The golden age of the PlayStation 1 (PS1) was a treasure trove for fans of Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs). These games immersed players in intricate worlds, deep lore, and spellbinding storylines. Yet, some JRPGs on the PS1 also come with gameplay elements that offer the perfect balance – allowing gamers to engage in passive play, while perhaps indulging in a favorite podcast or chill out OST (I promise it’s not Digimon World related) on YouTube. Let’s delve into the top 5 JRPGs from the PS1 era that fit this mold.
Final Fantasy IX
Known for its charming characters, riveting narrative, and a world filled with magic, Final Fantasy IX stands out as one of the pinnacles of the Final Fantasy series. It harks back to the series’ medieval roots, blending together humor, drama, and a touch of nostalgia.
Podcast compatibility: The game’s turn-based combat system and frequent random encounters give players ample time to react, making it suitable for passive gameplay. This means that during those battles, you can easily keep an ear out for your favorite podcast. FFIX also has an excellent speed boost mode allowing you to fly through the game on repeat playthroughs. FFIX is available for purchase directly on PSN.
An epic tale of war, friendship, and betrayal, Suikoden II introduces players to a vast world with 108 recruitable characters. The game’s rich narrative is complemented by its diverse set of characters and political intrigue.
Podcast compatibility: The massive character recruitment and fort-building aspects provide a somewhat leisurely pace, ideal for multitasking with a podcast. Battles, while strategic, are often quick, allowing for breaks in attention. Suikoden II is set to release in an upcoming HD bundle together with the original Suikoden.
Legend of Mana
A unique title in the Mana series, Legend of Mana lets players shape the world themselves, laying down lands to form the game’s world. It’s a vibrant, colorful game with an emotional soundtrack and memorable characters.
Podcast compatibility: Its non-linear gameplay and frequent foraging, crafting, and monster-raising mechanics mean that long stretches can be experienced without heavy plot immersion. It’s a great choice for those wanting background gaming to their podcast listening. The Legend of Mana was remastered in 2021 and released on PS4.
Breath of Fire IV
Embark on a journey with Ryu and his companions as they traverse a world filled with magic, dragons, and ancient mysteries. The game boasts beautiful hand-drawn graphics and a captivating plot.
Podcast compatibility: With a mix of traditional turn-based battles and fishing/minigame sessions, Breath of Fire IV provides intervals that are well-suited for tuning into podcasts without missing crucial game details. Unfortunately Breath of Fire IV is not available on either PS4 or PS5. This would be a perfect addition to the PSN “Classic Catalogue.” However, only time will reveal if it will make the cut.
Set in the dying world of Filgaia, Wild Arms combines Wild West themes with fantasy elements. The game is recognized for its puzzle-solving dungeons and its endearing cast.
Podcast compatibility: The game’s puzzle mechanics often involve contemplation and experimentation. This downtime, interspersed with turn-based battles, makes it perfect to play while also focusing on a podcast narrative. This game is also available on PSN through the “Classic Catalogue” or by direct purchase.
Gaming on the PS1 was a significant era, especially for JRPG enthusiasts. These games not only provide a nostalgic trip down memory lane but also offer gameplay that fits seamlessly into the multitasking lives of today. Whether it’s grinding through battles, recruiting characters, or solving puzzles, these JRPGs allow you to immerse in two worlds simultaneously: the game’s and that of your chosen podcast. So, pick up that controller, press play on your podcast, and relive the magic of PS1 JRPGs.