The Best Japanese Games of 2019on January 12, 2019 by I love Japanese games
Oh, okay, so maybe not the best Japanese games of 2019 – maybe ‘most anticipated’ would have been a better choice of words, but since I’m trying to get my SEO thing to turn green in word press I’m going to stick with it. If only to keep the editor of the site from sending me an email about it.
Now, where was I? Ah yes – the best Japanese games of 2019. It’s looking like a good year actually – so much so, I’ve decided to make a big old list for you so you can remember what to look out for each month.
Lets do this.
Definitely the first of this year’s must haves and a Tales that has been woefully under-played by many as it was only really availabe on Xbox 360. Finally Bandai Namco have seen the light and have decided to remaster for everyone.
Don;t know about you but I’m going to be all over this on Switch. For many this is the best in the Tales series. For me it’s actually second to Symphonia, but hey, that’s not to say it isn’t bloody AMAZING and a must play for anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of JRPGs. As essential as essential gets.
Set in the world of Terca Lumireis, it follows the exploits of Yuri Lowell, who is imprisoned when he attempts to find the thief of water technology which feeds his community. As you’d expect things escalate to epic proportions pretty damn quickly from there.
Also features a smoking dog, which is basically all you need to know to place your pre-order.
Resident Evil 2 – Xbox One, PS4 – January
If any of the old Resi’s was deserving of an over-the-shoulder-cam rework then this is it. Curiously it wasn’t Resi 7 that saw my love for the series come back, but rather my recent playing of the Revelations episodes. As a result, I am 100% up for this now – and fair play, the latest rounds of screens and footage make it look absolutely brilliant.
Resident Evil 2 is the story of Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as they attempt to escape a zombie infested Racoon City and is, for many, the best of the ‘old’ Resident Evils. Having missed out on the remake treatment the original got on Gamecube – I can’t wait to see how this looks with an upgrade in the visual department. Hopefully Capcom will remain true to the original – but not forgetting to add in plenty of new surprises along the way!
Kingdom Hearts 3 – Switch, Xbox One , PS4 – January
Despite having Mickey Mouse in it (a character I hold as much regard for as Scout Leaders and Catholic Priests) a new Kingdom Hearts installment is always a special gaming milestone.
If you’d said 20 years ago that Disney X Square, up a tree, kay aye es es aye en gee would be a thing, I’d have laughed until my spleen melted. But the thing is – it works. Somehow it works to a level that is at once natural, as it is magical. Come for the visuals, stay for the soundtrack – and no doubt the gaming memories will linger long after the JRPG fun-party has ended.
God Eater 3 – PS4, PC – February
Now, THIS my friends, is what I’m talking about. It’s high time God Eater got itself a proper brand new release. For the uninitiated, this was basically post-apocalyptic sci-fi Monster Hunter with guns and waifus. Which on paper sounds like the best thing ever. In practice its not quite the best thing ever – but it comes pretty damn close.
What I’ve always liked about this series is that it has the same compulsiveness as Monster Hunter while being a touch, just a touch, more immediate and less fussy. Sure you have the depth of stuff like bullet crafting, but I always felt it progressed much faster than Capcom’s dino-cousin. The more recent shots coming out for this have the world looking decidedly… brown. As expected though I guess. Here’s hoping some of the other environments cheer up a bit.
Devil May Cry V – PS4, Xbox One, PC – March
If I’m honest since Bayonetta, Devil May Cry has felt kind of dead to me. While everyone was a whooping and a hollering over Devil May Cry V at E3, all I saw was a whole lot of cringe. That’s not to say I though it was going to be a bad game but I’m not going to lie and say I was totally hyped for it.
That said, I DO appreciate that Devil May Cry coming back properly is a very, very good thing. With the exception of Bayonetta and, say, Nier, we’ve hardly been spoiled for super-high-speed over the top combat recently – what with everyone choosing to go down the more ‘considered’ Soul-style combat of late.
So it was also, with some relief, to find the recent Xbox Demo to be pretty damn good fun. It certainly showed off the potential this game has to deliver… well… Devil May Cry. There’s a second demo coming soon too apparently, so keep your eye out for that.
RemiLore: Lost Girl in the Lands of Lore – PS4, Switch, Xbox, PC
This one popped up on my radar at the end of last year and kind of stuck there for the sole reason that it looks like a cheerful Diablo with Waifus.
This one charts the story of Remi, who is sucked into a world populated by mechanical monsters by a talking book who may, or may not, be entirely trustworthy. Structurally the game is very much in Rogue-lite territory – hack, slash, plunder, survive – rinse and repeat. So while, on closer inspection, it’s not quite the Diablo-with-waifu’s I was looking for, it’ll be worth a look all the same when it releases next month.
Technically this is a Korean-developed game, but being published by Nicalis (they of Blade Strangers and Code of Princess fame) I thought I’d sneak it in as anyway.
Sekiro Shadows Die Twice – PS4 and Xbox One – March
The knee jerk reaction to this one is that it’s basically Souls in a dark-fantasy feudal/samurai setting. It’s an easy mistake to make – as it is the work of From Software after all.
For me the truth is actually a little more exciting. Doing away with classes and any and all RPG elements, the focus is squarely on the interesting combat mechanics. It’s not about whittling down a health-bar, instead it’s about reading your foe, choosing stance and strike carefully so that you can unbalance your opponent and create an opening for a finishing strike.
There will also be a heavy emphasis on stealth – allowing you to quickly dispatch foes taken by surprise, as well as exploratory and environmental advantage elements made possible by the use of a grappling hook. The production values for Sekiro are also off the charts – so good times ahead with this one, for sure.
Dead or Alive 6, PS4, Xbox One, PC – March
I always feel a bit sorry for DoA, because after Tekken and Soul Calibur – both gorgeous, both excellen – it’s always going to be a little behind in the pecking order. There’s also the fact that it weirdly went free to play in it’s last outing – and unless you’ve got the finances of a Russian Oligarch it’s hard to see how you can possibly keep up with the DLC influx.
That said, there is no denying that these games offer fighting fans a real treat every time. Personally, I’ve…uh… always loved the characters and aesthetic of the DoA series. Certainly more so than Tekken. And likewise the rapid fire nature of the combat has always meant that it’s consistently been my second favourite 3D fighting series after Soul Calibur.
While it rarely lights up the FGC landscape, from a personal point of view, it’s always been a fighting series I’ve enjoyed.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen – Switch – April
It’s easy to forget this game exists. Originally on Xbox 360 and PS3, later to PC, Dragon’s Dogma is one of those games – a Japanese-made RPG in the Western style, than as a concept I’m usually weary of. That said, I LOVED the 360 version of this so it’s really great to see it getting another outing on Switch as Dragon’s Dogma is a game that should be experienced by everyone.
At heart it’s an ARPG, one that wears it’s toughness on its sleeves. It plays like it should be a multiplayer game – almost like an offline MMO – and to make up your team you can hire and level pawns which make up your party – and which you could share with other users if you so wish. Where Dragon’s Domga really excels, is in its excellent combat and, curiously, an ever present and genuine feeling of constant adventure which many similar RPGs fail to match. I also quite like how attached you get to your pawns in this game – and seeing an old faithful have to retire has always given me the feels.
Yes, in places this is a little rough around the edges, but everyone who has dedicated time to Dragon’s Dogma has always got good things to say about it.
The Switch version will include all DLC – including the notorious Bitterblack Isle dungeon, which like to make level 100 players its bitch.
Senran Kagura Peach Ball – Spring 2019
A Senran Kagura pinball spin off?
Think about that for a second.
Good to know we’re all on the same page.
Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles – Summer 2019
This was one of the most pleasant surprises of last year – the announcement that Crystal Chronicles was making a return. The original was pretty hard to play properly as you needed a Gamecube, 4 x GBA and Link cables and a social calendar that got three friends round to your house with regularity.
With four people it was super fun, but as a result, not many people got to try it the way it was meant to be played.
Now, particularly on Switch, this will be much easier to do and enjoy. It’s a relatively simple hack and slash at heart – go though the levels, kill the bosses. But visually it’s a delight and the soundtrack is just wonderful.
I have personally loved all of the game in the Crystal Chronicles cannon (particularly those on DS) so would love to see these make something of a comeback.
Persona 5 R – ??? Switch ??? – WHEN?!
What even is this? Smart money is on this being Persona 5, with extra bits coming to Nintendo Switch – and who doesn’t want that? Basically, the best JRPG in recent times on the best console in recent times. Yeah, you heard right – I’m not even trying to hide my console bias any more. For the record:
1/ Nintendo Switch (best console)
2/ Xbox One X
3/ PC (essential – like water, air, red wine and digestive biscuits)
4/ Vita (ex-best console)
5/ PS4 (FYI: dead console)
…sorry, I got distracted there for a second. so yeah, Persona 5 is amazing. I don’t even know if this is a Switch game yet, but shit, it’s going to be amazing. This is amazing, your mom’s amazing, everything is amazing.
Let’s move on shall we.
Kill la Kill – Switch, PS4 – Summer
Imagine some kind of insane-o-world where Arc System Works, they who did such an incredi-job (real word – just made it up) on Dragonball Fighter Z had decided to make another game – but this time for Kill la Kill.
Now imagine that this wasn’t really insane-o-world but actual, real life. Imagine how fucking hype that would be. Surely, this is a match made in heaven? Arc System Works’ anime fighting mad-skills combined with the kind of over the top anime violence which Kill la Kill delivers with such outrageous energy.
It’s almost too good to be true right?! Can’t wait for this, honestly. You just KNOW it’s going to be brilliantly over the top fun because, surely Arc System Works won’t let us down!
Animal Crossing – Switch Summer – 2019
So word is that this wasn’t going to happen, and then Nintendo saw all the evil pentagrams people were making on their bedroom floors before E3 and were like, “shiiiiiiit, we better make an Animal Crossing game that a) isn’t on mobile and b) isn’t some kind of terrifying cult simulator where cute animals worship lamp shades in the woods!”
Like, you know, a proper Animal Crossing.
In fact, after the 356th Evil Animal Crossing pentagram was posted on Tumblr, Nintendo employees started suffering migranes on the hour, every hour, until they hastily cobbled together some kind of Animal Crossing Switch announcement.
So the good news is that Animal Crossing IS coming to Switch and also Nintendo Employees are now feeling better.
The bad news is you’re all bad people, doing bad things for your own personal gain.
I hope you’re all proud of yourselves.
Demon X Machina – Switch – Autumn 2019
This is Marvelous’ (they of Senran Kagura fame) Super-Big Mega-Project. So super-big that Nintendo are doubling down on it as only Ninteno can. The results look…
But you just know this is going to be excellent – and there are 3 very good reasons for that level of certainty:
1/ Kenichiro ‘Armored Core’ Tsukuda is directing and his team are making it.
2/ Yusuke ‘Fire Emblem‘ Kozaki is designing the characters
3/ Shoji ‘Super Dimension Fortress Macross’ Kawamori is doing the mechs.
Target is to make the best mech-action game ever – and I wouldn’t want to bet against these guys delivering.
Shenmue III – PS4, Xbox One – August
I’ve already made my love of Shenmue clear – I am so hype for this now it’s unreal. While things have been fairly quiet on the announcement front for this, there have been a few nice little details coming from Yu Suzuki recently.
Firstly, the game will be 3 times bigger than previous installments – so around 70-80 hour adventures in total. They will also be more ‘hardcore’ in nature. Quite how, we’re not sure – presumably combat will feature much more heavily than before.
Yu Suzuki has also confirmed that mini-games, lucky hit, capsule toys and (YES!) forklift truck driving will make a comeback.
This is destined to hit in August, and will (second to striding around Majorca in my impossibly tight Hello Kitty Speedos) be the highlight of my summer.
Code Vein – PS4, Xbox One – September
This was supposed to come out last year, but Bandai Namco pushed it back to improve it. I am fine with this.
I am also fine with the fact that this is Bandai Namco’s attempt at a more weeb-based Dark Souls experience. Honestly, I think I must have written the word ‘Souls’ a thousand times in this feature, which shows just how pervasive it’s got in terms of defining its own genre. While I’m not a fan of that particular fact, I do still very much like the look of this. I am in some ways in awe of the quality of Dark Souls world building and atmosphere, but I do find it relentlessly miserable which generally isn’t my jam. Code Vein takes a more supernatural (and crucially comparatively colourful) spin on a post apocalyptic/dystopian setting.
Here the powerful are fuelled by Blood Tears – a special… thing… which give them their gifts, which they use to vanquish their foes.
I don’t suppose for one moment that it can ever hope to match Dark Souls in terms of sheer quality, but it may well be prove to be a interestingly sold take on the genre.
Ys IX Monstrum Nox – PS4 – Winter 2019
Is this going to make it out in the West in time for 2019? Er, probably not.
Main reason this is in here is that ever since Ys Seven, I’ve loved every subsequent installment – so much so I’ve gone back and played the others, which I also love.
It’s one of those JRPG series, like ‘Trails of…’ , which is consistently excellent in quality and which, even now, I’m surprised how many people overlook them.
As expected Monstrum Nox will see the return of Adol Christin – but this time featuring him at the oldest age we’ve ever seen him, which I’m quite looking forward to. All signs point to this being a much darker installment. Normally, I would mind this – but given the series colourful past I’ll make an exception in this case. The party system and also Drifting Village of VIII will also make a return in Ys IX.
So far only PS4 has been announced, but you can be certain Switch will be on the cards. Stay tuned for more details on this one.