Top 10 Japanese Role Playing Games in the Last 10 Years
by: Lin Clark
; edited by: Benjamin Sell
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Role playing games have been a mainstay in the gaming industry since the first Final Fantasy made millions in the late 1980's. Games have been using the formula repeatedly and it has worked to charm gamers into buying the sequels. These are the top 10 JRPGs from the last 10 years.
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The Top Ten JRPGs of the Decade
Many fun JRPGs have been released for the Sony Playstation 2 in the last 10 years. The Playstation 2 became the number one system for role playing video games and unfortunately the PS3 lost that charm, since there are not as many of those types available now. They have replaced the majority with action games suitable for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360.
These 10 RPGs have a unique charm that can win over anyone looking for a good story, game play, and characters.
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Final Fantasy X (2001)
One of the most hyped up Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy X was the first FF game to be featured on the Playstation 2. It was the pinnacle of Playstation 2 graphics with unique facial features and beautiful full motion videos of dramatic scenes.
You play as Tidus, a Blitzball sports star who gets transferred into the world of Spira. He must go on a pilgrimage with a young summoner named Yuna, who wishes to put a stop to Sin, a giant whale like demon who comes every one thousand years.
The turn based game play was nothing revolutionary, but the characters charm, the surprise ending, and the graphics are unforgettable.
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Xenosaga Episode 1: Der Wille Zur Macht (2001)
Another game created more than a decade ago, Xenosaga put an interesting spin on using 3D graphics with anime character models. The game play would make any anime fan happy, with its intense move sets and battles against alien creatures known as gnosis.
The cast of characters are quite interesting, including a young scientist named Shion, a cyborg, a man with the body of a child, an artificially created human, a female android, and a celestial being with the body of a boy. Now does that sound normal?
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Shadow Hearts (2001)
Shadow Hearts is a dark gothic type JRPG set in the late Victorian era of 1913. It’s a very odd game that has spooky and down right creepy areas and beasts. You play as the young vagrant Yuri Hyuga with a mysterious voice in his head. This voice leads him to a train carrying Alice Elliot, an English exorcist. The voice tells him to protect the girl from Roger Bacon, a magical warlock who needs Alice’s powers.
The two journey together meeting a Taoist adept, a female spy, a 400 year old vampire, and a street rat boy. The game uses the Judgment Ring for its battle game play, a ring that spins over shaded areas you must hit in order to unleash your attacks. Shadow Hearts is one of the most out of the ordinary and anomalous games out there even today.
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Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits (2003)
For those that enjoy strategy based games, Twilight of the Spirits is a fun and challenging title featuring a young human prince and a half breed demon who live across each other not realizing they are brothers. The game gives you an ounce of suspense when you realize the two hate each other’s races and you have no idea what to expect when their paths cross.
The game features a lengthy cast and story that might have some clichés, but keeps you on the edge of your seat.
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Shadow Hearts: Covenant (2004)
A sequel to the cult classic Shadow Hearts, Shadow Hearts: Covenant is a beautiful game with a quirky cast of characters, some historical references, and a plot line that signifies life and how important it is to us. You play again as Yuri Hyuga, who know is trying to cope with Alice’s death and is living a quiet life in a small village in France.
It is now during World War I, and he meets a young beautiful German soldier while guarding his village. After being attacked by Nicolai, part of a supreme cult, he and the woman flee trying to find a cure for his new curse. The game features the same judgment ring as the first but a much more action packed system.
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Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga (2005)
Another dark and disturbing game, Digital Devil Saga takes place in a dark rainy terrain called the Junkyard. Tribes must fight it out to reach Nirvana, a place where they think holds great relaxation and a peace of mind. The tribe of Embryon stumbles upon a black haired girl and takes her back to their HQ.
They also find out they have new powers, in which they change into demons and devour others. The group sets out to find a cure for this and gets their heads in deep. With simple turn based game play, the game also adds challenge to the fights.
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Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2007)
Persona 3 has the same types of demons you would see in Digital Devil Saga, except the setting is at a high school and you have choices to make to keep your classmates close to you.
This game may be tedious to some, especially with a simply turn based playing formula, but it's also riddled with dark mysteries spinning around a crazy cult and why the school changes into a twisted place of hell at midnight.
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Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria (2006)
In this fantasy based game, you play as princess Alicia, a girl who has the spirit of a valkyrie inside her head, telling her what to do and where to go. She must find her way to mystical palace where King Odin sits so Silmeria can have back her own body.
Alicia meets a group of warriors who help her, all with their own unique swords and arrows. This game is more of an interesting combination of action RPG mixed with strategy.
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Star Ocean: The Last Hope (2009)
This is a game where the plot has been seen over and over again. The reason why it's here is because the game play is fresh and innovative. Taking the same steps as the other Star Ocean games, is it even more action packed and feels almost as if you’re playing a fighting game with RPG elements.
You play as Edge Maverick, a young captain of a space ship, and his anime clichéd companions as they find the secrets of the universe.
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Resonance of Fate (2010)
As a Playstation 3 game, the graphics could use a little work in this highly original RPG, but the game play is so much fun, you wouldn’t even notice. You play as a group of three hunters who go around a city flying in the sky to stop scum on the streets.
The plot gets a bit confusing as it goes on, but your three main characters, Vashryon, Leanne, and Zephyr, hold a great amount of humor that you just can’t put the game down.
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The End of JRPGs?
Fun JRPGs seem to be dying out but that doesn’t mean you can’t play these ten awesome games that are full of intriguing stories, memorable casts of characters, and their own distinctive graphics.
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All references from author's own experience and screenshots from respective games.