I’ve been thinking lately, what are the top 5 retro JRPGs on Switch. The reason I’ve been thinking about this is due to Nintendo announcing the release of the first Fire Emblem. Nintendo localizing and releasing this game is a huge thing for both Fire Emblem fans and retro gaming fans. I happen to fall more in the retro gaming fans category. Retro JRPGs feel a little different than more modern offerings. So I thought I’d put together a list of some great games to get people into the swing of playing older titles. I don’t intend to add any compilations to the list; those will have to wait for another list.
5. Wonder Boy: Monster Land
In Wonder Boy: Monster land, you play as Tom-Tom in a side-scrolling action RPG. It’s an interesting mix of a platformer and RPG. Some might be initially turned off from that, but if you give it some time, you get used to it. The version on Switch is the Sega Ages port, by M2. M2’s ports are always high quality, and this one is no different. The Sega Ages version is the original arcade game, not any of the console versions. So if you have Wonder Boy: Monster Land on one of those old consoles, pick this one up too. It will be a new experience for you.
4. Phantasy Star
Another classic Sega game and another stellar M2 port. Phantasy star started on the Master System and was Sega’s first foray into the console RPG market. Released only 2 days after the first Final Fantasy. The game is different from it and Dragon Quest, though, as it’s a first-person dungeon crawler. On top of that, as the name suggests, the game has a more futuristic sci-fi setting than either of the previously mentioned titles. This is another Sega Ages release and is, without a doubt, the definitive way to play. With a ton of quality of life features given to you, like a new dungeon map display. If you like Sega and you like retro JRPGs, this is one you shouldn’t sleep on.
3. Star Ocean First Departure R
Ok, this is almost cheating. Star Ocean First Departure R, Is a remake or remaster, whatever you want to call it, of Star Ocean First Departure, which is a PSP remake of the first Star Ocean on Super Nintendo. I don’t know how many people consider the PSP to be retro. I chose it, though, because it was remade to be closer to the PS1 entry in the series, and it looks and feels like a PS1 game, just maybe a little bit better. So I felt this game counted more like a retro game vs. the Trials of Mana remake that came out because that game feels like a modern game trying to capture the retro aesthetic, and this game feels like a PS1 game.
In Star Ocean First departure, you take control of Roddick and his friends who live on a developing planet, unaware of the goings-on of the universe at large. Unaware of all of the technologically advanced civilizations running things. Until they try and find a cure for a mysterious disease plaguing their world and run into one of those advanced civilizations. Star Ocean First Departure is an awesome action RPG that is definitely worth your time. With a neat story, interesting characters, and fun combat, this is a game you don’t want to miss out on.
2. Dragon Quest III
Dragon Quest III is a Legendary game. It’s one of the biggest games in Japan. If I recall, correctly It’s the game that started the rumor that Japan made the release of Dragon Quest games a holiday. You play as the hero, son of the legendary warrior Ortega, on a quest to defeat the wicked fiend Baramos. One of the great things about this game is its party and class system. You recruit party members and choose their class from 8 interchangeable classes. Go ahead and give this game a shot; it’s a classic that is worthy of its reputation.
1. Final Fantasy VII
I can’t say anything that hasn’t already been said about Final Fantasy VII. It’s a piece of gaming history that if you haven’t played, you definitely should. Is it perfect? No, It’s not even my favorite Final Fantasy, but it is one of, if not the most important entry. Certainly the most important entry for the PlayStation. If you’ve played part one of the remake, but not the original, play through the original. Sure the movement can be a little bit clunky, and the mini-games kind of suck and the graphics are old, and the translation could be better. However, with all that being said, this entry is still a must-play for JRPG fans. While it won’t necessarily blow any minds today, its story, themes, and characters still hold up to this day. That is the true driving force behind VII’s popularity. So pick this game up and experience it for your selves.
Man, that was a bit of a tough list to write. There aren’t a ton of options that aren’t sold as a collection, but it felt wrong to include collections in this list. That can be a different list. Some games that didn’t quite make the cut but are still good are Breath of Fire 1 and 2. They are available via Nintendo’s online service, which is why I didn’t include them. I wanted this to be a list of games you could play even if you didn’t pay for the service. What other retro JRPG’s do you want to see added to Switch? Let me know in the comments below; thanks for reading!