PlayerIf you’re back for round four of my Ultimate JRPG Buyer’s Guide for RPG Haters, you probably feel like you’ve devoured a platter of delicious spare ribs, but there’s a reason you’re back — you’ve yet to lick the bones clean. You may have traveled through time, jumped on goombas, and braved 30-second missions, but there are several more games to play before you become a JRPG loyalist. Read on to learn how to score an attractive girl (or guy), play with poke balls, and shut up and jam.

 

Learn How to Pick Up Chicks (and dudes) in Japan

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Persona 4

Need dating advice? Put that romance novel down, stop watching Dr. Phil, and forget French kissing your pillow. Instead, you might want to pick up a JRPG that takes place in modern Japanese high schools. Yes, that’s right: There’s a game that can help your gaijin-self pick up Japanese babes and skinny dudes.

 

Of course there’s more to Persona 4 than picking up members of the opposite sex — you’ll also summon demons, explore your sexuality, and participate in extra-curricular activities. For once, you can explore the ridiculousness of high school from behind a  TV. What’s not to like?

How to play it: Use your significant other’s credit card and purchase it on Amazon for $28.

Find Persona 4’s take on modern Japan unsettling? Then try: the Persona series, Devil Survivor, Digital Devil Saga series, Nocturne, Devil Summoner series, Sakura Wars (coming soon).


Gotta Catch ‘Em All

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Pokemon

Regardless of how bad our childhoods may have been, we all yearn for certain aspects of our past. Life was so simple when we liked playing catch and hiding under our beds from monsters (or slaying those foul beasts, in my case). If you miss those days for similar reasons (in addition to entertaining schoolyard games such as rock-paper-scissors), then it’d be worth checking out a certain monster-collecting series you’ve undoubtedly heard of.

PokemonThe Pokémon series is often viewed as kiddie by adults (which I suppose is true to some extent due to its cutesy art style), but in reality, these titles are deep experiences because of their plethora of character customization options and monster-collecting gameplay that requires cooperation with other players. Pokémon hasn’t changed much from its inception (other than the addition of day and night cycles and new monsters), but it retains a rather large fan base nonetheless, because of the consistent quality of each installment.

How to play it: Purchase Pokémon Diamond, Pearl, or Platinum for $30-35 online (or at local retail stores).

Don’t like the newer Pokémon titles? Then try the Pokémon Gold and Silver remakes which will be in stores soon.


When Opposites Attract

Charles Barkley

Marriage counselors often say that opposites attract, but is that really true? I mean, can sports lovers enjoy technical games such as RPGs and vice versa? Surprisingly, the answer is, yes. Part of this is due to both forms of entertainment relying heavily on statistics and team building, but with the game I’m about to reveal, there’s more to the story.

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Back in 2008, an indie RPG was released that did the unthinkable — it combined legendary NBA stars with a bizarre (albeit humorous) b-ball-themed story and an innovative combat system. As someone who was obsessed with basketball during the late ’80s and early ’90s, I immediately fell in love with Barkley Shut Up And Jam Gaiden’s ridiculous premise. I mean, how could I not like a game where basketball was outlawed because of a single Chaos Dunk?

This Game Maker/RPG Maker-produced RPG may have won me over with its wacky plot and basketball references, but it’s also fun from a gameplay standpoint. Barkley Shut Up And Jam Gaiden has a few archaic JRPG trappings such as random battles, but the combat itself is clever because it utilizes timed button presses to execute moves such as free throws and dunks. Clearly, Sir Charles’ RPG is an All-Star.

Barkley

How to play it: Download it for free, here.

Still upset that Charles Barkley ruined the Blazers’ dream of going to the finals? Then shed tears while playing the notoriously bad Shaq Fu.


Now that I’ve helped you find a hot date, loaned you a set of poke balls, and initiated your metamorphosis into a baller, I hope you’re finally satisfied. If for some reason you still want more unique JRPGs, I have at least six more titles coming. Just don’t expect the last ones to turn you into a player.