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Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Features
Tags:
JRPGs, RPGs, Top Ten JRPGs Of This Generation, Top Ten Tuesdays

10. Persona 3 Portable / Person 4: The Golden

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Now this is a bit of a cop-out perhaps, but the localised, rebooted versions of Persona 3 and 4 on Sony's portable handhelds were so damn fantastic that they earn their place here by reminding us just how phenomenally great a series Shin Megami Tensei can be. Seriously, though, give us Persona 5 already!

9. Dragons Dogma

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

It's a JRPG, Jim; but not as we know it. It came from Japan. It counts! Dragon's Dogma makes the list thanks to rewriting the rulebook on what an RPG from a Japanese dev had to be. Capcom smashed their capacity for splendid combat systems together with Monster Hunter-esque RPG considerations and a vast open world filled with loot and monsters, polished off with the gloriously innovative Pawn mechanic.

8. Eternal Sonata

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

One of the earliest JRPGs of this generation, Eternal Sonata presented us with a wonderfully unique story, a cracking battle system, and (obviously with a name like that) an utterly stupendous soundtrack. It also ade us cry. A lot. That won't be the last time we say that in this list.

7. Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

My jaw dropped when I saw Crisis Core running on the PSP. Square Enix managed to squeeze every last drop of power from the little machine, and gave FFVII's adoring fans some absolutely cracking closure in the process. Parts of the story were completely incomprehensible as per usual, but the action-heavy combat system, and the emotional notes between Zach, Aerith, and Coud kept us coming back.

6. Tales of Vesperia

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

The Tales series produces many fine games, but Vesperia is probably the best, well...behind Symphonia. Compelling characters, beautiful to look at, with the best battle system that the series (and therefore probably most JRPGs) has to offer, Vesperia was a game that embraced it's genre past emphatically, whilst also managing to subvert and deconstruct a number of its largest conventions. More central protagonists like Yuri please. Simply brilliant.

5. Dark Souls

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Another surprise entry, perhaps, but Dark Souls was Japan's answer to the Elder Scrolls - a lore-rich, breathtakingly beautiful fantasy world for players to explore, though fleshed out with a truly challenging combat system. From Software's masterpiece was begging to be explored, but you needed the stones for the job, and the skill to succeed.

4. Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Some of the best Mario games have neither involved platforming nor karts, but rather RPG romps through paper worlds or,  in this case, Bowser's digestive system. The premise is brilliant: Mario and Luigi get magically shruk, Bowser inhales them, and woring from within the giant dragon turtle, the Mario Bros. have to help their nemesis save the Mushroom Kingdom. Amazing gameplay and side-splitting comedy ensue. Frankly it's still one of the best games overall of the past decade.

3. Lost Odyssey

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Mistwalker were bound to make it onto the list somewhere, and though some might give their slot over to The Last Story, we're handing it to Lost Odyssey. Redefining the word 'epic' across four discs, Sakaguchi's phenomenal tale of amnesiac immortals was desperately engrossing, utterly heartbreaking, and spectacularly thrilling at times. Add a fantastic Uematsu soundtrack to that, some innovative twists on traditional battle systems, and Mistwalker were on to  a winner.

2. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

I'm just going to replicate the short version from our recent review here. Read it, pre-order it, play it, love it:

One of the best JRPGs of the last decade, Ni No Kuni is in many ways a love letter to a genre slowly fading away into obscurity. Brimming with imaginative aesthetics, and packing a hefty emotional punch or two in spite of its rather clichéd story, Level-5 and Studio Ghibli have worked wonders to whisk us away to another world. An utter triumph in roleplaying escapism in a game that manages to stand on the shoulders of the genre's best to deliver a modern classic.

1. Xenoblade Chronicles

Top Ten Tuesdays | JRPGs Of This Generation

Another JRPG that toyed with convention, all for the better, Xenoblade Chronicles arrived to give the Wii a new lease of life. One of the finest RPGs of all time, let alone this generation, MonolithSoft's opus revitalised the genre, making it feel utterly fresh, and fundamentally modern. From the innovative Affinity mechanic, to the sweeping storylines that permeated even the most basic of side quests, to the phenomenally free-flowing combat system. No fixed saves, no random battles, no unskippable cutscenes, no compromise. If a mechanic seemed archaic, it was tossed to favour an experience that captivated us utterly and refused to let go.

And it looked fantastic, even on the Wii.

Honourable Mentions: Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Final Fantasy XIII-2, The Last Story, Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, Disgaea 4, Valkyria Chronicles, The World Ends With You

Add a comment11 comments
BetterThanLife  Jan. 29, 2013 at 18:31

Bowser's Inside Story is brilliant. I once startled someone on a train because it made me laugh out loud so much.

alababaju  Jan. 29, 2013 at 21:13

Crisis Core is the only game on this list I've played and I loved it!

Neeko  Jan. 29, 2013 at 23:11

Good on you for sticking Lost Odyssey in there. Sure, it suffered on account of a whole heap of outdated JRPG mechanics, but the story was fresh, and there was enough heart in there to provoke a tear or two. For around a fiver on most second-hand shelves it's a no-brainer.

Late  Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:49

Lost Odyssey is the only one from that top ten that I've played - though I've also played Star Ocean TLH, which looks like it just missed the list. Thoroughly enjoyed both.

Gonna have to pass on the top two (I don't have a ps3, and I strongly dislike the wii), but I've put Dark Souls and Bowser's Inside Story on my watch list based on this article/recommendation - thanks Matt.

stevenjameshyde  Jan. 30, 2013 at 10:54

I can't think of a single other worthy JRPG that isn't in the top 10 or the honourable mentions. Which reflects excellently on this list, but very poorly on the genre as a whole

Kalamaris  Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:27

Tales of Graces F was an AMAZING game also.

MattGardner  Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:51

Tales of Graces F was good, but I didn't think it was quite as good as Vesperia, which I rather found to be excellently subversive in a number of ways with regard to the genre. Tried to limit the list to one per series/dev so 1 x Tales, 1x Souls, 1 x Mario, 1 x Mistwalker etc.

Pokemon Black/White should probably get an honourable mention.

There've been a few complaints on N4G that Valkyria Chronicles doesn't get more than an honourable mention, but I'm not sure it's really RPG-ish enough to warrant a higher place.

JonLester  Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:53

Infinite Space? :3

In fairness, I forgot about that one when I wrote a similar list a while back.

MattGardner  Jan. 30, 2013 at 11:56

Oh ****.

Infinite **** Space.

I think it's because I never really considered it to necessarily be an RPG. It's a strange beast of a game that belongs in a genre we're just going to call MUTHAFUNGLING AWESOME!

Ilium  Jan. 30, 2013 at 17:00

So many amazing games there. It feels strange not to have Final Fantasy on that list though, not saying that's a fault, but rather a shame on the part of Square Enix. So many JRPGs have taken steps forward whilst still retaining all of the best things about the genre. FFXIII was a mess, and its sequel was a fair fix for a bad situation. Quite why they're persisting in milking FFXIII with Lightning Returns is beyond me, but they need to shape up, and fast.

Nintendo's announcements for Fire Emblem and Monolithsoft's new game give me hope, though. We need more innovative JRPGs here in west...I really hope the Wii U steps up the plate, frankly.

kbra  Jan. 31, 2013 at 04:06

completely deserved first place, every game on this list is amazing but Xenoblade it's a perfect masterpiece one of my favorite (if not my favorite) RPG's ever, I love it, in fact I love every game in the list (except for dragons dogma and persona haven't played them) but Xenoblade had something special that made it my #1.

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