30 Best RPG Games For PlayStation 1 (Ranked)This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
No one thought that the Super Nintendo RPG library could be topped in any way. But the PS1 proved everyone wrong, with a massive library of games that helped the genre flourish.
With the PlayStation, PRGs were able to shed that “niche” skin that was becoming too tight.
Featuring fast-paced action role-playing games, tactical titles, and traditional RPGs that twist the formula in clever ways, the original PlayStation role-playing library will not fail to monopolize your attention.
If you’re looking to re-live those days then have a peek at our top picks below.
30. Legend of Legaia
Release Date: October 29, 1998
Some games fit you like a well-worn glove. They do exactly what you expect them to do, but they do it well.
It’s not the story, characters, plot, or mechanics that make Legend of Legaia an enjoyable game.
It’s the amazing combat system that does away with the menu based interface, in favor of a system that allows players to unleash special attacks by combining two different attack types, almost like in a fighting game.
The many special attacks available are a true godsend. You’ll be spending a lot of time in combat, all while traversing the world to seek the Genesis Trees and save the world from a mysterious disease.
A lot of fun once you get into it.
29. Wild Arms
Release Date: December 20, 1996
The Old, Wild West. Outlaws. Revolvers. Treasure hunters. Magic. Castles. Dragons.
Wild Arms, in a nutshell.
Wild Arms features a charming setting that combines Old West aesthetics with European fantasy elements.
It creates a unique combination that is still unrivaled to this day.
While the story of the PS1 game ultimately turns into the usual good vs evil affair, the gameplay makes the whole experience memorable.
If features solid turn-based combat and Zelda-inspired dungeon exploration, complete with clever puzzles that will constantly push your knowledge of the mechanics further.
If you dig this title then definitely take a peek at our picks for the entire series. There’s a lotta gems in the Wild Arms franchise.
28. Parasite Eve
Release Date: March 29, 1998
A survival-horror-role-playing game? Now that’s a mouthful!
Combining typical RPG mechanics with the cinematic approach of horror games, Parasite Eve is among the most unique role-playing games ever released.
Following New York cop Aya Brea, players must unravel the happenings related to a very mysterious living being called Eve.
Eventually it seems we discover that it’s always humans that are the true dangers to themselves.
While the RPG setup is not particularly deep, the combat system and the great story make Parasite Eve a game worth playing. Just don’t play it in the dark, all alone. Eve may decide to pay a visit.
27. Arc the Lad Collection
Release Date: April 18, 2002
With Arc the Lad Collection, we are cheating the system.
But what are we to do when you have three great games so tightly intertwined?
Packing together the first three entries in the Arc the Lad series was a very clever move that highlighted one of the series’ best traits: continuity.
The somewhat generic tactical role-playing experience of the series is elevated by the great worldbuilding and character development, which starts relatively simple in Arc the Lad, then reaches incredible heights in its sequels.
Sure, the game may not look as good as other role-playing games on PlayStation 1.
But when you have so much quality on your hands, would you really complain?
26. Vandal Hearts
Release Date: October 25, 1996
Tactical RPGs don’t always need to be complicated to be enjoyable.
And Vandal Hearts clearly shows this to be true.
Vandal Hearts is a very straightforward tactical role-playing game that rides on the coattails of the Shining Force series.
Controlling a band of warriors lead by Ash, players have to take down a corrupt government and save a nation from disgrace in a simple turn-based tactical battle system.
While limited customization options and map design feel dated, the rock-paper-scissor system and fast-pace of Vandal Hearts is an engaging experience. Although it won’t exactly make you a tactical master.
Release Date: April 11, 1997
What happens in our dreams, must stay in there. The subconscious can be a dangerous place.
For a very long time, Alundra has been considered as the poor man’s Legend of Zelda with its top-down view, detailed 2D graphics, focus on dungeon exploration, and puzzle-solving.
While apt, this comparison does not do justice to the game’s great puzzle and dungeon design.
Some of them are set inside character’s dreams!
Take this along with light platforming elements, excellent combat, tight controls, and a story that will mercilessly tug at your heartstrings.
24. Legend of Mana
Release Date: July 15, 1999
Legend of Mana does a great many things right.
Especially not resting on the laurels of its legacy.
Legend of Mana brings every feature seen in its predecessors to a whole new level.
Graphics are gorgeous, with a hand-drawn 2D style that oozes charm; combat is as engaging as ever, fast and exciting, featuring multiple weapon types and unique special attacks.
Exploration mechanics are extremely innovative too. This allows you to create the world map and influence the elemental properties of each location.
One has to wonder, with such high quality, why Legend of Mana is not as praised as Secret of Mana.
The answer is simple: nostalgia.
23. Legend of Dragoon
Release Date: December 2, 1999
Color-coded heroes, obvious bad guys, and streamlined plot do have a certain allure.
Controlling Dart as he sets on a quest for revenge, in Legend of Dragoon you must lead a group of heroes with the power to turn into winged warriors that are clearly defined by colors.
Which somewhat dampens character development and story a bit.
But this game is revered for a reason: it’s fun to play.
While the turn-based battle system is the only feature that rises from the norm, Legend of Dragoon is still a somewhat enjoyable RPG, if you don’t have too high of expectations.
22. Dragon Quest VII
Release Date: August 26, 2000
It does not get more classic than in the Dragon Quest series, evem with a jump to 3D graphics.
Featuring one of the longest intros ever seen in a role-playing game, Dragon Quest VII is definitely a title that rewards dedication.
This is because many features open up after hours of play, like the robust job system.
The classic turn-based combat system with first-person camera view and the episodic feel of the story doesn’t make it a game for newcomers.
But if you’re willing to commit, you’ll find a more-than-satisfying game with a story that’s a little more in touch with the human heart than usual.
21. SaGa Frontier II
Release Date: April 1, 1999
In life, you never get your path handed down.
Like in the SaGa series, you have to forge your own yourself
In a very unexpected twist, however, SaGa Frontier II does away this concept.
Instead it presents a more linear adventure that results in a tighter experience all the way through.
More linear, however, doesn’t mean straightforward. As you’ll have to follow two different storylines that are not always presented in chronological order.
Same with the battle system: while the turn-based combat system has been made easier to understand, you still have to deal with some obscure mechanics for leveling, assigning battle roles, discover techs, and blowing out those devastating combo attacks.
20. Breath of Fire IV
Release Date: April 27, 2000
Traditions are important. And no one honors them as much as the Breath of Fire franchise.
Breath of Fire IV doesn’t reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t even try to do so.
Starring a young man Ryu who can turn into a dragon, players accompany the princess of Wyndia Nina on her journey to find her missing sister.
And what a journey it is!
Filled with colorful characters, including a living suit of armor, beautiful locations, and plenty of enemies to defeat.
All this wrapped into a classic turn-based battle system that lets you switch characters on the fly and combo special attacks together for massive damage.
A regular’s day work in the life of any hardcore RPG fan.
19. Tales of Destiny II
Release Date: September 11, 2001
Fighting games and role-playing games have absolutely nothing in common.
And yet a developer worked some magic to masterfully mash them together right here.
Tales of Destiny II, also known as Tales of Eternia, is a rather by-the-books JRPG at first glance.
But appearances are very deceiving here, as the game actually plays like a 2D fighting game during battles.
Controlling any of the playable characters in real-time, you can unleash up to six different special techniques that can be combined together to obliterate enemies.
With magic spells and special techniques flying all over the screen, every battle in Tales of Eternia turns into a feast for the eyes. And you’re not a mere spectator!
Release Date: December 18, 1997
No other PlayStation 1 RPG manages to capture a true spirit of adventure as Grandia does.
What makes Grandia so memorable it’s the tone of the entire adventure.
It’s whimsical, it’s joyous, and it conveys a sense of excitement like no other game does.
With the world divided by a massive wall, you’re often left wondering about what lies on the other side. And once you do get there, all your expectations are truly surpassed.
With solid RPG gameplay that allows deep customization of every charming and well-developed character, this will keep you hooked.
It also offers a turn-based battle system with real-time elements, and great amount of extra content, and really just a fun experience through it all.
Grandia is an adventure that will stick with you for so long that no wall will ever stop your adventuring spirit.
17. Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete
Release Date: October 25, 1996
Coming of age stories probably reached their peak in 1992, making for great material for a great remake!
Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete, a remake of an older SEGA CD RPG, is as classic as it gets.
A young boy named Alex ventures out into the world together with his childhood friend Luna, meeting a charming cast of characters on the way.
And they end up having to take on a great evil to achieve legendary status as the new Dragonmaster (seems pretty typical RPG here).
The game does show its age with its clunky inventory system, and a progression that requires a bit of grinding. Not to mention a fairly slow turn-based battle system… so if you’re tight on time, you may not fully appreciate this one.
But if you let these small flaws stop you, you would be missing one of the most charming stories from a classic JRPG title.
16. Final Fantasy VIII
Release Date: February 11, 1999
Final Fantasy VIII is the first of the multiple entries in the series that you’ll find here.
But I’m not biased. It’s just that FF games are so good.
Final Fantasy VIII is definitely among the most controversial entries in the series, due to some gameplay design choices that make it rather easy to break the game’s challenge level.
Even with these issues, however, the game is still a great RPG.
Squall’s adventure is a memorable journey told through different timelines that address themes like duty, honor, and love.
It may not reach the levels of excellence of Final Fantasy VII and IX, but it’s still worthy of the Final Fantasy name. And absolutely worth playing if you haven’t yet.
And if you’ve got a newer PS console you can grab the remastered version to give that a try.
15. Persona 2: Eternal Punishment
Release Date: June 29, 2000
Calling your own number to summon the mysterious Joker sounds weird?
You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Maya Amano’s pursuit of the terrible Joker in Persona 2: Eternal Punishment is among the most memorable RPG experience on PlayStation 1.
Mostly thanks to the stylish way it’s presented, the deep characters, and the themes.
The game resounds with contemporary issues like information manipulation, it’ll keep you hooked.
Like most RPGs it has some great gameplay mechanics, like the ability to negotiate with demons in battle.
The slow turn-based battle system does feel dated, but everything else is on a whole other level. Making Persona 2: Eternal Punishment a much better game, in some regards, than the rest of the series.
14. Front Mission 3
Release Date: September 2, 1999
Controlling big, colorful mechs has been every kid’s dream for a long time.
Would it be the same with mechs that are more like tanks?
Front Mission 3 is a massive tactical role-playing game featuring an intricate, political-focused story set in the near future.
It’s complete with two branching storylines that will put you on either the side of the Oceania Cooperative Union, or the People’s Republic of Da Han Zhong.
No matter the faction you pick, you’ll be driving powerful mechs called Wanzers, and you’ll love it.
You can easily customize them with different parts and weaponry, and unleash hell on your enemies at every turn.
These mechs may not shoot missiles from their fingers or laser beams from their eyes. But they are still a force to be reckoned with.
13. Brave Fencer Musashi
Release Date: July 16, 1998
The legendary wandering samurai Miyamoto Musashi did not just kill 50 warriors in a single duel.
He also saved the Allucaneet Kingdom. Yes: all-you-can-eat.
Brave Fencer Musashi is a lighthearted action RPG that never fails to bring a smile to anyone’s face, especially hardcore fans.
With its colorful world, an excellent cast of characters, whimsical writing, a catchy soundtrack, and excellent gameplay mechanics, there’s a lot to love.
Having been summoned to the Allucaneet Kingdom from another world, Musashi must fight an army of baddies & massive bosses, all to steal their abilities to access more locations.
Along the way you’ll find secrets and steal even more abilities, creating a gameplay loop that feels incredibly addicting.
So much that you may wish you could have been the one to get summoned to the kingdom.
12. Chrono Cross
Release Date: November 18, 1999
Having an older brother who’s considered great at everything can be very disheartening, as Chrono Cross knows well.
While certainly not iconic as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross is an excellent role-playing game that does not deserve to be as underappreciated as it is.
Sure, the excessive amount of characters resulted in most of them not being developed properly.
But the main cast is memorable. It’s got a great soundtrack. And the story expands the universe introduced in Chrono Trigger in some very interesting ways, all without falling into the usual trappings of inconsistent time traveling.
With a unique growth system and experimental turn-based combat, Chrono Cross has every right to be considered as a worthy successor to Chrono Trigger. It’s worth a playthrough no matter what some may say.
11. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
Release Date: October 6, 1995
2D graphics and simple character design bring simple role-playing games to your mind? Oh, how wrong you are.
Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together tackles some the most mature themes ever seen in a tactical role-playing game.
And it develops them in the best possible way: if you have to deal with warring kingdoms that use ethnic cleansing as an excuse, you have no choice but to do things right.
And if this wasn’t enough, you’ll be forced to make some morally grey choices throughout the course of the game.
These choices not only influence the story moving forward, but they also challenge your convictions. This is the gaming equivalent of a real page-turner.
Coupled with a challenging tactical RPG experience, Tactics Ogre: LUCT is definitely suited for those who want a game that puts it all on the line.
10. Vagrant Story
Release Date: February 10, 2000
A badass one-man army. A magical city.
Conspirators posing as the saviors of the world.
One of the most engaging RPGs ever released.
Vagrant Story almost feels like a Metal Gear Solid game with a fantasy setting.
We meet Riskbreaker Ashley who has to infiltrate the abandoned city of Leá Monde alone, armed only with his wits and his saber. The city is the haven of dragons, undead, and a plethora of dangerous creatures that you have to fight in a highly strategic way.
And with the combat system this will become second nature. You can even stop time to target specific body parts!
Vagrant Story is not exactly an accessible game. But if you’re not afraid to learn complicated mechanics, you should pick your magical Grimoire and head straight to Leá Monde this instant.
9. Star Ocean: The Second Story
Release Date: July 30, 1998
RPGs are not always all about complicated battle systems.
Sometimes they’re all about mashing buttons and bashing enemies.
Star Ocean: The Second Story moved the series forward considerably with more outer space travel and underdeveloped planets action.
Not to mention an improved battle system where characters are controlled in real-time to unleash special attacks and spells. And the unique Private Action system, which allows players to complete side quests centered on specific party members. These side-quests almost feel like a staple in the game.
With two different main stories, and a huge number of possible endings, Star Ocean: The Second Story is as great playthrough and one of the best in the entire series. Definitely the best on the PS1.
8. Breath of Fire III
Release Date: September 11, 1997
Everyone loves dragons. So everyone should love Breath of Fire III as well.
The jump to 3D graphics did wonders for Breath of Fire III, allowing developers to enrich a fairly standard JRPG with a massively detailed world.
The setting feels so populated by a colorful cast of characters and NPCs, it’s really a fun treat to explore.
Controlling Ryu, a young boy who can turn into a dragon, you’ll experience a charming coming of age story with the world at stake.
You’ll laugh and cry with him and his friends. You’l be amazed by the boundless world.
You’lll splice Genes to create the perfect dragon form and I’d say you will most definitely rage as you burn down your enemies in turn-based combat.
Intense. That’s what Breath of Fire III is.
7. Valkyrie Profile
Release Date: December 22, 1999
Odin may be the Allfather, but he still needs someone to do his dirty work for him.
Valkyrie Profile breaks up the linear progression seen in most games in favor of a more open-ended system. And it works great.
Controlling the Chooser of the Slain Lenneth, players explore a big world in search of valiant souls to train, and then send to Valhalla. All so they can fight in the incoming Ragnarok.
Training these warriors means battling enemies in a peculiar battle system that assigns each character to one of the face buttons, each to unleash attacks that can be combined together too.
It takes a bit of getting used to but it’s pretty fun.
Failure, however, is always around the corner. And if you fail to please the Allfather, you will be punished. No slacking is allowed when in service of the gods.
6. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Release Date: March 20, 1997
What is a man? A miserable pile of secrets.
What is a vampire? The main character of one of the best games ever made.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is a masterful mix of platform, adventure, and role-playing game that defies every classification under the sun.
Controlling Count Dracula’s son Alucard, players explore a huge castle to stop a ritual that could bring the count back to life. Probably to deliver some very corny lines about humans before feeding on them.
With tight controls, great platforming, a huge variety of weapons, and epic boss battles, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night is rightly considered one of the best video games ever made.
And certainly one of the best RPGs of the PS1 era.
5. Suikoden II
Release Date: December 17, 1998
The original Suikoden isn’t exactly a groundbreaking game.
But its fundamentals were so solid that just a few tweaks resulted in this masterpiece.
Suikoden II plays a lot like its predecessor. You once again control a young revolutionary and his army to defeat a tyrannical empire that has threatened peace. But it’s the execution that makes all the difference.
The world’s scope is incredible. The 108 Stars of Destiny are no longer just glorified castle butlers.
Plus the turn-based combat has been further refined so it feels a lot better than previous games.
And the main trio’s relationship is so well developed that it’s impossible to hold back tears just seeing how the war impacted their once simple lives.
When Suikoden II hits, it hits hard.
4. Final Fantasy IX
Release Date: July 7, 2000
The Final Fantasy series is like a river.
It flows, but it always returns to the sea whence it came.
Doing away with the steampunk setting seen in the seventh and eight entries, Final Fantasy IX goes back to the roots of the franchise with a beautiful medieval setting full of character
It offers a story that masterfully blends humor and drama, and keeps you hooked to the very end.
It’s really got a charming and well-developed main cast too, and a more straightforward customization system.
Despite the radical change in tone, FF9 is still an epic journey that no self-respecting RPG fan should skip. Lest the Tantalus Theater Troupe sets their eyes on their riches and their princesses.
3. Final Fantasy Tactics
Release Date: June 20, 1997
One of the best Final Fantasy game ever is not a numbered main entry, but a spin-off.
That’ll teach you for discounting them as minor games!
Following the estranged nobleman Ramza Beoulve, players get to uncover a conspiracy that’s set to change the political landscape of Ivalice and the nature of the world itself.
If you’re not really into all these machinations, you can use them as an excuse to indulge into the great tactical turn-based battle system and the amazing Job System.
Seriously, this game is all about the playability.
Jobs grant so many customization possibilities that creating the perfect unit will suck you into a void, which you’ll emerge only tens of hours later, broadsword in hand and Black Mage hat on your head.
Release Date: February 11, 1998
Pondering the essence of the world has never been as engaging as in Xenogears.
It has been 22 years since the game’s release. And no other RPG has since managed to get close to it in terms of story complexity.
Heavily inspired by the works Friederich Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and many other philosophers, Fei’s journey in the world outside of Lahan turns not just into a journey to preserve civilization & a journey into the deepest recesses of the mind.
It’s here that we realize some things are better left untouched.
The excellent story, coupled with a great world and character design, offers a lot. It has a very interesting take on turn-based combat that gives players a more hands-on approach too.
And the soundtrack that will melt your ears with delight. Classic JRPG music the whole way.
It makes Xenogears one of the best, and definitely the deepest, Japanese role-playing games ever released.
1. Final Fantasy VII
Release Date: January 31, 1997
Final Fantasy VII is a game that stood the test of time so well, that even its modern remake cannot put a dent in its reputation.
Final Fantasy VII is not just the best Japanese role-playing game ever released on PlayStation 1.
But arguably one of the best video games ever created.
The story, which follows mercenary Cloud Strife and his companions as they embark on a journey to save the planet, is as deep as the Pacific. It deals with themes like politics & the meaning of life and death, none of which is hindered by the extremely dry English localization.
The playable cast is memorable and well developed, and I challenge anyone who has played the game to say they did not shed a tear witnessing a particular event. You know the one.
FF7’s excellent battle system grants a lot of customization options, just what you’d expect from a top-tier JRPG.
And this feels like just the icing on a very delicious cake that every fan of role-playing games should eat till they’re full, and then ask for seconds.