JRPG Reviews

JRPG’s (Japanese Role Playing Games) are one of my most enjoyed hobbies. Afer assorting a list of games that I’ve already played and a list of games that I’ve yet to play, I decided to make this project.

My hope is that these reviews will help guide other players on the type of JRPG that is right for them. For me, this is a place for my memories (whether good or bad) of the games to be collected.

These reviews are meant to be somewhat short and based off a 100 point scale. There is enough YouTube gameplay available elsewhere for longer reviews. I will give small bonus points to certain games due to impact or superb quality in a certain aspect. I look for games that are visually appealing relative to other games that came out around the same time. I look for games that have a sound track that I can listen to without playing the game, stories that fill me with emotions, a combat style that is fun, and a level of difficulty that is high enough so I feel challenged and good about learning to play the game. “Polish” refers to the loading times, any errors/bugs encountered, and related.

The rating system is as follows:

Animation (0/20)
Story (0/20)
Sound (0/15)
Combat Style (0/20)
Difficulty (0/10)
Polish (0/15)

I will stress that this rating system is not based on the traditional American school standard (F: <60%, D: 60%-70%, etc.), but rather 40%-60% is roughly average. Anything above 60% is a good score, anything below 40 is a bad score.

Dragon Quest XI Final Fantasy VII Final Fantasy VII Remake Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Final Fantasy XV Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix Kingdom Hearts 2.5 HD Remix
Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Prologue Kingdom Hearts 3 Ni No Kuni Ni No Kuni II
Nier: Automata Nioh Persona 5 I Am Setsuna
Tales of Berseria Tales of Graces f Tales of Symphonia Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Tales of Vesperia Tales of Xillia Tales of Xillia 2 Tales of Zestiria
Valkyria Chronicles


One of the rare times that I obtained a game at the time of release. FF XV had a lot of hype surrounding it after many years of waiting. This game is phenomenal, but it suffers from three issues (one being major).

  1. (Major issue) It’s way too easy. Let’s expand. One of the weapons you acquire during the main storyline is the Ring of Lucii. This weapon has an attack that is a one shot auto kill for 99% of the enemies you face (yes, even many of the tougher boss battles). Square Enix has given the user the ability to ‘cheat’ out of any battle, essentially. Any self-respecting player would feel awkward using this weapon to defeat a tough enemy.If that weapon isn’t enough, the game gives you the option to “summon” the Gods. This occurs at random, usually when you are getting beat up a bit in tough battles. This is a massive attack and does a hell of a lot of damage to the opponent.The magic system may be limited, but it isn’t short of destructive power. Try crafting some quintcast spells and using them on enemies. This is something like 9999 x 5 worth of damage, instant killing all low-level combatants and truly doing a number on high level enemies. Want a strategy? Stock up on magic, dodge around the battle field and just continually using magic on the tough boss that you can’t beat yet, and walouh, you have beat him.
    Another interesting power? The armiger mode. The armiger meter fills up regularly as you fight enemies, once it is loaded (usually happens at least once during boss battles) you can switch to armiger mode and deal an insane amount of damage and be impervious to dieing. Alone, this combat mechanic might not be too bad, but considering all of the other options you have on top of it, this just adds to the wide assortment of moves the user can utilize to take down any enemy with ease. Warping. Warping is one of the *coolest* aspects of FF XV. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of fun, but it is overpowered in this sense. Just warp around killing things and if you run out of magic, warp to the warp-point and your magic is instantly replenished, then do it over again. In trouble against a tough boss? Warp to the warp point to regenerate health and MP and get out of harm’s way. Awesome ability, way overpowered.Maybe the worst of the bunch is the usage of items. You can carry an almost (?) unlimited amount of potions, elixirs, phoenix dawns, etc. with you into any battle, almost ensuring that you do not die vs enemies even 2x your current level. Just bring 50 or so mega phoenix dawns and vs. the tough boss that you can’t beat and you’ll literally never die. FF XV truly needs a limit on how many items you can bring into battle (like Kingdom heats had). Bottom line: I’ve played around 90 hours of game play and have not died once. This game does not take skill and that’s rather unfortunate. I like to feel like I am learning and becoming an excellent player at the game, but unfortunately, it is rather easy to take down enemies that are well ahead of me in levels.
  2. Storyline. The story is actually pretty good and highly complex. For the most part, I was well interested in it, but it suffers from two related things: length of game play storyline and complexity of the actual storyline.First, the story is very complex, which is good and what you expect from a Final Fantasy game. The problem is, there is only 15 chapters and some are relatively short in actual game play. For the level of complexity that they want in the story, the resulting length is not adequate. I do not feel attached to the story as things happen too fast and are told too quick.Perhaps it would be solved by a little less complexity, thus resulting in more time for the key parts of the story. I don’t know, it’s not bad, but for FF XV standards, it should have been better.
  3. (Very minor issue) Magic System. For a game like FF XV, the magic system seems limited. There are only three spells (fire, blizzard, and lightning/storm), but they are adjustable based on what item/treasure you craft the magic with. This is actually pretty cool and a great idea, but the system does feel a little limited. This is only a minor issue, and only worth stating due to the hype surrounding the game.

Now, the reason I start with these negatives is because of how beautiful the game really is and how much I really want to call it one of the best games I’ve ever played. The game has a beautiful environment and the actual action/game play is ridiculously fun (once you get over the fact that you can kill anything with ease). For me to spend 90+ hours on a game means that the game is something special. I enjoyed the characters and side-characters. Navigating around the world is enjoyable due to how magnificent it looks. The music is about what you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game (meaning, very good). I have no problem recommending this game to anyone, with the warning that it won’t challenge you and that the storyline just falls short.

Animation (18/20)
Story (10/20)
Sound (12/15)
Combat Style (14/20)
Difficulty (1/10)
Polish (13/15)
TOTAL: (68/100)

Ni No Kuni

When I heard that Ni No Kuni was a JRPG that was being created with the visual help from Studio Ghibli I was immediately sold. The game’s animation does not disappoint. This game has a very unique look and feel to it that no other game can compare to. The music and audio effects are also of superb quality.

You would think that, with the character being a child holding stuffed animals, the storyline wouldn’t hold up. However, the storyline does have some mature appeal to it. I’m not going to kid you and describe the storyline as “for adults,” but the storyline definitely is thought out well enough to keep your interest.

The major issue I had with this game was how much it babied the user. This is an ideal game for someone who has never touched a JRPG or RPG game. The interface essentially points you towards what to do in many scenarios. The side quests are highly forgettable (outside of some of the hunts). The side quests are largely the same exact thing repeated over and over (go find someone with a certain heart, give their excess heart stuff to someone who needs it). This hurts the quality of the game a lot.

The fighting style is fun enough, with the pokemon-esque collection of animals and the action oriented fighting. Overall, a great game, and I’d definitely recommended it on the visuals and sound alone.

Animation (21/20) : +1 for uniqueness
Story: (15/20)
Combat Style (12/20)
Difficulty (4/10)
Polish (13/15)
TOTAL: (77/100)

Kingdom Hearts 1 FINAL MIX

Kingdom Hearts 1 is the game I played most on consoles. I have defeated this game on the PS2, PS3, and now PS4. I was able to achieve the platinum trophy for this game as well. Clearly, this is a favorite game of mine.

This game was released March 2002, a whopping 15+ years ago, originally intended for the Playstation 2. After a “Final Mix” update, which greatly enhanced the games playability, and repackaged releases on the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4, the game remains highly popular. The idea behind this game is a co-mingling of sorts between famous Final Fantasy characters of the past with Disney worlds and characters. Generally, people who have never played the series figures this to be much too childish, but the game is laced with a detailed and complex story and characters. Additionally, the game is actually quite difficult on proud mode (intended gameplay mode).

Out of all the released Kingdom Hearts games, Kingdom Hearts 1 does the best job at keeping Disney worlds relevant to the story. After this game, the story gets very complex and sometimes too cumbersome. Fortunately, this game keeps the story very organized and progresses properly as the player makes advancements. The fighting system is what made me love this game as a child. The fighting makes you feel as if you are holding the Key blade and makes you feel like you need actual skill to beat enemies. This is a great thing as it makes you want to battle more and more enemies and get stronger. Every new ability means a new way for your character to move in battle or roam around the various worlds. The worlds are not completely linear, but they are limited as the worlds were meant for the Playstation 2 system and not for the advanced worlds that we see in Playstation 3/4 releases.

The sound is simply fantastic and I have listened to the OST in my free time on multiple occasions, thus earning this title a bonus point in my rating system. The animation is consistently good for when the game came out and has since been remastered to HD and 60 FPS for the repackaged releases. In terms of any errors or bugs on the Playstation 4 version, I have only found minimal bugs on some cut scenes. One of the greatest additions to the updated Playstation 4 version is the 60 FPS and the extremely short loading screens giving the user a lot more time to participate in the game and not wait on load screens.

The difficulty of this game ranges a lot based on whether you are playing beginner mode or proud mode and if you are looking to defeat all the secret bosses or just complete the game. Some of the secret bosses (Sephiroth and Unknown) are extremely hard if under leveled (it took me 10 years to be Sephiroth).

Animation: (14/20)
Story: (15/20)
Sound:(16/15)+1 Bonus point
Combat Style (15/20)
Difficulty (6/10)
Polish (14/15)
TOTAL: (80/100)

Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories

Kingdom Hearts Re:COM is canon for the Kingdom Hearts story that is packaged like filler. COM came out in 2004 on the Game Boy Advance. Since then, it has been revived by the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 collection on the Playstation 3 and has received some upgrades to go a long with it.

Now, COM is canon material for the Kingdom Hearts world. The happenings at Castle Oblivion are extremely important in understand the storyline and what occurs during Kingdom Hearts II. The problem with this game is that it comes off as complete filler. Where Kingdom Hearts I and Kingdom Hearts II stand on their own in terms of story and gameplay, COM feels like the creators needed a game to tell more of the story in between KH I and KH II, so they used what they could from Kingdom Hearts I, slapped on a battle style that was conducive to a Game Boy Advance, and then told the story. More problematic, at the end of the game, the main character, Sora, has to completely forget what occurred during COM.

With those criticisms aside, this game does offer a lot of fun. The battle system is actually very interesting and fun (at least until you learn it thoroughly). Through the first few worlds, it was extremely exciting obtaining new cards and gaining new levels. However, around the mid-way point, you can create powerful sleights and have enough CP for your cards to essentially always win fights. This includes almost all the boss fights in the game. This creates a ‘broken’ gameplay when you simply need to edit your deck so that you can spam the important sleights and win the boss in less than 1 minute of fighting. The only notable difficulty is the final boss in Sora’s run. Ultimately, while the combat system is extremely interesting in the first few worlds, the interest quickly sizzles out when you realize how to ‘break’ the game and win every fight by simply pressing triangle the entire time (often, I would enter a fight, spam triangle, look away and eat, and win the fight without getting touched).

The music in the game doesn’t add anything special compared to Kingdom Hearts I. The animation style are the same from Kingdom Hearts I.

Animation: (12/20)
Story: (10/20)
Combat Style (10/20)
Difficulty (2/10)
Polish (8/15)
TOTAL: (50/100)

Kingdom Hearts II

Kingdom Hearts II, part of the Kingdom Hearts 2.5 collection, is one of the most spectacular games I’ve ever played.

Now, KH II does have some problems, particularly in how the storyline does not utilize the Disney Worlds as well as Kingdom Hearts I, and how the worlds tend to feel ’empty’. However, Kingdom Hearts II has the most complete combat system and difficulty level of any game I’ve reviewed so far. There are four levels of difficulty that the user can choose from with critical level being the most difficult. While critical level makes the game very hard, it also gives the user some very cool early abilities which is great for veterans of the series. It allows the player to “jump right in” to the combat instead of spending hours leveling up the user. This is an awesome idea.

There are countless boss battles in this game and most notably are the various Organization XIII member battles that you open at the end of the game. These battles can be replayed and give the player a range of unique and difficult battles to choose from. We also have tough Coliseum cups and the most difficult Kingdom Hearts boss in Lingering Will. These battles force the player to learn the boss’s moves and the game mechanics which is precisely what you want to accomplish if you are a game developer. It is a near ideal level of balance between difficulty and player skill.

The storyline is progressed well in this game, however, the Disney worlds end up feeling like complete filler in this game. Most of the storyline occurs in Hollow Bastion, Twilight Town, and Castle Oblivion. The Disney worlds are mainly there just for you to play through. This is unfortunate, as the Kingdom Hearts series sets out to connect Disney, Final Fantasy, and the new universe that is Kingdom Hearts, and I feel they destroyed a part of that connection by not making the Disney worlds more relevant to the main storyline.

Another criticism is the lack of feeling that the worlds have in this game. Kingdom Hearts I gave the player a magical feeling exploring the worlds, as if they were living. Here, there is just too many treasure chests available in open view making opening treasure chests almost feel like a chore, and not a reward for hard work. Few (if any) treasure chests are actually hidden well. The worlds are much bigger compared to Kingdom Hearts I which is good and expected for a game developed years later, but the worlds don’t have much going on other than fighting heartless and continuing the progression of the game.

Overall, this is simply a fantastic game, even with my gripes on the various worlds. The combat system and difficulty here are nearly perfect which makes the game quite addictive.

Animation: (14/20)
Story: (15/20)
Combat Style (19/20)
Difficulty (7/10)
Polish (12/15)
TOTAL: (81/100)