A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games Review: An Encyclopedic Walk into Memory – Eugene Sowah

Bitmap Books partnered with a large collection of contributors to create their largest book to date.

A guide to Japanese RPGs

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Japanese RPGs, also known as JRPGs, are a genre of games that have distinct characteristics that set them apart from Western games.

JPRGs were typically made in Japan, but as their popularity grew and more series were localized, developers around the world began to incorporate their specific features.

The 90s can be seen as a golden era of the genre as there were many outstanding titles such as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy which are still considered to be some of the best games ever made with the Final Fantasy series going strong today.

Much of the appeal for JRPGs extends beyond their gameplay mechanics, with fans praising their characters and stories.

A Guide to Japanese RPGs is Bitmap Books’ largest project


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This love of the genre has allowed so many series to have long-lasting legacies with some still releasing new games to this day.

Bitmap Books has collected all that history and packed them into a single fan guide to further explore this beloved genre.

A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games is an ambitious 652-page project that aims to cover the entire history of the genre.

The book is huge and measures 254mm × 203mm with a gorgeous hardcover illustrated by Stephanie Sybydlo featuring tributes to several famous JRPG characters.

It is held together by a stitched binding which is perfect for two-page reading while ensuring quality.

The table of contents is informative with an explanation of how the information bar works and a list of the meanings of the numerous abbreviations. This is very useful information, especially for non-gamers who want a casual read or are just getting into the topic.

It is a collaborative protection with over 30 contributors covering over 600 games


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The book begins with a message from collaborative author Kurt Kalata that delves into how the book features contributions from 30 authors and covers up to 600 games.

The first part of the book delves into the JRPGs as a whole by examining their history, relationship with anime, location and more.

This first section serves as a great entry point into this genre and the writers have done an admirable job of making sure they explain everything thoroughly without being too technical.

What I liked is that the book didn’t play it safe with the examples provided and wasn’t afraid to include really niche titles that I hadn’t heard of even from fans of the genre.

I liked the Soundtrack section very much, however I wanted a few more pages to dig deeper into the composers’ details.

The rest of the book delves into the great JRPG series such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tales of and Persona.

It is a huge book. 652 pages and over 370,000 words


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Each of these series has been well enriched with each of their games taking the time to shine in the spotlight.

Outside of the series, the book looks at many other titles and I have to say that I am incredibly impressed with the amount of series that have been featured in this book.

There were so many games that I had forgotten or had never heard of.

This book is literally the ultimate guide for JRPGs with the final section explaining the subgenres, who knew there were so many monster taming games out there.

Even as an avowed fan of JRPG, I also learned a thing or two.

Each of the sections is divided by special pages featuring custom world maps made by the Army of Trolls. This is a nice little addition to include that adds to the fan service.

While this book is full of words, 370,000 to be exact, Bitmap Books has managed to strike the right balance between visual and written elements.

Verdict 4/5

A Guide to Japanese RPGs is great read and by far the best book on the genre. This is a must for JRPG fans and gaming enthusiasts alike.

Bitmap books have struck the right balance between visual and written elements to create a compelling narrative that will keep readers engaged for a long time.

A guide to Japanese RPGs can be ordered from Bitmap book site from 9 May

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