10 Best PlayStation (PS1) JRPGs

The original PlayStation (PS1) might just be the best Japanese Role-Playing Game (JRPG) platform of all time. All the fantastic Final Fantasy titles alone would probably be enough to keep us busy, but that's barely scratching the surface.

Simply put, the best PS1 JRPGs are some of the most celebrated video games of all time. Even if you don't turn-based or strategy RPGs, there are plenty of great Action-RPG titles on the PS1 as well. Suffice it to say, if you're looking for some great JRPG classics, the PS1 should be one of the first consoles you check out as many of these titles are considered quintessential must-haves.

Please note that this list will only include one game from a given franchise, but we will add any relevant entries (i.e. prequels, sequels, etc.) too, so make sure to look out for the “Other Great Games In The Franchise” section under select titles.

Also, please note that this list only includes JRPGs that were officially released in English. There were some great JRPG titles that never made it outside of Japan, but as a recommendation list, we decided not to include them here.

10. Dragon Warrior VII

Dragon Warrior VII
Image Credit: Enix & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 81
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2000

About The Game: Thanks in large part to its massive success in Japan, Dragon Warrior VII is one of the best-selling PlayStation games of all time. The game is a fairly traditional (albeit, long) RPG that follows Hero and his friends as they journey through time to defeat evil.

Critical Consensus: While the game received largely favorable reviews across the board, the American audience wasn't nearly as enthused by the game as the Japanese seemed to be. Still, Dragon Warrior VII received near-universal praise for its deep gameplay and class systems. Underwhelming graphics and an extremely long story did sour some reviewers, however.

Our Thoughts: Dragon Warrior VII doesn't have the same production value that the bigger Final Fantasy titles for the console do, but its sprite-based graphics do hold up reasonably well today. But it's the endearing characters and story of Dragon Warrior VII that truly get players hooked.

Lengthy stories are a bit of a double-edged sword; some gamers feel daunted by the sheer amount of hours it takes to beat the game while others are looking for something to sink their free time for the coming months into. Still, while it is certainly a deep game that hardcore fans can get lost in, a 100+ hour campaign might be a bit too much to ask of some players.

At the end of the day, if the classic JRPG formula is what you're looking for, Dragon Warrior VII delivers. And for those looking for a more updated way to enjoy this classic, the game was remade and released on the Nintendo 3DS as Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past in 2016.

EDITOR’S NOTEDragon Warrior VII for the original PlayStation is referred to as “Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past” or simply “Dragon Quest VII” outside of North America.

9. Breath Of Fire IV

Breath Of Fire IV
Image Credit: Capcom & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 82
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2000

About The Game: A girl searching for her sister — a missing princess — and a young warrior with the power to transform into dragons team up to fight evil and bring long-awaited peace to the land in the fourth installment of this JRPG franchise.

Critical Consensus: Breath of Fire IV‘s presentation is arguably second to only the Final Fantasy franchise on the original PlayStation. The game is praised for its beautiful art style, moving score, and well-written, albeit somewhat predictable story.

Our Thoughts: Breath of Fire IV isn't remembered for reinventing the RPG genre, but it does feature an enjoyable story with a nostalgic look. Coming hot on the heels of Final Fantasy IX, this title didn't do itself any favors in terms of separating itself from the biggest series in the genre, but decades removed from all of this, Breath of Fire IV stands out as a compelling JRPG in its own right.

If you're going to give any game in the Breath of Fire franchise a shot, the fourth entry is arguably the best of the bunch. In addition to its PlayStation launch, it also saw a limited release on PC in various regions.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS1: Breath Of Fire III

8. Alundra

Image Credit: Working Designs & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 84
  • Genre: Action-Adventure / RPG
  • Release: 1997

About The Game: Due to repeated visions, an elf sets out to fight evil in a troubled village. Alundra is an action RPG with more emphasis on combat, puzzle-solving, and exploration.

Critical Consensus: While Alundra looks like it would be more at home on a 16-bit console rather than a 32-bit one, the action RPG was widely praised by critics for its addictive yet challenging puzzles and combat.

Our Thoughts: Alundra is more of an action-adventure game than other titles in the JRPG genre. In fact, the game is pretty reminiscent of franchises like The Legend of Zelda or the Sega GenesisLandstalker. In fact, Alundra is seen as somewhat of a spiritual successor to Landstalker as many of the same people behind the latter game also worked on the former.

In addition to action-based combat, this RPG features plenty of puzzle-solving and exploration throughout its 40+ hour campaign. Alundra was later made available as a downloadable game on the PS3‘s PlayStation Network (PSN) store.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS1: Alundra 2: A New Legend Begins

7. Suikoden

Image Credit: & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 82
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1995

About The Game: The first installment of this acclaimed series follows the son of a general who looks to seek out and recruit 108 different warriors and lead them into a revolt against the corrupt Scarlet Moon Empire.

Critical Consensus: Critics called Suikoden an addicting and unique game. While it doesn't feature big-budget cutscenes, it does feature some solid RPG gameplay and a good story.

Our Thoughts: Suikoden is one of the earlier great RPGs for the original PlayStation, and its graphics show it. The nostalgic look holds up relatively well today, but it certainly stood out as being a bit limited at the time.

Suikoden kicked off an entire franchise that features several sequels along with light novel and manga adaptations. A remastered version of the game and its sequel (Suikoden II) was announced in 2022 for the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC as Suikoden I & II HD Remaster: Gate Rune and Dunan Unification Wars.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS1: Suikoden II

6. Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics
Image Credit: & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 83
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Release: 1997

About The Game: Final Fantasy Tactics is a different take on the franchise from the creator of Ogre Battle. The story follows a cadet in the midst of a military conflict where opposing nations are vying for the throne.

Critical Consensus: Final Fantasy Tactics is a challenging but rewarding strategy game with a rich story. There are a few minor visual gripes, but there isn't much to complain about as it is widely considered one of the best video games of all time, period.

Our Thoughts: Final Fantasy‘s decision to dive into the tactical RPG genre provided gamers with one of the subgenre's best titles for the console. In fact, Final Fantasy Tactics is ranked in many Top 100 lists from some of the industry's most respected publishers.

The game got arguably even better when it was released as Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions on the PSP. The updated version features in-game cutscenes, multiplayer, widescreen support, and a ton of new characters and features. Whether on PSP or the original PlayStation, however, this is one game that fans of the genre should at least consider trying out.

5. Grandia

Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 86
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1997 (on Sega Saturn)

About The Game: Originally a Sega Saturn title, Grandia was ported to the original PlayStation console in 1999. Set in a fantasy world, Grandia follows a boy who sets off on an epic adventure to explore a lost world with new friends he meets along the way.

Critical Consensus: The Sega Saturn version was met with universal praise, and the PlayStation version proved to be worth the wait as critics loved its fantastic story and innovative combat. It's widely regarded as one of the best games for both consoles even if the sound isn't quite on point.

Our Thoughts: The voice work and music are perhaps the biggest knocks on this game, and those seem rather minor when considering just how many other things Grandia gets right. Its character development system is quite innovative, and the choice between classic turn-based battle mode and automatic battle mode is a welcome one.

Put it this way, when the biggest criticism is the sound, you've probably got a really good game on your hands. For those looking to play this classic on more modern hardware, a high-definition collection with Grandia and its sequel Grandia II was released on the Nintendo Switch and PC in 2019.

4. Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 92
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Release: 2000

About The Game: Set off to clear your name in this unique RPG that does not feature shops or interactions with other characters. Vagrant Story isn't your traditional JRPG; instead, it's more of a strategic action-adventure game that focuses on weapon creation and modification as well as puzzle-solving.

Critical Consensus: While not necessarily the best game for beginner RPG players, Vagrant Story boasts an incredible story and deep, strategic gameplay.

Our Thoughts: Vagrant Story isn't a pure JRPG like others on this list. It actually features gameplay mechanics from several genres including action-adventure and platforming as well as RPGs. The story is genuinely compelling and really serves as an incentive to keep going.

The game has some significant production value that makes it feel like a true cinematic experience at times. There are simply few games quite like it. Vagrant Story was released on the PSP and PS3's respective PlayStation Stores.

3. Xenogears

Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 91
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1998

About The Game: Xenogears is a sci-fi JRPG that almost didn't make it to North America, but genre fans are sure glad it did. In a dystopian science-fiction universe with giant combat robots known as Gears, Xenogears provides gamers with a compelling story that would later lead to spiritual successors in the Xenogsaga and the Xenoblade series.

Critical Consensus: Epic anime cutscenes help tell this acclaimed story, but nearly every aspect of this game from presentation to gameplay help make this one of the great all-time JRPGs.

Our Thoughts: There are very few negative things to be said about Xenogears; in fact, any criticism feels more like a stretch when compared to the mountain of things the game gets right. Xenogears features a similar battle system to that in Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series, so it's certainly in good company.

It's rare that every aspect of a game comes together quite like this. Everything from the gameplay to graphics, music to the story, and even character development are firing on all cylinders. Xenogears isn't just one of the best JRPGs for the console, it's simply one of the original PlayStation's best games, regardless of genre.

2. Chrono Cross

Chrono Cross
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 92
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1999

About The Game: When a boy finds out he died in an alternate reality, he ventures to discover the connection between the two worlds in this all-time great JRPG. Chrono Cross is set in the same universe as Chrono Trigger, but it is not a direct sequel to the game.

Critical Consensus: Chrono Cross boasts numerous perfect and near-perfect scores from major gaming outlets. Nearly every aspect of the game is applauded by critics as it sits with the top few JRPGs on this list as being in a league of their own.

Our Thoughts: We've already started venturing into the ‘greatest games of all time' territory, but we're starting to get closer and closer to the top of that list with Chrono Cross. Expectations were at an all-time high after Chrono Trigger was one of Super Nintendo‘s best games, and Chrono Cross somehow delivered on all of the hype with another classic RPG.

Chrono Cross features multiple different scenarios and endings, making it quite innovative for the time. The game also removes random battles in order to speed up the game and cut down on all of the grinding that can sometimes hold the genre down.

A high-definition remaster by the name of Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition was released on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The remaster features various quality-of-life improvements as well as an entire additional action-adventure game not previously seen outside of Japan titled Radical Dreamers.

1. Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment & Wealth of Geeks.
  • GameRankings Score: 92
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1997

About The Game: Ex-soldier Cloud and a group of rebels team up to fight an evil corporation that is destroying the planet as they mine a valuable natural resource. The game marks the first mainline Final Fantasy entry on the original PlayStation.

Critical Consensus: Final Fantasy VII received numerous perfect and near-perfect scores from critics across major outlets. The story is universally beloved and its cutscenes, memorable characters, iconic music, fantastic combat system, and overall production value all elevate this JRPG to all-time great status.

Our Thoughts: The Final Fantasy series was creating hits left and right during the PlayStation era. Final Fantasy IX could easily be in this spot (and many other gamers probably have it on top of their lists). Final Fantasy XIII, on the other hand, is the less talked about of the three main games, but it is an underrated entry in its own right. Not to mention, the franchise also successfully entered the tactical RPG space with Final Fantasy Tactics.

As we said, we could talk about a number of Final Fantasy games here, but Final Fantasy VII separates itself as being the most iconic of the bunch. That is largely thanks to its story and characters. Cloud, Tifa, Barret, and Aerith combine to make a memorable cast of characters that have entered into the lexicon of gaming in general. When it comes to JRPG stories, few feel quite as epic as Final Fantasy VII. And that's to say nothing about the excellent combat and music.

The original game was made available for various consoles as well as PC and even mobile. Additionally, the completely rebuilt Final Fantasy VII Remake was released on the PS4 in 2020 and it went on to sell millions of copies and was nominated and won several Game of the Year awards. The remake was later updated for the PS5 and also came to PC.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS1: Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy IX

Best PS1 JRPGs: Honorable Mentions

Those are our picks for the best JRPGs on the original PlayStation. However, that doesn't mean there aren't other great titles in the genre worth picking up. On the contrary, there are a ton of quality recommendations for JRPG fans.

  • Arc the Lad Collection
  • The Legend of Dragoon
  • Parasite Eve (series)
  • Star Ocean: The Second Story