And I don’t know if even trust them on that.

Malkroth wrote:

P5R came out right after we played P5 for the JRPG club, which was my second run of the game. With no way to transfer save data between the two, I just gave up playing Royal, especially since the story stuff is mixed into the game.

With SMT5 also getting a new version soon, I think from now on I will wait a couple years before picking up SMT/Persona games to just get the complete version.

It's funny, I have the exact opposite reaction to this sort of thing (Dragon Quest XI vs. DQ XI S also comes to mind). P5 was a day-one purchase with my PS4, and I loved it so much. There's been nothing about my half-finished run of P5R that makes me wish I encountered it first, with fresh eyes, instead of having played P5 when I did. And given how impactful P5 was for me, it's kind of sad to think about not having played the game when I did, and instead waiting a few years to experience it.

Yeah I pre-ordered one of the nice editions after playing P3:FES and P4 way late on my PS3 (ps2 classics).

And then in 2018 I had a kid. I'm not sure I'll ever have time for another 100 hour Persona game.

Maybe one of the kids will play P5R in a decade and I can watch for summer break.

I bought P5 day one and played through it completely, it did not feel like anything was missing or under-baked. I really enjoyed the game. That should be obvious that I was willing to replay a 100+ hour game for the club. I just want to be able to take my progress and save file to the "final" edition. I also got the steal your heart edition of P5 because I loved P4 and P4G so much.

I would love to play P5R but there is no way I have time to put 100+ hours into another replay of that game. And without NG+ there is no way to speed that up.

Malkroth wrote:

I bought P5 day one and played through it completely, it did not feel like anything was missing or under-baked. I really enjoyed the game. That should be obvious that I was willing to replay a 100+ hour game for the club. I just want to be able to take my progress and save file to the "final" edition. I also got the steal your heart edition of P5 because I loved P4 and P4G so much.

I would love to play P5R but there is no way I have time to put 100+ hours into another replay of that game. And without NG+ there is no way to speed that up.

Totally agree there, I wish there was some way to port over our progress, or unlock NG+ from the beginning!

I really do wish I could go back and retcon my original playthroughs of P5 as plays of P5R, because I've thoroughly appreciated every little improvement they've put into P5R that makes me want to see them all. I love the little follow-up texts/calls after a Confidant boost, I appreciate all the added efficiencies in free time usage & combat.

But maybe I'm only really appreciating all of that after the deep diving I've done into the original. The new efficiencies mean more because they weren't there before.

We're coming up on April, and it seems like a fitting time to Start The Game...

We're certainly getting close! Probably will open voting in a week and a half or so.

I don't know if I could get away w/ P5R in the club when P5 was already a prior pick, tempting as it may be. Octopath Traveller II, on the other hand, just passed the 1-year mark since it's release last month...

TheMostRad wrote:

I don't know if I could get away w/ P5R in the club when P5 was already a prior pick, tempting as it may be. Octopath Traveller II, on the other hand, just passed the 1-year mark since it's release last month...

The JPRG club does do replays now if it's been long enough, and P5 was played in 2019 so it's definitely been long enough to get (re)nominated, fwiw.

When I played P5R, I did it semi-real time, doing a week in game roughly during a week in real life. I didn’t try to match day to day nor play everyday, just roughly week to week. It was a fun experience. Maybe not for someone who didn’t play the original, but it was a way for me to commit to such a long game for a kind of second time.