Nintendo’s former president, once infamously said this about RPG gamers, “depressed gamers who like to sit alone in their dark rooms and play slow games.” This came after Nintendo lost the Final Fantasy franchise to SquareSoft in the mid-90s. Since that time, Nintendo home consoles for the most part have been plagued by the lack of RPGs for the most part.
The Wii wasn’t vastly different in that regard until the end of the generation when Nintendo thought they would cure the problem themselves with a trio of interesting and unique RPGs. Aside from their trio, there were some noticeable releases, but not much that would probably stand the test of time. But we’re counting down the Top 7 just for you!
7) The Virtual Console- This is a cheap entry, but I don’t care. The Virtual Console plays home to some of the best RPGs from yesteryear. Want to play the original Final Fantasy? It’s on there. Chrono Trigger more your speed? That’s on here as well. Have a craving for the original Phantasy Star series? You can check out all 4 titles on the service as well. There are also a ton more ranging from the NES to the SEGA Genesis.
6) Arc Rise Fantasia- This generation was light on jRPGs, but there was a lot of experimentation in the genre especially for some of our later picks. But Arc Rise Fantasia didn’t stray too far from the traditional jRPGs. The game features a turn-based system, which is a rarity for this list. It has a cast of colorful characters…who are bought to life by one of the worst dubs of this generation. I mean… just find a video on Youtube, and you’ll understand!
5) Rune Factory: Frontier- In my head this was a toss-up between Harvest Moon and Rune Factory, but Rune Factory won out for just being able to do more. While it features many similar elements like growing crops, harvesting and romancing others in the area. There is an action component to the game as well which allows you to go out into the world and fight animals. You can either defeat them or tame them and this allows them to help out with chores around the house as well. There also more overt RPG elements like leveling up and collecting runes. All in all, you can’t go wrong with either series, but we’re giving Rune Factory: Frontier the nod here!
4) Little King Story- The Wii played home to a lot of titles that were kind of in a genre, but weren’t completely. Little King Story is a prime example of that. Part strategy game, part-RPG and part simulator, Little King Story was all special. From a very unique art-style to it’s engaging and different class system. If you missed the game on the Wii, a recently released enhanced version has just come out on the PlayStation Vita.
3) Tales Of…- The Wii was lucky enough to play home to two Tales of games…somewhat. The first game Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World was a sequel to the GameCube original. This game introduced an interesting twist with a monster-collecting element. The game while solid felt more like an expansion than a true sequel. That would come a few years later in Tales of Graces.. a Tales of game that remained exclusive to Japan on the Wii at least.
2) The Last Story- What does the creator of Final Fantasy do when he wants to revive the genre he once helped foster in? He goes back to the drawing board to create something new and exciting at times. The game’s strongest asset though is how well it develops its story and characters into the core game play. Each battle is given meaning within the context of the world and the story. The battle system is also something different for jRPGs drawing from Western influences like cover shooters while combining it with some very interesting leader characteristics. The game is also short for an RPG, but allows for a much more streamlined experience. Worth checking out to see the future of the genre.
1) Xenoblade Chronicles- For most of this generation, we have heard that the jRPG was dead. Final Fantasy XIII came out and was met with at best mixed reactions. The console place was looking bleak, but out of the darkness came a new hope. From the creators of the great, but really overlooked, Baten Kaitos series came Xenoblade Chronicles. A game that looked to modernize the jRPG while keeping it true to its roots.The game streamlines or jettisons a lot of classic RPG elements to make a refreshing and fun title. It has a strong title that will leave you guessing and double guessing yourself to the end. And a world scope that has very few peers this generation. Xenoblade isn’t just a modern RPG classic, but one of the best RPGs ever.