JRPGs are something I’ve had a love for since the dawn of my gaming career, but in recent years I’m trying more and more and pretty much loving all of them… Now most of the time filthy casuals will think that Final Fantasy will be the only good franchise of JRPGs available – Obviously people like that are wrong.

Sometimes the gameplay of a JRPG is just something you need to get into; it’s often not too strenuous and has a lot of joy and ease. It can be a needed break from the serious, dark games of the West – I’ve been especially been reminded of this after starting World of Final Fantasy recently.

Here (In no particular order) are 5 JRPGs you should commit weeks – or maybe months – of your life to that aren’t in the Final Fantasy family.

1) Digimon Cyber Sleuth

This game was easily the big bad boy that got me balls deep back into these types of games, and I have to say when I first put this in I did not imagine at all that it would suck me in the way it did. I was utterly addicted to this little gem in the time I had with it – It helps that I’m easily addicted to monster capture games, but this had enough of the original Digimon stuff (I haven’t watched it for years) to hit my nostalgia buds, whilst having enough of it’s own story. I really fell in love with it’s battle system and the way that you could manage the levelling of many different ‘mons with virtual farms that you could modify. I went pretty far into de-evolving and re-evolving to get the best lads possible, and it re-ignited my Digimon passion; this is not a game to be missed. The only downside I found was that I found the areas for level grinding very repetitive as there weren’t enough different areas to farm my ‘mons.

2) Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

Although following the classic tropes of ‘boy has mysterious past so must travel to a faraway land to find out why whilst his home village is attacked’, this game definitely has some quick twists and turns that you may not expect. Not only that but it’s also incredibly charming (I’m trying to not use this too much whilst writing this), it’s an actual joy to play – The ease of turn based combat and open world exploration with the choice of battle makes this game easy to put on and easy to sink hours and hours into. The world is vast and awesome, the art style is really rad (Mostly by Dragonball artist Akira Toriyama), and the combat is really frigging fun. This is my first experience with Dragon Quest and it’s made a me a huge fan.

3) Kingdom Hearts 2

An improvement on the first, and far superior to 3 (Or any of the other spinoff games), Kingdom Hearts 2 is a true display of how childhood joy can be captured in video game form. Not only does it follow an absolutely great collection of Disney stories, it has arguably one of the best open world combat systems for a JRPG – I had so much fun with this as a kid, and then recently playing the remaster. There’s nothing that beats the way you can have an awesome scene with the likes of Winnie the Pooh or Mushu, and then a few beats later break into an open battle where you’re dodging, magicking and healing in one go. It’s SUCH a shame that 3 was a big old dissapointment, but 2 will always have a special place in my heart!

4) Pokémon Blue

Although I tend to write about this game a lot I cannot write this list without including it. Without a doubt the game that got me into RPGs as a whole I argue there’s not been many better monster capture games since – It has a great levelling system, awesome story that you want to get involved in, and plenty of reason to keep playing after the main game is over. Just look at everything it’s inspired since. It also is the creme-de-la-creme for monster design, it didn’t go too crazy or too cute, it found that sweet spot in the middle that made you want to catch them all. I really don’t think a better Pokémon game will ever be made, but I’m extremely fucking biased.

5) NieR Automata

What can I say that’s not been said before… What an achievement. I was extremely late to the party on this one; I started it last August and finished it in January, and loved every single second of it. The combat makes you feel like you’re in an anime and there’s so much to do! Not only that, but it has a pretty unique and awesome storyline that will make you question your allegiances, and will face you with tough choices. I was hooked the whole time and didn’t tend to do a lot of open world simply because I wanted to crack on with this intriguing sci-fi story. This is a definite must play.

Have I missed anything out? What should I play next? Please let me know in the comments down below!

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