Today, I am submitting my entry to The Great JRPG Showdown, a new community event created by pix1001 and Winst0lf! I’ve always admired JRPGs from afar with views of sinking my thumbs into some highly praised titles, but unfortunately due to the nature of these games often being crazily long, I’ve never managed to find the time. For this reason, and the fact that I’m always spoiled for choice, I’ve only managed to finish a select few. However, the handful that I have played certainly deserve some praise, so here I am to do just that!
Here are my Top 5 JRPGs in no particular order:
The Caligula Effect: Overdose
The Caligula Effect: Overdose was the first JRPG I ever fully finished. I’d tried other JRPGs in the past but never made it past the first 10 hours or so due to the nature of the slow burning introductions. The plot of The Caligula Effect takes place in a virtual world named Mobius, where its users are being brainwashed by music to believe they are living in reality, but a small group have begun to figure out the truth. Aside from the plot grabbing my attention, The Caligula Effect also had something else to offer – it’s soundtrack. I initially discovered this game through my musical interests as some of my favourite vocaloid producers had written songs exclusively for the game, and I have to say, the way the music evolved throughout each level was very cleverly used. The OST was definitely the best part of the game, but I also enjoyed the unique twist of the turn based combat and the route for the Ostinato Musicians which was added into the Overdose version. I bought The Caligula Effect 2 back in October but I’ve not managed to find the time to play it just yet, but I’m certainly looking forward to it.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is another JRPG with musical references. The story follows a group of teenagers turned Mirage Masters on a mission to save the world all whilst posing as upcoming idols under the guise of Fortuna Entertainment. The game has a fantastic cast with a strong mix of personalities, also including a Fire Emblem crossover and a top class voice cast featuring my favourite seiyuu, Kimura Ryohei, as our main protagonist Itsuki. I found the turn based combat surprisingly fun and I loved all the combos and special moves the characters performed which could be made even more amusing by allowing costume changes as the game progressed. The plot was interesting throughout and this was all topped off with an incredible OST featuring animated music videos that brought the whole world together.
Tales of Berseria
Although I never progressed very far with Tales of Berseria, the characters that were introduced early on all really stood out and became surprisingly memorable considering their minimal amount of screen time during my play through. From what I remember, the game had a solid introduction involving protagonist, Velvet’s, backstory which then suddenly threw you straight into the main gameplay quite early on. I remember reaching the first major area and becoming a little frustrated with a particular quest involving combo chains which ultimately put me off picking the game back up, but considering I’ve remembered it this vividly 4 years later certainly says a lot about my first impressions. I would absolutely love to get back into Tales of Berseria as my entry to the Tales series as I’ve since been eyeing up Tales of Arise…
Dragon Quest is one of those huge franchises that I thought I would never get the chance to get into as I wanted to start right from the beginning. Back in 2019, the first three Dragon Quest games were ported to the Switch for the first time which I instantly purchased thanks to their incredibly low price. The first game follows the descendent of the ‘Legendary Eldrick’ as he attempts to save the world from the Dragonlord who has arisen after the Sphere of Light has been stolen. Although neither old school games nor turn based combat typically takes my fancy, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the first two games. I had visions of starting Dragon Quest III until I heard a remake was in the works in the style of the Octopath Traveler which I wanted to wait for, however, it’s been a while since we’ve had any news. I’m hoping more of the franchise will be available on the Switch in the future as I’ve heard Dragon Quest V is one of the best titles in the series and there’s no feasible way for me to play this at the moment.
My final entry is crossing the line a little in order to be classed purely as a JRPG and I’m sure there will be plenty of people out there telling me that I’m wrong, but Code Vein could technically be described as a JRPG due to its roots and the features included throughout the game. The plot follows the player character as they awaken in an apocalyptic world and join forces with a secret society of Revenants in search of bloodbeads and a way out of the Gaol of the Mists. Despite the gameplay being more on the ‘soulslike’ spectrum, I personally think there are far more similarities to more traditional JRPGs. Its visual style and OTT weapons are completely in-keeping with many other Japanese games, but Code Vein also has a very strong focus on the characters with each individual having their own complex backstories. There’s also an element to team based combat as you get to choose which companion to take with you as well as being able to play online with a friend. (I completely understand if you don’t want to feature this as a contender and that’s completely fine – I won’t be offended!)