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Lesser known JRPGs, sci-fi settings, odd themes, experimental subjects, fan-translations, etc...

Discussion in 'jRPG Weeaboo Discussion' started by Louis_Cypher, May 10, 2020.

  1. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
    Joined:
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    [​IMG]

    I wasn't actually sure whether this topic was better off in the general RPG forum or the JRPG forum. It's rare these days to actually feel like you are exploring a brand new world, experimenting without any guide, not knowing where to go, not knowing what a spell/command even does. Every FF game uses the same list of spells. Every fantasy game has familiar races like Elves and Demons in. Afraid of alienating people, modern RPGs have extensive tutorials and introductions. But sometimes you just want a complete mystery world that you have to work out yourself over time with trial and error. The modern JRPG has a bad reputation for being formulaic and anime-derived, but just as 80s and 90s anime was significantly broader in subject matter than modern anime, the JRPGs of the 80s and 90s had a wider degree of experimentation, being closer to their western counterparts like Ultima and Wizardry.

    There was once an era of gaming when developers were putting out a lot of games that offer some genuine no-hand-holding-weirdness to get lost within, and for the first time in the lives of most of us, many of this lost era of games have now been translated from Japanese, allowing their appreciation and reputation to build.

    A lot of 8-bit RPGs just plonked your character down in the middle of a world and left you to your devices, maybe with a 20 page manual explaining a few things like common monsters and items. A famous example of having to explore/experiment was how in Phantasy Star, you had to figure out how to buy a special secret pass from a vendor to have access to the space shuttle port. If you are sick of knowing what to do, you might be searching for something from before the time when game systems were so well defined, and when enemies required some caution. It seems a lot of untapped potential exists in the 8-bit and 16-bit generations, for people running out of CRPGs especially, or for anyone who may think that the NES basically only had Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy on it. Please share recommendations.

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    Lagrange Point (NES)

    Named after the Lagrange Point in physics, where the gravity of two bodies provides an ideal stable point to place orbital habitats, this game seems to be a slightly harder type of science fiction than is generally not seen in JRPGs. Some kind of biological catastrophe devastated colonies in the Isis Cluster. This alone makes me want to try it out someday, because it's pretty rare to find sci-fi RPGs, for reasons that baffle everyone. It was translated by the Aeon Genesis team, who are responsible for a lot of fan translations over the years.

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    Ihatovo Monogatari (SNES)

    Non-violent RPGs similar to Stardew Valley, or adventure games using an RPG type perspective like a visual novel, are pretty rare. They attract me because sometimes I just want to explore a world without monsters, combat or random encounters. Ihatovo Monogatari is a game based on the written works of Japanese Buddhist children's author Kenji Miyazawa. The main focus is on collecting notebooks and items, with each chapter focusing on the short stories of Miyazawa. So if that sounds like your cup of tea, it might be worth checking out the translation by DDSTranslation, FlashPV & Tom.

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    Tresure of the Rudras (SNES)

    Indian mythology is pretty rarely covered in RPGs despite being a huge potential source of monsters and metaphysics. The only other major example I can think of is Digital Devil Saga. Treasure of the Rudras was a Japan-only JRPG derived from Indian themes, again translated by the Aeon Genesis team. I'm not sure how the original mantra-based magic system in which you had to spell magic out in Japanese characters has been handled, I assume you can now use the Roman script to put the mantras together. Depending on what syllables you used, you could combine spell effects to create a wide range of magic, through experimentation. You don't really see much experimentation in magic systems like that, it's almost like Arx Fatali's with it's mouse gestures I guess.

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    Shin Megami Tensei I & II (SNES)

    Okay, Shin Megami Tensei isn't exactly unknown these days, especially due to the Persona sub-series. But the darker main series is less played despite it's interesting occult tone. Expect crucifixion, secret societies, gangs of punks, random battles that might pit say the Archangel Michael against the Hindu god Vishnu, and ICBMs raining on the world. If it had ever been translated the series would no doubt have been considered a cult classic of the SNES era, but fear of religious backlash was no doubt responsible for Nintendo of America not wanting messianic prophesies and demonic imagery on their family system. Aeon Genesis translated the entire first two games, which was probably one of their most important projects given the series reputation and history. The perspective is Wizardry/Might & Magic style first person, (similar to the excellent Shin Megmi Tensei: Strange Journey on the DS, which is amazing). It's since been released officially on iOS if I remember right.
     
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  2. abnaxus Arcane Patron

    abnaxus
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  3. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
    Joined:
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    A few more oddballs, some of which were officially released in English:

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    Sugoro Quest - Dice no Tachi (NES)

    Remember that cute little scene in Persona 5 where you can play video games on a retro NES that you picked up in a second hand shop/thrift store? The various little games were based on NES classics, such as Punch Out. But there was one interesting one about a gambler that visits hell and has to win dice battles against the forces of darkness. I always wondered what the hell that was based on as it actually sounded like a really cool concept for a game. Maybe someone can tell me? Anyway, Sugoro Quest is the closest thing I can find; a kind off tabletop RPG dice game. Might be a nice chillout RNG game.

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    Destiny of an Emperor (NES)

    How about instead of fantasy, a game based on Chinese classic literature similar to Dynasty Warriors. Destiny of an Emperor lets you recruit all the usual famous faces like Guan Yu as 'generals' in your party. Only instead of HP health points, the number represents your general's number of troops, with each attack leading to dozens of nameless peons getting destroyed in the fires of war.

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    Earthbound ....and the rest of the 'Mother' series (SNES)

    It's not exactly an unknown game but people may not have actually played it. If you are looking for something different however, it lacks many of the usual anime tropes. Earthbound, known as Mother 2 in Japan, is one of the weirdest and least JRPG like popular JRPGs. The creators of South Park were hugely inspired by it's small town America aesthetic, which I'm guessing is also why things like The Stick of Truth took a JRPG style. As a kid who uncovers an alien menace Stranger Things-style, you start off by battling aggrieved crows, only to end up using psychic attacks against extraterrestrials. One Japanese author said they had played it 80 times!

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    Front Mission (SNES)

    Basically Battletech. There are five main Front Mission games, starting with an untranslated SNES one, which again has been fan-translated. It's military science fiction of the kind you don't see too often in modern RPGs. Featuring a world with a detailed political history in which several supra-national unions are in a state of conflict. The protagonists are usually part of the Japanese/South East Asian/Australian union known as the Oceania Cooperative Union/OCU (which isn't too different in membership from the actual Trans-Pacific-Partnership). The antagonists are usually the United States of the New Continent/USN a kinda militarized NAFTA with a South American empire.

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    Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS)

    This game is criminally overlooked, and is one of the best RPGs I've ever played. Probably my favorite JRPG. Going back to the old first person Wizardry type perspective of the earlier series, Strange Journey's plot resembled The Thing at first, being set in Antarctica. A huge event horizon known as the Schwarzchild Radius has appeared over Antarctica, and you have to drive a U.N. team of marines onboard a huge armorer rover in to investigate consisting of Americans Commader Gore and Jiminez and Russian scientist Zelenin. Most Shin Megami Tensei games have a morality system, but the choices presented in this one I found particularly interesting.
     
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  4. Puukko Arcane

    Puukko
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    Funny seeing SMT in here. Having played II, and with what I know of I, I'd probably put them in the "play if you're a series fan" category rather than recommending them to newcomers. Their systems would get greatly enhanced in later games and I'd recommend any of those first. On the topic of SNES SMTs, there's a few more you didn't mention:

    - if..., a side story spinoff that laid the groundwork for Persona. Utilizes assets from I/II heavily.
    - Kyuuyaku Megami Tensei, a remake of the first two Famicom games. This one actually intimidates me while the other games are rather easy. True ballbusting dungeon crawling.
    - Majin Tensei I/II, strategy spin offs akin to Fire Emblem. Only II is considered worth playing though. Banging synths:



    Out of these all but MTI are on my list.

    Strange Journey I can recommend to anyone with some knowledge of blobbers without reservation. I occasionally read comments against playing it as your first SMT but I can't think of a good reason for that.
     
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  5. ChaDargo Learned

    ChaDargo
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    It's a tactical strategy game, but the Super Robot Wars series is pretty cool. Alpha Gaiden or Original Generation are considered peak games in the series (there's a ton of them).
     
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  6. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    Yep, agreed totally. The list is basically for people who want to play something older and less well recognized than Shin Megami Tensei III: Lucifer's Call or Digital Devil Saga I & II, which is why I focused on older NES/SNES titles mainly (and Strange Journey because it's awesome). Also focusing on things that have only just been fan translated. My motivation is that quite a few RPG players on the Codex play older western RPGs such as Ultima 1-9 and Wizardry 1-8, and are not concerned about the age of the gameplay, it's even a bonus because some old gameplay can give a naturalistic tabletop vibe and be good for experimenting. I thought that if they were looking for something less JRPG like and more similar to Ultima IV they would be surprised by how experimental early Japanese RPGs were on systems like NES in terms of themes and stuff. Essentially since Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy were directly inspired by Ultima, you could argue that the JRPG and CRPG had not yet split apart into two separate genres to the extent they have today.

    A few more suggestions, but including some more well known PS2 games:

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    Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei I & II (NES)

    The original Megami Tensei games, from before the series had crystallized into it's current Shin Megami Tensei form. They were adapted from science fantasy novels about people summoning demons through the power of early computers and were less to do with the Carl Jung type pan-religious themes that the series later became known for. There was also an anime based on the same novels, but again it does not really have much to do with the later Shin Megami Tensei games, being more of a combination of cyberpunk ideas with the occult. The game was fan translated by EsperKnight, Stardust Crusaders, Tom.

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    Sansara Naga (NES) / Sansara Naga 2 (SNES)

    Unfortunately Sansara Naga 2 hasn't been translated yet as far as I can tell, but the first game has been. Again this is a JRPG set in ancient India, a more popular setting for Japanese games due to the shared links of Buddhist history and archeology between the two countries, but which unfortunately tend not to make it west. You seem to play a young Sramana monk or Brahmin from what I can tell, in the early period of Indian history. It would be really cool to have the second game translated as it seems to be one of the few remaining major SNES RPGs.

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    Shadow Hearts: Covenant (PS2)

    JRPGs tend to use a wider variety of settings than just medieval, often including steampunk, the early modern era, Prussian-type settings, the Victorian era, or even early 20th century, which can be a relief from the endless Scottish-accent-dwarf RPGs set in a medieval pastiche that get pumped out every year. Shadow Hearts is set around the time of WW1, and features historical figures in fantasy roles such as Rasputin. The game features protagonist Karin Keonig, a soldier of the Kaiser's German Army, fighting against Lovecraftian elements. It is the second game in the series, but is usually considered the best.

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    Digital Devil Saga I & II (PS2)

    An interesting Shin Megami Tensei spinoff series of games with the same world-spanning mythological themes, but a special focus this time on Indian yogic ideas. Cities are named after yogic chakras, and a beautiful fantasy world featuring ancient Indian temple architecture was created, which I think has great art direction. The two games form one story. A gang or tribe in the wasteland known as the junkyard find themselves infected by a demonic hunger that awakens their base emotions. They must ascend a tower where it is believed they will attain nirvana. The interesting buildings, mood of bleakness, dark beauty and haunting musical themes of the wasteland will be very appealing to some people.

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    Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs the Souless Army (PS2) / Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha vs King Abaddon (PS2)

    This is another interesting Shin Megami Tensei spinoff series, this time the setting is a dark fantasy 1930s Taisho period Tokyo, and features the trappings of the era, such as a mixture of Art Deco and Edo Period architecture, flapper culture, a rapidly modernizing society with a hybrid of ancient/modern, and vintage vehicles. It also has a great guitar-heavy soundtrack like most Shin Megami Tensei games, composed again by Shoji Meguro. Tokyo is sometimes portrayed in Japanese horror/fantasy as center of a dark supernatural nexus (like the hell-mouth under Sunnydale in Buffy), and this forms a backdrop to an occult plot. The Japanese occult practice of 'onmyodo' which is somewhat similar to ceremonial magic in western culture has elements of Chinese Daoist mysticism. Aside from the plot, themes include the exploration of the blending that was happening between western and Japanese culture at the time following the Meiji Restoration.

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    Jeanne d'Arc (PSP)

    Japanese historical figures like Oda Nobunaga get the hilarious and cool demonic treatment in games like Onimusha quite a lot, where maybe their lust for power or sheer ambition turned their soul into a demon lord or something lol... so why not have Henry VI? The Duke of Bedford form an alliance with the forces of darkness. Remember that time when England invaded France with an army of Orcs and Demons? Well, if you don't remember medieval England's orc legions, try this game out.
     
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  7. samuraigaiden Savant

    samuraigaiden
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    Metal Max should be here.
     
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  8. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
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    Something I forgot to mention about Treasure of the Rudras / Rudra no Hiho that may interest some people, is that it was actually the only major unique Square game I think (i.e. on the level of a Xenogears/Chrono Trigger type project with lots of budget) that was never released/translated to the west, (for people unfamiliar with JRPGs, it's a lost major RPG from the most highly regarded company of the era, from the same exact development creche as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger on SNES - highly regarded company). Some people feel it would have been well regarded had it been released, maybe spoken of in similar terms to those, but I don't know how good it is personally. Since many folks still play Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI every couple of years I expect that would be the most likely fan translation to enter mainstream appreciation one day.

    I'll offer a few more suggestions, then bow out, hopefully others will continue the thread. Some of these are really into well-known territory, but I guess might be unknown to western RPG players:

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    Phantasy Star I, II, III & IV (MS/MD)

    Once, Phantasy Star was the third biggest series after Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy (a position that is probably occupied by Tales or Shin Megami Tensei now, with Fire Emblem and others following close behind). For PC gamers who never had a Sega console it might have passed you by, since it essentially died and became something else more like an MMORPG after the classic 16-bit era ended with Phantasy Star IV. If you liked the combination of fantasy and sci-fi elements in Might and Magic, the Phantasy Star series might interest you. The game isn't exactly true sci-fi but it's rare enough to get anything with spacecraft in, so if you don't mind the level of space fiction being kinda like an 80s cartoon, then check them out.

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    Skies of Arcadia (DC/GC)

    Probably the best major old school fantasy game outside a major series, and outside the usual major stables of the era like SquareEnix. It was released by Sega on the Dreamcast, then got a re-release of the Gamecube, and features pure turn based gameplay. Many of the people who worked on Phantasy Star were involved. It is a little bit like One Piece in flavor, if you like that Age of Sail kind of atmosphere and shonen energy. Only instead of sailing the seas, the world is built around airships, and the exploration is of sky islands. The art style and attitude are nice, whimsical a bit like the fighting game series Power Stone, another lost DC classic.

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    Suikoden 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 (PS1/PS2)

    Suikoden isn't unknown I know, but I'm including it here because I feel it is 1). a much better introduction to JRPGs than Final Fantasy if you are inclined toward persistent settings, and 2). is in danger of being left forgotten by general gamers now that there hasn't been a major release in generations, and Konami are intent on becoming a non-gaming company. If you want a fantasy world that does not reset with every game, that builds a complex emergent picture you can pour over, similar to a western fantasy game, then I would recommend Suikoden (and also The Legend of Heroes) as a far better intro into JRPGs, as they are especially more similar to what a CRPG might expect in fantasy. The classic Chinese novel called Water Margin is essentially about what happens when the central government fails to provide a good life to citizens, with bandits rising to take the moral ground. The developers took that basic concept and blended it with European fantasy.

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    King's Field I, II, III and IV (PS1/PS2) / Shadow Tower & Shadow Tower Abyss (PS1/PS2) / Eternal Ring (PS2)

    From Software. This is the progenitor of Dark Souls, and very similar to the lineage of western RPGs that include Ultima Underworld, The Elder Scrolls and Arx Fatalis. It's a three dimensional first person RPG from Japan and on a console, at a time when this was almost exclusively a western thing and a PC thing. The strength of a lot of games from Japan is atmosphere, sound design and artistic integrity. In the case of these early From Software games, they often have very moody ambiance and general feel. Although the gameplay in the early PS1 King's Field games may be a little slow now, it is deliberate, like a Souls game, if that appeals to you. Later PS2 games, especially fan-translated Shadow Tower Abyss though, have some razor sharp menus and presentation.

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    Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land (PS2)

    After Ultima 1-9 and Wizardry 1-8 invented the RPG in the west in 1979 and 1981, the two oldest titles went silent on this side of the pond around 2000. But in Japan they had also been super popular and influential, basically kick-starting Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy as native attempts in 1986 and 1987, and Japanese companies, as you may know, actually continue producing tons of Wizardry/Might & Magic style grid based blobbers to this day. They almost never come west, and the genre pretty much universally went extinct here for a decade 2000-2010 until Legend of Grimrock revived it in 2012, which baffles me because I think the blobber perspective is very immersive and atmospheric. It can be moody as hell venturing through a dripping dungeon, but first-person is strangely compelling like you are in the mines of Moria. Well, a couple of blobbers from Japan were officially translated (more like Etrian Odyssey and Stranger of Sword City recently), and Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land on PS2 is an obscure one.

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    Etrian Odyssey 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (DS/3DS)

    If you love blobbers enough to give a really deep investment of time into a single series, then maybe Etrian Odyssey by ATLUS, the creators of Shin Megami Tensei, might be the kind of relatively obscure long-running series that you want to sink your fangs into. Thats because every release has had a full western release. It has an interesting automap that makes use of the dual screen on the DS/3DS and you can place symbols for things using the stylus, making for a very self-directed old school feel like the grid paper. The fantasy is pretty generic but that might not matter if you enjoy the format/gameplay. Also being portable is a plus for those who have a 3DS.
     
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  9. Reality Learned

    Reality
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    If we're doing slightly more well known things now

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    Lufia 1, 2, The Legend Returns, Ruins of Lore, Curse of Sinistals (SNES, GBC, GBA, DS)

    Lufia 1 is somewhat of a budget RPG for it's era, being lower difficulty and shorter than most, and using simple round based combat with MP based magic system. Lufia 2 is a actually prequel, which lets it be far more dramatic story-wise than Lufia 1, as it features characters who die in Lufia 1's intro sequence. Lufia 2 is also a fairly short and easy game for its main story, BUT it introduces an optional "Rogue" dungeon to the series - You can unlock the ability to play the Dungeon from the title screen menu. Entering resets your level to 1 (ala mystery dungeon) and strips all items and magic, which can be found in random chests - For many people this 100 Floor dungeon is the biggest draw of Lufia, and it's quite a resource battle and stands out compared to other games in the genre due to still feauturing turn based combat instead of the "tile based" single charather stuff you would see in a Classic Rogue / or Mystery Dungeon--- I think that spells being assigned as random chest items instead of being learned on level up is the most signifigant factor, especially for Healing Magic - every item counts, and even once you do get magic, restoring it is just as hard, within the dungeon, as you will not get to build up stocks of Ethers and Elixers as in the other games of the genre. Best of all is that the Dungeon feautures random encounter enemies FAR beyond the base game, You will see Wizardry-Esque deathsquads of Ninjas, Magic Casters, and Breath attack enemies -
    To cut down on frustration you have a couple of extra tools and mechanics to deal with it - The main one being that random enemies are visible within the dungeon, and you can get iniative if you learn their movement and engage them from behind (or avoid them entirely)
    The Franchise includes 3 Handheld games (GBC,GBA,DS) They are also fairly straightforward turn based RPGs, but all include a (usually easier) version of the Rogue Dungeon.
    People on the internet will claim that these games try to stand out mechanic wise, but 70% of the time they are still 4 person party, simple turn based games - the "pokemon elements" of GBA are only equippable special attacks for your normal charathers, and the job classing of DS is basically made redundnant by the low difficulty and the suitability of each charather's base class.

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    Grandia 1,Gaiden,2,Xtreme,3 (Sega Saturn, PS1, GBC, Dreamcast, PS2)

    Composed of Grandia 1, Grandia 2, Grandia GBC, Grandia Xtreme, and Grandia 3 (Only Grandia 1-2 should be played today though)
    Grandia 1 and 2 were once known as some of the best Sega Saturn and Dreamcast traditional RPGs - they had partially botched Ports to PS1 and PS2 (even the modern day HD remaster for PC has some shameful lag issues) . In my view Grandia 1-2's biggest appeal is it's theme and setting - G1 is a very nice swashbuckling wide-eyed adventure, while G2 has lot of inter-party conflict. G1 and G2 are semi-famous for having a "timeline" battle system instead of the (then) standard ATTB - both your charathers and enemies had their actions queued on a timeline, and you could knock them backwards to prevent them from getting a turn (or they could do the same to you). Despite having good system-wise combat mechanics, progression mechanics are a little lacking in Grandia 1, and Grandia 2's "mana egg" system (kinda halfway between FF6 equippable materias and a Job point skill-buy system) while better, only gets it to breadth-not-depth tier. So both Games have low difficulty but are interesting enough if you play them in a way that avoids the slowdown. Both games also feauture nearly full voice acting, which can be a minus (especially combat battle cries). I feel like everyone should SEE timeline combat at least once to get an idea about it's great potential, but I will admit that my soft-spot for the game's is what got me through.

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    Mystery Dungeon (SNES, up to Modern Consoles, with focus on PSP and Nintendo handhelds)

    Essentially a Japan does Rogue franchise -
    It is technically composed of several sub-series, being the "original IP" Shiren the Wanderer games, the "Pokémon" games, and "Final Fantasy " (mostly featuring a Minor party member called Torkenko from Dragon Quest 4 doing a solo adventure) There are also some one-off crossovers with Tower of Druaga being AWFUL, and Etrian being okay, but unremarkable
    The Shiren Games and Torneko are stricter about the always revert to level 1 when entering a Dungeon Rule, while the pokemon games are causualized and let you keep your level (they usually have a reset to level 1 dungeon as a bonus post-game dungeon, but too little, too late)
    The typical approach is Very much like actual Rogue - Single charather, in a dungeon made up of Floors that are randomly generated rooms, connected by 1 tile hallways, and stairs that teleport you Down. Also feautures the Majority of items types starting unidentified and has analogies for many typical Scrolls (harmful and helpful) that you would find in a Rogue or one of it's later Western succesors (ADOM,TOME, etc). Enemies can get really deadly, but they are (until later) never tanky themselves, so you can use the step system to gain an advantage, and will be carefully trawling your way through with your main concern being stockpiling items for the emergencies which almost inevitably come up on later floors. NEW Torneko and Pokémon allow you to bring companions or entire teams instead of a single charather, which is obviously broken, even if they have equipment or AI control restrictions. I feel like the series is commendable enough, although even though it is fairly speedy, once you get used to typical rogue keyboard shortcuts, the ASCII Roque games regain their lead again.

    I think in general - I would have to give three main ratings to the series - OLD Shiren + OLD Torneko = Short, but crunchy and difficult games. NEW Shiren + NEW FF (Chocobo) = Easy main story, but super excessive, grind your life out post game (using equipment level to grind, not charather level). Pokémon = Easy, but practically a diffirent genre due to not having the rogue level reset element, kind of has the excessive postgame, but mostly because of being the only pokemon games where you can actually catch them all.
     
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  10. TheImplodingVoice Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

    TheImplodingVoice
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    That's a nice list you've got there. Thanks for posting. And kudos to you for mentioning Shadow Hearts. Shadow Hearts 1 and 2 were great games and in my opinion better than Final Fantasy on PS2. Though I did finish Shadow Hearts : From The New World, I can't remember much to anything of it at all. Guess I could probably get my copy out and replay it on my PS2. Thanks for sharing this awesome list. Some truly great and criminally overlooked jrpgs there
     
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  11. samuraigaiden Savant

    samuraigaiden
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    Have you guys played SD Keiji Blader? You play as a space detective in a Power Rangers costume.
     
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  12. Louis_Cypher Learned

    Louis_Cypher
    Joined:
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    Messages:
    101
    Reality - I was thinking of mentioning Grandia in a post, thank you for adding it! It really is a lovely game, it has lively dialogue and an inviting atmosphere like an adventure shonen. Thanks for the kind replies everyone.

    One more post for the road:

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    Vagrant Story (PS1)

    Maybe this sold too well to be considered less well known, but we might as well include it. Vagrant Story is challenging, catered for hardcore gamers deliberately, with no hints, but there is a reason it's considered such a highly regarded game. It has amazing atmosphere and art design, it's hard to believe it's a PS1 game honestly, as it looks better than many PS2 games with those textures and lighting. It's technically part of the Ivalice setting shared with Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy 12 but can be appreciated as a stand alone work. The developers took trips to Europe and photographed old Cathedrals and stuff like Saint Emillion in Bourdeux (this is similar to what the Dark Souls team did I think). If I remember right, the director applied film knowledge to the way scenes were presented.

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    Arc the Lad I and II (PS1)

    I love pixel art, and I don't know a great deal about the Arc the Lad series, but I have always seen some nice screenshots of it's artwork. Based on that alone I would like to give them a play one day. It seems to have started off as a turn based series with parties, and become a tactics RPG later on from what I know.

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    Stella Deus: The Gate of Eternity (PS2)

    Another game I was attracted to playing just from the art. The character artist is Kazuma Kaneko who is famous for his distinct style and Jungian demon designs in the Shin Megami Tensei series, which makes it look like a Shin Megami Tensei game; the guy is such an intrinsic part of the Persona series games it would be hard to imagine them without him. I have no idea if it's any good, just a nice little oddity that might surprise.

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    The Legend of Heroes Series (PC)

    Nihon Falcom unusually for a Japanese developer make a lot of their JRPGs for PC, which means it's easy once the translation work is done for most of the major localized games to find releases are on Steam as well as consoles, because it's actually the console version that is sometimes the port. The art, especially in later games, is a bit more along anime lines, but the setting is early modern a bit like Fullmetal Alchemist. For example in the Trails of Cold Steel series, the country being focused on resembles a central European power like Germany as it was modernizing rapidly (perhaps with a dash of Japan's own Meiji period). But the appeal of the series aside from it's romantic setting, is that like Suikoden, it has a persistent world, so the Trails in the Sky series for example is set in the same world, but a different country. Ideal if you want more of a world to get lost in over multiple games.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
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  13. Abu Antar Tweet, tweet Patron

    Abu Antar
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2014
    Messages:
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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    It's a cool thread and all, but most of the games aren't very obscure, to be honest. Treasure of the Rudras is fun and easily worth a playthrough, but it is not the only unique Square rpg on the SNES that did not get an official English translation.

    Bahamut Lagoon and Live A Live are two games that I have very fond memories of. They also have banging soundtracks.



    There's a SRPG titled FEDA: The Emblem of Justice that's pretty cool. I never played the sequel. I don't know if it ever got a fan translation. This one might be obscure for the mainstream but I guess most here have heard of it.

    It's funny that the Romancing SaGa games didn't get official translations for ages, and now we have both of those, plus Scarlet Grace. The same goes for Adventures of Mana and Seiken Densetsu 3/Trials of Mana.
    For us Europeans, some of the games never came here. 7th Saga was an interesting game. While not Square, this one comes from the Enix side of things. Robotrek was another Enix published game that never came to Europe. These sure were dark times.

    On PS1, Legend of Legaia isn't often talked about. It's turn-based but has a cool combo system. The PS2 sequel is also decently fun.

    On PS2, Korean rpg, Magna Carta: Tears of Blood isn't talked about. I wasn't great at timing attacks, so the final boss was hard as balls until I found a good setup to beat him/her/it. The Xbox 360 sequel isn't highly regarded, but I liked it.

    Dark Law is another game that I don't think a lot of people have played. It has a slow as fuck start, though.
    Dual Orb II felt like a Breath of Fire ripoff. Grindy as fuck, but I remember having a decent time with it. That was many years ago, though. I don't think that I would ever replay it.

    When you think about it, there's a ton of games on many systems that we never got to play. It's crazy how many games I haven't played from earlier generations.
     
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  14. Wayward Son Fails to keep valuable team members alive

    Wayward Son
    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2015
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    Location:
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    A lesser known JRPG that I really like is Dark Cloud. It’s been one of my favorites for a decade and a half and was my first vidya game as far as I know
     
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  15. Kaivokz Arcane

    Kaivokz
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2015
    Messages:
    885
    All the arc the lad games are tactical RPGs. The first game is pretty short, more like a prologue. The second and third are longer, but continue in the same world. The second game has an above average story. I never finished the third.
     
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  16. Machocruz Arcane

    Machocruz
    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2011
    Messages:
    3,355
    Location:
    Hyperborea
    I remember looking forward to the game before it came out. However I was not ready for the combination of weapon breakage, thirst, and the dungeon map resetting after I left and came back. Wasn't quite enthusiastic anymore. It would probably be more tolerable to me now, but wasn't what I was looking for at the time.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2020
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  17. CyberWhale Arcane

    CyberWhale
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2013
    Messages:
    3,953
    Location:
    Fortress of Solitude
    Don't we already have a couple of similar threads already? Anyways, never played it, but this one looks quite interesting, 16bit top down jRPG with blobber combat set in a early 20th century Lovecraftian setting. Sawyeristic balance is just icing on the cake.

    Laplace no Ma

     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  18. CryptRat Prestigious Gentleman Arcane Developer

    CryptRat
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,922
    I think it's good, encounter rate is insane but combat and game overall play fast (unlike STED which is another sci-fi NES RPG but where combat takes hours). You recruit companions on the go. What's cool is that I'm almost sure you can miss some, and eventually you've got a lot to choose from and they are quite unique. Music is great by the way. Don't stop in the middle of the game, the later parts are the best parts.
    The game is good, if a bit short and not as ambitious as it may sounds at first. The game uses a P&P-ish stat & skill system and is well balanced around small numbers, the rooms are detailed and exploration and puzzles are fun, you gain a lot of XPs when advancing through the story which makes reacting to random encounters in another way than fighting (for example talking with the monsters) a legit option.

    These two games fit OP's criteria of cool setting and exploration with little handholding, and based on the same criteria I can also recommend Shadow Brain and Sweet Home.

    Sweet Home is a party-based adventure game with some very basic RPG elements (you gain levels raising HPs and damage). Dungeon exploration, puzzles (it's much more focused on puzzles than Laplace No Ma which is a classic RPG) and traps as well as art, story discovery and technical aspects are top notch and I think it's an excellent game.
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    Shadow Brain is a single character Cyberpunk dungeon crawler. Combat is alright given you control only a single character, you've using multiple weapons and monsters take more or less damage from the different weapons, you've got some consumables and some late parts when you've unlocked more combat options like barriers can be quite fun. Story is some cool common cyberpunk stuff the and game takes place in a big dungeon which does not feel lifeless, each area is themed and you'll visit areas such as "Medical town" which contains a lot of pharmacies, "Playland" with cinemas and games. One cool feature is there's no automap but instead you have to find the map of each area. You quickly unlock access to the network with NPCs to chat with and additionnal shops. By the end you'll search for the last upgrades and items which is fun, I had to grind a bit at the very end to be able and beat the last dungeon which is a bit less fun but overall the game is cool, unlocking new options for combat and for first-person exploration with little handholding is satisfying.
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    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  19. Ashigara Literate

    Ashigara
    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2019
    Messages:
    34
    I'd heard of most of these but not Lagrange Point, cool thread.
     
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