The 2000s gave us so many wonderful JRPGs across different platforms. This week we wanted to look at some of the best JRPGs from the 2000s based on their (Metacritic) Metascores.
Final Fantasy IX – Metascore 94
At the top of the list, we have Final Fantasy IX. Returning to its roots after Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX captured the hearts of critics and players alike. It stands as the Final Fantasy with the highest Metascore, and remains to be many fans’ favorite in the series.
Released in 2000 for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy IX had a lot to live up. Final Fantasy VIII didn’t impress many after following Final Fantasy VII and IX needed to right that wrong. It definitely did that as the debate between which game is better between VII and IX still exists today.
Final Fantasy IX has rich lore and character development much like many other FF titles. However, the unique thing about this game is that each character suffers their own struggles and must overcome them to succeed. It is an interesting way to develop your characters. It also gives the player fresh insight into each character and what they must endure.
Skies Of Arcadia – Metascore 93
Released in 2000 for the Dreamcast, Skies of Arcadia comes in second with a Metascore of 93. Although it was one of the best-reviewed Dreamcast games, it did not perform well commercially. It was later ported to the GameCube in 2002 as Skies of Arcadia Legends.
The game uses traditional JRPG elements like turn-based battles and EXP points, but it also has a big emphasis on exploration. This allows the player to fly an airship around the world. The overworld is divided into six regions that can be accessed via the airship. The game consists of six main characters, but three are primarily in the players party due to story. Four can exist in the party at one time, and the fourth is chosen either by the player, or points in the story as well.
The game was received well critically, but did not sell well. Although the GameCube port did well in exposing it to more players, it was not as critically acclaimed as the original. The common complaint with the GameCube port was the lack of improved graphics since the GameCube had higher processing power.
Vagrant Story – Metascore 92
Released in 2000 for the PlayStation, Vagrant Story comes in third with a Metascore of 92. It was yet another title published by Square and was primarily developed by the same team behind Final Fantasy Tactics.
The unique thing about Vagrant Story is that is does not have any shops. Instead, the game focuses on weapon creation and modification. It is odd to see an RPG with no shops for sure, but Vagrant Story still sets itself apart to be on this list.
The game was often overshadowed, especially by other Square titles like Final Fantasy IX and Chrono Cross, but that didn’t stop critics from reviewing the game positively. It was the only PlayStation title to receive a perfect score of 40 from Famitsu Magazine.
Final Fantasy XII – Metascore 92
Released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XII ties with Vagrant Story and even Final Fantasy X with a Metascore of 92. The game saw major changes to the Final Fantasy franchise, but was mostly still received positively.
It was the first Final Fantasy game to implement an open world, controllable camera, and a seamless battle system. These changes certainly jarred fans of the franchise, but ultimately stood to set Final Fantasy XII apart from the franchise in a positive way. The game was both critically and commercially successful.
Final Fantasy XII sold more than 1,764,000 copies during its first week in Japan which almost matches the sales of Final Fantasy X in its first week. It was also the fourth best-selling PlayStation 2 game in 2006. Regardless of the many changes to the franchise, Final Fantasy XII saw great success that would continue onto other platforms thanks to the many ports it would later receive.
Final Fantasy X – Metascore 92
Originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, Final Fantasy X elevated the series into a new generation of consoles. It was the first FF game to feature voice acting, and 3D backgrounds. It also did away with the ATB system and used the” Conditional Turn-Based Battle” system. This made battles much less stressful, as things did not progress until you chose your moves.
Final Fantasy X is up there with VII and IX as one of the best in the franchise among fans. Its story of Yuna and her guardians finally defeating Sin is one filled with happiness and despair. The game was a huge step forward for the franchise, and arguably the last to hold on to its traditional feeling.
The graphics were ahead of its time, and the game would go on to be ported to future consoles, improving those graphics each time. Final Fantasy X is a game worth experiencing if you haven’t already. It is one that I have played many times and cannot get enough of.
There are the top 5 JRPGs of the 2000s based on Metascores. Naturally, we again see a lot of Square games here. It’s almost impossible to make a JRPG list without a Square game making an appearance.
At any rate, do you agree with these scores? There are plenty of JRPGs throughout the 2000s that deserve some recognition for sure, but these are just the ones critics found to be the most successful.
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