10 Most Underrated PlayStation (PS1) JRPGs

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The original PlayStation (PS1) really took over from the Super Nintendo in becoming the place for great JRPGs. Later PlayStation consoles continued to be the place to experience great titles in the genre, but it all started with the PS1.

With major hits like Final Fantasy VII soaking up the spotlight, lesser-known experiences fell through the cracks, leading to several underrated PS1 JRPGs that are worthy of another look. These hidden gems might not have the same name recognition as some of the best JRPGs on the PS1, but they certainly hold up in terms of quality.

With action games as well as more traditional turn-based titles, there is something here for just about every fan of the genre. If you've made your way through the mainstream hits and are looking for something a little off the beaten path, it would be worth checking out some of the most underrated JRPGs on the PS1.

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.

10. Legend Of Mana

Legend Of Mana
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 73
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Release: 1999

Legend of Mana actually had pretty respectable sales for an underrated PS1 JRPG. It never managed to crack one million copies sold, but it got fairly close. That being said, the vast majority of those sales came from Japan, meaning there are a lot of people in the West who have yet to experience this gem.

That is a shame too because it is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful and best-sounding games on the original PlayStation. Coming out a little later in the PlayStation's life cycle, developer Square really knew how to take advantage of the hardware at this point. Sure, it doesn't quite live up to the Secret of Mana — one of the best JRPGs on the Super Nintendo — but it's still a quality action RPG that is worth playing today.

Developer and publisher Square Enix seemed to think so, anyways, as a remastered version of the game was released for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, and PC in 2021. Even a mobile version of the game came out later that same year.

9. Vandal Hearts II

Vandal Hearts II
Image Credit: Konami & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 77
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Release: 1999

Vandal Hearts II both did too much and too little when it comes to advancing from its successor. Fans of the original game didn't enjoy the departure from the first title, and critics felt as though the game wasn't progressive enough.

Sure, the learning curve is a bit of a steep one, and yes, the story isn't the most memorable, and no, it's not the prettiest game in the world (… let us finish), but the gameplay is seriously addicting if you're willing to invest a little time at the beginning of the game learning all of its intricate systems. Vandal Hearts II is a truly deep tactical RPG that really challenges the player.

Again, Vandal Hearts II isn't for the faint of heart, but it is for those hardcore strategy gamers looking for something a little bit deeper. If that sounds like you, it is recommended that you give this game a shot.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Vandal Hearts

8. Tactics Ogre

Tactics Ogre
Image Credit: Atlus USA & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 81
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Release: 1995 (on Super Famicom)

The PlayStation is actually the third console to receive the Tactics Ogre game after it was already released on the Super Famicom and Sega Saturn the previous two years under the name Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. However, when Tactics Ogre was finally released on the original PlayStation in 1997, it marked the first time that the game had been made available outside of Japan.

Even though it sold well on the Super Famicom and was met with overwhelming critical praise, it never quite found its footing with Western audiences. That's to say nothing of the game's quality, however, as one of the best tactical RPGs on the original PlayStation.

With multiple endings, a unique but approachable story, and stellar gameplay, Tactics Ogre feels like a game strategy fans would love if they got their hands on it back in the day. Square Enix likely thinks the same as they have released remakes and remasters of the RPG several times over the year — first with its original title for the PSP in 2010, and later under the name Tactics Ogre: Reborn in 2022 when it released on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, and PC.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Ogre Battle: The March Of The Black Queen

7. Legend Of Legaia

Legend Of Legaia
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 77
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1998

Legend of Legaia is a true cult classic. There were only two games in the series — the other being for the PlayStation 2 — and the franchise completely disappeared after that. That is to say nothing of the game's quality, however, as it stands as an all-time favorite by many who have actually played it.

The combat system of Legend of Legaia is a unique one that involves hitting the d-pad in order to create combos. Now, this might sound like an action game or even a fighter, but it actually takes place in a strategic, turn-based way. Equally unique is the game's world and storyline.

The game was relatively well-received by critics and fans both in the West as well as Japan. However, the sheer amount of quality JRPGs on the console has kept likely kept Legend of Legaia from being among the more popular titles on the PS1.

6. Wild Arms

Wild Arms
Image Credit: Sony Computer Entertainment & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 79
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1996

Despite being well-liked by both fans and critics, Wild Arms didn't see the same sort of commercial success as some of the other best RPGs on the PlayStation. It doesn't help that it came out around the same time as Final Fantasy VII and quickly became overshadowed by one of the most beloved video games of all time.

Even today, Wild Arms is a charming game to look at. The various characters are well-developed and implemented into the game incredibly well. For those looking for a (slightly) enhanced remake of the game, Wild Arms Alter Code: F. Wild Arms, in all its original glory, is also available on the PS4 and PS5 online stores.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Wild Arms 2

5. Brave Fencer Musashi

Brave Fencer Musashi
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 80
  • Genre: Action RPG
  • Release: 1998

Brave Fencer Musashi is another example of a game that sold extremely well in Japan but didn't fare quite as well in the West. While Musashi has role-playing elements, it plays a lot like an action-adventure game with its real-time combat. The game did draw some comparison to the Legend of Zelda franchise back in the day, but Musashi‘s success was obviously not as long-lived.

The game is considered to be a bit more obscure outside of Japan but it did garner a sequel on the PlayStation 2, Musashi: Samurai Legend. Unfortunately, the sequel didn't live up to the quality of the first game and we haven't heard much from the franchise since. That being said, Brave Fencer Musashi is a good time for those looking for an older action RPG adventure.

4. Front Mission 3

Front Mission 3
Image Credit: Square Electronic Arts & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 84
  • Genre: Tactical RPG
  • Release: 1999

Outside of the Front Mission 3: Remake, there has been very little talk about the franchise in the last couple of decades. That's more than a little disappointing when you consider just how good the strategy gameplay is.

It doesn't help sales that this is the first game in the tactical mech RPG series to make its way to the West. Seeing a “3” on a box of something most people haven't heard of at the time is probably a bad marketing strategy, but that's just our take.

That all being said, Front Mission 3 delivers as being a solid strategy game that really ramped up the RPG elements from the series' previous two entries. It was widely considered one of the best RPGs to come out that year and can appeal to those who aren't necessarily even fans of the genre thanks to its engaging gameplay.

3. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Image Credit: Working Designs & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 86
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1996 (on Sega Saturn)

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete actually sold decently in North America as well as Japan, but it finds its way on its list because of its art style. At the time, it was heavily criticized because it looked like an older game. In all fairness, it was an older game; it was released on the PS1 in 1998 in Japan and not until 1999 in North America. And the original game, Lunar: The Silver Star, was originally developed for the Sega CD and released in 1992.

Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete did see some visual enhancements over its Sega CD predecessor, but it still didn't look like the Final Fantasy series for example. Still, those who gave the game a chance found it to rise above its retro aesthetic and find that its story and characters were worth getting to know.

The story and characters are so beloved that the game has been re-made several times over the years under different monikers for various consoles. Not to mention, Silver Star Story Complete is a remake in itself. Years after that, however, Lunar Legend and Lunar: Silver Star Harmony are remakes that came out for the Game Boy Advance and PSP, respectively.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Lunar 2: Eternal Blue Complete

2. Valkyrie Profile

Valkyrie Profile
Image Credit: Enix & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 83
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 1999

Despite being from the creators of Star Ocean: The Second Story, Valkyrie Profile just didn't sell quite as well. And Valkyrie Profile was reviewed just as well, if not better, than The Second Story.

Again, this is the story of a game that sold exceptionally well in Japan but didn't quite translate to the West. Still, this is an excellent series that genre fans owe it to themselves to check out. Many publications rank it among the best games for the console, and some have gone as far as to say it is one of the best video games ever made.

Valkyrie Profile is a deep RPG title with a compelling story. It feels like it might be a bit too involved for the casual gamer, but its various customization options make the game lend itself to long, engrossing play sessions.

For a more modern, on-the-go experience, the game was re-released as Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth on the PSP. It still isn't the most approachable game on the PSP, but it is a great JRPG to lose dozens of hours to if you're willing to endure a steep learning curve.

1. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment

Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
Image Credit: Atlus USA & Wealth of Geeks.
  • Game Rankings Score: 84
  • Genre: Turn-Based RPG
  • Release: 2000

Persona has come a long way from when it was considered just a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series. Sure, that is still true today, but the Persona franchise has surpassed the original series in terms of sales and recognizability worldwide.

While this shift didn't really come out West until Persona 3 and even Persona 4, it really started to pick up steam with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment. This game is widely considered to be a great improvement over earlier entries in the series. It was a bit overshadowed in its release year by Chrono Cross, but it has managed to pick up fans over time as more and more gamers become aware of the Persona franchise. And it was later made available for the PSP — as was, for the first time in North America, its predecessor Persona 2: Innocent Sin.

If you're looking to dive into the series decades later, fans of the franchise will likely direct you toward classics like Persona 3, Persona 4 Golden, and Persona 5 Royal. All of these are fantastic games, but if you want to see where the franchise really started to make a name for itself, that arguably begins with Persona 2: Eternal Punishment.

Other Great Games In The Franchise: Revelations: Persona

Underrated PS1 JRPGs: Honorable Mentions

Those are our favorite hidden JRPG gems for the PS1. That being said, there are still plenty of underrated titles in the genre worth checking out.

These are just another handful of quality recommendations:

  • Alundra
  • King's Field (series)
  • Vagrant Story
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