Picking up from where we left last week, this week we are going to continue the top ten JRPGs for the PlayStation 2 based on their Metascores. Big titles like Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy XII, and Persona 4 were among the top 5 but let’s see which games make the cut for top ten.
Kingdom Hearts II – Metascore 87
Following Dark Cloud 2, Kingdom Hearts II is also sporting a Metascore of 87. Originally released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2, the game has since been remastered and ported many times. The Kingdom Hearts franchise is not one that is particular easy to follow, but they are fairly unique JRPGs. Mixing a bit of Final Fantasy with a lot of Disney, the games set themselves apart from other JRPGs. You will see many familiar faces like Donald, Goofy, Cloud, and Sephiroth. Yes, even Sephiroth.
Kingdom Hearts II remains the highest rated Kingdom Hearts game among critics and with good reason. It builds upon everything the the first game introduces, and adds fresh gameplay mechanics to mix things up. Sora’s older now, but still retains his childish sense of wonder and joy. However, he’ll get a fresh set of new clothes, brand new Keyblades, and access to new moves.
One of the things that makes Kingdom Hearts II so great is that you’ll visit some of the original worlds from the first game. This definitely brings about nostalgia but it is also great to check in on everyone and see how they are holding up. Sora, Donald, and Goofy’s fight with the Heartless is far from over and now, there are Nobodies too. Keep your wits about you though because the story is very easy to lose track of.
Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 – Metascore 86
Right behind Kingdom Hearts II is Persona 3. Released in 2006, it is the fourth entry in the Persona series. North America didn’t see the title until 2007. Later, Persona 3 FES was released which added a new epilogue to the game and changed a few things about the game as a whole.
The protagonist joins the Specialized Extracurricular Execution Squad and teams up with his fellow students in investigating what is called the Dark Hour. The Dark Hour is a time between one day and the next that houses Shadows. Each member of the SEES can summon a Persona. To summon their Persona’s, the users must fire a gun-like item, the Evoker, at their head.
The game features JRPG elements like turn-based battles and also mixes in life simulation elements, tasking the players to control the protagonists through his school days. You can improve your relationships with your friends to make your Persona’s stronger so choose wisely who to spend time with. While Persona 3 FES added more story elements, it didn’t include any simulation aspects.
Suikoden III – Metascore 86
Suikoden III is tied with Persona 3 with a Metascore of 86. 4 years after Suikoden II was released, Suikoden III arrived exclusively on the PlayStation 2 in 2002. It was released alongside its manga adaptation. Critics had mixed feelings about the length of the game’s story and its balance with actual gameplay. Some praised its story while others found it to be too long.
Regardless, players tended to end up enjoying the title. The Suikoden franchise is one that is beloved by its fans, even though it was a lot of times overshadowed by the other well-known JRPG franchises. Utilizing the Trinity Sight system, you’ll get to see three different viewpoints throughout the story, giving a unique spin on the game.
Shadow Hearts: Covenant – Metascore 85
For the last few spots there is a three way tie (so this list does in fact have 6 entries instead of 5). 2004’s Shadow Hearts: Covenant might not be part of popular franchises (like the other entries in this list), but low-key, it might actually be the best JRPG amongst all of them.
A strong narrative fueled by an even stronger cast of characters makes Shadow Hearts: Covenant a must play. Though playing the first game in the series is recommended to fully grasp the plot (which is set in real world locations), anyone coming into the dark Shadow Hearts universe for the first time is likely to walk away feeling that they experienced something special after the game’s conclusion.
Final Fantasy X-2 – Metascore 85
Even if you might not have enjoyed Final Fantasy X-2 critics didn’t seem to mind it. Final Fantasy X-2’s biggest problem was following Final Fantasy X. As mentioned in the our review of the game, many of the original staff from FFX was gone, as was Uematsu’s score. This certainly made for a different feel to the game.
Regardless of whether you believed Final Fantasy X needed a sequel (it didn’t), we got one. It is the first direct sequel in the Final Fantasy franchise, as well as the first to only feature three party members. It is all the first to have those party members be all female.
Final Fantasy X-2’s unique Dress Sphere mechanic gives you a bit of freedom in what role you want each character to play. Unlike Final Fantasy X, your party members can change their class depending on the clothes they wear. Yuna and Rikku are among the party, as well as a new member, Paine. Yuna seems a bit lighter in this entry, no doubt because Sin is no more, but she is plagued by wondering about Tidus’s fate.
Because you have access to your airship early on, the game is much less linear than Final Fantasy X was. And while there are a few new areas, most of the game takes place in the same Spira from X. Another difference is the battle system which switches back to the Active Time Battle (ATB) system.
Kingdom Hearts – Metascore 85
At the bottom of the top ten sits Kingdom Hearts. What began as a weird collaboration between Square and Disney, birthed a multi-million dollar franchise that is still alive today. It blended action and RPGs elements as well, making a unique franchise for sure.
The first title saw commercial success, selling 6 million copies. It is the tenth best-selling PlayStation 2 game and was reviewed as one of the best video games of all time by many publications. With a series like Kingdom Hearts, you have to recognize where it all started.
The series has been ported many times to future consoles and it is the best way to relive or experience the series. The remaster improves graphics and framerate, making it a smoother experience. If you haven’t played this franchise, it’s well worth the time.
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