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Hope it's OK to start a new topic.  I know for a fact (based on past discussions) that I'm not the only person on these boards obsessed with turn-based, SRPG, JRPG, tactics-type games. 

We got our daughters a Switch for Christmas. They love Animal Crossing, and my eldest has requested Mario Cart for her birthday. So I'm proud of them for having good taste at a young age. 

I really, really, really liked the Switch and thought it might be nice to have one of my own. I commute to Osaka every Tuesday and Kyoto every Wednesday for work, a little over an hour each way, and I was having no issues passing the time with music, videos on my tablet, and mobile games... but I'd basically played UnCiv to death and I wanted something a bit more strategic than the Kemco games I'd been playing on my Android tablet.

I did a little research and found that the Japanese carts of Disgaea 5 and Civ 6 both play in English as well. And my wife and kids went to Grandma's place in the countryside for New Year but I stayed home because I was fighting off a cold... so I had a lot of time to kill... and a student had gifted me an Amazon Prime membership... 

The Switch Lite is an ideal system for me. The time just flies during my train rides now. I can easily kill time while waiting for students or if I have a cancellation. The leisure time I used to spend drinking with friends and going to wrestling shows is all taken up in a turn-based manner now, and so the device has made life in plague times way more bearable for me.

Disgaea 5 and Civ 6 were purchased along with the system (as well as Skyrim, which is an absolute blast - and mind-blowing to me that I can play it on the go) so the Amazon algorithm had no trouble figuring out my taste in games.

They love to let me know when something i might like goes on sale... and so I've picked up Warhammer Mechanicus, Fractured but Whole (I loved Stick of Truth), Ni no Kuni (love Ghibli), Mario + Rabbids (on a friend's very enthusiastic recommendation)... and I've downloaded Golf Story, FF7 (which I've never played before), and Wargroove... and haven't played more than a few minutes of any of them.

The reason? I also got the Sega Genesis Collection, which has over 50 games... but I got it just for Shining Force (an all time favourite, a true contender for my #2 game of all time, behind Disgaea 1) and Shining Force 2 (which I'd never played). I literally played the first one through four times, and the second one twice. I was in nostalgia heaven, and the games were perfectly paced for my weekly commutes. If I never played anything else, I'd feel like I got my money's worth just for that.

And Skyrim is just such a blast to play. Probably the first real open-world game I've ever gotten into. So much to see and do!

Then I got an import copy of Disgaea 4, and immediately devoured the main game. And as soon as I'd finished that I gave Disgaea 5 a quick look and ended up being unable to stop playing it. As much as the Switch Lite is a perfect system for a guy like me, the Switch plus Disgaea 5 is damned close to my platonic ideal of a time-killing machine. I'm well over 150 hours in now, with over a dozen characters at level 9999, and two (so far) resurrected and cranked up to the full 10,000,000-plus base stats... and I feel like I've just scratched the surface of the (post-) game. Haven't even started levelling up any gear yet. And you best believe I am marking out like a little kid at the (no extra charge) downloadable characters!! 

Even without the massive backlog, I feel like I'm well prepared (other than financially) for the inevitable second pandemic shutdown of Japanese society. I might actually get to kill the final, final, final boss on Disgaea 5 this year and move on to playing something else (or re-playing Shining Force, or giving Phantasy Star a try?) 

Anyway: SRPGs! 

What are your favourites, what are you playing now? Any recommendations? 

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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I feel that Ogre Battle, Shining Force for SEGA, and Final Fantasy Tactics have spoiled all of the strat RPGs that came after them.  The titles coming out now just don't seem to have the depth of story that the older games had.

I really should give Fire Emblem a chance, though.

If you want a change of pace from fantasy strat titles, the Front Mission franchise is the fucking bomb.  MECHA~!

 

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13 hours ago, J.T. said:

I feel that Ogre Battle, Shining Force for SEGA, and Final Fantasy Tactics have spoiled all of the strat RPGs that came after them.  The titles coming out now just don't seem to have the depth of story that the older games had.

I really should give Fire Emblem a chance, though.

If you want a change of pace from fantasy strat titles, the Front Mission franchise is the fucking bomb.  MECHA~!

 

I saw the title of the thread and my first thought was motherfuckin' Front Mission. If Front Mission 3 got re-released on, well, anything, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. 

As it is, if you're a fan of strategy RPGs and you have a PC and especially if you have a Switch, then Into the Breach is a must buy. In some ways, it feels like a spiritual successor to Front Mission, but it's also vastly different since you're playing on a 8x8 grid. It's also a rogue-like with time travel-y stuff in that if you die, you start over, but you get to carry some stuff with you. Also, you tend to get attached to your mech pilots and they grow with you as you complete each mission.

Speaking of that last point, while it isn't on the Switch, the new X-Com games are fucking rad. Big Fresh or someone used to have an X-Com thread back in the day where they named all of their soldiers after folks on the board here. When one of those soldiers would die, there would be a memorial and it was a good time. X-Com is a game that I keep feeling like I should get back to.

HOWEVER, you have a Switch and you're asking about strategy RPGs. It's not a joke when I say GET MARIO + RABBIDS KINGDOM BATTLE. It's basically X-Com, but with Mario and Rabbids and it's fucking awesome. 

And while I haven't played it, I know the new Fire Emblem game on the Switch received very high marks from many sources. It doesn't seem like it's for me because it looks like there's too much relationship building type stuff and I can't really get into those games, but a lot of people like it.

Edited by Craig H
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Posted (edited)

Front Mission! I'd almost forgotten about that one. 

I''ve owned the following game systems, which (somewhat) limits which games I have been able to play: Atari 2600, NES, SNES, PS2, GBA, DS, Wii, Switch. I played the hell out of the PS2 Front Mission game.  I loved customising my Wanzers. I also got the port of the first FM that they made for the DS. I found the first campaign, where you play as the stronger army, to be a lot of fun, but the second one, where you play as the underdogs, was pretty hard. I had to keep going back to Gamefaqs to finish that one.

I tend to play SRPGs to relax/kill time while commuting nd travelling, so I can get frustrated with the kind of strategy game where a single mistake can wreck an entire campaign. I get how that high level of challenge can be appealing, but it generally isn't what I'm looking for these days. 

I also get crushed by perma-death. I get too into my characters sometimes, and it broke my heart every time a Pegasus Knight got felled by a single arrow in Fire Emblem, Regardless, it's still one of my all time favourite series. I've played Fire Emblem games on the GBA, DS and Wii and loved all of them (despite the moments of anguish). I've heard that Three Houses on Switch has the option to turn off perma-death. I can sympathise with anyone who is all "it isn't really Fire Emblem any more" but, for me, that is a selling point. I'll definitely add it to my pile if it ever goes on sale. 

I found a second-hand copy of Valkyria Chronicles 4 at a good price at a local shop but opted not to buy it. That was a good choice because it's not a game where the Japanese card also plays in English. Some games do, some games don't. I had to pick up an import copy of Disgaea 4, for example, but I can play the Japanese version of Disgaea 5 in English. The region-free aspect of the Switch works really well. My Switch is set as region: Japan, language: English. My daughters' Switch is Japan/Japanese. If I put their Animal Crossing card into my machine it plays in English without any adjustment. Put it into my daughters' machine and it goes right back to Japanese. 

w/r/t X-Com, it combines perma-death with "one mistake can wreck your whole campaign" so even though it seems like exactly my kind of game,, and even though everyone seems to love it and my strategy gaming friend super-enthusiastically recommended it  to me... I wasn't able to get into it when I tried out the mobile version on my tablet. Just a little too intense for my commute. (I mean, Disgaea can be pretty intense, too, but in a totally different way. I personally prefer figuring out complex systems and breaking the game rather than having the game break me for making one false move). And, if I get to work or my student arrives and I need to pause the game I can forget all of the complicated situations I'm negotiating by the time I get back to it. 

The same friend also recommended Mario + Rabbids. He said, "You will not believe how stupid and how great this game is!" that's pretty much how I feel about Disgaea, so... it went on sale last week and it's already in my pile. Looking forward to trying it out.

 Into the Breach looks really cool! Probably one to play at home on rainy days more than one for the commute, because of the "forgetting where I was when I paused it" issue. 

I played Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis on the GBA and loved it. I've never played Ogre Battle or Let Us Cling Together. Those games are right near the top of my wish-list for Switch ports I wish someone would make. I can't emphasise enough how much I loved re-playing Shining Force and finally getting to play Shining Force 2. 

Speaking of ports and re-releases, I've heard that they are releasing  NIS Classics Volume 1 this year! Phantom Brave (which I love) and Soul Nomad & the World Eaters (which I've never played or even heard of before now) coming to Switch, remastered. Here's hoping for La Pucelle: Tactics in volume 2!

EDIT: Good Lord! Almost immediately after posting this I got a notice: Fire Emblem: Three Houses has just gone on sale in the (Japanese) Nintendo E-Shop.  30% off! I'm downloading it as I type this. Stoked... even if it's going to be a good while before I can get to playing it (and Mario + Rabbids and so on...)

 

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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18 hours ago, Craig H said:

And while I haven't played it, I know the new Fire Emblem game on the Switch received very high marks from many sources. It doesn't seem like it's for me because it looks like there's too much relationship building type stuff and I can't really get into those games, but a lot of people like it.

This. I had never played a Fire Emblem game before so went in totally blind. It's clearly designed for multiple playthroughs so that you can work through each house's story, and while I loved MOST of the game, it was incredibly tedious the way you needed to build relationships in order to train / level up your characters. As much as I would like to play it again using a different house, I just don't feel like committing that much time running around looking for objects and cooking/eating/whatever else there was. 

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6 hours ago, Setsuna said:

This. I had never played a Fire Emblem game before so went in totally blind. It's clearly designed for multiple playthroughs so that you can work through each house's story, and while I loved MOST of the game, it was incredibly tedious the way you needed to build relationships in order to train / level up your characters. As much as I would like to play it again using a different house, I just don't feel like committing that much time running around looking for objects and cooking/eating/whatever else there was. 

Ok, thanks for confirming this. Every now and then I'll be on the fence about buying Fire Emblem because it will get talked about on the Giant Bombcast and it sounds interesting. If it's like that though, then I'll pass. 

Also, to go back to Into the Breach again real quick, it's cheap. It's maybe $20. I wound up buying it on PC first and when it came out on the Switch I snapped it up there as well because it's like the perfect Switch game kinda like how FTL is the perfect tablet game.

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I love SRPGs as long as they have flavor. I bought Disgaea on PS2 15-or-so years ago and almost beat it. Recently I got a PSP and had tons and tons of fun playing ZHP: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman (JRPG roguelike w/ the Disgaea engine, play it ~) and that was the motivation I needed to set things right. Beat the Switch version of Disgaea late last year then I immediately plowed through Disgaea 2. 1 is very good, 2 is freaking great. All the things that felt like a waste of time or was too obtuse to use in the normal game in D1 (Dark Assembly, Item World, etc.) all of a sudden felt balanced and worth my grind. Really highlighted the two things people misunderstand about that series 1- If you don't want to grind to Level A Million, the games have well-written 40+ hour stories that are still worth the price 2- The point of the grind isn't to press X until your eyes bleed, it's to figure out the most efficient way to do it via exploiting certain maps and mechanics. Nothing is "cheating", the developers know what they're doing. I'd love to fuck around with the post-game on both but I have such a huge backlog... Disgaea 3, 4, and DD2 are all chilling on my shelf. I will probably beat the Etna and Axel modes though, although who knows when.

Loved Valkyria Chronicles despite some clunk. Great storyline, heartbreaking, super clever shooting mechanics, really good DLC too if you wanted more of John DiMaggio voicing the tank-destroying muscle queen (Lord knows I did). Valkyria Chronicles 2 is nonsense because you can't save scum, and it's really obvious that VC1 was designed to be heavily save scummed. Loved Fire Emblem: Three Houses for doing the anime highschooler ensemble as well as I've ever seem a game do it. Contrary to my overwhelmingly Japanese game library, I hardly watch any anime but fuck if every character in that game isn't expertly voices and thoughtfully written. I thought that would be my foot in the door for older FE's I've struggled with so I got Fire Emblem: Sacred Stones because everybody says it's relatively easy. So here I am halfway through the game and I find out it's only considered easy because there's this battle arena you can totally exploit to level way up, and once it's gone it's gone. Thanks for that. I know Awakening will probably work for me and I'm about 10 hours into Shadows of Valentia and like what I've seen so maybe I just prefer the modern stuff. Older fans who hate on the new games and flex how hardcore they are can piss off. If you speak English and have liked the series for that long you probably got into it via emulation and save-stated your way through your first three games. I still play with perma-death, but those old ones are bland.

And that's my thing with a lot of other series. I have tried and failed to start the first Final Fantasy Tactics like, three times at least? I own both Tactics Ogre games on GBA and PSP and I can tell they're really well made, but... this isn't a rhetorical question, what do they have to offer other than playing chess with standard fantasy classes + telling very straight-faced sword-and-sorcery stories? Their first hours seem so solemn. I say this as a guy who likes New Vegas but can't fathom Skyrim fwiw. I'd rather have a game like Jeanne D'arc that's a bit of a pushover but positively dripping with personality and charm.

Shining Force is another series I've never actually beat a game in, but that's because I keep buying SEGA compilations when they're on sale, playing one for a big, happy session and then forget it exists the next day. Very high on my list of 16-bit things to get around to.

 

 

 

Edited by John E. Dynamite
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I can't stand SRPGs, and considering the gargantuan state of my backlog and how long the things take I have no great inclination to try and change that.

That said, Into the Breach is one of the best games I've ever played so I'm definitely seconding that. Three controllable units, an 8x8 grid and minimal gear/exp modifiers prevented me from feeling bewildered at having a billion possible moves at my disposal like I normally would. I can actually sit and analyse the board like it's a game of chess before making my moves (which I assume is what normal people can do with regular SRPGs) and reject the notion that the winning moves were something that would never have occured to me when I lose.

After working my way up the difficulties almost every round of every game ended up some variation of 'There are six enemies about to attack five different targets. I have three controllable units, none of which has an attack strong enough to take an enemy out by itself and only one with the HP to withstand an attack.' with me eventually having to come up with a Rube Goldberg machine of push / status / block / exhaust / sink chain reactions so that miracle of miracle everyone lives just this one day. Then two more of the bastards crawl up out of the ground to join the rest and you have do it all again for round two of five only without some of the things you've just sacrificed because there was No Other Way. Many games present seemingly insurmountable odds for you to gain the satisfaction of surmounting but I think only Into the Breach has made me keep believing they were insurmountable with such frequency.

 

Fractured But Whole is a great, safe choice if you liked Stick of Truth. I rate both, as I do the Costume Quest rpg-as-role-players contextualisation it uses. On a similar note I'm currently dabbling with Chroma Squad. Not something I'd recommend (I don't like SRPGs, honest!) but I love its framing of SRPG battlegrounds as 'indie TV studio filming Super Sentai fights' which it runs with about as well as you could hope.

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Posted (edited)

So I managed to finish the "normal" Baal stage (the final final final boss, but not really the very last one) in Disgaea 5 with "only" about 250 hours of playtime and without any massively overpowered level-500 10,000,000-stats gear, which kind of surprised me. There's still Super Overlord Baal to go, which doesn't surprise me at all... but that's another couple of hundred hours of grinding gear in the Item World away so I put 5 on the shelf for a bit and switched over to Fire Emblem Three Houses (FE3H).

Coming one boss away from truly finishing Disgaea 5 in around 250 hours surprises me because I chipped away at the first Disgaea for literally years before actually completing it. I brought the DS version with me to Japan and it served as my time-killing train-riding device until that final moment. I felt a little sad when it was over. But now, there is so much excellent advice available online, and NIS have put so many massive power-leveling maps and mechanics in the game (even allowing you to build your own maps). I think that under-5-hours-to-kill Baal speedruns exist now, which is truly insane!

Anyway: I LOVE that game, and I will get back to the massive grind of it eventually. 

FE3H is also just tremendous. Everyone is right about all of the dinner parties and tea parties and lesson planning and non-combat mechanics, but I found stuff to actually be surprisingly enjoyable. That part of the game is very much a good Hogwarts sim in disguise. The cut scenes between chapters run kind of long, if I am going to to nit-pick something. 

Main thing, though: The combat is incredible. I'm enjoying a pretty casual playthrough, not playing on Maddening difficulty (literally what it's called) and with permadeath turned off. It's relatively stress-free, but strategy, tactics, and team-work are all still vital to success. Exactly what I am looking for right now. It's also a really beautiful game, with great music, and I have found myself getting really attached to some of the characters. I don't think I could stand playing this with permadeath turned on.

Golden Week (a chain of Holidays that gives the whole country a break) has just finished up here, and with Corona limiting my social options I'm really happy to have had the time to put into two really excellent SRPGs. Can't imagine how bored I might have been without them this past week.

Edited by El Gran Gordi
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I despise classic Fire Emblem permadeath, but the added mechanic of being able to rewind as many turns as you want a set number of times per battle is a perfect compromise. There's still the tension of losing a party member but you can erase bad misses/unlucky crits, or take some big dumb risks you otherwise wouldn't. I think it's only in Three Houses and Shadows of Valentina, though. I think every Fire Emblem game should be remade with the Time Wheel mechanic. I would sell my copy of the $300 Gamecube FE in a heartbeat if they so much as put that kind of remake on the Switch e-shop.

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It's a fucking embarrassment that Ogre Battle has never made a modern return. The kids don't even know.

I was the literal one person that felt Into the Breach was a significant step backwards from FTL. The look and style was great but the gameplay just wasn't it. Judging from the general sentiment online this very much feels like just a me thing.

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It is really weird that Ogre Battle died with the N64 version. I recall that game being very popular. I wonder if it's just a thing where all of the devs on that game moved on, but even still, you'd think that in the time since that other kids who played and loved that game at the time would turn into game devs themselves and try to make a follow-up.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/28/2021 at 4:18 PM, Setsuna said:

 As much as I would like to play it again using a different house, I just don't feel like committing that much time running around looking for objects and cooking/eating/whatever else there was. 

I've just started my second play-through and I can see what you mean here. By the last three or four chapters of the first play-through I was starting to get tired of running around the monastery finding and speaking to everyone. I'm probably going to have to take a break at the start of each in-game "moon" or something, this time around.

Also, thanks in part to all of the online advice out there about the game now, by the final third or so of the game my characters were mostly optimized with builds, skills, weapons, and classes that made them kind of overkill-y for  "hard" (as opposed to "maddening") mode. I was OSK-ing pretty much everyone but the bosses and could wipe out a whole group of enemies by flying one character in on their wyvern or pegasus to dodge-and-crit everyone who attacked them. That was a lot of fun... but it kind of took the strategy out of it!

That being said, running it with different characters and more knowledge of what I'm building to - with the advantages of a new game plus taking away a significant chunk of the grind - keeps it interesting enough that I'll definitely run it through three times to get all three perspectives on the story. 

I'm also wondering if I should experiment with sub-optimal builds or lay off the forged-up and/or magical super weapons to try and keep the end-game more challenging.

The DLC also went on sale, so I picked it up, but I might lay FE3H aside for a bit before coming back to play that through as well.

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  • 1 month later...

After finishing my second play-through of Three Houses I decided to lay it aside for a while. I wanted to have a look at No No Kuni, which is a game where staff from Studio Ghibli contributed to the art and music.

I'm now about 50 hours into it. I just couldn't put it down. Totoro and Spirited Away were key movies for my wife and I when we were courting, and the Ghibli museum in Mitaka near Tokyo was one of the first places we went on out first visit to Japan. So, no surprise that the animation and music totally won me over. 

It's also a really nice game. A major part of it is healing the broken hearts of various NPCs you encounter. Also, a huge part of it is murdering cute totoro-like creatures by the dozens to grind out experience... it is a JRPG. But its heart is genuinely in the right place. 

I've never played a pokemon game but from what I understand this game is along those lines. You tame creatures and they fight for you. The reviews I read said that the AI is bad and the game can be tough or frustrating because of that... but there are a lot of guides out there recommending the best "familiars" to recruit, and I am a fiend for grinding, so it's actually been a little on the easier side so far. The "strategy" aspect seems to come into play more w/r//t figuring out how to set up your teams and which "familiars" to grind up, and so on, rather than in the battles themselves. The characters, the art, the music, and the general theme of helping people make it a very pleasant way to pass the time on my weekly commutes. 

I'd definitely recommend this one if you like Ghibli at all.

 

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I LOVED Ni No Kuni. The concept is just great - brokenhearted child's dead mom comes back to him as a stuffed animal companion to help him heal. The graphics and music are amazing. It gets a little grindy but it's a fabulous game. 

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  • 2 months later...

<revives 2 month dead thread>

 

Civilization 2 is my favorite game of all time. I hadn't really played any of the subsequent releases, and mourned when my OG iMac died a few years ago and I could no longer play Civ 2.

 

My wife got me Civ 6 for Christmas 2020 and it took me a while to get used to the wildly different strategies and mechanics, but I eventually got really into it and started getting OK at it. I recently sprung for the fancy update package, which among other things introduced natural disasters and climate change from power plant emissions. I'm still on my first play through with these new features but it's definitely made it more challenging.

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So has this turned into the general Strategy Game thread? Because it turns out Humankind is pretty great.

I mean, there's a lot of things that need polishing. But the mechanics are deep and interesting.

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