JRPG Hara Kiri

I just finished Star Ocean: The Last Hope. I use ‘finish’ tentatively. What I mean is that I finished the story (with all but one of the character’s endings), but then there are the two bonus dungeons, filled to the gills with creatures that make the last boss seem like a cakewalk. There are still items to be farmed in order to craft the game’s strongest swords and there are the coliseum ranks to climb through for each character if you can be bothered. It’s becoming something of an unfortunate cliché that almost every other game finds it needs to pad out its running time by adding a coliseum, which simply recycles the games various antagonists into uninspired arena battles. And the less said about those 900 battle trophies the better…

Sure it's pretty, but was it worth 40 hours of grinding? Hell yeah!

Star Ocean is a game you can reach the end of only to find your achievement score barely making it into triple figures. The rationalist in me says that 400 hours plus of gameplay for a few gamer points and a vague sense of satisfaction (tempered by a large dose of self-loathing) is not a good deal. The completionist in me (lacking both a girlfriend and a life, I might add) screams “What about the Ethereal Queen?!” There she is sitting at the bottom of the Wandering Dungeon mocking me! A similar impulse compelled me to spend 180 hours on Final Fantasy XII, at least 40 of which were spent acquiring the ingredients needed to forge the Tournesol – even though there was precious little left to kill with it when all was said and done (still, it looked nice).

Please, please, please…

Square Enix are the masters of (self) deception; like pushers they get you hooked on lush story arcs populated with scantily clad female warriors and battles filled with rad particle effects, and then just before you can say “I can stop anytime”, they dangle sparkly new treasures just ever so slightly out of reach. Then that age old justification makes an appearance: “Well I’ve already come this far…” JRPG fans know that there is a moment when the obsessive compulsive kicks in and a game tips from ‘fun’ to ‘sado-masochistic’ and the primary motivation turns to a hardened resolution not unlike the focus of the samurai warrior pursuing his code of bushido (although with a controller in the place of a katana, and a nice comfy sofa and a cup of tea instead of a tatami).

My friend, who detests JRPGs, recently sent me the below tongue in cheek breakdown (click on it and download for full size). Although it’s slightly unfair, I find myself giggling at it because there are big grains of truth amidst the sarcasm. But even if they are often clichéd, over-stylised and immature I still can’t quite help myself – in spite of my better judgement I’m a sucker for a quirky, colourful and absurdly plotted JRPG. I was going to wrap this all up in an epic and witty fashion, but instead I’m going to leave the final confrontation hanging while I head off on a side-quest to rescue someone’s cat.

Not advised as a walkthrough…






8 responses to “JRPG Hara Kiri”

  1. Lauren avatar

    This reminds me of our convo on Friday!

    Im the same. I got Star Ocean the day it came out and Im still playing it!! Im a sucker for side quests and pretty weapons and will spend YEARS playing a single damn game in order to get everything on the first run through. Im an idiot, I know. The amount of hours Ive wasted in front of an RPG is shocking and yet I cant stop! Its like some horrible addiction.

    Love the RPG flowchart lol.

  2. Paul R avatar
    Paul R

    I used to play every JRPG I could get my hands on, rinse it and move on. Nowadays I have become disgustingly picky. Ever since playing SMT:Nocturne I hold every JRPG to its lofty standards. Nocturne is a thought provoking experience, it provides you at one point with the responsibility of creating a new world and in so doing, destroying entire races. It’s terrifying, grim and gorgeously menacing. I kinda just want that again and I guess the plight of other protagonists seems petty to me now.

    I think I need help…

  3. dean avatar

    Lauren, i’m glad i’m not along in my infliction. Thanks for the recommendation Paul – I think its something i’d enjoy (and by enjoy i mean sit in a corner rocking back and forth drooling).

  4. paul avatar

    Its a must play for sure. I meant to say in Nocturne (here it;s called Lucifer’s Call) there are LOADS of enemies to charm into your party, and u can also fuse them to create others, then there are rare sub bosses (guide is not optional, it’s necessary) you can also create, then you can create different ones when you are “Cursed”, then there are Magatama to collect… Basically I put in about 250 hours and got absolutely everything. God I love that game

  5. Lauren avatar

    I actually had to sell Nocturne because I suffered terrible nightmares from it! Seriously, I could not complete it. And didnt Dante from DMC feature???

    Digital Devil Saga is another twisted little series that I like. That freaks me out, but I refuse to part with them!

  6. Paul R avatar
    Paul R

    Lauren, that’s actually hilarious, but I can see why, it’s a really deep and sinister game and if you allow it to affect you, if you engage with it and have a vivid imagination its utterly terrifying. Yeah Dante was in it, I guess there is some kind of link because as you know, Kazuma Kaneko, the artist who designed all the monsters in the SMT games also designed the devil trigger versions of Dante in DMC3 (look em up, theyr brill) and apparently they just asked Capcom if they can use him and they just went “sure” lol.
    DDS is also fantastic, totally. Again unrelentingly brutally sinister with a hugely unique aesthetic and world. Love em to bits.
    I guess my point was the likes of Atelier Rorona, Ar Tonelico and Eternal Sonata, stuff like that I cant really get into anymore because all my bases are covered with the main SMT games and Persona. tbh I’d rather replay them at this point. Not healthy, probably 😀

  7. Lauren avatar

    How dare you mock me sir lol XD But yeah, any other RPG has taken a back seat with the Persona series with me lol.

  8. Bruno (daiphoenix) avatar
    Bruno (daiphoenix)

    LOL, loved the flowchart. Reminded me a lot of the Super Press Space to Win Adventure RPG… you should totally check that game out, if you haven’t heard of it yet. (I’d be surprised if you haven’t :P)

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