It can be difficult to get into a JRPG, with a tradition that is often dense and seemingly inaccessible and the completion time requires a large investment of your own valuable time. But for those who are willing and able to invest effort and energy, the genre contains some of the most epic stories with fully realized character arcs, elaborate worlds and in-depth combat.
In particular, the Nintendo Switch is home to several exceptional examples of the genre – a wide range of art styles, battle systems, stories, settings and character designs – to suit almost any preference. The examples below are some great entry points, with an even larger selection of JRPGs waiting to be played for those who will quickly become fans after exploring these tips.
1. Stories of Monster Hunter 2: Wings of Ruin
Continuing the Nintendo Monster Hunter Stories for 3DS, this title enhances all aspects of its predecessor. The mechanic of the paper shears and scissors of his battle system was tuned and balanced almost to perfection. The graphics represent a huge upgrade with full-body character models and much more detail about cities, monstrous and human designs and the underworld. Combined with franchise trademarks such as robust armor and weapon customizations, a wide range of monster designs and behaviors, and a story that is easily accessible to any player, and you have a recipe for a fun JRPG chalk full of content.
2. Ys IX: Nox Monster
The Ys series is an underrated, fast-paced gem that prioritizes strategy over the superficial flash that normally plagues action RPGs. The ninth play in the mainstream, Monster Nox, follows the franchise protagonist Adol Christina, who is involved in the events around Prison City and the monster. Not only is the graphics and gameplay of this title by far the most polished in Ys to date, but the story is full of epics because Adol’s morals and wills are questioned like no other. In a series full of great installments, it’s easily the best that Ys has ever been, and a great starting point for new fans.
3. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy
Another underestimated franchise, the focus of the Atelier series on alchemy, has always led to charming mechanics with a fairly great depth. Atelier Ryza 2: Lost Legends and the Secret Fairy and its predecessor Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness & the Secret Hideout expands and polishes its alchemical system to a subtle shine. Not to mention that the graphics and flashes are absolutely beautiful, enhanced by a clear and color palette. And fighting action RPGs, usually the weakest side of the franchise, have become much more tactical and engaging here.
4. Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster
This remaster is currently the best way to experience the classic PlayRation 2 era JRPG, with retouched graphics now in Full HD, improved localization, excellent voice work, game balance and extra content. Nocturne itself is an intensely atmospheric game that explores the complexity inherent in moral and philosophical struggles between people. The Press Turn battle system requires careful planning and strategy with an emphasis on exploiting enemy weaknesses. A great JRPG for those looking for a completely different experience.
5. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
While Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is full of titles, the game is practically perfect in all respects. Turn-based combat doesn’t have to be anyone, but the developer Square Enix nails it to this latest item in their mega-franchise. The story is gorgeous, the characters are extremely charming (especially Sylvando) and the game has the best JRPG cities of all time. They are huge, rich and beautifully detailed. Dragon Quest XI is really generous in many ways. It’s not always the most challenging, but if you’re looking for a cozy game that’s always captivating, you can’t go wrong here.
6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem series may have its roots in the strategy genre, but Three Houses combines this tactical nail game with a robust relationship simulator that surprised everyone how great it was after its release. You could say that this is War and peace Video games if you want as you alternate battles and life at the castle, balancing relationships, politics, religion, war and more. The game temperes its comedy with the weight of the story extremely well, and if you’re looking for a huge game on the Nintendo Switch, this is it. You have to play it at least four times to really see everything it has to offer.
7. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
There are so many Final Fantasy remasters available on the Nintendo Switch that they have mastered this entire list. You can’t go wrong with any of the Final Fantasy titles available on your laptop, but Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age is probably the best item for a Nintendo Switch (and probably the best overall). Not everyone loves the combat system here, but we have it, and this remaster of the classic PlayStation 2 includes enough overhauls and quality of life improvements to become a truly masterpiece.
8. Valkyria Chronicles
Newer Valkyria Chronicles games are available, but the original remains the best. It’s weird, it combines tactical RPG staples with shooting mechanics, but somehow it works – and it works exceptionally well when you’re playing on the go. This game is more than 10 years old, but the beautiful style of watercolors holds exceptionally well.
9. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
The first release for the Nintendo Wii may not have risen above the cult hit, but the Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is now in major leagues with the successful Switch remaster. This remaster fixes some problems with the original and gives the game a nice aime aesthetic that encapsulates the original designs of 2D characters. The story and the duel are quite dense, but the players who stick to it are rewarded with an exceptional and satisfying narration.
10. Octopath Traveler
The concept of tracking the exploits of several heroes before their stories intertwine near the climax is not entirely unique – as other examples come to mind Final Fantasy VI and SaGa Frontier – but it is certainly rare. Octopath Traveler evokes the same style and gives each of the eight characters their own fully realized story before connecting them in surprisingly clever ways. Combat is a shining example of how you can quickly build on turn-based battle systems with incredible strategic depth, while graphics are an amazing combination of 2D sprite art with 3D camera and background work.