While several potentially great JRPGs are launching in August 2022, some franchises are celebrating significant birthdays this month. While a few are recent, others are games lauded for helping launch the popularity of the genre and building it to be what it is today.
JRPGs are well-known for their deep storytelling, lengthy gameplay times, and, more times than not, grinding through battles to gain experience and grow in power. This genre may have started with bare-bones designs, but they have developed in popularity and depth as the years have gone on.
What JRPGs are celebrating their birthdays in August?
While Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest may be the first JRPGs that people think of, the genre is older than that. They may have been the first major JRPGs to come to the West, but there were titles in the genre that came before that.
Dragon Slayer and Hydelide are two JRPGs that came out around this time frame, but Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest perhaps did more to popularize the style of the game in other nations. These RPGs come in a variety of flavors, and here are some celebrating their birthdays.
Five fantastic games with anniversaries this month
- Tales of Symphonia (August 29, 2003)
- Yakuza Kiwami (August 29, 2017)
- Persona 3 (August 14, 2007)
- Tales of Vesperia (August 7, 2008)
- Dragon Quest (August 1989)
5) Tales of Symphonia (August 29, 2003)
This month, Tales of Symphonia will turn 19, and it is often looked upon fondly when people think of the Tales series. A well-received game for Gamecube, it starred Lloyd Irving and Colette Brunel, who go on a journey to save the world.
It stayed true to the previous Tales games design, and it’s an offering easy to lose dozens of hours into. There were titles to unlock, cooking recipes to master, and plenty of character interactions to discover. The action-RPG gameplay was tight, and it was easy to customize the party to fit what the player wanted to do.
It had bright, colorful visuals, interesting characters, and an excellent musical store. It’s a title that still holds up even after all these years as one worth revisiting.
4) Yakuza Kiwami (August 29, 2017)
A more recent game, the Yakuza series of JRPGs/Action-RPGs, had a remaster drop in August 2017. Yakuza Kiwami is arguably the best title in the entire franchise and rebuilt the first offering in the series from the ground up.
It introduced Kiryu Kazuma to a whole new audience worldwide with improved visuals and gameplay on every front. Set in the Japanese town of Kamurocho, it highlights the seedy underworld of Japan’s Yakuza.
Kiryu Kazuma, however, is a man of conviction and has to clear his name of being set up for murder.
While the original was a major deal, Yakuza Kiwami took it to a different level. With plenty of side quests, non-stop action, and side activities, it’s one of the best action RPGs of all time.
3) Persona 3 (August 14, 2007)
Originally scheduled to drop in July, it was pushed back a few weeks to August 14, 2007. That means it’s almost time to celebrate one of the most challenging franchises of JRPGs ever: Persona.
Persona 3, a part of the Shin Megami Tensei franchise, is often remembered as one of the best games in the entire series.
It brought significant innovation to the series in Social Links, and it was a jarring visual to watch the teenaged characters point their gun-shaped Evoker at their heads to use their powers.
Dark, evocative, and gripping, Persona 3 is one of the best JRPGs of all time, and it has a perfect balance of simulation gaming and turn-based RPGs.
2) Tales of Vesperia (August 7, 2008)
Tales of Vesperia may feel like a more recent Tales game since it’s had a Definitive Edition and is frequently on sale on Steam, but it is 14 years old. Releasing on Xbox 360 and other platforms, and as the 10th mainline franchise entry, it did not disappoint.
The action RPG combat system continued, but it felt fresh and enjoyable as it does in virtually every Tales game. This JRPG was set in a world filled with guilds, and the heroes who come together as Brave Vesperia must save the world, as is tradition.
Main protagonist Yuri Lowell and the rest of the cast feel like deep, fully fleshed-out characters. Unlike many previous heroes, he’s more of an anti-hero and is a clever, sarcastic character. He was the change of pace the franchise needed.
1) Dragon Quest (August 1989)
Dragon Quest 1, the one that started it all, turned 33 in 2022. It is a franchise so popular it no longer has release dates during the week.
This was once just a myth, but Square Enix officially confirmed it’s true. The series is so famous that thousands take off work just to play the new Dragon Quest game.
As far as JRPGs go, this one is straightforward. Players must acquire the legendary “Erdrick” pieces of armor and defeat the Dragon Lord at Charlock Castle. It had secrets and difficult battles, and despite its simplicity, it’s still heralded as one of the best in the franchise.
Dragon Quest is a game that inspired many RPGs worldwide. It also featured the art of Akira Toriyama, the writing and design of Yuji Horii, and Koichi Sugiyama’s brilliant musical compositions. Without Dragon Quest, many RPGs would simply not exist as they do now.
While other titles celebrate birthdays in August, this is just a selection of Japanese RPGs that have come out throughout the years that should be remembered for what they brought to the genre.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the author’s opinion.