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#1 Edited by Fuzzy_Dunlop (177 posts) -

Hi, I don't post on the forums very much, but I have a simple question. What are some good JRPGs for someone that has literally not played a single one before, other than Persona 3 which I am playing right now after having finished the Persona 4 ER and enjoying it immensely? I don't know why I haven't, I grew up with a PS1 (the JRPG king, along with the SNES) but for whatever reason, was never exposed to them.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up, because they're easier on the eyes for me, but if something is considered absolutely essential, graphics aren't very significant. I was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick, and the writing looks really iffy from the quick look I just watched. I can still overlook that if it's a genuinely good game though. But yeah, throw anything out and I'll take notes. Thanks in advance, duders.

#2 Edited by TheManWithNoPlan (5375 posts) -

Dragon quest 8 is pretty great. I haven't played it myself, but from what I understand it's one of the best. I'd also recommend any of the main Pokemon games. They're extremely friendly to beginners of the genre. Of them I'd suggest either Pokemon Heartgold or X, as I personally believe them to be the best in the series. I'll also say that if both games strike your fancy and you still need more, then Ni No Kuni is a wonderful mix of both DQ8 and Pokemon. I hope that helps.

#3 Edited by Darji (5294 posts) -

@themanwithnoplan: Dragon Quest VIII is no game for a beginner. It is damn hard.

As for recommendations. I would have said Persona 4 of course but since you played it. I really would recommend FFX because it is just a great game. Yes the writing is sometimes a bit strange but overall it is one of the best FF games ever made in my opinion and perfect for a beginner of this genre. If you want a game with an even easier system and a great story you should play Suikoden V which is probably one of the best JPRGS ever made.

#4 Posted by phampire (284 posts) -

I second Dragon Quest 8 , it's one of the few JRPGs that I have finished top to bottom. It has a stellar art style, especially the character and monster design, thanks to acclaimed artist Akira Toriyama. Mechanics are simple to start but build over time to become a solid turn based combat and robust crafting system. Story is standard but main cutscenes are voiced rather charmingly (the main character is silent) and best of all it has a sweeping orchestral soundtrack that I still remember fondly to this day.

#5 Posted by Abendlaender (2782 posts) -

Final Fantasy VI is still pretty amazing

#6 Edited by sub_o (876 posts) -

Try some PSOne JRPGs, many of them are available from PSN. Final Fantasy is quite good for beginners. Like what @abendlaender said, FF6 is pretty good.

I think you should avoid Persona or Shin Megami Tensei games first. They are spectacular, but sometimes they are tough, some enemies can kill you after casting debuff on your party.

The issue that you might have with JRPGs might not be the difficulty though. It might be the slow burn. JRPGs normally starts off very slow, and older ones have lots of text exposition. So you better allocate some time if you wanna plunge into them.

#7 Posted by Abendlaender (2782 posts) -

As much as I like the persona games, I don't think they are a great start cause they do a pretty poor job of mixing the fighting with "other stuff". You are either in the (let's be honest here) pretty boring dungeons fighting or you are outside talking to people. Something like FF or DQ is much better for a newcomer cause they mix things up. Persona is still awesome and probably my favourite jrpg series but it can be pretty tedious for newcomers.

#8 Posted by TheManWithNoPlan (5375 posts) -
@darji said:

@themanwithnoplan: Dragon Quest VIII is no game for a beginner. It is damn hard.

As I said, I haven't played it. Thanks for correcting me though.

#9 Posted by randomcharachter (62 posts) -

#10 Edited by DeadpanCakes (833 posts) -

Dragon Quest 8 is fantastic, but as Darji said, it's not for a beginner. I'd recommend Chrono Trigger; relatively short and pretty easy too. The only issue is it's not a post-psone game.

I would also recommend Tales of Vesperia or Symphonia, which are a little more modern, and have a pretty easy to pick up action-oriented battle system.

Edit: Oh I'm also really fond of Grandia 1 and 2, as well as Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, though I'm not sure how well the Grandia games have aged.

#11 Posted by Buble (73 posts) -

Super Mario RPG is the perfect jrpg for a beginner if you can get your hands on it.

#12 Posted by dudeglove (7722 posts) -

As a my-first-JRPG, I think Pokemon is pretty fucking stellar. Depends on what you're looking for, though? A well-written story? Fun combat? Grinding that doesn't get tedious? A challenge? All of the above? Not all JRPGs manage to combine those effectively.

#13 Posted by Pink_o_mat (203 posts) -

Costume Quest is a great bite-sized RPG. The best epic RPG on PS2 is DQ8! It's just awesome. But it takes a loooooong time. And lots of grinding!

#14 Posted by RazielCuts (2943 posts) -

I don't know, would you really consider yourself a beginner if you've played through P3 and have watched someone play through P4? I think those games have the fundamentals of what a traditional JRPG's combat mechanics can be.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up -

- was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick

Hmmm. Not sure exactly what you want here. One of the best JRPG's on the PS2 just got a HD release and you don't want to play it for what you say is a '10+ year old game with lipstick.'

Short answer, if you want something easy that's a JRPG then I guess FFIX on PS1 fits that bill.

#15 Edited by believer258 (11776 posts) -

The graphics for the DS version of Chrono Trigger were actually re-done because Square Enix lost most of the assets. It looks really, really, really good for what it is. It's also probably the best introduction to JRPG's - it did a lot to modernize itself in the day. There are no random encounters, the battle system is pretty active and pushes you to think fast (but it's actually a pretty easy game), the developers did a really good job of cutting out unnecessary stuff, it isn't a major time investment, etc. That's where I started and it's really what got me into the genre.

EDIT: Final Fantasy X is a pretty good game but there's a lot of bad voice acting and dialog in between you and the good parts. Its plot is good, it's just that its presentation does not hold up all that well. It's an OK place to start, but there are better JRPG's to begin with.

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#16 Posted by csl316 (8367 posts) -

Chrono Cross on PS1 was one of the first I really got into. Good combat system with just enough depth.

#17 Posted by Random45 (1119 posts) -

@buble said:

Super Mario RPG is the perfect jrpg for a beginner if you can get your hands on it.

YES! I loved this game as a kid, and though it's an SNES game, it's a freaking GEM of a game. Perhaps one of the best games on the system.

Bravely Default is a pretty good JRPG I think too, the combat is a lot off fun and the Brave/Default system is really easy to get the hang of.

#18 Posted by Daneian (1226 posts) -

Chrono Trigger or Paper Mario.

#19 Posted by Dixavd (1331 posts) -

Final Fantasy X is my favourite game of all time, so I can't not recommend it. Sure it has presentation issues being the first voice acted Final Fantasy game, but that's never bothered me. I have always liked all of the characters, including Tidus (who I've always liked the way he started as a stubborn child, too caught up in his own anger, but who grows as a person as he realizes that he's the only sane person in Spira). The plot has some fantastic moments (though as most JRPGs go, they make some less-than-subtle hints throughout about what the important twists will be). Ultimately though, that's all a personal interpretation thing depending on how pedantic you are on voice acting (maybe it's the fact that the story is less strict in the Dark/Demon Souls games, but I've always thought the voice acting in those games makes FFX look like a masterclass, so I've found it odd it's rarely pointed out).

Nevertheless, my love of that game pertains more to the mechanics of it. It's easily one of the best JRPG turn-based battle systems ever made. It's one of the few ones where the Agility stat isn't pointless and you can visually see the order of all the characters moves and how different commands will change (such as the obvious slow and haste as well as delay moves and status ailments). More than that though, the Sphere Grid is the most fleshed out levelling system in all of Final Fantasy. And the HD remake finally has the Expert version for US players (meaning all the characters start in the centre and can, in turn, move into any others board). The Aeons are an actually fun and not useless Summoning system, with stats based off of Yuna's and then you gain the ability during the game to alter their abilities and their stats if you wish to. In fact, it's one of the few times in games where the Summons are customizable, useful during the game but are never overpowered (by the end, they become more of a meat-shield for your characters than the fighters that they were during the main game, as your characters are levelled to the points of all being versatile and powerful.

But my main reason for loving it is the item system. With each item's basic use, along with their use customizing weapons/armour, use in Rikku's mix ability, giving abilities to Aeons and being sold (where gil goes from being useful for buying new gear and items in the main game, to being used in the Bribe ability and in a specific Aeon's abilities - it actually becomes more useful in the late-game than during the main story). Having items be useful for many different things throughout every stage of the game means item drops and steals are always welcome despite the fact it isn't a loot-based game.

TLDR: Ignoring Final Fantasy X just because of presentation issues seems fairly stupid to me. But I guess that depends on why you want to play JRPGs in the first place. Though I do think the Persona series gives a false impression on the genre (and I've always found it difficult to play the fighting parts of those games because of how limited the battle system and stat-improving system is).

#20 Edited by believer258 (11776 posts) -

@dixavd:

TLDR: Ignoring Final Fantasy X just because of presentation issues seems fairly stupid to me. But I guess that depends on why you want to play JRPGs in the first place. Though I do think the Persona series gives a false impression on the genre (and I've always found it difficult to play the fighting parts of those games because of how limited the battle system and stat-improving system is).

When I said presentation above, I was mostly talking about the voice acting and how there are weird pauses all over the place, how the translation is sometimes odd, etc. But I've only played the PS2 version and haven't even made it to where Rorie is in the Quick Look. As someone who didn't play it when it was new, you have to be really accepting of wonky dialog and voice acting to get to those juicy plot points. And yes, just from what I played, the plot does seem fairly "juicy".

But nevermind that. The real reason I quoted you is to ask why you think the battle system and stat-improving of the Persona games is in any way "limited". God, if anything, being able to carry around a bunch of mythological creatures with varying strengths, weaknesses, and skills in your back pocket is fairly freeing. I speak as someone who is way into SMT games and who likes, but doesn't love, Final Fantasy, so it will be interesting to see the other side's complaints. I also think the Sphere Grid is a pretty horrible way to level up, so there's that.

On a final note, I'll agree that the Persona games aren't a good representation of JRPG's in general. As far as turn-based combat goes, yes, but their structure is completely different from most.

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#21 Posted by Hunter5024 (5600 posts) -

Chrono Trigger!

#22 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5353 posts) -

Final Fantasy IV, it's tough but simple and a good lead-in for essentially every other JRPG ever. It even has a difficulty slider with the battle speed setting. Final Fantasy X is slightly easier but not by much and is probably the third hardest game in the series because of Seymour Flux and Yunalesca. If you don't mind having a really stupid plot Final Fantasy X-2 is a lot of fun and a fair amount easier than either of the above.

Vagrant Story might be the hardest RPG other than Dark Souls II but if you can beat that then you can beat anything.

Paper Mario is simple, as is Dragon Quest VIII.

#23 Edited by Pontron (20 posts) -

If its gotta be around a PS2 era game, Final Fantasy X is overall perfect. It's a lot of my friend's first RPG and they seemed to like it a lot. Not really sure if Kingdom Hearts counts, but its kind of an RPG if you're sold on the idea of it. Final Fantasy XII is good too but its going to be a bit more difficult. If you got a 360, check out Blue Dragon or Lost Odyssey as well.

As for pre-PS2 era any Final Fantasy game will do the trick. But I can't recommend any JRPG more than Chrono Trigger. Due to its general easiness, great story, great music, great characters, there's nothing really thats going to get you to enjoy the genre more than this game. By any means necessary, just start out with Chrono Trigger.

#24 Posted by TobbRobb (4589 posts) -

10 is really good from a gameplay perspective. And it's comparatively easy. I think it's one of the better introductions to the genre and it's quirks.

Can't go wrong with Chrono Trigger though.

#25 Posted by xite (836 posts) -

Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden

#26 Edited by FireBurger (1479 posts) -
#27 Posted by Red (5994 posts) -

Chrono Trigger is probably the best choice. However, if you have a GBA then I would recommend checking out the Golden Sun series, which are relatively short for the genre, easy, have amazing music, a pretty good story, memorable characters, and a simple, but interesting combat system. Then move into Final Fantasy VI. I haven't really played FFX, but I did watch my brother play through around half of it: It generally has an interesting story and some addictive JRPG tropes, but it also dives right into the genre's corniness. I would vote against starting with it.

#28 Posted by Hailinel (24286 posts) -

Costume Quest is a great bite-sized RPG.

I wouldn't say that. Costume Quest is just a simple turn-based combat system tied to a repetitive and rather dull scenario that attempts to get by entirely on the charm of its Halloween theme. It's no Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest in terms of brain-dead simplicity, but there are far better entry points into the genre.

Final Fantasy IV, it's tough but simple and a good lead-in for essentially every other JRPG ever. It even has a difficulty slider with the battle speed setting. Final Fantasy X is slightly easier but not by much and is probably the third hardest game in the series because of Seymour Flux and Yunalesca. If you don't mind having a really stupid plot Final Fantasy X-2 is a lot of fun and a fair amount easier than either of the above.

Vagrant Story might be the hardest RPG other than Dark Souls II but if you can beat that then you can beat anything.

Paper Mario is simple, as is Dragon Quest VIII.

These are all good recommendations here.

#29 Posted by pyromagnestir (4283 posts) -

The graphics for the DS version of Chrono Trigger were actually re-done because Square Enix lost most of the assets. It looks really, really, really good for what it is. It's also probably the best introduction to JRPG's - it did a lot to modernize itself in the day. There are no random encounters, the battle system is pretty active and pushes you to think fast (but it's actually a pretty easy game), the developers did a really good job of cutting out unnecessary stuff, it isn't a major time investment, etc. That's where I started and it's really what got me into the genre.

EDIT: Final Fantasy X is a pretty good game but there's a lot of bad voice acting and dialog in between you and the good parts. Its plot is good, it's just that its presentation does not hold up all that well. It's an OK place to start, but there are better JRPG's to begin with.

Woah, woahwoahwoah. Let's not go crazy here, that game may not technically have random encounters, but that game totally has random encounters. Especially later on, where it seems like every screen has a couple hidden encounter trigger spots.

The bosses can also be rather tricky. And I think the battle system is different enough from the standard rpg to make it not very representative of the genre as a whole.

FF X and Pokemon were my first rpgs and they were pretty simple and solid introductions to the genre from a mechanics perspective. Of course Chrono Trigger is very good, and if someone wanted to start with a very good game, well... go right ahead.

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#30 Posted by Jagged85 (128 posts) -

Hi, I don't post on the forums very much, but I have a simple question. What are some good JRPGs for someone that has literally not played a single one before, other than Persona 3 which I am playing right now after having finished the Persona 4 ER and enjoying it immensely? I don't know why I haven't, I grew up with a PS1 (the JRPG king, along with the SNES) but for whatever reason, was never exposed to them.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up, because they're easier on the eyes for me, but if something is considered absolutely essential, graphics aren't very significant. I was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick, and the writing looks really iffy from the quick look I just watched. I can still overlook that if it's a genuinely good game though. But yeah, throw anything out and I'll take notes. Thanks in advance, duders.

Just curious, but... did that quick FFX scene you watched involve any laughing?

#31 Posted by believer258 (11776 posts) -

@jagged85 said:

@fuzzy_dunlop said:

Hi, I don't post on the forums very much, but I have a simple question. What are some good JRPGs for someone that has literally not played a single one before, other than Persona 3 which I am playing right now after having finished the Persona 4 ER and enjoying it immensely? I don't know why I haven't, I grew up with a PS1 (the JRPG king, along with the SNES) but for whatever reason, was never exposed to them.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up, because they're easier on the eyes for me, but if something is considered absolutely essential, graphics aren't very significant. I was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick, and the writing looks really iffy from the quick look I just watched. I can still overlook that if it's a genuinely good game though. But yeah, throw anything out and I'll take notes. Thanks in advance, duders.

Just curious, but... did that quick FFX scene you watched involve any laughing?

He means the Quick Look on the front page of this very website. And no, it did not include the laughing scene.

@believer258 said:

The graphics for the DS version of Chrono Trigger were actually re-done because Square Enix lost most of the assets. It looks really, really, really good for what it is. It's also probably the best introduction to JRPG's - it did a lot to modernize itself in the day. There are no random encounters, the battle system is pretty active and pushes you to think fast (but it's actually a pretty easy game), the developers did a really good job of cutting out unnecessary stuff, it isn't a major time investment, etc. That's where I started and it's really what got me into the genre.

EDIT: Final Fantasy X is a pretty good game but there's a lot of bad voice acting and dialog in between you and the good parts. Its plot is good, it's just that its presentation does not hold up all that well. It's an OK place to start, but there are better JRPG's to begin with.

Woah, woahwoahwoah. Let's not go crazy here, that game may not technically have random encounters, but that game totally has random encounters. Especially later on, where it seems like every screen has a couple hidden encounter trigger spots.

The bosses can also be rather tricky. And I think the battle system is different enough from the standard rpg to make it not very representative of the genre as a whole.

FF X and Pokemon were my first rpgs and they were pretty simple and solid introductions to the genre from a mechanics perspective. Of course Chrono Trigger is very good, and if someone wanted to start with a very good game, well... go right ahead.

There are some places in Chrono Trigger where you are forced to fight an encounter, yes, and there are plenty of places where enemies that you didn't know were there will jump out at you. But for the most part, you know when you're getting into a fight. It's not like Final Fantasy IV, which I recently finished. I was getting pretty annoyed with that game's encounter rate by the end.

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#32 Posted by Dixavd (1331 posts) -

When I said presentation above, I was mostly talking about the voice acting and how there are weird pauses all over the place, how the translation is sometimes odd, etc. But I've only played the PS2 version and haven't even made it to where Rorie is in the Quick Look. As someone who didn't play it when it was new, you have to be really accepting of wonky dialog and voice acting to get to those juicy plot points. And yes, just from what I played, the plot does seem fairly "juicy".

But nevermind that. The real reason I quoted you is to ask why you think the battle system and stat-improving of the Persona games is in any way "limited". God, if anything, being able to carry around a bunch of mythological creatures with varying strengths, weaknesses, and skills in your back pocket is fairly freeing. I speak as someone who is way into SMT games and who likes, but doesn't love, Final Fantasy, so it will be interesting to see the other side's complaints. I also think the Sphere Grid is a pretty horrible way to level up, so there's that.

On a final note, I'll agree that the Persona games aren't a good representation of JRPG's in general. As far as turn-based combat goes, yes, but their structure is completely different from most.

Again, I'm not going to deny the game has translation problems - just it seems like a less-then-great reason to not want to play it. I was more aiming towards the OP though, who was saying they wanted to go for a PS2 or later era of game but that found the presentation in FFXHD lacking in the Quick Look (sort of implies to me that they really mean they want to play a game from late-PS2 and PS3 era instead).

Anyway, as for Persona I'll preface this by saying I only completed PErsona 3 and got bored with Persona 4 meaning I didn't move to other games in the Persona series (though I have played some other Shin Megami Tensei games). My problem with it stems less with the core character and more with the party. While I enjoyed the mixing of the Persona's in that game ( think that's what they were called - the mythological creatures you spoke of) for the main character, I found through the entirety of Persona 3 (And the part of 4 I played) it was a minor gain to make up for the fact that the other party members were very restricted and felt underpowered. It was like the game was incentivising me to make the main character's Persona vastly superior to all the others characters to the point of the rest of the party was sometimes more of a burden in battle than being useful.

Added to that, the actual battling felt limited to me because it was so standard. That's not really a criticism in itself, but it seemed like all the status affects of the game were kind of pointless (straddling the line between easy to ignore and just annoying - like the status ailments in the Pokémon series). As such, the items introduced in the game seemed like cheap ways of negating these affects and nothing more. (As I said about one of my main loves of Final Fantasy X, its highly fleshed out number of uses of items that may look fairly standard - such as "cures poison" - on the outset but are actually much more useful than their base description for many different reasons).

Then the weapon system in Persona 3 seemed like the usual "pick weapon with highest ratio of Attack to accuracy that you have for each character". Without anyway of augmentation or having unique things for different types of weapons, they seemed kind of pointless. Oddly, every time I got to a point where my normal attacks weren't doing enough damage and I wanted to buy a better weapon rather than wait to see if I found a better one soon, it felt like I was wasting money since money is useful for things in the relationship part of Persona.

Persona 3's battle system felt like it wanted each character to be uniquely strong in different areas with the main character able to compliment them. But it ended up for me feeling like the main character had to make up for the other character's weaknesses while also having the ability to fit the other character's roles better than they could. That's just how I found it though, and maybe P4 or others fixed those problems that I just never got to the point to see (heck, maybe even FES fixed those problems - I never bothered to go back and play that part).

As for the Sphere Grid, my love of it stems from the fact that on first look it will seem like each character has a set path (especially if you pick to play it on the normal Sphere Grid arrangement) resulting in just a normal progression of characters. But actually it isn't like that at all. It's more of a web that every character is apart of. If you want them to meet up on it and learn the same abilities (such as having multiple Black Magic users) then you can do that. Even during the story, about half way through they give you a friend sphere to basically say "hey you wan warp a character to any other character if you want - try it out". Further from that, because you can unlock spaces adjacent to the one you are on, it gives you a lot more versatility in how you go between points since you just have to plan for being within one space of something you want. Then, at any given moment you can very quickly return to an earlier point to branch in a different direction if you want (since moving along a line you have previously gone through will allow you to move 4 spaces per level instead of 1). It's basically a respec system that's open to you at any time - all it costs is the number of levels you need to move back to the point you want to go (and you don't even have to lose the stuff you've already gained). Soon you get spheres that allow you to change a blank space into an attribute gain you want (one of the earliest one you get is if you win the Blitzball mach you get a Strength+4 space to drop down). This might just seem like a normal "give the stat item to a character" from most games (like proteins in Pokémon - or there was an equivalent in Persona 3 if I remember correctly). But it isn't just that. Sure, you could give that strength sphere to one person. Or you can plan to give it to multiple people (in my current playthrough, I got Yuna, Lulu, Kimahri and Wakka to pass by the Magic -ra abilities like Fira, I dropped a magic+4 next to it and now 4 of my characters gain the boost).

Then this is where it becomes really great for me - the late-game. AS you go through the game, you'll get to the end of the line each character went through getting that lines final ability. Then you get a lot of options on where each character goes (this is the point in the game where the normal sphere grid opens up - though the Expert one kind of allows this immediately). There is an almost-canonical path afterwards (e.g. Rikku moves into Lulu's sphere grid and learns Black Magic to mirror the fact that in the story she is persuaded to try out magic despite her fear of thunder magic - this is just a tiny thing that's referenced at a specific point). But that's not the only way to go, and if you have some Key Spheres, there's even more to their straight path to go for if you want it*.

Nevertheless, past this point into the final end-game (going up against Dark Aeons for instance) you get one more ability that seals the deal as why I like the sphere grid. You gain the ability to delete nodes back to clear spaces and then refill them with a different attribute or a better version of the previous one. This is how you max out stats. But also, to the players who don't want to max out characters it means you can continue to boost characters in their current role passed the point of where their line which focuses on those stats ends. Your black mage can go back through the black made sphere grid and turn all the +(1 to 3) nodes into +4 nodes and very quickly you can get super powerful characters without having to complete the whole thing for every character.

Add to that the ability to customize weapons, then the game continues to allow you to augment characters even if you want to continue down each character's basic line. (E.g., got some Lvl 2 key spheres but don't feel the need to use it anywhere as you don't want the abilities or stats they allow you to get right now? Why not use it to give piercing to a character that usually doesn't have it!)

Sorry for the long Response, but I just wanted to explain properly why I'm disappointed in Persona's battle system and love FFX's. Either way though, JRPG's are great!

*Quick tip: FFXHD in the Help Menu under references allows you to look up what each ability does by the way, so if you're unsure if you want to go for an ability then the game allows you to find out what it is beforehand.

#33 Posted by Rejizzle (286 posts) -

Anything by Level 5 is pretty good. Dark Cloud 1 and 2, Rogue Galaxy, and Dragon quest 8 are all for PS2 and some of my personal favorite games of the generation..

#34 Edited by believer258 (11776 posts) -

@dixavd: Wow. My dislike for the Sphere Grid mostly comes from the fact that it isn't all that well explained. I'm never quite sure what to do with it. Guess I need to go look it up and figure it out a lot better. It has, thus far, seemed a lot like Final Fantasty XIII's level up system to me. I think it was called the Crystarium?

I can understand your problems with Persona 3's battles. Persona 4's battle system is far better, and Persona 3 Portable pretty much uses P4's. P4's battles are just so satisfying to me, more so than any of the FF's I've played. Then again, both are stripped-down versions of SMT Nocturne's battle system and I fucking loved that game.

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#35 Edited by Jeust (10540 posts) -

If you want an introduction to modern jrpgs with action oriented battlesystems and with extensive openworlds I'd say Final Fantasy XII. It is more focused on political intrigue, but it was interesting.

For the classic jrpg feel I say Final Fantasy X or Lost Odyssey, with turn based combat. Final Fantasy X has a great story, awesome moments and unexpected twists. Lost Odyssey on the other hand has an interesting premise, explored well, and some cool story moments, although the plot felt a little insipid at points. The major story draw came in the form of the short stories that were presented throughout the game as memories for the main character Kaim, in his immortal journey.

In the PS1 you have also the interesting and easy Parasite Eve game, with a horror context, and turn based combat.

Off the record Ni No Kuni has a lousy gameplay, even for a more experienced player, so I'd avoid it.

#36 Posted by Dixavd (1331 posts) -

@believer258: In FFXIII's Crystarium they sort of tried the Sphere grid aspect again but instead of a web, it was more of a tower for each class/Paradigm. The problem I had with it is that there is no control over it. Plus, each tier was locked for each Story Section. This way they could predict the strength of each character at each boss fight - but this meant you were always just catching up to the stats of each enemy than actually gaining power over them. It's like they took the main part of RPG leveling and took out the power fantasy part. It was very odd.

I had planned to go back and finish Persona 4 at some point (I played so little of it that I barely remember it now). Maybe I should. Though I'll probably just wait for Persona 5 or whatever to get back into the series. I should try some other SMT games though - I remember liking the Devil Saga ones for instance.

#37 Posted by believer258 (11776 posts) -

@dixavd said:

@believer258: In FFXIII's Crystarium they sort of tried the Sphere grid aspect again but instead of a web, it was more of a tower for each class/Paradigm. The problem I had with it is that there is no control over it. Plus, each tier was locked for each Story Section. This way they could predict the strength of each character at each boss fight - but this meant you were always just catching up to the stats of each enemy than actually gaining power over them. It's like they took the main part of RPG leveling and took out the power fantasy part. It was very odd.

I had planned to go back and finish Persona 4 at some point (I played so little of it that I barely remember it now). Maybe I should. Though I'll probably just wait for Persona 5 or whatever to get back into the series. I should try some other SMT games though - I remember liking the Devil Saga ones for instance.

I'll be honest, if you really didn't like what you played of Persona 4's battle system then maybe it's better to watch the Endurance Run.

However, if you enjoyed Digital Devil Saga then you really need to play Nocturne. They use the same battle system, only Nocturne is a lot more difficult. I own DDS1 but haven't quite finished it.

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#38 Posted by fuzzypumpkin (383 posts) -

@fuzzy_dunlop: FFVI, FFVIII, FFX, Ni No Kuni, Dragon Quest VIII(it's difficult, but great.), I also love FFXII, but it's not a traditional jrpg I wouldn't say.

#39 Posted by natdog (14 posts) -

This is actually something I think about from time to time! What is the spectrum of RPGs from beginner to advanced? I dunno if Bravely Default is the best JRPG to start out with as a beginner unless you don't mind tons and tons of grinding. Personally, when I got into JRPGs for the first time, I hated grinding. There's a lot of worthwhile stuff that came out before the PS2 era, but if that's what you're going for, here are my recommendations --

  • Final Fantasy X
  • Xenosaga 1-3
  • Suikoden V
  • Kingdom Hearts

You can play through these games by just fighting through the random encounters without feeling that you need to grind 5-10 levels or for cash before you can comfortably progress to the next point in the game. There will be some challenging points, but nothing that a little bit of smart game playing won't solve. They'll also still give you the satisfaction of character growth (something that keeps bringing me back to the JRPG genre).

If you're willing to try out some JRPGs from earlier eras, check these out --

  • Chrono Trigger - considered by many to be one of the most beautiful games of the SNES era
  • Final Fantasy VI - great sprite art, and a good refinement of the 8-bit/16-bit Active Time Battle JRPG Square was known for at the time
  • Final Fantasy VII - the graphics have aged poorly, but I'd consider this game essential. This is the game that brought JRPGs into the mainstream. Its story aesthetics and tropes are still used modern JRPGs.
  • Wild Arms 1 - a great old school RPG, both in story and in game play. It pays homage to the Western movie genre, and there are some neat references here and there. Michiko Naruke did an absolutely fantastic job with the game's Ennio Morricone-esque soundtrack. In fact, the game's map theme is off of Morricone's The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly!
  • Suikoden 2 - has perhaps one of the most engaging stories in a JRPG that I've ever played, featuring a huge cast with their own deep back stories. Not only do you build up your own characters, but you amass an entire army, build a fortress to house them in (that also serves as a town that you own), and pit that army against other armies!
  • Valkyrie Profile - fuses RPG and arcade mechanics together. This game has a pretty unique battle system. Instead of pure menu-based combat, your characters attacks are mapped to the O, X, Triangle, and Square buttons. When it's your turn, you can execute those attacks up to three times depending on what weapon you have equipped. On that note, each character's attacks are unique and based on the weapon they posses. Some have the ability to combo damage. If you get in enough combos against your opponent, then you can then get up to four special attacks in against your enemy for even more damage. The system is fast and encourages you to strategically choose your attacks for the most effective combos. Besides that, this game has some of my favorite cheesy melodramatic dialogue -- "No mercy for the damned! Thus...thou hast no escape from the grasp of catastrophe!"

#40 Posted by slyspider (1189 posts) -

Your in the boat I was in like 2 years ago! Any of the SMT games are awesome deep RPGs, but keep in mind most are lighter on the story than Persona is. FFX is what I'm playing right now on my vita, and Fire Emblem on the 3ds is awesome

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#41 Posted by Tyrrael (182 posts) -

Final Fantasy XIII is a great game for both veterans and beginners. The linearity is going to make it basically impossible to get lost, the story, at least in my opinion, is quite interesting, and the combat system is phenomenal. Also, you don't really need to grind to get through the main story. To defeat some of the unique monsters on the Missions (side quests), you will have to do some grinding, but it that can be done after you complete the main story. The first time I played through the game, I didn't fight any monsters that were on the main paths multiple times. Some of the bosses are a bit easier if you do, but the game is beatable without a bit of grinding.

If you do play this and end up liking it, then Final Fantasy XIII-2 is also fun, and after playing the first, shouldn't be a problem for a beginner. Lightning Returns, on the other hand, is a mess. I don't recommend it even if you liked the first two.

#42 Posted by Hailinel (24286 posts) -

@tyrrael said:
Lightning Returns, on the other hand, is a mess. I don't recommend it even if you liked the first two.

I heartily disagree. It has some technical hiccups here and there, but it is a fantastic game. I just finished a New Game Plus run of it last night, and after over 95 combined hours across playthroughs, I love every minute of it and still harbor the desire to play it. The only reason I wouldn't recommend it to a genre newcomer is because they should get to know the characters in XIII and XIII-2 first.

#43 Posted by ViciousBearMauling (1001 posts) -

FFX is a good start.

#44 Posted by Zevvion (1840 posts) -

Hi, I don't post on the forums very much, but I have a simple question. What are some good JRPGs for someone that has literally not played a single one before, other than Persona 3 which I am playing right now after having finished the Persona 4 ER and enjoying it immensely? I don't know why I haven't, I grew up with a PS1 (the JRPG king, along with the SNES) but for whatever reason, was never exposed to them.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up, because they're easier on the eyes for me, but if something is considered absolutely essential, graphics aren't very significant. I was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick, and the writing looks really iffy from the quick look I just watched. I can still overlook that if it's a genuinely good game though. But yeah, throw anything out and I'll take notes. Thanks in advance, duders.

You can still get FFX on PS2 if you want for like 5 bucks? It's truly a great game. The writing is indeed a bit painful here and there, but it's pretty decent throughout. The story is actually really cool I thought. But the battle system is amazing. It's a very linear game which is great for beginners because you do not have to wonder where to go. But it does have some depth. They introduce a new system every couple of hours. Be that overdrives, summoning, customizing your own gear and equipment, stealing or whatever. Almost everything in that game is great, except for the god awful mini games. They aren't that bad, but if you want the ultimate rewards (which you do not need at all to beat the game, but you probably want them if you want to get more out of the game then 'just beating it') they are pretty awful.

Anyway, I would still pick up the HD version. There is no reason not to. It is worth the money. It's a lengthy game of itself (about 60 hours), but especially if you're going for defeating the hardest bosses in the game (which are optional) you'll get more like 150-200 hours out of it. It's not a poor HD version also. It's done pretty well.

#45 Posted by Slag (4225 posts) -

Hi, I don't post on the forums very much, but I have a simple question. What are some good JRPGs for someone that has literally not played a single one before, other than Persona 3 which I am playing right now after having finished the Persona 4 ER and enjoying it immensely? I don't know why I haven't, I grew up with a PS1 (the JRPG king, along with the SNES) but for whatever reason, was never exposed to them.

To be honest, I'd PREFER something from the PS2 era and up, because they're easier on the eyes for me, but if something is considered absolutely essential, graphics aren't very significant. I was considering playing FFX since the HD remaster just released, but I'm not too excited about paying 20 bones for a 10+ year old game with lipstick, and the writing looks really iffy from the quick look I just watched. I can still overlook that if it's a genuinely good game though. But yeah, throw anything out and I'll take notes. Thanks in advance, duders.

Well here's the key question. What is it about Persona did you like the best? And do you think beyond lack of exposure you haven't thought to play one before?The reason I ask is Persona is a rather unique JRPG series. There's nothing out there that's exactly like them. Most are not nearly as funny (or even try) and most are not set in a modern setting and virtually nothing fuses the dating sim social aspect into the JPRG mechanics the way Persona does.

  • If it's the setting and humor than maybe try the new South Park: Stick of Truth game. I haven't played it, but It sounds like it might do that side of the equation really well. provided you enjoy South park humor.
  • If you liked the social aspect of it Suikoden is the closest I can think of since you often attempt to gather the 108 star allies and it's not very close in that regard. Still a fantastic series and very new player friendly. The Fire Emblem games also have a bit of social mechanic but mechanically they are very different,
  • If you just like the mechanics and way the story is dispersed to the player than Dragon Quest Viii is a great choice. It's very old school styled game yet with a great modern look. Virtually every other JRPG owes a lot to Dragon Quest games in terms of structure and mechanics which makes that series a great starting point. It's not really difficult, the only tough part is in the very very beginning (hours 1-6 or so) when you are underleveled. There isn't any obstacle in that game that can't be overcome with a little grinding if you get stuck.
  • You might also want to try some of the Tales games. They really generally fast and are pretty easy. The story is in those is a bit sappy although well done but they are generally good games. I personally like Tales of Symphonia best in the series. You will get a lot of differing answers on which is if you ask around.
  • Kingdom Hearts is another good game for beginners as well since it's a fusion of action mechanics and JRPG.
  • Paper Mario: the Thousand Year Door is aimed squarely at beginners and that is actually pretty well written and humorous.
  • Chrono Trigger is even better if you are willing go further back before PS2. And it may be the most ideal entry in the genre anyway
  • It's hard to go wrong with any Final Fantasy games either. None of them are that difficult (except maybe 2 and 5) and they usually do a very good job explaining their systems. They also serve as the face of the genre.

really though it comes down to what it is you liked about Persona. If we know that then it would be easier to tailor recommendations.

#46 Posted by SingingMenstrual (327 posts) -

The fact that I can't learn or comprehend anything from any JRPG screenshot made me change my mind about trying one out.

Good luck though!

#47 Posted by Sergio (2080 posts) -

Edit: Oh I'm also really fond of Grandia 1 and 2, as well as Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door, though I'm not sure how well the Grandia games have aged.

I'm glad at least someone mentioned Grandia. The first one is available as a PSOne classic download for PS3, PSP, and Vita. I wish the second one was.

#48 Posted by Fuzzy_Dunlop (177 posts) -

Whoa, wasn't expecting this many responses. Thanks so much, guys!

As a my-first-JRPG, I think Pokemon is pretty fucking stellar. Depends on what you're looking for, though? A well-written story? Fun combat? Grinding that doesn't get tedious? A challenge? All of the above? Not all JRPGs manage to combine those effectively.

Probably something that strikes a fine balance between writing and good gameplay. I'm not the biggest fan of grinding, but it's not a game breaker. And challenge isn't a necessity, with or without. I'm fine with any degree of difficulty really, other than something bordering on near impossibility.

There's a lot of suggestions here for me to parse, but I really appreciate it. I think I'm going to start with Chrono Trigger after Persona 3. That game has near unanimous praise from wherever I go. The short playtime is a great bonus too - it will let me get around to this hefty JRPG backlog a lot sooner. I realize the SMT games probably aren't the best starting point, but I kind of started Persona 3 on a personal whim, and then got a bit too deep into it to just stop; I like to see games through. It didn't take me too long to get into the groove of things. And sorry if I sounded like I was really down on FFX, like I said, I've only seen very small bits and pieces of the gameplay, so my judgments aren't particularly accurate. It's just the VA and the dialogue didn't seem that great, but I AM playing Persona 3 at the moment, and the Persona games really have some great, believable characters and fantastic character interactions, so my standards might be set a little too high. I know jackshit about the overall story in FFX, which might be fucking great for all I know.

After Chrono Trigger, I might move onto some Final Fantasy games. I'm getting conflicting suggestions on which to start with, and that's fine. I don't think that really matters. I'll look into the ones suggested in this thread and pick the one that looks the most appealing to me. I completely forgot about Dragon Quest and Suikoden. I'll definitely have to check those out at.... some point after I finish some of these games. But I'm going to take note of every suggestion in this thread and jot them down for the future, I certainly won't forget about them. Again, thanks a lot for helping me get some much needed exposure to this genre that I have woefully overlooked. I like to consider myself a video game aficionado, but I can't really call myself a "gamer" when there's so many essentials I've missed out on over the years, and I'm trying to make up for that. Feel free to keep the suggestions coming though, and I will take note.

#49 Edited by DylanGW (130 posts) -

Chrono Trigger [DS]

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King [PS2]

Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of the Starry Skies [DS]

Final Fantasy X [PS3]

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door [GC]

Mario & Luigi: Partner's in Time [DS]

Bravely Default [3DS]

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch [PS3]

#50 Edited by Tom_omb (368 posts) -

Mario has starred in my favorite JRPGs, and they are very assessable. Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario series, and Mario and Luigi series. The best of the bunch is Paper Mario 2 for the Game Cube, if you can get your hands on it and have a GC or Wii to play it on.