Famitsu has recently published results of their Best RPG Poll in Weekly Famitsu magazine. The poll was held from the 22nd to 28th of June 2017, and 2295 valid votes from their readers in Japan have been counted.
We have translated the entire top 20 list featured in the article, so you can also read which RPG the Japanese public considers as the best of the best so far.
20th – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – 72 points
The only western RPG to make it to the top 20, CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3 is published by Spike Chunsoft in Japan and was released there on 21 May 2015.
A man in his 30s commented, “The story density is deep, and I want to forever get immersed into the world setting,” while a woman in her 20s said, “It is being created well, and I can feel the fixations of the developers.” Another fan also said, “Your own decisions will get reflected properly in the game, so you can really feel like actually being in that world.”
19th – Final Fantasy VIII – 74 points
The eighth iteration of Final Fantasy, which was released in 1999, was the first to use real-scale bodies, and also the first one to have a theme song in Faye Wong’s Eyes on Me.
A man in his 30s said, “It’s full of elements that tickle your chuunibyou heart with settings like a Witch’s Knight and the Gunblade,” and a woman in her 30s is “moved by the magnificent story about love.” Other fans also said things like “I’ve witnessed the best human drama in the series” and “It has a lot of replay value that I got addicted to it and forgot about time.”
18th – Final Fantasy IX – 75 points
Final Fantasy IX is the last Final Fantasy created by Hironobu Sakaguchi which was released on 2000. Its card mini-game, Tetra Master, also used to have a standalone online version that was available by purchasing Final Fantasy XI at that time.
A woman in her 40s commented, “The peaceful scenery is so beautiful that I got immersed with feelings of nostalgia,” while a teen boy wrote, “The visuals that look like a picture book, as well as the world settings, are the best.” Other fans also wrote that “The world setting is good with a warm atmosphere where [characters of] various races live there” and “Each mini-game is created thoroughly that I got unconsciously enthusiastic with them.”
17th – EarthBound – 78 points
Originally known as Mother 2 in Japan, it was released for the SNES on 27 August 1994 in Japan. It was also localized for North America as EarthBound which was released on 5 June 1995.
A 30s man reminisced that, “Although I liked the weird world setting when I was a child, I finally understood its depth after growing up into an adult.” A 30s woman also liked it for having a “very good sense.” Other fans also “Like the unique conversations” and “Gradually cried at both the story and music.”
16th – Final Fantasy VI – 81 points
The sixth Final Fantasy game, which was released for SNES on 2 April 1994 in Japan, was notable for changing Moogle’s design into what we are commonly seeing nowadays.
A man in his 30s “never forgets the surprise when seeing the Magic Armor for the first time,” and a woman in her 40s wrote that “The music, and especially the ending theme is the best.” Other fans were “surprised at the Magic Train” and “saved just before the Opera scene to watch it multiple times.”
15th – Dragon Quest IV – 82 points
The first Dragon Quest game to have a separate setting for the first three games of the ‘Erdrick Trilogy’ was first released in NES on 11 February 1990 in Japan, and it also later had remakes on the PlayStation 1 and Nintendo DS (the screenshot above is from the localized DS version).
A 40s man said that “Having the protagonist change in each chapter was so fresh at that time,” and a 30s woman hopes that “everyone doesn't hate Kyril and his Thwack spell.” Another voter wrote that “There are stories for not only party characters but also enemies, and I cried at the story development where they crossed with each other.”
14th – Persona 4 Golden – 90 points
This remake version of Persona 4 for PlayStation Vita with many new features was released on 14 June 2012 in Japan. It was also later localized for North America on 20 November 2012 and Europe on 22 February 2013.
A 20s man has “played it for over 300 hours,” and a 30s woman “will never forget the sub characters growing up and changing [personalities] when communicated with.” Another user also claims to be “able to fully enjoy the school life.”
13th – Xenogears – 91 points
On the thirteenth spot, we have Square Enix (then Squaresoft)’s classic science fiction mecha RPG, which was released for PlayStation 1 in Japan on 11 February 1998 and in North America on 20 October.
A man in his 20s “wants to see a remake on the most recent consoles,” and another in his 30s noted that “Collecting all the scattered plot lines makes it truly a masterpiece.” Another fan even “still hasn’t seen any game that surpasses this.”
12th – Final Fantasy X – 100 points
The first Final Fantasy for PlayStation 2 which was originally released in Japan on 19 July 2001, in North America on 17 December 2001, and in Europe on 24 May 2002. It has also received remakes on the PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and PC.
A teen boy wrote, “There are no other titles where I have cried this much,” and a 20s man said, “The battle balancing is just right, so I could purely enjoy just the story.” Other users also wrote things like, “I couldn’t stop crying on Yuna’s final quote” and “This title has become the most resounding one in my heart during my youth ages.”
11th – Xenoblade Chronicles – 104 points
This RPG from Monolith Soft was first released for Nintendo Wii in Japan on 10 June 2010, in Europe on 19 August 2011, and in North America on 6 April 2012. A New Nintendo 3DS version was also recently released worldwide in April 2015.
A man in his 20s “actually felt like doing an adventure,” and another man of the same generation thinks that “the real challenge of this game is after the play time has been maxed out.” Other voters “had fun adventuring in the vast world” and “have no complaints at all.”
10th – Final Fantasy XV – 110 points
As we get into the Top 10, more voter comments are getting featured. Right at the tenth place, we have the most recent iteration of Final Fantasy series which was released worldwide in November 2016.
A man in his 30s “had much fun in traveling with friends,” and a 30s woman wrote, “I’m glad I continued believing while waiting ever since the initial announcement 10 years ago [when the game was revealed as Versus XIII].” A 20s man said, “I cried every time I looked back to my adventure by looking at photos taken by Prompto,” and a woman in the same generation wrote, “There is no other game that gives so much affection to characters like this.”
A teen boy “wants to eat Cup Noodles” thanks to the bizarre collaboration commercials, while another man in the 20s said that, “The speedy battles are very exhilarating.”
Final Fantasy XV’s director Hajime Tabata also chimed in to thank the fans for voting the game into the 10th place. Here’s more on what he has said:
Thank you to everyone who has voted. I’m really glad we’re able to get the 10th place. FFXV is still going to evolve with regular updates, DLCs, VR and more. We are doing our best so that it can reach a higher rank in the next polls.
9th – Persona 3 – 131 points
The third iteration of the Persona series was originally released for PlayStation 2 on 13 July 2006 in Japan. It also had a PlayStation Portable version which was released on 1 November 2009 that added a selectable female protagonist as well as a cameo of a younger Yukiko Amagi from Persona 4 (the screenshot is taken from the PlayStation Portable version).
A woman in her 20s “will never forget the one year spent with friends and townsfolk, no matter how many years have passed from it.” Another said, “The BGMs with vocals are the best, and were so fresh at that time.” A 30s woman felt "realistic relationships with the characters," and a 20s man has "played so much that I don't know how many playthroughs I've done." A man in the 30s also noted that "The PSP version added the protagonist gender selection, so the game volume is also raised!"
And this is an abridged translation of what Katsura Hashino wrote about Persona 3 getting in the 9th place:
About 10 years have passed since we produced Persona 3. At that time, everyone including myself were still young, and Atlus was also in a desperate situation. Perhaps because of either of those factors, we worked straight to the best of our ability. We're just making this game not only so that Atlus fans do not get disappointed, but we also believe that this is going to be an interesting experience.
The completed game may be considered as the fruit of our new efforts, but we have also crammed in things that could be created only in that situation. Having that title with our deep memories being supported at this place makes me think "It's being supported by all the great players", and I'm proud of that. Thank you very much.
8th – NieR RepliCant – 151 points
This is the Japan-exclusive NieR that was released for the PlayStation 3 on 22 April 2010. The Western market instead received NieR Gestalt for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which was actually exclusive for Xbox 360 in Japan.
Men in their 20s wrote, "7 years have passed since its release. I still haven't met a game that has a story more shocking than this" and "I cried many times at the shocking endings." Women in the same generation also wrote, "It's the first time ever in my lifetime that I [played] a game that made my heart tremble so much" and "Everything [here] is beautiful."
Those in their 30s would write things like "I'm moved by the protagonists risking their lives to live", "I think the term 'One and Only' refers to games like this", and "I wonder if there will be a game that remains in my heart more than this; this title will continue to be my dearest even in the future." Someone even voted for this game just "because it is Yoko Taro's title."
And the producer Yosuke Saito said this to react:
It's all thanks to Taro-san's popularity. Thank you very, very much on loving this niche title of over 7 years ago. Someday I would like to do a full remake or some sort like that. I also hope you'll get to play Gestalt as well.
7th – Suikoden II – 155 points
Widely regarded as the most popular Suikoden game, this second installment of the series with '108 Stars of Destiny' was released for PlayStation 1 in Japan on 17 December 1998, in North America on 29 September 1999, and in Europe on 28 July 2000.
Women in their 20s said, "The group image of people surviving at the mercy of the powerful runes struck my heart" and "I'm glad there is a lot of replay value with many features like the headquarters system and minigames," while men in their 30s wrote things like, "All of the story, music and game balance are very good! This game is the first one where I want to know the past of every character appearing here" and "Luca Blight's [in]famous quote 'Die Pig!!!!' was really shocking."
6th – Dragon Quest V – 165 points
The fifth iteration of Dragon Quest, which was first released for SNES on 27 September 1992, is famous for having the 'ultimate selection' on whether to marry Bianca or Flora (the latter would be known as Nera in localized versions). It also later had remakes for PlayStation 2 on 25 March 2004, and Nintendo DS on 17 July 2008, the latter of which added a new marriage candidate in Debora.
A woman in her 30s said, "The story is excellent, and I actually felt the sensation of growing up from a child to an adult," while another in her 20s wrote, "The remake version had Debora appearing, which made the 'ultimate selection' even harder."
Meanwhile, a 30s man "had a good memory of making forced decisions with a friend so that 'I'm going to choose Bianca, so you shall go with Flora!" while a teen boy "got overwhelmed by the story that looks like a Taiga drama, and got excited at watching the protagonist grow up and overcome tragedies."
Yuji Horii also posted a comment regarding Dragon Quest V:
Despite being a game, I'll have you seriously worried. That's what I was thinking when I produced this game. Would you choose your childhood friend Bianca, or the rich girl Flora/Nera? Personally, I thought most people would go with Bianca, so I added some remittances to Flora/Nera to give her a slight advantage. But I'm surprised when it turned out that many would pick the latter (laughs).
Although the story was about beating the Demon Lord with generations of father and son, the protagonist didn't change between generations, but instead his lifetime was depicted from child to adult, and eventually becoming a father.
5th – Final Fantasy VII – 169 points
Being the first 3D Final Fantasy that was released for PlayStation 1 in Japan on 31 January 1997, and later localized to North America on 7 September and Europe on 17 November, is the most memorable Final Fantasy to many people, and also the highest ranked Final Fantasy in this list. A full-blown remake of this game for PlayStation 4 has been announced at E3 2015 and is still under development as of this writing.
Comments for FFVII are dominated by men in their 30s, which you can read in the following list:
- “Everything was shocking to me back then when I was a middle schooler; from the evolution from SNES, the magnificent story, to the appealing characters and music.”
- “The masterpiece that showed the evolution of RPG.”
- “I’m just surprised at the evolution of graphics at that time; I’ve seen the moment the history of video games [started] moving.”
- “I still never forget the excitement of seeing a vast world when going out of Midgar.”
A woman in her 20s “fell in love with Cloud at the first time when seeing him in battle scenes,” and another in her 30s said “Aerith is a heroine who still lives inside my mind even right now. Her cruel fate is so shocking that it even gave a trauma to me in my childhood.”
Voice actress Maaya Sakamoto, who has been providing Japanese voices for Aerith Gainsborough in recent titles, also posted a comment for the game.
Congratulations to Final Fantasy VII for making it to the ranking. When it was released, I was still a high schooler, and I glanced at my elder brother playing it like getting addicted to it. I remember I also got moved by it, thinking that there is such a great game. After time has passed, I didn’t expect that I get delegated to voice Aerith (in FFVII & Kingdom Hearts series)! I’m honored to be able to participate in this series which have been carved into hearts of so many people.
And as a representative of the developers, Yoshinori Kitase, the producer of the currently in-development Final Fantasy VII Remake, posted a comment of gratitude.
Thank you for getting [FFVII] into the 5th rank in this RPG poll. We’re very glad that even after 20 years have passed since VII’s birth, this title is still being loved like this. We’d also like to do our best so that this title can still be loved even after 100 years in the future!
4th – NieR: Automata – 177 points
Yoko Taro's most recent action RPG game, which first released for PlayStation 4 in Japan on 23 February 2017, and in the rest of the world as well as getting a PC Steam release in March, has surprisingly placed in the 4th place, surpassing even every Final Fantasy games in the ranking.
A teen boy liked the "crazy world settings", while a woman in her 30s wrote that the excitement for this game will be “unbearable for those who like robots and ruins.”
Comments for NieR: Automata are getting dominated by men in their 20s...
“Thank you, Yoko Taro.”
“It’s complete as a game, as an art, and even as an idea.”
“The actions are also stylish, so even doing simple things like jumping while moving or going up stairs are fun [to watch].”
...and also women in their 40s.
- “A rare title which leaves ‘something’ that will be never gone from my mind for my lifetime”
- “This title gives affection to the characters and made me shed tears”
- “An excellent scenario that gouges your hearts, unpredictable story development, various gimmicks full with the desire of fun, and all of those are made more hype with the finest music. It’s a masterpiece.”
The Japanese voice actress of 6O, Keiko Isobe, also chimed in to show her support for the game.
Congratulations to NieR: Automata for getting 4th! With the love from everyone continuing ever since the prequel, as well as the much love towards the Automata world, I’m feeling the high tension in [events] like concert and collaboration café, and I’m really glad for that. It’s not an exaggeration for me to say that I’m proud to voice Operator 6O and be 2B’s personal operator. Please kindly play multiple playthroughs and listen to communications between 2B-san and 6O-chan. Long live humanity!
And the producer Yosuke Saito also reacted to the game's impressive placing.
It’s thanks to Yoko-san’s popularity. I haven’t seen the entire ranking list so I don’t know for sure, but I guess it should be surrounded by [other] great titles. I’m very honored for that. Thank you very, very much.
Yoko Taro seems to be very baffled at the result though.
I think there is a lot of people who think “Why is this Nier-something game getting 4th in the RPG poll!?” And so am I.
3rd – Chrono Trigger – 194 points
One of the most popular classic RPGs, which was originally released for SNES in Japan on 11 March 1995 and North America exactly five months later in August, is Chrono Trigger. This title could be also considered as a precursor to Square Enix's merger, as it was co-developed by Final Fantasy's Hironobu Sakaguchi and Dragon Quest's Yuji Horii.
A woman in her 40s commented “At that time, it had the most beautiful graphics, a deep story that won’t bore you no matter how many times you play, and appealing characters. It’s eternally the All-Time Best,” and another in her 20s wrote “The world setting, characters, music, and story; Even if any of them were taken it would still be the one ‘legendary’ game to me.”
The comments for Chrono Trigger, however, are being dominated by the 30s generation, from both women...
- “Even after playing it for over 10 times, I still got moved by it every time."
- “This is a masterpiece that seemed to take the good points from both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, while also having enough uniqueness and originality.”
...and men alike.
- “Frog is cool.”
- “I’ll never forget the excitement when I saw the illustration published before its release.”
- “Thanks to New Game+, I don’t remember how many times I’ve replayed it.”
- “I’m surprised at the Multi Ending system where you could also have an ending without the main character.”
Chrono Trigger also gets a developer response from the original creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi, who is currently running his own company Mistwalker.
Sakaguchi here. I’m very happy to hear that Chrono Trigger got selected! We need to hold a Millennium Festival at Leene Square! I also want to participate with a Frog cosplay. I’d also like to take a commemorative photo with Toriyama-san (Akira Toriyama) and Horii-san, have (Yasunori) Mitsuda’s music be played on a grand scale, and also make it as a reunion party for the whole development team.
2nd – Dragon Quest III – 218 points
Dragon Quest series has been one of the most memorable RPG series for many Japanese people, and Dragon Quest III (subtitled 'And into the Legend...' in Japan, 'The Seeds of Salvation' in America) takes the top spot among the many Dragon Quest games. It was first released for the NES in Japan on 10 February 1988 and later localized to North America on 12 March 1992. (The screenshot is from the SNES version)
As expected, comments for this game are being dominated by the older generation. Men in their 30s wrote the following:
- “This is The Adventure! This is The RPG!”
- “The original experience of RPG.”
- “When I knew the meaning of ‘And into the Legend…’ [the Japanese subtitle], I got goosebumps.”
- “I still have good memories of it even now, when I lost the Adventurer’s Book twice.”
While those in their 40s wrote:
- “I played this by reducing my sleep time while I kept changing jobs to build my own strong character.”
- “I became addicted to this without any reason. This is a grand masterpiece of RPG in all aspects: Battles, BGM, and story.”
There is also a single featured comment from a woman in her 30s, who said: “The boys in my class were really hyped on it, but I was able to enjoy it quietly without joining in their conversations.”
Yuji Horii himself also commented on behalf of the developers, reminiscing that Dragon Quest III was also the turning point of his life.
Thank you for getting this into the 2nd place in the RPG poll. Dragon Quest III was created around 30 years ago as a conclusion to the legend of Loto/Erdrick, but [I’m surprised that] everyone still loves this so much even right now. I had never been gladder than this. At that time it even triggered a social phenomenon, and that title was also the one that made me determined to move from being a freelance writer wearing straw sandals, to live as a game designer. And 30 years after that, Dragon Quest XI will be released in this summer. I’m really thankful that I still get to be involved in game development like this right now. Everyone, thank you very much!
1st – Persona 5 – 256 points
And here is the King of Role Playing Game from this poll. This latest iteration of Atlus' juvenile RPG series, which was released for PlayStation 4 and 3 in Japan on 15 September 2016 and the rest of the world on 4 April 2017, has successfully 'stolen the hearts' of many Japanese voters and surpassed all other classic RPGs in the list.
Persona 5 has also gathered comments from voters of varying generations. From men in their 40s...
- “Having 1.5 million copies being sold worldwide is not just for show! The highest degree of completion in the series and the intensely pleasant story make it unbearable!”
- "Actually, I thought they couldn't create something that would surpass P4. Sorry about that!"
...those in the 30s...
- “Even though it’s stylish there is nothing detestable; I’m just admired at their good sense.”
- “It is also fun at raising [character] levels!”
...men in their 20s...
- “This is a masterpiece without any doubt.”
- “[The song] Life Will Change is great.”
...and women of the same generation.
- “This is more beautiful and cool than even anime.”
- “It’s good that you get to see Personas standing right behind protagonists in battles, giving a sense of them [actually] fighting together.”
A woman in her 30s is quoted as saying “10 months after release, and I still haven’t played this enough,” and a teen boy also wrote, “I can only say ‘[What a] misfortune’ if you don’t know about this game.”
Jun Fukuyama, the Japanese voice actor of the main protagonist, also posted a congratulatory message:
Since Persona 5 is basking in the glory of the 1st place, even though this is audacious, I, Jun Fukuyama who voiced the protagonist Joker, shall also post a comment here. I know that although it took in problems and conflicts seen in realistic lives of modern youths, this title also appeals to hearts of people, from series fans to newcomers, in all aspects: visuals, sound, story, and gameplay.
We’ve also made you wait for so long, and everyone’s expectations and craving may have become the energy to hype up the title. Although just in the voice section, I still got involved with this title, and I represent my joy and gratitude of being able to deliver this to everyone with this comment. Everyone, thank you very much! And to all staffs, congratulations!
And finally, to close out this poll article, here is a lengthy comment of gratitude from Persona 5's director and creative producer, Katsura Hashino.
Really? 1st place among all the historical RPGs? Were people calmed down when voting? That’s how we were surprised. At the time of development, while we received an unprecedented amount of support, although we felt an incomparable pressure on those voices, we have somehow produced this title to be considered as surpassing the prequel. While each staff member is in the middle of proceeding to challenge the next thing, they are feeling encouraged by receiving supports like this.
We always continue to work while thinking that “The game ought to be more interesting.” That never changes from when we started [working on] Persona 5, when it had gone gold, and also when we’re challenging a new title right now. We as game aficionados just by chance get to be in a position to create games for work. We would like to do such work where we can exist in the middle of all the players.
As for myself personally, in order to take on Atlus’ new challenge, I ended up being only in charge for three games in the Persona series: Persona 3, 4, and 5. However, please continue supporting Persona series in the future as it is being continued by junior creators who are brimming with motivation. And I hope you can also look forward to the next challenge Atlus is going to start (Please check out http://rpg.jp). Even though the genre is different, I plan to make it into a think that will definitely make everyone think “Interesting,” or “So you’ve made it like this.” I thank every person who has voted.
More Like This
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Final Fantasy X
- Final Fantasy XV
- Final Fantasy IX
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
- Dragon Quest V: The Hand of the Heavenly Bride
- Xenoblade Chronicles
- Suikoden II
- Chrono Trigger
- NieR: Automata
- Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3
- Persona 4 Golden
- Persona 5