JRPG Journey 2020: Folklore (January)
My JRPG completion list (updated December 2020)
February’s game: Final Fantasy IX
Howdy, and welcome to the first edition of my journey to play a new JRPG in every month of 2020. I’ve been a fan of JRPGs since I was a kid, but there are a lot of titles I haven’t gotten to yet— titles thay may surprise or appall you! For a list of JRPGS I have played, check out my previous post. You’ll notice it lacks many classics, such as Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, most of the Final Fantasy games (I’ve only played XII), and the entire Dragon Quest series. This is the year I change that.
It’s time to finally play some of these classics, and maybe some not-quite classics. To set some rules, by “play” I mean complete the story and defeat the final boss. Not necessarily the super secret extra powerful optional boss, only the main one from the story. I always enjoy exploring and doing at least some side content, and in games that really grab me I may go for 100% or close to it, but I’ll usually stick with what I can find without straying too far from the main path.
Unfortunately I gotta keep to a schedule, so I won’t be able to get as deep into some of these games as I’d like. But I’ve got limited time for games, and there are other titles I want to play this year as well.
To start 2020, January’s game is Folklore for PS3, developed by Game Republic and published by Sony Computer Entertainment in 2007. Aaaand we’re already off to a bad start: I realized soon after beginning that this isn’t much of an RPG at all. It’s an action/hack and slash with minor RPG elements such at leveling and the ability to capture monsters you battle and use them on your own team.
That’s right, it’s a monster collecting game. I was happy to be surprised by this, since I’ve always had a soft spot for this style of game. Games like Tales of Symphonia 2, Ni No Kuni, and even Pocket Mortys scratch my Pokemon-but-not-Pokemon itch, and Folklore, while not up to par with some of those titles, offers fun combat with a similar rock-paper-scissors type damage mechanic. Each monster, or “folk”, you fight in the grim underworld of the fairy realm, hell, and beyond is associated with an element, which is better or worse against other elements. You have your usual Earth, Fire, Water, and Electric folks, but there’s also stranger elements like Destroy, Charm, Bond, and Sleep. Figuring out the best folk and using the right elements for the job is the most fun part of this game, and while the combat isn’t deep, it had me switching up folks enough rhat it kept me interested at least until the last few stages.
So, not an RPG, but it’s definitely Japanese. Folklore is one of those spooky, creepy mystery sort of games that Japan loves to pump out. Or at least it tries to be spooky. It’s a standard two-world story, where the protagonists jump between the real world and the fantastic underworld, filled with fairies and beasts. There’s a bit of mystery solving and a lot of exploring and talking to NPCs in the real world between the aforementioned action sessions in the underworld. I typically enjoy games of this style, but the story here didn’t compel me to pay much attention, and I found myself skipping through the frequent and lengthy dialogue scenes. It’s a typical murder mystery that never gets particularly interesting. The manga-style presentation of some of the story beats is charming, however.
All things considered, I’m glad I checked Folklore out. It’s a fairly short game (I spent 12 hours and did about half of the side content), and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a breezy monster collecting action game.
Thanks for reading! Our JRPG for February is Final Fantasy IX, a PlayStation classic.