JRPGs are as old as the 8bits era of video games. Final Fantasy was made for the NES, and since then, many memorable JRPG titles have been launched on Nintendo consoles.
Besides the game that would define the genre — the original Final Fantasy — the NES gave us Dragon Warrior, Crystalis, and Fire Emblem. After that, we had many other games for the SNES, including several Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger.
Since Nintendo consoles were arguably the best platforms to play those games back in the day, it makes sense that you’d find many great Switch JRPGs games.
Not everybody enjoys convoluted Japanese stories, but JRPGs are a beloved genre that has evolved throughout the years. Not all JRPGs are Final Fantasy-like games, and many moved away from the turn-based combat that the genre was generally associated with.
Fortunately, the combat system no longer defines the genre anymore, especially if most of the essence of a JRPG remains. This includes the anime art style, the ridiculously unpredictable plots that escalate like crazy, the creative freedom that the developers have when it comes to systems and story-writing, the many plot twists, and so on.
So if you are looking for the best JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch, stick around. I’m sure you will find at least a few games that will make you interested.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
This edition came in celebration of the 10th anniversary of this game. Tales of Vesperia is a tale of two friends and how their stories intertwine although they have taken separate paths.
The Definitive Edition also brings two extra playable characters. Patty Fleur is a young pirate girl who is always searching for treasure, and Flynn Scifo is an Imperial Knight and Yuri’s best friend.
The Definitive Edition also has updated HD Graphics, new music tracks, some really cool boss fights, and so much more.
This is a JRPG with all the drama and escalating plot that the genre is known for. If you do not have any game in mind and are a fan of the genre, you will most likely enjoy Tales of Vesperia.
Valthirian Arc is quite different from most JRPGs. It is light-hearted, simple, and is about developing your students in a school.
You have to become the greatest principal, develop your students, and even help the citizens of Valthiria by deploying students on errand missions across the world.
This game does not behave the same way other JRPGs do when it comes to combat, exploration, and craziness, but I recommend that you at least try the game anyway. You might end up having fun.
In Valthirian Arc, you will have access to a variety of skills, magic, and items. It also contains an ambitious story with choices that can lead to different endings. It might not be the best JRPG on Switch, but it is worth a shot.
Shining Resonance Refrain
The Empire is exploiting the power of the ancient dragons and you, playing as Yuma Ilvern, have to do something to stop it.
This version brings a Refrain Mode that adds Princess Excella and Dragonslayer Jinas as possible party members.
This was one of the first JRPGs to show up on the Switch, and, unlike many other games of the genre, it is an action RPG. This is a game that feels very anime and has most of the tropes that you expect in it, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many people play these games and watch anime for their tropes.
If you want a JRPG, but you don’t want to deal with a turn-based combat system, this might be an excellent game for you to try.
I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna was the first JRPG on the Nintendo Switch, and it is certainly a great game.
In many ways, it is a love letter to older games of the genre, and it draws a lot of inspiration from titles like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger.
The story is a bit heavy and thought-provoking, the game is beautiful and polished, but it isn’t necessarily innovative when it comes to its systems.
Still, fans of the genre, especially those feeling nostalgic, have a lot to gain from playing this game. It is an entirely new story that was designed to feel familiar to those who have been playing JRPGs for a while.
When you play I Am Setsuna, you experience an emotionally impactful story, a battle system inspired by a timeless JRPG — Chrono Trigger — designed to be fun and familiar, over 20 hours of gameplay and nostalgia evoking designs.
Lost Sphere starts in Elgarth, a remote town where a young boy named Kanata has a terrifying dream and finds out that his entire village has completely vanished.
The game has a plot that escalates to absurd levels and has the protagonist fighting to save the world and the fabric of reality itself.
The game is heavily inspired by older JRPG titles, and it certainly borrows a lot from Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy.
This game is I Am Setsuna’s sequel and has some pretty good ideas when it comes to gameplay and storytelling.
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
The first Ys game in 8 years, Lacrimosa of Dana does not disappoint. The game looks good, and you get to follow Adol the Red in a long quest to save the world — nothing new here.
This is an action RPG, and as such, there is loot to be found and character progressions to be unlocked. However, it doesn’t necessarily become the main focus of the game.
There is a lot to discover when it comes to dialogues, quests, plot development, and so on. This is a true JRPG, and it is pretty fun.
If you are into either anime, JRPGs, or both, there’s a huge chance you will enjoy the game. It is certainly one of the best JRPGs on Switch.
This is another game that is designed to feel fresh and nostalgic at the same time. Although this might sound like an arduous task, the developers managed to do it beautifully.
The game does feel like something that was made in the modern era while using the art style of older JRPGs to evoke nostalgia and familiarity.
This JRPG obviously takes a lot of inspiration from older Square Enix Titles, especially Final Fantasy games from the SNES and similar titles from that era.
In Octopath Traveler, you move in a 3D world, but the textures are pixelated in a way that if you take a screenshot, the game will look like it belongs to the SNES. This is what is so fantastic about this game; it is not designed to look like 16bits JRPGs, but like they are in our memories.
On top of all that, the combat system improves upon old ideas, demanding experimentation and timing to those who want to be effective, which is much better than mashing the attack action.
If you are a fan of JRPGs, especially if you loved the 16bit ones, you definitely need to play this game. This will be one of the most magical experiences you will have with JRPGs on the Nintendo Switch.
The Last Remnant
One of the best turn-based RPG games on the Switch and arguably one of the most underrated JRPGs of all time, The Last Remnant is a hardcore game made by Square Enix that, in many ways, feels like a Final Fantasy but is its own thing.
The Last Remnant’s most noticeable feature is its unique combat system. You don’t just get party members and make a small team to tackle the adversities of the world. Instead, you have many characters working for you that you have to gather in squads that you control during combat.
Although the combat is indeed turn-based, it is one of the most complex turn-based combat systems out there. You must care about initiative, positioning, which enemies each of your squads are fighting, flanking, squad formation, squad composition, and so many other things.
There is a significant amount of grinding and exploration needed for you to progress in the game in order to be able to beat some of the most brutal enemies. Some bosses might drive you crazy if you don’t know what you are doing, so chances are you will spend a lot of time figuring the combat out.
However, if that sounds like fun to you — it certainly was a lot of fun to me — then pick up the game and play it. Fans of hardcore JRPGs will have a blast with The Last Remnant. It is for sure among the best Japanese Switch games.
The Switch is an undeniably good console for fans of JRPGs. The console has become home to games of the genre, and many of them received a re-release. One of them is the classic Dragon Quest.
If you always wanted to try the Dragon Quest series, but the game felt a bit too old for you, this game will solve that. This version keeps an art style reminiscent of the game’s era but feels modernized enough to those who dislike the old pixelated art.
The story is the classic good versus evil. The evil Dragonlord destroyed the Kingdom of Alefgard, and the descendant of Eric, the Legendary Hero, has to go on a journey to retrieve the Sphere of Light and save the world.
This game was designed by Yuji Horii and had the legendary Koichi Sugiyama behind the soundtrack. On top of that, Akira Toriyama — the master who created Dragon Ball — is the one signing the art. That’s such a powerful trio that if this isn’t enough to make you play the game, I do not know what would be.
Dragon Quest II
The second game of the franchise happens a century later, after the descendants of the hero of Alefgard have created three nations that happen not to be in peace.
The high priest Hargon summoned demons that brought the land to ruins, so a new hero must rise to save the world — as usual.
In Dragon Quest II, the prince of Midenhall seeks the other descendants of Erdrick to face Hargon together.
This game has a party system with multiple heroes, a wide array of abilities and items, and a significant variety of enemies.
It might feel a bit dated since it is indeed an old JRPG, but it still is one of Yuji Horii’s games with Koichi Sugiyama’s music and Akira Toriyama’s art. If you liked the first game, chances are you will enjoy the second one.
Dragon Quest III
Luckily for those who love the franchise, Dragon Quest III received the same treatment as the first game of the series.
Once again, you get to be the hero who has to step up and save the world. This time, the hero of Aliahan has to follow in his father’s footsteps and get ready to defeat the Archfiend known as Baramos, the Master of Darkness.
The game is a classic JRPG, so there won’t be much innovation to be found. Yet, there is a comfort in playing an old-school story about good fighting evil.
However, one interesting thing about Dragon Quest III is how the whole party is quite customizable, so you can actually change their gender, class and unlock many different spells and abilities to use on your characters.
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
This is, obviously, a modern Dragon Quest. It is impressive to see how they managed to keep the spirit of the old games when advancing to 6th, 7th, and even 8th generation consoles.
Although this is a fully voiced 3D game, this version of Dragon Quest XI comes with a pleasant surprise to those who love the 16bits game. You have the option to play it in 16bit 2D graphics.
If you do so, it will look like you are playing a Dragon Quest game on the SNES, but it really is the same Dragon Quest XI, which is fantastic.
Just like in most, if not all, games of the franchise, this is a story about good fighting evil. This time, Yggdrasil chose the hero to become a Luminary — a champion of good who rises in times of great need to protect the world.
Dragon Quest XI starts as what seems to be a simple game, but things get more complex and exciting along the way. The turn-based combat system provides unique tactical challenges that go a long way to prevent you from being bored or just mashing a button to attack.
Fans of JRPGs and Dungeon Crawling will have a blast with this elegant, well-designed game.
Pokémon Let’s Go
It doesn’t matter if you go with Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu or Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee; they are both fantastic games.
If you find it weird to include Pokémon in our list, you need to be reminded that Pokémon Let’s Go is a Japanese game and an old-school RPG, making it a JRPG — and a pretty good one.
Pokémon Let’s Go is an innovative remake that brings you back to the best generation of Pokémon in the Kanto region, where you can find your good Tangela, Snorlax, Arcanine, Rapidash, and many others.
Travel around the land of Brock, Misty, and the most known evil crew in the Franchise — Jesse, James, and Meowth. Visit new regions, fight pocket monsters, catch’em all, and become a Pokémon Master!
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond
Pokémon Brilliant Diamond takes place in the Sinnoh region. This is a reimagined version of Pokémon Diamond, now you get to explore the Sinnoh region and see its creatures with much better graphics.
Generally speaking, the game is the same, but with some improvements. You can also explore an entirely revamped Grand Underground and even put a Super Contest Show if you care about that kind of thing.
This is a solid Pokémon game, and if you have a Switch and like the franchise, you might as well just give this game a shot.
World of Final Fantasy: Maxima
If you enjoy collecting monsters but do not necessarily want to play a Pokémon game, maybe you should give this one a shot.
World of Final Fantasy: Maxima is an odd JRPG. You capture Final Fantasy Monsters — referred to as Mirages in this game — and use them to assist you or literally fight for you. You also get to upgrade them and level them up just like you would in a Pokémon game.
World of Final Fantasy has an over-complex story that you’d not expect from a game that looks like this, but it is a Square Enix JRPG, after all, and this means that it most likely has everything that you need in a game of the genre.
So take control over the twins, capture some mirages, and get help from heroes of many different Final Fantasy games while you fight to understand what is going on.
Xenoblade Chronicles Definitive Edition
Xenoblade is a fantastic adventure where you join the fight between men and machines. In this story, the main character, a young man named Shulk, wields a Monado, a blade that foresees the future.
Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition is such a significant improvement on the original. It looks much better than the original that the Definitive Edition sometimes feels like a different game.
Since this is a JRPG, the story will get to ridiculous situations and escalate absurdly. Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition also brings much quality of life changes.
The combat is action-based and feels both quick and tactical, but just like many games of the genre, it can be a bit grindy sometimes. You have a better UI that makes navigating your menu much faster, and we finally have a health bar so we can visualize the status of each character’s HP during combat.
In the end, Xenoblade Chronicles was never a bad game, but this version is the best way to enjoy it.
Trials of Mana
Seiken Densetsu 3 was one of the most memorable action RPG games in the 16 bits era, and I don’t know anyone who liked JRPGs and didn’t play this game back in the day.
Trials of Mana is an entire remake of that game for the Nintendo Switch, so this is already a game I can easily recommend.
This character has many possible pathways that lead to different outcomes, and much of it depends on who you choose as the main character and who your companions will be. On top of all that, the combat system is really fun.
Unlike the original, this game has character voiceovers, a remastered soundtrack, and an entirely new episode that you can play once the game is finished.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Ni no Kuni is a beautiful story about Oliver, a kid who goes on an adventure throughout a fantastical world with many aggressive enemies.
While the story unfolds in front of your eyes, Oliver has to deal with ferocious foes to bring his mother back after a tragic incident. The one thing that I particularly love about this game is the art style.
The animation was storyboarded by the legendary Studio Ghibli, responsible for titles like My Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and Spirited Away.
There is also a Pokémon-like characteristic to this game, where you have to “capture” creatures to help you out during battles.
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a genuinely fun video game with masterful storytelling and beautifully animated visuals that you should try out.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom brings back all that magic that you’ve seen in the previous game, but it looks even better.
Although this is indeed a sequel, it takes place hundreds of years after the first game, so you can skip the first game if you want to. However, I beg you not to. Both games are just too good. Play them both.
The story managed to keep the same feeling of mystery and wonder that Ghibli Studio is known for delivering, even though Ghibli did not participate in the development of this game.
This game is an action RPG with a more serious tone while it remains to stay innocent. This game is a warm-hearted, marvelous experience with a refined battle system that you’d be crazy not to try out.
Final Fantasy VII
You can’t talk about JRPGs without mentioning one of the most acclaimed JRPGs of all time. Final Fantasy VII is for sure one of those games that marked an era.
This game is so popular that it has an entire expanded universe with spin-off animations and games.
The reason behind this is quite apparent to anyone who played the game back when it came out. Final Fantasy VII innovates when it comes to aesthetics, world-building, themes, and soundtrack.
The characters are very fleshed out and feel equally important to the story, the main character is not your usual good guy who is in it to save the world, and the villain is the most memorable bad guy in the history of video games.
If you are into JRPGs and haven’t finished Final Fantasy VII, just get the game and play it. You will not regret it.
Final Fantasy VIII
Although it is not as memorable as the one that came right before it, Final Fantasy VIII still is a beloved game. This installment borrows a little from the previous game when it comes to ambiance.
The game doesn’t happen in a fantastical medieval or steam-punk era. Instead, the setting looks like the present time and has futuristic elements to it.
This is something that would become much more common later on, but back in the day, it was the second Final Fantasy to ever do that.
The story is as convoluted as it can get in a JRPG, the magic system is quite unique, and there even is a complex card game that feels like an entirely new game inside another.
Final Fantasy VIII also has some of the coolest summoned creatures — called Guardian Forces in this game — of the entire franchise.
Final Fantasy IX
The first one to provide us with a really good couple story in a long time, Final Fantasy IX, was clearly designed to be some sort of homage to the older titles of the franchise.
The aesthetics are less realistic and take the cute approach. The characters are rich and charismatic, something that is usually the case in Final Fantasy, and the world is much more like the fantasy worlds of older Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy IX brings some innovations to the combat system, such as Abilities that you learn by equipping items, a Trance gauge that you can spend to use powerful skills, a Synthesis feature that allows you to combine items, minigames, and more.
Follow Zidane and Garnet through a series of unusual circumstances and plot twists in a story that will undoubtedly end with the heroes trying to save the world.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Listen to my story, I was reluctant the first time I played Final Fantasy X, but I’m glad I did. Tidus’ story is everything you’d want in a Final Fantasy; it is heavy, emotionally deep, thought-provoking, and full of unexpected twists.
The battle system is the same you are used to, but with some interesting extra actions that depend on the enemy you are facing and your location, which adds a tactical level to the battles and makes them very fun.
This version is remastered, so it looks much better than the original release. It also comes with the direct sequel, so players can see what happened to Yuna after the main story has ended.
Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age
Face it, I can’t leave out a Final Fantasy when we are talking about JRPGs. Especially such an underrated gem like this one.
Final Fantasy XII was the first to severely deviate from the combat system that we were used to since Final Fantasy IV first introduced the ATB bar, and it freed the franchise to try new things and become even better.
Besides, Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age comes with a number of changes and additions that make this game even better than it was before.
The graphics were remastered, the Zodiac Job system was introduced in this version — which allows the players to develop the characters any way they want — and there’s even an optional, faster mode so you can go through battles faster.