The 10 Greatest PS2 JRPG's, Ranked (According To Metacritic) (2024)

The PlayStation 2 has a reputation of being one of the greatest consoles of all time when it comes to Japanese RPGs. It had a much wider and more varied range of games in the genre released in the west than the PS1.

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Even European gamers got to play some great titles that wouldn’t have seen the light of day in previous generations due to many developers not willing to commit to translating Japanese languages into several European languages. While Metacritic didn’t catch all of the great RPGs that fans of the genre have come to love over the years there are still some great titles on this list deserving of the place in the top ten. As a side note we've discludedFinal Fantasy XI from this list as it's an MMO that is no longer playable on the PS2.

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Released in 2005, Shadow Hearts: Covenant is the second Shadow Hearts game but the third game in the overall series that began with Koudelka on the original PlayStation. The game’s story takes place in an alternate universe set during the First World War.

The unusual Gothic setting in the Shadow Hearts series helped it stand apart from the typical fantasy tropes that are usually seen in other Japanese RPGs. Furthermore, the combat system offered gamers a unique take on turn-based combat with its Judgment Ring, a system that requires timing and skill.

9 Kingdom Hearts (Metascore 85)

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Before Kingdom Heartswas released on the PlayStation 2 in 2002, no one could have predicted that a crossover between Disney and Final Fantasy could have worked so well let alone become one of the most expansive Japanese RPG series of all time.

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Even though there are only three mainline entries in the series, Kingdom Hearts series spawned several intermediary entries that were eventually remastered and released again HD consoles in compilations. In its remastered form, the first Kingdom Hearts is still a beautiful game that has the ability to capture the imaginations of gamers 18 years on.

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Released in 2002, Suikoden III was the first game in the series to appear on the PlayStation 2 and the first to run in 3D. Its predecessors are still considered by many to be among the greatest Japanese RPGs of all time – Suikoden II in particular. Even though Suikoden III took a different approach in its storytelling it more than lived up its great lineage.

The third entry in the series is set 16 years after the events of Suikoden II and tells its story through the eyes ofseveral protagonists whose stories intertwine with each other. Even by today’s standards, it’s a complex way to tell a story in a videogame and Suikoden III nailed it.

7 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (Metascore 86)

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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 was first released worldwide on the PlayStation 2 in 2007. An expanded version Persona 3: FES was released in 2008 and a PSP version released worldwide in 2011 with a new protagonist and even more expanded content.

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While Persona 3’s many expansions may seem like overkill at first glance, the game gained a huge fan following that couldn’t wait to dive back into the game. Persona 3 is set in a modern-day Japanese city where players are tasked with building relationships with teammates and friends through social links at school.

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Released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Kingdom Hearts II continued the story of the first game with its themes being centered around the Disney and Final Fantasy crossover. In addition to being bigger than its predecessor, Kingdom Hearts II was an improvement on every level in terms of its combat, characters, and content.

The developers at Square-Enix did an incredible job of bringing several Disney worlds to life like The Pirates of the Caribbean, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Tron. It also brought in more characters from the Final Fantasy universe like Vivi from Final Fantasy IX and Setzer from Final Fantasy VI.

5 Dark Cloud 2 (Metascore 87)

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Dark Cloud 2 also known as Dark Chronicle in European and Japanese territories was released on the PlayStation 2 worldwide in 2003. It’s an action RPG that was developed by Level-5 the same studio that is also known for developing the Professor Layton series and the Ni No Kuni series.

The game’s cell-shaded art style has stood the test of time and look great via the PlayStation 4’s emulation. The music is some of the best and most uplifting in the genre and its town-building mechanics aresimilar to that of the recent Dragon Quest Builders series.

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Released on the PlayStation 2 worldwide in 2006, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King was another iconic RPG developed by the Japanese studio Level-5. Dragon Quest VIII is an absolutely beautiful title and was an incredible technical achievement on the aging PS2.

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Just like Level-5’s Dark Cloud 2, Dragon Quest VIII uses cel-shaded visuals and fully 3D environments that are hugely explorable. It’s a massive game filled with side content, wonderful characters, and a beautiful orchestral soundtrack.

3 Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 (Metascore 90)

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Developed by Atlus, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4 was released worldwide in 2009 for the PlayStation 2. It is a brand new story in the franchise that once again places the player in the shoes of a high school student in modern-day Japan.

This time game follows a murder mystery premise inspired by the novelist Agatha Christie albeit with a more supernatural twist. Just like Persona 3, players have to live the daily life of a student building relationships with teammates and other characters. In 2014, Atlus released an expanded version of the game on the PS Vita called Person 4: Golden.

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First released in 2001 on PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy X was quickly held up as a graphical benchmark for the console very early on. The art style and character design played a big part in this and is one of the reasons why the game still looks so good today in its remastered form.

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Final Fantasy X wasn’t just a huge step up in visuals but the game’s technical achievements too. Players could switch all their party members in and out of battle and the characters reacted realistically when using items and weapons. Furthermore, the game’s cutscenes were phenomenal at the time and still look incredible today.

1 Final Fantasy XII (Metascore 92)

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First released in 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Final Fantasy XII was one of the last AAA games on the console and it pushed the limits of the hardware beyond what was capable at the time.

While many gamers were moving away from the PS2 to newer hardware like the Xbox 360 Final Fantasy XII proved that the aging machine still had a few tricks up its sleeve in terms of its art design, character, models, and cutscenes. Additionally, the game’s voice acting was and still is in a class of its own and more importantly, the gameplay and combat are some of the most sophisticated and flexible in the genre.

NEXT:Final Fantasy 12: The 10 Most Difficult Hunts In The Game, Ranked

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