Japanese Role Playing Games have been my favorite genre of games since I was young. I didn’t know the difference between a game made in the USA or Japan. I mean, its not like they have a “Made in Japan” stamp on the back of the cover. Off I would go, getting immersed in these fantastical world’s of adventure, romance, war, drama, life, death, random encounters and epic boss battles. I’m not really sure as to how I was able to pick up so many, even though I didn’t have the internet and all it’s glory to help me find the latest release. I give God the credit to helping me find these, because some of the games I want to highlight in this post are so obscure they were hard to find years ago, and still hard to find today!
I wanted to make a list of some JRPG’s you may have never heard of, or maybe you’ve seen them in passing but never picked them up for various reasons. I encourage you to check these out, read the reviews to the ones I linked to and I hope you get to experience them as much as I did. Some are older than others, but it’s not the age of the game that matter so much. Think of it like picking up an old book written decades or even hundreds of years ago, the characters, plot and settings still come alive as if they were just written.
#5 – Final Fantasy IX
I used to skip school just to play this game. Oh yes, it was that good! Now, I’m sure that if your reading this, you’ve most likely played at least one of the Final Fantasy entries, but IX doesn’t get the appreciation that others in the series do. Stuck between the legendary romantic drama of Final Fantasy VIII and the fabled Final Fantasy X, this gem has been overlooked by many JRPG fans. To me, it’s not as good as X, but it has a charm of its own. You play as Zidane, a rogue thief who gets entangled with events that are bigger than him…but he doesn’t care, he just wants to win the girl and go home! There are memorable characters to meet (some not so memorable…Quina…cough, cough), amazing graphics, cut scenes and music that look and sound spectacular.
#4 – Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete (see my post on Lunar here)
If you’re looking for a fictional story that will touch your heart, then look no further. I have yet to play a JRPG that is as warm and fuzzy as the Lunar series. I’ve only played the first and second game, but both left me with nice memories even years later. In the second game, Lunar 2, you play as Hiro who goes on a quest to save the world from being overcome by an ancient enemy who was thought to have been defeated. It’s a direct sequel to the first game, and it does a very good job in tying in the first game and standing alone on its own.
This game has lots of animated cut scenes which at the time, were almost non-existent in video games. The music is also clear with instrumentals that sound real, which gives you a nice atmosphere wherever you go. The relationship between Hiro and Lucia is the highlight of the adventure, while twists in the plot will be taking you by surprise several times. Truly, a game you shouldn’t miss, but it’s just so hard to play because it was only released on the PS1 and has yet to be ported to another system…hopefully they will bring it over as they did with Lunar Silver Star Complete (now Lunar Silver Star Harmony)
This is one of those games that many have missed because it wasn’t a “popular” game, nor was there much marketing for it. Illusion of Gaia tells a story that spans many cultures across the world. You play as Will who is told by Gaia that he must save the world from an evil that is coming to the Earth. As you progress throughout the game, you can transform into a few different heroes with individual powers that are needed for different situations or battles. The characters are great because they are a group of friends who have a close bond, and travel on various adventures. You get to know each one, and if something happens to one of them you could almost feel it.
There are many spiritual aspects to the game as well, from talking spirits to finding your destiny in life, ancient religions, rituals and more. It tackles some subjects that many games don’t touch, and I’m looking forward to writing about this one.
This game was only released on SNES so far, and I’m not sure why it hasn’t been released on other platforms. It’s such a good game, that if your able to experience it, I highly recommend it.
#2 – The entire Breath of Fire series (I-V)
This is one of those cult classic series that had so much going for it, but it just never took off the way I thought it would. The first two games were for SNES, then Breath of Fire 3, 4 and 5 came out for Playstation. The best of these five titles would have to be part 3 and 4, in my opinion. They have the classic RPG elements in them from gathering your party, grinding for boss battles, plot twists and even delving into the religious arena. I enjoyed all the titles, except for part 5, Dragon Quarter, which to me was a disappointment. The main characters are always Ryu and Nina, but Ryu’s clan history of possessing the power of dragons drives the story, while the rest is focused on the characters and the world they live in. You will leave playing as if you were really there, and you will have pleasant memories of seeing your party all through to the end. It is truly an adventure set forth in the unknown, fighting your way to discover the mysteries of the game.
#1 – Suikoden 2
I haven’t played this game in many years, nor any of it’s other sequels so I can’t write too much about it. What I do remember (and researched) is that if you like war strategy games, then this is one you need to check out. It was only released on Playstation and is now available on Playstation Network for download, but it first came out when Final Fantasy was being promoted so this one went by unnoticed by many. There are 108 stars, or characters, which you can recruit throughout and add to your base. Most can be used in battle, while others just stay and improve your army.
It’s a deep story of drama, adventure, magic and everything else that makes up a great plot. You will connect with at least several of the characters and become involved in wanting them to succeed. Out of the 5 games so far released in the series, this one has been given the most praise and cult following.
Thanks so much for reading, and I would like to know what JRPG’s should have been on this list, and why? Let me know your recommendations. God bless 🙂
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14 thoughts on “Gaming With God: 5 JRPG’s You’ve Never Played”
Well I’d argue any of the Tales of series simply because it’s almost always overlooked in favour of Final Fantasy. Though it’s started attracting potential attention over the past few years but is still sadly ignored. Great article by the way. I know I haven’t played many of the titles you listed.
Thanks Karl for the comment. I agree, Tales came to my mind but as you said its been more popular lately so I didn’t bring it up. I was going to mention Star Ocean as well and some others but I didn’t want to do a Top 10 lost. Too much work 🙁
Which Tales game is your favorite?
Got to be Tales of Symphonia. Just holds a lot of good memories for me. Loved the fact that you could choose who Lloyd ended up with at the end too. Also enjoyed Xillia.
I love both of those, I liked Xillia more, but Colette and Lloyd were great
I was going to point out that a lot of people have played FFIX, but then you included Illusion of Gaia on the list. You deserve a salute.
I actually used to own it along with spiritual successor Terranigma but I gave my SNES away last year.
Hey there Jonny thanks for the comment. Yeah, a lot of people have played FF IX, but I think its one that didn’t get a lot of love. I haven’t met many FF fans who played it, similar to FF12 (which I didn’t like except for the gambit system and the graphics.)
Gaia, like I mentioned in my post, it must have been God because I don’t even know how I was able to pick it up. I guess I thought the cover was cool. And Terranigma, I played years ago on a ROM but I don’t remember it much….but it was ok.
Have you ever played Secret of Evermore?
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Great list! I like the inclusion of each title/series. I have Illusion of Gaia already but I recently bought the first two Suikoden games in Akihabara. The series could do with an update and there really needs to be another Breath of Fire game as well.
There are so many JRPGs on the PS1 that didn’t get a release outside of Japan, it’s ridiculous so I’m hoping for them to get digital updates.
Thank you so much! I would love to play all those unreleased games but I probably have never even heard of them. Which is very sad to me. Where the fire is actually releasing part 6 on mobile devices last time I checked. I do not know if it’s going to be released in North America. Illusion of Gaia is such a good game and the story really grips you at least it did for me when I was much younger
Great list! Illusion of Gaia and Breath of Fire (1 and 2) are games I played to death growing up. IOG does have a gripping story, and I would add a (sometimes haunting) atmosphere that stays with you , a common trait with some Enix games.
Have you ever played Legend of Dragoon? Its a definite gem that I really enjoy.
Hey there James, thanks for checking out my list. Yeah, IOG stays with you, I still have some of the music from that game on my playlist. I loved it, very memorable game. And yeah, I did too, I played all the BOF series (unfortunately I played Dragon Quarter too….ugh) and they were amazing. Music was spot on as well, from part 3 especially.
Yeah I played Legend of Dragoon a little bit, I never played much though. How was the story and gameplay?
Not a problem Samuru, I really appreciate the posts (on BTT and GUG!). I have yet to play BOF 3 and 4, but they’re on my list for sure (5 has been off my radar, and from your reaction I think I know why :)). To mention your list, Lunar 2 is another game I definitely want to play at some point (though getting a copy might be the tricky part).
I personally really like the story in LOD, there are some real “whoa!” moments, and by the end of the game you really feel like you’ve been on an epic adventure. While some the characters are not very fleshed out, the game does have a diverse and unique cast, and I found myself getting attached by the end. The combat is very unique compared to other rpg’s, due to the “additions”. I’m also a big fan of PS1 era pre-rendered backrounds, and LOD has some of the best on the system next to FF 9.
Yeah, I recommend staying away from BOF5. It was one of the most frustrating games I ever played, with their whole save game thing. Basically, if you die you start over. You can be at the end of the game, if you die, you start over….more or less it’s like that.
Yeah it’s almost impossible to play part 2….part 1 was amazing, but I didn’t like too much the other spin-offs.
Oh, you might enjoy this article too, it’s a little more on JRPG’s
God bless, any other questions or help please let me know!