Japanese Role-Playing Games, or JRPGs, have grown in popularity in the past few years. Not only is the genre popular in its native country, but it also now has millions of fans outside of it. In fact, the JRPG genre is now arguably more popular in other countries than Japan! Truly, JRPGs have officially outgrown their initial underground status. Before, such games were seen as only appealing to a small number of people. Nowadays, the very same people that criticize it back then are the ones that can’t get enough of it. This renewed/revitalized appreciation of the genre has since spawned countless more games. While not all of them are great, some sadly quickly fell off the map, thus, becoming underrated JRPGs.
In this article, we intend to shine the light on what we believe are the 10 most underrated JRPGs in history. While they admittedly have some flaws which led to their short trip of relevancy, we certainly believe that they deserve more attention than what they actually got.
Why JRPGs are Often Underrated or Unoticed
There are a few reasons why JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) get underrated or unnoticed.
- They are often more niche than other genres. JRPGs tend to have a more anime-inspired aesthetic and storytelling style, which can alienate some players. They also often have longer playtimes and more complex mechanics, which can make them daunting for casual gamers.
- They are not as heavily marketed as other genres. Western publishers often focus their marketing efforts on games that they believe will appeal to a wider audience, such as action-adventure games and shooters. JRPGs’ reputation, on the other hand, is generally more niche and therefore receives less marketing attention.
Despite these factors, JRPGs remain a popular genre among a dedicated group of fans. There are many great JRPGs available. They offer a unique gaming experience that is not present in other genres. If you are looking for a game with a rich story, memorable characters, and stunning visuals, then a JRPG is definitely worth checking out.
And with that out of the way, let us take a look at our picks for the 10 most underrated JRPGs of all time.
Top 10: Bravely Second
Bravely Second is a sequel to the popular JRPG Bravely Default. This game features a similar battle system to its predecessor, but it also introduces new features such as the ability to “brave” multiple times in a row or “default” to avoid taking damage. Bravely Second also features a new story that follows the adventures of Yew and Magnolia as they travel to a new world to stop an evil force.
Top 9: Lost Odyssey
While the Xbox console is not famous for its JRPG offerings, there are admittedly a lot of great titles of the genre players can find in there. Lost Odyssey is one of them. It is an underrated JRPG exclusive to the Xbox 360. This game features a beautiful story that follows the adventures of Kaim Argonar, an immortal man who is trying to find his place in the world. Lost Odyssey also features a unique battle system that allows you to use special abilities called “spirits” to defeat your enemies.
Top 8: Radiant Historia
Radiant Historia is a JRPG that was released on the Nintendo DS. This game features a unique time travel mechanic that allows you to travel back and forth between different points in the story. Radiant Historia also features a large cast of characters, a complex story, and a challenging battle system.
Top 7: Vandal Hearts 2
Vandal Hearts 2 is a tactical RPG exclusive to the PlayStation. This game features a unique battle system that allows you to position your characters on a grid, and it has a dark and gritty story that follows a group of mercenaries on a quest for revenge.
Top 6: Dragon Quest 9
Dragon Quest 9 is a great entry in the long-running Dragon Quest series. This game features a unique art style that effortlessly combines 2D and 3D. Dragon Quest 9 is also a great game for multiplayer. You can team up with up to three friends to explore the world and battle monsters. Although the pursuit of innovation is certainly commendable, it is also what led to it being a part of the most underrated JRPGs of all time.
Top 5: Blue Dragon
Blue Dragon is a JRPG, like Lost Odyssey, that was released exclusively for the Xbox 360. This game features a fun art style that combines 2D and 3D graphics, like the previous entry. Furthermore, it has a large, open world for players to explore. Blue Dragon also features a great cast of characters, a fun battle system, and a challenging story.
Top 4: The Last Story
The Last Story is a JRPG exclusive to the Nintendo Wii. This game features an interesting battle system that allows you to control multiple characters at once. While such isn’t new by today’s standards, it certainly was revolutionary back in its time. It has a beautiful story that follows the adventures of a young boy named Shulk as he sets out to save his world from an evil force.
Top 3: Star Ocean: The Second Story
Star Ocean: The Second Story is a JRPG exclusive on the PlayStation. This game features a unique battle system that allows you to switch between different characters during battle. Moreover, it has a large, open world for players to explore. Star Ocean: The Second Story also features a great cast of characters, a fun story, and a challenging battle system.
Top 2: Suikoden 5
Suikoden 5 is the fifth installment in the Suikoden series. Despite its current status as one of the most underrated JRPGs, it is often considered to be one of the best games in the series. This game features a large cast of characters, a sprawling story, and a unique battle system that allows you to summon hundreds of different monsters to fight alongside you. We firmly believe this title should be a fixture among any underrated JRPGs list like this. Suikoden 5 deserves more love than it actually got.
Top 1: Chrono Cross
Chrono Cross certainly has a big shoe to fill in right off the bat. People have great expectations for it and there was only little room for error for the title to be successful. After all, it is the follow-up to the ultra-popular and well-beloved JRPG classic, Chrono Trigger. In our opinion, Chrono Cross, in itself, is a fantastic JRPG. However, the fact that it is the sequel to a classic ultimately led to it becoming one of the most underrated JRPGs.
This is because many quickly drifted away from it as soon as they realize that its gameplay is drastically different from its predecessor. Moreover, it has a convoluted yet interestingly deep story that not anyone can easily comprehend. The best way to experience Chrono Cross is to simply approach it as its own game. Do not think of it as a sequel to Chrono Trigger. You’d certainly find the game more enjoyable and excellent. And for that, we think Chrono Cross is the most underrated JRPG in history.