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22 RPGs To Try If You Don’t Really Play RPGs

Because nobody has 70 hours to dedicate to killing slime monsters.

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Square Enix / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Despite being 20 years old, Chrono Trigger continues to be one of the greatest RPGs ever made, and everything about the original game still holds up to this day. Because of its intuitive combat system and snappy gameplay, it makes for a good entry point for anyone who has never played a JRPG before. It also has an incredibly compelling story that will keep you going through the 20+ hours of gameplay.

How to play it: There’s a version for iPhone and Android, which is convenient, but it’s not the best way to experience the game. You’d probably be better off picking up a Nintendo DS cart of the game or downloading it for the Virtual Console on the Wii.

Bethesda Softworks / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Listen, I get it. There’s only so many sprites with swapped color palettes that one person can take. Especially when you’re looking at them for like 70 hours of monotonous gameplay. That’s RPGs at their worst. Skyrim isn’t that. It’s still got a lot of RPG elements — swords and sorcery, a complex leveling system that grows and evolves, a huge world that’s really fun to explore — but it pulls it off in a more accessible way for people who aren’t down with classic RPGs.

How to play it: It’s a semi-modern game, so all you need is a PlayStation 3, or an Xbox 360, or a fairly recent PC to play it on. A lot of game shops will likely still have preowned copies of the game for cheap.

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Why it’s good for beginners: If you’re looking for a game that looks and feels like a traditional JRPG but without all the complicated bells and whistles, Wild Arms is a good place to start. It’ll have the overworld and battle screens you might expect, so it’ll definitely feel like you’re playing an RPG. But with only three controllable characters, and puzzle elements more reminiscent of Western adventure games, it’s a good game to cut your teeth on.

How to play it: Wild Arms is available for download on the PlayStation network and can be played on either the PS3 or the PS Vita.

Almost Human Ltd. / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Legend of Grimrock is super simple. Simple controls, simple presentation, really simple to pick up and play. You control a band of adventurers as they wander around a network of tunnels, but you can really only move forward, backward, left or right…and just one space at a time. That said, it also gets to be pretty challenging, with battles and puzzles that feel really rewarding.

How to play it: It’s available for PC and Mac computers, but honestly it’s the type of game that works really well on iPhone, so it’s one of the few games on this list that I’d recommend just playing on mobile.

Square / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: This is a good spot to jump into RPG gaming in general, but it’s a really great place to get on board the Final Fantasy series. It’s got great visuals for a SNES-era game and a story that moves along nicely without any monotonous or overly difficult moments. If you like Final Fantasy VI, continue on to Final Fantasy VII as well. It’s also an incredible game, even though the blocky polygon graphics don’t really hold up these days.

How to play it: It’s available for iPhone and Android, but like most mobile ports, it’s not a great version of the game. The best way to get it would be to download it from the PlayStation Network for the PS3 or for the Virtual Console on the Wii.

Nintendo / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Super Mario RPG tricks you by skinning a traditional role-playing game from a company like Square (who also produce the Final Fantasy series) with characters and settings from the Mario franchise.

How to play it: Other than dusting off your old SNES, the only way to get your hands on Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is on the Virtual Console on Wii.

Nintendo / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: All the games of this list are here because they’re really easy to understand and to just pick up and start playing, but the Pokémon games are by far the most accessible. They’re aimed at slightly younger audiences, so don’t expect a gripping story or anything, but there’s something about collecting animals and then making them fight each other that is really addictive.

How to play it: If you’re a purist, you’ll find an old Game Boy and Pokémon Red or Blue cartridge and start there. If you’re looking for something a little more contemporary, the recent remakes of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are very fun.

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Why it’s good for beginners: The story isn’t going to be all that appealing for newcomers to the genre, since it’s the sort of run-of-the-mill adventure quest to save the world that you see in every JRPG (although it does have a steampunk flair, which is something little different, I guess.) The nice part is that it’s a stand-alone experience (as opposed to a single game in a long series) with really fun and intuitive gameplay. It’s also really great at rewarding players regularly, which will keep most players interested right up until the very end.

How to play it: This one is kind of a challenge. You could always find an old Dreamcast and an original copy of the game on eBay, but that’s a lot of work. There was a remake released for GameCube as Skies of Arcadia Legends, but even that may be a little tough to get your hands on.

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Why it’s good for beginners: It’s the opposite of complicated. You’re a character, with a weapon, and you walk around hitting/chopping/shooting things with that weapon. When you do good things, your character looks more and more angelic. When you do bad things, you look more and demonic. Moral choices in games are nothing new, but it’s cool to see your choices directly reflected with your character.

How to play it: It’s last-last-gen, so you’ll need an original Xbox, but there was a remake for the Xbox 360 you could probably get your hands on. You can also buy it on Steam for PC or Mac.

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Why it’s good for beginners: I’m willing to bet that the intersection of Star Wars fans and people who’d click on a post called "Best RPGs For People Who Don’t Play RPGs” is pretty large, so let’s just cut to the chase. You get to be a Jedi, and you get to fight things with your lightsaber. If that sounds like fun to you, just know that it’s even more fun than it sounds.

How to play it: There’s a port available for iPad, iPhone, and Android. (But the controls are a little tough to get used to.) It’s also available for Mac and PC, as well as the original Xbox, if you’ve still got one of those lying around.

Nintendo / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: This game is a bit of a legend these days because it was slightly more rare than other Super Nintendo games, and original cartridges are hard to come by, but don’t let that intimidate you. It plays a like an RPG, but it’s set in a modern Western world and has a sense of humor about itself. RPGs usually take themselves way too seriously. Not Earthbound. Except for maybe the final battle, which is REALLY bizarre.

How to play it: Original cartridges for the SNES are going for upwards of $200 on eBay right now, but you can download it for the Virtual Console on Wii U for $10.

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Why it’s good for beginners: It’s like playing a Saturday morning cartoon, but one that knows its primary audience is adults who fondly remember Saturday morning cartoons. It’s got some light RPG elements without getting too bogged down in complicated mechanics. It just kind of makes you feel good when you’re playing it.

How to play it: There’s a mobile version for Android. Otherwise, it’s available for download for Mac, PC, and PlayStation 3.

Square Enix / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: It’s designed by the same dude who drew the art for Dragon Ball Z, so it’ll feel familiar to you if you were the sort of nerd who spent a lot of time watching Toonami in the ‘90s. To be honest, this is one of the entries on this list that’s going to feel the most traditional, so maybe save it for when you’ve built up some momentum for JRPGs.

How to play it: OK, so hear me out…the version for iPhone is pretty good on this one! They’ve adapted the game so you can play it with one hand, which is really nice for those times when you want to make it look like you’re reading emails or whatever but you’re actually 30 hours deep into an RPG. If you want the full experience, you’ll need a PlayStation 2, but there’s supposedly a 3DS remake coming out sometime soon.

Electronic Arts / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: It’s really great science fiction, for starters. The later games get a little full of themselves, but the first Mass Effect is a lot of good, old-fashioned cowboying around space with your giant frog friend. You could also seduce your shipmates and have sex with them, if awkward softcore computer sex with blue tentacle-headed aliens is the kind of thing that gets you going.

How to play it: It should still be pretty easy to get your hands on a copy for Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. (The two sequels should also be pretty widely available.)

Square Enix / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: The game is about a bunch of dead Hot Topic teens who YOU JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND AND NEVER WILL, UGH as they compete in a series of afterlife contests to win back their mortality. Sounds bananas, I know, but the mechanics and pacing are like no other JRPG out there. (Which is a good thing.)

How to play it: The truest version of the game, which lets you control two battles simultaneously, can only be found on the Nintendo DS cartridge, which is still pretty easy to get ahold of. There is a stripped-down but still totally fun and satisfying version of the game for iPhone and iPad.

Nintendo /

Why it’s good for beginners: See the “why it’s good for beginners” section of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, but then add in the fact that this has a neat 2D paper aesthetic that it occasionally uses in interesting ways. It’s not the most difficult game ever made, but if you think Mario nostalgia will help the RPG parts go down a little easier, Paper Mario is a good place to start.

How to play it: It was originally made for the N64 system, but they’ve made it available for download for the Virtual Console on both the Wii and the Wii U.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Bastion is what they call an “action role-playing game,” so there’s no overworld and no grinding for experience points and no turn-based battle systems. Instead, you’re a kid called "The Kid" who walks around the floating remains of your world collecting bits of “shard” which can be used to make your weapons better at killing the bad guys who are trying to stop you from undoing the calamity that destroyed your world.

How to play it: It’s available for pretty much everything: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Xbox 360, iOS, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita...there’s even a Chrome app version.

Namco Bandai Games / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: To be honest, Ni no Kuni is probably going to be a little much for most newcomers. It’s a big, complex game. The thing it has going for it is that it’s animated by Studio Ghibli, so it’s a BEAUTIFUL big, complex game. It’s also got some elements of collecting and battling with creatures you catch in the game’s overworld, so Pokémon fans may find some familiar fun there.

How to play it: There’s a less robust version for Nintendo 3DS, but the full game is available for PlayStation 3.

Ubisoft / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: Child of Light is another really beautiful game. It’s a side-scrolling platformer, so even if you haven’t picked up a game since Super Mario Bros., you should feel comfortable with the controls. The RPG elements come in through the fantasy setting and during encounters with enemies, which play out like a traditional RPG with a turn-based battle system.

How to play it: It’s impossible NOT to find this game. It was released on PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Wii U, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

2K Games / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game, and not an RPG at all, so disregard its inclusion on this list altogether! Ha ha! Just kidding! (Not about the fact that it’s not an RPG. That was for real. It’s definitely not an RPG.)

There’s a lot of really great, complex RPGs out there called “tactical role-playing games,” and even though XCOM takes place in a near-future environment and is a tactical game about fighting aliens, it’s a really great introduction to the mechanics of the genre.

Also, you’re going to form meaningful relationships with the soldiers on your team, so you’re going to be DEVASTATED when one of them dies for the first time. Sorry about that in advance.

How to play it: Not surprisingly, it’s available for Android, iPhone, and iPad, but what IS surprising is that it plays pretty well on the mobile systems. You can also get it for PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

Nintendo / Via

Why it’s good for beginners: If you’re ready for the real thing and want to take a shot at an actual tactical RPG, the Fire Emblem games are the best way into the genre. The games do tend to suffer from bloated narratives that may turn off people who don’t play a lot of JRPGs, but the controls are really easy to pick up and run with, and the characters are unique and easy to get attached to.

How to play it: There are a lot of Fire Emblem games, but the best places to start are probably with Fire Emblem for the Game Boy Advance (which you can also get for the Wii U virtual console) or the more recent Fire Emblem: Awakening for Nintendo 3DS.

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Why it’s good for beginners: This is more of an honorable mention, because the Shin Megami Tensei games are probably a little too weird and a little too complex for gamers who don’t play many RPGs. That said, Persona 4 is an excellent game, and it may be addicting enough to help you power through any bad feelings you have about JRPGs. The recent remake of Persona 4 for PS Vita has some extra features, including a “very easy” mode which also helps make the learning curve less daunting. Just play it. It’s really great.

How to play it: The original game came out on PlayStation 2 and can be downloaded from the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, but the enhanced Persona 4 Golden is available for the handheld PS Vita system.