Review of a guide to Japanese role-playing games: an encyclopedic walk through the past – Eugene Sowah

Bitmaps Books has teamed up with a large collection of contributors to create its largest book to date.

A guide to Japanese role-playing games

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Japanese role-playing games, also known as JRPGs, are a genre of games that have distinct characteristics that set them apart from western games.

JPRGs were usually made in Japan, but as their popularity grew and more series were localized, developers around the world began to integrate their specific characteristics.

The 90s can be considered the golden age of the genre as there were many outstanding titles such as Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy which are still considered as one of the best games ever made with the Final Fantasy series running today.

Much of the fascination with JRPGs goes beyond their gameplay mechanics, with fans praising their characters and stories.

A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games is Bitmap Books’ Biggest Project


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This love for the genre has allowed so many series to have a lasting legacy, with some still releasing new games to this day.

Bitmap Books has collected all of this history and bundled it into one guide for fans 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 massive measuring 254mm × 203mm with a stunning hardcover illustrated by Stephanie Sybydlo that features homages to several famous JRPG characters.

It is held together by a sewing binding which is perfect for double 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 meaning of the many abbreviations. This is very practical information, especially for non-gamers who want a casual read or are just getting into the subject.

It is a collaborative protection with more than 30 contributors covering more than 600 games


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

The first part of the book takes a look at JRPGs as a whole by looking at its history, relationship to anime, location, and more.

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

What I liked was that the book didn’t play it safe with the examples given and wasn’t afraid to include really niche titles that even as a fan of the genre I don’t hadn’t heard of.

I really enjoyed the Soundtrack section, but wanted a few more pages to go into a little more detail on the composers.

The rest of the book goes into more detail on major JRPG series such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Tales of, and Persona.

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


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Each of these series have been fleshed out well, with each of their games having time to shine in the spotlight.

Apart from the series, the book looks at many other titles and I must say that I am incredibly impressed with the amount of series that have been presented in this book.

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

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

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

Each of the sections is divided by special pages that feature custom-made world maps from the Troll Army. It’s a nice little addition to include that adds to the fan service.

Even though this book contains a lot of words, 370,000 to be exact, Bitmap Books has managed to strike the right balance between visual and written elements.

Judgment 4/5

A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games is an exceptional read and by far the best book in the genre. It is a must for JRPG fans and game lovers.

Bitmap Books has 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 role-playing games can be ordered from Bitmap Books Website from May 9

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