Sunday 23 March 2014

4 Japanese RPG's for New Players


If you're looking for a list of short,  shoot-em-ups, and square-jawed, rugged protagonists you've come to the wrong place.

Japanese Roll Playing Game's are known for their playtime (usually forty hours or more), turn based combat, and for being full of beautifully coiffed teenagers in complicated outfits with equally complicated back stories. These are games that get you invested.

So what games should a little nooblet start with? The pond of the JRPG is vast and deep, and it can be hard to decide where to get your toes wet.

Do you want to go more Anime?
Do you prefer games that are a bit on the dark side?
Do you like adorable sidekicks?

In no particular order, here's four games to help you (or your confused friends) learn the ins and outs of


Turn based game play breaks up an epic drama set against a beautifully realized steam punk-style fantasy backdrop. Final Fantasy IX was released in 2000, but the cut scenes still manage to stand the test of time, as well as the per-rendered backgrounds that make everything seem like it's being played out on a stage, even if the real time models have suffered a bit at the hands of 14 years of engine development.  The game spans a whopping 70 hours (or more, if you're playing it right).
The characters are charming versions of old-final fantasy classes, and have a real weight to them as the story progresses. And the game boasts one of the absolute best villains in the series.

Final Fantasy IX was originally released for the Play Station, but can also be purchased on PSN.


You follow a group of surprisingly well-armed teenagers (well, mostly) playing middle-man to a crisis of religion that is taking place on a global scale. For a T rated game, Symphonia can feel a little heavy handed.

You spend this entire game not quite knowing who's your ally or not. Tales of Symphonia is one of the few RPG's that I  can excuse for its use of cheesy anime character tropes because the story itself is so amazingly set up to make them matter to you.

The battle system, while not turn based, is actually incredibly well put together. You can easily manage your party during battle, or pass a controller to a friend to help you handle the fray. Instead of random encounters, you can see visual representations of your enemies on the over world map, which you can avoid if your running low on health.

Tales of Symphonia was originally released for Game Cube and PS2, and was re-released as a special edition for PS3.


This game is an outlier for more reasons than it's release year.

Ni No Kuni is the youngest game on this list, released in 2013 by Level 5 studios, with the help of Studio Ghibli.

Thats right. THAT studio Ghibli. The same one that gave us movies like Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and My Neighbor Totoro.

The graphics are gorgeous, the story is simple and charming, and the characters are well thought out. It doesn't feel like a forty hour game
Ni No Kuni was released in 2013 for the PS3, and was a platform exclusive.


Time travel, world-spanning catastrophes, and spiky haired teenagers are the central figures of what is widely considered one of the best RPGs of all time.

Your choices actually matter at the end of the game (I'm looking at you, Mass Effect Franchise!) and Chrono Trigger offers you a massive amount of re-playability. You play through with different characters, make different choices, get to experience different endings, and the game doesn't make you suffer for it. You keep your experience points and power-ups.

Original SNES copies are few and far between these days, but it was ported to the PS1 and the Nintendo DS, and is also available on Virtual Console.

Honourable Mentions:
Suikoden II
Final Fantasy VI
Illusion of Gaia
Persona 4
Super Mario RPG
Final Fantasy Tactics

So if you're a fan of Anime style storytelling, or just want to try something a bit different from your standard (stubble wearing, gruff voiced,) gaming fare I highly recommend you try any or all of those four games. I still count them among my favourites, even if the JRPG hay-day was almost 20 years ago.

Baz is a chronic doodler and has a habit of subjecting her friends to long rants about feminism, video games, and whether or not Thorin is the hottest Dwarf. She's using Capital Geek Girls to channel some of that energy. You can also find her at

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