Gaming has come a long way since the days of games like Pong.
The first PlayStation console was released in Japan on December 3, 1994. Since then, it’s become the best-selling video game console of all time, with over 545 million units sold worldwide as of June 2022.
You can play against your friends in the same room or experience the thrill of playing with someone online across the world. Back in the day, there was only one way to play games: on consoles.
If you were lucky enough to own a PlayStation 2 or PSP, you could play some fantastic RPGs. From Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest to Phantasy Star to SimCity 2000, these games stood out above the rest.
It’s hard to imagine the PlayStation console without role-playing games, especially considering how integral they were in popularizing the console during its early years. With countless titles spanning the PlayStation’s history, the RPG genre has always been one of its most popular.
Is the PlayStation Known for Role-Playing Games?
The PlayStation is famous for role-playing games. The console introduced many players to their first RPG, which sparked a revolution in the genre that continues today. In fact, the PS2 was so successful that it actually helped to spawn a new generation of RPGs on other consoles and mobile devices.
The PS1 was especially popular during this time because of its unique features, including the ability to use two controllers simultaneously and its high-quality graphics and sound. The games were also highly interactive, giving players more control over how they played than most other consoles at the time.
The PlayStation has been around for over 20 years, meaning it’s had plenty of time to build up an impressive roster of RPGs. From the golden era of Final Fantasy to the latest blockbusters, Sony’s systems have played host to some of the greatest role-playing games ever made.
The 10 Best PlayStation RPGs
Here are our top picks for the absolute best PlayStation RPGs of all time.
- You'll follow the adventure of young Ramza as he leads his people across betrayals, backstabbing and petty intrigues that threaten to swallow his world
- Recruit from dozens of unique characters with abilities that will help Ramza on his quest
- Turn-based combat follow the same rules as the classic Final Fantasy VII
- You've also got access to the same spells and some of the same weapons as you play
- Thrill to the adventures that set the stage for the events in Final Fantasy VII!
emFinal Fantasy Tactics/em is a game that has aged incredibly well.
Released in 1997, the game was one of the first tactical role-playing games to be released on PlayStation. It was also the first title in the series to be released outside of Japan, and it took a lot of risks with its gameplay and story.
emFinal Fantasy Tactics/em was also one of the first games to include a branching storyline, which allowed players to choose where they wanted their character to go next based on their actions throughout the game. This added another level of depth compared to other RPGs, with only one main storyline with multiple sidequests and subplots to play through.
The game has two gameplay modes: one where you fight battles on the field and another where you decide how your characters move around in battles. The latter makes up most of your time with this game, as it takes place on top of a grid-based battle system that allows for some really cool strategies and tactics to be used in battle. The story is also quite interesting, with multiple endings depending on how well you perform during the game’s missions.
The story is surprisingly well-written for an RPG at this time, even though it can be seen as derivative of other series like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. However, it’s still so enjoyable enough that you won’t mind repeatedly spending hundreds of hours playing through it.
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emChrono Cross/em is an RPG that takes place in the same world as Chrono Trigger and chronologically precedes it.
It’s a game that has you traveling through time, exploring dungeons, and fighting enemies. While this may sound like a typical JRPG, it’s actually one of the best PlayStation RPGs of all time.
In emChrono Cross/em, the player controls Serge, an alternate-reality version of the protagonist from Chrono Trigger. This plot device allows players to see events from different perspectives and revisit past locations. Similarly to the gameplay of Final Fantasy XII, the player can fight monsters anytime outside battles.
Unlike most console RPGs at the time which used a menu-based combat system, battles in emChrono Cross/em utilize a timed button-input system known as Active Time Battle (ATB). Battles commence when either a character physically runs into an enemy or uses a physical attack on one. The gameplay is similar to other JRPGs — you’ll explore dungeons by walking around grids and interacting with objects — but it has a few twists on how things work.
The graphics are also impressive; not only does each character look different from one another with their various clothes and accessories, but they also have unique shapes that make them easy to distinguish during battles against enemies or even when walking around towns.
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- Four separate governing nations, some blinded by their short-sighted greed.
- The kingdom of Lindblum, headed by the honorable Regent Cid, decides to take a stand against the horrific massacres by the troops of Alexandria
- Help Lidane as he heroically navigates Gaia
The Final Fantasy series is one of history’s most beloved video game franchises. With over a dozen entries and more than 100 million copies sold, the Final Fantasy series has become one of the most recognizable names in Japanese video games. emFinal Fantasy IX/em is no exception, and is considered a fan-favorite.
The first Final Fantasy game was released in 2000 on PlayStation. Since then, each entry in the series has been a monumental success that features an epic story, memorable characters, and beautiful graphics. It is set in a world called Gaia, torn apart by war.
The game follows a group of people fighting to bring peace to their world, but they must do it the hard way — by defeating the empire that controls everything. The story is compelling and full of twists, but the gameplay is what makes this game truly special.
emFinal Fantasy IX/em features turn-based combat that allows players to execute attacks with their party members by selecting commands from a menu screen. It also has an Active Time Battle (ATB) system, which means that when you make an action like attacking or casting magic, you’ll see how long it takes for your character’s turn to come up again. This can sometimes be frustrating if you don’t realize how long your character will take to act after making a move. Still, it adds another layer of strategy for players who want to use their characters’ abilities effectively throughout an entire battle.
The visual style of this game will also draw players in — the story takes place in different locations across Gaia with distinctive visual elements. One location might be bright green, while another might be dark red.
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- Role-playing video game developed and published by Capcom
- First game in the franchise to feature three-dimensional graphics and voice acting
- Search the world to uncover the mystery of Ryu's people and reunite with his surrogate family
emBreath Of Fire III/em is the third installment in Capcom’s RPG series, and it’s widely considered one of the franchise’s best games.
It features a deep, story-driven combat system that has you battling several different characters, each with their special powers. The protagonist, Ryu, must find a way to stop an evil dragon from destroying humanity. Along the way, he meets many allies to help him in his journey. One of them is Nina, a fairy who guides Ryu and her brothers to defeat this menace. Players will find themselves immersed in a world full of color, epic battles, and intriguing characters that they can’t help but care about.
The story, gameplay, and characters are all great, and the world is gorgeous (at least until you reach the final boss). It’s got a ton of side quests and other activities to keep you busy if you’re not playing through the main story.
The combat is great because there are so many different ways you can attack enemies depending on what weapon you have equipped. You can also use magic spells that include fireballs and lightning bolts. The graphics are also amazing because they seem like they were taken straight from an old comic book page.
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The original emFinal Fantasy VII/em came out in 1997 and has become one of the most beloved games in gaming history.
It’s still played by millions of people around the world today, and it’s been remade for mobile devices by Square Enix. It was one of the first games to use fully 3D graphics, allowing players to explore an entire world they could walk around and interact with — instead of just a static set of pre-set areas, like traditional role-playing games.
The story is a major component and was one of the first games to delve into the character’s psyche. For its time, it was also one of the most advanced video games ever made, making it a technical marvel. It’s hard to believe this game came out in 1997 and holds up well today. You can still see why it was an instant classic when you play it yourself. You’ll be hooked from the opening cinematic, which shows our hero, Cloud, fighting against his dark counterpart, Sephiroth, who’s trying to take over the planet with an army of monsters known as Soldiers.
With an arsenal of powerful attacks at your disposal, taking down these beasts won’t be a problem. There are three playable characters you can switch between, and each has their strengths: Cloud (strength), Barret (range), and Tifa (speed). Don’t get too comfortable, though, because all three will have different abilities based on their weapon.
Eventually, you’ll gain access to Materia, which gives each character even more power, like casting fire spells or hitting enemies with lightning bolts. To start, you’ll just have a few Materia that you can equip, but soon enough, there will be new ones popping up every day.
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If you’re looking for an RPG that’s as good as a JRPG can be, look no further than emSuikoden/em.
The game is packed with all the elements you could want — exploration, character development, and an epic story that spans multiple worlds.
For a game series that’s been around for nearly 20 years, it’s impressive how each new installment manages to improve on the last. But, beyond the gameplay, what really makes these games so special is the emotional attachment players develop with their characters. The story goes beyond saving the world from an ancient evil; it explores themes of friendship and family that we can all relate to.
Featuring a great cast of characters, an engaging storyline, and an innovative battle system that rewards skillful use of your move sets and abilities, emSuikoden/em is a favorite amongst fans of JRPGs.
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emXenogears/em is a game that has an incredibly high level of emotional investment, and it’s a lot to take in if you’re not used to RPGs.
It takes place in a sci-fi world where warring factions are trying to find the meaning behind humanity’s existence. The story follows Fei Fong Wong as he battles to defeat the evil god, Deus, and save his people from her destructive influence. The game has the feel of a classic Japanese RPG, but it also incorporates sci-fi and steampunk elements into its world-building, making it feel fresh and new.
The story is complex and layered, with characters that are either relatable or despicable — and they’re all stuck in this world together, which makes everything feel more real. The battles can be difficult, but there’s also a lot of exploration for players who want to learn more about their surroundings.
The game has 9 playable characters, dozens of sidequests, and multiple endings, depending on what you do during gameplay. emXenogears/em was well-received by critics and fans alike and is considered one of the best PS1 RPGs ever made. The graphics are beautiful and well-animated; the soundtrack is memorable, too.
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- Continues the story with the "dragon people"
- Battle has broken out between two powerful continents, and the fair Princess Elena has disappeared during a tour of the war-torn region
- Effective battle system
- Extraordinary musical score
emBreath Of Fire IV/em, a significant upgrade over the third installment in the series, brought practically everything to the next level with a sophisticated gameplay system that is exciting.
It’s debatable whether the story is an upgrade over previous games, with the game tackling some dark themes.
However, it’s not just because of these things that emBreath Of Fire IV/em is considered one of the best PlayStation RPGs ever made — it’s also because it has a fantastic story and characters that make you want to play through it again and again.
The game follows Ryu and his dragon companion, Nina, as they journey to save humanity from the evil emperor. They’ll face off against some pretty tough enemies along the way too.
The Combo System, new to emBreath Of Fire IV/em, allows certain spells or talents to be cast in a certain order to generate increased damage or other bonuses. For example, casting two ice spells in quick succession will result in a greater ice assault, whereas casting a fire spell followed by a wind spell will result in an explosion-based attack. Combos can also happen by chance in single assaults with several effects.
emStar Ocean: The Second Story/em is a science fiction RPG released in 1998 for the PlayStation.
The game takes place on multiple planets as you explore them with your party members. You can choose from various classes, each with different abilities and needs. The characters are very memorable, from personalities and backstories that help you get to know them better as the game progresses.
The game allows the player to choose between two protagonists, Claude and Rena, the former a human and the latter a member of an alien civilization. The plot progresses based on the player’s decisions, including the character they choose at the start.
The game has several different endings depending on how many people you save during battles or quests and how much money you spend on items at shops around town. It’s also possible to unlock new characters by finding special things hidden throughout towns or dungeons that only certain characters can use, such as guns or swords. These items are usually hidden in places where other characters cannot reach them, let alone enter them.
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#1. emSuikoden II/em
emSuikoden II/em, the successor to the previous Suikoden video game series, is a JRPG classic that delivers a story of war and strife that expands on its predecessor in all the right ways.
The game, which takes place sometime after the first title when new kingdoms emerge and strive to strengthen their influence, has a new cast of characters and some returning characters.
Released in 1999, emSuikoden II/em is one of the best JRPGs ever made. It’s a turn-based game that features 108 characters from various clans and backgrounds. You’ll spend hours recruiting new members to your party while fighting against an invading empire. This is the perfect RPG for you if you’re looking for a deep, engaging story with exciting combat.
While the original game readily satisfied fans of the series, emSuikoden II/em adds new gameplay elements to the mix, including a grid-based tactical warfare system and more typical six-party battles. Because of the game’s ambition and near-perfect execution, it is now regarded as the best RPG on the platform.
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The PlayStation was a big deal for RPGs when it first hit the market, and it’s still one of the best consoles to play them on. Whether you’re looking for a game to play on your lunch break or want to lose yourself in a fantasy world, the PS has you covered. There are so many fantastic RPGs on this console that it’s hard to pick just one, but we tried our best.
If you’re ready for an immersive and memorable experience, start exploring these titles today.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Anthony McLaughlin/Shutterstock.com.