Since the 1980s, JRPGs have been a staple in the video game industry, beginning with the releases of titles like Dragon Quest in 1986 and the original Final Fantasy in 1987. Despite having a dedicated fan base, JRPGs might seem intimidating to newcomers. Given their extensive history spanning over three decades, it can be challenging to determine where to begin.

Every year, several outstanding JRPGs are released, many of which are part of long-running franchises with decades of history. In 2023, notable titles like Final Fantasy 16, Octopath Traveler 2, The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie, and Trinity Trigger have already made their debut, with more to come. However, for newcomers to the genre, the question remains: which JRPGs are the best starting points?


Although Pokémon stands as one of the most popular and successful video game franchises ever, it's often overlooked that it's a true JRPG series at its core. While its turn-based combat sets it apart from many other JRPGs, Pokémon unquestionably serves as an excellent entry point for newcomers to the genre due to its ease of learning.

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As for which generation and release newcomers should prioritize, that's a challenging question to answer. The older GBA and Nintendo DS Pokémon games are widely regarded as the franchise's peak, but accessibility can be an issue. Consequently, most individuals may gravitate toward the offerings on the Nintendo Switch, specifically Scarlet and Violet. These titles reimagine the classic Pokémon formula within an open-world setting, and while they're not flawless, they come with their own set of advantages.

Persona 5 Royal

Persona 5 is a game that radiates sophistication and panache while maintaining its core substance. In a genre where most masterpieces lean towards traditional fantasy settings, Persona 5 stands out by immersing players in a contemporary Japanese backdrop accompanied by an incredibly stylish jazz-infused soundtrack.

Boasting exceptional characters and a compelling narrative, the game showcases the JRPG genre's ability to seamlessly merge combat, captivating storytelling, and a chic aesthetic. Although the original version is outstanding, Persona 5 Royal emerges as the ultimate rendition and should take precedence.

Dragon Quest 11

Available on most contemporary gaming platforms, Dragon Quest 11 serves as an outstanding entry point for those interested in exploring the JRPG genre. Brimming with enchantment, this game showcases stunning visuals and iconic character designs crafted by Akira Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball Z.

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Dragon Quest 11

Regarding its combat mechanics, Dragon Quest 11 employs a conventional turn-based system while offering players the liberty to customize their party composition, empowering them to utilize their preferred characters.

Chrono Trigger

Frequently hailed as one of the finest JRPGs ever created, Chrono Trigger revolves around time travel within its in-game world. Thanks to its exceptional pacing, charming characters designed by Akira Toriyama, and user-friendly combat system, Chrono Trigger stands as an ideal choice for introducing players to the genre with one of its top-tier games.

Furthermore, the game provides a plethora of character-focused side quests for those seeking deeper engagement with the cast, along with multiple endings to satisfy players in search of replayability.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Although the tactical JRPG genre is often criticized for its steep learning curve, the latest installment in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, is notably accessible to newcomers. It offers a forgiving level of difficulty and introduces a casual mode that removes the traditional "perma-death" feature, resulting in a more flexible gameplay experience compared to other Fire Emblem titles.

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Fire Emblem: Three Houses

In this game, players take on the role of a professor at Garreg Mach Monastery, where they have the opportunity to instruct and develop their students, enabling them to engage in battles according to the player's preferences.

Tales of Vesperia

If you're seeking a JRPG that breaks away from turn-based combat, Tales of Vesperia might be the perfect choice. This action RPG boasts a memorable ensemble of characters and uniquely permits each party member to be controlled by a different player, making it possible for up to four players to enjoy the game simultaneously.

While the campaign may initially have a somewhat leisurely beginning, it gradually evolves into an undeniably captivating adventure. Notably, the protagonist, Yuri Lowell, is a strong contender for the title of the franchise's finest character.

Final Fantasy 6

When it comes to the timeless classics of the Final Fantasy franchise, if you're aiming for an authentic and enduring experience that showcases the essence of what the series represents, consider starting with Final Fantasy 6. This game, boasting one of the most extensive rosters of playable party members in the series, employs the active-time battle system that has become synonymous with the franchise.

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Final Fantasy 6

Furthermore, Final Fantasy 6 boasts one of the most remarkable character ensembles in the series. Its narrative structure frequently shifts the spotlight onto different party members throughout the game's duration, enhancing the depth and engagement of the storytelling.

Octopath Traveler

Debuting in 2018, Octopath Traveler is a contemporary title heavily influenced by JRPGs from the 1990s. It embraces a turn-based combat system and combines sprite-based graphics with a 3D lighting engine, resulting in a distinctive visual style that harmonizes elements from both past and present gaming eras.

Players are granted the initial choice of eight characters, each possessing their own unique story and abilities, allowing them to select a starting point that aligns with their preferences. Octopath Traveler 2 closely resembles its predecessor, although it incorporates greater interaction among party members, addressing one of the most commonly cited criticisms of the original game.

Final Fantasy 7

Final Fantasy 7 stands as one of the most iconic JRPGs in gaming history. While the original PS1 version remains a classic turn-based masterpiece, Final Fantasy 7 Remake serves as an excellent entry point for newcomers to the action JRPG genre.

Final Fantasy 7 Remake
Final Fantasy 7 Remake

With impressive visuals and dynamic combat, the game retains the essence of Final Fantasy 7 while embracing an alternative action-based approach that may appeal to players who aren't fond of turn-based combat. For fans who have fond memories of Square's 1997 release, the remake does take some creative liberties, so it's not an exact replica of the original experience. Moreover, a sequel titled Rebirth has been confirmed for an early 2024 release.

Super Mario RPG

Launched in 1996, Super Mario RPG was a collaboration between Square and Nintendo, introducing the Mario universe to the realm of classic JRPGs.

Although it doesn't pose an exceptionally challenging gameplay experience, the game exudes a delightful charm, making it an ideal entry for Nintendo enthusiasts who have yet to explore the world of JRPGs. Furthermore, given its development by Square, the game boasts the level of polish and craftsmanship that one would naturally anticipate.

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