Release: 16 April 2013
JRPGs, or Japanese Role Playing Games, have always been a touchy subject within the gaming community. They were (and to some, still are) insanely popular, especially in the 90’s and early 00’s, with such classic masterpieces as Chrono Trigger, most of the numbered Final Fantasies, Secret of Mana, and so on. They are directly responsible for some modern gaming trends. At least two or three of them usually fall on the average gamer’s best games ever made list. Despite all this, the JRPG subgenre has been the target of multiple recent criticisms. Most claim this style of gaming has gotten ‘stale,’ with the cliche’d plot of ‘teenage boy and girl fall in love, save the world’ running rampant throughout many titles calling themselves JRPGs. If the plot bears at least some originality, then it’s the character design being called out; both males and females in this flavor of role-players end up looking awkwardly feminine most of the time.
As much as this editor loves the JRPG genre, he has to admit that most of those aforementioned criticisms do ring true. However, some titles released over the past few years do give us some hope. Despite some criticisms due to a very linear story, Final Fantasy XIII was a fine game; its sequel was even better. Two JRPGs released state-side last year, The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles, were both brilliant titles that brought some much-needed ingenuity to the dying genre. And now another promising title, Pandora’s Tower, is being localized for the United States, and is due for an April 16th release on the Nintendo Wii.
Pandora’s Tower is an action/RPG that was released in Japan about two years ago. It was developed by Japanese studio Ganbarion, and will be published in North America under XSEED Games. Pandora’s Tower is the third in a trio of games being localized due to the continuing efforts of Operation Rainfall, a fan-mounted movement asking for the localization of quality JRPGs. The other games have already been brought over; they were The Last Story and Xenoblade Chronicles.
Although Pandora’s Tower dips into the cliche’d ‘boy must save his girlfriend’ trope, the game offers so much more than a fantasy love story. Pandora’s Tower follows a young man named Aeron as he sets out to break a terrible curse placed on his love, Elena. This is achieved by traversing thirteen towers and slaying certain beasts within each. Aeron must work quickly, however–he only has a limited time before Elena is lost for good.
If Pandora’s Tower is already sounding like a JRPG version of Shadow of the Colossus meets Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, don’t worry–that’s a good thing. Both were incredible games; the former being the primary argument for games being art, with the latter as one of the more unique titles in one of gaming’s most iconic franchises.
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Pandora’s Tower looks to be a rather enjoyable spin on the JRPG genre. Check back with inMotion Gaming after the game’s April 16th release for a full review.
Christopher A. Carlson
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