If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, it can be a little tricky to get started with Japanese role-playing games, otherwise known as JRPGs. If you pick something that is too difficult, you might get discouraged from continuing. But on the other hand, if you pick something that is too easy, you might get bored and not keep going.
So, where do you start, whether you're a pro looking for a good turn-based game or a newbie looking for an easy game? Keep reading for tips on how to choose the best JRPG for your iOS or Android.
The simple answer is that JRPG are roleplaying games that originate from Japan or are made by a Japanese developer. But, there is so much that is unique for JRPGs compared to traditional RPGs.
When you talk about JRPGs, opinions are devided on what actually constitutes a JRPG and entering the discussion can easily send you down a rabgit-hole of theories and opinions. For the sake of this article, we will focus on what seems to be the most commonly accepted view of JRPGs.
While there are plenty of JRPGs that stray from the norm, most traditional JRPGs will have a clear influence from manga and animé. This becomes clear even before you start playing. The games themselves also tend to have a more cinegraphic storyline with focus on beautiful graphics and music.
While there are games that were played in Japan even before the official release of the first RPGs in the west, it is debatable whether these particular games can be classified as “RPG” or not. The genre as a whole didn’t really take off in Japan until after the release of the western RPGs Ultima and Wizardry.
Finding inspiration in the western RPGs, developers started building on the concept of RPGs in Japan. Despite the popularity of Ultima and Wizardry in Japan, they faced an uphill battle in creating and selling their Japanese RPGs on the Japanese market.
So, another couple of years went by before the release of what would kick off the golden age of JRPGs, not only in Japan but worldwide: Dragon Quest.
So, what actually separates a JRPG from a regular western RPG? This is where things get a little bit tricky. Let's take a look at the main differences.
As previously mentioned; for the sake of this article, we will refer to what seems to be the most popular view of JRPGs. Meaning, roleplaying games created in Japan and/or by Japanese developers.
That said, there is a lively debate on what actually constitutes a JRPG as opposed to a regular RPG. Making that distinction, particularly in regards to some of the more popular (computer) RPGs originating from Japan may not always be that easy. Take a look in any gaming forum and you'll see what we mean.
So, is it necessary to be able to speak or read Japanese in order to play JRPGs? Absolutely not! Many games are released even in western countries and translated into both English as well as other languages.
If you focus on smaller and rarer games, you might have a hard time finding any versions in other languages than Japanese, but for the most part it shouldn’t be a problem.
Where exactly should you start in your hunt for JRPGs? These are some the most popular and highly rated picks among JRPG-fans.
|Combat system||Active time battle|
|Difficulty level||Moderate to hard|
|Combat system||Real-time turn-based|
|Difficulty level||Moderate to tough|
|Genre||Augmented reality, location-based game|
|Combat system||Player vs player|
|Combat system||Stride Cross Battle System|
|Difficulty level||Easy to moderate|
|Combat system||Active time battle|
Final Fantasy IX
Dragon Quest VIII
Chaos Rings 3
Phantasy Star II
The World Ends with You: Solo Remix
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth
Final Fantasy VI
Secret of Mana
|Features||Often Overlooked but Worth ...||One of the Most Visually St...||A Classic and Popular JRPG ...||The Perfect Game for World ...||Easy to Get Started With an...||A Game with the Sega Foreve...||Recommended for Those That ...||An Excellent Game for Mytho...||For Those That Want to Expe...||An Unbeaten Classic JRPG|
|Genre||Fantasy, adventure||Fantasy||Fantasy||Fantasy, adventure||Augmented reality, location-based game||Fantasy||Multiplayer, fantasy||Action, fantasy||Adventure, retro||Fantasy|
|Combat system||Active time battle||Turn-based||Real-time turn-based||Turn-based||Player vs player||Turn-based||Stride Cross Battle System||Turn-based||Active time battle||Real-time|
|Difficulty level||Moderate||Moderate to hard||Moderate||Moderate to tough||Easy||Hard||Easy to moderate||Easy||Moderate||Moderate|
Choosing a JRPG to start out with isn’t necessarily as easy as just picking the first one you can find. There is a huge variety of games to choose from and the experience of playing each can be very different.
Picking the right game to start with can spark an interest or create a new hobby that will last you a long time, while picking the wrong one can steer you away from wanting to continue playing.
Like regular RPGs, JRPGs have a huge variety of games that are on offer, meaning that you can easily find one that fits your style and interests.
When choosing among JRPGs, you can find games that fit nearly every genre you’re interested in - whether it's action-based or something more classic and streamlined. This doesn’t only apply to the genre itself, but the gaming-style of the games as well.
As previously mentioned, the main difference between JRPG and RPG is the fact that JRPGs are made in Japan or by Japanese developers.
This means that as a "genre", JRPG casts a wide net of sub-genres among its games. No matter what kind of gaming you are interested in, whether action or horror, you are guaranteed to find it represented in the JRPG-category as well.
Though many associate JRPGs with turn-based battles, there are also plenty of faster action-set battles where you are forced to think on your feet and react quickly.
When talking about fighting games in the JRPG-genre, the ones that always seem to come out on top among the fans are Kingdom Hearts and the Final Fantasy-franchise. If you enjoy battle games, you can’t go wrong with either one. Chrono Trigger has also been hailed for great combat.
Aside from choosing the genre of the game, there is also a distinction between how different games are played in JRPGs.
JRPGs have come a long way from simple text-based console windows, as well as their origin as table-top games. Today's JRPGs let you choose which settings work best for you and they give you greater freedom in regards to many parts of your game, such as character development, complexity, replayability and immersion.
If you enjoy games that are more fast-paced and force you to think on your feet, you should pick a game modeled after action movies. These games will, as you would guess, force you to make fast decisions and pay closer attention to what you are doing.
There are also games with a slower pace, where not only the game itself but also battles run more slowly and switches between users. Fans of this kind of game play say that this allows them more time to think out their next move and strategy while also allowing them a more relaxing gaming experience.
When you’re just starting out, you don’t want to jump first into the deep end and get overwhelmed. At the same time, you don’t want something that is too easy and tedious, as it might make you bored instead.
That said, there are also other factors that play in here. A game such as Pokemon might be considered a very simple game that might bore some players for that exact reason, while others might enjoy playing it for hours.
There are also other games that might start out easy but then continue on in a very steep learning curve that might fit perfectly for one type of player, but prove devastating for another.
All the games on this list are games recommended for beginners since they all fall somewhere in between in regards to difficulty level. They will offer you a challenge while not necessarily overwhelming you.
When picking a game to start with, it is a good idea to pick a middle-hand that will allow you to get to know the game and learn as you go without putting too much pressure on you.
At the same time, the game should challenge you in order for you to keep going. The games in our list are all considered a good place to start with JRPGs, allowing you the chance to learn while simultaneously challenging you as you go along.
Just because the game is downloaded on your phone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be free. Apps and smartphone games often contain in-app purchases and different kinds of extensions that can mean that you end up spending more than you wanted to.
Many JRPGs on both IOS and Android will have free versions of the games that lets you try them out before you decide if you want to continue on with a bought full version or not.
There are also completely free games that will have paid extensions that you can purchase in order to continue playing or level up.
Aside from paid or free versions, there are also games that come with in-app purchases. These are not necessarily something you will need in order to play the game, but they might be helpful, particularly if you want to level up quickly or gain additional perks.
In some cases, you are able to purchase these items for “free” by performing tasks or going on missions in the app. However, earning them this way might be tedious and take a long time.
JRPGs are pretty great, but there are also some other fantastic games that we've researched. Check them out!
When just starting out, choosing the right game might not be the easiest, however choosing the wrong game can easily ruin the whole experience for you. That’s why it’s always a good idea to choose carefully. Hopefully this article has proven helpful in finding the right game for you.
Author: Vicky Taylor
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