The Golden Age Of JRPGs

The Golden Age Of JRPGs

Last weekend at PAX East, I moderated a panel called “The Golden Age Of RPGs.” This was quite fun, mostly because we spent the whole time yelling at Destructoid editor Dale North for not liking Final Fantasy IX. (I mean… come on.)

The crux of our discussion: which was the best era for Japanese role-playing games? We grouped them into five rough eras, and there are relatively solid cases for all five.

The 8-Bit Era (NES/Sega Master System)

The case: Formed the seeds of JRPGs as we know them… Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest pretty much started everything… 8-bit music still owns…

The 16-Bit Era (SNES/Sega Genesis/Game Boy/Game Gear)

The case: Final Fantasy VIChrono TriggerPhantasy Star IV… a total evolution of the genre… the emergence of great RPG storytelling… some games that have never been topped…

The Polygon Era (PlayStation/Nintendo 64/Sega Saturn/GBA)

The case: Suikoden II… a mixture of 2D classics and 3D experiments… the monumental success of Final Fantasy VIIQuest 64… getting to laugh at Quest 64XenogearsFinal Fantasy Tactics… the list goes on…

The New-ish Era (PS2/GameCube/Xbox/Dreamcast)

The case: Skies of Arcadia… all sorts of PS2 classics… Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door… sleeker graphics… voice acting… more experimental forms of RPG gameplay…

The Modern Era (PS3/360/DS/3DS/PSP/Vita/Wii)

The case: Handheld RPGs are better than ever… digital back catalogues… more and more indie RPGs come out every day… Lost OdysseyThe Last StoryRadiant Historia...

Alright, let’s see what you guys think. Vote here:

Put your arguments in the comments.


  • I think the golden age is still yet to come. We’re in a somewhat awkward era now; but as technology advances we’ll only be capable of telling much deeper and believable stories than ever.

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