How do you rank these heavyweight JRPG gems? (Vagrant Story, Valkyrie Profile, Xenogears)

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liquiddragon

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These are games I been "meaning to get to" for literal decades and I'm determined to playthrough 1 or 2 of them this year.

I'm sure they are very different games and hard to compare but I was wondering, which one is your favorite?

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redwing42

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I've only played two of the three, but I will say that Vagrant Story is fairly short as a single playthrough. It is really designed for multiple runs. I'm not sure if that factors in to your preferences or not. Xenogears is a really strong 2/3rds of a game, and while Disc 2 is disappointing, it is worth seeing through. I haven't played Valkyrie Profile, so can't help you there.

I'd certainly recommend Xenogears over Vagrant Story.

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Mezmero

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Xenogears>Valkyrie Profile>Vagrant Story.

Vagrant Story is still very good in my memory however of these three it has the most inscrutable mechanics even though I'm sure they're fun to break if you dig deep into them.

Valkyrie Profile is great and has a fantastic premise. It's probably objectively the best video game of the three but not my favorite. The overall amount of story is pretty slight but most of the individual character stories are terrific.

Xenogears edges out these 2 mostly by my own nostalgia and its visual styyyyle. It is one of my fave JRPGs ever and it has a genuinely all time great OST. Just know going in that the game is unfinished in the last 3rd or so(most of disc 2). I mean it does get to an ending but you'd be foolish not to notice how rushed the last stretch of the game feels.

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captubaplayer

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I will be forthright that I have never played Valkyrie Profile but I definitely adored Xenogears and enjoyed my time with Vagrant Story. I would go Xenogears -- Vagrant Story -- Valkyrie Profile.

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Efesell

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#5  Edited By Efesell

There was a time, probably not even all that long ago, that I would have said Xenogears was one of my favorite games. To an extent that's still somewhat true but seeing it again recently has done it few favors. It had a very ambitious story in a time where games weren't trying to do that, so it created an impression in a lot of people that it's way deeper and more profound than it ever actually gets. It's also completely unfinished, they ran into trouble with deadlines and staff and had to completely change how they were going to finish the game and hastily slap together an entirely different second disc. It's a mess.

If I had to prioritize any of these it would be Valkyrie Profile because it's such a weird game and there's not really that much else quite like it.

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soimadeanaccount

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Xenogears is still one of my fav games of all time; not a technically good game, and has lots of issues, but still.

I couldn't get into Vagrant Story, tried it, but never got far into it, and it just sort of slip away.

I only played through the second Valkyrie Profile, which might be one of the best looking PS2 game. The first one premise of needing to go trough multiple time limited playthrough sort of drove me away...

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cikame

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I've only played Vagrant Story, which is very cool to start with, but the combat mechanics become meaningless and grindy/mashy, and some later stages specifically the forest maze are offensively annoying.
It's a great game to play half of.

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Zeik

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#8  Edited By Zeik  Online

Valkyrie Profile is probably the one I have the most fondness for. It's an odd game that won't appeal to everyone, but I think what it does is neat and worth experiencing at least once. I just wish they would actually release a good port of that game. The PSP version has weird scaling and I haven't heard good things about the mobile port.

Xenogears is a game that I enjoyed, but never left the same lasting impression on me as it seemed to for others. (Xenosaga and Xenoblade: Chronicles ended up being more my jam.) The last time I tried replaying it I struggled to get past the long-winded dialogue early on and ended up stopping. Which surprised me, as I play a lot of JRPGs and that's rarely an issue. Still, definitely a game worth playing at least once.

Vagrant Story is a game I've been meaning to play for a long time, and actually tried starting awhile back, but didn't get too far. From what I have heard it seems it could be up my alley, but what I played of the combat was weird. It's pretty clunky and I'd be surprised if that aspect would ever truly click with me.

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Savage

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Valkyrie Profile > Xenogears > Vagrant Story

1. Valkyrie Profile - It took me some time to come to love this game. Back in the day, I borrowed my roommate's PS1 copy, played through it once on Normal, and got the normal ending. I liked it quite a bit, but it didn't leave a huge lingering impression on me beyond being a quirky stylish JRPG. Years later, I had a sudden craving to revisit the game, so I tracked down a copy for myself and got way into it. After finishing it four more times and mastering everything about the game, it's now in my extended list of favorite games of all time.

Valkyrie Profile is kind of a collection of parts more than a cohesive whole, which is highlighted by its multiple difficulty settings, which determine what dungeons, items, party members, and endings are available. Some of its systems are obtuse, especially with regard to story revelations, which are easier to appreciate once you're on the other side of understanding them. The developers intended for players to play the game multiple times. Each time through you experience partially different content (per difficulty), you can use your previous knowledge to further optimize your exploitation of the game's progression systems, you have a chance to puzzle out the key to the best ending, and it's a pretty short game by RPG standards (10-30 hours). That said, it's perfectly reasonable to reference a FAQ, especially to figure out how to get the best ending.

Overall, it's not a hard game to beat or to have fun with, despite being a bit of an acquired taste. The beautiful spite art and catchy eclectic soundtrack have obvious appeal. The gameplay is unusually active for a JRPG, with fighting game-like combos to execute in battle and puzzle-platforming to perform in dungeons. The game has some great story moments, especially in the tragic backstories of party members, and it's got lots of charm (even the bad 90s voice acting, which could honestly be much worse, given the era, has some cheesy appeal). Lastly, it's got some of my favorite atmosphere in any game I've played--the melancholy is sublime--and I love the juxtaposition of a world decaying into all-encompassing hopelessness with Valkyrie rolling through blindly and dutifully kicking the ass of anyone standing in the way of her divine mission.

2. Xenogears - This game is a quintessential product of the second half of the 90s when new technology like CDs rewrote the boundaries of what was possible in digital entertainment and anime like Evangelion showed there was a big market for ambitious pseudo-sophisticated pop sci-fi. With the creative limits seemingly lifted, many creators optimistically pushed as far as they could. Xenogears was one of these projects, where its ambition massively outstripped its means, and it ran headlong into time and money constraints. It's probably a minor miracle it was even released at all.

I kind of love the game as a vision, but only mildly like it in reality. Very little in the gameplay, story, or presentation resonated with me emotionally, to my disappointment. No doubt there's good stuff here, but I feel the best of it was left in the realm of theoretical potential. I think you have to be very forgiving to get a lot out of Xenogears today.

3. Vagrant Story - I haven't played much of this because I didn't particularly enjoy any of what I did play. If you like other games by Matsuno like Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Battle and are open to highly unconventional/obtuse battle systems, then this game might click for you.

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doctordonkey

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Valkyrie Profile>Vagrant Story>Xenogears.

Xenogears does not hold up. The game is a slog because of development issues and time constraints, disc 2 is an absolute mess. Can't possibly recommend it, considering how long it is.

Vagrant Story is still alright, it isn't spectacular or anything but you can certainly have a decent time with it. It's not overly long, maybe just under 30 hours. I'd give it a shot.

Valkyrie Profile probably holds up the best. The overarching narrative isn't crazy or anything, but the individual character arcs are great. The graphics and gameplay aged the least out of these 3 games, so you'd probably have a good time with it.

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Relkin

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#11  Edited By Relkin

Valkyrie Profile>Vagrant Story

I'd recommend forgetting Xenogears. I know it's evangelists swear it's the second coming, but don't buy into the hype; it's a load of bullshit. It has an excellent first disc, but the second is just abysmal. The director of the game has since said that delays due to things like making a game in 3D left them with the decision to either end the game with disc 1 by itself (and potentially finish the story with a sequel), or to use what little time and money they had left to try and finish the story in one game. Interview, courtesy of Jason Schreier.

The end result is...poor, to say the least. Let me put it like this: in disc 1, you play a JRPG. In disc 2, you read about a JRPG. Completely killed my interest in the game, and I was having a blast with it up until then.

As far as the other two, they're both pretty weird. I adore Valkyrie Profile, but it's a pretty strange game. The combat is great, but the way you're expected to continually shift party members in and out of your roster as the game progresses is a management element that some really don't enjoy. Also, I have no idea how anyone figured out how to get the good ending of that game without a walkthrough. Otherwise, it's a beautiful, often tragic thing. One of the standouts from an era rife with fantastic JRPGs. I wish Tri-Ace would get the chance to make a third.

Vagrant Story is...fine? I dunno, I've gone back and forth on that game for years. Other people here probably have their thoughts on the matter figured out better than I do, so I'll abstain from commenting on it's quality.

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Onemanarmyy

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#12  Edited By Onemanarmyy  Online

I've played parts & watched Vagrant Story and it's a very cool game with a nice moody aesthetic, a mature story that paints most characters in shades of grey.

Note, this ain't a RPG where you gather a party and go through towns and such. This game feels more like a Diablo-esque dungeon crawler that couldn't escape the menu's and semi-turn based combat from jRPGs. There are also quite a few blockshoving puzzles & platforming sections.

The gameplay gives you a lot of freedom and has quite unique & timingbased combat. Sadly, that freedom got a bit too much for me because it often feels like you should know what you're going to be up against in the next few hours when you decide to create your weapons. But you only get that knowledge if you have been through the game multiple times already. Like do i want to have a weapon that's good against undead & beasts or should i have a weapon that's strong against humans & dragons? What kind of elemental affinity should my human / dragon blade have? How do i even know if it's a good idea to make a weapon vs those two races specifically? Should that weapon deal blunt damage, piercing damage or slashing damage? Am i likely to see any Evil enemies in the next 10 hours or is that like a lategame opponent? Would they be vulnerable against piercing damage? At which points in the game should i destroy all my weapons and rebuild them with other hilts to be able to progress? How do i know which weapon parts & hilts i should hang on so i can combine them into stronger weapon parts and which to discard?

I'm not foreign to RPG's, but this one just made it real hard for me to know what i could expect in combat by looking at the numbers in the menu. It also often felt hard to determine if i would even be able to hit enemies or whiff constantly. You also spend 85% of the time in muddy brown caves and underground passageways which can wear on you. That said, watching a silent playthrough on youtube was a good time and the workshop music theme is quite nice. Graphically it's quite impressive for the PS1 as well. I came away with the feeling that it's a very special game that just doesn't really feel like a game you can casually approach in 2020.

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csl316

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Vagrant Story is fantastic, but may take time to click because there's a ton of hidden depth there. Regardless, a great atmosphere, unique story, cool combat systems, and memorable characters make it one of my favorite PS1 games.

And Valkyrie Profile is super cool, but I feel like part 2 is a way better overall game. I never finished 1 so you'll probably be ok jumping to 2. They take the core of VP and expand on it in some solid ways.

And never played Xenogears, but it's regarded as a classic so I'm sure it's solid. No idea how it's aged, though.

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BladedEdge

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As much as I want to say Xenogears is still the best RPG of all time, Jrpg or otherwise, I am not sure I could recommend going back and playing it now without a turbo option/enabled. If your able to find a way to play it with such a feature? Do so, well worth the time that would take. Elsewise? perhaps best left as a nostalgic memory from the past for those of us who love/loved it when it was new.

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OurSin_360

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Only played Xenogears, but it's one of my favorite games of all time. I love the combat system and how it switched from 2d to 3d in fights. I also loved the story at the time (there are a lot of long dialog sequences lol)

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nophilip

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Also only played Xenogears here, but man I just could not get through that game. I'll echo the comments that disc 2 is not great. I fell off probably 3-4 hours into that part of the game. I love way more than my fair share of old RPGs, but Xenogears just never clicked for me.

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mikachops

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Vagrant Story - probably visually my favourite game ever made. I love the character models and animations, understated magic effects and overall texture work. It's graphically still super impressive imo. Gameplay is... it's technically good and fun, but kind of a pain in the arse as you need to constantly switch weapons to be effective which is done through cumbersome menus. Overall I can recommend for the graphics and excellent story (still one of the best) but can't for gameplay anymore. Play with a guide, basically.

Valkyrie Profile - as others said, objectively this is the best playing of the 3. It's shocking to me that this hasn't been released more widely, it feels like an extravagantly built game even by today's standards and I would think would still be an easy sell. Story is whatever but there's some fun vignettes and characters to be had. Best way to play this is on the PSP, avoid the phone version.

Xenogears - this did nothing for me on release and still doesn't. It holds up the worst of the others in all categories. I really can't recommend this on any level.

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Stephen_Von_Cloud

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I haven't played the other two but I have to say Vagrant Story is not a gem, as some others here are saying. I really wanted to love it, and was really sold on the style and set up of the game but it does not come together well or in a way that's fun to play. A lot of it sounds fine on paper. It's really a disappointing game to me in that missed potential.

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Pilgrimm1981

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If you don't have a huge sense of nostalgia for any of these games, I think it's hard to get back to for all 3 of them. At the time, they all were fresh and awesome in their own way, but 20 years later, I imagine they're hard to get back into when gameplay, graphics and storytelling have been improved so much. I love old games, and some games are truly timeless, but I doubt any of these 3 are, despite the PS1 and Saturn era still being my favorite console generation...from a nostalgic standpoint.

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TheWildCard

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#20  Edited By TheWildCard

I replayed Valkyrie Profile last year, and for the most part it holds up. The overall narrative isn't super strong but the smaller character stories are pretty good, and in terms of atmosphere and mechanics it's still pretty unique even today. I tried to get into Vagrant Story a few years ago, as I remembered thinking it was pretty sweet back in the day, but I wasn't to enamored with the dungeon crawling setting ad found the game doesn't explain the battle system very well (Probably should use a guide at least at the start) . Never got around to Xenogears, but I too fear it's time has passed.