Top 10 Longest Running JRPG Series [Best Recommendations]

Japanese role playing games or better known as JRPGs have been around since the early days of gaming systems. Have you ever wondered what some of the longest running titles have been in the gaming world? Well folks, Honey’s Anime is here for that exact reason. After hours of rummaging through old gaming boxes and the various websites online we were finally able to conjure up a list. Welcome to our Top 10 Longest Running JRPG Series.

For a gaming title to have been considered for this longest running JRPG list, we looked at various concepts. One of those concepts is how long the franchise has been around for and is it still around even today? We won’t lie folks, even we were surprised at some of the longest running JRPG titles that have made our list. Some of these gaming titles have been around for nearly 30 years and still continue to release titles even today! Now then, scroll on down to see what titles made our top 10 longest running JRPG series list and enjoy an article that we had a blast writing.

10. Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished

  • System/Platform: PC, PS2, Sega Saturn, Master System, Nintendo DS, iOS, Android
  • Developer: Nihon Falcom
  • Publisher: Nihon Falcom
  • Release Date: Jun 21, 1987

Young adventurer Adol Christin has just landed in the Town of Minea. Here, Adol is told that a fortuneteller named Sara wishes to speak with him. Sara explains to him that there is an evil force sweeping over the land. Adol must become the hero of the land and seek out several books of Ys as they will give Adol the means of stopping this evil threat. With his first destination set, Adol sets off on an adventure to save the world.

First on our list of long running JRPGs is Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished but usually just shortened to Ys I. Developer Nihon Falcom would craft a JRPG that would become a series that even today continues on. The story of our red headed hero would become one that started the JRPG trend of crafting elaborate stories and it’s easy to see why. While it’s hard to play the original on the older consoles, it released on, Ys I was re-released on multiple platforms and all of which keep the spirit of the original alive but with updated visuals and better music. Clocking in at thirty years, the Ys series still continues to wow us here at Honey’s Anime and for many other fans of the JRPG genre.


9. Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light

  • System/Platform: Famicon
  • Developer: Intelligent Systems, Nintendo R&D 1
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Apr 20, 1990

Once long ago a continent by the name of Archanea was sieged by a giant dragon named Medeus and his forces from the Dolhr Empire. While the continent seemed doomed a young warrior arose by the name of Anri. Wielding a powerful sword named the Falchion Anri defeats the dragon and peace rules the world for some time. A century passes and an evil wizard named Gharnef revives the dragon and teams up to rule with their powers unified. Anri’s successor king Cornelius picks up the Falchion and tries to fight but is only able to allow his son, Marth, to escape. Marth grows up and now as a warrior deems it’s time to battle against those who took his father down.

Fire Emblem, in the world of JRPGs, needs very little introduction. However, it all started 27 years ago with Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light. It was here players were introduced to taking control of units and fighting against others in a tactical grid like map. The Fire Emblem series has come a long way since its conception but it has always retained a lot of what was in the first entry in the series. For those interested in playing Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light you can pick up a more modernized version for the Nintendo 3DS called Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon.


8. Phantasy Star

  • System/Platform: Master System, Mega Drive
  • Developer: Sega
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: Dec 20, 1987

Originally the three planet system named Algol only knew peaceful times. This was thanks to its ruler King Lassic. However, as time passed the once kind king became evil and cruel. This causes Lassic’s once loyal followers to begin to band together and try to defeat him. Nero Landale leader of one of the many rebellious armies tries to fight back but is killed by Lassic’s robotic police. Nero’s sister Alis decides to take revenge all while hoping to free the system of Lassic once and for all.

Phantasy Star crafted by Sega has seen numerous releases in its thirty year life span. Not only has the series released multiple JRPG titles, gamers have even seen MMORPGs and even a recent anime series. Phantasy Star may have changed gaming mechanics over the years—such as being a card game at one point and a third person action JRPG—but has always retained the rich story and impressive visuals found in the first entry in the series. The latest release of Phantasy Star—titled Phantasy Star Nova—released a few years ago and since then the series has been a bit quiet. However, we know that soon there will be word from Sega that another game from the franchise will be released and we’re eagerly awaiting that day just like millions of other fans.


7. Star Ocean

  • System/Platform: Super Famicom, PSP
  • Developer: tri-Ace
  • Publisher: Enix
  • Release Date: Jul 19, 1996

On the planet Roak, civilization is still growing and thriving with its race of cat-like people know as Fellpool. Young Roddick and his friends are tasked with defending their village known as Kratus from robbers and other simple threats. When news reaches Kratus of an odd disease that turn people into stone, the young party attempts to find an herb that grows upon a mountain in an attempt of concocting a cure. However, little do the friends realize that this mission will lead them towards travelers from a far off world that teach the friends that there is indeed life out there in the stars…

Star Ocean was a very unique title when it released in 1996. Not only did it have voice acting—something hardly seen in titles before it—but it was a unique type of JRPG. The fact that it focused on not only a fantasy-like setting as well as a sci-fi one was quite unique to the world of JRPGs. Releasing originally on the Super Famicom, Star Ocean pushed the little system to a new level and in many ways a lot of the future titles would do the same. Developer tri-Ace would become well known in the gaming industry and even today continue to work alongside other developers making new titles constantly. Star Ocean recently released a new title and it’s safe to say that it won’t be the last to grace gamers everywhere.


6. Tales of Phantasia

  • System/Platform: Super Famicom, PS1, GBA, PSP, iOS
  • Developer: Wolf Team
  • Publisher: Namco, Nintendo, Namco Bandai
  • Release Date: Sept 15, 1995

The sorcerer king named Dhaos knew he was in a losing fight against four powerful warriors. Deciding on a quick escape, Dhaos used his magic and traveled into the future. However, Dhaos finds himself defeated immediately by descendants of the heroes who seal him away in multiple magical pendants. Many years pass and a dark knight named Mars attacks the village where heroes Chester and Cress lived with their families in search of the pendants. Now the two heroes must embark on a quest with several others to stop Dhaos from being revived.

In 1995, developer Wolf Team would create Tales of Phantasia and in 2017 this series would continue being important to the JRPG world. Known as the Tales of series, various titles would be created from this title such as Tales of the Abyss or Tales of Symphonia to name a few. Bandai Namco would continue the legacy set by Wolf Team and in turn the world would continue getting new Tales of games every so often. Honestly we here at Honey’s Anime have loved every Tales of game—which there are now dozens of titles—and we know the community of JRPG fans mirrors our love. If you haven’t already we do recommend playing Tales of Berseria—the latest Tales of game—as it’s an incredible game.


5. Earthbound

  • System/Platform: Super NES, Wii U Virtual Console
  • Developer: Ape, HAL Laboratory
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Aug 27, 1994

Young Nes and his friend Pokey see an odd meteorite crash land near their town and decide to investigate. Once there, the two friends discover that the meteorite bought with it an evil force that has altered the world’s creatures and objects making them evil. It now rests upon Nes and his allies to defeat the various threat known as Giygas and save the world with their strange powers. Their journey will be tough and full of dangers that no kid should have to endure. Yet, if they fail who knows what could happen to their world?

When Earthbound released, it was actually a sequel to a title called Mother which released in 1989. However, unlike Earthbound, Mother wouldn’t be as well-known and would always be forgotten by most. The reason was simply that Earthbound was seen as not only a more superior title but unlike Mother, was actually released in America a year after release. Earthbound’s odd JRPG elements would be surprisingly a breath of fresh air in the industry and would lead other gaming titles—such as the now very popular Undertale game—to mimic its designs. Earthbound might be a tough title, but the story was amazing and the gameplay elements still harken to what we love so dearly about the world of JRPGs.


4. Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes

  • System/Platform: MSX, TurboGrafx-CD, Super Famicom, Mega Drive
  • Developer: Nihon Falcom
  • Publisher: Nihon Falcom, Hudson Soft
  • Release Date: Dec 10, 1989

The world of Isrenasa has always known peace and happiness. Five kingdoms have lived their lives together and without incident. One of the five kingdoms known as Farlalyne was attacked by an unknown monster threat and suffered losing most of its warriors and the king. While the king did have a son named Logan at the time, he was too young so Baron Drax took the mantle for himself and ruled Farlalyne. A decade would pass and the young prince now a young man would learn—after another kingdom gets attacked—that the Drax had actually been the one to cause the attack killing his father. Now Logan must fight to regain his rightful throne and defeat Drax.

While the Ys series was wildly popular in turn The Legend of Heroes franchise would know a long lasting reign on equal measures. The Legend of Heroes series would unleash spin offs that still release even today making it one of the largest JRPG franchises around. Fans would love the rich lore and simple but deep combat that each title had and we here at Honey’s Anime agree with these statements as fans of the series ourselves. When we crafted our Top 10 Longest Running JRPG Series list, we had a feeling The Legend of Heroes would be on here with its first conception. If you desire to play any of The Legend of Heroes titles we do recommend The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel as its awesome two part JRPG.


3. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei

  • System/Platform: Famicom, Super Famicom
  • Developer: Atlus
  • Publisher: Namco, Atlus
  • Release Date: Sept 11, 1987

Young Akemi Nakajima is a wizard with computers. Using his amazing skills, Akemi is able to create a demon summoning program. After getting into an altercation with a classmate, Akemi decides to unleash his demon app on the student. However, instead of summoning a weak demon he ends up summoning Loki. Now loose in the human world, Loki almost causes extreme havoc but luckily Akemi and a young woman named Yumiko are able to stop him. Though Akemi and Yumiko find that the demon battles aren’t over when Lucifer appears and tries to revive Loki.

If you’ve played any JRPG titles out there then you’ve probably run across the SMT—Shin Megami Tensei—series at one point. These titles have led to popular franchises like Devil Survivor or the bigger titles like the Persona series. However, few know the true routes for the SMT games coming originally from a novel series and then releasing the first ever game in the franchise known as Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. The concepts of monster capturing and fusing were seen in Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei and have been around since in the newer titles. SMT games are some of the best known JRPGs out in the gaming world but hopefully now you know where it all began.


2. Final Fantasy

  • System/Platform: Famicom, NES
  • Developer: Square
  • Publisher: Square, Nintendo
  • Release Date: Dec 18, 1987

When the world needed heroes, 4 warriors of light would arise. This was said by the great sage named Lukahn and it seemed that time was growing closer than ever. Proving the sage correct 4 heroes arose from nowhere and would end up having to show their might to the world that needed saving from the evil knight Garland. Their tale would start with their appearance but this journey wouldn’t be a speedy one as they would have to overcome trials and tribulations to save the world and resurrect it to its former glory.

Final Fantasy is easily one of the most recognizable names in the gaming world. Besides being a huge JRPG series, it’s become several other mediums entirely at this point. What was a company’s last ditch effort to save themselves ended with Final Fantasy spawning dozens of titles and still continues even today. It’s easy to gamble that if any series on this longest running JRPG series list will last another century, it will have to be the Final Fantasy series. Though honestly we’re completely okay with more Final Fantasy games to play.


1. Dragon Quest

  • System/Platform: Famicom, NES
  • Developer: Chunsoft
  • Publisher: Enix, Nintendo
  • Release Date: May 27, 1986

Dragon Quest has players take control of an unnamed hero. As he arrives in town, he’s told that the princess has been taken by an evil dragon. Deciding to save the princess himself the hero sets forth on an adventure. The unnamed hero will need to gain power and skills to fight the so called dragon king. However, will he be able to accomplish this goal or fail and have the princess be forever a captive?

Ending our Top 10 Longest Running JRPG Series list is Dragon Quest. Spawning 31 years, Dragon Quest has continued to be relevant in the gaming world despite so much time passing. Initially what was a simple save the princess type story became more robust and even included anime themes thanks to artists like Akira Toriyama of Dragon Ball fame. Dragon Quest is an amazing franchise and we haven’t played an entry of the series we didn’t like yet. Now we just have to wait for Dragon Quest XI to release in the states as it just released July 29, 2017. We’re excited to say the least.


Final Thoughts

If you’re a hardcore gaming fan, you know JRPGs won’t be leaving the gaming world anytime soon. Some of the titles above are already slated for future titles meaning they too will continue on for years to come and will grace the new ages of consoles with some amazing works. What did you think of our longest running JRPG series list, everyone? Did you agree with the longest running JRPG titles above or do you think we missed one? Comment down below and like the gaming titles above we here at Honey’s Anime aren’t going anywhere either as we have more articles soon to be released.

Aaron

Writer

Author: Aaron

Hey everyone I’m Aaron Curbelo or Blade as I’m called by my YouTube Subscribers. I’ve been an anime/manga fan since I was a young kid. In terms of anime I have watched nearly a thousand shows and have read hundreds of manga series. I love writing and honestly was so happy to join Honey’s Anime to get a shot to write articles for such a wonderful site. I’m a firm believer in respect in the anime community being the most important embodiment we should all have. We all love anime and we have varying opinions of series but we should respect one another for those differences! Life is too precious to spend it making needless arguments in a community that should be the shining example of loving an amazing medium. I hope as a writer for Honey’s Anime I can bring you folks some amazing articles to read and enjoy!

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