When it comes to JRPGs, fans in the west sometimes get left out. A lot of JRPGs release exclusively in Japan, and hopefully make their way to us in the future. If we do, in fact, get a hold of them, they can still fly under the radar because of the more popular choices like the Persona or Final Fantasy series. However, in this list, these JRPGs are all available to us, whether through a remaster release or delayed one.
The .hack franchise is a relatively large one spanning across anime, video games, manga and novels. Developed by CyberConnect2 and published by Bandai Namco, these three games in the G.U. Series were originally released on the PlayStation 2 starting in 2006. A common complaint about the original release for these games was that they felt like one game split into three full-priced games.
Luckily, Bandai Namco released an HD remaster of the trilogy on November 7, 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and PC. The collection included all three games and even a new 4th volume called Vol. 4 Reconnection. This remaster was the first time the game made it to European market, so there were still some people who couldn’t get a hold of it until then.
All three JRPGs are action-RPGs much like Star Ocean, and allow you to switch out weapons on the fly while battling. The story follows Haseo, a rogue called The Terror of Death, who is on a mission to avenge his friend Shino’s death. The storyline for these games was turned into a manga series, CGI movie and a novel series.
Despite being a good series, many overlooked the series because of the way the originals were released. The remaster allows you to purchase the whole experience in one go, and it’s one you should definitely check out.
Tokyo Xanadu was released on the PlayStation Vita back in 2015. It was developed by Nihon Falcom, the same developers behind the Ys series. It is a spin-off of the game Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu. When deciding to make Tokyo Xanadu, the company wanted it to feel different from their other games.
The story follows a few high school kids who get wrapped up in a group called Nemesis. The game is set in an alternate reality Tokyo, which was hit by a massive earthquake in 2005. Now in 2015, the group of kids are made aware of an alternate universe and work to mend what’s broken.
It’s original release on the Vita certainly limited its audience quite a bit. Luckily it was released as Tokyo Xanadu eX Plus, on the PlayStation 4 in 2016. I think one of the biggest reasons this title gets forgotten is that it was exclusive to the Vita in its beginning year. The Vita was not as popular as Nintendo’s handhelds and I think a lot of its library gets left behind.
This JRPG is often compared to the Persona games because of the alternate universe concept, and even the high school kids. While this title may not be as strong as the Persona games, it is still a game worth experiencing.
Odin Sphere was developed by Vanillaware for the PlayStation 2 back in 2007. A few different companies handled its publishing, depending on the country. The remake, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir was released for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation for and Vita in 2016.
Odin Sphere is a 2D side-scroller with beat-em-up battle mechanics and RPG elements. The story and environment mix a lot of things together like Norse mythology, works of Shakespeare, fairy tales, and even other video games.
You get to control 5 different characters, all of which have access to physical attacks and attacks called Psyber skills. Psyber skills are attached to magical weapons that you could equip.
For some reason, this game often goes unnoticed. I think because it is a 2D side-scrolling game, it isn’t ever remembered as a JRPG. Many may write it off as just another beat-em-up game, but it has enough RPG elements to make the cut.
Now, this series might be the most recognizable on this list, but I do still think it still isn’t as popular as it should be. It is another series that suffers from being partly exclusive to Sony’s handheld system, this time the PSP.
Originally released in 2008, the first title was actually on the PlayStation 3. However the sequels continued on the PSP and definitely got lost on there. Eventually the first game was released on PC, PlayStation 4, and Switch and you can also play the fourth installment on those platforms. Currently the second and third entries still only exist on the PSP. I hope they eventually bring those entries onto consoles as well.
They are military-themed tactical JRPGs that take place during World War II on Europa, a fictional continent inspired by Europe. I feel like this series just recently started gathering more traction in the last few years, which is good because they are great games. However, I do think they often get overlooked by the bigger tactical titles like the Fire Emblem series.
Romancing SaGa (JRPG Series)
Much like Valkyria Chronicles, the Romancing Saga games might be pretty recognizable. Especially since it too, has had some recent re-releases. Originally released back in 1992, these games were developed for the Super Famicom. Since that was the case, North America didn’t see the Romancing SaGa games until 2005 when they released a remake of the first game for the PlayStation 2.
Later in the future these games were released in Nintendo’s virtual console for the Wii U and the DS. Today, you can get Romancing SaGa 2 and 3 on all modern platforms digitally. Unfortunately, the first one remains in the past.
These JRPGs allow you to pick between 8 characters to play as, leaving the other choices as options to be picked up in the world as party members. Sound familiar? Octopath Traveler definitely took some notes from these titles. You can play each character’s story, along with the overarching storyline.
The battle system is traditional turn-based but characters don’t gain experience points. Instead, you learn new abilities by using certain weapons in battle enough. These games often either get overlooked or confused with the Final Fantasy series or other games within the SaGa family.
There are other many JRPGs that need to be re-released on newer platforms
That makes 5 JRPGs you might not have heard of. Of course, they aren’t entirely lost and can still be enjoyed today, but I think they flew under the radar for many. With the Switch, we’ve seen a tremendous amount of ports and Japan-only games make their way to us. I can only hope they continue that pattern because there are still a ton of lost JRPGs that need some love.
Agree with the author? Couldn’t disagree more and are frothing at the mouth to tell him? Leave a comment here, on Facebook or send an email and make sure to follow Never Ending Realm on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!