The Western RPG was pretty much absent this year, allowing a host of excellent titles out of Japan to really make their mark. The death of the JRPG has been rather over-exaggerated it seems. Even Final Fantasy managed too have a good year, eventually, though not good enough to make our list.
"Bravely Default dares to refresh the classic Final Fantasy formula with quiet yet confident innovations across the board, resulting in one of the best JRPGs of 2013 and a fitting end to a barnstorming year for Nintendo's handheld."
A superb dungeon crawler that expertly blends the ancient and cutting-edge.Etrian Odyssey IV demands a great deal from its players, both in terms of retro-tough difficulty and fleshing out its menu-heavy world. However, for students of the old-school, a little effort will pay off in spectacular style.
"Fire Emblem Awakening is an absolute masterpiece, whether you're a series veteran or rank newcomer. As one of the finest Strategy RPGs available on any handheld format, not to mention the best game on the 3DS thus far, you owe it to yourself to plumb its tactical and emotional depths. Do not, for any reason, miss this triumphant saga of love and death."
"One of the best JRPGs of the last decade, Ni No Kuni is in many ways a love letter to a genre slowly fading away into obscurity. Brimming with imaginative aesthetics, and packing a hefty emotional punch or two in spite of its rather clichéd story, Level-5 and Studio Ghibli have worked wonders to whisk us away to another world. An utter triumph in roleplaying escapism in a game that manages to stand on the shoulders of the genre's best to deliver a modern classic."
"Pokemon X and Y set a brave new standard for the series on its new platform, delivering a host of new features, expressive 3D visuals and sensational online functionality for future games to build on. Regardless of age, ability, gender or tastes, there is something here for you, another charming adventure that's both nostalgic and newly revitalised. Or in other words: it's Pokemon. Choose it."
"Too hardcore and vague to be a true system seller outside of Japan, but it’s something for the underfed RPG Vita faithful. Although, you should only invest if you’re planning to play online. The community is still growing, along with the wiki sites that attempt to explain the game, but there’s potential for this to gets its deformed hooks into you."
"Tales of Xillia was well worth the wait. Despite the more action-orientated combat, the game feels like a true JRPG experience. Packed with environments, hidden items, side-missions and moreish levelling up systems, you'll be hooked for at least 50 hours."
Best RPG 2013 | Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni No Kuni is more than the sum of its parts, more than Level-5 doing an impression of Studio Ghibli. The story might not quite be in the same league as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, but there's something that resonates all the same. There were moments that brought tears to our eyes, others that produced the biggest smiles, innumerable little vignettes that made us audibly chuckle, and all this amplified by visuals that dazzle and delight, a score that flooded our ears with magnificence, and Familiar-based combat that proved rich and deep and engrossing.
It's not perfect, and it stands on the shoulders of the genre's best rather than reinventing the wheel, but Ni No Kuni brought back that sense of magic and wonder. A modern classic, then, built almost entirely from the best our past has to offer.