Something really weird happened last year. A PopoloCrois game was released outside of Japan. Well, to be fair, it was simultaneously a Story of Seasons. That helped its odds quite a bit. But while everyone is (or should be) rather familiar with that series of farming simulations, the same may not be able to be said for PopoloCrois. Michibiku to the rescue! Let’s learn more about this charming RPG series.
What is PopoloCrois?
PopoloCrois began as a manga series all the way back in 1978. (The three volumes were never localized; don’t bother looking.) It is set in the magical kingdom of PopoloCrois, a friendly place that resembles a medieval European kingdom. While it is a series about forming bonds and making friends, things never remain peaceful here. There are all sorts of ancient evils and threats to the country. Which means Prince Pietro, who is about 10-years-old during his first adventure, is the ideal candidate to fight all sorts of enemies and save the day. The original manga set the stage.
But, the ensuing games don’t always cover Pietro’s adventures. When he gets too old, by which I mean when he gets to be older than 16, his son Pinon takes the reins. The only time we get a chance to find out about his father’s adventures is in a light novel where he is a boy. This means there are no installments where we see age-appropriate heroes tackling these dire, save the world situations.
What about the games?
Here’s the thing about PopoloCrois games. There really aren’t that many available. There are seven out right now, but one of them is a rerelease. An eighth game, PopoloCrois Monogatari: Narcia’s Tears And The Fairy’s Flute, is in development for mobile phones and will be out this year, but it probably won’t appear outside of Japan. The plus side is, one of the two games that were released worldwide is a compilation of the first two games! Return to PopoloCrois aside, they are all typical, turn-based JRPGs that send you traveling around a fantasy world, completing quests, helping people and saving the day.
PopoloCrois Monogatari (PlayStation, 1996)
Prince Pietro’s father’s crown has been stolen. But it isn’t just any crown. It is the Crown of Wisdom. Who needs to save not only it, but it turns out his mother’s soul? Pietro! Fortunately, he’s not alone. He meets a young witch named Narcia and a White Knight who will help him along the way.
PopoRogue (PlayStation, 1998)
Bad news for PopoloCrois! Some of the kingdom has disappeared. Worse, not all of the members of a search party sent to investigate didn’t return. Pietro has to find out what happened, restore the kingdom and save the missing people and his father. It takes place two years after the first game, so Pietro is a bit older and wiser.
PopoloCrois Monogatari II (PlayStation, 2000)
PopoloCrois had three years of peace, but now the kingdom is in trouble again. A goddess is attempting to destroy the world to remake it into something she can shape and rule over. But that isn’t going to happen, because Pietro is here to work with his friends and save the day.
PopoloCrois: Hajimari no Bouken (PlayStation 2, 2002)
We get a whole new hero in PopoloCrois: Hajimari no Bouken! It is set fifteen years after PopoloCrois Monogatari II. Pietro and Narcia now rule PopoloCrois, which means their son, Pinon, is the one doing all the adventuring. Danger is facing the kingdom, as all of the elements are out of control. This leaves Pinon to work with Urara, an apprentice witch, Marco, a strong young man, Luna, an unusual girl, and Papuu, an animal he saved. You can go ahead and refer to this game as PopoloCrois III.
PopoloCrois: Tsuki no Okite no Bouken (PlayStation 2, 2004)
Pinon is back again! In what is basically PopoloCrois IV, the kingdom has been turned to stone while Pinon and Marco are visiting Luna. They need to restore the kingdom and defeat an ancient evil. You know, normal adventures for what are essentially grade school kids.
PopoloCrois (PlayStation Portable, 2005)
Hey! It is the first entry in the series to be released worldwide. Good thing, too! PopoloCrois is split into three books. The first book is the PopoloCrois Monogatari PlayStation game. The second is an interlude. The third is PopoloCrois Monogatari II. There, you’re all caught up with most of Pietro’s adventures!
Return to PopoloCrois: A Story of Seasons Fairytale (Nintendo 3DS, 2017)
This is the most recent game and, for many outside of Japan, the title that introduced people to PopoloCrois. In Return to PopoloCrois, Pietro finds himself stuck in a kingdom that isn’t PopoloCrois! Gariland was in trouble and facing a plight threatening to also leave PopoloCrois’ lands dead, so he traveled there to restore the other country and find a way to save his own. This involves strategic, turn-based battles, rather than the normal turn-based battles found in the other games. Also, there is optional farming.
Yup! PopoloCrois is a series covering multiple forms of media. This means there are books and TV shows based on the original 1978 manga that started it all. The first anime is called PopoloCrois Monogatari. It aired in 1998 and, while it is considered canon and takes the games into account, has an original story. between PopoloCrois Monogatari and PopoRogue A Wind Kind girl, named Hyu, ends up befriending and betraying Pietro, forcing him to retake his kingdom from her. The 2003 series, called PopoloCrois, is a retelling of the stories from both of Pinon’s PlayStation 2 games. Finally, a 2015 light novel series called PopoloChronicle acted as a prequel that followed the adventures of Prince Pietro’s father, Prince Paulo, and some of his friends. The anime series and light novel series have never been officially localized and released outside of Japan.