Spawn Point: The best JRPGs for total beginners

Tales of Symphonia

Welcome back to Spawn Point, where we take an element from the world of gaming and explain what it is, why it’s worth your time and how you can dip your toes in and get involved. Last time, Brendan gave you a 101 course in Final Fantasy XII, a JRPG that recently got spruced up for PC twelve years after its original launch on PlayStation 2. This time, however, I’m going to be looking at JRPGs as a whole, discussing what they are and which ones you should try your hand at first if you’ve never played one before.

So what’s the J bit all about then? Japan. Ever since the dawn of time, RPGs (or role-playing games) have, for some reason, been split into two distinct flavours. Those that come from Japan, and those that don’t. You can often identify a Japanese RPG by looks alone, in that it usually looks like a walking, talking anime. You know the sort. Big eyes, big heads and even bigger hairstyles that defy all laws of gravity. This isn’t the case for all JRPGs, mind. Some, like Final Fantasy XII and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, have adopted a more realistic look to help make them more appealing for us western folk, but there’s still a fair chunk of them that are anime games through and through.

Anime games, gotcha… *wink* NO, bold font. While it’s true that some JRPGs focus on *cough* more mature subject matter, they’re but one subset of this huge genre and are far from the best it has to offer. And before you ask, this isn’t how the term ‘level grinding’ was coined either.

Uh, grinding. Now I remember why I hate JRPGs. But it doesn’t have to be this way, I promise! Just look at Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, which turns all JRPG conventions on their head by putting you in the shoes of one of those cunning shopkeeps who are always rinsing you for money. An “ingenious” game that’s actually “Diablo in disguise” was wot Alec thought back in 2010, whose core systems are so “massively compulsive” that any sense of grinding goes straight out the storefront window.

Recettear

All right, I’m listening. But what about if I want to be the adventurer bod that does all the murdering? Then you’re very well-catered for, as this is essentially what all JRPGs are about. That, and crystals, apparently.

Sweet. But I don’t want any of this turn-based lark. Or random battles. Then I suggest you ignore every Final Fantasy game up until Final Fantasy XII, because all of those are turn-based central. A good place to start, in fact, is Tales of Symphonia. It’s pretty traditional as JRPGs go, not to mention a little old now considering it originally came out on GameCube back in 2003, but its real-time combat system has always been very easy to get to grips with. All you’ve got to worry about is controlling the main character, as the rest of your party is handled by the game’s capable AI. You can pause the action to issue specific commands and change your equipment, too, in case you need to change your strategy. Even better, all monsters roam the map in plain sight, so you don’t have to fight them if you don’t want to.

What about something from this decade? Tales of Berseria is the latest game in the series, but for beginners I’d recommend I am Setsuna.

Satsuma? Set-su-na. Another thing you should know is that almost all JRPGs have ridiculous names.

I am Setsuna

Setsuna, got it. Yes. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s still a great introduction to classic JRPG tropes. Here, battles are a blend of real-time and turn-based actions. Once your characters’ respective active time bars fill up, you can issue an attack command. That’s the turn bit. While you’re choosing your attack, however, time will carry on, so too much dilly-dallying will allow monsters to get the jump on you. Its party-wide combo attacks also make it the closest thing PC has to the vastly superior granddaddy of JRPGs, Chrono Trigger (which sadly still isn’t available on Steam or anywhere else yet).

That sounds stressful. Maybe something turn-based would be better after all. Welcome to Final Fantasy IX, friends. I mean, everyone knows Final Fantasy VIII is the best Final Fantasy, but even I’ll admit that its Junctioning system is a bit barmy for someone who’s never played a JRPG before.

But what about Sev- Ugh, talk about overrated. Final Fantasy IX, on the other hand, is lovely. The characters are great, the music’s fantastic, the fighting’s brilliant, and the main villain still manages to be threatening despite wearing a pair of Speedos for 90% of the game.

FINAL FANTASY IX

Err… Alternatively, Final Fantasy X is an equally good starting point, which recently got remastered for PC and is easily the second best Final Fantasy after VIII. Fact. In that one the main boss is a giant whale who also happens to be –

I’m going to start whaling on you in the a minute if you don’t stop this Final Fantasy chat. All right, all right. How about a bit of Valkyria Chronicles, then?

Valkyria what now? This one’s a tactical JRPG that’s also a third-person shooter.

Valkyria Chronicles

GO ON. Not only does this game look stunning, like a living, breathing watercolour painting, but it’s also about WAR and manoeuvring GIANT TANKS on the battlefield. Think XCOM meets World War II. Movement, which is controlled by an action bar, takes places in real time alongside incoming enemy fire, but proper attacks are turn-based. Here, you’ve got full control over where and who you shoot, which only grows more complex once you start adding units like snipers, engineers and those aforementioned tanks into the mix. Once you’ve used up all your actions, then it’s time for the enemy to move in and attack.

Where can I get this? It’s currently £14.99 on Steam.

Can I go now? You are dismissed.

121 Comments

  1. mlcarter815 says:

    Zelda is my favorite JRPG series because it’s the least anime looking.

    • SaintAn says:

      Zelda is an action adventure game series, not a JRPG series.

      • EdgarAllanPawn says:

        I think he meant Super Metroid. Metroid is my favourite jrpg protagonist, hands down.

  2. Premium User Badge

    Lexx87 says:

    Despite being Japanese and a sort of RPG, Zelda is not a JRPG ^_^

  3. mlcarter815 says:

    I think it depends on who you ask. I’ve seen professional game critics label Zelda a JRPG.

    • stringerdell says:

      Professionals can get it wrong from time to time

      • SaintAn says:

        Professionals can get it right from time to time, you mean. Bloggers are wrong way too often and rarely correct themselves or learn from their mistakes.

      • Kriever says:

        On that case, Valkyria Chronicles would be no JRPG either.

  4. Titler says:

    No mention of the Ys series? Boooo I say. Apparently the latest game, Ys 8, is fantastic, but it’s locked in conversion hell for PC so I’ve not played it yet.

    The series as a whole, whilst seriously Anime in it’s aesthetic (outside of the 1980s Sega and PC original conversions), plays quite unlike most JRPGs in that it’s almost a pinball style experience where you literally just ram enemies, or later mow through them with rapid fire sword swings, and some of the bosses verge on Bullet Hell shooters.

    Plot is mostly rudimentary, meant to move you from exciting moment to moment with minimal fuss; and then onto the next game. But the music… oh that music!

    Most complete package and game outside 8 is probably Ys Origins; it does foreshadow the original Ys Books 1&2 though, so consider waiting if you plan to go deeper into the series. I’d definitely recommend the modern remakes, but I’m bias as Ys 1 on SMS was my first ever RPG.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      8 was a complete mess on consoles with one of the worst translation jobs we’ve seen. So bad the company was forced to redo the translation work INCLUDING redubbing the whole thing.

      The good news is the translation’s fixed on consoles now. The bad news is NISA still hasn’t finished the PC port and their PC ports tend to be mixed bags.

      Along those lines I also recommend Trails in the Sky, but the games might be too dense text wise for newcomers.

      • TheOx129 says:

        While I haven’t played Ys yet (though I do have the first three for PC Engine/TurboGrafx ready to go on my RetroPie when I get around to them), I’d agree that Trails in the Sky isn’t the best introductory JRPG. It’s a slow burn with lots of text, and while it pays off, I can see pacing being an issue for some folks.

        For me, it was the perfect game to get me back into JRPGs after a long hiatus: it definitely brought me back to the 16-bit era in terms of charm and the sum being greater than the individual parts. It’s become my go-to recommendation for folks who say things like, “I used to love JRPGs until they got too grimdark/fan service-y/repetitive/whatever.”

        • jrodman says:

          IMO, the modern Ys games are pretty dissimilar from the Tubografx16 era Ys games. They share characters and a general similar shape, but they play totally differently.

          Some will like both, some will only like one. I think the modern games have more broad appeal though. Personally my favourite is Oath in Felghana. (sp?)

        • Ringwraith says:

          Trails games are great for showing what kind of writing you can get out of them. They’re loooong games, you’re looking at for a story split over two games (the first ends on a cliffhanger after its immediate plot wraps up) Trails in the Sky is easily 100+ hours, and they tend to be slow burn and focus on the mundane until someone’s evil machinations come to the fore. They rarely feel padded out, but there is a lot stuff.

          However, if the idea of pacing more akin to an easygoing long-running TV series until its stakes get raised, doesn’t appeal, Trails of Cold Steel is definitely pacier. It retains a lot of the mundane day-to-day tone at many points, but the plot kicks off sooner and the game opens with a preview of where the plot goes when everything gets real serious so you know it is going somewhere.

          Although Cold Steel also is a story of two games and similarly ends on a cliffhanger as forewarning. It’s also much more openly wearing an anime mask by using a military school setting as its springboard, instead of adventurer-for-hire interns. Though all Trails games tend to use stock archetypes as merely a basis and expands on them greatly over their runtime.

          I think you’ll get more out of the series starting at Sky though if the cheery happy-go-lucky nature it has for a long time isn’t a turnoff, as these things are in for the long haul, often setting the foundations for elements picked up several games later as you have “aha!” moments.

    • Katharine Byrne says:

      I was hoping to be able to include Ys VIII, as I’ve enjoyed what I’ve played so far of the PS4 version (translation woes aside), but alas, it’s still stuck in conversion hell :(

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Any discussion of JRPG’s has to include Nihon Falcom in there somewhere. They’re the one early pioneer of the genre that continues to make fantastic games year after year.

      The Napishtim engine games (Ys VI Ark Of Napishtim, Ys Oath In Felghana, Ys Origin), Xanadu Next, and Zwei II are some of the best action RPG’s ever made. And while I’m still working on Trails In The Sky SC, the first chapter was so good that every other Trails game became an immediate day 1 purchase for me. I’ve bounced off a few of their games (Gurumin, Zwei I) but everything else ranges from good (Ys I&II) to essential (Oath In Felghana, Trails In The Sky).

  5. TotallyUseless says:

    JRPGs are fun when grinding is completely optional and the story is not toxic like the Neptunia series.

  6. Dominic Tarason says:

    Worth mentioning that as great as Valkyria Chronicles is, it has some balance issues, especially in how it handles scoring, making speedrunning from objective to objective with a single unit the most optimal way to play, reaping the greatest rewards.

    Enter the Gallian Crossfire mod.
    link to steamcommunity.com
    In short: A total rebalance, and that includes the scoring system. The end result is a game that forces you to use every tool you have, and feels all the more rewarding for it. It’s not much *harder* with the mod really, just less exploitable.

    • mavrik says:

      As long as you can finish the game properly without doing the speedrunning, I don’t see a problem – ruining your own enjoyment by using exploits is your choice after all.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        The problem is that speedrunning gives you the most currency to upgrade the rest of your squad, but you don’t use those upgrades because you’re only using a single unit. It’s a positive feedback loop that teaches you to ignore 95% of the game.

        The mod improves a lot more than the scoring, of course. Enemy snipers in particular become a much more pressing threat and need to be properly flanked or approached with armor if possible.

        • Slaadfax says:

          The real kicker is how quickly your score (and upgrade ability) dips if you don’t run the game in the “finish in as few turns as possible.” You get less experience and less currency, which means you either have to replay levels (grind…) or start to fall behind on the upgrade curve. That, and S-Ranking gets you some pretty swank gear.

          That being said, there’s a pretty fun optimization puzzle to be had in figuring out how to “speedrun” some of the scenarios, but it’s very very gamey. Ignoring all enemies and running to the enemy camp to raise your own flag there isn’t exactly sound wartime tactics.

    • SuddenSight says:

      Interesting, I just stared a VC playthrough. Would you recommend this mod for a first playthrough? Looking at the FAQ there seems to be a number of possible bugs from the mod.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        The only possible issues are if you abuse a newfound option to remove Largo, Rosie and Alicia from your team, or have them die permanently. Normally these three are flagged as special story characters, but to give you more options on replaying missions, the mod lets you bend the rules a little.

        Just keep them around and make sure that if any of them go down, you have someone pick them up so they get evacuated.

    • bonuswavepilot says:

      Oooh! This looks like just the ticket. I liked the way VK played in most regards, but the scoring system and it’s speed obsession did put me off.

      As well as what has been mentioned above about the ability to upgrade your squad being based on it this, the speed-based scoring is also a problem when you are learning to play the game at first, and relying on your score in a mission for some feedback… Getting the best score for the cheesiest approach isn’t helpful.

  7. Potajito says:

    Urg, I found I’m Setsuna to be unbearable, and I don’t agree a lot with the recommendations, so here are mine:
    – Grandia 2. Charming JRPG that has aged quite well. Also it’s now in sale on steam.
    – Eternal Sonata. Ok, this one is only on 360 and ps3, but if you have the chance, please, play it!

    • Mokinokaro says:

      These are both great choices.

      Get Sonata on PS3 if you have the choice. It’s an upgraded version.

      Another decent one on Steam is Cosmic Star Heroine. While not actually developed in Japan it sure pays homage to them and has a fun take on the class turn-based gameplay. The humor is very dad jokey if you can’t stand that stuff though.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Grandia 2 is actually funny, cool story with a twist, loved it very much.

    • GeoX says:

      Good god, people, stop recommending Grandia 2. Granted, it’s not as uninteresting as the first Grandia, but it’s still pretty darned insipid–the sort of banality that would make an outsider wonder why the hell anyone cares about JRPGs in the first place.

      • jrodman says:

        I have to agree that the story, writing, and characters at least for the first 5 or so hours of Grandia 2 are really quite formulaic and shallow. I know some people love them but I can’t see why myself.

        Maybe it gets better at some point, but I’ve not gone back to it.

    • tehfish says:

      Eternal Sonata is a good suggestion.

      If we’re suggesting console things, i’d add Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon to the list, the former is pretty much the main reason i’ve kept my 360 around.

    • Natanji says:

      If we’re talking console JRPGs, then I highly recommend Ni no Kuni. Actually, Ni no Kuni 2 is gonna be released soon and will be getting a PC release!

  8. hijuisuis says:

    I think FFX is on balance the best for a jrpg noob. Many flaws, but so many appealing systems, stories, characters and music that most people will find something to carry them through the game with pleasure and simplicity.

    • batraz says:

      It was indeed my first game of the genre, and it worked for me ; random turned-based battles may be harder to accept today, however. The Zanarkand piano theme remains my favorite video game score to this day.

      • jrodman says:

        I dunno, I think “random battles” at frequent intervals was pretty much completely considered outmoded in 2000 by at least the western press. I’m not sure it’s any more stale now.

        I actually really *like* the ancient RPG formula when fights happened unexpectedly but could be significant threats and it was about the fear of getting back to the surface alive. In games closer to 2000 it was sort of an artifact of the past and I found it tolerable.

        Personally I really like exploring, and having fights pop up while wandering around the world makes it sort of seem threatening or large in a way that an empty map would not engage. It works better of course when you’re not sure if an area is threatening to you or not. That creates a sort of interest in the game systems and in the nature of the world that you’re exploring.

        Final Fantasy X didn’t work so well for me there, with its pure linearity.

  9. Frings says:

    I am still sitting on my hands waiting for my proper Final Fantasy Tactics PC port, and Tales of the Abyss remaster+port. Please and thank you.

    Every time a new Final Fantasy or Tales of gets announced that’s all that comes to mind. And now with PC gamers going on and on about JRPGs all of a sudden, including FFXII which is set in the Ivalice world first set in FFT, it pains me that I can’t recommend either of those.

    (I mean, I still do, but who other than me still owns a PSP in 2018 to play FFT War of the Lions?)

    • seraphsword says:

      I’d love to play Tactics on PC too, but for now you can still play War of the Lions on Vita or iOS, if you don’t have a PSP that is.

      • SaintAn says:

        May want to look up a comparison for mobile vs PSP versions. I think some stuff was changed in the mobile version for the worse, but I can’t remember what.

    • abstrarie says:

      I bought a PSTV to play FFT War of the Lions. I love the game, but its balance issues and lack of auto-saving is really irritating to me in 2018. I have become too spoiled. It really needs an updated version of proper sequel (the GBA/DS sequels were just ok). Also, while the cutscenes and translation in WoL are great, the port is plagued with slowdown. It really sucks that the PS original runs better than the port.

      I also tried to get into tactics ogre, but found it to be boring. Maybe I will give it another shot.

      • Exkaiser says:

        There’s a patch for the psp version of FFT which handily removes the slowdown. It’s quite darling.

      • suicicoo says:

        I tried war of the lions, but after having played the gba/ds-versions i just couldn’t stand the lack of QoL-improvement of moving and then looking how far your attacks reach/how much damage/hitchance they have…
        In war of the lions you move … and are stuck with that.
        Or do i remember wrong?

        • abstrarie says:

          I can’t remember if it worked like that actually. I think you could walk them back? Maybe not. I remember counting spaces frequently to see if something would be in range when I was done moving so I suppose it made you commit to moves and my memory is foggy.

  10. abstrarie says:

    Honestly if you really want to check out the best JRPG’s, you can’t stick to the arbitrary rule of legally purchased PC specific games only. Emulators or consoles are the only ways to get to the best (and the most accesible) the genre has to offer. Some incredible totally newbie friendly JRPGs for the unconverted:

    -Chrono Trigger (SNES) – It is short, simple, and a complete joy to play. No grinding, no complicated systems, no padding, just straight to the point adventuring with a memorable cast, time traveling hijinx, and cool combo attacks. Just don’t bother with any aspect of the sequel outside of the music. Chrono Cross has probably my favorite soundtrack in gaming history, but the game itself is a repetitive, confusing, nonsensical slog.

    -Terranigma (SNES) – I guess this game isn’t that big of a deal for people in the UK, but we never got it in the US! Probably the best action RPG on the SNES. Cool story, fantastic 16 bit graphics, fun combat, good music. If you like Zelda, you should like this. It’s 2 sort of prequels are good too: Soul Blazer and The Illusion of Gaia. Terranigma is the best of the bunch though.

    -Valkyrie Profile (PS1, PSP) – The first 2 hours of this game are very boring. The rest is maybe the finest JRPG I ever played. The art style is very cool, the combat system is a unique mash-up of turn based but with real-time inputs (basically every turn you try to juggle the enemies in the air by timing your parties attacks correctly) and the game doesn’t hold your hand at all. If you want to ignore the gods and just sort of let ragnarok happen while you spend all your time in a swamp beating up zombie dragons instead, go for it! Has some weird systems in it, but nothing to complicated.

    -Breath of Fire V: Dragon Quarter (PS2) – While this is the fifth game in the series, no knowledge of the other ones is required. It is completely disconnected from them to the point where it could probably have been an original property. The game is short (20 to 30 hours), the combat is really cool and strategic, the art style is cell shaded and minimal, and the story is simple but well executed. Your party of 3 people has to escape from deep underground to reach the surface before 2 of the members die from what ails them. The limited inventory system is irritating, but makes you really think about what you need to hang on to. Has a lot of replay value as more of the story opens up everytime you beat it and you can choose different end bosses to fight.

    -FF6 or 9 – Take your pick of these. Six is probably better, simpler, more iconic; but 9 is a bit more modernized and is probably the peak of the 3-d FFs.

    I think all those are pretty straightforward and really let you see what is up with this sub genre. If you want something more modern…maybe don’t even bother. The whole thing has gone way down hill since PS2 to the point where I can’t last more then 10 hours in newer JRPGs. They all have the same story line, a bunch of convoluted nonsense systems designed to waste your time, and completely unstrategic battle systems. And this is coming from someone who spends 95% of his time playing this stuff.

    • boundless08 says:

      Agree with everything here! It’s extremely easy to set up an emulator, I’ve done it on my tablet(PSP one is very handy), raspberry Pi(I think Lakka is great) and PC. Brilliant list, I think a few I’d add:

      Legend of Dragoon(PS1) – Not particularly amazing but I love the aesthetic and I think it’s a relatively good/easy intro.

      Star Ocean 1+2(PS1/PSP) – Again mostly aesthetic for me, avoid the latter ones. I have generally found my tolerance for JRPGs has decreased with the more voice acting they’ve added, 4 is utter tripe in the voice and script department

      Wild Arms 3(PS2) – Amazing graphics and great systems. Also plucks at those emosh strings more than most do

      • abstrarie says:

        Good stuff! I enjoyed Legend of Dragoon when it came out, but I was also pretty starved for RPG’s at the time. It is certainly a super dumb game, but has some cool stuff. I mean, the characters are all color coded to their powers before they even get them. That is just lazy haha.

        I never played Wild Arms 3! I loved the first one though. I beat FF7 a hundred times, but the first Wild Arms is PS1 RPG I always said was my favorite at the time (until Valkyrie Profile came out).

        I missed the boat on the Star Oceans. Might go back and emulate the PS one as I heard it was amazing. I don’t really have time for hundred hour games anymore though.

        • jrodman says:

          I was *really* surprised by how engaging Wild Arms 3 is. The look of the combats has a silly element where people run around at random with no strategic element at all, but the combats still work okay, and the puzzle elements are still there in style.

          What I really loved, however, was yhe sprawling storyline that spins out in a way I found very satisfying but some people might find cliche, I suppose.

          • jrodman says:

            (Oh, and my recommendation is just don’t bother with Wild Arms 2. It doesn’t live up to 1 at all, all it has going for it is the wild west theme, IMO.)

    • Chillicothe says:

      I agree with all of this, plus Vagrant Story and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

      PC is missing out. Missing out some greatness.

      Also don’t forget the Trails games. Know light yet deep narrative and characterization done right.

      • abstrarie says:

        I didn’t try out the trails games because they looked too generic. I might have to give them a look.

        And I enjoyed Vagrant Story. I always thought of it as the medieval JRPG equivalent of Metal Gear Solid if that make sense.

    • GeoX says:

      This=truth. If you want to get into JRPGs but you have an arbitrary PC-only rule…well, forget it, you can’t. Or at least not without missing out on most of the classics of the genre. And YES, Chrono Trigger is the one, obvious game that anyone would be strongly advised to start with. Chrono Cross isn’t actually terrible on its own, but it IS a terrible sequel to the first game. Radical Dreamers is weird enough to be worth checking out, though, even if it’s not an RPG.

      • abstrarie says:

        Every time I think of Chrono Cross, I think of all these positive traits. Incredible music, great environment, some cool story moments. But then I go and play it and I just can’t stand how generic every character is and the battle system just feels like a slog. I hated setting up my spells so much but the auto setup option didn’t feel good enough. And the story was just complete nonsense. It was like an Abrams movie where you can tell they just thought of a cool scenario and expected it all to just tie itself together by the end. But it didn’t. Not in a satisfying way anyway. And it had literally nothing to do with Chrono Trigger. Ugh.

        Still. That music.

  11. MikoSquiz says:

    The World Ends With You is the one JRPG I’m willing to recommend unreservedly. It’s a bizarre delight. Digest food in real-time to gain courage! Use your courage to parade around in women’s clothes! Win spirit-world battles in those women’s clothes to make the brand more fashionable in the area, boosting the effectiveness of similarly-branded weapons! To say nothing of the fun, frantic twin-controls dual-battle system or the frankly insane plot.

    I will also more reservedly recommend the Disgaea games: If you like a good grid-and-turn-based strategy game with a small squad of individual units with their own skillsets and gear, they may be for you, assuming you also like systems that are designed to be broken and abused (check out moving, using a range-limited ability, the canceling your movement and using it to go somewhere else instead) and wacky anime humor (an early enemy is in the middle of his flowery introduction speech when the protagonist cuts him off and tells him he’s just a mid-boss; thereafter the subtitles have his dialogue attributed to “Mid-Boss”). If any of these are a no-go you’ll probably bounce off.

    Other than these and a few other tactical RPGs with actually fun combat (The Final Fantasy Tacticses and Luminous Arcs, others that I forget) I can’t really recommend a JRPG. Most of them solidly follow the Final Fantasy main-series format of tiresome grinding interspersed with tiresome bibble.

    • Crafter says:

      >The World Ends With You

      For those interested, it will arrive on Switch this year !

  12. jssebastian says:

    A really fun “modern” JRPG is “ni no kuni”, sadly only available on console. It’s a pokemon-like monster-collecting JRPG with beautiful animation from studio Ghibli, and a fairly twee/cute/childish story that was a refreshing change for me from all the grimdark. I didn’t finish it but I did put a good number of hours in it, and only once or twice had to grind a few levels to get a bit stronger before facing a new challenge (though you can probably grind to death to min-max your squad for post-game challenges, but it’s not really needed just to finish the game)

    It’s fairly accessible I think because it introduces its systems very gradually (adding familiars/pokemon, multiple characters, then ability to capture more familiars).

    Speaking of more modern games, I really enjoyed “Child of light”, it’s very JRPG-like though it’s from ubisoft montreal, and is available on PC. It’s just beautiful, not excessively long (unlike most JRPGs), and has very fun combat with a bunch of characters that have very diverse skills, though I would recommend bumping difficulty to hard (which you can do at any time during playthrough) if you have any RPG experience as otherwise it’s a bit too easy.

    • jssebastian says:

      Speaking of child of light: I saw several reviews dismissing it as too easy, not having engaging enough combat mechanics, while playing it on normal. I think that’s pretty silly: game is designed to be very accessible to new-comers to the genre by having normal difficulty be pretty easy, but if you bump it to hard the complexity of the systems becomes more relevant.

    • Swordfishtrombone says:

      Good god, yes, Ni No Kuni is glorious. Spent many a happy day in my dressing gown alone in the flat eating huge bowls of cereal whilst marvelling at the world and music. The Wizards Companion book thingy is so wonderful! So much detail.

      I also found it hilarious that the little yellow guy with the big nose has an actual proper Welsh accent. He reminded me of my physics teacher.

    • suicicoo says:

      But the first one on DS only came out in Japan with an added book needed(?) to play the game and wasn’t translated – i would so have bought it, but…

      • Natanji says:

        The PS3 version is basically a remake of the DS version, isn’t it? And honestly, it is vastly more beautiful.

  13. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    There’s zero reason to have this discussion again, but: FF VII is definitely not overrated. I think it’s absolutely true that Square itself doesn’t understand what made it good and that all of its semi-sequels are awful, and that most of its fans are unable to articulate what makes it so distinct, and that a big part of its appeal at launch were the now-aged pretty graphics, and that the translation is pretty crap (though there are of course fan translations)…which basically makes it really really easy to dismiss as a flash in the pan.

    A much younger me wrote a chapter in a book about why exactly it was noteworthy; my editors took out the more critical stuff (because FF7 is an enormously broad game and there’s plenty to criticize, absolutely) so it may read a bit too celebratory, but I still stand by its conclusions. link to books.google.com

    • MikoSquiz says:

      It was revelatory and transformative at the time in many ways other than graphically, but things like “having a prologue” and “more than a handful of characters” are typically taken for granted now.

      I’d highly recommend that anyone who didn’t play FF7 and develop a nostalgic love for it at the time steer well clear in the present, unless they’re the kind of people who went to see The Room six times, with an unabashed love of terminally stupid storytelling and all things wonky and half-arsed.

      • jrodman says:

        I dunno, I played it about 3 years ago and felt it was surprisingly much more engaging than I remembered. Yes it has annoying stuff like long unwelcome sequences that lock you in, but the story is delivered with some amount of subtlety despite the awkward translation, and the pace keeps up pretty well, at least until disc 3 where there’s a long slog into the final dungeon that I just lost interest in it before completing.

    • abstrarie says:

      FF7 is brilliant right up until you leave Midgar. Once you are out in the open world it loses a lot of appeal to me. But that first chunk of the game is so memorable. The environment is super cool and streamlined and you were always up to something interesting. And that intro where the camera zooms in and Cloud jumps off the train and starts taking out those guards is one of the all-time great RPG kick-offs. Cutting straight to the chase is something that JRPG’s rarely do even after they should have learned their lesson from FF7.

      But they just didn’t give you enough useful options in combat. There is really no reason to not just spam attack through regular encounters and use slightly stronger attacks on bosses. I don’t think I ever cast a status effect spell in the entirety of any of my many play throughs. That lack of strategic combat and the story that completely falls apart under any level of scrutiny are what really kill the game to me. If they dropped the playtime down to more like 20 to 30 hours and kept it all in Midgar, the game would have been much more focused and better for it. Oh and giving the fights outside of Ruby and Emerald weapon some actual difficulty would be cool too.

      • GeoX says:

        Yep. I have long contended that the game would be SO much cooler if the whole thing was set inside Midgar. But no–gotta get those RPG Cliches in. It feels like they weren’t confident enough to break away from the usual formula. A shame, as the rest of the world (except the Gold Saucer, maybe) just isn’t that interesting.

    • aepervius says:

      FF VII is definitively overrated. The story isn’t that great the game play good for the time but not great. I am not sure if this is spoilery, but people remember it far more fondly and rate it far more because of a certain scene happening which was slightly shocking in a videogame. Remove that scene and most of the nostalgia would be gone in favor of other FF or heck other games. Have you played it recently compared to other games of the epoch ? I did. A few month ago. And ho boy it is sobering up.

    • GardenOfSun says:

      Just dropping in to chime my total acccord with you sir.

      I’m growing worried and a bit tired of this contemporary fad of dismissing FFVII as “overrated”, when I believe it’s one of the most emotionally and psichologically deep jrpgs ever made, easily leagues above (*specifically from a literary standpoint*) say, IX. I’ll disclaimer with saying that I have played only a tiny bit of VIII and haven’t played VI; but even then, it’s one thing for everyone to have his own favourite, it’s another to entertain such a revisionism against a generation-defining masterpiece without even giving the benefit of an argument. And I for certainly know that my early teenager years were touched and influenced by few things as much as they were by FF7 and The Lord of the Rings. I could write paragraphs on end about the subleties and ingenuity of the the themes of the game, and the way in which they reshape ages old archetypes to make them relevant to today’s world; but to cut the story short, I believe very few games ever got to even approach the realm of art and emotional integrity in the way FF7 did (I’ll name Silent Hill 2 for one).

      Again, you’re free to subjectively prefer other games, but at least respect the fact that the way Square and some of the fanbase treated FF7 many long years after release is not a function of its quality, but rather of the vertical drop in artisanship and honesty that the company ultimately went through.

      • GeoX says:

        I mean, you’re perfectly free to like FFVII. That’s cool. But realize that what you’re saying is basically “feel free to subjectively not like it, but realize that objectively, my opinion is right.” I think it’s pretty obvious what’s wrong with that.

        • GardenOfSun says:

          That’s clearly not what I stated.

          I’ll parse it again in easier terms: 1) subjectively everyone may like what they want; 2) it’s possible to argue at extreme lenght that, objectively speaking, FF7 is a masterpiece (and it’s possible in the sense that some people have either done it or, like myself, firmly believe they could do it); 3) a lot of people in recent years have took to call FF7 “the most overrated X” or “clearly not as good as Y”, mostly without offering any serious explanation as to why that might be; 4) given that the people in point 3 are the ones saying that they’re “objectively right” first, and given that point 2 should be widely recognised as tenable, I believe they should at least offer some pretty good arguments for their stance – which I’ve never seen them doing; 5) THEREFORE I rest my displease.

          I hope this time you won’t find my perspective so unreasonable.

          • GeoX says:

            objectively speaking, FF7 is a masterpiece (and it’s possible in the sense that some people have either done it

            Okay, but if we’re throwing around “objectively” to mean “totally subjectively,” then let me note that *I* personally would say that objectively speaking, FFVI was the highlight of the series, and it was downhill from VII on. Don’t agree with that? Too bad; it’s objective.

          • bonuswavepilot says:

            “Objectively speaking…a masterpiece” eh? Well this can save us all a lot of hassle and argument: would you mind just letting us know the objective criteria by which games ought to be judged?

            Just think how much time we can all save on not bothering with those that don’t meet the mark!

            Hell, if you could also tell some developers, that would presumably stop them from making the objectively bad games, and we’d all be better off!

          • GardenOfSun says:

            I thought that it was obvious that I didn’t engage on a full on analysis that actually tried to prove the point to avoid a ginormous wall of text; something that, moreover, was already provided in his own words by the OP.

            But I see that in general you decidedly want to read in what I write what simply isn’t there. The argument is NOT that FF7 is objectively speaking a masterpiece; the argument is that it’s possible to list a whole HOST OF REASONS as to why that would be so; which, in turn, means that dismissing it as “overrated”, “not good” and so on without so much as giving a SINGLE ARGUMENT is, at the very least, annoying and disingenous. Let’s see if this time you get it.

            As a side note, it’s also important to consider that, while equally unfounded, saying that work of art X is “objectively bad, overrated, ecc.” – what the article, I keep pointing out, is ALREADY DOING – should be considered way poorer form than to say that work of art X is “objectively a masterpiece”. The reasons should be somewhat obvious, and, again, best left to a debate for another time.

          • GeoX says:

            You REALLY should consider letting go of that word “objective.” It’s not helping you. I’m sure you could go on for thousands of words about the great FFVII is, but that’s not remotely the point. Personally, I’m more into literature than videogames. If you ask me to name some of the world’s best books, I can list some names, and I can list some hopefully-convincing reasons for my thinking…all of which would be totally subjective. Crikey.

            Also, the article doesn’t call anything objectively anything. I have no idea what you think you’re arguing with on that point.

  14. SaintAn says:

    I recently started the Dragon Quest series and the first one is a pretty good start point. It still holds up well and is on mobile. Best version of the game is the mobile version from what I’ve read.

    The second is MASSIVE and includes the first games world as just a small part of the much larger world. Such a good game, but definitely not good for beginners because there’s a lot of stuff you need to hunt down in the world. It’s on mobile too. And the best version is the mobile version.

    I skipped 3 since it was a prequel and decided I’ll get to it another time. I heard the mobile version isn’t good.

    The first three are a trilogy. And 4, 5, and 6 are also a trilogy from what I’ve heard. A very good one too according to some spoilers I’ve heard.

    I started on 4 but my phone broke. 4, 5, and 6 are best on mobile though from what I looked into.

    7 is on 3DS and not mobile. No idea about it yet.

    8 is best on 3DS, but is censored so I suggest hacking the 3DS and getting the uncensored version fans fixed.

    Dragon Quest Builders is an action JRPG sandbox game and is very good choice too. It takes place in a world where at the end of the first Dragon Quest the hero either chose to join the main villain when asked or lost against the main villain after the the first game (I’m not sure if it’s a spoiler to say anymore). So the Dragonlord took over the world and took literacy away from the remaining humans so they can’t build anything or fight back against monsters. You play the builder who is a resurrected dead person that the goddess made literate to go and help the humans rebuild the world. I have it on my Switch, but it’s on PS4 and Vita too.

    And I highly recommend Bravely Default as a beginner JRPG. It’s pretty much a Final Fantasy game in everything but name. That’s another you’ll want to hack your 3DS for to get the uncensored version. Same for the sequel. I kinda want to play that again now.

    These days Final Fantasy XI is a good beginner RPG too. Though it still requires help from the internet.

    • mcgiants says:

      Oh geeze, I wouldn’t want a good story ruined by censorship. I’d better hack my DS. But first, I wonder what was censored *looks up what was censored*

      Um…. never mind. I’m good.

      • aepervius says:

        Personally I am always removing censorship, from nazi flag in south park, to stupid bikini added, I don’t care if I don’t like the result. I am simply against censorship of work of art. When people think censorship is good I remind them of the pope which took a chisel and destroyed part of art work, because he could not stand anatomically correct human marble status. Heck, imagine somebody taking black paint and adding a bikini to “the birth of Venus” link to en.wikipedia.org. How would that make you feel ? Well this is exactly how I feel for video game censorship. I want what the authors WANTED, not what nanny state think I should see.

        • mcgiants says:

          My dude, you really need to learn the difference between CENSORSHIP and localization. This isn’t the same category as banning books from the library. You said you want what the authors wanted? That’s pretty tricky. It’s very possible the authors wanted their game changed so that people in a different country could enjoy it better. If I sold a game in japan, I would want it to make money, and I wouldn’t want a side part of my game distracting from the core if it caused distress. If it contained something the Japanese felt was offensive, but it wasn’t a core part of the game, I would probably fire the localization team if they didn’t change it. Plus, no localized game is as the authors intended because the very act of translation changes the meaning. Also, games are made by TEAMS, not one almighty author. It’s very possible the team could disagree on a decision.
          Look, I’m not saying your a bad person for liking the original more than the localized. That is a perfectly fine stance to have. I just hope you can understand (as much as I can hope for a random stranger on the internet) that changing the original work is not inherently an EVIL SIN AGAINST ART.

          • SaintAn says:

            It’s not localization, it’s censorship. Just because shitty sites put out propaganda labeling censorship as localization when it fits their beliefs doesn’t mean it’s not censorship. Try thinking instead of following, and don’t talk about subjects you don’t understand. Now head on back to Kotaku.

        • mcgiants says:

          Oh, and localization are not part of the nanny state government. So… yay?

        • GeoX says:

          Dude. Jessica in a Bikini is in no way an Artistic Statement. It’s one hundred percent purient interest. Not that I necessarily mind that, but gerting rid of it is not a Crime Against Art. If you can’t see the substantive difference between that and The Birth of Venus, I don’t know what to tell you.

          And, of course “the nanny state” had absolutely nothing to do with Square Enix’s localization decisions. That is an extremely silly thing to say.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      Amusing coincidence, as I just recently played the first Dragon Quest as well. I played the NES version using emulation, and wrote about it on my personal blog:
      link to waltorious.wordpress.com

  15. juan_h says:

    I have played and enjoyed JRPGs in the past, but I fell out of love with the genre about 15 years ago. I looked at the JRPGs that I owned and realized that (a) none of them had interesting combat systems and (b) each of them was about 99% random encounters. After the thousandth fight in which you once again spam your characters’ strongest attacks until all the random monsters are dead, a game begins to lose its charm. Anyway, I figured that if I was going to spend pretty much all my time in combat, I should do it in a game where the combat systems were interesting and the encounters were cleverly designed. I’ve been a much happier gamer since I moved on to so-called SRPGs like Tactics Ogre or Fire Emblem. I get most of the things that I like about JRPGs–the visual aesthetics, the plots–without nearly so much of the things that I don’t.

  16. Viral Frog says:

    Literally the only reason Chrono Trigger wasn’t the number 1 recommendation is because it isn’t on PC. Well, it isn’t OFFICIALLY on PC. *wink*

    Chrono Trigger is obviously the best JRPG for anyone to start with. I have it on 3DS and I replay it like once a year. It’s the only game I’ve replayed more than once that wasn’t specifically designed to be played infinitely. (Or was it? Hmm.)

  17. Peksisarvinen says:

    Final Fantasy IX is the best Final Fantasy of all time. Granted, it’s also the only one I’ve played (aside from XI if you want to count that), but further research never changed anyone’s mind. For what it’s worth, it’s a great game, and the remaster on Steam is really well made; far more enjoyable than playing on an emulator, as I have for the past 15 years or whatever.

    Tales of Symphonia was a MASSIVE disappointment for me. Tales of Eternia is up there with FF IX on my personal best games list, and when I finally got to playing Symphonia, I was sure it would end up there as well. But boy, was I wrong.

    Anyway, part of the reason why PC gaming is superior to everything else is emulation. It’s of course a grey area as far as legality is concerned, but let’s face it, who the hell cares, so Tales of Eternia and Chrono Trigger complete the top 3 for me.

  18. E_FD says:

    I hadn’t thought about it until I saw this post and went “Well, duh, Chrono Trigger” before I was even finished reading the title, but it’s really amazing that after a couple decades Chrono Trigger still isn’t legally available on PCs.

    This was followed by the depressing realization that an official PC port today would somehow still manage to play significantly worse than fan-made SNES emulators from the turn of the century.

  19. Simbosan says:

    The Chrono Triggers on Android are splendidly well done, better to play on a tablet than a tiny 3DS.

    The best JRPG of all time is obviously FFVII, and it’s not mentioned here cos er…

    A JRPG is not remembered for the combat, the mechanics, it’s remembered for how it touches your heart and FFVII is without parallel. It’s lovely, and beautiful, the art direction is inspired. You can bellyache about the grind, but it never bothered me and it’s the only game I’ve ever replayed all the way through, and I’ve replayed it 5 times.

    It has depths that constantly reward, have you got all the summons? Have you got all the secret bosses some of whom are stupid hard. Ok, this is common for JRPG but you can sink small lifetimes into this game if you have an ounce of completionist in your body.

    For all it’s flaws it’s the FF you will remember the most fondly

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      Despite my defense of it above, I think it’s safe to say that FF7 did not touch Katherine’s heart, and it’s not the one she remembers fondly :)

      (also, FF8 is definitely my favorite, though 7 is squarely in second place)

      • Katharine Byrne says:

        You are most correct in this statement :)

        VII just didn’t click with me, and I think there are better, more approachable Final Fantasy games than that one if you’re just starting out.

    • GeoX says:

      The best JRPG of all time is obviously FFVII, and it’s not mentioned here cos er…

      A JRPG is not remembered for the combat, the mechanics, it’s remembered for how it touches your heart and FFVII is without parallel. It’s lovely, and beautiful, the art direction is inspired.

      Hell, we all have our favorites, and these are always more based on emotion than anything else. I certainly do, no question about it. That said, I distinctly remember the first time I played FFVII. I tore through it, and when I was done, I thought, huh. That was…kinda not that good. It sure didn’t touch my heart, I will tell you that much, and I kind of doubt that it would for anyone these days without the benefit of nostalgia. Nostalgia’s great and all, but…

    • malkav11 says:

      The characters have all of five polygons to their name. Beautiful it is not.

  20. Chaoslord AJ says:

    But why start with the easy ones? If you got a Switch recently get Xenoblade 2 making you a jrpg expert by next summer.
    Final Fantasy 7 of course despite looking dated at least with the active battle sytem it doesn’t feel turn-based.
    Recettear is fun though if that’s a jrpg then Dark Souls counts too.
    Grandia 2 as mentioned: not too long, not too hard and great fun.
    Guess Dragon’s Dogma doesn’t count as well as it has action while being japanese and an RPG. Possibly Secret of Mana?

    Setsuna? It’s 40 bucks and many people seem to hate it.

    • ohnopirates says:

      Eeeeeenh. I’d be really hesitant to recommend Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to someone who had never touched a JRPG before.

      Those character designs alone are going to turn more people off than not. It also builds directly (a bit on story and explicitly in systems) on Wii and Wii U games.

      I adore it. One of my favorite games of the past year, the way that the combat systems distill their layers down into a smooth, buttery combo chain? Oh, goodness.

      But, yeah, not everyone wants to play lolboobs the anime game.

  21. GeoX says:

    So maybe it’s not mentioned because its aesthetics fall so far outside the JRPG norm–that’s why *I* wouldn’t recommend it if you just wanted to get a taste of the genre–but dammit, SOMEBODY needs to stand up for the Mother/Earthbound series. The first game on the NES is a bit primitive, a bit of a slog, but Earthbound for the SNES is great, and, no hyperbole, Mother 3 on the Gameboy Advance (of all things) may be the single best videogame I’ve ever played.

    • abstrarie says:

      I always forget about Earthbound! Yes, it would be a great place to start. And it seems like it would very appealing to the “indie” game crowd because it has that strangeness to it. I mean, the kids love Undertale, and that felt like an extension of Earthbound to me.

    • emertonom says:

      Earthbound is pretty great, but I’m not sure it’s a good choice for someone totally unfamiliar with the genre. A lot of what’s fun about it is the way it plays around with JRPG conventions, and if you haven’t encountered the strictures of those conventions, it may not have as much impact.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        Yeah, I’d have to second this opinion. Earthbound is wonderful, and everyone should play it, but it is probably a better game if you know the conventions it is working within (and occasionally bending).

        Also, while we’re on the topic, a quick shout-out to ‘Tomato’ who put together the English fan-translation for Earthbound 2 (aka Mother 3). It is really excellent.

  22. Merus says:

    I don’t think the article really answered this well, so: JRPGs usually have a strong focus on story, characters, and elaborate levelling systems, while Western RPGs have a strong focus on choice, character ownership, and tactical combat. The lines have blurred a little bit in recent years, as JRPGs have adopted more open-world mechanics and Western RPGs have started to get more adventurous with their levelling mechanics, but there’s still noticeable difference in traditions.

    It’s unusual, these days, for JRPGs to require grinding; it’s there if that’s your thing, but there’s usually enough Actual Content along the way such that you never need to stop and repetitively kill green wolves in a field before you’re allowed to play the real game again. Games like Bravely Default (which is, fair warning, super skeevy, and was apparently even worse in Japan) even let you turn off combat entirely, or turn it on, or make it easy.

    Speaking of, The World Ends With You is the Best One. It has a genius mechanic around its loot system: every enemy has exactly one drop, per difficulty level (which can be set per fight). They may very rarely drop one ability on Easy, and reliably drop it on Hard. Or, they might drop a 10,000 yen badge on Easy and frequently drop a crafting resource on Normal that you can straight up buy at this point. That means you have a strong incentive to drop down your difficulty to Easy even if it’s too easy for you. But! You can also mess with these drop rates, by either choosing to fight multiple battles without a break, or by reducing your level, which boosts your base drop rate. So when a boss has a base 0.5% chance to drop a unique ability, you have to ask yourself: are you willing to go into this fight underlevelled, after four other fights, and guarantee the drop, or will you tolerate a chance that you won’t get the drop you were after?

    • malkav11 says:

      I don’t think JRPGs have a better claim to elaborate advancement systems and character building than western CRPGs. If anything, I’ve always felt it skewed the other way. I’ve played so many JRPGs where a levelup just meant my HP and MP went up, while almost every western CRPG I’ve played has had a great deal of flexibility in character build, whether with skill systems or point spends or perk trees or whatnot.

      • abstrarie says:

        What differentiates JRPG’s is not their customization (which is usually pretty limited) but that they usually contain many layers of poorly explained and super confusing “systems”. The Xenoblade series is a good point of reference on that. There is a morale boosting system, and soul voices, party member affection, and overdrive attacks, not to mention the actual fight taking place. And this is all poorly explained and happening simultaneously. Western RPG’s like to invest their complexity in character creation usually, while Japanese ones put it all into a bunch of interlocking gameplay systems. That is one of the things that annoys me most about newer ones.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          “Japanese ones put it all into a bunch of interlocking gameplay systems.”

          Oh, the horror! Not interlocking gameplay systems! Make the bad game stop, daddy!

  23. malkav11 says:

    FFX is the only Final Fantasy that’s actually turn-based once the series left the NES (i.e., from 4 onwards). A lot of the others either use the Active Time Battle system (including IX) or something similar, which does confine actions to discrete turns, but continues to operate in real time between them. It’s not full run-around-and-button-mash real time like your Crisis Cores (or indeed Tales games or Kingdom Hearts or whatnot), but it’s not the pleasantly stress-free pace of turn-based combat, either.

  24. TheBetterStory says:

    Setsuna (which would actually be broken down se-tsu-na) isn’t a particularly weird name, just Japanese. Cloud Strife, on the other hand…

  25. batraz says:

    Batten Kaitos is a slightly forgotten jrpg that would deserve to be quoted ; while it’s got all the tropes that will make cynical people feel smart (yes, the hero has amnesia) the art direction and cards based combat system made it stand out.
    I would recommend Suikoden games too, and the magnificent Persona 3 and 4, among the lesser known games.
    By the way, titles are not ridiculous on purpose, you know ? It’s japanese, a beautiful language I’m ashamed not to speak ; I’ve known rps to be more inclined towards difference and minorities, but I know how it is : these people never complain, right ?

    • Katharine Byrne says:

      <3 Baten Kaitos. If only it was on PC, I’d replay that game in a heartbeat!

      Definitely didn’t intend to mean Setsuna was weird simply by virtue of being a Japanese word. I just meant that most JRPGs have slightly weird titles. Case in point: any Kingdom Hearts game, or indeed, any Square Enix game :)

  26. ansionnach says:

    Tales of Symphonia is tedious, generic and obnoxiously self-important. It looks great; the voice acting grates; it’s plain awful.

    Phantasy Star IV is available on PC. I’d recommend that as I’d guess it’s just the original game packaged with a Mega Drive emulator (so it should be unchanged from the excellent original). There’s random combat but it’s fast and the game doesn’t take itself seriously.

    Chrono Trigger has had plenty of coverage here. I wouldn’t really recommend any Final Fantasy, but this is great.

    The World Ends With You is also a lot of fun. Perhaps it’s the most recent one I’ve played (the DS version) for any significant amount of time. Have tried some newer ones like Xenoblade but found them tedious pretty quickly. To be fair I didn’t give it a lot of time. Seemed like an offline MMO.

  27. Darkz0r says:

    Lots of good suggestions already made, I’d recommend a really old classic called Valkyrie Profile, not sure how you can play it since its a PS 1 title.
    Quite a unique game, re playable, awesome characters/story!!

  28. baud001 says:

    I’ll submit the only JRPG I’ve played, Breath of Death VII. It’s old-style (random turn-based battle), but it’s short, fun and easy on the eyes.

  29. upupup says:

    I’m going to ignore the PC stipulation.

    Pokemon. It’s been a gateway series for a long, long time now for now a reason.

  30. Universal Quitter says:

    “I mean, everyone knows Final Fantasy VIII is the best Final Fantasy”

    Oh, it’s gonna be one of those JRPG discussions, is it?

    “But what about Sev- Ugh, talk about overrated.”

    *sigh* I miss RPG Scroll Bars.

  31. Premium User Badge

    Waltorious says:

    I like to recommend the free indie game Master of the Wind to people who haven’t tried the genre before. It’s very traditional, with turn-based random battles, but that means it’s a good intro to what the genre is about. And it’s very well written, only improving in the later chapters. I find that, given the strong emphasis on story in JRPGs, if the story is poorly written or uninteresting, the game can’t hold my attention for long. It’s made with the oft-maligned RPG Maker software, but it’s one of the better ones.

    Another good indie example is Ara Fell, which is more polished but not free. Ara Fell is also shorter than many JRPGs which makes it a good intro game for newcomers to the genre.

  32. freedomispopular says:

    Super Mario RPG was a favorite of mine as a kid. Lord of the Rings: The Third Age was another one I enjoyed on the GameCube. It’s disappointing that it’s so hard to find more non-anime JRPGs, especially on PC.

    • malkav11 says:

      I mean, anime and JRPG are like peanut butter and jelly. It’s the core cultural basis of that kind of storytelling in the culture that defined the genre. And frankly I don’t think the shared mechanical underpinnings are so exciting that they need to be applied more widely than they already are.

  33. Shake Appeal says:

    Ctrl+F “Trails”

    :(

    Why do the actual best JRPGs on PC continue to be snubbed?

  34. GardenOfSun says:

    Anyway, to drop any intellectual pretense, I’ll just go ahead and say that I’m just… sad that FF7 gets this much, to my mind, completely unwarranted hate these days.

    I still believe that it’s one of the best jrpgs ever made and an incredibly rich and intelligent story; and I still believe that that is not just nostalgia for what, back in the day, it meant for me and many others.

    • mmandthetat says:

      There’s always a backlash when something’s so universally adored. It’s a magical gift from the gods, period.

  35. NetharSpinos says:

    In regards to Final Fantasy, I only played VII & X and I enjoyed both of them greatly. As for recommendations, I shall be the first (I think) to point and nod vigorously at Disgaea.

  36. mavrik says:

    This may be a blasphemy but… is there any good “J”RPG that has a western design and story? So basically turn menu-based combat, but western characters, art design and storyline?

    I played Anachronox and loved it a lot… but I don’t know if there’s any more like that. Ideas?

  37. mmandthetat says:

    When you say “Final Fantasy __ is the best” and it’s not VII, the “YES I THINK ITS BETTER THAN VII GET OFF ME” is implied, because literally everyone knows that VII is the best.

  38. Haborym says:

    Rance is the best jrpg series.

  39. Riev says:

    Jesus… Trails of Cold steel is way better than any of the j-rpg’s mentioned, disappointing.

  40. IamDeath says:

    Katharine lost all credibility when she called FFVII overrated and said FFVIII the best with X in second place. VIII really wasn’t that great. It was merely ok. 4 and 6 are better than 8 and I’d say X is easily the second worst FF following only XIII.

  41. cabeijo says:

    nah, JRPG names aren’t ridiculous. you’re just illiterate

  42. Uhuru N'Uru says:

    having just tried FF 10, 12, 12. 13-2, amd Lightnimg returns in the Square Enix Steam sale. I’m not impressed.
    My previous try on PS2, was FF7, and the fact I never touched one again today, indicates my general view.

    JRPG’s are not for me, I like behind the character WASD K&M controls, not the weird camera angles of 7, or the combat, not so much the turn based as the jumping to a “Battle View”, but the biggest annotance was the sword bigger than Cloud.

    FF10 got 13 minutes of startscreen and then uninstalled seconds after getting control, as soon as I saw the stupid camera angles. Not dealing with that.

    All three 13 games seemed better, until I got to the settings menus, and saw the Keyboard/Mouse controls

    First 2 are same with extremely limited key binding support. and none on mouse, but ar least they had mouse look control.
    Lightning Returns had full keybinds, bur no mouse support at all.

    I really don’t even want to try to play games without both dual K&M rebinding, and mouse camera controls.
    I don’t even own a controller, and won’t use one.

    Only 12 Remaster which has just released, seems to have a barely adequate PC control system.

    If I can’t find mods to fix these fundamental flaws, I’ll just refund all of them.