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Every Major Modern JRPG Series Ranked By How Embarrassed You Should Feel About Playing Them

Let’s be real here for a moment: video games can be kind of embarrassing. When someone else sees the fictional world you’ve chosen to inhabit for a time, it’s like they’re peering right into your soul. And when they see you playing a JRPG – sure! Sometimes they’re seeing you play a brave warrior cleaning the land of ancient evils. And sometimes they see you receiving “puff puff” from a girl of unknown exact age wearing a bunny costume, or shouting abstract nouns from the top of your lungs with two-toned hair that conjures up thoughts of a rejected energy drink mascot.

With all that in mind, here’s seven major modern JRPG series ranked by how embarrassed you should feel about playing them. And yea, if I didn’t include a JRPG then maybe that means I don’t consider it major enough. 

#7 — Like A Dragon

Well, I guess Like A Dragon’s a JRPG series now. I guess it’s also called Like A Dragon now. I’ll go ahead and be the world’s least daring person and say that I think Like A Dragon is cool. It subverts typical JRPG norms by forgoing escalating monster battles that lead to a standoff with god in favor of this kinda urban, “street-punk” vibe. Instead of imps and goblins, you and your party of down-on-their-luck 30 or 40-somethings are scrapping with finance workers, middle managers and garbage men who use bin lids as shields. It’s all genuinely very funny, and the fact that the “humor” doesn’t make you wanna gouge your own eyes out with a spoon is yet another smart subversion of JRPG tropes.

#6 — Dragon Quest

Aforementioned “puff puff” (you can look it up for yourself) aside, yeah there isn’t much about playing Dragon Quest that I’d argue you should feel embarrassed about — apart from the fact that you’re probably old as balls, of course. It’s one of the oldest and “purest” JRPGs out there, it’s a huge hit in Japan yada yada yada, I just wanna make something clear. If you consider the British accents to be something worthy of embarrassment, fine, but as a Brit, most of us don’t sound like that. Most of us sound way cooler. Thanks.

#5 — Final Fantasy

I’m gonna be real with you gamers: I could have easily swapped this with Dragon Quest but I’ve mostly put it here out of spite. You get everything you want. As someone whose favorite games are like, Spyro, Pokemon and Team Fortress 2, it is exhausting to watch how much you guys EAT. Final Fantasy VII Remake? No problem, it gets a huge budget and multiple games. Y’all want a new mainline game? Sure, here’s Final Fantasy XVI sandwiched right in-between the FF7 remake! And it’s apparently pretty good! “Oh yeah, by the way, we went back to that disastrous MMO and turned it into one of the most acclaimed ever.” Should you ever collect the willpower to log off of Final Fantasy XIV and go outside for five minutes, I hope you use that time to reflect on how spoiled you are. God.

#4 — Pokemon

Ahh, how the Mankey’s paw curls. See, the thing about constant releases is sometimes it isn’t everything you want. Sometimes a once-beloved series known for its consistently high bar of quality slowly dissolves into dust in your hands. Enter Pokemon, which I still have a soft spot for, but absolutely refuses to grow up with me. It will never ask me if I’ve played a Pokemon game before and allow me to skip the tutorial, it will talk to me like I’m nine years old throughout its whole duration, it will railroad me through a plot with all the depth of a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. Even worse, it’ll now also explode and run horribly and have my guy clipping through 3000 textures all the while. I’m a sucker for still buying these games, I know. That’s me, I suck.

#3 — Persona

Persona presents a weird duality. In some ways it’s by far the coolest JRPG series out there right now. These games have a sense of style none can match — their UI and visuals are mindblowing, and their soundtracks absolutely slap. However, because I’m not a Kotaku writer and you’re not frothing at the mouth at the mere thought of my existence by default, I’m gonna be the one to break it to you that the series has in fact had some weird politics throughout the years.

Despite being a series largely about progressive youth rebelling against incompetent authority — I don’t know! It treats gay and trans people quite weirdly! And Chie becoming a cop at the end of Persona 4, a game all about how the institutional corruption and blatant incompetence of the police force allows a man to get away with murders, kinda makes my head hurt! Persona is good. They are good games. But right now it’s probably best to enjoy them a bit like you enjoy your favorite stand-up comic who’s mostly got the right idea but then occasionally says how much he hates snowflakes. It’s okay to criticize things you love guys, you’ll live.

#2 — Fire Emblem

In time, the Genshin Impact-ification of Fire Emblem could be studied by those looking into cultural differences between the East and the West. If you ask me, Fire Emblem used to have dignity, it used to have class! And it still kinda does, Three Houses ripped and I have faith that the next game will bring us back on course a bit, but man. As is the case with most embarrassing transformations, it all started with a mobile game. A gacha game at that. One whose fans I’m sure won’t have irrationally angry responses to this article for suggesting that such a game is inherently predatory and counter to art! Thankfully, we don’t even have to worry about fans of Engage because they can’t read! The only visual stimuli they respond to is jiggle physics and terrible character design. I’m confident that I could beat up at least 50% of the Fire Emblem: Engage cast if I met them in real life.

#1 — Xenoblade Chronicles

Y’know, if this series consisted entirely of Xenoblade Chronicles 1, Xenoblade Chronicles X and Xenoblade Chronicles 3, it could be number #6 on this list — hell, it could be #7! Xenoblade 1 in particular totally slaps, especially in terms of story and characters. Unfortunately for you Xenoblade fans, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 exists, and your reputation may never recover from it. Oh, it’s got the gacha mechanics. Oh, it’s got the anime-style voice acting. Oh, it’s got dialogue written by someone kicked off the Kingdom Hearts team for being too embarrassing. (Kingdom Hearts would rank #2 on this list if it were not an Action RPG, for what it’s worth.) And you’d best believe it’s got crazy jiggly cleavage every which way you look for no reason. There’s a “Blade” in this game (kinda like a mix between a bodyguard and a hentai drawing) whose proportions are such that she literally has the silhouette of Yoshi. You know the one.

Xenoblade 2 carries this series to the top spot all on its own, baby. A true crowning achievement in media, the only game that bests Fire Emblem: Engage in matters of sheer mortification. And of course its case is only made all the stronger by that picture in the Xenoblade 3 ending. HAHAHAHAHA. It’s not gonna happen to you, nerds! Hatsune Miku isn’t real, and she can’t reproduce! HAHAHAHAHAHA. Great stuff.

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