The Nintendo Switch is the perfect gaming platform for enjoying the long and sprawling stories of Japanese Role-Playing Games, also known as JRPGs. The ability to enjoy the Switch console on the go and on a big screen allows for multiple gaming possibilities and plenty of exciting spectacles. The Switch boasts some of the best JRPGs ever made, allowing many classics and new favorites to all be played under one roof.
This handheld hybrid seems like it was meant to be the true home of JRPGs, which shows in its impressive library. Here are 10 of the very best JRPGs to add to your Switch collection immediately.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
From the opening moment of the game, Tokyo Mirage Sessions uses a unique sense of style to capture the player’s eye. Its use of rainbow outlines on background characters provides an intentional set of focal points. The music captures the J-POP Idol environment perfectly, allowing combat to feel like it’s a part of a fast-paced music video. Characters are often fairly endearing even if they lean into some classic anime tropes, driving the player to form closer relationships with them. The battle system makes battles snappy by providing lots of ways to target weaknesses and pull off flashy moves in order to win them.
Night of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon
This game is a campy JRPG that uses the presence of sapphic overtones to focus on a particular target demographic. Everything in the game is working in service of the audience, which makes for a game that’s pleasing to play. The action gameplay is fast-paced but doesn’t reach the speed of games like Bayonetta. The system that has you fight in a pair also intentionally adds to the shipping aspect of the game, with characters fighting in what are essentially couples. The game’s focus on these elements makes it a powerful JRPG title.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy X and X-2 are beloved classics both for the memes they have spawned and the heartbreaking stories of trauma, grief, and moving forward that they contain. The remaster presents a nice coat of polish that helps the games appear as one would remember them as opposed to how they actually were. It brings in a lot of exclusively Japanese content that fans had been demanding for years. The gameplay of X-2 in particular captures a creative spirit with its job system, allowing for a wide range of experimentation when it comes to defeating enemies and creating your own fun. X’s gameplay also holds up as a turn-based JRPG where you get time to think about moves and defeat opponents as opposed to throwing a ton of new things at a player to juggle.
Disgaea 4 Complete+
Of all the Disgaea games, this one stands out as the peak of their design. It’s funny from start to finish and has its strategy gameplay down, too, with a great balance of abilities for characters and classes, a wide range of classes to create characters in, and lots of great modern inclusions. The Complete+ version adds all of the DLC from the PS3 version and Vita versions of the game, making it feel much more expansive than it ever had in one package before. The game is a great example of one that will make you want to play other games in the series, too, giving big roles to characters from previous entries and making them even more charming by playing up their endearing character qualities. There are some challenging endgame maps and tons of ways to grind to ridiculously high levels. It’s a game that’s easy to play in little chunks once you’ve got the main story down.
Saga Frontier Remastered
The original Saga Frontier, now remastered, feels like it’s ahead of its time. It has multiple playable characters you can start your adventures off with including characters that challenge gender, a playable female character with clear romantic feelings for two different women, and a solid diversity of female characters overall. This remaster gives all of that a nice solid shine, keeping some of the more dated elements to stay true to the original game while polishing other elements to make it actually possible to clear the game without tons of RNG being in your favor. It’s a perfect example of what a good remaster should be.
Miitopia is a toy chest of a game where you can throw your favorite memes, characters, and friends into a big blender. The game uses a lot of familiar storybook tropes to convey more of a childlike tone than most games. It introduces new classes throughout and makes the player change all of their party except their horse and main character, presenting many opportunities to try all of the game’s content. It has mixed gameplay and comedic interactions between characters, both positive and negative, scattered throughout the standard gameplay. It effectively captures the spirit of play, allowing you to ship characters, make the most meme-filled cast around, or create a cute story for a kid starting their own family and friends.
A truly ambitious JRPG, Octopath Traveler brings both a classic feel and new invitations to the table. It lets you start out with any of the eight characters, each of whom has a different tone to their opening, which is a bold choice and shows how confident the designers are in their writing of each character. The game is simple, with each character bringing a gimmick to the party, which tends to help both in and out of battle. It feels like a freeform adventure where you can go anywhere, but the characters’ stories actually happen in particular places and need to be done in order since there are eight places on the map at all times until you clear someone’s story, triggering a new plot advancement. This game is very well-designed and engaging.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu & Eevee
This game does something truly bold with the Pokémon series, making it a perfect gateway into the main series. Capturing wild Pokémon instead of fighting them might honestly be a better choice, given that battles against wild Pokémon have never felt compelling outside of special rare Pokémon, and those Pokémon remain battles in this game. It really captures what the first generation of Pokémon could be if it was made in the modern day while having a charm all its own that is likely to make it stand out in the halls of Pokémon history forever. It offers a unique co-op feature that makes the game more accessible for younger kids. You can even dress Pikachu and Eevee up to match a trainer, capturing the pet aspect of Pokémon in ways that no other game in the series has before.
Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
When entering the world of Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin, you’ll find that it’s immediately captivating in a way no other monster-tamer game has ever been. It starts in an epic festival where we see our character watching with her tribe of people as hunters stalk the forest and an elf girl runs away. We see an injured dragon with an egg⏤which sets the stage for conflict⏤a rival character, our ally, and our future main monster set up the background for our character all in a few short minutes before the game begins. It’s a captivating opening and the game does not take long to let you get to the action thereafter. Getting to raise a whole team of monsters feels nothing like Pokémon, but can scratch that same itch in totally new and exciting ways. Riding on the monsters’ backs in the overworld, flying around in the air, swimming in the oceans⏤it’s a game that simply feels alive in ways no other monster-raising game does.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
The Fire Emblem series is loaded with classic JRPGs that each have a reason to be someone’s favorite, and this might very well be the best game in the series. The multiple routes is a compelling gimmick that allows you to face off against characters you become attached to and helps feed the dread of war by making the player face off against characters who used to be friends. The game does a lot of unique things with its multiple routes, deeply exploring the perspective of each person you choose to follow and shifting the tone to capture that perspective. It allows the repeat use of maps and other elements to become less noticeable when they are being used with a new emotional weight behind them.
All of these JRPG games, and many wonderful others, are available to play now on the Nintendo Switch.