Whether you have already devoured some of the best JRPG games or are not very familiar with the genre, you cannot deny that the popularity of JRPGs is actually insane. Love them or loathe them, JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) are extremely contentious and without question some of the most polarising experiences around.
From beautiful style to endless amounts of exploration which goes hand in hand with the majority of JRPG adventures, the distinctive nature of JRPGs separates them so much from westernised action role playing games. As such, they are accompanied by a massive and loyal community of JRPG lovers – Our hands are up! 🙌
If you are looking for the next best JRPG game that will be horrendously addictive, we took the liberty of creating our shortlist of the best JRPGs you must play before you die! Consisting of all-time favourites and modern day releases (in no particular order), join us as we pay homage to one of the most unique and leading genres available today!
Before we delve into the best JRPGs of all time, let’s take a look at what JRPG actually means. For starters, JRPG means Japanese Role-Playing Game. It may sound straightforward, but JRPGs are more than just a role-playing games created in Japan. In fact, not all RPGs made in Japan are considered JRPGs.
For example, Souls-type games like Elden Ring are developed by FromSoftware—a company based in Japan. However, these games are not considered as JRPGs because of the design. These games share many similarities with Western-style action RPGs, which is the primary reason the community does not consider them part of the JRPG spectrum.
If the game design defines what a JRPG is, can American developers create JRPGs? Technically, they can. However, JRPG purists would probably not take it pretty well—not even for a second!
The JRPG design consists of stat sheets, turn-based combat, character levels, equipment swapping, damage numbers, character collections, party building, and an awesome plot that will get you hooked for countless hours. JRPGs are basically offline, one-player games that you are supposed to enjoy in solitude—and we are not complaining.
Some examples of games that fall better into the JRPG category are Pokémon games and Final Fantasy series. They are made in Japan, and they fit the JRPG design definition.
Defining a JRPG can be easy if you side with people that believe the simple definition that “JRPGs are RPGs made in Japan.” However, there are other members of the community that believe that “JRPGs have a distinct design and game mechanics.” Whether you go with side A or side B—it doesn’t make you right or wrong.
Top 12 Best JRPGs (Editors Pick)
Now we’re clear on the difference between JRPGs and WRPGs, how about we quit beating about the bush and get straight into our master list of the best JRPGs to play before you die! As always, we’ve pinched, punched, scratched and poked one another to bring to you our collection of the all-time best JRPGs around.
From 5-year-old classics to some of the JRPG genres latest arrivals, here’s our take on the world’s leading JRPGs across a variety of consoles! –
Release Date: 11th March 1995 Platforms: SNES, Nintendo DS, PS1, PS3, iOS, Android, PC Game Developer: Square Enix
Let’s start off this list strong with one of the best and most talked-about JRPGs ever made—Chrono Trigger! This game might be old, but everything from the cool game cover to the epic story holds its own between now and then. Even for an SNES game, Chrono Trigger looks very crisp and clear—and they actually look a lot better on mobile or the SNES classic console with HDMI cables.
Chrono Trigger has everything that makes a fantastic JRPG, such as a massive collection of characters to build your party and an enormous world with tons of locations and NPCs to engagement with. Regardless of how old you are, the Chrono series is without question the best classic JRPG game of a generation.
Realeased in 1995, Chrono Trigger was way ahead of its time for featuring themes like paradox-style time travel, where your decisions in the game will affect the outcome. Yes, this game has multiple endings and basically grandfathered multiple endings that we see in modern games like The Witcher III or even Grand Theft Auto.
And, it is no surprise that the story is so good because this game is written and developed by the creators of Dragon Ball Z and Square Enix (formerly known as Squaresoft). Because of its success, the original SNES cartridge is one of the rarest SNES games and most expensive games, depending on its condition.
Release Date: 18th November 1999 Total Sales: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS1, Xbox One & PC Game Developer: Square Enix
Next up, the sequel to Chrono Trigger. Chrono Cross is a Chrono Trigger spinoff or sequel—depending on how you see it. However, you don’t need to play Chrono Trigger as a pre-requisite because Cross is definitely a masterpiece in its own right. In fact, it’s such a quality experience
This game received many positive reviews from game critics worldwide and, just like Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross also features an epic storyline. Although, instead of time travel, this game involves multiverse travel, which will definitely blow your mind when you consider it was released before the 20th century. Just writing about this game makes us excited to play it again and re-experience the twists and turns the story has to offer.
Just like its big brother, Chrono Cross also has multiple endings – depending on the decisions you make in the game. Enjoy experiences such as changing party members, skipping side quests, and all the other good s**t in-between.
Release Date: 18th October 2019 Platforms: PS4, Windows PC, Xbox One Game Developer: PlatinumGames
Don’t worry, you won’t also have to travel back through time to play the best JRPGs and with this next entry we will go a little bit more modern with a PS4 and Xbox One release. Developed by PlatinumGames Nier Automata features another superb story that features 26 alternate endings and plenty of quirky twists to the storyline.
At first glance, the game might look like your typical JRPG with a badass female lead. However, the game features serious, bitter-sweet, and heart-breaking storylines that will leave you to tears—especially if you play some of the dozens of side quests that end up in tragedy.
Aside from its nihilistic themes, the game has a close-to-perfect combat system, excellent graphics, and superb gameplay that easily makes it one of the best JRPGs of all time. Particularly for gamers who like modern JRPGs, Nier Automata is right up there with the best of the lot!
Release Date: 1st December 2017 Total Sales: Nintendo Switch & Switch Lite Game Developer: Monolith Soft
Another great modern JRPG game to play is Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Regardless of whether you have played the original Xenoblade Chronicles JRPG, the sequel is a must have JRPG for your collection. Although fans were concerned that the shorter development cycle of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 would lead to a disappointingly small game, XC2 is every bit as ambitious as it’s predecessor.
With over 150 hours of content that’s perfectly poised for the completionist, the world of Xenoblade consists of two warring giants – the Bionis and Mechonis. Locked in battle for long enough to have settlements of people popping up all over the place, this unique world makes for some very diverse environments. From the iconic fields of the Gaur Plain to beautifully illuminated marshlands that just so happen to be on the Bionis’ butt. There’s a nice sense of scale, especially when you can climb up the Bionis’ body and look down at your hometown below.
Primarily focussed of attacking rather than defending, there will be times throughout Xenoblade Chronicles 2 that you have to made a split second decision to stay alive. The edginess that this brings is something that we really enjoyed while playing the game.
Release Date: 31st January 1997 Total Sales: PS1, PS4, PSP, Xbox One, Android, iOS, Windows PC Game Developer: Square Enix
What would a hand-picked curation of the best JRPG games of without at least one or more Final Fantasy entries? Final Fantasy VII: Remake is probably one of the most talked-about Final Fantasy games in the world. It features some of the most notable characters, and they even released spinoff games, a prequel, a sequel movie, and a full-blown remake on the newer consoles.
The graphics might be a little weird when traveling across the map and open world. Still, this game is one of the first JRPGs to get 3D graphics, remarkable cutscenes, and an epic soundtrack, with the most iconic main character and villain of any Final Fantasy entry or JRPG out there.
Get to play as Cloud Strife, a mercenary who helped a group of rebels fight for the environment and battle against Shinra, a company sucking the life out of the world they live in. It may have started out that way, but as the elaborate story progresses, the main character uncovers a lot about his past and makes a lot of friends along the way.
This game is as epic as it gets for JRPGs, and it was initially released on the OG PlayStation, featuring three discs that would provide you countless hours of entertainment.
Release Date: 3rd March 2017 Total Sales: Nintendo Switch & Wii U Game Developer: Nintendo Entertainment
Breath of the Wild is one of the best Legend of Zelda entries, thanks to its breathtaking graphics and fresh new look. Even if you have never played a single Legend of Zelda game in the past, you would still definitely enjoy Breath of the Wild.
It is an open-world JRPG where you get to play as Link and travel across endless vast fields, forests, and rich artistic landscapes. If you enjoy an action-packed adventure game, you can play this game on the Nintendo Switch.
Breath of the Wild features challenging gameplay, and it takes around 50 hours to beat, making it the longest Zelda game ever made. From cooking in Zelda to crouching through enemy camps, it is a dense adventure with tons of things to do, characters to talk to, and in-game activities that could easily add more hours of entertainment to the standard play-through time.
Seriously, you have not lived unless you have experienced the Legend of Zelda and Breath Of The Wild is right up there as one of the best JRPGs within the series.
Release Date: 29th July 2017 Total Sales: Nintendo Switch, 3DS, PS4, Xbox One, Windows PC & Stadia Game Developer: Square Enix + Level 5
If you are a fan of Dragon Ball Z, you are going to absolute love playing through Dragon Quest games. Of which, Dragon Quest 11 is without question the best JRPG within the series. Featuring the illustrations of Akira Toriyama, with a list of heroes that have many similarities to your favourite Z Fighters, Dragon Quest 11 is a JRPG lovers wet dream.
Aside from the iconic character and world design, Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age features a 100-hour narrative where you get to play as the chosen one and save the world. It features an exciting cast of characters who will aid you along the way on your ultimate quest to save the world.
This game boasts a near-perfect gameplay experience in the realm of JRPGs. If you enjoy fighting challenging bosses, stunning dungeon designs, and immersing yourself in a well-built world, you are definitely going to love what DQ 11 has to offer. Not to mention that graphics are also extremely on point for 2017.
Release Date: 23rd December 1998 Total Sales: Playstation 1 Game Developer: Spike Chunsoft
Okay, time to go back to some of the best classic JRPG games with Chocobo’s Dungeon 2. As an OG PlayStation JRPG game, Chocobo’s Dungeon II is one of the best but underrated JRPGs on this list. Successfully combining puzzle elements to a storyline that is simple, yet effective, Chocobo’s dungeon is challenging and entertaining throughout.
You will play as Chocobo the entire game but will occasionally get help from characters like Cid, a Final Fantasy staple, Shiroma the white mage, and Mog. It is an isometric 2D adventure game that features epic 3D cutscenes and some of the best background music you will find within the genre. If you are in for a challenge, this semi-tactical adventure will put your skills to the test.
Although the Chocobo Dungeon series might not be your a-typical JRPG experience, there are so many familiar elements, such as endless grinding, challenging mazes, boss fights, and more that make this title on of the best 2D JRPGs of all time.
Release Date: 7th July 2000 Total Sales: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox, Android, iOS & Windows PC Game Developer: Square Enix
Although Final Fantasy IX might not be the most popular entry in the series, it boasts one of the best Final Fantasy stories with the plot focused on a war between nations in a fantasy world called Gaia. It is compelling, smooth-going and takes extracts from everything that you have previously loved about Final Fantasy games.
The story follows Zidane Tribal, a thief who kidnaps princess Garnet of Alexandria. However, the plot thickens when the two team up with a rag-tag group of misfits to take down Garnet’s mother, Queen Brahne, who started the war.
Final Fantasy IX leaves the futuristic settings of VII and VIII and goes back to its original Final Fantasy roots with this entry. It also brings back the original roles, such as white mage, black mage, knight, and more. If you are up for an exciting adventure set in a wonderfully-crafted world—Final Fantasy IX will never fail to entertain.
Release Date: 25th January 2019 Total Sales: PS4 & Xbox One Game Developer: Square Enix
Could there be anything more pure than a JRPG game that also features some of your favourite Disney characters too? As the US and Japan collide, Kingdom Hearts III is the pinnacle of the Kingdom Hearts series with it’s extremely modern gameplay and un-repetitive levels. What’s more, the Kingdom Hearts series is coming to PC too!
Swap between your favourite Disney characters, who all come with special abilities, and enjoy the finale of what was an increasingly convoluted build up to a climactic ending between light and darkness.
Honestly, as kids who were definitely aligned with Disney over Final Fantasy, the concept of playing as our favourite Disney characters alone is enough for Kingdom hearts to make the cut as one of the best JRPG games of all time. Yet, when you combine the stunning development, epic storyline and smooth game mechanics, it just simply gets better and better.
Release Date: 18th November 2016 Total Sales: Nintendo 3DS Game Developer: Game Freak
The Pokémon games offer some of the best types of gameplay in any JRPG featured on this list. They feature every JRPG element, such as a dense narrative, epic dungeons, boss battles, hundreds of characters, interesting NPCs, and more. However, the Pokémon games have come a long way since the Red and Blue were released on the Gameboy.
Modern releases such as Pokémon Sun & Moon showcase improved graphics and world-building. Yet, the game does not stray away from the original experience and the core of what makes Pokémon games so popular in the first place. Sun and Moon offer a nice change of pace from many of the older entries.
For fans who don’t appreciate change, the series really took a risk with these entries. However, they made the right choice by keeping the combat system mostly the same for long-time fans of the series. What’s next with open-world Pokémon adventures remains to be seen. However, for now, you can enjoy one of the best JRPG titles of all time to come straight out of Game Freak.
Release Date: 15th September 2016 Total Sales: PS3 & Playstation 4 & Xbox Game Developer: Atlus
Person 5 features a story of teenagers from Tokyo entering the cognitive world to awaken their Personas to stop abusive adults who are threatening their existence. What makes Persona 5 exciting is the many ways to build your party and the relationships you create as you see the story unfold. Plus the fact that Persona 5 will now be available on Xbox, this is a massive win for Xbox JRPG lovers who previously had envied from afar!
This game features gorgeous locations and nostalgic high-school environments that recreate modern-day Tokyo. And just like most JRPGs, it uses a turn-based combat system that can get quite challenging as the story progresses.
If you are into high-school anime stories, Persona 5 will be a game you will most definitely enjoy playing. It consists of features like day-night cycles and weather systems. It also has similarities to social simulation games where the main character can develop relationships with other characters.
As a contentious genre, we fully anticipate that some of our top picks for the best JRPGs of all time might sit contentiously with you too. However, you have to remember that this list is purely generated off the back of our own experiences and it would literally be impossible to play every JRPG out there right now.
To help you decide which JRPG game to play next, here’s a look at the best selling JRPG game series over the past few decades. From Pokémon to Monster Hunter, explore the best selling JRPG franchises below. –
Year Of Origin
Total Sales †
380 Million +
164 Million +
83 Million +
78 Million +
35 Million +
32 Million +
26 Million +
23 Million +
Super Robot Wars
19 Million +
Dragon Ball RPGs
19 Million +
†Unit sales are an estimate.
It’s kind of cheating to add Pokemon to the list of best selling JRPG games, however, it’s a JRPG nonetheless. More surprisingly, the Souls series has already clocked up 32 million sales despite being released 3 decades after dragon quest. Now that’s impressive!
Top 10 Ranked PC JRPG Games
There’s nothing like enjoying a Japanese role playing game whilst sat back on your couch. But, if your preference is to be hunched over your desk, here are the top 10 ranked PC JRPG games as voted for by our wonderful followers:
#1: Person 4 (PC)
#2: Final Fantasy IV (PC)
#3: Dark Souls 3 (PC)
#4: Symphony of War: The Nephilim Saga (PC)
#5: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PC)
#6: tERRORbane (PC)
#7: Dragon Quest Builder 2 (PC)
#8: The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel II (PC)
#9: Dark Souls 2 (PC)
#10: Yakuza: Like A Dragon (PC)
Top 10 Ranked JRPG Games On Xbox & Series X
While not as prolific for JRPG games as the Nintendo Switch & Playstation, Xbox still houses many high quality Japanese role playing games. We put the question out to our audience and here is what you came back with as the best JRPG games on Xbox & Series X:
#1: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (XB1)
#2: Hades (XB1)
#3: NieR: Automate (XB1)
#4: Dark Souls 3 (XB1)
#5: Yakuza: Like A Dragon (XB1 & Series X)
#6: Tales Of Arise (Xbox Series X)
#7: Dark Souls 2 (XB1)
#8: Dark Souls Remastered (XB1)
#9: Scarlet Nexus (XB1)
#10: Cris Tales (Xbox Series X)
Best PS4 & PS5 JRPG Games
As the elite Japanese console, it stands to reason that Japanese role playing games would be absolutely a dime a dozen on both the PS4 & PS5. As voted for by you, here are the best JRPG games on Playstation 4 and Playstation 5:
#1: Final Fantasy Remake Intergrade (PS5)
#2: Persona 5 (PS4)
#3: Yakuza: Like A Dragon (PS5)
#4: Tales Of Arise (PS5)
#5: Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PS4)
#6: Final Fantasy VII (PS4)
#7: Bloodborne (PS4)
#8: NieR Automate (PS4)
#9: Dark Souls 2 (PS4)
#10: Monster Hunter: World (PS4)
Best JRPGs On Switch
Arguably home to the best JRPG experiences around, the Nintendo Switch is absolutely littered with incredible Japanese role playing games. But which title takes the crown? As voted for by you, here’s the best JRPG games on Nintendo Switch:
#1: Dragon Quest XI S (Switch)
#2: Bustafellows (Switch)
#3: Monster Hunter Rise (Switch)
#4: Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
#5: Shim Megami Tensei V (Switch)
#6: Xenoblade Chronicles (Switch)
#7: Final Fantasy XII: (Switch)
#8: The Legend Of Heroes: Trails Of Cold Steel II (Switch)
#9: Dark Souls 2 (Switch)
#10: Yakuza: Like A Dragon (Switch)
Best JRPG Games Roundup
So there you have it, our roundup of the best JRPG games of all time. While quite clear that Square Enix have absolutely mastered the JRPG genre, you cannot ignore publishers such as GameFreak, Atlus Gaming and of course, Nintendo.
From slow paced storylines with an abundance of twists and turns to your more traditional character building components, JRPGs are extremely diverse and of course, as contentious as they come. Regardless of whether you are looking for something more modern or a trip down memory lane, you will have bags of fun with any of our top picks for the best JRPGs of all time.
Just remember, JRPGs are supposed to make you grind so make sure you’ve got ample popcorn ready to enjoy the story that unfolds!
Did we miss any titles?
Give us your top 5 best JRPG games in the comments below. Meanwhile, feel free to check out some of these other incredible roundups and game reviews:
Questions about JRPGs and some of the best JRPG games of all time? No sweat! Here’s some of the most commonly asked questions our editors receive about this zany and controversial genre. If you have any further questions, please feel free to hit us up in the comments!
What does JRPG mean?
JRPG means Japanese Role-Playing Game. JRPG titles are basically role-playing games made in Japan. However, many purists believe that the game design is really what makes a JRPG. These games are usually created with a format that consists of a good story, iconic characters, stats building, equipment upgrades, exploration, looting, dungeons, random enemy encounters, and tactical turn-based combat. JRPGs started out on classic consoles, but even modern-day gaming platforms still have fantastic JRPG options you can play.
What JRPG should I play?
If you are into classic games, you should play iconic JRPG titles, such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, or Final Fantasy 7. However, if you are just not into 2D or low-resolution graphics, there are modern JRPG titles on the newer generation of consoles, like Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy 7 Remake which offer an action RPG style of combat or Persona 5 and Dragon Quest XI, which sticks to the classic turn-based combat gameplay. Other excellent choices are the newer Nintendo Switch Pokémon games.
What are the worst JRPG games?
Although there are many successful JRPGs, some releases were not as good. The worst JRPGs in our opinion are Unlimited Saga, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Digimon World Data Squad, One Piece: Romance Dawn, Digimon World, and Final Fantasy All The Bravest. These games fall short on a lot of factors, such as a coherent story, graphics, and gameplay. Although some of the developers who made the games on this list also made some of the best JRPGs, we can’t deny the fact that they are like rock stars who made one bad record. (insert Chinese Democracy by Guns N’ Roses)
Whats the difference between JRP and WRPG?
Other than the country of origin, the main difference between JRPGs and WRPGs is the game design. JRPGs are known for having iconic characters with set traits and personalities, while WRPGs tend towards creating customizable characters and character builds. If you compare games like Final Fantasy 7 Remake to the Witcher 3, both are action RPGs, but the difference lies within the characters. In FF7R, all the characters have their own set of skills that can’t be changed. On the other hand, the Witcher 3’s main character Geralt’s skills are based on how you build them.
Is Pokemon a JRPG?
Yes, Pokemon is considered a JRPG. Although Pokemon is an American cartoon that does not share the same traits as Japanese Manga and Animé, Pokemon started as a game, created by Nintendo, a Japanese Company. Aside from being made in Japan, Pokemon games share the same design as other JRPGs, such as grinding to improve stats, exploring a vast world filled with NPCs you can talk to, and turn-based combat.
Is Dark Souls a JRPG?
Although FromSoftware is a game development company based in Japan, Dark Souls isn’t considered as a JRPG by many members of the community. However, Dark Souls is part of a different genre which they created called Souls type games that feature extremely challenging gameplay. Dark Souls and other FromSoftware games like Elden Ring are like a combination of JRPG and WRPG– creating extremely challenging but fulfilling gameplay for hardcore gamers.
Why are JRPGs better?
Every genre has its own set of fans and communities that support them. JRPGs however created an entire industry that revolves around its game titles and characters. It is a genre that was created decades ago and still lives up to the hype with their classic games and newer releases, making them better than most gaming genres out there.
What was the first JRPG?
Although it is not very popular among casual JRPG fans, the very first JRPG that solidified the genre is Black Onyx on the Nintendo Famicom, which was released in 1984. However, the game that really popularized the genre was Dragon Quest, which was released a year later. Dragon Quest is the first JRPG to add elements such as random enemy encounters, dungeons, a world map, leveling up, hit points, and magic points– which are common staples to any JRPG.
Content Disclaimer: This handpicked shortlist of the best JRPG games of all time has been independently written. We have not been commissioned by any manufacturers featured on this list, nor have we received any royalties for this article. This includes financial reimbursement, free advertising or free gifts. In addition, all statistics are estimates based upon publications from manufacturers.
Should you click on any link to Amazon and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission. But that’s just how we keep this website alive and free to use! Please hit us up in the comments with any questions you may have about JRPGs or some of its greatest games.
Gamezeen is a Zeen theme demo site. Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.