It goes without saying that there's a strong JRPG following here at PSXE.

However, as the years have passed, the genre's popularity has declined (and unfortunately, so has the quality), and gaming has become more and more mainstream. There was a time when most all video games were made by Japanese companies, but no longer.

What we're seeing is a chasm between long-time JRPG fans – specifically, those who enjoyed the heights of the sub-genre and credit JRPGs with delivering some of their most memorable experiences – and the JRPG virgins. Essentially, they're either members of a younger generation who simply don't understand the appeal, or older gamers who never signed on to the JRPG craze in the first place. But if you are a JRPG lover, and you're adamant in your belief that certain games in the genre deliver that which can't be delivered anywhere else, what's the one title you would recommend? Remember, you're dealing with someone who, while mildly curious, has never touched any such title.

I think it would have to be something that still retains a little of what they know (i.e., Western influences) while still remaining true to the JRPG structure and style. You also have to consider that the JRPG's heyday was some time ago; the very best titles will appear significantly outdated by today's standards. And that can be difficult to promote. It's actually a much more difficult task than it may seem on the surface, isn't it? Me, I'd go with Final Fantasy XII . It's a late-gen PS2 game that certainly does appear dated, but it has some of that open-world exploring that's so common these days, and the combat is a blend of real-time and turn-based elements. We still see that system today in games like Dragon Age , so it wouldn't seem too archaic. It's actually incredibly fluid and deep.

One might also want to recommend Lost Odyssey , but I'm not sure pure turn-based would fly with today's crowd, regardless of age. Eternal Sonata isn't a bad option, though, because it's unique, the combat is a blend, and there are distinct Japanese styles that you don't find anywhere else. The writing isn't too bad, either. Oh, and don't forget about Vagrant Story , although I still say that's closer to a standard action/RPG rather than a JRPG. Still, an amazing story and a compelling atmosphere… Which game would you choose in order to bust a JRPG virgin's cherry?

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MrIchiYamamoto
MrIchiYamamoto
7 years ago

Hyperdimension Neptunia – ALL

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Victory blows the other two out of the water though, and I don't think I'd use any of them to get a mainstreamer hooked because they are uber-anime-niche.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

No chance. WAY too Japanese; it'd scare people away.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

Yes, I am one of them, I love JRPG's but when they have a horridly immature anime design over it I just can't take it seriously. If the artists they get involved have distinctive art style like Ghibili for Ni No Kuni or the artists who dose DragonBall Z for Dragon Quest, I am fine. But when I see them small bodied, big eyed, hair-dyed anime stereotypes, I just look the other way.

If anything, this is the problem with the JRPG market, The PS3 has had a lot of JRPG's – Time and Eternity, Runes Factory Ocean, Atelier Rorona: Subtitles of whatever… The point is we have had plenty but the majority of them are just so alienating that they simple are not appealing to the masses, well as people have mentioned about Hyper-rahbanetion above, it's for a very niche audience.

But that doesn't mean all JRPG's are. My prime example for variety is Final Fantasy VII, VIII & IX. 3 games from the same series, similar gameplay traits, but styles are so different from one another your bound to find at least one appealing. IX with it's medieval fantasy setting, VII with it's More modern setting and VIII with it's futuristic setting. If anyone asks me what Final Fantasy to start with, I usually just say to look up one of them three briefly and see what you find more appealing and go with it.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Hey Ultima, I think it's just that those titles seem more prevalent because the ones with serious subject matter are so scarce now.

booze925
booze925
7 years ago

I'm a JRPG Virgin.
Lay it on me!

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

If you like action and gorgeous visuals Eternal Sonata is pretty grand, if you want a little more strategy and very strong characters Tales of Graces F is smashing.

I really dig Xillia too but I'm 20 hours in and not sure it will manage to beat Graces in the impact category.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

FFXII or Skies of Arcadia.

BigT_1980
BigT_1980
7 years ago

I would suggest Final Fantasy VII. Please see my comment below for a detailed explanation.

At LV Skies of Arcadia is great as well. As far as accessibility would suggest the Grandia 2. Grandia 2 has a really fun story to follow.


Last edited by BigT_1980 on 8/25/2013 11:27:09 PM

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Love Grandia 2 but Grandia III might be easier for tweakers to play.

EvilKen
EvilKen
7 years ago

I'd say Skies of Arcadia, Grandia 1 and 2, or Legend of Dragoon

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Get the Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD collection, or just FFX HD for Vita. You'll get some very updated visuals so your eyes don't bleed, X has the best story on the PS2 FFs, the best music, and you get the full appeal of party-based, turn-based combat that is still flashy and rife with action inputs to keep the twitchers from getting bored.

I couldn't recommend XII because the story is a lengthy political affair, the strategy is mostly done in menus before the automatic battles take place, and crossing maps can take hours with nothing interesting in between.

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

The story is interesting, not every story has to deal with the end of the world or some evil magical force using some cliche process to kill people. There is an incredible amount of strategy involved with the gameplay in XII. The fact that you're able to see enemies on screen enables a broad range of tactics.

I found the world of XII worth exploring more than any other FF game. There are so many wonderful secrets and the soundtrack is incredible. I usually agree with you but no way on this.

Banky A
Banky A
7 years ago

xii is great

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Each to their own of course, though I think it's simplistic to boil X's story down to another end of the world scenario. I mean, it is on the verge of a large disaster but in the same way that FFVII was an environmental commentary I thought X was a deep allegory for the spiral (spira) of mankind's experience with destruction, rebirth, and the role religion plays in that.

oONewcloudOo
oONewcloudOo
7 years ago

The problem with JRPGs is the dialogue is very Japanese which is good if your Japanese but to us it just comes across as unrealistic and weird, some final fantasy games don't have this problem except XIII which has awful dialogue.

But if you are a JRPG virgin then go for ni no kuni it's recent, looks great and is great.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

Yeah that's one of the problems, but I think if a person can overcome the atrociousness of how people speak in something like Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance they should be able to survive the hoaky dialogue long enough to get to the more emotional and moving moments in JRPGs.


Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 8/25/2013 10:53:53 PM

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

Okay, Vanille had a terrible voice actor, but beyond that the characters and dialogue was not that bad. I thought the moment when Hope confronts Snow in Pallumpolum was so intimate and very well done. Say what you want about the game, but that moment was among the very best of Final Fantasy's.

xenris
xenris
7 years ago

Ultmia, FF13s dialogue was trash. That scene you were talking about made me want to throw Hope off of a building.

The dialogue is filled with anime trope after anime trope after anime trope, and the characters are so painful and unrealistic to watch talk, it feels like its parodying itself.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

Eh, I can't see the point in arguing this as we're both going to keep the same opinion, so i shall merely agree to disagree.

darxed
darxed
7 years ago

I agree with World, FFX all the way, specially with the HD remaster coming. Even if the combat was turned based, It was pretty dynamic also, It didn't have the ATB bar which I know turns off casuals, and the story and music are top notch…

God I can't wait for the collection to land… I hope there's some kind of promotion for buying the PS3 and Vita versions, so I can play them at home and/or on commute to my jobs…

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

FFXII. I know it's hated by plenty of people around these parts but it's an amazing game. There is an incredible depth and world to explore. I find myself replaying it over any of the other FF games.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Who hates it? I just recommended it. 🙂

LimitedVertigo
LimitedVertigo
7 years ago

Ha, we're in the minority around these parts. BTW if you see this post I'm interested in finding out if you'll be playing any FFXIV.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Sorry, no way. 🙂


Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 8/25/2013 11:32:15 PM

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

The problem with XII is that it placed an importance of politics over character development. Balthier was a great character and even had some great moments like that conversation about his past or his personal connection to one of the bosses. But the rest of the characters were flat and some had no reason to even be there.

There was also a huge problem with the pacing, in previous FF's when you enter a new town, something happens, which progresses the story. In XII, That never occurred, So I would have to endure 4-5 more landscapes/temples before reaching a new town in hope of some story progression. It to the point where I was not exploring the game, but rushing through it. I needed more moments like when you're captured, where you were vulnerable and the characters got engaged. The ending encounter was interesting, but the villian had no presence through out the game, I felt nothing about him, so the encounter while visual epic, was not satisfying.

It is not a coincidence that Ben mentioned Dragon Age in the same paragraph, it feels more related to such games. Mainly because it had the director of the Orge series involved and it really shows. I got bored of Vagrant Story too and Didn't bother with Vagrant Story, which is apparently set in the same universe. I went into Final Fantasy as an avid fan but was utterly disappointed, This seems to me my equivalent of XIII for everyone else – Which I actually enjoyed a lot more if I am honest.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

I concur with Ultima, FFXII shared that lack of things happening with the later White Knight Chronicles games.

I didn't hate it, but it was definitely more of a pre-arranged strategy (in the whole gambit auto fight system) and gameplay focused experience (in the endless hours on the maps) than impactful questlines, enemies, and characters.

I boxed that fact in with the fact that the game was in the same world as Final Fantasy Tactics and that made it fit together. I also think that coorelation in gameplay is a decent reason Ben liked it so much. It really is like a mix of FFT and traditional FF.

xenris
xenris
7 years ago

I have to agree with LV and Ben here FF12 is an excellent game. The political story was excellent and a lot of characters had development arcs except for a few. But still it felt more natural.

If you think the combat was bad or automated you guys didn't get to the hard monster hunt quests. While you could use a couple of cheese tactics to get through some of the game, like Berserk and some lifesteal weapons, secret bosses required a lot of tactics and thinking.

I think FF12s system was superior to WKC too. WKC was too slow, and had some weird elements to it. I beat WKC1 but couldnt get into 2.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

XII's combat was boring, I got through most the game with attack, backed up by haste, cure and bubble. the Summon and Limit Breaks were an add on but not really needed. True, I did not get through the hunts because I simply didnt want to, the game was a slog to play through and I just wanted to finish the story and be done with it for reasons I have already mentioned. When I think of Final Fantasy XII I see Balthier running through a landscapes shooting things – That's pretty much what my 80 hour experience of XII was.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Ultima, you obviously went out of your way to not appreciate the game. If that's all you did with that extremely in-depth system, that's your own fault. It offered plenty more; you just chose not to do it because you clearly had opted not to like the game from the outset.

You can find it boring all you want. As I said, this isn't about you. This is about recommending a JRPG to someone who has never played one, and who is only used to modern video games. FFXII is the closest to a modern RPG in many, many ways…and the ONLY entry in that franchise that would qualify at this point.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

Oh trust me, I wanted to like Final Fantasy XII, it was a part of my favourite gaming franchise – essentially the reason I play games. But it just turned into the biggest disappointment I have ever experienced in gaming.

I just while it is similar to W-RPG's like Dragon Age, I just don't think it is a very good example of a J-RPG. Not saying they all have to be turn based, The Last Story and Xenoblade are both fantastic JRPG's but I would hate for someone to experience XII and feel just as bored with it as I was and dismiss the genre from it.

xenris
xenris
7 years ago

You know Ultima nearly EVERY final fantasy game has a method or exploit to make the combat a joke right? FF7 8 and 9 all had ways that you could make fighting a joke, but even still I loved them all except 8…I couldn't connect with the characters.

But my question is how was FF13 not boring to play when you could have the game essentially play for you?

I mean I get what you are saying about not liking FF12, but then saying that FF13 was much better I just don't understand how you feel that way, but I do know this is your opinion. I liked the political non melodramatic story in FF12 you like the anime trope melodramatic story of FF13 these are personal preference.

But to say the combat was bad in FF12 when you think that overall FF13 is the better game makes zero sense to me. FF13 from what I heard was the most on rails hand holding FF game ever and was easily exploitable to make it easy.

Victor321
Victor321
7 years ago

I'd recommend Persona 4 on the PS2 (or Golden if the person happens to own a Vita). The game design is so modern from my perspective but at its core, its presentation is quirky and unique like any other JRPG one can think of. In addition, the player really gets a sense that he/she's going through the game at his/her own pace, rather than have to feel like grinding has to occur anytime soon.

That and Lost Odyssey too, but you already mentioned it in your article 😛


Last edited by Victor321 on 8/25/2013 11:15:03 PM

BigT_1980
BigT_1980
7 years ago

If I were to recommend an RPG game to someone new to RPG's I would have to recommend Final Fantasy VII. That is the first RPG I played, and it got me addicted to the Genre.

I would have to advise them however, to look past the graphics and experience the excellent gameplay and good story, and to please look past the less than stellar writing.

Zen_Zarab
Zen_Zarab
7 years ago

SMT: Nocturne
or
Digital Devil Saga

Closed_Account
Closed_Account
7 years ago

Definitely FF X esp with the remastered version out. A virgin can appreciate the graphics and the turn based aspect simultaneously

Razov
Razov
7 years ago

I'll be the odd ball out and suggest a really scarce/unlikely one….. Resonance of Fate. I loved the hell out of that JRPG.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

I gave it a shot, but I have to say the battle system was far too confusing for its own good. I just didn't know what was going on, especially when I was near death and the characters prance around on their tip toes – Are you meant to collect them shards around the battle environment, because that never worked for me… Also, I found the excuse for a world map laughable, that board which you had to break tokens from while controlling a cursor… Jut wasn't for me I'lm afraid.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

I tried it too, that thing was insane.

homura
homura
7 years ago

Resonance Of Fate has a unique turn based battle system which is one of the great if you take time to learn it. The world map is not that spectacular but it also has a strategy to it if you want to exploit it. And the characters movement when in critical is funny because it's supposed to be funny. The game has a little sense of humor in it. If you get in the Christmas part you'll know what I mean. The art of the towns in Resonance Of Fate is great. And I think it's the only JRPG that one of it's protagonist committed a gruesome act. And the one on one battle in Rainy Bridge is one of the best.

Beamboom
Beamboom
7 years ago

As a mildly curious JRPG virgin I want to say this: You guys *need* a quality modern-day title to show him/her. You can't go back a generation and most definitely not two. It will not cut it, I can tell you that right away.

Old games are for fans only. No matter how good *you* thought it was back then, a current gamer will not experience that game in the same manners today. There's zero chance for that.

And therein lies the problem: There's just no current material out there to become a JRPG fan over. They (we!) need something that can compare with the *other* games we play today. We are not interested in going back in time, that genre is not special enough for us to see past a lot of stuff just to "get our fix". It doesn't work like that.

So I hope we see a resurrection of this fabled genre come next gen. But until then I am afraid there's slim chances of recruiting any JRPG virgins over to your side.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/26/2013 1:29:54 AM

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

I partially disagree with that. On the basis that I have gone back to previous generations to play games that I missed out on and they have turned out to be some of my favourite games. Parasite Eve 1, which we never got in the UK turned out to be fantastic, it's just a shame I didn't get to play it until last year from the US PS Store.

But I see it from you're perspective, you want a title which is current gen and up to modern standards. It's a shame Xenoblade and The Last Story were on the Wii as they were both superb examples of JRPG's. But as for this gen, while I liked Final Fantasy XIII, I cannot recommend it over VI – X. But there isn'lt much competition of a good modern JRPG… Lost Odyssey seems too backwards for most and Ni No Kuni, well I just found it tedious despite the lovely visuals. So for this gen… I don't know.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

I think you make an important point. I'd still say that the update of X is the best bet though, HD updates are still darn popular and the gameplay isn't nearly as dated as everyone probably thinks.

And of course X-2 might not have been the most somber, serious quest but it did have the best evolution of the battle system yet, very actiony and flashy without sacrificing anything.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
7 years ago

Beamboom: I would definitely agree with you except for one very important point:

The JRPG once offered a completely different experience when compared to any other game on the market, then or even NOW. It's the structure and gameplay that sets the genre apart, even if it's not entirely turn-based. WRPGs like Baldurs Gate, for example, would technically be the closest but even those weren't in the same universe in terms of gameplay style.

Therefore, I think that can override the technology gap. Hey, having a gaming brother 13 years my junior, I know how hard it can be to recommend old games. To him, they just look "old." Doesn't mean he won't try them, but with SO many games coming out these days, why would he put something like FFVII over the new Splinter Cell? And I totally understand that.

I just always try to reinforce the fact that nothing like FFVII (outside of other JRPGs) plays like that. It's just not just about the turn-based; it's about how the world and story is set up, it's about how they seem to make every character memorable, etc. And the farther and farther we get from linear adventures (as we'll see in the new generation), the more different everything will become when compared to classic JRPGs.

Beamboom
Beamboom
7 years ago

A jrpg virgin won't even play the game long enough to discover this unique structure and gameplay. That's the whole problem here. It needs to be presented in a way that is a bit appealing.

He will turn it on, take a look, maybe move a character around a bit and experience one of those weird random attack out of nowhere, get totally turned off by the whole package and never return to it again long before he even get to try a special spell.

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
7 years ago

As a mostly non-gamer until this generation, it was Valkyria Chronicles that got me intrigued and Ni no Kuni that made me fall in love. Can't say I'm a hardcore fan of the genre, but I am really tempted to try out more games in the niche with Tales of Xillia high on my priority list. Given the review scores of most JRPGs these days… I'm just not happy with the idea of paying full price for them and by the time they drop I've kinda forgotten that I wanted them in the first place. :/ Eh. Such is life.

Wrote
Wrote
7 years ago

I think all the older final fantasys would be good if the person doesn't mind dated visuals. Probably 4 or 6 tho, 7 looks atrocious to non fans, the character models mainly. I'm quite the huge xenoblade chronicles fan but I doubt that's for a new comer, same with ni no kuni. So this may come as a shock to some of you but my vote is…. Pokemon. X and Y look modern enough to not scare fans away and the gameplay is simple and addicting. It was my first, been hooked since blue version over a decade ago.

Banky A
Banky A
7 years ago

1) ni no kuni
2) valkyria chronicles

the only asian sounding thing is the title for ni no. neither are bombarded with japanese influences (if any). perfect.

VC is about war – the kind with old tanks & a twist. draws ideas from the english. for the oldies.

ni no is backed by universally loved ghibli art and atmosphere. the studio is quite international and acclaimed. anyone can appreciate its warm fuzziness. for the kiddies + any movie lovers.

Vivi_Gamer
Vivi_Gamer
7 years ago

Final Fantasy XII… Ben you break me heart! I cannot think of a more worse example of a JRPG. Despite my hatred for the game I don't think it is a good choice as the licence board system is just so tedious. Especially when you reach a town only to find out you don't have the licence for a weapon. My Other reason against XII is you need characters who have presence and Balthier is not enough for the whole game. Heck, it nearly put me off JRPG's, so I just cannot recommend it, especially for someone who wants a taste of JRPG's or more importantly Final Fantasy.

So what would I recommend. Final Fantasy IX. Not just because the difficultly is easy (Though the Soulcage Boss annihilated me with Mustard Bomb last playthrough XD) But the equipment system is so simple, you wear some equipment in battle, gain the experience for abilities from wearing the equipment, when you've learnt the skill you upgrade. Also, the story has a more lighthearted tone for the majority of it, but delvers some of the series most well developed characters. I have yet to meet someone who did not like Vivi. The only set back would be the graphics, I adore pre-rendered backgrounds but I know it is not for everyone and IX's battle system seems to be more slow paced than others.

If were not going for turn based and want to entice a real action gamer. The Wii's 'The Last Story'. Yes, it is a we game, but it has such a superb battle system which isn''t riddled through menus as such. You automatically attack when near an enemy and you can use the a combination of features of the action button do do different actions like dive and various attacks. The environment is also very keep you can run up walls, hide behind rubble and do all sorts of things like destroy bridges in the distance so you can advance on the battlefield. If you have a Wii, I Highly recommend and if you like that, then look into Xenoblade: Chronicles the true JRPG experience of this generation,

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
7 years ago

The Last Story's battle system was a clever attempt at something new in my opinion, but it honestly drove me nuts later in the game. Half of that might have been the crappy Wii controller itself but sadly I had to walk away just before the final encounter.