The Best and Disappointing Japanese Video Games of 2013

Artist: hitoto

As we approach the end of 2013, I want to focus on the top 5 best games that released this year, which I got to play. As always, this list will only have games that are made by Japanese companies. (Image Source)

Best Games of 2013

1.  Atelier Escha and Logy

That needle looks painful.

That needle looks painful.

Back in 2012, I finally discovered the Atelier games when I got a localized copy of Meruru and a Japanese copy of Totori Plus. It’s a different type JRPG that focuses more on making items, finding ingredients and doing tasks/items while you manage your in-game time with some slice-of-life in the mix. While I skipped Ayesha (I probably won’t get to it until the Plus version releases early next year), I felt that Escha and Logy was a big improvement because one doesn’t have to collect boxes full of ingredients to find a desired trait, which is also true in the prequel. To me, I felt that the battle system was also a major improvement since one can now use 6 characters (3 active and 3 support), allowing one to use a Special Assist attack. Not only that, I like all the female characters, particularly Escha, Lucille and Wilbell. The male characters, not so much although Logy is cool.

2. Pokémon X and Y

Yes, I like Mega Ampharos alot.

Yes, I like Mega Ampharos alot.

While the story slightly disappointed me, which is the reason why it doesn’t get the first spot, I still felt that Gamefreak made a lot of improvements to the gameplay mechanics such as making max IVs easier to obtain to adding a Fairy type. Not only that, the 3D graphics looks pretty. Even so, I still think that this is the best Pokémon game to date although I was very disappointed how Nintendo handled the launch of Pokebank as they delayed it due to high demand the Nintendo Network was facing. Hopefully the wait won’t be forever.

3. Chou-Ji-Jigen Game Neptune Re;birth1 (Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;birth 1)

It seems that Noire doesn't like being called Assistant (although it's a reference to the voice actress of Kurisu from Steins;Gate)

It seems that Noire doesn’t like being called an Assistant (although it’s a reference to the voice actress of Kurisu from Steins;Gate)

It’s no surprise that Compile Heart is putting a bit more effort in the Neptunia franchise as seen with the Anime their games. This remake of the first game in my opinion is a huge improvement over the original. The goddesses are more likable as they will join you from throughout the story while the makers from Victory now plays a bigger part in the story. Although I was disappointed that they took out the custom outfit feature that was present in the PS3 games, at least they made the DLC cheaper. Despite this, I still enjoy the battle system, graphics and the characters alot.

4. Tales of Hearts R

Battling system remains the same with a few additions.

Tales of Hearts R finally goes from 2D to 3D.

Although I never got to play all the Tales game because most of them didn’t get an English release, I wanted to play the 2nd Tales remake for the Vita. While the story was great and I liked the characters, it lacked some of the features from the original like mascot assists. The inconsistent aspect ratios for the older animated cut scenes felt downright lazy. Nevertheless, it’s still a good Tales game despite its flaws.

5. Genkai Totsuki Monster Monpiece

This is the main gameplay... you place cards on the field and they auto-advance to the opponent's side.

Believe it or not, this is an interesting concept for a card game.

Compile Heart is known for having fanservice in their games (as seen with Neptunia), but this one pretty much takes that to another level: you get to rub your monster girl cards to power them up while they lose some of their clothes (although there are tradeoffs in doing so such as lower stats or hindering abilities like immobility). Even so, it’s a simple and enjoyable card game, which you place monster girls on the field and help them get to the opponent’s side while defeating the opponent’s monster girls to win. Besides the gameplay, the story was also interesting as Mei goes on an adventure to save her friend, Eliza from being processed by a mysterious lady that also controls other people. While I didn’t get to finish it, hopefully I will do so in the near future.

Notable Games: Atelier Meruru Plus – Although the gameplay is roughly the same with the PS3 version, I felt that this version is more polished and complete since it have additional endings and the graphics look impressive for a Vita port.

Disappointing Games of 2013

Neptune Idol PP

In the Live Performance mode, you can change the camera angles, unleash three different kinds of effects and change them into their HDD form.

Singing Goddesses is nice, but disappointing at the same time in terms in gameplay.

I liked the idea of having the goddesses become idols since most of the voice actresses are capable singers. However, the performance gameplay and the small music selection was very disappointing because there are games like Idolmaster, Project Diva and even Project 575 which have a bigger song selection and better gameplay. I felt that Tamsoft could have done more to make it a full-fledged rhythm game.

Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Gates to Infinity

Too bad this game didn't live up to the hype as I wanted a 3D Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game

Too bad this game didn’t live up to the hype as I wanted a 3D Pokemon Mystery Dungeon game.

I am a big fan of the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon series mostly because dungeon crawling is fun and that these games have a good level of difficulty, especially in the after game dungeons. When Gates to Infinity finally released early this year, I wanted to play it since it now has 3D graphics. However, I was disappointed for the fact that they took genders out of the game (they are still present in the Japanese version) and that the gameplay was too easy since they took out the Hunger meter, which added to the difficulty. To add more to the disappointment, there is only 144 Pokémon in the game. If you are interested in Mystery Dungeon series and want a Pokémon themed one, just get either the first or 2nd game and skip this game.

Note: I haven’t played New Atelier Rorona or Tales of Xilla, so they won’t make it to the list although they look great.

This pretty sums up my list of best and disappointing games. On New Year’s Evening, I will focus on the best and worst Anime of 2013, so stay tuned. Also, feel free to share your thoughts on what video games you enjoyed this year. 

4 Comments… read them or add your own.

  1. Kai says:

    I didn’t play any of these, lol. I got Atelier Ayesha already here though and Atelier Escha and Logy is soon having a localization too it seems.

    • chikorita157 says:

      You should really catch up. :p… But still, while I jumped on the Japanese version of Atelier Escha and Logy too soon for the fact that they are localizing with dual audio, but I think playing it in Japanese will benefit me as I will be using what I have learned… But still, I recommend it since it has a good story and gameplay despite being a niche title, pretty much everything I play.

  2. Overlord-G says:

    I hope the Neptunia remakes and Noire spinoff don’t take too long to get localized.

    I haven’t played any of these games for obvious reasons (No Vita or Japanese lingo skills) but they look pretty cool. Thank goodness the Tales series is getting out of the niche category…slowly.

    • chikorita157 says:

      It seems that NIS America tends to localize these games a year after the original release, so I won’t be surprised if they announce the first remake at E3. But still, I still awaiting for the Vita TV to come out as I can simply get an HD Fury (to get rid of HDCP restrictions) and finally record game footage.

      I agree that the Tales is getting out of the niche a bit as they already announced that the next game they are working on will also have a world-wide release. It’s kind of sad that they won’t localize any of the remakes yet.

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