Handheld JRPGs

Branching off of recent discussion in the Tough Sells thread, here‘s a place to talk about handheld JRPGs. @whatsarobot was going to recommend some games from the last decade or so, but feel free to talk about older stuff too! I suppose this might end up treading some of the same territory as that thread chronicling the death of PSN, which I’d totally be fine with. I never had a PSP, and JRPGs are really the only PSP games I‘d be interested in playing now, so I’d love to hear some more detailed talk about them.

Riviera: The Promised Land is great on both GBA and PSP. Essential a Visual Novel with Dating Sim elements, but and here is the kicker, intense RPG combat. Especially because all your weapons degrade and thus there is a ton of resource management you have to figure into every battle. There is essentially no exploration, but if you can get into the flow of the game it is very fun to be taken on the ride it is trying to take you on. GBA version has crunchier pixels (my choice) but the PSP version has more bells and whistles (voice acting etc)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kewD4SaEhc

@robinhoodie#24390 This has been on my to play list for soooo long, along with all the other Dept. Heaven games. Seems like a really interesting and varied series.

If you want to play Phantasy Star on the go. The GBA collection does a good enough job of the first game (yes I know there is the save game glitch) and that‘s the way I was finally able to beat it (that you can save anywhere helps a ton). And if you looking to play the rest of the series the Sega Genesis Collection for PSP is the main way I have replayed PSIV in the last 2 decades. Phantasy Star 2 and 3 though are pretty rough these days without some rom hacks, but they’re on both!

@robinhoodie#24398

Which rom hacks would you recommend for 2 and 3?

And I was actually gonna mention the Sega ages switch version of the first Phantasy Star. It's my quintessential way to play that game. It's got the auto mapper which is really cool, and an enyclpedia for all the items and spells.

Thank you for starting this thread, @saddleblasters

If we're strictly talking PSP here, my Top 5 Cool and Fun Picks would be...

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    Brandish: The Dark Revenant. While not a typical JRPG, it's JRPG-adjacent enough. The gimmick here is, instead of rotating your character while exploring a top-down dungeon, the dungeon rotates around your character! Whoa! But what makes it so engaging is the thoroughness with which you have to explore the dungeon. There are traps and pitfalls everywhere, and enemies to attack methodically. I love this game.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRu_qfjNlKs

  • -

    7th Dragon 2020. Fairly typical dungeon crawly JRPG, but set in Tokyo with clean sci-fi aesthetics, a heckin' good Yuzo Koshiro soundtrack and a snappy battle system. It's funny to think that this game about the post-apocalyptic future is set... last year. lol

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    Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth. Technically just a port of a PS1 game, but this is the best way to play it. Haunting and gorgeous visual style, and a simple but fun battle system, where each of the face buttons controls the actions one character.

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    Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Somehow this has never been ported, even though it rules??? Best graphics on the PSP, easily, and a weird, actiony slot machine battle system. Play it now before the inevitable Remake tie-in rerelease, when everyone will start talking about how, actually, this game has always been secretly cool.

  • -

    Jeanne d'Arc. From that beautiful moment in time when Level Five was a feisty up-and-coming studio making heartwarming and comfortable JRPGs with surprisingly high production values. Imagine if Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre was fun to play and had a Saturday morning cartoon / late 90s anime storyline.

  • Bonus: If you suffer from insomnia, give Trails in the Sky a go!

    @milo#24407 Sega Ages version of PS1 has come up before and yeah. It is a master class in updating a game.

    Phantasy Star 2 mostly needs the grind toned down so https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/925/ or https://www.romhacking.net/hacks/924/

    Looks like no one has implemented the fixes M2 did on the Phantasy Star Collection for Phantasy Star 3 roms. That's a bummer.

    For those looking to play 7th Dragon PSP in English, guess what?

    https://cdromance.com/psp/7th-dragon-2020-english-patched/

    https://cdromance.com/psp/7th-dragon-2020-ii-english-patched/

    I am still trying to track down a reasonably priced version of the US 3DS release

    Edit: For some reason I thought this thread was only about PSP JRPGs, lol. Well uh, here are four JRPGs for the PSP that comes to my mind…:

    **Brave Story**: It is based on a series of books by award-winning author Miyuki Miyabe (though I do not think she herself participated in the game's development). I am around 30 hours in. It's just a very solid RPG game. Tim Rogers gave it a shoutout in his Kotaku Dragon Quest XI Review. What kept me going was the batle theme. It is probably in my top 10 JRPG battle themes of all time (And I'm pretty much a JRPG collector, so I play a lot of these).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hTJofFyECI

    **Mana Khemia Student Alliance**: I have not played the PSP version of this. I played the PS2 version though. I heard there isn't much of a difference, except it isn't fully voiced acted and that the loading times are much longer than the PS2 version. The story is extremely cozy and the characters are very anime. The battle system is like FFX but sped up and just feels much better. Probably in my top three battle systems of any JRPG ever. It is also in my top five JRPG soundtracks ever.
    Just check out the music during this battle!:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfBx0xdIVPE

    **Growlanser Wayfarer of Time**: The successor to the Langrisser/Warsong series. This is actually the fourth game in the series originally released in Japan only in the late 90s, but came out here in the US around 2012 or so, and works as a stand alone title, you don't need to play the others in the series to understand what's going on. I binged listened to the opening theme, it just feels very nostalgic especially to late 90s and early 2000s anime. (I did not open my copy yet, but I heard it is really good! The back of the box says there are more than 40 endings, and "it's your choice which characters with whom to forge bonds or pursue romance, but be aware of the outcome...")
    https://youtu.be/mSk037mvnk8

    **PoPoLoCrois**: I did a small write up on treefroggy's MOTHER thread! https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/673-mother-like-games-with-twin-peaks-sprinkled-on-top/31 It's really great so far, and a lot like a MOTHER game. Here's the battle theme.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncverBdIYNo

    @X3N0Sbioz#24412 Haven't played Mana Khemia, but I totally second the rest of your picks!

    Whatsarobot‘s picks are all ones I 100% am behind, aside for JdA, which I didn’t get into.


  • - The obvious Final Fantasy Tactics & Tactics Ogre Let Us Cling Together
  • - Persona 1 port is dope and cozy
  • - Final Fantasy 1-4 all had PSP ports, and they all have great graphics and sound. I finished FF1 the whole way through on PSP.
  • - Final Fantasy Dissidia, while technically a fighting game, does a lot to satisfy the JRPG folk.
  • Let‘s talk about the amazing 3DS library of JRPGs, and how it’s the best.

  • - All those Fire Emblems. They all offer something interesting, and they're all better than Three Houses.
  • - **Etrian Odyssey.** Every one of them is a joy to experience, and that includes the Persona Q games. Check the Tough Sells thread for more.
  • - **Bravely Default.** You like job systems? You like intricate little pop-up book worlds? You wish Final Fantasy still felt like Final Fantasy?
  • - **Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology.** Yoko Shimomura soundtrack. Time travel plotline. The option to skip scrub battles and only fight bosses.
  • - **Shin Megami Tensei IV.** The most punk rock JRPG Atlus has ever made. Effortlessly playable and covered in grunge.
  • - **Shin Megami Tensei: Apocalypse.** SMT IV's dumb step-brother who's rich but tries really hard to act like he's not.
  • - **Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux.** A slightly more playable version of the doom and dread filled DS game.
  • - **Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers.** The Serial Experiments Lain of video games. What if the internet was haunted.
  • - **The Alliance Alive.** The most competent and endearingly low-budget fan tribute to the SaGa games you can imagine.
  • A couple DS highlights for me:

  • - Contact: One of my favorite DS games, just dripping with style as to be expected from Grasshopper Manufacture. There are loads of quirky game mechanics, including an unusual semi-real time battle system, a costume/job system, cooking, and an Elder Scrolls-like experience system based on skill usage. Some of these rubbed people the wrong way, leading to mixed reviews, but I personally ate it all up. Even if the gameplay doesn't grab you, the music, aesthetic, and fourth-wall-breaking as a game mechanic make it worth experiencing.
  • - **Dragon Quest IX:** Now this is something of a DEEP CUT (did you know they don't even call it Dragon Warrior in the west anymore??). Seriously, though, this was a real personal favorite for me and remains the only DQ game I've played all the way through (though I would like to change that soon). I'm amazed at how well it actually came together considering the original non-turn-based battle system was totally scrapped during development. The story was surprisingly affecting and the ability to completely customize your party seems to be an outlier for the mainline games. I really grew attached to my ragtag crew, especially my powerhouse monk Sven with a huge pink Afro.
  • @whatsarobot#24408 in that NHK Final Fantasy ranking Crisis Core was 13th, ahead of FFXIII and XII

    GBA is the best place to play Final Fantasy V and there are patches to bring the game's sound in line with the SNES version. https://cdromance.com/gba-roms/final-fantasy-5-advance-sound-restoration-and-no-framerate-drop-patched/

    The DS version of The World Ends With You is in most people's opinion the best version by a long mile

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LIBCEBgH5EE

    @tapevulture#24426 I saw that, and was delighted. Crisis Core is absolutely better than XII or XIII (or XV, for that matter).

    I know I’ll have a bunch to suggest later on when I’ve had a chance to think about it, but I think it’s important to mention Crimson Shroud, a small but intricately designed game that abstracts a lot of the RPG elements in interesting ways.

    I’m glad that Riviera got mentioned! I also really enjoyed Yggdra Union (also by Sting, also for GBA and PSP both), a TRPG with interesting mechanics and a nice aesthetic. There are also two additional Sting games in this broad series, Knights in the Nightmare and Gungnir, both for PSP. I didn’t love Knights in the Nightmare, but I found it interesting. I never played Gungnir (but I should probably pick it up before I can’t anymore).

    I played the heck out of Golden Sun back when it came out and honestly I still love it. The graphics and music are great and I really like the battle system and the way combining the djinn changes your moveset and summons.

    Haven't played it yet but Soma Bringer is supposed to be good. There is a English fan patch as well.

    Developed by Monolith Soft and everything! HCG101 entry


    @milo#24449 I really enjoyed the more in-depth dungeon puzzle solving in the games. Still need to play the third one on the DS.

    Really liked the summons too:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fZ8DYONLUA

    For those interested, first game is a pretty breezy 25 hours if you do everything. The Lost Age sets off right at the end of 1 and is double the length. Pretty clever and easy to grasp job type system based on the 4 elements. You collect little creatures (some hidden/some mandatory) based on the elements and depending on how you combine them you get different skills/spells/attributes.