The lights are on
With another year in session, it’s time for JRPG fans to get a look at what’s on the horizon. The following games are set for a 2013 release, hopefully satiating JRPGs fans’ hunger. Of course, this is not a definitive list; we expect many more JRPG announcements as the year goes on, but for now, here’s what to keep an eye on.
Note: Games are listed by release date.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Release: February 4
Fire Emblem fans in North America have been left high and dry since 2008’s Shadow Dragon for the Nintendo DS. The end of this wait is nigh, though, thanks to Nintendo showing faith in the franchise by localizing Fire Emblem: Awakening. Awakening ups the ante by adding new gameplay tactics, such as letting units pair up for stat bonuses. Also in the tank are support conversations that allow building relationships between battle companions. If a pair gets close enough, they may even marry and have a child. But what’s really at stake in Awakening is whether or not you can rewrite history and, should you put permadeath on, the lives of each and every one of your party members.
Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection
Release: February 19
PlayStation Portable/PlayStation Network
The PSP is pretty much dead on this side of the Pacific, but that didn’t stop NIS America from giving players a chance to play Generation of Chaos: Pandora’s Reflection. Pandora’s Reflection places you in Hades – a land full of death and hopelessness. The story follows a brother who is helping his cursed sister through her painful struggle, hoping for a cure. In Pandora’s Reflection, units move in real time across the battlefield, where positioning is vital for battle advantages. With a variety of classes and powerful, unlockable summons, battles should be anything but ordinary.
Etrian Odyssey IV: Legend of the Titans
Release: Feb. 26
The Etrian Odyssey series has captured the hearts of many dungeon-crawling aficionados. For the first outing on the 3DS, vibrant 3D graphics transport you straight to the Yggdrasil Labyrinth. However, you’re no longer just exploring dark caves, but also the clouds with its new skyship mode. New skills, classes, and customization opportunities promise to keep the dungeon crawling fun while you try to avoid inevitable deaths. After all, this franchise earned its reputation for not being for the faint of heart.
Release: March 5
The Atelier series features adorable alchemists all trying to prove themselves in a coming-of-age story. Atelier Ayesha should be no different, except she’s battling isolation. She’s alone in a workshop trying to face her grandpa’s recent death and wondering about her younger sister who went missing years ago. A silver lining presents itself when Ayesha gets word that her sister is alive, now it’s up to her to track her down, and of course, craft your way to hopefully a happy ending. Ayesha also represents a new hand in the Atelier series – since Tecmo Koei acquired developer Gust in late 2011, they are now handling the publishing of Atelier Ayesha.
Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity
Release Date: March 24
So far, it looks like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity blends the old-school roguelike gameplay of past entries with new ancillary features. The story is familiar for veterans: you wake up from a strange dream and you’re suddenly a Pokémon. What’s most interesting about Gates to Infinity is how it uses the 3DS’ capabilities to its advantage. Not only will the 3D character models be more detailed, but the 3DS’ camera is used for locating objects required to enter portals called Megagates to access new dungeons. With over 20 dungeons to explore, you might not ever want to turn back into a human again!
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Release Date: March 26
PlayStation 3, PC
After Final Fantasy XIV’s rough launch, a title that refers to a rebirth is fitting. For A Realm Reborn, director Naoki Yoshida is up for the challenge of completely revamping this MMO’s formula. A Realm Reborn features a new combat system along with redesigned areas that reflect the story’s time shift to five years after the events of Final Fantasy XIV. It looks like the development team is fixated on getting things right this time around by listening to fan feedback, especially early beta impressions. The dedication gives hope that maybe this time Eorzea will reach its full potential.
[Next Up: A Sega Saturn game we missed out on, a hard-campaigned game finally comes over, and our girl Light gets her own tale...]
Email the author Kimberley Wallace, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.