15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (2024)

Final Fantasy

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (1)

By Paul DiSalvo

Updated

Your changes have been saved

Email Is sent

Please verify your email address.

You’ve reached your account maximum for followed topics.

Manage Your List

Follow

Followed

Follow with Notifications

Follow

Unfollow

Link copied to clipboard

Final Fantasy

Related

How to Get and Use Miquella's Great Rune in Elden Ring DLC
3:00
Unannounced Remake in Development at 2K
Fallout 4 Player Has Super Rare Character Encounter
Sign in to your Game Rant account
15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (5)

Highlights

  • Paper Mario and The Thousand-Year Door are the best picks for RPG fans, with memorable casts and character-driven turn-based gameplay.
  • The Bravely Default series is a throwback to classic JRPGs with a customizable job system, allowing players to create their ideal character builds.
  • Pokemon is an easy-to-learn gateway JRPG, with Pokemon Scarlet and Violet being good starting points for newcomers due to their open-world adaptation of the classic formula.

JRPGs have been part of the video game industry since the '80s with the release of games such as the first Dragon Quest in 1986 and the original Final Fantasy in 1987. While the genre has many dedicated fans, JRPGs may appear daunting and unapproachable to those who've never played one before. As a genre with a history that spans over three decades, it can be difficult to figure out exactly where to start.

RELATED: Best Co-Op JRPGs, Ranked

Each year produces a couple of great JRPGs, many of which are tied to existing franchises that span decades. So far, 2023 has unleashed Final Fantasy 16, Octopath Traveler 2, The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, and Trinity Trigger, and the year is hardly done. Still, what are the best JRPGs to start with?

Updated on September 28, 2023 by Mark Sammut: The best JRPGs for newcomers are accessible, ambitious, and brilliant. The genre has been around for a very long time, and it has a huge selection of timeless masterpieces and modern greats.

15 Paper Mario

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (6)
Paper Mario
Platform(s)
Nintendo 64

Released
February 5, 2001
Developer(s)
Intelligent Systems

How Long To Beat
23 Hours

Going strong since the first entry of the series was released for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, the Paper Mario series can be an excellent jumping-on point for the JRPG genre, especially for those who’ve never played a JRPG.

While the series uses many characters associated with the mainline Mario platforming franchise, Paper Mario games are surprisingly character-driven turn-based RPGs with memorable casts and writing. These elements are paired alongside timing-focused mechanics that may make turn-based combat more palatable for some.

All the entries have their strengths, but the original Paper Mario and The Thousand-Year Door are the best picks for RPG fans.

14 Bravely Default

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (7)
Bravely Default
Platform(s)
3DS

Released
February 7, 2014

Developer(s)
Silicon Studio

How Long To Beat
60 Hours

See at Amazon

The Bravely Default series developed by Square Enix is a throwback to classics from the 1990s with modern game design sensibilities in mind. With a robust and customizable job system, players can easily develop their own strategies through the use of their favorite classes and skills as they create their ideal character builds.

RELATED: Best Turn-Based JRPG Games For Beginners

This self-expression within the game’s combat inherently allows for fun battles as players are given tons of options and only need to use those that speak to them.

13 Earthbound

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (8)
Earthbound
Platform(s)
SNES , Nintendo Game Boy Advance

Released
June 5, 1995
Developer(s)
HAL Laboratory , Ape Inc.

How Long To Beat
28 Hours

While originally somewhat of a sleeper hit and hidden gem at the time of its release, in recent years, Earthbound has garnered something of a reputation. Nowadays, it is often regarded as one of the most outstanding RPGs of all time.

Highly regarded for its off-beat writing, comedy, and art style, Earthbound absolutely oozes personality. Set within a modern suburban setting rather than one of fantasy, the game has inspired a wide range of modern indie games from Undertale to Lisa: The Painful.

12 Ni No Kuni

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (9)
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Platform(s)
PS4 , PS3 , Switch , PC , Xbox One , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

Released
January 22, 2013
Developer(s)
Level 5

How Long To Beat
45 Hours

See at Amazon

Many JRPGs utilize impressive and stylized visuals, and this couldn’t be more epitomized than with the Ni no Kuni games. Real-time action JRPGs that use a lighter tone of whimsy whilst still maintaining stakes, these games have the distinction of being developed in conjunction with several artists and animators of the famed anime studio, Studio Ghibli.

RELATED: Iconic Monsters From JRPGs, Ranked

While the franchise's combat doesn’t reinvent the wheel, the game’s character designs, animation, and charm make the Ni no Kuni series quite unforgettable. The sequel, Revenant Kingdom, features a revamped hack and slash battle system that is smoother than Wrath of the White Witch's combat; however, the latter is the stronger overall game.

11 The World Ends With You

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (10)
The World Ends With You
Platform(s)
Nintendo DS , Switch , Android , iOS

Released
July 27, 2007
Developer(s)
Square Enix

How Long To Beat
25 Hours

See at Amazon

The World Ends With You and its sequel, Neo: The World Ends with You, are highly styled JRPGs with as much visual flair as they have substance. Taking place in modern urban Japan, these games each fast-paced action-based combat rather than turn-based combat, making them a stellar choice for players who prefer more immediacy in their gameplay and are turned off by turn-based battles.

These games also notably make great use of a consistent tone that helps to convey the series' high stakes as players work to come out on top of a series of fate-deciding challenges called the “Reapers’ Game.”

10 Super Mario RPG

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (11)
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Platform(s)
SNES

Released
May 13, 1996

Developer(s)
Square

How Long To Beat
18 Hours

Released in 1996, Super Mario RPG was developed by Square and published by Nintendo, bringing the world of Mario into a traditional JRPG.

While not exceptionally difficult, the game is incredibly charming and is a perfect jumping-on point for Nintendo fans who've never played through a JRPG. Additionally, as the game was developed by Square, it has all the polish that one would expect

In November 2023, Nintendo will be releasing a remake of Super Mario RPG for the Switch.

9 Final Fantasy 7 Remake

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (12)
Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Platform(s)
PC , PS4 , PS5

Released
April 10, 2020

Developer(s)
Square Enix Business Division 1

How Long To Beat
35 Hours

Buy on Amazon

Final Fantasy 7 is easily one of the most iconic JRPGs of all time. While the original version of the game is a classic turn-based masterpiece for the PS1, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is a great way to introduce new players to the action JRPG genre.

With great visuals and dynamic combat, the game is authentically Final Fantasy 7 while using an alternative form of action that may be preferred by players disinterested in turn-based combat. For fans who grew up with Square's 1997 release, the remake takes a few detours along the way, so it is not the exact same experience. The sequel, Rebirth, has been confirmed for an early 2024 release.

8 Octopath Traveler

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (13)
Octopath Traveler
Platform(s)
Xbox One , Switch , PC , Stadia

Released
July 13, 2018
Developer(s)
Square Enix

How Long To Beat
60 Hours

See at Amazon

Released in 2018, Octopath Traveler is a modern game that is heavily inspired by JRPGs of the 1990s. With a turn-based combat system and a blend of sprite-based graphics and a 3D lighting engine, the game possesses a very distinct visual style that brings together old and new.

RELATED: Best 2.5D RPGs On Switch, Ranked

Allowing the player to initially choose from eight characters that each have their own story and abilities, they can select a starting point that best fits their taste. Octopath Traveler 2 is basically identical to its predecessor, although it does feature more interactivity between the party members, which was probably the most common criticism of the first game.

7 Final Fantasy 6

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (14)
Final Fantasy 6
Platform(s)
SNES , Android , iOS , Nintendo Game Boy Advance , PC , PS1 , PS4 , Switch

Released
October 11, 1994

Developer(s)
Square Enix , Square

How Long To Beat
35 Hours

As far as classic Final Fantasy games are concerned, for players who want to get an authentic experience that has aged well and shows what the series has to offer, Final Fantasy 6 may be the game to start with. With one of the largest amounts of playable party members in the series, the game features the active-time battle system that the series is now known for.

Additionally, the game has one of the strongest casts in the series, which is highlighted by a structure that regularly shifts the focus of the story to various party members across the game's duration.

6 Tales Of Vesperia

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (15)
Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition
Platform(s)
PC , PS4 , Switch , Xbox One

Released
January 11, 2019

Developer(s)
Namco Tales Studio

How Long To Beat
45 Hours

See at Amazon

For players who are looking for a JRPG that doesn't feature turn-based combat, Tales of Vesperia may be the game for you. An action RPG with a memorable cast of characters, Tales of Vesperia notably allows for each party member to be controlled by a separate player, allowing the game to be experienced with up to four players.

The campaign has a somewhat slow start, but it eventually blossoms into a genuinely gripping adventure. The protagonist, Yuri Lowell, is also a contender for the franchise's best.

5 Fire Emblem: Three Houses

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (16)
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Platform(s)
Switch

Released
July 26, 2019
Developer(s)
Intelligent Systems

How Long To Beat
49 Hours

See at Amazon

While the tactical JRPG genre gets a bad rap for being quite difficult, the most recent entry in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is quite beginner-friendly. With a very forgiving difficulty as well as a casual mode that disables the series staple "perma-death," the game is much more free-form than any other game in the Fire Emblem series.

RELATED: 10 JRPGs With The Best English Dubs, Ranked

As the player assumes the role of a professor at Garreg Mach Monastary, they are able to teach and train their students to allow them to fight how the player chooses.

4 Chrono Trigger

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (17)
Chrono Trigger
Platform(s)
SNES , PlayStation (Original) , PC , Nintendo DS , Android , iOS

Released
March 11, 1995
Developer(s)
Square Enix

How Long To Beat
23 Hours

Often regarded as one of the greatest JRPGs of all time, Chrono Trigger is a game based around traveling through time within the game's setting. With great pacing, endearing characters designed by Akira Toriyama, and forgiving combat, Chrono Trigger can start a player off with one of the best games the genre has to offer.

The game even has numerous character-driven side-quests for players who want more out of the cast, and it has numerous endings for players looking for replay value!

3 Dragon Quest 11

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (18)
Dragon Quest 11
Platform(s)
PS4 , PC , Xbox One , Switch , 3DS , Stadia

Released
September 4, 2018
Developer(s)
Square Enix

How Long To Beat
60 Hours

See at Amazon

Released for most modern consoles, Dragon Quest 11 is an excellent starting point for players looking to get into the JRPG genre. Oozing with charm, the game boasts gorgeous visuals and memorable character designs by Dragon Ball Z creator, Akira Toriyama.

As far as combat is concerned, the game features a very traditional turn-based combat system but allows the player the freedom to choose their party setup, allowing them to use the characters they prefer.

2 Persona 5 Royal

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (19)
Persona 5 Royal
Platform(s)
PS4 , PS5 , Switch , PC , Xbox One , Xbox Series X , Xbox Series S

Released
March 31, 2020
Developer(s)
Atlus , P-Studio

How Long To Beat
100 Hours

Buy on Amazon

Persona 5 is a game that exudes style and flair without sacrificing substance. While the majority of the genre's masterpieces are more traditional fantasy games, Persona 5 features a modern Japanese setting that is paired with a phenomenally jazzy soundtrack.

With stellar characters and a strong story, the game exemplifies JRPGs' strength of blending combat with engaging writing and a stylish presentation. While the original iteration is brilliant, Persona 5 Royal is the definitive version and should be prioritized.

1 Pokemon

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (20)
Pokemon Scarlet and Violet
Platform(s)
Switch

Released
November 18, 2022
Developer(s)
Game Freak

How Long To Beat
32 Hours

See at Amazon

While Pokemon is one of the most popular and successful video game franchises of all time, many people tend to gloss over that it is a JRPG series through and through. While its turn-based combat may differ from that found in many other genre representatives, Pokemon is without a doubt one of the best gateway JRPGs for those unfamiliar with the genre, being incredibly easy to learn.

Which generation and release should newcomers prioritize? That question is difficult to answer since the older GBA and Nintendo DS games are generally considered to be the franchise's peak, but they might not be available to everyone. Consequently, most people will probably turn to the Switch's offerings, namely Scarlet and Violet. These entries adapt the classic Pokemon formula to an open-world, and they are not perfect. That said, they have their positives too.

MORE: Square Enix's Best Franchises, Ranked (According To Metacritic)

  • Games
  • Final Fantasy
  • Fire Emblem

Your changes have been saved

Email Is sent

Please verify your email address.

You’ve reached your account maximum for followed topics.

Manage Your List

Follow

Followed

Follow with Notifications

Follow

Unfollow

We hope you like the items we recommend and discuss! Game Rant has affiliate and sponsored partnerships, so we receive a share of the revenue from some of your purchases. This won’t affect the price you pay and helps us offer the best product recommendations.

15 JRPGs Perfect For Newcomers To The Genre (2024)

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Madonna Wisozk

Last Updated:

Views: 5911

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.