I can’t believe how many participants there’ve been in JRPG July so far this year! As such, I thought it would be the perfect time to bring back my weekly roundup posts to highlight some of the games people have been playing, as well as the various podcast/let’s play/blog post contributions we’ve had. It’s still early in the month, so if you’d still like to join in the fun, head over to my original announcement post to get all the details!
Yet another Sunday has rolled around, and you know what that means: Time for a Sunday Spotlight! Can you tell I’m running out of witty things to say in these intros? Moving on…
Here at Chic Pixel, we love a good JRPG. That’s why this week’s Spotlight is highlighting an awesome website that is all about just that! JRPG.moe bills itself as a site for those who get “fired up” about Japanese role playing games, so don’t let the .moe scare you – it’s definitely not only about cute anime girls! I love that JRPG.moe covers both Japanese and English game releases, and is written by someone proficient in Japanese, so you can count on it for accurate import impressions and news translations! Start off with JRPG.moe’s December release calendar to see what you need to put on your shopping list this month before moving on to some in-depth editorials and JRPG news.
All of a sudden, here we are at the last Community Game-Along of 2015! For this occasion, I wanted to do something a little special… So, for the first time ever, this month’s theme is a video game composer! I’d like to highlight Yoko Shimomura, a Japanese composer who is most famous for her work on the Kingdom Hearts series, but you’ve probably heard her melodies in one of the many games on her resume. If you’d like to learn more about her amazing career, check out the Shimomura episode of the M-Disk Playlist podcast I guested on a few months ago!
If you’d like to participate in the December Game-Along, just play a game featuring music composed by Yoko Shimomura (it can even be just one track, we’re flexible here at Chic Pixel). It wouldn’t be a Game-Along without social media integration, so use #ShimomuraMonth to share your experiences with others! Some folks have already been posting their favorite tracks and game recommendations, so be sure to join in – photos of games featuring Shimomura’s music, let’s plays of your chosen title… there are countless ways to participate! If you can’t decide what to play, here are a few titles worth checking out that aren’t Kingdom Hearts:
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam (Nintendo 3DS) – Let’s start with something topical! Yoko Shimomura has done the music in all of the Mario & Luigi games, with Paper Jam being the latest entry in the series. Well, it just so happens to be releasing in December in Japan in Europe! Sorry, North America, but you’ll have to wait until January for this one. If you’re itchin’ to play a Mario & Luigi game in the meantime, you can get some of them on the Wii U’s virtual console, or try the previous entry on the 3DS, Dream Team Bros.
Radiant Historia (Nintendo DS) – For a recent but more traditional JRPG, try Radiant Historia. Though it went largely under the radar when it was originally released, it’s extremely well regarded and will definitely scratch any RPG itches you might have. I still haven’t had a chance to boot up my copy, so I can’t say much more than that, but I don’t think it’d disappoint!
Parasite Eve (PSone) – Though still an RPG (Shimomura’s forte), Parasite Eve was unique for taking aspects of horror titles such as Resident Evil and transforming traditional role-playing game mechanics. The creepy cool soundtrack is also one of my personal favorites! If you’ve played the first game in the series and would like to check out the others, keep in mind that Shimomura did not compose II, but did return for the less stellar 3rd Birthday on PSP.
Legend of Mana (PSone) – Though Legend of Mana has not been received as favorably as previous titles in the series, many point to it as one of Yoko Shimomura’s strongest soundtracks. This also happens to be the game I’ll be trying out this month, since I’ve never played it! Wouldn’t it be fun to join in a playthrough with your pal Anne?
Of course there are many more possibilities, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with celebrating with a little Kingdom Hearts goodness! What will you be playing this month?
Were you starting to get worried that I’d never continue my Nier Diary journey? Never fear, I’ve been busy playing the game, and I’m happy to report that I have indeed made it past the “point of no return”! In Diary no. 1 I played about 7 hours, and since then I’ve managed to double that time, clocking in at just around 14 hours. Read all my updated impressions after the jump, but be warned – while I’ll be very careful not to reveal any of Nier‘s major twists or story points, if you plan on playing the game and wish to know absolutely nothing past the first few hours, please proceed with caution!
Nier is one of those titles that nearly everyone I know has recommended to me, yet somehow I’ve never managed to ever play it for more than a few minutes since it came out five years ago. With the double-whammy of Nier 2 getting announced at E3 and this month being JRPGJuly, it turns out now couldn’t be a better time for me to finally pick it up!
I joking mentioned on Twitter before I started playing that I preferred the young bishōnen protagonist Japan received in the Nier Replicant version, which unsurprisingly received more than a couple responses saying I would change my mind when I started the game. While I still think Replicant Nier has a more appealing character design, I have been finding the more haggard version of Nier in Nier Gestalt (which was the only version localized) equally appealing.
Both games are virtually the same except for the protagonists and their relationship to the sickly girl Yonah they are trying to save, but this relationship is quite central to the game, so I imagine it changes the tone somewhat. Replicant Nier is often just referred to as “Brother Nier” due to the fact that he’s Yonah’s brother, while “Papa Nier” is, as the nickname would suggest, Yonah’s father. Grouchy Papa Nier and his relationships with the various characters in the game have really stood out to me so far, and I’m really impressed with the snappy, sassy dialogue.
As of this post, I’m about 7 hours in and have just received my first party member, though as far as I can tell they can’t be customized in any way and are fully managed by the game’s AI and thus don’t really count as a “party” in the traditional sense. I’ve also been getting a lot of tutorial texts and am experiencing an overwhelming feeling of “maybe I should open the menu and read those,” but there’s nothing I enjoy less than reading through tutorials! I suppose I might take a look at them if I start experiencing difficulties with the combat…
Speaking of which, I haven’t actually read any of the negative reviews of the game (I’ve heard it received many when it first came out), but my overwhelming impression before I started Nier was that the gameplay was supposed to be pretty rough. It’s certainly nothing to write home about, I’ve found it to be pretty fun so far, and am particularly enjoying the different magical powers Nier learns with the help of Grimoire Weiss. That whole first fishing quest can bite me, though.
I don’t believe it’s too much of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t played to mention that the game is notable for requiring players to go through the game multiple times. From what I understand, I’m nearing the “point of no return” where the game is later replayed from after it’s been completed once… But in the interest of experiencing the game as it happens, I haven’t really read into it beyond that. What I can say is, I’m really digging the game so far, and I fully intend to actually complete a JRPG for once!
Be sure to check back next Monday for Nier Diary no. 2 and see if I’ve made it past the halfway point!
Friendly reminder that if you enjoy this post and other content on Chic Pixel, please use my affiliate links in the sidebar to do your video game shopping! I’d really appreciate it!
If you’ve been following Chic Pixel for a while, you might remember that I did a JRPG-themed Community Game-Along last July. It turns out that was by far my most successful Game-Along of the year! Tons of people used the hashtag on Twitter to talk about the games they were playing, and there were even a few long form submissions, too. Since it was such a big hit, it only makes sense to do it again this year!
As always, all you need to do to participate is play a JRPG during the month of July. If you’re so inclined, use #JRPGJuly to talk about your experiences or share game recommendations with others on your social media platform of choice. Livestreams, blog posts, podcasts, or any other form of media where you play/discuss JRPGs is highly encouraged, as well! And if you’re looking for a way to stand out, it’s always great to see some lesser-known titles get some love.
I’m sure you’re all wondering what I’m going to be playing… Well, I’m excited to announce that Nier was the winner of my recent Twitter poll to decide the JRPG I’ll tackle this month! Earthbound was a close second, with poor Fire Emblem Awakening taking up the rear. To keep myself accountable, I will be posting weekly updates on my progress every Sunday for the month of July, so keep an eye out for that!
Though I usually end with a list of game suggestions that fit the month’s theme, I’m sure there will be no shortages of JRPGs at your disposal. However, I’ll leave you with a question: If there is one overlooked/under-appreciated JRPG you would like to see someone play this month, what would it be? Maybe someone will take on your request!