The Nintendo Switch has fast become the best way to play Japanese role-playing games over its five-year lifespan. Truly, fans of games with deep battle systems, endearing characters, convoluted (and often nonsensical) plots, and fantastical worlds to save are spoiled for choice. From the expansive exploration and real-time combat seen in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, to the depth seen in Shin Megami Tensei V’s difficult turn-based battles, there’s no shortage of monsters to slay year after year.
But what of JRPGs of previous generations – the games that inspired these substantial adventures? The Nintendo Switch has amassed an impressive collection of classic titles, most recently adding Chrono Cross: The Radical Dreamers Edition to its growing vault.
There are, however, many classic JRPGs missing – from Mother 3 to Suikoden II – like great tomes absent from the shelves of an ancient library. We've chosen 10 of these masterpieces and sleuthed through their histories to determine the chances of them making their way onto the Nintendo Switch. You'll find poll at the bottom to let us know which ones you'd most like to see on Switch, too.
Got your big sword? Great — let's proceed alphabetically, shall we?
Since its debut in 1995 on the SNES, Chrono Trigger has found homes on a wide array of systems, including the original PlayStation, smartphones, PCs, and both the Wii Virtual Console and Nintendo DS. Many regard the 2008 DS version as the best as it came paired with a handful of quality of life features and added content that better linked the perennial classic to Chrono Cross.
It's arguably only a matter of time before Chrono Trigger makes an appearance on Switch. In fact, many were surprised that Trigger’s sequel debuted on Switch first, though this perhaps worked out for the best. The real question is which form Chrono Trigger will take: will a port of the SNES version make its way to Nintendo Switch Online? Will we see a remaster akin to the Nintendo DS version? Or – dare we dream – a full-blown remake? Since our Epoch is in the shop, we unfortunately can’t skip ahead in time and find out.
Probability: Very Likely
While more of a strategy role-playing game than a JRPG, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance was an early release for the Game Boy Advance and heralded the return of a symbiotic relationship between Square (now Square Enix) and Nintendo after the developer jumped ship for the PlayStation years prior. The spinoff of the renowned Final Fantasy Tactics, which never made its way to a Nintendo console, was a meaty, colourful adventure that deserves every bit of praise.
With the success of Triangle Strategy — a recent title that draws direct inspiration from the Tactics games and shares a developer – and prior rumours that the original Final Fantasy Tactics might get a remaster, we don’t think it's a stretch to assume Tactics Advance will pop up on Switch one day – maybe in a Tactics collection similar to the Collection of Mana.
You want it. We want it. Everyone wants it – so where is it?
Golden Sun, Camelot’s masterpiece for the GBA, holds a special place in many Nintendo fans’ hearts. Which is unfortunate because Camelot appears quite ambivalent toward the series. Since the 2010 release of Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Camelot has focused on Mario-themed sports titles, the most recent of which was the well-received Mario Golf: Super Rush. And while we enjoy playing tennis and golf with our favourite moustachioed plumber, we’d much prefer more Golden Sun.
If we had to guess, Golden Sun would definitely come to Nintendo Switch Online if the service began offering GBA titles. After all, it did make it to the Wii U eShop. Currently, there are credible rumours that Game Boy and Game Boy Color games are on their way, and the recent leak of a Nintendo-developed GBA emulator for Switch suggests that we may be seeing vintage handheld games return before too long, and while the list of titles supposedly tested doesn't mean it will show up, Golden Sun and its sequel were both on the test list.
It’s a toss up, then. Like Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, there’s a chance Camelot might remaster the games. There is, however, no rumour of that, yet Camelot has a strong partnership with Nintendo spanning two decades. If GBA games are indeed coming to Switch, that could be the perfect avenue for a re-release.
Despite the former Nintendo of America President, Reggie Fils-Aimé trolling fans about the existence of an English version of Mother 3, we still haven’t got an official release of the third entry to the Earthbound series outside of Japan. It’s become almost pure meme at this point: every Nintendo Direct someone quips that they’ll announce Mother 3 this time around, whether in a livestream chat or an article on this very website, to the point where we’re all getting a little tired of it.
Hopes for Mother 3 were ignited back in February when it was announced Earthbound and Earthbound Beginnings were making their way to Nintendo Switch Online. Giving these two titles a Nintendo Direct spotlight proves Nintendo hasn’t forgotten about Ness and Lucas. The producer of Mother 3 fanned the flames of hope further by saying he would love to see Mother 3 get a worldwide release. And with these recent whispers of GBA games coming to Nintendo Switch Online, this one would surely top the list of fan requests.
We’re going to make a wild prediction here and say that yes – someday – Mother 3 will make its way to Nintendo Switch so we can finally put the constant speculation to rest. Don’t laugh, please.
Panzer Dragoon Saga (Sega Saturn)
The Sega Saturn’s dragon-riding cult classic seemed destined for obscurity. Released at a time when Sega was shifting focus to the Dreamcast, Panzer Dragoon Saga failed to gain a foothold with Western audiences, and as a result, most haven’t played what was an extremely well-reviewed action-adventure game steeped in JRPG elements, leading to there being an insubstantial audience for any re-release to seem possible. In fact, the original source code for the game seemed lost until 2016.
If any JRPG on this list deserves a remaster, it's Saga. Other titles in the Panzer Dragoon series, which are rail-shooters, have made their way or are making their way to the Switch. In 2020 a remake of the original received lukewarm reviews when it flew onto the eShop (although it has improved since launch), and the remake of the second title, Panzer Dragoon II Zwei, seems lost in the ether after missing its 2021 release. If the second title does release and if it finds success, it seems natural that Saga would soon follow. But those are two big 'ifs'.
Of all games on this list, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door wins the award for most whimsical. It’s a shame, then, that Nintendo skipped re-releasing TTYD for the Wii and the Wii U. And it’s a further shame that the Paper Mario series has abandoned its JRPG roots, opting for an almost puzzle game-like (and arguably superfluous) battle system for 2020’s Paper Mario: The Origami King.
The original Paper Mario popped up as a title for the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion pack, and while Nintendo’s porting of GameCube games to the Switch has been sporadic at best, we expect The Thousand-Year Door to someday satisfy our hankering for deep papyraceous turn-based battles.
Persona 3 (PS2)
Nintendo’s relationship with Atlus, the developer behind the Persona series, is both confusing and frustrating. Often, Nintendo consoles receive Persona spin-off titles – like Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth – but not the main entries in the long-running JRPG series. Nintendo consoles have also provided exclusive homes for games in Persona’s sister series with Shin Megami Tensei IV and V, and welcomed a remaster of Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne to its lineup of JRPG classics in 2020.
Persona 3, which brought the series mainstream success, has never been released outside of the PlayStation family, but would make a great fit for Nintendo’s handheld – particularly the portable version that was released for the PSP in 2009. Floating around Tartarus like malevolent shadows are rumours that a remake of the classic social sim/JRPG hybrid will be multiplatform – but no word on the Switch specifically. So what’s the deal? Persona 4 Golden made its way to Steam in 2020, which suggests there isn’t an exclusivity deal with Sony, right?
We can only speculate that someone at Atlus or Sony enjoys our suffering. And the less we think about Persona 5's continued absence on Switch — especially given Persona 5: Strikers — the less likely we are to give ourselves an aneurysm.
The legendary sky-pirate JRPG Skies of Arcadia released on the Dreamcast not long before Sega abandoned the console. Soon after, Sega ported Skies of Arcadia to the GameCube, where it received further critical acclaim.
It’s been two decades since then. As Skies of Arcadia is a JRPG in the truest sense of the genre, with turn-based battles, an evil empire to destroy, and airships aplenty, the Nintendo Switch would make a perfect home with its growing library of similarly themed games.
That said, the possibility of a remaster currently lies in the hands of Sega, and as of this article’s publishing, there isn’t any sign they plan to update Vyse and Aika’s quest for a modern audience anytime soon.
Suikoden II (PS)
Konami surprised many when they released both the Castlevania Anniversary Collection and the Castlevania Advance Collection for the eShop in 2019 and 2021 respectively. That means there’s a precedent for the controversial company to resurrect its classic titles on the Nintendo Switch much the same way that Dracula keeps ressurecting to terrorize the Belmont family.
Fans of Konami’s revered JRPG series Suikoden, however, shouldn’t hold out hope. Many consider Suikoden II to have one of the most engaging character-driven stories of any JRPG, and it would fit right in on Nintendo Switch, yet given Konami’s lack of interest in more popular games it owns, we don’t see a Suikoden collection happening anytime soon – if ever.
Lucky for us, the original creator of Suikoden, Yoshitaka Murayama, plans to bring a successor to the Nintendo Switch as soon as May.
Probability: Very Unlikely
You’d be forgiven for mixing up games with 'Xeno-' as a prefix. The first entry in the series, released way back in 1998 as Xenogears, was created by Tetsuya Takahashi and is currently the property of Square Enix. The follow-up series of games, Xenosaga, was also created by Takahashi at his new company Monolith Soft and is owned by Bandai Namco Entertainment. And the third and most recent series called Xenoblade currently serves as a celebrated Nintendo franchise, with several characters appearing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Many revere Xenogears as one of the best JRPGs ever made, lauding its complex story and soundtrack as pinnacles of the genre. But despite Monolith Soft’s close relationship with Nintendo, and how often Square Enix re-releases games under its banner for modern consoles, it’s too difficult to say if Square Enix will be significantly motivated to bring it to the Switch.
Probability: Who Knows?
In a perfect world – full of floating islands, anime tropes, and oversized swords – each and every one of these games would come to the Nintendo Switch in some form where we could enjoy them on our modern setups or lounging on our sofas. And we sincerely hope they do. The more people get to experience and re-experience these classics, the better.
Until these games do make their way onto a modern system, however, we’ll just have to content ourselves with the dozens of other JRPGs the Nintendo Switch has in its massive collection.
Which of the following 10 games would you most like to see come to Nintendo Switch? Don’t forget to vote in the poll below — you can pick two games, which seemed fairer on the others given Mother 3's presence — and to let us know if we missed any JRPGs you’d like to see one day!