The first Japanese RPG was released in 1982, which is 40 years ago. It was named Underground Exploration and was developed by Koei Company. It took off soon after Korean game developers lifted the RPG market to glory.
In the 80s and early 90s, Japanese and Korean RPGs enjoyed tremendous success. Although slightly different in style from each other, the two are very similar, and in the Western market, they were often regarded as the same as Eastern RPGs.
1. Persona 5 Royal
When it comes to the best JRPGs, one of our editorial favorites, to which we have already devoted a separate article. You take on the role of the protagonist, who was kicked out of school for saving a woman from a drunken man who reported her to the police. He is now attending a new school in Tokyo with a family friend.
Already branded a “criminal”, he runs into trouble on his first day when a mysterious app lands on his smartphone. This allows him to enter another dimension. In this the dark sides of evil people are revealed in the form of palaces. However, by stealing treasures from the palaces with his new friends, he can force a change of heart.
It might sound a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s clearly one of the best JRPGs you can find. The story is very adult and also addresses a number of serious issues through the palaces, from abuse in schools to fighting their own demons. Apart from this parallel world, we also encounter everyday life. The protagonist goes to school, makes friends and is also allowed to travel around Tokyo in a simply staged manner.
2. Dragon Quest XI: A
You may already recognize it from the name of the game: there are already many Dragon Quest games out there and it has been one of the best JRPGs in Japan. The series has largely stayed true to itself. For example, since the first game in 1986, Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama has been responsible for, among other things, the design of the characters. It gives the series an unmistakable style.
With Dragon Quest XI, the series has finally debuted in Europe. Among other things, this is because of the large and lovingly staged world, which has convinced us already in testing and is a delight for photo mode lovers as well.
But it’s one of the most accessible games in the series, forcing you to fight monsters never before you’re strong enough to continue the thrilling story. The combat itself is JRPG standard fare, but at least without the often annoying random battles in the former.
3. Atelier Ryza
The next traditional series is unknown in the West. Since the first Atelier game in 1997, 22 games in the series have been released, the last of which, the sequel to Atelier Ryza, was recently published here.
For best JRPG, Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout doesn’t necessarily qualify with an epic story. In contrast, the game starts off quite down-to-earth. The protagonist Ryza and his two friends Lent and Tao live on an island that has almost never been abandoned by any of the inhabitants.
However, Riyaza has no desire to take over his father’s farm and plans adventures with his friends. However, their excursions go completely unnoticed. They meet a merchant and his daughter, Claudia, who rescue them. A short time later, they are saved by two strangers themselves.
4. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
The Switch exclusive title lets you dive deep into its world in the truest sense of the word. Because in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 you take on the role of Rex, a young rescue diver who recovers treasures from the depths of an ocean of clouds.
ocean of clouds? Yes, the world of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is in the sky. In this fantasy world, the terrain is on the backs of giant creatures called Titans. It is quite impressive to catch a glimpse of the heads of these titans from a few places on these flying islands.
When Rex becomes part of a lucrative assignment, he doesn’t know that his target is a woman who turns out to be a special Blade. Blades are life forms that can summon individuals with special abilities from their crystals in battle.
Rex is one of these people and Pyra is a mythical blade who uses his life force to save Rex from death. In return, Rex promises to take her to an imaginary paradise called Elysium. But Pyra’s presence has brought some powers to the scene.
5. Kingdom Hearts 3
Imagine the most famous JRPG series Final Fantasy meets the biggest Western cartoon brand, Disney. hard to imagine? But that’s exactly it. The Kingdom Hearts series is the most spectacular crossover in the history of role-playing games.
The end of the legendary saga is marked by Kingdom Hearts 3, for which fans have had to wait a long time. It took more than 13 years for the final part of the trilogy to be released after Kingdom Hearts 2.
The Bad: For complete enjoyment, we recommend playing the predecessors beforehand in order to better follow the story. The good news: HD remakes of the first two parts (and other spinoffs) are now available in a collector’s box for pretty cheap on Amazon (commissioned link).
also read: Top 10 Most Uplifting Anime Series, Ranked