If you want to play the best JRPGs on Nintendo Switch, you’ll be spoiled for choice. As a haven for ports, remasters and ambitious titles that wouldn’t quite work anywhere else, the Nintendo Switch has amassed an impressive library of Japanese role-playing games (JRPGs) over the past few years. What’s more: Since you can take the Switch with you on-the-go, you can tackle some of the genre’s trademark tedious level-grinding as you travel.
To give fair warning, a lot of these titles started life on older platforms, from the PS1 to the Nintendo DS. But even the most discerning JRPG fan probably hasn’t played every single game on this list. If you find you’ve already played most of these titles, however, check out the RPG section on the Nintendo eShop, where Nintendo lists more than 1,000 titles. We can’t promise that every single one is good, but you’ll almost certainly find something that piques your interest.
.hack//G.U. Last Recode
The .hack series was a cult classic back on PS2, and .hack//G.U. Last Recode is an even better way to experience this creative series. This remastered collection gathers .hack//G.U. Vol.1//Rebirth, Vol.2//Reminisce, and Vol.3//Redemption. It also adds a short new episode: Vol.4//Reconnection, which wraps up some of the trilogy’s lingering story threads. In this sci-fi series, you’ll take control of Haseo: a player in a futuristic online game called The World.
When rogue data in the system threatens the real world, it’s up to Haseo and a party of other players — both friendly and antagonistic — to set things right. .hack//G.U. Last Recode feels pretty different from a typical high fantasy JRPG, and that alone makes it worth a look.
Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition
For some unfathomable reason, Chrono Trigger never made its way to the Nintendo Switch. However, the game’s equally fascinating sequel, Chrono Cross, got an excellent Switch remaster in Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition. You play as Serge: an ordinary teenager who discovers the ability to traverse parallel dimensions. Chrono Cross gets just about everything right, from its riveting story, to its gorgeous environments, to its genre-defining soundtrack. Not only is it a satisfying adventure, but it’s also one worth replaying, thanks to a large cast of recruitable party members, each of whom has a unique role to play in the game’s challenging battle system.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
The Switch got Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age a little later than the PS4 and Xbox One did. The delay was worthwhile, though, since the game includes a substantial new feature: an optional mode that lets you play through the whole game in 2D, just like the classic Dragon Quest titles. Regardless of whether you play in 2D or 3D, you’ll still build up a customizable hero, recruit a band of lovable misfits, and work your way through a high fantasy story with plenty of twists and turns. It doesn’t exactly forge new ground in the JRPG genre, but it’s one of the most polished executions of the concept you’ll find.
Final Fantasy VII
You can get a ton of classic Final Fantasy games on the Switch, and it was difficult to choose just one. However, with Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade available on PS5 and PC, and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth on the way, now is the perfect time to replay Final Fantasy VII — or to play it for the first time. For newcomers, FF7 tells the story of mercenary Cloud Strife, who joins a band of ecoterrorists as they take on an evil energy corporation called Shinra. As Cloud travels from the cyberpunk city of Midgar to the wide world beyond, an old nemesis called Sephiroth opposes him at every turn. Come for the interesting turn-based battle system; stay for the memorable characters.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
While Fire Emblem: Three Houses is arguably more of a strategy/RPG, it still has everything that JRPG fans like about the genre. Do you want attractive anime heroes in a melodramatic fantasy story? Do you want a deep, technical battle system with a varied cast of party members? Do you want a romanceable husbando/waifu with a tragic backstory to work through? Fire Emblem: Three Houses has all of that, and more. The game casts you as Byleth Eisner: a tactician who pledges his or her allegiance to one of (you guessed it) three great houses in the midst of a major war. Just be aware that if a party member dies in battle, they’re gone for good.
Octopath Traveler is a beautiful combination of modern and old-school JRPG design. Save for a few fancy background effects, the game looks like something from the SNES-era, with 16-bit-style character sprites and gorgeous pixel-art enemies. Structurally, however, the game embraces a nonlinear, player-driven design, which prioritizes character development over an intricate plot. As the title suggests, you take control of eight different characters, each of whom pursues his or her own story across four increasingly complex chapters. From the brave warrior Olberic, to the upbeat merchant Tressa, to the clever scholar Cyrus, each character has something to unique to offer, particularly in the highly technical turn-based battles.
Shin Megami Tensei V
If you like the Persona series, it’s worth checking out Shin Megami Tensei: the long-running JRPG series of which Persona is a spinoff. Like Persona, most SMT games focus on ordinary high school students in Japan, and pit them against an army of mythological demons. Unlike Persona, however, the mainline SMT games are more about heady plots and demanding combat than social interaction and character arcs. Shin Megami Tensei V is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, and it features a deep story, a robust battle system and plenty of interesting environments to explore. While Shin Megami Tensei V is a dark and difficult game, it’s also hard to put down once you get the hang of it.
Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
I once argued that the Switch was made for games like Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, and I’ll stand by that. The Switch is more than powerful enough to run the game, which is an enhanced port of an Xbox 360 title. The ability to take Tales of Vesperia with you means that you can take care of some tedious level-grinding when you have nothing better to do. You play as Yuri: a former knight in a fantasy kingdom, who finds himself unwittingly drawn into a quest to save the world from a charismatic, misguided villain. The fast-paced real-time combat sets Tales of Vesperia apart from many other JRPGs.
Valkyria Chronicles isn’t a pure JRPG, taking inspiration from both turn-based strategy games and strategy/RPGs. However, the story, characters and general aesthetics are about as familiar as they come. The game is essentially a retelling of World War II, but with a fantasy veneer. Young soldier Welkin Gunther and his team of freedom fighters fight against the despotic Maximilian and his invading imperial army. The mix of real-time action and turn-based tactics will test both your reflexes and your strategic skills, while the heartfelt story will make you wonder what WWII would have been like with a bit more mysticism and magic. You can also play Valkyria Chronicles 4 on the Switch, but not the interim two games.
The World Ends with You: Final Remix
I debated long and hard over whether to put The World Ends with You: Final Remix or its sequel, Neo: The World Ends with You, on this list. However, The World Ends with You was a bit of a niche game when it came out, so it’s entirely possible that you haven’t played the first one. This stylish, offbeat RPG stars Neku Sakuraba: an antisocial high school student who discovers that he’s died under mysterious circumstances. By competing in the sadistic Reaper Games, he could come back to life — but at a terrible cost. The World Ends with You has a clever, customizable real-time battle system, as well as a relatable cast of characters and a killer soundtrack.
Xenoblade Chronicles 3
Xenoblade Chronicles 3 demonstrates that developer Monolith Soft hasn’t lost its touch. Just like the first two Xenoblade Chronicles games, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 features a huge world to explore, populated with likable party members, dangerous monsters and interesting side quests. Unlike most JRPGs, which give you a three- or four-person party to manage, Xenoblade Chronicles 3 lets you fight with six, or sometimes seven, party members at a time. Since each party member can mix and match skills from a variety of classes, you have lots of leeway to develop your own strategies. You don’t have to play the first two Xenoblade games to dive into the third, but if you want to, they’re also both available on the Switch.