There are so many criteria and conditions to consider when rating or ranking games. There is the gameplay, the sound, the visuals, and of course the content that get mixed together for a game’s final rating. This might be a great way to review a game as a whole, but in doing so we sometimes neglect that certain aspects of the game are truly great and worth celebrating. Today we’re ranking our favorite JRPGs not as a whole, but by select categories which we thought the game excelled in.
3rd: Dragon Quest VIII (PS2, iOS)
Dragon Quest VIII’s use of cel-shading and superb character design was enough for me to buy the game. The characters were designed by the famed Akira Toriyama, character designer for the Dragonball anime series, and have left a strong impression after all these years. Dragon Quest VIII was originally on the Playstation 2, but can now be played on iOS.
2nd: Persona 4 (PS2, Vita)
Although we weren’t big fans of this game’s use of the silent protagonist, we have nothing but high praise for Persona 4’s look. Everything from the environment to the characters had a very unique feel to it that will be unforgettable. We’re very excited for the upcoming Persona Q, which will use the same characters and a similar world.
1st: Ni No Kuni (PS3, 3DS)
Ni No Kuni was designed and co-produced by Studio Ghibli, so of course it’s beautiful. This game is a piece of art that definitely needs your attention. If you are looking for a gorgeous new world to explore, choose Ni No Kuni.
3rd: Final Fantasy X-2 (PS2, PS3, Vita)
This might be the biggest shocker on the list. With so many great JRPG soundtracks to choose from, why Final Fantasy X-2? Yes the game was a bit J-poppy, but the soundtrack was really solid. We challenge you to listen to the Final Fantasy X-2’s Piano Collections on Youtube and tell us that it isn’t deserving of this spot. Go on, we’ll wait.
2nd: Kingdom Hearts (PS2)
Yoko Shimomura produced a masterpiece with the music from Kingdom Hearts. This JRPG may be a bizarre crossover between Final Fantasy and Disney, but man, the music in this game is some of the best we’ve ever heard. Dearly Beloved is simply phenomenal, and if you’ve never heard this soundtrack, we urge you to check out this little site called Youtube and give it a listen.
1st: Final Fantasy X (PS2, PS3, Vita)
Those of you who have followed our posts on Final Fantasy X in the past are probably well aware that we love this soundtrack. The remastered version is coming out on Playstation 3 and Vita within a week so you can expect an upgraded soundtrack soon. You can be sure that we’ll be buying it. Until then, Youtube is your friend.
Favorite Battle System
3rd: Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
Final Fantasy VII may have not revolutionized the turn based battle system used by most JRPGs, but man, did they make it better. The game stuck with the tried and true active turn based meters that let you know when you could attack, but what made Final Fantasy VII so great was its materia system. By combining the materia with your weapons, characters could cast spells and even summon monsters to help out in battle. Each weapon had a limit as to how many materia you could equip, which added to the strategy and balance of the game.
2nd: The World Ends With You (DS, iOS)
I’m not sure if you ever got your hands on Square Enix’s The World Ends With You, but it was by far the best RPG we’ve played on the DS. The game utilized the DS’s stylus in a way we had never seen before and allowed for a fast paced action driven battle system that was a ton of fun to play.
1st: Legend of the Dragoon (PS1)
We might be alone in this, but Legend of the Dragoon was fun to play. There was a lot that drew us to Legend of the Dragoon, but one of our favorite aspects of the game was its battle system. It used a typical turn-based system but when you attacked, a rhythm-based feature would appear, forcing you to time your attacks. The better your timing, the longer and more powerful your combo. It was a great addition that we would like to see future JRPGs.
3rd: Suikoden II (PS2)
Whenever anyone talks about the big shocking moments in video games, a few names always pop up. Surprisingly, Suikoden II’s Nanami is rarely ever one of them. I personally remember exactly how I responded when Nanami, the main character’s sister who had been with him since the beginning of the game, was struck by that arrow, and it wasn’t manly, that’s for sure.
2nd: Legend of the Dragoon (PS1)
At the start of the game, you learn that the main character, Dart, lost his home town to a black monster, and that he swore his life to seeking revenge. Pretty typical JRPG stuff right? Early on in the game he meets a character by the name of Rose, and she quickly becomes one of his most trusted allies. This only makes things all the more shocking when it is revealed that she is the black monster he has been searching for the entire time.
1st: Final Fantasy VII (PS1)
3rd: Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Our love for Chrono Trigger may be partially nostalgic, but man this game had one heck of a story. The game was one of the first non-linear games out there and contained multiple endings that were based on decisions you made in the game. Chrono Trigger is just fantastic.
2nd: Persona 4 (PS2, Vita)
Persona 4 was an epic tale of a group of high school kids who are forced to face their own hidden monsters in the hopes to save the people of their town. The characters are relatable, the story is memorable, but what really makes Persona 4 stand out is that your decisions actually matter and can impact how the game plays out. Depending on your actions, you can add an additional ten hours of gameplay and story.
1st: Suikoden II (PS2)
It was mentioned earlier that Suikoden II had one of our favorite twists in story, but the game’s story as a whole is also phenomenal. Suikoden II does tragedy better than any other game out there, and tells a story of two friends who follow separate roads and meet up for an unforgettable end. If you get the chance, play through Suikoden II.
Well that’s our list, now how about some of your favorites? Let us know your favorites for each category in the comments.
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