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The 10 Best JRPGs of 2016 So Far

The Atelier series has become a staple of JRPGs, and Atelier Sophie is actually the 17th entry in the series. Like previous titles the game has a huge emphasis on alchemy, and collecting the materials in order to do so. A new weather system even affects which enemies will appear in certain areas, thus affecting which materials are available.Sophie herself is a budding young alchemist who lacks the guidance of a mentor to become successful in her craft. That is until she happens upon a strange book that can move and talk entirely by its own will.

The original Project X Zone was one absolutely crazy idea bringing together characters from across Capcom, Bandai Namco and Sega series. Like its predecessor Project X Zone 2 is a tactical strategy game, that mixes in real time battles. The sequel ups the character count even more, and adds a few improvements to the already addictive battle system. This time around Nintendo characters are even present with guests from Fire Emblem Awakening. This is a worthy sequel that’s sure to soak up your time with its mix of strategy and action, along with its witty humor.

For as popular as the Monster Hunter series has been, we haven’t seen many series try and adapt its formula for themselves. That changed a bit this year when Square Enix released Final Fantasy Explorers, a Monster Hunter-esque title set to the backdrop of a Final Fantasy world and battle system. The new Final Fantasy title tasks you as an explorer setting out from the town of Libertas, taking on a myriad of quests and tracking down the life giving crystals. In traditional fashion you could switch between different jobs to change up combat, and you could even take on the form of some famous Final Fantasy characters. There may not be a ton in the way of story, but Explorers has an addictive gameplay loop that’ll keep you coming back.

Valkyria Chronicles was one of the most highly overlooked games on the PlayStation 3, and a JRPG that any fan should play. Its mix of gorgeous visuals and mature storytelling, along with a unique take on tactical battle make this one memorable game. Valkyria Chronicles tasks you as Welkin Gunther, a fledgling tank commander and leader of Squad 76 in the Gallian Military. When their country is invaded by the militaristic Empire, Welkin and his squad have to band together to save the country from being conquered.

With its newest entry Fire Emblem simultaneously made itself more accessible to new players, while also providing a decent challenge for veterans. Fates released in two different versions, Birthright and Conquest, which each provided a different story, different characters and even a different level of gameplay. Battles are completely streamlined flowing from the map to a battle seamlessly, and a few improvements like the exclusion of weapon durability also help change things up. The nations of Nohr and Hoshido are at war with your character torn between their two families on the opposing side. You must choose a side to support and deal with the ramifications of that choice.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions is the culmination of the crazy Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem Project. As such it takes some inspiration from both series, although the SMT side feels much more like Persona. The battle system  contains elements from both with the elemental attributes seen in SMT or Persona games, and also has the weapon triangle the Fire Emblem series is known for. An original cast of characters who are all aspiring idols in Tokyo, are joined by Mirages, souls of warriors from other realms which are made up of Fire Emblem characters. While these Mirages are kind hearted, others seek to cause chaos in the world and draw on people’s emotions, which is where our band of heroes come in.

Bravely Default was a breath of fresh air for JRPGs, a traditional title that simultaneously helped update and streamline the genre. The improvement made in the original like speeding up battle and adjusting encounter rates are all still here, and some of the criticisms like repetition have been removed. Bravely Second picks up two and a half years after the original, this time focusing on a membear of the Crystalguard named Yew Genealogia. The sequel is filled with quirky humor just like the first game, and continues the story with Tiz, Agnes and Edea while adding in a few new major characters like Yew and Magnolia Arche. Bravely Second doesn’t do a ton to separate itself from its predecessor, but in this case more of the same certainly isn’t a bad thing.

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