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Let’s have a look at some of the best JRPGs on Switch
It’s no surprise that the Nintendo Switch quickly became one of the best systems for JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Games) like the Nintendo DS was before it. This console is home to the best franchises ever: Final Fantasy, Grandia, SaGa, The Legend of Heroes, Mana, Fire Emblem, Pokémon and so many others. Of course it’s difficult to choose only 10 of them but I did my best. I hope you’ll enjoy these game recommendations. Feel free to share yours in the comments below. Here are some of the best JRPGs on Switch (in no particular order).
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
I have to get it out of the way so it will be my first recommendation. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered features graphical improvements over the original game as well as options to speed up the action, or be invincible like in other recent FF ports. I’m choosing this one over the others because a. it’s my favorite and it’s one of the most underrated game in the franchise along with V, II and III.
The story of Squall, this entry’s playable character, is unique, touching, fabulously told and one of the best from this golden era of JRPGs. More than 20 years after its original release, the impact is still there and it hits right in the feels.
The gameplay is one of the most ambitious and versatile of all the series with awesome combat and great character progression and character arcs. Uematsu’s soundtrack is hands down the best as well. There’s a lot of variety, complimenting the lively battle themes with some melancholia. This is also the first to include an actual song in the whole franchise with Eyes on Me from Faye Wong.
When it released in 2018, Octopath Traveler was Square Enix’s first original game to showcase their new HD-2D engine that they’re now using for a variety of games such as the upcoming Dragon Quest III remake or Triangle Strategy.
When it originally came out in 2018 as a Nintendo Switch temporary exclusive it made quite some noise. It is as much as a love letter to the genre as an improvement because it incorporates new and modern features and builds on the long tradition of JRPG made by Square Enix.
The story revolves around eight characters that we get to meet one after the other. So not unlike Live A Live except that the battles are turn based like a Final Fantasy. It’s really an amazing game with beautiful scenery, visual effects and an incredible soundtrack from Yasunori Nishiki. My only gripe with it is that the characters never actually interact in a final chapter like the Super NES game.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy RPG developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. The game is set in the fictional continent of Fódlan, where the player assumes the role of a teacher at the prestigious Officer’s Academy, training students from one of three houses: the Black Eagles, the Blue Lions, or the Golden Deer.
The game features a branching narrative, with the player’s choices affecting the story and the relationships between characters. The gameplay consists of turn-based battles on grid-based maps, with a focus on positioning and strategic decision-making.
In addition to the main story, the game also includes various side quests and activities, such as gardening and cooking. Fire Emblem: Three Houses has received critical acclaim for its compelling characters, challenging gameplay, and immersive story.
Grandia I & II
I’m putting them as a two-for-one as they came out in a bundle in 2019. Although they’re a bit dated on the graphics side, both games are still incredible pieces of content. They’re staples of the genre. Grandia first came out for the SEGA Saturn in 1997 only in Japan.
Two years later the game was ported to the PlayStation which got an oversea release. It follows Justin, a wannabe adventurer whose goal is to see the end of the world. It also features incredible combat and progression system. It uses one of the best turn-based combat systems allowing combos and thus makes it very dynamic.
Grandia II on the other hand was designed and built for the Dreamcast and saw the light of day in 2000. A PlayStation 2 and PC port came out later in 2002. In my opinion, it’s even better than the first despite the lack of nose and mouth for character 3D models for technical reasons. The story is less upbeat and darker. The combat system is an improvement in all the right ways. Iwadare’s score is his best so far especially regarding the battle themes.
Although both JRPGs are among the best you can find on Nintendo Switch, this port is very lazy. No quality of life improvements like other remasters like Final Fantasy VIII Remaster or Romancing Saga Minstrel Song and a plethora of bugs especially in Grandia II.
It’s quite a shame as that would have made them much more palatable for a new audience. But still, they’re both incredible games with fabulous gameplay and visuals making them some of the best JRPGs on Switch (which Grandia Xtreme isn’t).
Tokyo Mirage Session #FE Encore
Announced and first released on a fading Wii U in 2016, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE is a JRPG that brings together the universes of Shin Mega Tensei and Fire Emblem in some way. The game takes place in modern Tokyo and in particular the bustling districts of Shibuya and Shinjuku. The Atlus game has as its backdrop the crazy and spangled universe of idols, these Japanese pop singers who are all the rage with teenage girls.
A bit like Persona (especially the last 3), Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE lets us dive into a strange parallel world filled with supernatural creatures that we will have to fight or tame like the good Mirage master that we are. These clashes take place in the style of Atlus’ JRPGs. That is to say that it is very important to exploit the weaknesses of your enemies in order to be able to defeat them quickly and calmly.
Our heroes indeed acquire powers to trigger Sessions. These actions make devastating sequences possible. In essence, if a character just hits while using an element the monster is susceptible to, it will result in an automatic hit from another character to continue dealing damage.
Plus, the fights take place in front of a cheering crowd just waiting to be entertained. As you will have understood, it will be up to you to meet their expectations by chaining the Sessions. This is where we find the spirit of Atlus and that is all that matters.
What’s new in Encore, one of the best Nintendo Switch JRPG?
We have received very strict information about the release of new content in this version for Nintendo Switch. Although we can’t say everything, know that the developers have included a ton of new things. New characters can join the team (we’ll let you find out who in due time), there are new songs, and even new parts of history. So those who loved the original have good reason to come back.
There’s also a weird bug making the game only half translated in non-English languages. All the help messages are actually localized but the menu is in English like it was hard-coded in the game. So we end up with a dubbing in Japanese, subtitles in French for example, and a menu in English… It’s very strange and it seems that the developers ran out of time to correct these aspects.
Either way, with or without this new content, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore is a true JRPG gem and an excellent game with an excellent cast. Atlus once again shows us all its know-how in this area. After a secret passage on the Wii U, their title finally has the right to be released on a console worthy of the name. Alongside Persona 5 and Dragon Quest XI, this is one of the best RPGs on Switch and of the previous decade.
Pokémon Legends Arceus
To say I wasn’t expecting this Pokémon Legends Arceus is an understatement. Having two releases (with Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl) on the same console so close to each other was not to reassure me. And yet, Pokémon Legends Arceus is a real success. It succeeds in moving the series in the right direction!
Although the previous game, Sword and Shield, introduced the great outdoors in 3D with Pokémon visible on the screen, you still had to fight them in order to catch them. In Pokémon Legends Arceus, this is no longer the case. You can indeed catch Pokémon without confronting them. It doesn’t look like much, but it’s a real revolution.
The most enjoyable new feature is undoubtedly the lack of transition between exploration and combat. Everything is done transparently. It’s so pleasant and logical that we wonder how we managed all these years to do without it.
Then, the presence of Alpha Pokémon takes up the challenge and allows us to confront very powerful monsters that will be able to find a place of choice in our team once captured.
But above all the capture itself is really fun. My favorite method is to bait the Pokémon with food, then I sneak around and BOOM! A Pokéball in the back and it’s over, you’re mine! It is very rewarding and makes it one of the best JRPGs on Switch although it’s very childish at times.
Dragon Quest XI S Echoes of an Elusive Age
The latest entry in the long-running Dragon Quest Series. When Square Enix tells us that it is more a question of a remake than a port for this Dragon Quest XI S, we have no trouble believing them as the difference is so obvious.
Especially by hearing it because this version for Nintendo Switch benefits, among other things, from an orchestral soundtrack. The tracks of Koichi Sugiyama therefore explode and allow this jewel to shine even more as if passed through the transformation.
But that’s not all. Because like the Nintendo 3DS version, released only in Japan in July 2017, you can play it entirely in 2D! This 16-bit prowess allows us to enjoy the game as if it had been released on Super NES, including first-person battles. No change on the fly though. You have to go to a church or pray at a statue to be able to switch between the two.
In addition, this Nintendo Switch version has an exclusive and long-term side quest that sends us into the past. Indeed, the Chronomis, small creatures traveling the world, have passwords necessary to consult and repair the various works.
Once in Chronopolis, you can consult these books in a room dedicated to them. Each of them sends us to a very specific time but especially in a very specific passage of a previous episode. This is an opportunity to re-hear musical themes that give us shivers just thinking about them.
Finally, the choice between English and Japanese dubbing, absent from the PS4 version, is in itself an incentive to purchase this version, which is definitely superior.
Rise of the Third Power
Rise of the Third Power is a JRPG (which is a genre and not necessarily from Japan) developed by an American indie studio, Stegosoft Games. We know them in particular for Ara Fell, another RPG released in 2016 and designed under RPG Maker.
For Rise of the Third Power, the studio nevertheless appealed to contributors through the Kickstarter platform in 2018. This is where they raised just over US$14,000. The quality of their project nevertheless attracted a publisher, Dangen Entertainment. The latter, a regular in small but daring productions like Bug Fables or Crosscode, jumped at the chance and allowed the project to achieve its ambitions.
Always in their desire to please players, the developers of Stegosoft clearly pay homage to Super Nintendo JRPGs with their production. Chrono Trigger especially comes to mind not only for the visual aspect (especially the world map) but also in the gameplay. However, we feel that they were inspired by more modern productions like Octopath Traveler, especially for the attacks visual effects in the fights.
Persona 5 Royal
Persona 5 Royal is a remastered version of the original Persona 5, a popular role-playing game developed by Atlus. The game follows the story of a group of high school students who are able to enter a mysterious realm known as the “Metaverse” and use their Personas, powerful supernatural beings, to fight against evil forces and uncover the truth behind a series of strange events.
In addition to the original game’s content, Persona 5 Royal features new characters, gameplay mechanics, and a variety of other enhancements. Players are able to explore the bustling city of Tokyo and engage in turn-based combat against formidable foes, while also developing relationships and building their reputation as a group of Phantom Thieves.
With its deep character development, engaging story, and memorable soundtrack, Persona 5 Royal is a must-play for fans of the series and newcomers alike.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is a remastered version of the open-world RPG Xenoblade Chronicles, originally released for the Nintendo Wii. The Definitive Edition features updated graphics, a reworked battle system, and new content, including a “Future Connected” epilogue that takes place after the main story.
The game is set in a world where civilizations live on the backs of giant Titans, and follows the journey of a young hero named Shulk as he searches for a way to defeat the mechanical life forms known as the Mechon. Along the way, he is joined by a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique abilities and personalities. Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition is known for its vast world to explore, complex gameplay mechanics, and epic story. It is available on the Nintendo Switch.
BONUS: Shin Megami Tensei V
Shin Megami Tensei V is an RPG developed and published by Atlus for the Nintendo Switch. It was released in 2021 and is the fifth main installment in the Shin Megami Tensei series and the first main entry in the series to be released on a home console in over a decade. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Tokyo and follows the story of a high school student who is caught in the middle of a war between gods and demons.
The player can recruit and fuse demons to create a party, and can also choose to align with either the gods or the demons. The gameplay features a turn-based battle system and a branching narrative that is affected by the player’s choices. Shin Megami Tensei V received positive reviews upon its release, with many praising its story, characters, and gameplay. It has been highly anticipated by fans of the series and RPG enthusiasts.
Honorable Mentions but not the best JRPGs on Switch
The following fantastic games on the Nintendo Switch didn’t make the cut but fans of JRPGs should check them out if they’ve already played the ones from my selection:
- Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen
- Shin Megami Tensei V
- Chrono Cross Remastered
- Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars
- Cthulu Saves Christmas
- Legend of Mana (one of the best PS1-Era JRPGs)
- SaGa Frontier Remastered
- SEGA Genesis Classics (Phantasy Star and Shining Force)
- Star Ocean First Departure R
- Actraiser Renaissance
- Collection of Mana (a compilation including Adventures of Mana, Secret of Mana and Trials of Mana)
- Trials of Mana
- Ni no Kuni Wrath of the White Witch
- Shin Megami Tensei Persona 5 Strikers
- Collection of SaGa Final Fantasy Legend
- Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition
- I am Setsuna
- Lost Sphear
- Astria Ascending
- World of Final Fantasy Maxima
- Shin Megami Tensei III HD Remaster
- The Legend of Heroes Series
- Dungeon Encounters
- Ys IX Monstrum Nox
- Dragon Quest (the game that started it all)
- Dragon Quest II
- Dragon Quest III
- moon (a weird game but an interesting Nintendo Switch JRPG)