The JRPG genre has been one of the most popular video game genres for over 20 years, with titles such as Final Fantasy becoming part of mainstream gaming culture. However, despite being incredible games, many still remain more niche when it comes to their fan base, so let’s highlight some of them that you may have missed over the years. Here are the top 10 best JRPG games of all time.
10. Secret of Mana (SNES)
Secret of Mana saw Square begin a brand new JRPG series alongside Final Fantasy, with the game set to be marketed as a new brand franchise, despite being a direct sequel to 1991s Final Fantasy Adventure. Secret of Mana sold approximately 2 million copies and performed well with critics, although the series never quite achieved the same success as Final Fantasy.
9. Final Fantasy X (PlayStation 2)
Final Fantasy X brought the series to the PS2 for the first time, following the success of Final Fantasy 7, 8, and 9 on the PlayStation. The increased hardware capabilities allowed for a much larger game, with a completionist playthrough taking upwards of 150 hours, as well as the game featuring full voice acting for the first time. Final Fantasy X sold over 8 million copies on the PS2 and spawned a direct spin-off sequel for the first time in the series, Final Fantasy X-2, which collectively have sold 14 million copies and have recently been remastered and released on modern platforms.
8. Panzer Dragoon Saga (Saturn)
Panzer Dragoon Saga is one of the best Sega Saturn games, with it being different from previous entries in the series as it is an RPG as opposed to a rail shooter. The game has become incredibly sought after by retro collectors, with the game regularly being sold for over $1000 today. The source code for the game was lost, meaning the game can’t be ported or remastered, which makes the original Saturn version or emulation as the only methods to play the game.
7. Chrono Cross (PlayStation)
Following on from the success of 1995s Chrono Trigger, Square got back to work in developing the next entry in the series, which was released on PlayStation in 1999. Centering around a parallel world theme, Chrono Cross has one of the best and most intricate stories in the genre. Chrono Cross became a hit with critics, becoming one of just a handful of games to receive a perfect 10/10 score from GameSpot. Unfortunately, Chrono Cross would be the final game in the short-lived series, with its sequel Chrono Break being canceled in 2003.
6. Persona 4 (PlayStation 2)
Persona has always been a niche series, although it is beginning to gain more mainstream popularity thanks to Persona 5. But, Persona 4 is without a doubt the best of the series. Released in 2008 on the PS2, and later the PS Vita, Persona 4 scored 90% on Metacritic and has since been re-released on Steam to the delight of fans, with the Steam version selling 1 million copies, more copies than the game sold during its initial release in 2008.
5. Pokemon Gold & Silver (Game Boy Color)
Following the success of the first generation of Pokémon games, which consisted of Red, Green, Blue, and Yellow, the series became a global phenomenon, with the games becoming a hit worldwide as well as the anime TV show, trading cards, and toys. 1999 saw the release of the second generation of games, Pokémon Gold & Silver, which expanded the roster of Pokémon from 151 to 251, with 100 new Pokémon being added alongside a brand new story in the Johto region. In recent years, the games were remade for the Nintendo DS as HeartGold and SoulSilver, and Pokémon has now become the biggest media franchise in the world, with games, TV shows, manga, trading cards, clothing, and toys still being extremely popular today.
4. Earthbound (SNES)
Originally released as a Japan-exclusive, Earthbound didn’t see a western release until it was released on the Wii U Virtual Console. When it comes to JRPGs, Earthbound is one of the best and is often hailed as not only one of the best SNES games but one of the greatest games of all time.
3. Final Fantasy VI (SNES)
The early Final Fantasy games can be quite confusing with the numberings because Final Fantasy 3 in the west is actually Final Fantasy 6 in Japan, which is the game we’re talking about. The final 2D Final Fantasy game is without a doubt the best of the bunch. Square had really fine-tuned how to make a great JRPG. The game has gone on to be critically acclaimed and hailed as one of the greatest games of all time. Final Fantasy 3/6 is a JRPG at its finest.
2. Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Chrono Trigger is often regarded as one of the greatest games of all time, sitting at an impressive 96% on Game Rankings. The game originally didn’t see a European release, not releasing in the region until the DS version in 2009. Europe truly missed out on one of the best RPGs of all time. If you missed this back in the day, now is a perfect time to finally go and check it out.
1. Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
Final Fantasy 7 brought the JRPG genre to the mainstream when it was released on the PlayStation in 1997. Before Final Fantasy 7, JRPGs were a niche genre, but that changed when the series went 3D on the PS1. The game has gone on to become one of the most influential, and critically acclaimed games of all time, selling approximately 13 million copies, a huge difference when compared to the 3.5 million copies the previous game sold. In recent years the game has been ported to many systems including PS3, mobile devices, and most recently Xbox where it spent a period of time as part of Xbox Game Pass. After first being shown off in 2005 as a PS3 tech demo, in 2020 Square-Enix released the first part of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which will retell the story of the game with modern graphics and gameplay. It is unclear how many parts the game will be released as, but we can expect it to take a long for the full game to be released.