The Golden Age Of JRPGs

Illustration for article titled 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 VI... Chrono Trigger... Phantasy 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 VII... Quest 64... getting to laugh at Quest 64... Xenogears... Final 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 catalogs... more and more indie RPGs come out every day... Lost Odyssey... The Last Story... Radiant Historia...


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


Put your arguments in the comments. KINJA IS WAITING.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG. It runs every Friday at 3pm ET. You can reach Jason at or on Twitter at @jasonschreier.



Most scholars agree that the Golden Age of JRPGs began whenever you started playing JRPGs.