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This Generation's Must-Play JRPGs

Radiant Historia (DS) -- GI's Review

Dear everyone who’s been begging for a new Chrono Trigger game forever: Go buy Radiant Historia. This epic from Atlus has all the era-hopping and time-tangling that makes the Chrono games memorable, but the plot is even darker and collecting false endings is turned into a game of its own. Final Fantasy XIII-2’s great Historia Crux system is lifted from Radiant Historia, but it’s definitely done bigger and better here.

Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey (DS) -- GI's Review

Of all the games on this list, Strange Journey is the least likely to appeal to everyone. You must not only be open to facing the legendary difficulty of Shin Megami Tensei games, but you have to be down with the oldest of old-school: first-person dungeon crawlers. It’s worth overcoming these challenges to enjoy SMT’s trademark demonic allies and creepy, near-future plot.

Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSP) -- GI's Review

Though Tactics Ogre is traditionally more difficult than, say, Disgaea, it’s also got even more depth for strategy RPG fans to sink their teeth into. This updated handheld port speeds up the level grind and features a fresh translation that makes it well worth playing even if you’ve already sunk countless hours into the PS1 version.

Tales of Vesperia (360) -- GI's Review

I’ve never actually been able to fully appreciate Namco’s long-running Tales series for myself, but even for a skeptic like me, Tales of Vesperia is easily the best in the series. A great sense of humor, myriad touching character moments, and a perfect evolution of Tales’ action-packed combat are all nice bonuses, but the real star of the show is Repede. Repede is the canine companion of the main character. More importantly, he’s a dog that smokes a pipe. Doesn’t get more awesome than that, folks.

Valkyria Chronicles (PS3) -- GI's Review -- and Valkyria Chronicles 2 (PSP) -- GI's Review

Sega may not be bringing over the third entry in this series of gorgeous tactical RPGs, but that shouldn’t stop you from checking out the two that have already made their way to North America. This alternate universe war story heavily inspired by World War II contains one of the freshest takes on the turn-based wargame RPG ever seen. The PSP sequel shrinks the battlefield but improves on the character customization surrounding it.

The World Ends With You (DS)

My fondness for the Shin Megami Tensei series should already reveal that I’m interested in RPGs with unique settings. The World Ends With You chooses the popular Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo. It embraces the strange Tetsuya Nomura style that all recent Final Fantasy games have, but by making fashion sense part of the actual gameplay, it feels much more natural and less laughable. The off-the-wall battle system is unlike any other RPG I’ve ever played.

Xenoblade Chronicles (Wii)

Monolith Soft has never really blown me away – I enjoyed the Xenosaga games but never fully adored them the way some gamers have – but Xenoblade Chronicles feels like this team stepping up to the plate and claiming the JRPG throne. The lush, bizarre setting is full of wonders, while the MMO-inspired combat is aided by the main character’s ability to see the future. With its forward-thinking, ease-of-use features, Xenoblade may just be the best JRPG I’ve played this generation. Stay tuned for my review in just a few weeks to see what I think.

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