10 Best PlayStation 2 JRPGs

As the best-selling console of all time, the PlayStation 2 (PS2) is home to dozens of quality Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs). All of the Final Fantasy and Persona titles could make up a list of their own, but that's only just the beginning.

The best PS2 JRPGs are simply regarded as some of the best video games ever made – and they're not all turn-based either. In fact, there are plenty of great Action-RPG titles on the PS2 as well as deep strategy games. In other words, there is a JRPG on the PS2 for just about everyone. And many of these JRPGs are among the best PS2 games in any genre.

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.

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. As a recommendation list years later, we have also decided to not include MMORPGs either.

10. Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne

Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne
Image Credit: Atlus USA & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 82
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2003

About The Game: After a global catastrophe takes out most of the Earth's population, it's up to one boy to battle through dark forces in order to save (or destroy) the world. Set in post-apocalyptic Tokyo, developer Atlus returns with another entry in the acclaimed Shin Megami Tensei series.

Critical Consensus: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is a distinctive RPG experience that truly values the player's choice. Nocturne doesn't rely on being refreshingly different; it also features an interesting world to explore, various gameplay mechanics, and a dark style all its own.

Our Thoughts: Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne is a unique RPG on the PlayStation 2 that truly gives the player agency. It strays far from the beaten path that other RPGs of its day have paved in order to create a refreshing gameplay experience that can also be genuinely creepy at times.

The Shin Megami Tensei series has embraced the darkness and become quite the fan-favorite franchise over the years. New games still continue to release and classics like this continue to see re-releases. Notably, this title saw a high-definition remaster with Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster in 2020 for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga, Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner 2

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne was released as “Shin Megami Tensei: Lucifer's Call” in Europe.

9. Xenosaga Episode I

Xenosaga Episode I
Image Credit: Namco & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 83
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2002

About The Game: As a spiritual successor to Xenogears on the original PlayStation, Xenosaga Episode I is the first entry in Monolith Soft's sci-fi trilogy. Xenosaga Episode I is an engrossing turn-based RPG that tells a twisting futuristic story over the course of dozens of hours.

Critical Consensus: While Xenosaga is deep and rich with gameplay mechanics, it is truly the game's profound story that keeps gamers coming back to see what happens next.

Our Thoughts: The Xenosaga trilogy is a thoughtful sci-fi anime finely blended with a well-crafted turn-based RPG. In fact, the success of the game even inspired its own twelve-episode anime adaption, Xenosaga: The Animation. If that sort of thing sounds interesting to you, then this game is likely to deliver dozens and dozens of hours of futuristic RPG fun.

The journey over the course of the trilogy is an even one as each game is well-made and well-told in its own right. In addition to seeing an anime adaption, the first two games were also released as a single package for the Nintendo DS titled Xenosaga I & II. Unfortunately, however, this re-release on the Nintendo handheld is exclusive to Japan.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Xenosaga Episode II, Xenosaga Episode III

8. Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria

Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria
Image Credit: Square Enix & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 84
  • Genre: RPG / Real-Time Battle
  • Release: 2006

About The Game: Despite being a sequel, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria takes place hundreds of years before the original game. Play as two different characters as they work to prevent a catastrophic war in this blending of 2D platforming and real-time battle RPG.

Critical Consensus: While the plot and characters aren't as finely-tuned as some other great RPGs of the era, Valkyrie Profile 2 offers players complex puzzles, twisting dungeons, and deep gameplay mechanics that are fun enough to forgive any shortcomings.

Our Thoughts: While some JRPGs can be a bit slow and plodding, Valkyrie Profile 2: Silmeria wastes no time hitting the ground running. And compared to other lengthy RPGs, this gem is just short enough (and fun enough) to encourage replayability.

Whether it be dungeon-trekking or the game's real-time combat, Valkyrie Profile 2 simply aims to be fun all of the time… and it is overwhelmingly successful. The game is divided into chapters, which helps to keep the pace of the narrative moving. Still, feel free to take the game at your own pace as players are able to explore at their leisure, unlike the original title.

7. Dark Cloud 2

Dark Cloud 2
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 87
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Release: 2002

About The Game: Alter the past to change the future in this innovative action RPG that follows two protagonists. Rather than leveling up characters, Dark Cloud 2 (also referred to as “Dark Chronicle”) has players leveling up weapons as they collect resources and gain absorption points in procedurally-generated dungeons.

Critical Consensus: Dark Cloud 2 improves upon its successor in every major category from story to presentation and gameplay. It throws a lot of different mechanics at the player, and all of them are finely crafted and thoroughly polished.

Our Thoughts: Dark Cloud 2 is more of a spiritual successor than a direct sequel. Still, developer Level-5 took both what did and didn't work about the original Dark Cloud and improved upon it. And the first game was already a solid RPG in its own right.

The Dark Cloud series hasn't remained in the zeitgeist quite like Final Fantasy or Persona, but that is to say nothing of these games' quality. Dark Cloud 2 was nominated for many publications' Game of the Year awards when it was released. Even today, it is still considered one of the best games for the console, regardless of genre.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Dark Cloud

EDITOR'S NOTE: This game was released as “Dark Cloud 2” in North America, but it is titled “Dark Chronicle” in other regions.

6. Disgaea: Hour Of Darkness

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
Image Credit: Atlus & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 84
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Release: 2003

About The Game: Prince Laharl must take control of his Netherworld kingdom after the death of his father in this tactical, turn-based RPG.

Critical Consensus: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is an engrossing RPG experience with plenty of humor. It may not be the best-looking game for the PS2, but it more than makes up for it with entertainment value and deep RPG mechanics.

Our Thoughts: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is a rare game that is exceptionally deep but doesn't feel daunting to pick up and play. Essentially, it's a surprisingly accessible game that even hardcore RPG fans can find something to latch onto. Sure, it's not the most visually impressive title on the console, but when the game is this good, it is hard to care all that much about visuals.

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has seen several re-releases over the years for various consoles under several different monikers. The game saw its widescreen debut when it was released as Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness on the PSP, but it also made its way to the Nintendo DS and PC under the names Disgaea DS and Disgaea PC, respectively.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories

5. Suikoden III

Suikoden III
Image Credit: Konami & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 86
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2002

About The Game: Suikoden III takes the franchise into 3D with three main characters, three different battle systems, and three different styles of combat. Follow the winding narratives of these three protagonists as fate brings them together.

Critical Consensus: Suikoden III spins a genuinely compelling new story all while delivering the next big step in the franchise.

Our Thoughts: Sometimes the story gets left to the wayside with these grand, epic JRPGs, but that's not the case with Suikoden III. The third entry in this popular franchise has an interesting story to tell, and it goes about it in an equally interesting way.

Meanwhile, Suikoden III offers up one of the most ambitious RPG gaming experiences available on the PS2 with its three different protagonists and various battle systems. There are plenty of ambitious video games out there, but there are few that perfectly nail what they set out to do quite like Suikoden III.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Suikoden IV, Suikoden V

4. Kingdom Hearts II

Kingdom Hearts II
Image Credit: Square Enix & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 87
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Release: 2005

About The Game: Sora, Donald, and Goofy return to explore new Disney worlds and fight foes both new and old in Kingdom Hearts II. The sequel returns with even more great voice acting, impressively-recreated Disney worlds, and updated hack-and-slash gameplay.

Critical Consensus: It's not just Disney nostalgia; developer Square Enix has created an impressive action RPG with Kingdom Hearts II. This sequel is an improvement on what is already one of the best games on the PlayStation 2.

Our Thoughts: Unless there is a Disney world you are missing from the first game, Kingdom Hearts II takes what was successful about its predecessor and improves upon it in almost every meaningful way. The worlds are bigger and the combat is more fluid, but the magic of the original still remains. The Kingdom Hearts narrative still feels a bit hard to follow, but the emotional beats still hit as you're playing through the game.

Square Enix has re-released the Kingdom Hearts saga numerous times in high definition across several consoles. Definitely experience the first game before moving on to the sequel, but even after all of these years and subsequent sequels and spin-offs, Kingdom Hearts II still remains a fan-favorite.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Kingdom Hearts

3. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey Of The Cursed King

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King
Image Credit: Square Enix & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 89
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2004

About The Game: Uncover the plot of an evil magician in the eighth installment of one of the most historic RPG franchises of all time. Discover a magical and vibrant world as you meet enchanting characters and untangle a winding narrative.

Critical Consensus: Dragon Quest VIII is a polished turn-based RPG set in a world that is a joy to explore. The legendary series has become modernized and transformed into one of the best-looking games the PlayStation 2 has to offer.

Our Thoughts: Journey of the Cursed King is a rare PS2 game that still looks as good today as you remember. On top of its beautiful art style, the game oozes charm and is quite addicting. It's a bit traditional, but usually in all of the best ways.

Like other great RPGs of its time, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King has been made available on other various platforms. Notably, the game came to the Nintendo 3DS in the form of Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King 3D. It was well-received on the Nintendo handheld as well and remains one of the 3DS' most expensive games still today.

2. Persona 4

Persona 4
Image Credit: Atlus USA & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 90
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG / Social Sim
  • Release: 2008

About The Game: After a horrific murder upsets the peace of a rural town, a new student discovers that he and his friends have supernatural abilities that could help them solve the case and bring justice to those responsible. Take control of the student's double life as he battles powerful creatures and recruits allies in addition to attending class, working part-time jobs, and balancing relationships.

Critical Consensus: Persona 4 is a deep, lengthy, and carefully-crafted swan song for the PlayStation 2. The RPG and social sim genres are seamlessly blended to create one of the console's finest games. Any RPG fan owes it to themselves to check this title out.

Our Thoughts: When it comes to completely-engrossing stories and addictive gameplay, few franchises answer the call quite like Persona. Persona 3 was already one of the console's finest RPGs, but Persona 4 took the franchise to new heights by taking what already worked and mixing it with new ideas and fresh tweaks where needed.

There's no need to be worried about getting lost in the story as each Persona title follows a different narrative with new characters. Developer Atlus did create the definitive version of this game with the later-released Person 4 Golden, but the PlayStation 2 version is still worth experiencing if you have the retro hardware.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Persona 3 FES

1. Final Fantasy X

Final Fantasy X
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Metacritic Score: 92
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2001

About The Game: A star athlete and a skillful magic user team up to battle a powerful enemy as humankind is on the brink of extinction. Final Fantasy X marks the first game in the franchise to feature voiceovers and advanced facial expressions. Explore a vast world, witness emotional story moments through cinematic cutscenes, and enjoy a finely-tuned, turn-based RPG experience.

Critical Consensus: Final Fantasy X sets the franchise standard in terms of production value as well as sheer fun and enjoyment. A refined combat system along with a deeply compelling story make this entry one of the must-have RPGs on the PlayStation 2.

Our Thoughts: The Final Fantasy franchise produced some of the best JRPGs on the original PlayStation, and the developers continued to deliver with the console's successor. This time, they upped the ante in terms of scope, visuals, music, and gameplay. The series released several fantastic entries on the PS2 afterward, but Final Fantasy X still stands out as the cream of the crop.

Final Fantasy X has been remastered and re-released several times over the years — packaged with its sequel, Final Fantasy X-2. Experience the game in high definition on a more modern console as Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster, or nostalgically romp around in the original on the PlayStation 2. Either way, you're in for a good time.

Other Great Games In The Franchise On PS2: Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XII

If you're still interested in seeing more fantastic JRPGs for the PlayStation 2, make sure to check out our recommendations for the Most Underrated PS2 JRPGs.