And now we come to the current-gen iteration of my JRPG Relapse: Lost Odyssey. With names like Hironobu Sakaguchi and Nobuo Uematsu behind it, the game must be something amazing, right? Well, it is… and yet… it’s not. I’ll explain.
Let me preface this rant by saying that I really do love Lost Odyssey. It’s the best console Japanese RPG of this generation (which really isn’t saying much, I know) and it has a some truly stirring moments that I’ll never forget. The game is very, very good at what it does: emulate a traditional old-school JRPG experience on a modern console.
However, therein lies the problem. Lost Odyssey is the same experience you had back in 1991 with Final Fantasy IV, decked out in 3D graphics on the Unreal engine. Everything from random encounters to cumbersome, unattractive menu systems. Everything annoyance short of blowing dust out of the cartridge is back, in pristine form.
Lost Odyssey begins with a long, flashy FMV sequence showing an incredible battle between two massive armies. The camera eventually cuts to the protagonist Kaim, and we watch as Kaim lays waste to literally hundreds of men. It looks like something straight out of, say, Dynasty Warriors.
But then the game transitions to an actual battle, and we’re back in 1991. It’s quite comical, really; or it was to me. The first thought that struck me was: “this would instantly turn away anyone who doesn’t already love JRPGs.”
In other words, there is no market for a game like Lost Odyssey in todays world, with the exception of us – the ones who’ve been fighting with menus for years or decades now.
And honestly, I doubt we comprise a large percentage of today’s videogame market. Sad but true.
But again, I like Lost Odyssey. I like it a lot, and here’s why: it does what it sets out to do very well. It’s an extremely solid RPG, and anyone with a pre-existing love for the genre – such as myself – will probably enjoy it. The story is fairly predictable, but it’s told well and has a strong cast of characters. The “1000 Years of Dreams” stories are a great as well. The game tries pretty hard to tear-jerk, and to its credit, it can succeed at times.
And it’s worth saying yet again: Nobuo Uematsu is a literal god amongst men. Lost Odyssey sounds very different from any previous work, and because of that, I consider it one of his best efforts to date. The theme music that plays as Kaim rides the into the city of Uhra for the first time is absolutely beautiful, and makes the scene itself unforgettable.
It’s also worth noting that Kaim really does look girly. I had forgotten. Or… didn’t notice the first time. Not sure.
It’s an interesting thing that the two most similar RPGs I played this week were the first and the last – Final Fantasy VI and Lost Odyssey.
It almost makes like this… y’know, statement or somethin’, y’know?
But I’m not really sure what it is, so I’ll just let it speak for itself. I plan to write more about Japanese RPGs before the week is over though. So don’t get too comfortable.