We love a solid story that is all about personal growth. We see them all the time in RPGs, but they are often done on such a grand scale that from time to time the individuals' stories become convoluted or uninteresting. Sometimes, you need to have the right hero, or in this case heroine, to keep you invested, and sometimes a great game doesn't have to be massive in scope. Atelier Totori, the second game in the Arland series, gives us a protagonist who is unlike anything we've seen in JRPGs. Naïve yet determined, Totori's story of wanderlust and self-discovery hits all the right notes in giving us an experience that is heartfelt and satisfying to the bittersweet end.
Atelier Totori is the winner of our most overlooked RPG award because it does so much right by creating a wonderful atmosphere with its story, cast of characters, and simple gameplay, and yet many gamers who self-identify as JRPG fans continue to pass it over. It shows us that turn-based combat still has a place in the market, and gives us one of the best crafting systems to date that is both addictive and well-executed. Not only is it a visually stunning game, but its soundtrack is quite wonderful too. Atelier Totori is a traditional RPG at heart, and handles the standard mechanics with a level of style and class that the majority of JRPGs fail to replicate in this day and age. With Atelier Meruru's release around the corner, we're hoping more RPGamers will give this charming series a whirl.
While Monster Hunter has not really taken off in the west, 2011 saw a good number of releases that attempted to provide a similar experience. Many of these games ended up being quite horrible, but Gods Eater Burst was one that offered a sci-fi twist with the monster battling experience. It was simply overlooked due to being very niche and derivative. Our other runner up was likely ignored due to the poor reception the original received along with the perception that it's a lesser Pokémon clone. On the contrary, Joker 2 is a fantastic game with many impressive, modern gameplay tweaks that portable JRPGs often gloss over.
by Sam Marchello and Michael Cunningham