Sean’s Top 3 Underrated JRPGs

Published On March 3, 2016 | By Sean Harrison | Blogs

At Bashing Buttons we believe that Top 5’s or Top 10’s purely exist to be clickbait and intend to drive traffic up to websites, “You won’t believe what #7 is!” etc. We don’t like or agree with these types of articles but we are massive fans of lists, they’re direct, to-the-point, and give you something to think about when you’re doing the washing up or having a shower. If you see a list-article on here, it’s safe to assume we’re doing it because we’re passionate, not because we want clicks.

These are in no particular order, if you are a fan of JRPG’s you may have heard of some of these, but never thought to give them a try. I’m deliberately not picking any Final Fantasy game because they’re incredibly mainstream, and I don’t want to waste any time on games you’ve probably already played. So without further ado:

Skies of Arcadia

2001 – Dreamcast

2003 – Gamecube


What it’s all about

You play the role of a ragtag bunch of space pirates called the Blue Rogues. It opens with a girl called Fina in a mysterious ship being attacked by Alfonso of the Valuan Empire. He’s trying to destroy her ship and kidnap her but Vyse and his merry men step in to save the day. Pirate Isle is Vyse’s home, a quiet little floating island that doubles up as a giant garage for your gargantuan pirate warship. The island gets attacked by the Valuan Empire and it spurs a revenge mission for all the damage and trouble they have caused because you rescued Fina. It turns out that the Valuan Empire are trying to resurrect six ancient monsters that are capable of destroying the planet. However it’s not quite that straightforward as that as the Valuans may have a problem with some of their own men.


Why it’s worth your time

  • The story is absolutely fantastic, a must-play if you enjoy a world to get suckered into, particularly when you encounter the Gigas (Ancient monsters). Even the smaller storylines are
    compelling enough for you to want to find out more, one of which is an old chap called Drachma. He has been hunting this flying whale for decades that attacked his ship when he was
    younger, killing his son and causing him to lose his right arm.

  • On-the-ground turn-based fighting comes as standard, but airship battles are thrown into the mix to add a new level of complexity to the game. You can purchase add ons for your ship to make airship battles more exciting much like you can buy weapons for standard battles too.

  • The soundtrack has some really memorable pieces. When you’re not playing the game, its entirely possible to get the music stuck in your head.



Eternal Sonata

2008 – Xbox 360

2009 – Playstation 3


What it’s all about

Ever wondered what it’s like to experience the life of the composer Frederic Chopin through the eyes of a JRPG? Yeah, I didn’t expect this to ever exist either. But what I can tell you is that this is one of the most interesting games you’ll ever play if you’re a fan of the ol’ Japanese Role Player. The game takes place inside Chopin’s dream world as he is lying on his deathbed. He creates this fictional world in his mind where everything is influenced by the world of music. All the characters, locales and battle system are solely driven by music references. The story revolves around the lives of two characters Allegretto and Polka. Polka has the ability to cast magic which means she is cursed and hasn’t got much time left. As the local residents believe magic to be a contagious disease, she is cast out and Allegretto goes with her to help her enjoy her final days. The art style is this cutesy cel-shaded world that still holds up as one of the most colourful games you’ll play to date. This is the sort of game where the TV you play it on can make all the difference.


Why it’s worth your time

  • It’s surprisingly educational in addition to having a great story. At the end of each chapter, the game will give you interesting 10-minute snippets of information about the composers life. For example, did you know that he was only 39 when he died after struggling with Tuberculosis?

  • As a fan of turn-based JRPG’s, this feels like one of the better examples of a non turn-based battle system where you have a fixed number of seconds to do as much damage as you can, then the enemy will get a turn.

  • The colours. Oh the colours.



Xenoblade Chronicles

2011 – Wii

2015 – WiiU (Wii Virtual Console)

2015 – 3DS


What it’s all about

Way before the game takes place, there is a fight between two gods at war called Bionis and Mechonis. This battle ends with both gods becoming frozen in time and the entire game is set on the body parts of these two warring creatures. They were so massive that it’s possible to fit entire colonies on their bodies. You start down on the leg of the Bionis as a wimpy kid called Shulk. It transpires that Shulk has this ability to wield a powerful sword called the Monado which gives him the ability to see upcoming visions of the future. Shulk’s hometown gets attacked by the Mechon (Indiginous robot-like creatures that live on Mechonis) and the story unfolds from there with plenty of twists, turns and characters along the way.


Why it’s worth your time

  • It’s familiar, yet different. It plays like a single-player MMO but with a very in-depth story. Only without the immense grind that accompanies them.

  • I’m a huge fan of the voice acting because it’s not familiar, it was completely re-recorded from the original Japanese into English accents. This gave it a unique feel as it looks and plays like something from the other side of the world.

  • The whole concept of moving up giant creatures as you move throughout the world is a really interesting concept. As you climb up the Bionis back, to the head and further onto Mechonis, it gives you a real sense of adventure as you go exploring.


Image Credits: Gamefaqs, JustRPG & Destructoid