What is a JRPG? JRPG stands for Japanese Role Playing Game. These types of games often feature specific elements that make up the genre with a few variations scattered throughout. Typically a JRPG includes strong stories, lovable characters, and turn-based combat, as well as exploration. However, one of the bigger inclusions of a JRPG is the length of the game itself.
These games tend to require commitment and dedication to see through until the end, as they usually range anywhere from 25 to 100 hours of play to complete. However, figuring out which JRPG to commit to can be difficult due to the amount of options a player has. As such, here are the 10 best JRPGs of all time, ranked.
10. Tales of Berseria
The “Tales of” series has been a mainstay in the JRPG world for a while now and should be given some attention. The series has a decently broad range of tones across its various games, however Berseria is a bit different.
Tales of Berseria features a story that is a bit darker than other games in the series, as well as other JRPGs. This isn’t what necessarily makes it better than the other “Tales of” games, but it does make it unique. While the game isn’t perfect by any means, if you’re looking for good JRPGs, it is most certainly worth trying.
9. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
If you’re looking for a JRPG with quite a bit of content to enjoy, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age is a good option. This game is packed with tons of story to enjoy, side quests to find, and is also very easy to look at for around 70 hours. In the gameplay arena, Echoes of an Elusive Age is both modern and traditional for a JRPG, meaning that fans of the genre will feel comfortable from the start.
8. Lost Odyssey
Lost Odyssey was released for Xbox 360 in 2008 to comfortable acclaim. However, the backwards compatibility of the Xbox One allows for this JRPG to be played today, making it one of the top JRPGs today. This game tells the story of Kaim, an immortal man with many stories to tell. While slowly uncovering more and more of Kaim’s past, players will also discover plenty of political intrigue and twists to keep the story interesting.
One of the most intriguing things about Lost Odyssey is how the game explores immortality. It isn’t shy to show the numerous downsides of eternal living, giving the player lots to think about as they play. Of course, the gameplay is very true to the JRPG formula, so there aren’t many surprises to be found there. In the end, though, Lost Odyssey is a great game to sink some hours into.
7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses released in 2019 and took the Nintendo world by storm. Offering a refreshing take on the JRPG genre, this is a far more tactical game than any others on this list. However, tactical turn-based combat is only half of the game.
The other half of Three Houses is dedicated to the characters. By living a fairly slice-of-life story in their downtime, players will get to manage and train a strong cast of students and acquaintances. Naturally, getting to know these characters so well raises the stakes of the story considerably, making this one of the best JRPG stories.
6. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Originally releasing in 2013, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch offered a JRPG that felt like watching a classic Ghibli animated film. This is intentional, as the legendary Studio Ghibli had a large hand in crafting the world, characters, and art style.
Wrath of the White Witch is a decently lengthy game with plenty of heart. Players will visit a rich fantasy world teeming with originality and charm. Is it the best JRPG? Maybe not. But if you’re looking for a warm, comfortable game during these times, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is the perfect choice.
As a 1995 release, EarthBound was one of the greatest JRPGs available. Now considered a classic, it has won tons of respect in the JRPG community. This is due to how well the game balances increasingly serious and grim topics with lighthearted humor. A fair amount of challenge and some wild world building also helps push it into the must-play territory.
If you have a way to play EarthBound, love JRPGs, and have yet to experience it, then this is as good a time as any!
4. The Legend of Dragoon
Upon its release in 2000, The Legend of Dragoon was met with some pretty harsh criticism. The years have been kind to the JRPG, however. Nowadays the game can barely be brought up without a fair amount of love being showered upon it.
The Legend of Dragoon isn’t a perfect game, but it is beloved by fans and considered among the best JRPGs for a reason. This may be a good reason to try the PlayStation classic out if you’ve yet to do so.
3. Persona 4: Golden
In a surprise twist for 2020, Persona 4: Golden was suddenly released on Steam. Golden originally released in 2012 as a huge update to the original Persona 4. This version of the game featured many little quality-of-life upgrades, as well as an extended story. All of which is now included in the Steam release.
As far as JRPGs go, Persona 4 is incredibly friendly for newcomers to the genre. It does contain the classic JRPG formula. However, the quick and snappy combat makes for an excellent introduction for players used to games with a faster pace. Plus, the story and characters are great, if a bit dated in some places.
2. Final Fantasy VII
This classic from 1997 received an incredible remake in 2020. However, the original Final Fantasy VII still deserves a good playthrough for JRPG fans. The story is just as good as it was decades ago, the gameplay is still great, and the visuals are still fine as long as the player accepts that it is a vintage game. Plus, many people believe that the music, monsters, and charm fully make up for the dated visuals. There’s a reason why Final Fantasy VII is one of the most popular JRPGs of all time.
1. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is a JRPG that released way back in 1995, yet still holds up perfectly well today. The vintage graphics still look wonderful, the music is incredible, and the gameplay works very well as a JRPG. However, the story and characters featured are what sells this game so hard.
The exciting time-travel adventure takes players across the entirety of human history. While meeting a terrific cast of characters, players will witness various incredible events. Then they will also see how those events impact other moments in time, as well.
If you want to play a JRPG today and haven’t played Chrono Trigger just yet, then this is probably the one you should check out. Chrono Trigger is available on Steam, iOS, and android, among many older consoles. It’s one of the best JRPGs ever.
What are the best JRPG games you’ve ever played? Tell us in the comments below!