The JRPG is one of the most fascinating sub-genres in all of gaming. At first glance, yeah, it's a bit odd to single out a single country for an entire sub-genre of games, but the difference between western and Japanese RPGs is the breadth of a canyon.
From mechanics, storytelling and character tropes, to levels and forms of complexity, JRPGs have thoroughly distinguished themselves from their western counterparts. For all sorts of reasons millions of gamers love, if you look at your average JRPG, you KNOW it's an RPG made in Japan and nowhere else.
This sub-genre has been going steadily for decades, and has recently been finally receiving its due in the west, with its most notable franchises earning widespread and long overdue acclaim. But now that we are in the year 2023, I think it's safe to ask what the best entries in this sub-genre so far have been.
Now, since we're talking about a genre of games from a country whose history when it comes to importing media to the west has been rocky, to say the least, there's no way this list can cover all the truly great ones. For those us who did get our hands these games though, the following are the best of the bunch.
10. Skies Of Arcadia
One of the great victims of Sega spending all their money advertising Sonic The Hedgehog and literally nothing else at the time, Skies Of Arcadia is easily in the top three best games to ever come out of the company.
Skies Of Arcadia centres on Vyse, a member of the Blue Rogue Sky Pirates, an alliance of robin hood types who sail the skies messing with any authority they deem to be out of line.
When Vyse rescues a pretty girl in a white gown named Fina, he finds himself dragged into a world-spanning conspiracy involving not only the largest power on the seven skies, the Valuan Empire, but the history of this entire badass pirate steampunk fantasy world. With Fina's life on the line and the chance to explore the world and captain his own ship, Vyse sees no other choice but to carve his name into the pages of history.
Not only is the combat a fun and clever take on turn-based battles, but the key selling point of the game - the reason people are willing to pay "Wait, HOW MUCH?!"-levels of money for a copy - the ship battles are fun in a way that can hardly be described. Think Battleship mixed with Final Fantasy and you're almost halfway there.
If you've got a mortgage payment just kinda lying around, hunt down a copy of this game ASAP.