Back in March, Associate Editor Paul Ryan took a few shots at the Japanese role-playing game genre in his article Why JRPGs suck. While Paul raises some valid points in his piece (like, two), some of us at GamesRadar could write a graduate dissertation on why JRPGs are awesome.
Instead of coughing up a master’s thesis right now, though, we’re going to take one of the most awesome upcoming JRPGs for the Xbox 360 and use it to prove Paul wrong. Because if any JRPG is going to throw out the book and win over the inner cynic of every gamer, it’s going to be Tales of Vesperia - the eye-popping HD 10th anniversary installment in one of the granddaddy JRPG series.
We’ll start with one of Paul’s more reasonable complaints:
Tales of Vesperia might be part of an established series, but it’s no slave to JRPG conventions. Paul has a point that elemental magic is whored out way too much in most RPGs (not just the J ones), but in our recent hands-on with Vesperia, we only saw one spell caster who used any elemental magic. A lot of her spells had nothing to do with fire, ice, lighting or any combination thereof and her best spell is calculus. No, seriously, it looks like this:
And it does something like this:
Which results in exploding death for the enemy. That’s way better than any fireball spell we’ve ever seen.
Face it, Paul, random encounters are a thing of the past. Nowadays encounters appear as roving monsters on the world map or in the dungeon and you can run past them if you time it right - that’s how we got through most of Valkyrie Profile. The odd JRPG here and there might force you to fight encounters that you can see but can’t avoid (like the hallway is too narrow or something), but Vesperia doesn’t even make you do that.
About four hours into the game, we got a special item called the Sorcerer’s Ring that allowed us to shoot monsters from afar so we wouldn’t have to encounter them. Monsters that get hit by the Sorcerer’s Ring either become confused and freeze, get scared and run away, or... become enraged and charge after you. The point is, Vesperia does encounters differently than other JRPGs by letting you get yourself into and out of however much shit you fell like you can handle. And while, like most Tales games, the Escape option still appears in the combat menu, you probably won’t have to use it.