Best PS1 JRPGs - Unforgettable Adventures Await!
The PS1 had brought home to some of the wonderful, insanely popular and best JRPGs of all time. We've already covered the best SNES RPGs in another article, we wanted to extend it to the home console that gives even the mighty SNES a run for it's money in that department, the PS1.
With the help of publisher Square, the PS1 was able to leverage the CD format to cut manufacturing costs and extend the quality of the audio and add full length video cutscenes by using the PS1 hardware. The end result were multi disc games that would take upwards of 60+ hours to accomplish, excellent storylines accompanied with broad character design and fantastic soundtracks. With the sudden rise in popularity within the RPG genre, other developers jumped in on the hype to deliver quality role playing games on the PS1.
This brought us some of the best role playing games of all time that still hold up with the games of today. We could have included at least 20 more game on this list but will add keep this list up to date.
Table of Contents
What a massive game, with so many playable characters. If you're looking for an incredible story, Suikoden II will be up your alley. Don't be surprised if you see a sprite once and then never again. It starts off with a group of two friends that get split up while taking a leap of faith.
You can really tell that the character development and story are the shining stories here. The battle combat follows your typical JRPG combat with the addition of the battlefield combat, where you're a general commanding your troops. A vast improvement over their previous series which was basically a large game of rock paper scissors.
While we didn't get the true sequel to Chrono Trigger everyone had hoped for, its still one of Playstation's best games. It's also to be considered one of the best looking PS1 games of all time. The video game soundtrack with it's variety of songs and use of eclectic instruments. Chrono Cross had a ton of cool customizable things from the text boxes which was unheard of at the time.
With 45 playable characters, there's so many different lineups and moves to lead for a pleasurable experience. Chrono Cross is a splendid game that should not go under your radar.
Lunar: Silver Star Story
In Lunar you play as Alex, the boy from a small town who gets selected to go on to become a dragon master. Along with his friends on his journey, you'll go through deep character design and love interests. This was one of the first games ever to feature voice acting. For today's standards, it's not great but consider how it felt back when it was released.
Lunar has a fantastic collector editions ever, featuring a cloth map, a hardbound book with interviews from the developers and the full fledged CD soundtrack (which is worth listening to on it's own).
With a concept so unique, it's worth playing today. The gameplay is broken up into three sections, the overhead where you're flying around the world map, the turn based combat and the platforming sections where you're exploring the dungeons. What makes Valkarie Profile a must play is in the combat section where you have to time moves with use of the face buttons on the controller.
With 24 different playable characters, it leaves for plenty of customization. There is a steep learning curve so pick up and playing it will leave you puzzled at first. A copy won't come cheap as it's slowly crept up in price finding a copy online.
Pushing the envelope in so many ways at the time gives it an edge upon so many other JRPGs on this list at the time. The characters had animated faces, something that was unheard of at the time. Another technique was to not use pre-rendered backgrounds to give additional scale and not use up too much memory.
Playing as Ashley, who was wrongfully accused of being a murderer. The game revolves around dungeon crawling separating yourself from the typical town hopping that you're used to seeing. The combat was action hybrid where you can freeze time and focus on body parts to attack. You also had to manage your own risk gauge that almost worked like a stamina meter.
Wild Western fans will appreciate Wild Arms. The three main characters to choose from put you in the perspective of Legend of Zelda with items that help you solve puzzles. The soundtrack is where Wild Arms shines. It really takes you back to a special time in your life.
Graphically, Wild Arms shares the art style of what would be reminiscent of Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy 3 on the SNES. This art style in my opinion holds up extremely well compared to the polygonal art style we're used to on the PS1.
Grandia sets it's way ahead of the pact with it's unique battle mechanic. The use of the active time battle system to move around the area to unleash a fury of attacks in a strategic system. You can really make it out untouched.
There are no random encounters in Grandia. This eliminates the grind heavy feeling that has bogged down some older role playing games. The feeling of wanting to fight enemies not having to fight enemies is a fantastic one.
The Legend of Dragoon
For better or for worse, Dragoon is one that brought so much controversy to the JRPG genre. Even though The Legend of Dragoon has received some negative press for being regarded as a FF killer game, we still think there's a ton of meat on the bones that LOD has to offer. The thing that drew me in was the powerup abilities, reminding me of the Power Rangers that were ever so popular in the mid 90's when you power up your Dragoon forms.
With four playable discs, Legend of Dragoon is not short of full of an explosion of content. It's a game with a narrative to convey. And hidden within the plot's ever-present twists and turns, it tries to give you something new. With it's glorious cutscenes and over the top powerups, you'll surely be shocked at how brilliant this game is.
Final Fantasy VII
For many role playing game fans, they didn't start off that way. Most of them had their first exposure to the genre when Final Fantasy VII was released and captured the hearts of many. What FF7 brought to the table was it's massive 3d world. With not too many 3d RPGs at the time and certainly none to the scale of this.
The story was fantastic and had so many branching ones like Red 13 or learning about Tifa. Final Fantasy VII pushed the limits when it came to video game storytelling. There's also a ton to get distracted with like riding around on a Chocobo, chasing down different limit breaks or finding new weapons or items to power up your party.
This PlayStation RPG is a must-play because it combines strong action with dark drama, a dash of anime, and tones of Really Big Robots. Some may consider Xenogears to be the best PlayStation game Square has ever created, and I heartily suggest it to anyone who has even heard of "Final Fantasy."
You can't afford to pass up this game, which has a complex plot, gorgeously rendered characters and mechs, and some of the most cutting-edge RPG features.
Legend of Mana
Legend of Mana has an interesting concept in relation to exploration. Instead of reaching predetermined areas, they have the ability to build the world they see and slowly over time they have the ability to unlock the world as they please.
With a lovable cast of NPC and a fantastic soundtrack, Legend of Mana is a fantastic action RPG that belongs on any PS1 fans wish list. It's simply one of the most creative games that have ever been released by Square.
Legend of Legaia
An underrated masterpiece in it's own regard, Legend of Legaia is a fantastic JRPG and is one of the most underrated ones of all time. The main characters of the story are three adventurers named Vahn, Noa, and Gala. Their goal is to stop the mysterious mist that is constantly threatening the land. Anything that comes into contact with this mist becomes something entirely more sinister and dangerous.
The battles in Legaia are fluent and buttery smooth. Each sprite looks fantastic even in today's day and age. All spells in Legend of Legaia are performed by the use of summons. The summons feel incredibly fresh and are not recycling in any way. Legend of Legaia is surely a standout title in our eyes.
Lunar 2: Eternal Blue
The 2d sprites in Lunar 2 hold up as well as ever for a PS1 classic release in Lunar 2. The battles are fantastic and makes use of the players standard attacks, defending or the use of spells and items keeps the battle system feeling fresh.
You're set off as the role of the hero with your pet dragon after heading to a mysterious tower, you get pulled into a struggle. The characters and atmosphere make Lunar 2 stand out among the crowd. This is one RPG that should not go under the radar.
Final Fantasy VIII
With many twists and turns, the storyline in Final Fantasy VIII is fantastic. What really stands out is the guardian forces. This is the summoning feature during battle, each of the guarding forces can earn ability points to level up your party or add special abilities.
In typical Final Fantasy form, the gameplay is broken up into three main areas, exploration, battles and of course the world map. As you navigate further fighting through enemies and leveling up your party, you'll get the sense of feeling more powerful each level along the way. Final Fantasy VIII deserves a spot on your list of top JRPGs of all time.
Breath of Fire 3
Coming back from the criminally bad translation of the first release on the SNES, Breath of Fire 3 redeems itself in true form. You'll take the form of Ryu you'll be able to transform yourself into a dragon form. Along the way you'll meet your party members (total of three) and be able to switch between seven total characters.
The graphics and art style are fantastic. With hand drawn sprites, they hold up so well versus the 3d polygonal graphics that were home to the PS1. Breath of Fire 3 doesn't try to take the huge leap forward, it feels familiar as to what you're used to on let's say the SNES or Genesis but add a few elements that bring the game forward with use of the master system that level your party up along the way from NPCs.
Dragon Warrior VII
The unbelievable slice of the world that is being presented to the player is what will first draw you into the game. With a huge array of standard attacks and magical abilities, Dragon Warrior VII will keep you occupied during the battles.
It's a traditional RPG in every way, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some may not want to have the envelope pushed when sitting through a 100 hour playthrough.