I’m not a big Japanese role-playing game person. I didn’t understand them when I was a kid, and having never owned a Sony console until the PS4, I missed out on most of the classics of the 90s and 2000s. Even today I don’t get around to playing them much, but the genre fascinates me — I adore the intricate worlds and systems that populate JRPGs, and I enjoy reading about the genre’s history and development. That’s why I jumped on Bitmap Books’ A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games when I saw it announced. But I didn’t realize one thing about the book until it actually arrived — that it’s large and heavy enough that you could probably kill someone with it. You shouldn’t do that, though.
A collaboration between publisher Bitmap Books and the legendary founder of Hardcore Gaming 101, Kurt Kalata, A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games is a full-color, glossy tome containing over 600 pages of information on games from the ubiquitous (Pokemon, Dragon Quest) to the obscure (Last Armageddon, Deep Dungeon). The whole thing is laid out gorgeously, with screenshots, box art, and clean design accompanying the details on each title or series. It isn’t limited to console releases, either, digging into the incredible world of early Japanese PC games too. The hardcover book measures 254mm by 203mm and features a sewn binding for “enduring quality and the ability to lay flat for ideal double-page image viewing,” which would also protect the book in the event that you tried to cave someone’s skull in with it, which, again you shouldn’t.
More Like This:
- ‘The Ramp’ is Giving Tony Hawk on the Game Boy Advance Vibes
- Matador: A Review
- ‘SNKRX’ is as Good as it is Unpronouncable
I’m a big fan of Hardcore Gaming 101’s previous book releases, but the cover art on them can skew a little “how to draw anime.” With A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games, you get a beautiful original cover complete with silver embossing that really gives this material the packaging it deserves. A lot of love went into this book, and a lot of people were involved in bringing it to life. I think it weighs about six pounds. If you gripped it firmly and swung it at full strength, I imagine it would cause a pretty bad head injury. Don’t do that.
A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games is a wonderful artifact and essential for anyone interested in the history of JRPGs or of games more generally. It’s a great resource and showpiece, an attention-grabbing coffee table book that you could flip open to any page and learn something new. Its impressive heft and dimensions make it a potential improvised murder weapon, too, but you’ll probably have more fun reading it. I’m just saying.