JRPG Collection Screenshots

Xenosaga Episode 1 Screenshots

This is a collection of 50 high-quality screenshots from the Playstation 2 JRPG Xenosaga Episode I.

They were taken in PCSX2, some at the native resolution and resized, and some at 2x the internal resolution.

It’s not a comprehensive tour of the game, but simply a variety of shots I found nice to look at, including many showing off the game’s attack effects and character design.

Feel free to use these screenshots on your own website or in your own project. If you do, we would greatly appreciate a link back to Great Adventures Review.


Best Videogame Adaptations on Netflix (New and Old)

Videogame adaptations were terrible until they weren’t. 

In the 90s we suffered through the likes of Super Mario Bros (1993) and Street Fighter (1994). In the 2000s Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) tanked the fortunes of one of the biggest videogame companies in the world, and the best we could say about Doom staring Dwayne Johnson (2005) is that it wasn’t as bad as it deserved to be. But we were comparing it to the dire filmography of Uwe Boll, and anything looks good next to Bloodrayne (2005) or Alone in the Dark (also 2005).

Poster for Bloodrayne 2 movie
We don’t need to talk about this.

Something changed. In the last decade, almost every year has brought us a banger videogame movie to the cinemas (Detective Pikachu, Sonic the Hedgehog) or a roller coaster videogame series to Netlflix or Amazon.

My theory is a simple one: from 2010 or so, videogames reached a critical mass of popularity. Studios had no choice but to take videogame properties seriously. Biggest budget, better writers, more attempts. No longer was making good content based on a videogame, like Mortal Kombat (1995), a fluke. There was an incentive to do so, beyond the passion of the creators involved; there was money on the table.

(Having a string of failures to look back on and learn from probably helps too.)

So if the very phrase “videogame adaptation” still leaves a bad taste in your mouth, here are three series you can stream on Netflix to show you how things have changed:

Castlevania (2019) / Castlevania: Nocturne (2023)

Poster for Castlevania series on Netflix

Drawing from the beloved Konami franchise, this animated gem doesn’t just ride on nostalgia; it carves out its own dark, compelling narrative that will ensnare both fans of the game and newcomers alike. Fans of the games will find themselves immersed in a world they know and love, from the iconic whip-wielding protagonist, Trevor Belmont, to the sprawling, Gothic landscapes dripping with atmosphere. This series meticulously evokes the eerie essence of the Castlevania universe.

But Castlevania also teaches us something important about adaptation: it doesn’t merely retread the plotlines of the games. Instead, it fleshes out characters and injects new depth into the narrative. It takes risks and explores uncharted territories. Add to that some breathtaking and bloody animation, and you’ve got a videogame series that raises the bar. 

See Castlevania adapted on Netflix. Or, Castlevania: Nocturne

Arcane (2021)

Poster for Arcane series on Netflix

If you want a masterclass in storytelling that effortlessly bridges the gap between video game and television audiences, Arcane is exactly that. Fans of the game will find themselves delighted by the rich lore and familiar faces that populate the world of Runeterra, but even those who have never played League of Legends will find themselves hooked. This is a serious story, with themes such as power, prejudice, and the consequences of unchecked ambition. It doesn’t rely on viewers having a pre-existing affinity for the characters for a second.

Oh, and visually Arcane is among the best, and I mean best ever: every frame is a work of art, with lush, detailed backgrounds and fluid character animation that draws viewers into the vibrant world of Piltover and Zaun. Each setting feels alive and immersive, a perfect setting for the epic tale that plays out in them. I don’t think any other videogame adaptation on Netflix shows budget, ambition, and passion as well as Arcane does.

Check out Arcane on Netflix right now.

The Witcher (2019)

Poster for The Witcher series on Netflix

Yes, the original material is the wonderful fiction of Andrzej Sapkowski, but the CD Projekt Red videogames have driven the direction of this franchise in a big way, so we think The Witcher counts.

At the heart of The Witcher lies its stellar cast, led by Henry Cavill’s portrayal of the titular character.  Earlier I mentioned that videogame adaptations relied on the passion of the creators involved. Well, there’s an element of that here: Cavill is a huge fan of the series, and he brings Geralt to life with a mix of rugged charm and stoic intensity, perfectly embodying the enigmatic monster hunter fans have come to know and love. 

We can’t mention The Witcher without mentioning its action sequences, from pulse-pounding sword fights to epic magical showdowns. With meticulously choreographed fight scenes and stunning visual effects, each battle is a spectacle to behold, drawing viewers deeper into the dangerous world of the Witcher.  It’s a sprawling epic that has captured the hearts of both fans of the original video game series and newcomers to the world of Geralt of Rivia.

Watch The Witcher on Netflix today.

More videogame adaptations

If you’re more about Amazon Prime than Netflix, some of Dohnut Media’s favourite films on Amazon are videogame adaptations. Check it out. 

If you’re more interested in comic book adaptations, why don’t I tell you what I thought about Thor: Love and Thunder?

SRPG Collection

Is Fire Emblem: Three Houses a JRPG?

No, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is not a traditional JRPG (like Dragon Quest is). The campaign is a series of grid-based battles, making it an SRPG — a Strategy RPG. The story and levelling of Fire Emblem are similar to a JRPG, however.

There isn’t one firm definition of JRPG. To some, SRPG is a subgenre, and to others, it is an adjacent genre.

However, it is evident that the SRPG is structurally dissimilar to traditional JRPGs. In the latter, the story progresses by exploring environments (such as towns, dungeons, or a world map), leading to new areas. There are exploration sections in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but they aren’t the main driver of progress through the game.

Battles are also different and deeper in Fire Emblem. The emphasis is on unit positioning, terrain advantage, and the permanent death of character units during gameplay (something that would be very unusual in a JRPG).

Traditional JRPGStrategy RPG
Final Fantasy VIIFinal Fantasy Tactics
Persona 5Persona 5 Tactica
Golden SunShining Force
Breath of FireFire Emblem

The Fire Emblem series has become more “JRPG-like” over time. For instance, it has introduced explorable headquarters environments. In Three Houses, that area is Garreg Mach Monastery. The social simulation aspects in this series also blur the lines between pure strategy game and JRPG.

Even if Fire Emblem: Three Houses doesn’t fall neatly into the genre, it will likely appeal to JRPG fans. It features a rich tapestry of character-driven storytelling: dialogues and character interactions unfold with the same depth and emotional resonance that one would expect from a JRPG. The tale of Fódlan — a land fraught with political intrigue, complex relationships, and a mysterious power known as Crests — is one worth seeing no matter what your regular genre preference is.

Metroidvania Collection

Is Blasphemous a metroidvania?

Yes, Blasphemous is a metroidvania, and also a soulslike. The 2D world of Cvstodia is made up of interconnected areas, accessed by the Penitant One gaining new abilities from relics. However, its ability gates are inferior to other metroidvanias.  

There isn’t one agreed-upon definition for metroidvania. Though many people will claim their definition is the correct one, there are multiple competing definitions out there. Most of the discussion revolves around the following features: 

Multiple pathsYes
Ability gatesSome
Movement abilitiesSome
Sequence breakingYes
Character upgradesYes

We can see that Blasphemous may have one inadequacy in its status as a metroidvania: abilities. Let’s look at the relic “Blood Perpetuated in Sand” which creates blood platforms in specific locations, unlocking new pathways. This is a passive ability, and so are all abilities that aid exploration in Blasphemous – they take effect automatically when you are in the right location or situation. 

Most metroidvania players expect changes to the actions a character can take. An example in other games is the double jump that unlocks access to high platforms. Blasphemous doesn’t have that, so to some extent it feels like it has “keys and locks” rather than true metroidvania ability gating. 

Nonetheless, though ability gates are fundamental to a metroidvania, we believe this is only a grey area for Blasphemous, and in all other respects this 2D soulslike fits any definition of metroidvania. Most fans of Castlevania or Metroid will enjoy Blasphemous greatly, from the top-tier pixel art to the intense boss fights. This is a world — filled with grotesque creatures, ominous architecture, intricate pathways and secrets — that demands you explore it.

The “Is it a Metroidvania?” series so far:


  • Blasphemous


  • F-Zero
Marvel Collection

Thor: Love and Thunder Review

Hated it. Everything is so frivolous and superficial. Every line is tongue in cheek. In every character interaction, they just explain their feelings outright. No subtlety.

One such scene (source).

The characters each have a single personality to demonstrate, which they do so tediously. Valkyrie is cynical, Korg has a rock for brains but can be bluntly insightful, our title character is uninterestingly stupid, Jane is… excitable, maybe?

The kids are worst of all. I barely noticed the annoying kids in Multiverse of Madness, but in this film they were omnipresent.

Jane’s cancer, and exploring the dichotomy of suffering and superhero exuberance, just about works. There are a few jokes that work too. The God of dumplings. But, you know, broken clocks.

This film is so much more irritating than Thor: Ragnarok, and has almost none of what made Ragnarok fun. Imagine Ragnarok with no Hulk, no Grandmaster, no Loki, no Sakaar, and a Valkyrie with all of her most fun moments already exhausted. That’s about the value that Love and Thunder has.

Darksiders Collection

Darksiders Genesis vs Warcraft III story comparison (Video)

Note: the following text is the script of the video.

The lore and characters of the Darksiders franchise are pretty epic, but I don’t feel the same way about the plots of the individual games. A lot of story time in Darksiders is spent doing errands for other characters before they will help you, which seems beneath the, uh, horsemen of the apocalypse

It’s worst in the most recent game, Darksiders Genesis, which keeps the characters on a hamster wheel almost from beginning to end, without the those characters or the situation they are in developing in any impactful way.

The structure of this game may be a limited factor. Darksiders Genesis is a linear sequence of missions, where most of the story has to occur before or after the gameplay sections. But there’s another game with almost exactly this structure, also set in an epic fantasy world, and it has one of my favourite stories in gaming, and that is Warcraft 3.

What makes Warcraft III work is that things change: characters have goals and make progress towards those goals, they make decisions that cause the story to proceed in one direction or another, and the circumstances and the world change as a result of what happens in the playable sections.

Some examples. At the start of Warcraft 3:

  • Thrall needs to lead his people to Kalimdor. He is given the instruction by the profit, but the path to accomplishing this goal is determined by his own decision. He chooses to team up with the trolls, then he chooses steal the humans ships so the orcs can sail away to the new continent. Thrall is setting in motion the changes to the state of the narrative.
  • The next playable hero is Arthus, who decides to purge Stratholme instead of listening to his friends, leading him down the path of vengeance along which he is ultimately cursed.
  • As a result, the human kingdom of Lordaron falls to the undead… permanently. I think in World of Warcraft, the undead still have control of Lordaron, and that’s 20 real-world years of storytelling later! Those are some pretty big consequences for Arthus’s decisions, and those occurred early in the game. 

To compare, the first missions of Darksiders Genesis:

  • The horsemen, War and Strife are send to the void by Samael.
  • Then are told by Samuel’s associate Vulgrim to find a magical crystal.
  • Then Vulgrim tells them to find the eye of scrying,
  • Then Vulgrim tells them to collect a map,
  • Then Vulgrim tells to kill the demon Mammon.

This is not a narrative, this is a checklist. 

War and Strife do what they are told because they don’t seem to have any better plan, even though some of these missions benefit Vulgrim or Samuel more than they benefit the horsemen. 

In Warcraft 3, at the halfway point of the story, characters, the world, everything, is in a very different state to how it started. 

In Darskiders Genesis, at the halfway point of the story, we’re still in the void getting ordered around by Vulgrim and Samael. Nothing of substance has changed, and we don’t seem to be appreciably closer to the overarching goal of finding Lucifer.

This story around this sequence of missions has something in common with a sit-com: everything have to return to the status quo at the end of each episode.

The decision to find the magical artifacts could have been made by one of the horsemen, instead of Vulgrim. You might expect War, going his name, to be good at strategy, so have him make a plans about their next course of action, instead of him just being told what to do.

After we find the character Dis, she could have an ongoing role in the story, instead of just becoming a store keeper. Dis is Vulgrim’s slave, but the horsemen never free her. So maybe she escapes, sides with Lucifer, becomes a new thorn in our side, have her change and develop.

When the horsemen defeat Mammon, they find a vault of gold, and the game takes pains to explain that they cannot use use any of it. Well, why not? Have the horsemen take control of the wealth and use it to their advantage, or just use his lair as a new base to launch their next mission from.

Besides, what are the consequence of killing Mammon? Is there a next in line to his throne? Do his leaderless forces join Lucifer?

Now the horsemen are taking some active steps towards their goals… but shouldn’t Lucifer be taking some active steps against the horsemen? Like, actually sending some of his agents to kill them instead of being an absent antagonist, in the background for the entire game?

And probably most importantly, this game sets up a reluctant alliance between the horsemen and Samael, a partnership of convenience. It’s probably the topic that gets the most lines of dialogue devoted to it in the whole game. Shouldn’t there be some conclusion to that, some payoff? The horsemen should probably at some point say, actually, this deal doesn’t work for us any more, and leave, making an enemy out of Samael. Or Samael should do the same. It should come to a boiling point. They refer to this tense alliance constantly, and do nothing with it.

It’s a shame when a game has cool lore and cool world building, but doesn’t put the thought or effort into the narrative of the events of the game.

It’s especially a shame when it’s a game that is as otherwise good as Darksiders Genesis. It has gorgeous animation, addictive exploration, a clever system for strengthening the characters, and fun combat. The one thing that lets it down is the plot.


What is a JRPG

JRPG stands for “Japanese Role Playing Game”.

Fans disagree over the exact boundaries of the genre, but a typical definition might sound something like this: a story driven game, with character stats that can be substantially improved, that was made in Japan or is inspired by earlier Japanese examples of the genre.

A wide range of games might be called JRPGs, including action games and grid-based tactical games. The traditional JRPG is one with an adventure-style structure and turn-based battles, in the style of Dragon Quest (sometimes seen as the first JRPG). 

Who this article is for

This article is written to help those unfamiliar with the genre get a basic, intuitive understanding quickly. This will help them to explore the genre themselves if they are interested, and start to understand conversions about them.

As such, this is a surface-level view of things, and doesn’t get into the weeds.

Features of a JRPG

If you see a game that looks like some of the following screenshots, there’s a good chance you’re looking at a traditional JRPG.

All screenshots are from Xenosaga Episode I.

1. A party of characters with individual levels, stats and equipment

In these screenshots we can see menu screens, where the stats of characters (such as HP, Strength and Dexterity) can be examined, and an option to access the equipment screen where weapons and armour can be changed.

Note that all characters have a level (Lv) by their names. This character level is increased by fighting battles and gaining experience (EXP). The presence of a character level is a telltale sign of an RPG.

2. A significant focus on dialogue, story and cutscenes

There is a famous quote from the creators of JRPG giant, Final Fantasy:

I don’t think I have what it takes to make a good action game. I think I’m better at telling a story.

Hironobu Sakaguchi

That party of characters are not just battle units in a JRPG, but are players in a predefined narrative. To fans, this story will be as important as the mechanics, if not moreso, and there is likely to be a lot of it: a tenth or more of the playtime will be spent reading dialogue or watching cutscenes.

At times, a JRPG might feel like an interactive anime season.

It’s also worth noting that JRPGs are usually quite long experiences. It might take 20 to 100 hours to see the end of the story.

3. Repeatable (grindable) battles that give experience and/or money when you beat the enemies

The level of your characters can determine if you win or lose in a JRPG battle, so JRPGs always give players an unlimited supply of fights to use to level up. 

The basic gameplay loop is this: fight monsters, gain experience and money, get stronger, fight stronger monsters and progress in new areas.

Repeating fights for experience points and gold is called grinding. It isn’t always necessary, but it’s an option.

4. World Travel

A JRPG is usually a globe-trotting adventure. Many of them give you access to a literal “world map”, on which you can walk around the game’s planet, though this is less common these days. 

Other JRPGs might only give you access to a continent, even just a city, but the adventure will take place across many locations that you can explore at your will. You will find non-combat areas (eg. towns, shops) as well as travel routes and dungeons.

Vehicles may be acquired during the adventure to make access to new areas possible, or simply to make your journey faster. An iconic JRPG mode of transport is an airship.

5. Battle screens

When you fight in a JRPG — either a sudden random encounter, or meeting an enemy in the field — you are likely to find yourself whisked to a separate battle screen. This is because, in battle, you control your party differently to when you are exploring the world

The genre is strongly associated with turn-based, menu-driven combat. Though this isn’t essential, if you see a menu of combat commands that allow a character to “Fight”, use “Magic” or an “Item”, you’re probably looking at a JRPG.

Best-known JRPGs

Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy are the two biggest traditional JRPG franchises, and also the two longest running, both having roots going back to the Famicom/NES console.

Here’s Dragon Quest, released in Japan in 1986:

Now I think that is unironically beautiful, but of course the series, and JRPGs as a whole, have progressed a long way since then.

Read Next: The First JRPGs | How RRGs Reached Japan


What was the last PS1 JRPG?

The last adventure-style JRPG released for the Playstation was One Piece: Oceans of Dreams! from Bandai in May 2003. This was over two and a half years after the Playstation 2 had been released. 

You might think a licensed game is an unremarkable swan song for the genre on the PS1, and you’d be right. However, this game’s story did, at least, have an impact on the One Piece franchise, as it was adapted as a filler arc for the anime in 2005.

If you want to go even later than that, there was a tactical RPG called Black/Matrix OO released on the PS1 by Flight-Plan a year later, in May 2004.

It was in fact the last original game released for the PS1 in Japan. Here’s some footage:

Gameplay recorded by RoxasFIN.

Other late additions to the PS1 JRPG library include Digimon World 3 in July 2002. 

However, the last year for major new releases for the PS1 was 2000, a year that saw the release of Breath of Fire IV, Dragon Quest VII and Final Fantasy IX. Quite a year!

Read Next: The First JRPGs | How RRGs Reached Japan


What was the first PS1 JRPG?

Most people will say Beyond the Beyond, released in November 1995, was the first JRPG for Sony’s Playstation. However, there other contenders for the title, depending on what definition is used for JRPG.

The first PS1 RPGs

In December 1994, two quick-off-the-mark Japanese developers released Crime Crackers (from Media.Vision), and, about two weeks later, King’s Field (from Fromsoft). 

Both developers would become well known for their RPGs: Media.Vision for Wild Arms, and Fromsoft for Dark Souls.

However, both of their early PS1 releases were dungeon-crawling RPGs, and not the story-driven, adventure-style game most people think of when we say JRPG. You can see this from a video of Crime Crackers:

The first PS1 traditional JRPG

It was almost a full year later we would see the first typical JRPG on the PS1, with Beyond the Beyond from Camelot released November 1995. Historical but not historic, words like “formulaic” are used to describe its mechanics and generic fantasy world.

Beyond the Beyond may not have left a strong imprint on the collective memory of gamers, but it’s developer would go on to create the much loved Golden Sun series.

Other early PS1 JRPGs

Beyond the Beyond was followed very shortly by Suikoden from Konami, released in December 1995. Some other early PS1 JRPGs include Persona and Wild ARMs (link: my review), both released in 1996. 

We can see that though the first years of the Playstation were somewhat slow for JRPG releases, some of the franchises introduced at this time would go on to have strong legacies and a lasting impact.

Here is a video walkthrough of Beyond the Beyond:

Read Next: The First JRPGs | How RRGs Reached Japan

Horror Collection

Alan Wake: An Action Game (Video)

On the Summer Game Fest 2023 stage, Sam Lake said that Alan Wake II will be Remedy Entertainment’s “first survival horror”. So what is the first Alan Wake?

Video script

It’s best not to think of Alan Wake as a horror game or as a cinematic game, two categories it is closely associated with. It makes use of horror stylings and, as expected of a game by the creators of Max Payne, it has an effective, character driven story. But ultimately it is a linear action game, and will probably be best enjoyed by people who go into it with that expectation. 

Alan Wake can’t be a horror game because it is too predictable. This is best demonstrated in the build up to each battle. It certainly looks like a horror game: the air gets hazy and dark, there is a hiss with a rising tone, elevating the tension, and dark figures emerge (sometimes from behind you, though the camera always reveals where they are coming from). This happens every time. Almost every encounter is telegraphed in the same way, giving you a comforting warning of what is coming. Its consistency is antithetical to horror.

Alan Wake can’t be a cinematic game because it is too devoted to its combat encounters.  Though there are cutscenes at the start and end of each episode, and the occasional non-combat scenario, massive stretches of this game consist of only encounter after encounter with few unique actions or story driven sequences to break up the action.

But despite these apparent shortcomings, it’s okay: when you take Alan Wake for what it is, a linear action game, it comes out alright. The important thing in combat here is crowd control. I didn’t get that at first. Don’t keep the flashlight focused on enemies. Just focus quickly, with a button tap, to stagger them, then do the same to another enemy, and let your passive flashlight beam do most of the de-darking work. The game is pretty damn easy if you play like this.

The mistake I made was thinking I should focus light on one enemy until it was dead, but this drains your flashlight way too quickly, and meanwhile other enemies decide to flank you and throw knives and Alan just doesn’t have the moves to deal with that. I was tearing my hair out in the early fights until I realised I was playing it wrong. 

Now I think the combat is pretty fun, if simple. 

  • You can stagger any enemy with a trigger press.
  • A rising pitch signifies your light is weakening the enemy, until their shield vanishes in a flash of light.
  • When enemies die, they sizzle like the vampires in Blade. 
  • A flashbang bypasses the need to drain the enemy of their darkness, and has a wide range, but doesn’t harm you, making it one of the most effective grenades in the history of games.
  • The dodge has a huge timing window, and the game slows dramatically when you use it to avoid an attack.
  • When the last enemy dies, the game slows and brightens momentarily and you hear a rush of sound like metaphorical deflation of tension. It reminds me of getting the last hit in Kingdom Hearts. 

And these actions felt good from the start of the game to the end. Even if the frequency of encounters is a little high, and the variety a little low, the game feel is top notch. And you can add that to the exceptional environment design, and exceptional lighting effects, for a pretty damn fun experience even in 2023. As long as you have the right expectations.