JRPGs have been a staple of Nintendo consoles since the beginning, with the likes of Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest) and Final Fantasy on NES. Even the handhelds have offered an incredible selection, with titles like Bravely Default, multiple Dragon Quest remakes, and the criminally underrated Suikoden Tierkreis. Nintendo Switch continues that pedigree, allowing us to go on sweeping adventures on and away from the TV. The list below contains some of our favorite JRPGs available for Nintendo Switch right now, past and present, so if you’re in the mood for solid role-playing, look no further.
Disgaea 1 Complete
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness set a new bar for strategy RPGs when it launched on PlayStation 2 in 2003, setting its level cap at 9999 and letting players unleash literal billions of damage. That kind of power is hard to forget, so when the Switch gained Disgaea 1 Complete to celebrate the game’s 15th anniversary, we were more than happy to jump back in. The game holds up incredibly well, and the addition of the Etna bonus story gives up more opportunity to unleash that insane strength. There’s a reason Disgaea has remained a top RPG franchise for nearly two decades, and it all started here.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition is for the RPG fans that don’t want or need to play any other game for a month and a half. It’s a gigantic adventure, filled with people to meet and quests to complete, all following the classic Dragon Quest formula. Best of all, you can choose to play it either in the modern 3D style or as an old-school Super Nintendo-era JRPG, tiny sprites and all, on Nintendo Switch. Dragon Quest never disappoints in delivering a terrific adventure, and DQXIS is no exception.
Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen
When you think of Capcom, you might not think of an expansive open-world RPG before you think about hunting monsters or zombie-related biohazards. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen nonetheless may dazzle you with shockingly deep combat and vast exploration. The Pawn system means you’ll always be traveling with a companion, and while they’re not perfect, we have to admit the Pawns are far more adept than we expected from AI-based companions. Since Breath of Fire is still utterly MIA, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen proves Capcom’s RPG output is still just as good as the rest of its portfolio, and we’re still wondering when the sequel’s coming.
Final Fantasy VII
Longtime gamers may find it bizarre that the authentic Final Fantasy VII experience from 1997 can now be played anywhere on a Nintendo console of all things, but this wonderful port does just that. Everything that made FFVII an all-time classic JRPG is here in the Nintendo Switch version, with enhanced graphics and the ability to speed up the game to get through slower aspects faster. If you’ve somehow missed this timeless game — or if you weren’t around back in the late ’90s — now is the time to check out Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
While Final Fantasy VII gets all the attention, its immediate successor is also a wonderful experience. Final Fantasy VIII Remastered’s incredible story and unique JRPG gameplay plays beautifully on Switch, also enhanced by the speed-up and battle enhancement options found in the FFVII port. FFVIII additionally includes one of the best minigames of all time in the battle card game Triple Triad; that alone makes this game worthy of a try or two. Some view it as a black sheep in the Final Fantasy lineup, but others promise Final Fantasy VIII Remastered earns the lofty name it holds.
Final Fantasy IX
We’ve already mentioned the other two PlayStation 1 Final Fantasy games, so it’s only fair we also include Final Fantasy IX. It’s a terrific game as well, calling back to the pre-PS1 Final Fantasy days with a more medieval fantasy setting, the return of four members in a party, and iconic FF characters like black mages. Because of these, FFIX feels more like a retro RPG than its PS1 brethren, that classic charm pouring through every part of the adventure. Zidane and his crew put on a great show in Final Fantasy IX, and we highly recommend rounding out your library with this classic. Good luck with the 100 jumps!
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
When Fire Emblem made its way to Nintendo Switch, we expected an epic strategy adventure… but we still weren’t ready for what Three Houses gave us. Three different stories following the titular three houses gave us so many hours of content, getting to know the eclectic cast put emotional weight on the game’s later events, and the tried-and-true Fire Emblem strategy combat was the strongest it’s ever been. The Fire Emblem surge that began with Awakening on the 3DS reaches its apex with Three Houses, making this an essential play for all Switch owners, JRPG fan or otherwise.
Eight heroes from across a great land come together to save it from a terrible threat, each one marked with his or her own story and ambition. Octopath Traveler decides it doesn’t want to tell you one great story; it wants to tell eight more or less simultaneously. (It doesn’t always work, but at least they tried.) The classic turn-based gameplay and incredible graphics hearken back to a simpler age, while the soundtrack instantly became a classic. Square Enix tried something different with Octopath Traveler and it paid off, which hopefully means more adventures like this one in the future.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Tidy! Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch follows Oliver, a boy thrust into a grand adventure by a doll that came to life. This game originally launched on PlayStation 3 back in 2011, where it delighted fans with its animation provided by Studio Ghibli and tight gameplay. This is a charming and at times emotional adventure in one of the most beautiful game worlds ever created, making it a perfect addition to your Switch RPG library.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE Encore
Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tensei is a crossover we did not expect, but Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE made it work when it launched on the Wii U in 2016 in the West. With Encore, the hidden gem comes to Nintendo Switch, bringing the unique blend of Fire Emblem characters in a Persona-like-except-overtly-happy setting to a whole new audience, and we’re incredibly happy for it. The way the combat merges the two properties is genius, the crafting mechanics allow for some super powerful builds, and the story somehow makes this wild crossover feel like it was meant to be. Tokyo Mirage Sessions was an amazing yet underrated part of the Wii U lineup, and now that it’s on Switch, more people (like you!) can appreciate it.
Trials of Mana
Seiken Densetsu 3 was, for Western gamers, an albatross for 25 years. The Super Nintendo RPG only launched in Japan back in 1995, so unless you knew how to import, it was always out of reach. Trials of Mana (plus Collection of Mana) finally fixes that issue, completely remaking the game for modern consoles with new graphics, voiceovers, and a new epilogue episode, adding more content to what already was a robust game. Twenty-five years was a long time to finally get Trials of Mana to the west, but those tribulations were more than worth it now that it’s here.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition
While Xenoblade Chronicles seems like it’s still fresh in the eyes of many, the first game was released over a decade ago on the Wii. This updated Enhanced Edition catapults it into the current age, with revamped graphics and music that support the game’s excellent story and characters even further. The extra epilogue chapter, Future Connected, even adds a bit more story to the end of the game. Give this game a try if you’re looking for a new adventure. We guarantee you’ll be really feeling it.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Once you’re done with Shulk and his friends in Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition, it’s time to join Rex in his task to return the living weapon Pyra to her home in Xenoblade Chronicles 2. XC2 sports some of the best RPG combat on the Switch, as meeting the different living weapons (called Blades) and using their arts is flashy and exciting. Couple that with an amazing story and over 100 hours of content (not including the Torna expansion, which adds even more stuff to do), and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the most robust games, JRPG or otherwise, in the entire Switch library.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA
This tale of a shipwrecked hero on a cursed island marked the first numbered entry in the storied Ys franchise in nearly a decade, but immediately Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of DANA showed the series still had legs. Combat is incredibly fun, the island serves as a mysterious and interesting backdrop, and the intrigue and mystery of the story will keep you pressing forward. With Ys IX: Monstrum Nox on its way in 2021, now is the time to say “yes” to Ys and dive into the Lacrimosa of DANA.
Of course, there are many more quality JRPGs where even this came from on Nintendo Switch, including indies like Shadows of Adam and classics like the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series available in Sega Genesis Classics. Be sure to tell us which others you would add to our list!