Over the years, Japanese role-playing games, or JRPGs, have made their way into the American gaming space with many titles, gaining almost as much popularity in America as they did in Japan. Many JRPGs have a unique twist on the RPG formula that has made for a variety of interesting and influential games that have become iconic and nostalgic to many gamers. Here is a list of a few of the essential JRPGs for those who enjoy the genre.
“Chrono Trigger” is a 1995 turn-based RPG from the developer Square, who is now Square Enix. If you look at “Chrono Trigger” for the first time in 2016, the gameplay mechanics might seem commonplace in the JRPG world, but this is likely because the game you are playing was inspired by “Chrono Trigger.” The game is a turn-based, 2-D game with an iconic gameplay system that uses Techs, which are abilities that characters can use in conjunction with one another for more powerful attacks. The gameplay is highly remembered, but many fans also have a great deal of love and nostalgia for the game’s story and characters. “Chrono Trigger” features a wide cast of characters that includes everything from a talking frog to a princess who wields a crossbow and a story that is as charming as it is epic. “Chrono Trigger” combines a fun and charming story with interesting gameplay mechanics to make a classic that many look to as one of their all-time favorite games.
"Final Fantasy VII"
When “Final Fantasy VII” came out in 1997, it took the gaming world by storm. While its visuals might seem dated by today’s standards, it was the first “Final Fantasy” game to feature 3-D models and was a giant leap forward for the gaming industry. “Final Fantasy VII” follows Cloud Strife, a skilled soldier with a mysterious past hired by a rebel group called AVALANCHE which is trying to fight against the control of a highly corrupt and oppressive corporation called Shinra, who effectively controls the large industrial city of Midgar. “Final Fantasy VII” is a turn-based JRPG like the other games in the series; however, this game introduced the Materia System, which allows players to add and combine the powers and abilities of each of the nine playable characters, giving them a level of customization that hadn’t been present in the series before. With its memorable characters, unique gameplay, iconic music and much more, “Final Fantasy VII” is a piece of gaming history that everyone should experience.
"Tales of Xillia" / "Tales of Xillia 2"
The “Tales” series has been bringing JRPG fans a unique brand of gameplay and storytelling for years, and with each game comes a redesigned gameplay structure. Almost every “Tales” fan has his or her own game that really resonated with them, and while every game is special in its own way, the two “Tales of Xillia” games bring the series into modern times in a way that every JRPG fan should experience. The “Tales of Xillia” games take place in the fictional worlds of Rieze Maxia and Elympios that are full of dangerous monsters, shady corporations, beautiful landscapes, magical powers and advanced technology. In the games, the player controls a diverse cast of characters, each with his or her own quirks, personality traits, witty banter and charming dialogue that help the player get to know them. In these games, the player is taken into a separate screen during battle where they use various moves to cut down, shoot or use magical attacks on their enemies. The signature element that makes the “Tales of Xillia” mechanics unique is the ability to link together characters and perform powerful attacks depending on which combination of characters is used. “Tales of Xillia” and the significantly darker “Tales of Xillia 2” offer JRPG fans a surprisingly deep story with fun and creative gameplay mechanics — a duo of games that the modern JRPG fan should check out.