I have been somewhat keeping up with releases of Japanese Role-Playing games, and 2012 has been a pretty decent year for the genre. There’s been a final trickle of PSP releases, as well as some notable console releases. Even Steam got some Ys games on there this year, and they have enjoyed success. I will be covering some of the notable English releases.
Tales of Graces F (PS3)
The first mothership Tales game to get a North American release since 2008 (Vesperia). The writers played safe with the plot this time, so it ends up rather conventional and full of FRIENDSHIP speeches, but it has the best battle Tales gameplay so far. I make that claim as someone who has played the not-yet-localized Tales of Xillia. Graces does a lot of experimentation with the battle system, and turns it into one of the most varied and enjoyable action RPG systems I’ve enjoyed to date. The character interactions are silly and very enjoyable, so if you don’t mind a predictable and cheesy plot, Tales of Graces is my personal recommendation for the year.
Tales of the Abyss (3DS)
A 3DS port of the 2006 PS2 game. It’s a direct port with no changed content except for reduced loading times, so if you missed out on the PS2 game or are a European who doesn’t import, now is a good time to give Tales of the Abyss a chance. The battle system might not be as fun as Tales of Graces, but it has a more serious storyline and unique world.
Atelier Meruru (PS3)
The conclusion to the Arland trilogy of the Atelier series, and the game with the most polished mechanics. The item-crafting is fun and complex, and the turn-based battles have gotten more smooth too. The time limit is pretty lax, and the character interactions are pretty relaxing to watch. It’s got the best gameplay in the PS3 Atelier games.
Hyperdimension Neptunia mk2 (PS3)
Pokemon Black 2 and White 2 (DS)
Ah, how could I forget about Pokemon? I’ve been playing the games for all these years, and still have not tired of the formula. This is the game that I put nearly 90 hours into, in the first three weeks of release. It’s a set of sequels to last year’s Pokemon Black and White, and includes extras like the upgrade from Platinum to Diamond/Pearl or Emerald to Ruby/Sapphire, while having a new storyline.
Ragnarok Tactics (PSP)
A very generic tactics game for the PSP. It doesn’t have much that makes it stand out, but if you’re dying for an SRPG this could be worth a look. It features character creation, classes, and multiple routes. It’s very easy, and doesn’t take much effort to break the game. It has nice art.
The Last Story (Wii)
The most notable Wii RPG, next to Xenoblade. I haven’t completed it (borrowed from friend for a short while), but my impression so far is that it’s got a serious story with slightly older party members than the usual RPG, and a unique real-time battle system with auto-attacking.
Unfortunately I failed to get my hands on Xenoblade Chronicles despite it being one of the the most hyped console RPG this year (much more so than what is actually on this list). If you actually find a copy, it’s probably worth a try. The Ni no Kuni demo also came out recently, and while I can’t include it on this list since it’s a 2013 game, it’s definitely something to be looked forward to. Persona 4 Golden is a upgraded PS Vita port of 2008′s Persona 4. Persona 4 is definitely a recommended game, but since I don’t have a Vita and didn’t play Golden, I technically can’t put it on the list.
So what RPGs did you all enjoy in 2012? Feel free to share below!