Story & World
I almost always inject at least a little of my own homebrew story into these games, but it feels like I did it quite a bit with Jubei Quest. At first, I was thinking maybe I should reduce the score and give the points to myself for delicious hording. I eventually decided against that since JQ was still the impetus to all my internalized RP. Even without my additions, JQ still manages to hold its own. The intro adventures for Shiro and Rock are just fantastic and I thought it was super keen how I could switch back and forth between those and the main quest at my merest whim. There's also a good mix of fantasy and sci-fi elements, which is always a good thing in my book.
The supporting cast of helpers is great, though there should probably be quotation marks around helper when talking about Jirokichi. The rest them though are swell and cover a range of activities, such as deciphering ancient text, talking to animals, or upgrading items. These activities could have been accomplished simply via an item, so I appreciate the extra effort to tie it into a character (after all, it's much harder to make fun of an item).
As expected for a JRPG, the world is quite straightforward and joys of exploration are significantly hampered because of it. There's some branching off in the dungeons/castles, but these lead to either dead ends or trapped chests for Jirokichi to fuck up on. The final castle was especially bad for having rooms with nothing in them. The "airship" also came far too late to have much fun with. I did a once-over of the entire world but didn't find anything other than the endgame locations. Oh, I did find it funny that Mt. Fuji (where I became a dragon) was right next to the beginning town, just blocked off by a mountain range. 14/20
Six stats rise variably with each level and spells/abilities are generously given to all characters (except Rock). Level gains are quite high for the first 30 levels or so and then dips appreciably, curtailing the usefulness of grinding. Three equipment slots are available for a weapon, a suit of armour, and a charm. No special abilities for any of the pieces of equipment, just a straight stat boost, though the charms are least affect multiple stats in differing ways. Both Shiro and myself had a large AP pool with most abilities costing very little; both of us having a good mix of offensive and defensive capabilities. Jubei, in addition his (smaller) arsenal of spells, also had special melee attacks (with only Raiden costing any AP). I mentioned his double attack but he also could do things like target multiple enemies or attempt a low to-hit/high damage attack. There's a good number of consumables available with extra cool shit like machine guns, flamethrowers, and bazookas. Each character can hold seven items and can purchase a donkey to double their capacity. 13/20
Combat & Monsters
A four member party with positional combats is all it takes to keep a JRPG from becoming stale. Adding to this is that attacks do not carry over if the target dies, although Jubes has two melee attacks that spread, as well as spells that Shiro and I could perform. Jubei Quest also has the commonplace high encounter rate whenever I'm trying to get somewhere, then dropping to virtually nothing when I'm trying to grind (yes, this is definitely coloured by human perception).
Welp, there wouldn't have been near the number of monstages if I didn't dig the monster design. Despite a lot of JRPGs having that sameness to each other, the monsies are at least very creative. Groupings mostly appear well-thought out and one has to rely on careful experimenting and implementing of the various spells and abilities to efficiently deal with them. There's generally not enough healing available to dick around with encounters, at least up until endgame. 14/20
Graphics & Sound
Now that I've experienced the magic of colour cycling, I don't know how I'll do without it. i do hope I'll see it at least once or twice again in the future. Other than that, JQ follows the standard formula; boldly coloured tiles, nice looking monster sprites, and big, impressive bosses. Nothing that really rocks my world (other than the colour cycling), but nothing that ticks me off either. Did I mention that I like the colour cycling? Cuz I do.
The music follows in the graphic's footsteps; it wasn't bombastic but not irritating either. A serviceable accompaniment all around. Too bad music can't colour cycle because I like it when things do that. 12/20
Money was pretty tight throughout, but a big part of that is due to me buying so many different outfits and you know that I have to purchase matching shoes for each one, girlfriend. Sometimes a purchase would require a sizeable cash investment for a paltry stat increase but I would still buy it anyway instead of waiting until the next town because I can't resist a good sale.
The pacing is solid and there were few times when I felt like I had to grind, especially since fleeing was fairly reliable for the majority of the game. I really like the chapter system for breaking up the story, even if it did slow down completion of this game by a factor of several magnitudes. Hey, if it works for books, why not vidja?
The challenge level was decently high; random encounters are tough enough to make one seriously consider fleeing from certain creatures as the risk/reward ratio isn't high enough to justify battle. Doing a run on each castle requires some serious planning on minimizing the path length to the boss; exploration of a castle generally means having to warp out at least once to top up. 15/20
Final Ranking: 68/100