Premise: Time Travelers must stop a monster from ending the World
Battle System: This 2D jrpg has a turn based none-active battle system. Each character has a specific weapon and element type. The level system is straight forward, as characters learn new skills as they level up. Certain characters can also combine their attacks for more damage. Enemies are visible on the map, meaning battles dodged. Grinding is also not necessary, as the game paces its enemies to match player level.
Gimmick: As the title suggest, the game’s gimmick involves time. Specifically, time travel. The game takes place over 5 time periods: The present, near past, far past, prehistoric times, and the future. The game has multiple endings depending on you actions in the different time periods. The game is also known for being one of the best in the medium, thanks to its stellar game play, story freedom, and art by the creator of Dragon Ball.
Verdict: Arguably the best JRPG ever.
Premise: A cat man is trying to take over the world
Battle System: Chrono Cross is a direct sequel to Chrono Trigger, and emphasizes it’s element based battle system. The game introduces battlefield tendency, meaning that overuse of one element will cause that element to increase in damage. The enemies are still visible on the map, and the player has the ability to run away from any battle, including boss battles. Skills and Magic are know associated with a specific element (fire, water, ect), and characters have specific element tendencies. This means that most skills and magic are customizable, except for character specific special skills. Magic and Skills are no longer learned, but bought at stores.
Gimmick: The game has two gimmicks: Parallel Worlds and a Potential Party of 45 members. In the game, the player eventually has access to 2 worlds that are slightly different, and the player can recruit characters from both worlds to join their quest. Player action will affect which characters are available to join their party, as well as the endings they get. The game is also infamous for “ruining” the events of Chrono Trigger, as all the characters from the previous game are shown to have tragic endings.
Verdict: Not as good as Trigger, but worth a look
Legend of Mana
Premise: An adventurer touches the lives of many charaters
Battle System: The game has an active battle system with side scrolling elements. The player is allowed to choose from a wide list of weapons and secondary skills. As the player practices both skills (like jumping) and weapons, they unlock special attacks. The player has not battle party, though they are sometimes given an NPC to fight with and create their own robotic battle partner. The game is also co-op, meaning a second player can join in at any time.
Gimmick: The game emphasizes customizations and a “choose-your-own” adventure styles story. Meaning that players can chose what stories and levels they choose to follow. The players can even create the overworld map as they play. The player has a home base that allows players to grow crops, create weapons, and create robotic partners. The game has multiples stories and events to complete, and about 3 main story bosses to defeat.
Verdict: Fun, but play with a FAQ guide.
Premise: 3 heroes must stop demons from taking over the world.
Battle System: The game only has a battle team of 3 characters: a gunner, a swordsman, and a mage. The game uses an active battle system, meaning that attacks have certain wait times. Because the game only has 3 characters, the player must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. The gunner is potentially the most powerful, but his attacks are limited to the amount of bullets he has. And he can only gain more weapons, which are upgradable, if the player finds them in dungeons. The swordsman has a similar issue, as he only learns new techniques of they are found in the dungeon. Magic is created through a combining runes. Each player can also be assigned a summon monster, which affects their stats.
Gimmick: The game us suppose to have a “old west” setting. But apart from the music and a few villages, the game is actually more of a traditional medieval story. The game’s most memorable gimmick is its extremely small battle party. 3 playable characters only are not common in jrpgs. Each character also have special abilities that allow them to solve certain puzzles.
Verdict: Fairly average.