How do you play JRPGs?

As a kid when it came to JRPGs I just played them as is. No guides or anything just went with it. Sometimes that sadly meant being backed into a corner. So now I often play them with a guide, because I hate the idea of missing things or causing a blunder as I have before.

Like with Final Fantasy IX (my favourite) I misunderstood what a character said and screwed myself. Basically there’s a castle where the worse your weapon is the better it will attack, stats reversed. I took this a bit far and thought my worst most under-levelled characters would now be my best. With no previous saves due to one filled-up memory card I was stuck in a place with all my worst characters beating my head against a wall. It meant I didn’t finish the game, still haven’t personally seen it to the end, and meant on replays I’d often feel a little burnt out by then. So from then on I liked to check guides, with some games less consistently than others.

Other than Persona 3 for some reason. That I’ve just gone through on my own and am loving it. Conversely I played Chrono Trigger for the first time with a guide most of the time and adored it.

So how do you approach these games? Do you find yourself getting anxious about levelling the “wrong” character or needing to know if you’re levelled enough to enter an area. I think part of it is the scope of these games, that the idea of needing to re-do or un-do something hours ago can really throw a spanner in the works.

Do you think some games work with a guide better than others?

I just want to hear what folk think and do, as I’ve been on a real JRPG kick lately.

I try to go in as blind as possible, at least for the first run, with the only exception being on the lookout for something like a spoiler free guide on missables or optional things

I think when I did Ipsens as a kid I didn’t pay attention either and just tried to blow through with my good gear? Can’t remember much

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I play them for about 40 hours completely blind and then I stop playing them.


I think the best step to take is to take your time. There a lot you be facing in JRPGs, whether or not the game is well design to teach you properly, it good pace yourself with the game to learn it systems, world, and characters.

I had a similar experience in FFIX, it actually bugged out for me and the boss could not be fought at all (I think it may have been the same castle) Since I was a kid with too much time and no other games to play I actually replayed the entire game.

Personally I usually only reach for a guide if I get stuck. For leveling my characters I like to keep the all relatively balanced, so usually I keep the lowest level characters in my party.

Currently I’m playing through Cosmic Star Heroine, which has a really intersting combat system. Each character has a unique set of moves that can only be used once per combat until you block, which refreshes all of your moves. Each character has their own gimmick, like self damage, or taunting, and synergies with themselves or other characters that open up a lot of possibilities, so much so that I’m worried I may be missing out on optimal strategies.


I go in as blind as possible, never checking guides unless I get stuck or I just can’t grasp the combat system or something. I actually don’t mind missing things. The feeling I get when I find something hidden on my own is totally worth the chance that I might never see it for me.

I try to play without guides as much as possible, but if my attention is starting to drift or I’m getting frustrated I have no regrets pulling up a guide to get through.

Now I tend to struggle mostly with sticking through long games so the other strategy I employ is always having a side game to move on to if I don’t feel like grinding or something in my JRPG at the moment. Keeps me feeling fresh or excited to come back instead of like I need to just push through to get to the other side.

For me, using guides is a slippery slope. I don’t have a problem with checking where to go next if I get stuck, but the temptation is there to keep going back to the guide to make sure I optimize my characters.

Play them tenderly.

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If you’re refraining from guides and walkthroughs I definitely recommend takes notes for some of the plot points, and specifically “what the hell do I do next?”. I can’t remember how many times I’ve stopped a game and started again and had to start over because I had no idea what was going on, and in most games before the modern era don’t really have a good objective tracking UX. Usually I will just crack a guide for getting back on my feet if I sunk a good chunk of time into it thought.

Unfortunately these days I always seem to hit a wall (Xenoblade 1 was the exception). There always seems to be a point at which the battle system becomes about repetitive optimization. What I mean is; there’s a boss fight where you figure out a good strategy (Ability X, then attack with Y and Z, use Ability A to prepare for his party kill attack, then repeat the whole thing) and have to basically do it 20 times to whittle them down while hoping the RNG never screws you on the 17th loop

This has become such a consistent thing I’ve had happen to me that I…sort of stopped playing JRPGs

I will usually bring out a guide if I sense the end is near, and I’ll usually ask someone who’s played it if I can to check that it definitely is near and it’s not just playing with me.

I’ll also sometimes look for specific stuff if it’s causing a problem or I just think it’ll make things better, like when Final Fantasy XIII finally open world and became shit I found a way to grind to max level so I could just go straight for the final stretch so it could be good again.

Also, Final Fantasy XIII is the greatest unintentional comedy ever created and it’s great fun, fight me.

I feel like JRPGs that have NG+ tend to have a lot of sidequests and events in-game that are easy to miss, and for these I generally tend to try to at least play through ONCE blind before consulting a guide.

When I was younger, using Chrono Trigger as an example, I went through a couple of endings on my own, and then resorted to a guide to make sure I wasn’t missing a single thing, because by that point, I was so in love with the world of that game.

Conversely, I find myself, on my first run of Persona 5, consulting guides religiously. Most of the time this is just to save time and not be penalized for not choosing a correct answer, though I really wonder if I’d be having a better or more interesting time if I answered more as I would and immersed myself in the world. But at the same time, I’m not sure if the writing is all there all of the time for there to be any real benefit to playing it that way.

I tend to go pretty blindly, unless I’m hunting up some last collectible.

Exception being school questions in persona, def cheating on those.

I go in blind but I use guides sparingly. I don’t want to get frustrated with the game. If I can’t get something in a couple of tries and I start feeling annoyed enough to stop playing, I’ll just look it up and move on. I don’t have the time anymore to be super stubborn about doing everything on my own.

JRPGs are the only type of game that I tend to use a guide. I’d prefer to optimize one playthrough if I’m only going to play through the game once.

I usually only use guides for JRPGs if there’s something very specific I want to know. Like, for Persona I’ll only look up specific Persona fusion recipes. For the Trails games I’ll look up info on specific quartz I might want to use. Otherwise I just do my best to figure things out on my own!

If the game is particularly different, I play it almost glued to a guide because I’ve been messed up too many times. It’s kind of bad, actually. I’ve gotten stuck in both Xenogears (I didn’t level a certain character enough and was stomped in a surprise solo fight that I was save-locked into) and Legend of Dragoon (getting completely crushed by a late-game boss because I don’t have the right weapons).

If it’s from a series I’m used to, I can play it blind. For example, I’ve never looked at a guide for Persona 5 yet.

i usually at least have a guide handy bc i get anxious about missing important items and stuff like that. when i was younger i used to read those prima/bradygames/whatever guides like they were novels bc i’m a loser

I play them very slowly and meticulously, only look stuff up if I don’t understand a system.

Don’t look at guides / hidden item lists because if I don’t know something exists, it doesn’t exist.

I don’t play them often but if I hit a wall where the game becomes no fun, I put it down for a while and come back later only if I deem it worth my time. (There are too many other good games out there and story or setting need to be intriguing enough to continue.)