Top 10 Best JRPG Stories All The Time

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Let's dispense with a well-worn stereotype right away: Yes, many Japanese RPGs feature cliche plots and story tropes.

There are others though, that feature memorable characters, play with our assumptions, and ultimately tell darn good stories.

Below are 10 JRPGs with stories well worth experiencing.

1. Persona 4: Golden

This nod specifically goes to the Vita port, which adds in two very interesting social links and a terrific epilogue.

The story follows a handful of high school students in Japan as they chase a mysterious killer, confronting their worst fears along the way.

Persona 4 is typically lauded for its memorable characters; and it features a well-constructed mystery with a surprising conclusion.

The secret to its success though is the day-to-day  -- the part-time jobs, tests, and dates that slowly weave together a story of their own.

When the year is finished and it's time to put Persona 4 Golden down, they're what you'll miss most.


2. Earthbound

Your mileage will vary on whether Earthbound or Mother 3 has the better story. Both are pretty great though, so it's not even really a point worth arguing.

Much like Dragon Quest V, Earthbound shows that it's possible to tell a great story within the standard RPG adventure construct; in other words, "It's the execution, stupid."

What striking about it is that, while it can be trippy at times -- Earthbound's enemies include coffee cups and UFOs -- it's also surprisingly melancholy.

Earthbound's writing is suffused with a longing for home, as well as other themes like growing up.

If you haven't played it, you can find it on Wii U now. You'll be surprised how far ahead of its time it was when it originally hit the SNES in 1995.

3. Chrono Trigger

"But the future refused to change."

Chrono Trigger's setup is compelling even now: A group of time travelers must not only head off a future disaster, but find out why it happened in the first place.

When Chrono Trigger came out in 1995, it broke new ground with its non-linear story and multiple endings (more than a dozen in all), and those innovations have allowed it to hold up better than most RPGs of its era.

Along with Final Fantasy VI, most people consider Chrono Trigger the apex of the SNES RPG era. They're right.

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