this game is causing problems in my life
bc i just woke up and someone linked a kotaku article that put kingdom hearts ii on a list of “20 jrpgs worth playing.” this has a bent towards obscure/fan translated games. Links go to translation patches or wikipedia pages.
- Diable de Laplace (SNES) - If it ever gets a fixed English patch it’ll be perfect. The one from AGTP has a nearly completed script, but the battles and menus are glitched out so badly it’s almost impossible to play. This is a good game, though—you have six classes you can choose from to pick your main character, and you recruit more to explore a haunted mansion. Monsters don’t drop money; you take pictures of the monsters (with a Journalist class) and sell them in town for cash.
- Mystic Ark (SNES) - I’m in the middle of this right now and it’s BEAUTIFUL. Surreal, dreamy, funny and gripping. You choose your hero/heroine and they wake up on a lonely, windswept island, in a manor that’s empty of other people but contains an awful lot of creepy wooden figurines. Different objects in the house contain miniature worlds, including a dried ocean with warring factions of pirate cats, a world where humans live inside enormous hollowed-out fruits and gourds, and a world populated by children playing in empty cities. It’s a really fascinating game.
- Terranigma (SNES) - This game never came out in the States so I played through it for the first time recently. It starts off strong, drags, picks up, then totally loses its shit at the end, but it has a really specific atmosphere that gripped me hard when I played it. It gets surprisingly emotional, even if some of the plot twists don’t make a whole lot of sense (might just be the translation; Illusion of Gaia/Time had this problem too). But it’s worth it just to see Earth take shape under your guidance, and to explore the different spaces the game contains. After finishing the game, I thought about what I’d seen for a long time.
- Marvelous: Another Treasure Island (SNES) - The director of Link to the Past apparently had a hand in this game, and it shows—a lot of the mechanics and sound effects are similar, which gives it a kind of uncanny feel. But it’s more different than it is similar: you control three young boys, each with different specialties and equipment, and get them to work together in order to rescue their kidnapped teacher and find out the mystery of the islands. I haven’t completed this yet—I reached a point in the game where I felt like it just ground to a halt—but I’ve had fun with it and I hope to complete it soon.
- Sweet Home (NES) - A horror JRPG and precursor to Resident Evil where five characters (a nurse, a cameraman, a producer, an art restorer and a girl with a skeleton key) check into a haunted mansion, but they don’t check out. The translation is extremely good and this is really worth playing! A large part of the game is managing inventory between your five characters, so try not to let any of them die. If they do, they’re gone for good!
- Cave Noire (GB) - This is stretching the “JRPG” definition a bit, but it’s a Japanese roguelike that’s pretty barebones but def. worth playing if you’re into roguelikes. My buddy L has actually made an adaptation of this for browsers called Return Alive! as well.
- Magic of Scheherazade (NES) - This game is really weird and fantastic and nostalgic for me, and oddly enough, the US version is completely different, from the Japanese. I prefer the US version’s layout, artwork and music, personally, plus it’s in English. It’s half top-down adventure game, half JRPG battles, which is a really weird combination but it kinda works. It’s about time travel in ancient Arabia and you get a bunch of amazing party members including genies and robots and a li’l pumpkin friend. I love this game.
- The Dark Spire (DS) - Jumping forward a couple decades, The Dark Spire is an Atlus RPG in the tabletop sense—you play it on a DS, but a lot of the rules are lifted directly from Dungeons & Dragons, including the Armor Class system I can never really wrap my head around. The game is kind of the flip side of Etrian Odyssey—instead of beautiful light and verdant forests, you explore a dark, dingy, entirely unwelcoming tower with four characters of your own creation. The artwork is AMAZING, with comic-book like deep blacks and lurid colors. It’s a completely unforgiving, punishing game, but if you take your time and work through it, there’s a lot of amazing shit in there. If you like Etrian Odyssey and want something that’s totally different from it, thematically, definitely give Dark Spire a try.
- Radiata Stories (PS2) - I played the shit out of this when I was younger on a day I was home sick from school. I tried replaying it recently and I kind of couldn’t get past the Anime Bickering between the main characters, which is a shame because I love the rest of it—you can recruit something like over 100 different characters to be party members, each of whom has their own different schedules through the day/night, and the plot takes some really big branching paths. This is a long-ass game, but it’s cool, and it’s one of the rare one-off Square IPs that was never expanded upon.
- Crimson Shroud (3DS) - This is one of Level-5’s Guild games, which are one-off projects involving different directors and wildly different themes. Crimson Shroud is a JRPG take on tabletop games, in which participants are actually depicted with little figurines. I haven’t gotten too far into this but it seems really cool. It’s probably not that obscure compared to the rest of this list, but it’s a good’un.
- The Bouncer (PS2) - A Squaresoft game that’s a cinematic beat-em-up with three different characters whose stories separate and come together. Weird and different and worth playing.
- Metal Max (series) - A post-apocalyptic JRPG series about tanks. I have the fan translation of Metal Max Returns on my computer but haven’t played it yet.
- Nanashi no Game (DS) - A DS game about a haunted JRPG that kills people. I was so excited for this, but when I saw the LP of it (linked), I was really underwhelmed by it in like every way. You Tried.
- Portopia Serial Murder Case (NES and others) - I keep meaning to play this, being Yuji Horii’s first NES game. It’s an adventure game about MURDER and apparently was a huge influence on Snatcher. I had some problems patching the ROM so I haven’t been able to play it yet, but maybe you’ll have better luck?
- Maharaja (NES) - Did you know there are a million fan-translated adventure games for the NES, including Maharaja, Dark Myth and Ghost Hunter? I didn’t expect it myself. I really REALLY liked Maharaja for a while, but I reached a point where you have to complete three dungeons consecutively, and in order to leave you have to backtrack all the way through each one in a row. I was like “are you fucking me?” Maybe I misunderstood the structure of that area, but I thought it was mega harsh. It’s a shame, because I love the rest of it.
- MOON Remix RPG Adventure (PSX) - God, this game is like the Holy Grail of RPGs at this point, because it’s amazing and important but there hasn’t been a translation released yet. It’s by Love-de-Lic, who was a company based around making games about love and about human interaction; its members later went on to create games like Chulip, Little King’s Story, Chibi-Robo, Flower Sun and Rain, etc. (By the way, all of those games are also on this Honorable Mentions list by extension.)
What a good list. I haven’t heard of a bunch of these, and they all sound super cool.
I remember having a really good time with Live-a-Live until I got stuck on one of the chapters. You play different characters whose stories take place at different stages in time; each feels fairly unique and you can tackle them in any order you like. One chapter is a wrestling game where you learn the opponent’s moves (so it’s sort of like a megaman-style puzzle); one chapter is a bit like Home Alone; where you’re a cowboy who has to plant a bunch of traps to weaken the boss, etc.
I played this a ways back, so I’m not sure if it’s full of fail? But one to maybe consider.
oh man! before I forget: to the folks that messaged me with Friend codes, I managed to lose track of where my 3DS was when I moved house; as soon as I find it I will add you.
(alternatively: front to back titles games)
KINTSUKUROI (Japanese: golden repair) -
the art of repairing broken pottery with gold lacquer so that the object’s brokenness, emphasized by veins of precious metal, become essential to its beauty
Anonymous asked: What's the most commonly mistakes you see made with worldbuilding?
Hey instead I’m gonna talk about taosym's new game The Reject Demo Toko because it's cute.
Demons who aren’t born with emotions gain them by ferrying human souls to the afterlife and use that energy to do rock and roll sex magic fighting. It doesn’t matter how much sense that makes or how much internal consistency the world has or it wouldn’t make an offhand joke in prologue about a lawsuit halting demonic invasion. The game is interested it having Cool Music and being a vehicle to literalize romance and emotions in Demonic Rock n Roll Magic. Also horns look cute. That’s literally the full story and a world can exist for only those reason. You don’t need years of backstory or history or lore unless they happen to be really important. This is a world designed to be funny and emotional and it’s so simple to do that with dialogue and aesthetic and sound rather than books you find on the ground that contain a wikipedia entry about a place you don’t care about. You are writing a story okay. You are not making a wiki.
The most common mistake made with worldbuilding is treating storytelling like making a wiki.
This isn’t quite a counterpoint, but: some of the best worldbuilding I’ve experienced in fiction seems to have come from the author writing the encyclopedia first, placing it to one side, and then telling the story afterwards.
To illustrate why I like this style so much, here’s a vignette from a computer game.
You buy a house to please your mega beau and they ask you to fill it with furniture. (All of this takes place in the protagonist’s mind, so: SYMBOLISM.)
The last thing you need to get for the house is a painting. The good news is: there’s a painting by a master that he’ll let you have for free. The bad news is: there’s a massive rip down the middle of the canvas, leaving a chasm of white space.
You can do some quests to get the missing piece, but the master is displeased. “I liked it better before”, he says, fixing the canvas, and handing you his former masterpiece.
When I played this game, I felt so acutely that, in the author’s mind? The world existed intact, exactly how they’d pictured it should be. But I, the player, could never ever experience this for myself - that world was sealed off.
Institutions and entities are alluded to opaquely, mysteries are introduced and never adequately resolved. At one point, your party are traveling across the countryside, and someone picks out this impressive structure in the distance. “It’s called a citadel”, they say. “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could go there?”, the protagonist replies, before returning to your predetermined path.
Even if you could hack that game and visit the citadel, you’d probably be missing the point: the point is to fill in the white space for yourself. It’s no good if someone else does it for you.
Every Godzilla film in chronological order, 1954 - 2014.
now I have to spend the rest of the day frantically trying to do or make or see something cooler than this
I have been trying to complete this game for seven years
THE NIGHTMARE IS FINALLY OVER
when I first found this tablet I thought that it was maybe kinda mean?
Here, as it taunts my imminent death after beating the final boss, I am totally ready to cry.