While this year has been a lackluster time to be alive and general disappointment in almost every regard, this year's gaming experience has been one of the saving graces of 2020.

With new consoles and a handful of new games freshly released, 2020 has been filled with some of the greatest gaming experiences in recent memory. But Geoff Keighley's highly anticipated game-of-the-year award ceremony is closing in, and in the end, only one game can truly be crowned champion.

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Culture Feature

The 9 Best JRPGs of the PS4 Era

The modern boom of JRPGs

Square Enix

They don't make JRPGs like they used to, but maybe that's a good thing.

While classic JRPGs thrived during the PlayStation 1 era and saw major innovations during the PlayStation 2 era, the PlayStation 3 era marked a major fall from grace for the genre. Save for a few major titles like Dark Souls and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, fresh JRPG releases had grown increasingly scarce, and even the more major titles like Final Fantasy XIII were plagued by mixed reviews.

But with the PlayStation 4, JRPGs have seen a return to prominence. Sure, there may not be as many individual releases of bizarre, unheard of IPs like there were during the PS1 era, but PS4 era JRPGs have more than made up for quantity with quality. These are the best-of-the-best:

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CULTURE

The 9 Best JRPGs of the PS3 Era

JRPGs experience growing pains, too.

Square Enix

The PlayStation 3 era was a weird time to be a fan of JRPGs.

The PlayStation 1 era was a creative boom for JRPGs as a genre, and the PlayStation 2 era was a period wherein many previous JRPG innovations were honed and perfected. But by the PlayStation 3 era, JRPGs had largely fallen out of favor in the wider world of gaming, with many critics regarding their classic turn-based mechanics as stale and boring.

The action RPG style of gameplay popularized by Kingdom Hearts, which combines active combat with menu navigation, became the most prominent mechanic in newer JRPGs. Some of these newer titles worked incredibly well, while others faltered and dug the genre further into the trenches. Ultimately, the PS3 era offered far fewer JRPGs than previous generations, but even so, there were a few gems that are still absolutely worth playing. These are the best JRPGs of the PS3 era.

Also, as a side note, I'm not including Persona 5, as it came out on both PS3 and PS4 simultaneously, and I consider it to primarily be a PS4-gen title.

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Square Enix

By the mid-2000s, the classic JRPG formula was giving way to new innovations intended to keep the genre fresh.

The best PlayStation 1-era JRPGs were largely defined by the ways that they built upon the turn-based combat a menu navigation mechanics of their predecessors (with the most famous example being Final Fantasy VII's Active Time Battle system, which put turns on an always-running timer instead of a set order).

PlayStation 2-era JRPGs largely benefitted from the fruits of these labors, keeping the things that worked and playing around with the things that didn't. As such, the PS2 featured a diverse catalogue of JRPGs that ran the gamut from classic throwbacks to entirely new combat systems that seemed to throw the entire playbook out the window. These are the best of the best.

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Culture Feature

The 9 Best JRPGs of the PS1 Era

JRPGs stand the test of time.

Square Enix

The PlayStation 1 era of video games, lasting from 1995 until the PlayStation 2's release in 2000, was defined by its JRPGs.

Unlike most other genres of the era, Japanese role-playing games were largely story-based, weaving epic tales that proved video games could be more than just mindless diversions. Gameplay typically revolved around turn-based combat, relying more on tactics than hand-eye coordination. Due to their reliance on plot and menu-based mechanics, many JRPGs stand the test of time even after decades of graphical improvements. Let's take a look at nine of the best JRPGs that the PS1 had to offer.

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Atlus

The Megami Tensei series has some of the best monster designs in all of video games.

In Western countries, the Megami Tensei JRPG series is largely unknown. This is primarily due to the fact that the original Megami Tensei games were exclusively for Nintendo consoles and ran afoul of Nintendo of America's '90s-era "no religion" policy. Thus, while its contemporary JRPGS, including the early Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy titles, became popular with early Nintendo gamers, the Megami Tensei franchise never received the same exposure (although on of its multiple spin-off series, Persona, became incredibly popular in its own right).

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