The Playstation 1 era was truly a golden age for role playing games, especially ones from Japan. In this post we’re going to break down the top 10 RPGs on the system and tell you exactly why you need to play these. Most of these are available from the Playstation store and are easy enough and cheap enough to get on a PS4, PS5 or Vita.


Xenogears is easily one of the greatest games ever period, never mind just one of the best PS1 RPGs. It’s a science fiction themed Japanese RPG with one of the craziest most complicated and interesting stories in any type of media. I’m not going to say anything here to spoil the story but it’s definitely safe to say you’re in for one wild ride.

Graphically it still holds up today, they made the correct decision to use 3D environments and 2D sprites for characters. Because of that design decision the look and art style holds up way better than many other games from the same time period that opted to use 3D character models and 2D backgrounds.

It has turn based combat with an interesting combo system, fantastic world to explore, giant mech combat, great characters and one of the most amazing soundtracks from any game ever. Seriously, listen to the 20th anniversary concert and it’ll blow you away.


There’s a point on disc two where they run out of time and money and because of that no game needs a remake more than Xenogears. Even with those limitations though this is still an RPG that everyone needs to experience at least once. Especially if you’re a fan of any of the later Xeno games.


Final Fantasy VII

Obviously Final Fantasy VII would be part of this list. It’s probably the most famous game in the series and many fans number one favorite still to this day.

When the game first came out it blew people’s minds with it’s incredible graphics, world, story and gameplay. Even today it still holds up pretty well.

The story follows the main character Cloud and his team as they try to save the world with some very interesting twists and turns along the way. It’s got the standard sort of Active Time Battle system from many other Final Fantasy games and an interesting Materia system for customizing your equipment.

Even though part 1 of the Final Fantasy VII Remake is out now we still highly recommend you play the classic version as well.


Genso Suikoden 2

Suikoden 2 is easily the best game in the entire Suikoden series (5 games plus some spinoffs in total). The story is incredible and follows two childhood friends who find themselves on opposite sides of a war. It also features Luca Blight who is arguably one of the greatest video game villains of all time. Right up there with Kefka from FFVI.

It’s sort of a standard turn based JRPG but the major claim to fame here is the Stars of Destiny system where you can recruit 108 different characters. Some of them can be used in battle and the rest of them contribute to a castle headquarters that you build up as you progress throughout the game. That castle/base building mechanic is one of the best parts of the game too.

There are some cameos of Suikoden 1 characters and you can transfer in a bit of Suikoden 1 save data for a little bonus but you don’t have to have played the previous entry to enjoy this amazing game.


Vagrant Story

Vagrant Story is a very interesting game by Final Fantasy Tactics creator Yasumi Matsuno and takes place in the same world of Ivalice. The game follows Ashley Riot who is essentially a medieval secret agent who’s sent to infiltrate a cult hiding out in a ruined city called Leá Monde.

The city itself is one of the major highlights of this game. It’s incredibly well designed with different areas opening back into previous ones almost like it’s some kind of proto-Dark Souls game.

Like Matsuno’s other work the story is very complicated, interesting and full of politics. The villain here, Sidney, is also very well done.

Graphically it’s one of the best looking games on the PS1 and came out near the end of that system’s life. Everything is in full 3D and it actually looks quite good, especially the character models.

It’s got kind of an action combat system where it pauses for you to attack and select exactly what body part of the enemy to attack and there’s a very in-depth weapon customization system as well.


Chrono Cross

Chrono Cross is the direct sequel to Chrono Trigger, one of the best SNES games and one of the greatest games of all time. It’s got a ton to live up to as a sequel to such an iconic game and it does manage to live up to the legacy pretty well.

It’s an absolutely gorgeous game with one of the most amazing soundtracks in gaming history. Scars of Time, the opening song may be the greatest piece of videogame music ever.

The story follows the consequences that arose from messing with time in the previous game and goes some interesting places.

Gameplay-wise it’s got your standard sort of turn-based battle system with around 30 different party members you can recruit. The world is beautiful with a tropical island sort of theme and tons of fun to explore as well.


Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics is the greatest tactical RPG ever and you can fight us on that. It’s a work of art also from Yasumi Matsuno that takes place in the world of Ivalice and has a fantastic deep story full of politics, intrigue, betrayal and more.

The gameplay is a ton of fun as well. Your units take turns moving around a 3D grid taking actions one at a time. The most interesting part of the gameplay is the job system where you have a ton of different character classes you can assign characters to and then mix and match abilities from the different classes to create completely broken combinations. In fact the game encourages you to do this and it’s a ton of fun.

Even without exploiting anything the customization and gameplay is still greater than most other tactical RPGs today.

If you do play this today try to get the War of the Lions PSP remake of the game though, that’s the superior version with a lot of extra content and an improved translation.


Legend of Mana

The early Mana games are all really great and Legend of Mana is easily the high point of the series (it’s actually pretty downhill from here unfortunately…).

Legend of Mana has similar action-based gameplay to the previous installments on the SNES but everything in this game is hand drawn and looks absolutely gorgeous, the backgrounds and the character sprites.

You create a character with a little bit of customization and then literally build the world map using artifacts you find. When you add an artifact to the map a new location appears with new questions and characters that will join you. Completing these quests unlocks more artifacts and depending on where you place them on the map they can interact with each other in interesting ways.

There’s also a pretty complex crafting system, monster raising system and a lot more.


Tales of Destiny 2/Tales of Eternia

The Tales of series is full of great games and Tales of Destiny 2 (Or Tales of Eternia in Europe) is easily the high point of the series in this era.

If you’ve played a Tales game before then you probably more or less know what to expect here but the game does have a great action-based battle systems, fun characters, interesting story and two whole worlds to explore.

I also have to give this game bonus points for still being one of the only games I’ve ever seen where your characters change their clothes to winter jackets when exploring a cold area of the world.

Any Tales of fans definitely need to check out this classic.


Star Ocean 2

The Star Ocean series is essentially Star Trek if made in Japan and made into a JRPG. If that intrigues you then you’ll definitely want to check out Star Ocean 2 which is easily the high point of the series. (Some people argue Star Ocean 3 completely breaks the lore and Star Ocean 5 was pretty bad…).

The story follows Claude, a character from the federation with all it’s advanced technology and whatnot who crashes on a primitive planet and teams up with Rena, a local on an epic sci-fi adventure.

Star Ocean 2 has pre-rendered backgrounds that look great as well as character sprites which also work great and this combination means the graphics still hold up fairly well today.

Combat is action-based with your characters running around a battle arena attacking in real-time. You control your main character and you get to choose between Claude and Rena at the beginning and the other characters are AI controlled although you can issue them commands.

Overall this is another classic RPG that you definitely don’t want to miss out on.


Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX was the last Final Fantasy game to be released for the Playstation 1 and it’s arguably the best.

After having more sci-fi and modern settings for Final Fantasy VII and VIII creator Hironobu Sakaguchi wanted to bring this game back to the more medieval style roots and created a fantastic world full of castles and airships.

It’s got the most refined gameplay of any Final Fantasy game up to this point with the Active Time Battle combat and a great system where characters learn abilities from the equipment they wear.

And of course it’s got a fantastic epic story with humor, romance and everything you’d want from a fantasy game.

Final Fantasy VII is definitely worth playing since it’s such a large and popular part of gaming history but Final Fantasy IX is a much better game. That’s right, we said it.