Persona 5
Screenshot via Atlus USA

Here are the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch

These JRPGs are sure to keep you occupied all year long.

With so many great games in the world, there is simply not enough time to play them all. That’s the glory of the Nintendo Switch — now your downtime can be playtime with very little planning. For time-consuming epics like JRPGs, the Switch has opened up doors for on-the-go players who need to fill those in-between moments with something other than mind-numbing, phone-staring monotony. So, without further ado, these are the best Switch games to take on the go.

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Octopath Traveler II

Octopath Traveler II doesn’t require you to play the first. Actually, I recommend you skip the first. Not because it wasn’t an incredible experience, but because its sequel elevates everything the first one got right to the next level. This gorgeous top-down world has beautifully rendered three-dimensional environments populated by 16-bit sprites. The dichotomy really sets the stage for just how unique Octopath Traveler II is. Players choose their favorite of eight characters, but you’ll eventually gather up every member of the eponymous Octo and journey through their stories (paths) to create one cohesive, overarching tale. Players can choose to skip their follower’s chapters, but the seemingly innocuous choice is actually a bit more than that — so to get the best experience, just go ahead and indulge a little.

The music creates an incredible atmosphere, the writing is superb, and each character feels distinct. It’s got all the trappings of a classic JRPG like creature summons, turn-based battles, loads of monsters, and skill branches. But Octopath doesn’t tie the grind into your respective special abilities. It does, however, encourage grinding to reach new levels, so if you don’t like leveling, don’t pick this one up. But rest assured, it’s all worth the struggle for $59.99.

Persona 5 Royal

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to play a superpowered Japanese teen? Well, look no further because Persona 5 Royal is the game for you. This JRPG has some incredible art, excellent dialogue, gorgeous animations, and a soundtrack that asks: What would happen if someone combined acid jazz with classic rock? It all culminates to create the absolute vibe that is Persona 5 Royal. You play as high school student Joker, a recent delinquent sent to a prestigious prep school where teachers embody the worst traits of mankind. He also has access to the “Meta-verse,” an alternate plane of existence built out of people’s perceptions of the world.

In an Inception-meets-Batman style story, players use the Meta-verse to fix their corrupted teachers, traversing Palaces — aka dungeons — of their making and stealing their hidden artifacts to change the way they view the world. The premise allows Persona’s narrative and tight writing to explore some dark themes with nuance. The friendships built between Joker and his many pals are fun to explore, and you’ll genuinely care about these misunderstood delinquents — plus, they give you special abilities once you befriend them.

There are essentially two types of gameplay: real life and the Meta-verse. Each story arc comes with new pressures as you try to balance school, a part-time job, homework, friends, and your secret superhero pastime. Time is constantly ticking in-game, and with only two weeks to figure out each dungeon, prioritizing is key. Add on the fact that Persona 5 Royal adds a whole new semester to the original game, and you have hundreds of hours of entertainment wherever you go for $59.99.

Chained Echoes    

Chained Echoes is a literal must-have for anyone who holds classic JRPGs close to their heart. This one-man labor of love is a love letter to so many classic games, it’s hard to list them, but you’ll feel their echoes throughout. Its art is simple but gorgeously executed. The world is full of denizens and monsters and feels very rich and inviting. Chained Echoes’ fast-paced story contains little fluff, but the well-written dialogue ensures the story doesn’t lack heart. The easiest way to summarize most aspects of Chained Echoes is: snappy. Everything happens fast — from the movement to the turn-based combat, there isn’t a wasted moment.

It never takes too long to indulge itself, but it’s not a bad thing. Side quests and achievements combine into almost minigame-like synergy, and during battles, the overdrive gauge adds a fun bit of strategizing you won’t get elsewhere. As far as fighting goes, no random encounters will slow your roll, and party members can be swapped out at any time. That’s the beauty of Chained Echoes; everything is so succinct. Any time you pick it up, you’re sucked right back into the action — that’s if you can bring yourself to put it down. You can own a copy for just $24.99.

Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition

The original Xenoblade is considered to be the best JRPG of the modern day. With this spectacularly enhanced remake, you can experience the magic all over again (or for the first time) with the benefit of updated controls. Incredibly story-driven, Xenoblade follows Shulk, a researcher trying to discover a way to end a genocidal feud between his human clan and a mechanized race. Along the way, he gathers allies displaced by the millennia-long war, all of whom wish to end the bloodshed. The game balances the melancholy of war and death with lighthearted silly humor adeptly and navigates its heavy themes surprisingly well.

With an open world you’re more likely to see in an MMO, you’ll have plenty of goodies to find along the way. Combat is engaging and fun, with characters performing base attacks on their own and leaving players to strategize their upcoming move with a hot bar of chainable attacks. Different characters have different combat chains, so it’s worth experimenting with your party members, as well as your position in battles. With almost limitless side-quests — all of which can be stacked — Xenoblade Chronicles constantly gives you an excuse to do just one more quest. With a brand new 15-hour-long epilogue for anyone who beat the original, you can’t beat its $59.99 price.

Monster Hunter: Rise

Monster Hunter Rise gives you ridable giants, beasties, and the benefit of friends — what more do you need? Faster paced than its predecessors, Monster Hunter Rise makes traversing the massive open world easy with a slew of ridable animals and the “wirebug” — essentially a magical grappling hook — players never even have to touch the ground. The monsters are varied, and it’s very entertaining to massacre your way through, with each slain foe giving you crafting items to make whatever you need to move on to the next.

Seriously, Monster Hunter is jam-packed full of monsters — go figure. And it gives you access to so many of them right out of the gate that you may worry it peaks too soon. But don’t, the game shakes up the second half, so you get a fresh round of horrors with each beast. With multiplayer that allows you to invite up to three of your friends, and regular live-service updates, this one will continue to deliver for some time to come. Grab a copy for $39.99.

Dragon Quest Builders 2

This sequel requires no knowledge of the first Dragon Quest Builders. The second takes everything good about the first and just makes it all the better. Dragon Quest Builders 2 is like anime meets Minecraft. While the story is relatively weak compared to many of the contenders on this list, it matches up to what you would expect from art created by Akira Toriyama. I’m not knocking the guy, but Dragon Ball Z was never going to win a Pulitzer.

The world is fun to explore and packed full of gear, dungeons, and boss fights, but the building is where this one shines. Townsfolk need things from you and will give you missions to help them rebuild their destroyed lives. While they give prompts, you’re still free to build how you like, and seeing your community grow comes with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Fighting is not this title’s strong suit, so if hack-and-slash isn’t for you, maybe leave this one by the wayside. It does let you play with friends, so if building and exploring a fleshed-out little world sounds like your idea of a good time, give Dragon Quest Builders II a shot for $49.99.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

This game is precious. The marriage between video game and anime, Ni no Kuni is worth a playthrough just for the sheer delight of seeing these two mediums interweave to build a rich world that truly feels alive. With animation direction provided by Studio Ghibli, the simple character designs are imbued with life, the environments are stunning, and the full animations make you feel as though you’re playing through an anime, rather than a game. Even the soundtrack emphasizes this feeling with swelling orchestral scores to bring fullness to the experience.

Combat is sure to bring Pokémon to mind, with the main party able to fight but much more capable if directing a squad of familiars. The game doesn’t force you to go collecting these little fellas, however, and you only have to catch ‘em all if you feel the need. Fun combat combined with the compelling side characters, interesting world, and intriguing story all make Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch an absolute must-have. And at $49.99, there’s no reason not to add this one to your collection.

Pokemon Legends: Arceus

If you like Pokémon, gathering collectibles, or bending the will of lesser beings to your own, then this one is for you. While the graphics for Pokémon Legends: Arceus aren’t going to win an award any time soon, it’s surprisingly easy to overlook the sparsely decorated world. Set before much is known about Pokémon, players roam the world looking for Pokémon to research. There are plenty of these beasties wandering the plains, and townsfolk will impart a plethora of missions sending you out to locate the ever-elusive monsters.

Catching them is gratifying, with the Pokédex consistently rewarding your hard work. Fighting is straightforward turn-based combat with a mild emphasis on the grind. For anyone familiar with the system, it adds some zesty new challenges — including red-eyed Pokémon who are powerful enough to really rain on your parade. In a glorious changeup from the previous games, Pokémon companions can be used to fly, ride, or resource gather as you make your way across the map. There isn’t too much in the way of dungeons and hidden areas, so people looking for fleshed-out worlds might want to skip this one. But if you love Pokémon — and just want to be the very best — then Pokémon Legends: Arceus can be yours for $59.99.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition

Another update of a beloved favorite, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition is not only an update, but also a collection of the additions to various ports the game has gone through. The re-release has substantially more dialogue than its original and even introduces two new playable characters, one old face and one completely new. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition has an exceptional story, not just because it shakes up the dynamic but because the motley crew reacts to one another in a way that makes the crew in Guardians of the Galaxy look positively chummy. Some are jerks, some are sweet, but it’s their stark differences that make the experience of this Tales game so fun.

Tales of Vesperia’s combat is excellent as well. While you can only control one character at a time, all of them are at your fingertips. Even better than switching through your team alone is having a friend join in on the action. Up to four players can join in the fight, and spacing and positioning are just as important as how you chain your combos. The Tales combat system is too much to explain here, but rest assured that it’s “easy to learn and hard to master” nature makes for some incredibly addicting combat experiences. This charming adventure can be all yours for $49.99.

Dark Souls: Remastered

There are plenty of people who will argue that this title is not a JRPG, but I am not one of them. The incredibly punishing Dark Souls is the type of game that everyone should play once. The international phenomenon spurred hundreds of similar games and even founded a new genre of video games. The original “Souls-like” title, Dark Souls is punishing. It can be sadistic. It can be downright cruel at times, but that is what makes this game so addicting.

The remaster evens out all of the technical problems of the original release and even includes the DLC. Longtime players will feel many of these tweaks more than new players, but all of the tweaks come together to make this experience amazing. Dark Souls’ punishing gameplay is well suited to abrupt pickups and sitdowns the Switch provides, and you’ll be grateful for the ability to just walk away every once in a while. Rest assured, the brutal gameplay is well worth the struggle once you find the rhythm. You can experience the brutal nature of Dark Souls for just $39.99.

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Ash Martinez
Ash has been obsessed with Star Wars and video games since she was old enough to hold a lightsaber. It’s with great delight that she now utilizes this deep lore professionally as a Freelance Writer for We Got This Covered. Leaning on her Game Design degree from Bradley University, she brings a technical edge to her articles on the latest video games. When not writing, she can be found aggressively populating virtual worlds with trees.