The 15 Best JRPG Games on PS1 | Altar of Gaming
Published on January 21, 2021    Updated on February 1, 2021

The 15 Best JRPG Games on PS1

by FreeckyCake
13 min    5 Comments    Views

If you’re a die-hard fan of role-playing games, be it from Japan or the West, it gets difficult to find what to play when every game looks so good at first glance. However, fear not because here’s a list of “Top 15 JRPG Games on PS1”.

The games I’ll be mentioning are definitely worth your time since they’re the best I have ever played. Bear in mind that the list may miss some games because it’s not your typical mainstream list. It will include various hidden gems, obscure and underrated titles. So, don’t feel offended if I ended up not mentioning something you want to see.

Parasite Eve

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: March 29, 1998
Region: JP, NA
Type: Action-RPG, JRPG

Parasite Eve is a unique blend between Resident Evil and Final Fantasy. It is one of the games that include Role-playing with survival horror elements albeit it doesn’t incorporate the traditional turn-based system in the past Final Fantasy series for example.

The overall story puts you in the shoes of Aya Brea, a New York police officer. Her mission is to stop Eve, a parasite woman who has plans to wipe the human race from the face of the earth.

The gameplay is similar to Final Fantasy 7, but there is no traditional battle-system. Instead, when a battle occurs, Aya Brea can move freely to avoid attacks and shoot enemies using either her guns or her parasite powers. Additionally, the game uses a pausable real-time combat system with an Active Time Bar. Once the player attacks, they have to wait a little bit until they can perform an attack.

There are lots of elements taken from Final Fantasy series and other Square Soft games to be experienced here, but the best thing is the unique blend between survival-horror genre and RPG.

Koudelka

Developer: Sacnoth
Publisher: Infogrames, SNK
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 16, 1999
Region: JP, NA, PAL
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

Koudelka’s CGI is simply ahead of time, and that’s what makes it worth mentioning on the list. Similar to Parasite Eve, Koudelka is a mix of horror and RPG. I know for sure that people who experienced these two games are yearning to see more games that mix two genres into one, especially when it comes to horror and RPG.

The plot sees Koudelka, bishop James, and Edward Plunkett uncovering Nemeton’s secrets, and confronting various monsters which are created from the dark past. Personally, the plot is similar to another Sacnoth’s classic, Shadow Hearts Series.

Fun fact, Koudelka is by Hiroki Kikuta, a former employee of Square who founded  Sacnoth with other members back in 1997. You’ll notice several similarities with Final Fantasy series, but I assure you, the gameplay in Koudelka is surprisingly unique. Its gameplay blends exploration and puzzle elements with turn-based battles waged on a grid.

Koudelka is one of the best-hidden gem JRPGs that you will ever experience. Unfortunately, the only issue you’ll encounter is the expensive copy in case if you are a collector yourself, but you can always emulate it.

Brave Fencer Musashi

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: July 16, 1998
Region: JP, NA
Type: Action-RPG, JRPG

The aforementioned is one of the cutest games on the PS1. Unfortunately, is it also one of those titles which are often forgotten by the media. There’s a sequel as well, but that one is usually buried because, according to many, it’s a disappointment.

The story puts you in the shoes of a young swordsman, Musashi. He has to search and collect Five Scrolls which can upgrade the power of his blade. The blade will help him to defend Allucaneet from the evil empire.

Unlike the games which were mentioned above, Brave Fencer Musashi doesn’t include a turn-based combat system. Instead, it involves real-time sword-based combat in a 2.5D environment. Additionally, the title features role-playing elements such as a day-night cycle, and the ability to sleep to restore health.

Despite the latter being an actual action RPG (ARPG), it’s still worth the shot for the graphics, the story, and the overall simplistic gameplay.

Legend of Legaia

Developer: Prokkon, Contrail
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: October 29, 1998
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

Coming next in our list is Legend of Legaia. its unique battle system and the heartwarming soundtracks make it a perfect candidate on the list. Just for your understanding, the aforementioned was produced by the same company behind Wild Arms II and Alundra 2.

A mysterious mist learns about the fact that humans can use magical tools called Seru. As a result, they are all turned into freaky monsters. When all hope is lost, the three heroes discover strange entities called Ra-Seru (looks like power rangers btw) which will help them to wipe the mist and restore peace to the land.

Similar to Final Fantasy, Legend of Legaia features a turn-based system where battles occur either during the world map or dungeons. One of Legaia’s unique is the fight command. Instead of the traditional attack command, players indicate the location of each attack. Players can also strike using either the left or right arm and high and low strike. Each selected direction has its own advantage and disadvantage.

Additionally, Legend of Legaia has something known as ” Arts”. These are special combo attacks that inflict significantly more damage than the non-combo string. However, it’s up to the player to discover each character’s Arts. There is an abundance of commands and features to discover on Legend of Legaia. So, I’ll leave it to you to discover.

Threads of Fate

Developer: Square Product Development Division 3
Publisher: Square
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: October 14, 1999
Region: JP, NA
Type: Action-RPG, JRPG

Seriously, someone please tell me what does Square eat for lunch because I want some of it. Square is known for making a myriad of JRPGs that still amazes me to this day. One of these JRPGs is Threads of Fate. The reason why this game is a hidden gem is that it came out in a time crowded with other amazing games. Such as Chrono Cross, Soul Reaver, Dino Crisis, Silent Hill, and Resident Evil 3.

In Threads of Fate, players assume the role of one of the two characters: Rue or Mint. They are on an adventure to find a mystical object known as the Relic. The aforementioned is said to have the powers to deeply change their lives as they fit.

Threads’ of Fate gameplay is similar to a Square game called Musashi: Samurai Legend. Players have to choose from two different characters, each character with its own storyline. On the one hand, the overall game environment is introduced throughout the use of polygonal 3D.

However, just when you think Thread of Fate is another generic action JRPG game, the game introduces one interesting feature. Anytime Rue kills an enemy, a tiny symbol is left behind which the player can take advantage of to transform into that creature. Threads of Fate is a great JRPG if you’re looking for a forgotten classic.

Chrono Trigger

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Platform: PlayStation | SNES | DS | PC | iOS | Android
Release Date: March 11, 1995
Region: WW
Type: JRPG, Turn-Based

I’ll stop with my Square’s fanboyism after this one. I promise, really. Chrono Trigger is seriously one of the best JRPGs ever, and it’s still cherished by a lot of players to this day.

The story revolves around Chrono and his friends travelling through time and battling fierce foes. After they learn about the impending threat, Lavos who plans to destroy the earth just like he did centuries ago, Chrono, Lucca and his friend travel through time to destroy Lavos.

If you ask me, the gameplay in Chrono Trigger is similar to the original Final Fantasy 3 on the SNES. Players control the hero Chrono and his friends as they explore the 2D world filled with various forests, cities, and dungeons to navigate. The exploration is done through an overworld map which depicts landscapes, and other areas well-designed to look more realistic.

On the one hand, Chrono Trigger’s gameplay is slightly different than traditional JRPGs. Rather than randomly encountering enemies, the game makes enemies visible. Hence, you can always avoid wasting time-fighting the same enemies over and over again. In the end, if you are looking for one of the best JRPG games, Chrono Trigger is the best choice.

The Granstream Saga

Developer: Arc Entertainment, Shade
Publisher: SCEI, SCEE, THQ
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: November 6, 1997
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Action-RPG, JRPG

The Granstream Saga is a hidden gem JRPG game that I don’t see many talking about. The aforementioned is a spiritual successor to Soul Blazer, Terranigma, and Illusion of Gaia.

The game’s story focuses on Eon who is on a journey by protecting the four floating continents from falling to the ocean. Eon wears a jewel known as ” the scepter “. This jewel grants him magical powers and the ability to restore destroyed objects to their original shape. Amidst his journey, Eon will encounter several allies who share the same interest. However, the further Eon progresses in his journey, the further he discovers his dark past. The game has two possible endings, and it all depends on your actions.

Combat in The Granstream Saga is a real-time hack and slash, and it starts once you hit the on-screen wandering enemies in dungeons. Players fight enemies on a one-on-one duel.

The gameplay is actually unique since the entire game is praised as one of the first fully polygonal RPGs. Also, the game features anime-style cutscenes by Production I.G known for their works such as Ghost in the Shell, Psycho-Pass, and Blood+

In case if you are looking for one of the best JRPGs, the aforementioned is worth a shot.

The Legend of Dragoon

Developer: SCE Japan Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 2, 1999
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

The Legend of Dragoon is Sony’s answer to the Final Fantasy series. Just like Dark Cloud was the answer to The Legend of Zelda franchise. However, sadly, both of these games did not make their ambition become true.

The plot follows Dart, a brave warrior who possesses the power of a legendary knight known as Dragoon. Dart’s sweetheart Shana has been abducted by the dictator Emperor Doel, and it’s up to our hero to free her from the clutches of the wicked emperor. Amidst his journey, Dart will meet up with other warriors who possess the same power as him, and together they’ll team up to destroy Doel.

The player controls a party of 3D characters models similar to Final Fantasy games. The combat uses a blend of traditional turn-based system and real-time commands. One unique feature in the game is the inclusion of quick-time events during each strike. Once that happens, it’ll require the player to press a button when two squares converge. In the end, Legend of Dragoon is one of the best JRPGs on the PS1 that you shouldn’t miss.

Suikoden II

Developer: Konami
Publisher: Konami
Platform: PlayStation | PC
Release Date: December 17, 1998
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

One of the best JRPGs ever made on the original PlayStation. The game, upon its release, was both a critical and commercial success with a total of 68 Million in sales,

The story takes place a couple of years after the events of the original game, and it follows a silent protagonist. Suikoden II recounts the invasion by the Kingdom of Highland of the City-States of Jowston which soon turns into a conflict known as “The Dunan Unification War.”

The silent protagonist and his childhood friend are both caught up in this war, but each of them gains one half of the Rune of the Beginning, one of the 27 True Runes of the Suikoden setting. What follows is an epic tale that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat forever.

Dragon of Valor

Developer: Namco
Publisher: Namco
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 2, 1999
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Action RPG, JRPG

Alright, this one is a true action JRPG which you’ll see barely anyone mentioning. It could be because it was one of the latest games on the original system? Or it could be because the game felt more like a hack and slash than an actual RPG?

The story in Dragon Valor revolves around legendary warriors who possess the ultimate power to slay powerful dragons. Players control a variety of warriors throughout generations and generations. The present, the past, and the future are all linked together, and the legend keeps repeating itself.

Wild Arms

Developer: Media Vision
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 20, 1996
Region: JP, NA, EU
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

Wild Arms is one of the best titles on Sony’s consoles. Don’t exclude Wild Arms: XF because that’s a great one as well.

An otherwordly threat plans to revive the dark leader and destroy the world. It’s up to Ruby and his companions who have the ability to control powerful weapons called ARMs to stop the imminent threat.

Final Fantasy 7

Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Platform: PlayStation | PS4 | Nintendo Switch | Xbox One
Release Date: January 31, 1997
Region: WW
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

One does not simply, talk about the best JRPGs on the original PlayStation and not end up mentioning Final Fantasy VIII. After all, it’s one of the best selling titles of all time.

The game puts you in the shoes of Cloud Strife who joins an eco-terrorist organization who strives to stop a dominative megacorporation from taking advantage of the planet’s life essence. Amidst these events, Cloud will build strong relationships with allies and other party members who share the same interest. However, one member called Sephiroth will not let their adventure go so smoothly.

Since you’re here, why not go take a look at ” All Final Fantasy Games Ever Released ” article we’ve made?

Breath of Fire III

Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
Platform: PlayStation | PSP
Release Date: September 11, 1997
Region: WW
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

Breath of Fire III is part of the Breath of Fire series which initially debuted in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1993.

The story centres on Ryu, the last of The Brood, a race of people who can alter into tough dragons. As Ryu explores the world to uncover the mystery of his kin, his journey takes him into adulthood where he meets up with other characters who’ll help him in his quest.

Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu

Developer: Genki
Publisher: Crave Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation
Release Date: December 3, 1998
Region: WW
Type: JRPG, Turn-Based

Coming next in the list is Jade Cocoon: Story of the Tamamayu, one of the best-hidden gem JRPGs on PlayStation that many seem to forget mentioning. The latter was developed by Genki in collaboration with Katsuya Kondō, character designer for the Studio Ghibli movies Kiki’s Delivery Service and I Can Hear the Sea.

Players guide the silent protagonist on his journey to follow in his presumably deceased father’s footsteps to become a cocoon master.

Jade Cocon combines elements from Role-Playing games and virtual pet management. These pets are called ” Minions”. Let’s just say that these minions are like pokemon. They can be used to attack or defend the protagonist.  They can also be fused with other minions and customize their abilities and appearance.
It’s a solid game that anyone seeking the best JRPGs on the PS1 should go for.

Valkyrie Profile

Developer: Tri-Ace
Publisher: Enix
Platform: PlayStation | PSP
Release Date: December 22, 1999
Region: WW
Type: Turn-Based, JRPG

We are finishing the list with Valkyrie Profile. This one has received an enhanced port on the PSP as well, so you better go check it out as well. The game takes a lot of inspiration from the Norse mythology, that is why you’ll notice a couple of references when playing the game.

The overall story revolves around Lenneth as she journeys to learn more about her past life which was removed from her memory after she became a Valkyrie. Lenneth travels through Midgard collecting the souls of dead heroes to serve as her own personal companions for Ragnarok. The battle that will decide the fate of all creation.

FreeckyCake

Just your average gamer who enjoys hunting hidden gems and underrated games - but still open to any game in the industry if you ask me! My favorite game is Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and nothing comes close to it to this very day IMO. I highly recommend you to play it!

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5 responses to “The 15 Best JRPG Games on PS1”

  1. Joe Lee says:

    I’m so happy you mentioned Brave Fencer Musashi! 😀 Sountrack to gameplay to story to treasure/Binchofield hunting, this game is OOZING with love and dedication. Sad that the sequel couldn’t live up to it.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      I’m glad you liked it, haha, thanks.

      Yeah, it’s sad how Musashi: Samurai Legend wasn’t as cherished as the prequel. It had the potential to be a great game, but unfortunately, the execution was a bit off. The soundtracks were great, and the cel-shaded graphics too, but the gameplay was the culprit that made me prefer Brave Fencer Musashi. I’m not saying Musashi: Samurai Legend is bad. It’s just that, like I said, the execution was off, and I felt that the game had great potential!

  2. Gesph says:

    You call yourselves “Altar of Gaming”, then go an make a list like this without including Xenogears. What a joke.

    • FreeckyCake says:

      Ever heard of an opinion?

      As I explained in the first paragraph of the article

      ” The games I’ll be mentioning are definitely worth your time since they’re the best I have ever played. Bear in mind that the list may miss some games because it’s not your typical mainstream list. It will include various hidden gems, obscure and underrated titles. So, don’t feel offended if I ended up not mentioning something you want to see.”

      I was fully aware that I will get comments like these on this article, but at the end of the day, what matters is including both great games and hidden gems, as well as, obscure titles. I hope that you have found some interesting unknown games to play one day.

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