We’re back with an addition to our original list, featuring the best JRPG games available on the Wii U. Much like our previous article, there aren’t too many here that actually originate on the console in question, but who cares right? You’re just here to learn exactly which JRPG games available on the console are worthy of your attention. So let’s get into it…
This is the second in our lists of Wii U RPG games. Check out the original post HERE!
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance
Final Fantasy Tactics Advance occupies a strange place in the history of the series, or at least it used to. It released to a limited fanfare, followed by a huge backlash from the community, mainly focused around one thing: This isn’t Final Fantasy Tactics! It’s not even a direct follow up! You monsters, how could you do this!?
Fortunately, all these years later the game is fully appreciated for what it is: An amazing little Tactical JRPG with a thin layer of Final Fantasy whimsy draped over the top. It’s not a whirlwind journey of story line beats, nor is it a technical masterpiece like it’s predecessor. What it is however, is a lovingly crafted, almost moreish example of grid based gameplay based in the world of Final Fantasy, jobs and all.
Those that ignored the furore during the release window were treated to an impeccable title, filled with lightly strategic grid based battles, hundreds of quests to complete and plenty of jobs to master. Even now, on the Wii U, it remains one of the finest examples of the genre.
If only they had ported over Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, the true precursor to this title. We’re not sure we’d ever actually turn our Wii U off if they had …
Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
It must have been something in the water at the time, but Japanese devs really struggled with naming conventions when porting their titles to the west. It is actually the seventh game in the series, despite the titular appearance, and it was the second title released in a trio for the Gameboy Advance.
What this represents on the Wii U is a window into the past, to another perspective of the GBA golden age of tactical RPG games. Where FFTA gives the user oodles of side quests, jobs, laws and customisation, Fire Emblem brings a strict linear experience with a big side helping of difficulty. Absent are the height differences and directional advantages, but in their place can be found tightly designed maps, a huge cast of characters and a completely nonsensical story, as was standard for the time.
It’s a cult classic for good reason. These GBA titles are the genesis of the modern Fire Emblem and fantastic games in their own right. If you’re looking for a tactical RPG experience or even just a great RPG experience on the Wii U, you can’t go wrong here.
The Last Story
Yes it’s the second of the Mistwalker trio to make our list, though it’s likely to be the last. That’s not to say that Pandora’s Tower isn’t a great title, just not an RPG alongside Xenoblade Chronicles and The Last Story. In many ways the trio run the gamut of heavy RPG systems to light, and in this regard The Last Story is very much in the middle – it’s not as heavy on the menu based systems as Xenoblade, but certainly has more character and interaction than the aforementioned ‘Tower.
To play The Last Story is to experience a very different RPG, one that seems to mash together some disparate inspirations yet somehow make it whole. The developers freely admit taking inspiration from the Uncharted series, and it shows, yet it also heavily relies on a ‘Threat’ mechanic, something mostly familiar to players of MMORPG titles. It’s an action RPG similar to Xenoblade, yet simultaneously incredibly different. We don’t remember having to stealth around the environment with Shulk et al. That’s to say nothing of the art style, which is wonderfully gritty, dripping with atmosphere and yet almost anime in it’s execution and direction.
We’re eternally thankful for Operation Rainfall convincing the developers and Nintendo to bring these titles to our shores. Each of them stand up as fantastic titles available on the Wii series of consoles. It’s not quite up there with Xenoblade Chronicles for us, but it’s a wonderful RPG that Wii U owners should experience.
Word of warning: It might cost you quite a bit to secure a copy these days, but in our opinion it’s entirely worth it.
Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones
It’s not exactly a secret that we’re huge fans of the Fire Emblem series. We love that sense of tension we feel as our grid based moves are completed and the enemy plays their card. We love it when things don’t go quite as planned, when one wrong move pulls too many units and we’re required to rethink our entire plan. It’s here that Fire Emblem truly shines, asking you to perform what feel like small miracles of military strategy every second moment.
Whilst The Sacred Stones is another fine example of the genre, we must admit it’s not quite up there with Shadow Dragon or The Blazing Blade in our estimation. Your mileage may vary of course, but our main concern is with the difficulty – it’s really not a difficult game, especially so for a Fire Emblem title, and it also features the ability to grind in a designated place. For us, the fun in these titles come from working within strict parameters, so being free to level up does take something away.
See what happens when we get talking about Fire Emblem? Anyway, it’s still a very good RPG game and certainly one of the best available on the Wii U. We would certainly recommend others on these lists prior to this, and if you had fun playing those then you’ll certainly enjoy this. Just a shame we didn’t get all 3 on the VC.
Child of Light
And so we finally come to an actual Wii U title! Hey multi-platform still counts!
Child of Light is a lesser known RPG title that released in 2014 to a limited fanfare. Reviews weren’t fantastic but they were good, it was a good game the reviews said, but nothing more. Yet somehow it’s reputation grew, seemingly by word of mouth, to the point where a sequel is being discussed here in 2020.
To play the game is to find a simple, nay gentle introduction to the turn based RPG genre, similar in design to the active time battle system of the Final Fantasy series. There are a few out of combat mechanics but again, nothing too unusual.
Where the game really shines is in it’s design, both audio and visual. It is presented in a fantastic, painterly effect, managing to provoke feelings of comfort and danger through depth of colour and tone, light and dark, each echoed by a deft audio accompaniment that gently pushes you forward.
Of course, this would all be for nought were it not for the story line thread that ties it together. We’ll not spoil it here, suffice to say that it manages to do a lot with a little, by turns giving you pause for thought and impetus to proceed. It’s a wonderful little title, an RPG truly worthy of your time and a pleasure specifically on the Wii U.