To this day, JRPG remains an incredibly successful genre. The continuing relevance of Final Fantasy, combined with the success of more recent series Ni No Kuni, Persona and Xenoblade Chronicles shows the viability of this style of game in the West. Two writers from the Edge have collected their thoughts on favourites below — both fairly niche picks. Without further ado…
This 2001 franchise from Camelot is perhaps not everyone’s first thought for a strong JRPG title, especially considering more well-known franchises like Final Fantasy, but not every worthwhile journey is AAA. Golden Sun was the first JRPG I ever played back as a young gamer, and what an introduction it was! The battle mechanics might be a bit simplistic, but that just means it’s easier to get into and explore the wider world and its surprises than other franchises. The psynergy mechanic was uncomplicated for someone so new to the genre as I was. Its story was appealing and heartbreaking.
It might be a mostly forgotten piece of gaming history now, but Golden Sun is still one I pick up from time to time. The pan flute music of Vale still comes back to me now and then, and during the opening scenes of the storm I still try to save our doomed character even though I know it’s in vain. The 2001 Golden Sun is in reality only halfof the story, with the full narrative far too small for one Game Boy cartridge to hold, so it’s halfway point ends here and picks up again in Golden Sun: the Lost Age.
Yakuza 0 is an excellent JRPGs even if it’s only one in the most literal sense. Set in the seedy underbelly of Osaka and Tokyo, the players swap between characters based in each area as they deal with their relationship to the Japanese mafia known as the yakuza. Yakuza 0 is a prequel to the multitude of other games in the series. Aside from an excellent classic gangster story, Yakuza 0 utilises a hugely engaging small-scale open-world, chock-full of content. From bowling to slot car racing, there’s a huge amount to do. There’s even each character’s respective business to run. It’s hard to mention Yakuza without mentioning its slightly eccentric side; there are hilarious karaoke sections and very strange characters, such as the nerdy guy who runs the slot car championship who can’t attract women, and thus gets bullied by children. Somehow the game manages to balance between its dark main story and wacky side content well, and both sides succeed excellently.