The Nintendo Wii is often left out of ‘J-RPG’ conversations. The Wii, contrary to popular belief, did have a few good J-RPGs, and we have taken it upon ourselves to list them here.
Editor’s Note: The Legend of Zelda was left out of the conversation for a variety reasons. First, the debate as to whether or not the series should classify as an ‘RPG’ rages on.
In my opinion, it is an action-RPG/action-adventure hybrid, but some people do not agree.
Second, if we rate The Legend of Zelda on the list…it would win, thus making things a little less interesting.
If you are in the “Zelda is an RPG” camp then the first two slots belong to Twilight Princess, and Skyward sword in that order. Twilight scored a 95, and Skyward a 93 (Metacritic) rating.
5. The Last Story (2012) – Metascore: 80
Hironobu Sakaguchi’s last story (literally, his last game as far consoles go) featured some of the best visuals on the Wii’s library of games, and some interesting gameplay quirks (such as action oriented combat) to shake up the traditional J-RPG formula.
With Nobuo Uematsu at the helm of the musical score, The Last Story, sounds and looks like one would expect a Final Fantasy entry to sound and look on Wii hardware.
The Last Story would gain praise for its Dark Fantasy setting, and storytelling. Some of the negative reception centered in the game using established cliches, and the fact that it didn’t look “HD”.
Still, The Last Story was received positively by critics, and if the game is to be Sakaguchi’s final JRPG on home consoles, it is safe to say that the man (and Mistwalker) ended his run on a high note.
4. Muramasa: The Demon Blade (2009) – Metascore: 81
Muramasa would feel at home today on the Switch. Made by Vanillaware (the same team behind the awesome Odin Sphere), Muramasa has all the trappings of a small, but well made, ‘Indie’ JRPG.
As a side scrolling, 2-D Action-RPG, the game wouldn’t feel out of place in today’s Nintendo e-Shop. Fast combat, likable characters, and a distinctive Japanese art style (portraying Japan’s Edo period) set the game apart from its peers.
While the game was widely praised by critics, and gamers alike, it didn’t fare well, sales wise. Some blamed the Wii Hardware, and Muramasa’s distinctive style and approach to gameplay as reasons for the game’s commercial failure.
Still, in an empty sea of few good Wii RPGs, Muramasa: The Demon Blade manages to find itself amongst the top four J-RPG entries on the system.
3. Monster Hunter Tri (2010) – Metascore: 84
Who hasn’t heard of, or played, some version of Monster Hunter over the last decade?
Monster Hunter Tri, didn’t reinvent the wheel, the game is all about monster hunting, resource gathering, and equipment betterment in order to progress to tougher monsters, and so on.
The game’s online component allowed you hack and slash monsters with 4 friends. Monster Hunter’s formula was just as addictive as Dark Soul’s own brand of character progression. The game’s reward system was fantastic.
All that said, given the game’s intricacies (such as its deep crafting system), Monster Hunter Tri was a game aimed at fans of the franchise. While the game’s reception was incredibly positive, many traditional JRPG players might have bypassed this entry, in favor of other ‘more conventional’ games.
However, the series was (and remains) extremely popular with gamers, and it looked fantastic for a Wii game at the time. The game has been ported to other Nintendo Systems (3DS, Wii U), and it actually sold 2.6 million units on Nintendo’s portable dual screen system.
With nearly 2 million units sold on the Wii, however, Monster Hunter Tri was an undeniable commercial success for Capcom.
2. Super Paper Mario (2007) – Metascore: 85
The Paper Mario series has been popular and well received by critics since its inception. Yet, Super Paper Mario is the most successful (commercially) entry in the series.
With 4.2 million units sold, Super Paper Mario brought 2-D platforming and action-role playing elements to the masses, as it broke from the turn-based combat mold from its predecessors.
Despite all of that, the game still maintains EXP gains after combat, but as with Nintendo games, Super Paper Mario allows for different styles of play while traversing the game’s world. The ability to flip the world from 2-D to 3-D in order to solve some obstacles was brilliant.
Utilizing different characters, each with different abilities, in order to solve level obstacles is a blast.
Super Paper Mario is another excellently crafted game in Nintendo’s library of excellent titles.
1. Xenoblade Chronicles (2012) – Metascore: 92
Far and away, the highest rated JRPG on the system is none other than Xenoblade Chronicles. With a 92 rating, Monolith Soft’s game enters the realm of greatness usually reserved for The Legend of Zelda, and Nintendo EAD’s “Super Mario” titles.
Featuring a gigantic world filled with Monsters, and an engrossing storyline, Xenoblade Chronicles stands out from the pack of JRPGs of its era. Its addictive action combat system (where you have to wait for attacks to charge up while moving freely on the field), and tons of monsters to defeat lent Xenoblade some of those’Monster Hunter’ vibes.
The game was one of the most open, and free-form JRPGs that you could find, at the time. Xenoblade Chronicle’s success spawned a major sequel, and a plethora of different ports of the game across Nintendo systems.
Nintendo needed a serious J-RPG franchise aside from Mario’s colorful ‘Paper Mario’ series and Xenoblade Chronicles perfectly fitted the bill.
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