You’ve probably heard that turn-based RPGs are dying, or that the genre is no longer relevant in today’s gaming world. While it may be true that turn-based RPGs are no longer quite “mainstream” (with some exceptions), this genre is alive and well among both die-hard and casual fans. The Nintendo Switch offers some of the best turn-based RPGs, some new and some being remasters of older titles, such as the Final Fantasy series. Read on to find out more about the best turn-based RPG Switch games that made their marks in 2021!
1. Final Fantasy VIII (Remastered)
Originally released in 1999, Final Fantasy VIII was remastered and released in 2019 on the Nintendo Switch, featuring the same core gameplay with notable enhancements such as upgraded visuals, battle assist, time speed boost, and no random encounters while exploring the world.
The story follows Squall Leonhart as he and his friends are enlisted to fight against Sorceress Edea’s forces. Final Fantasy VIII deviated from previous entries’ handling of the magic point system, instead having the player collect, draw, and create magic from items. Battles have the player controlling three characters with which the player can choose to attack using weapons or magic.
Having sold over 9 million copies worldwide (since its original release), and its continued success with the 2019 remaster, it’s easy to say that Final Fantasy VIII is among the best turn-based RPGs for the Switch!
2. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Nintendo’s most famous character gets his own turn-based RPG on the Switch in Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle! In the usual franchise fashion, the game begins at Peach’s castle with Mario and friends unveiling a new statue when a vortex opens above and pulls in Mario’s friends. Ever the hero, Mario follows suit and so begins the adventure! Sporting weapons which fire lasers, the player battles enemies by shooting them or dashing into them. Players can also take advantage of cover during battles to shield themselves from the enemy.
Mario + Rabbids is a light-hearted and family-friendly take on the RPG genre, and perhaps surprisingly has turned out to be one of the best turn-based RPGs for his console!
3. Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu & Let’s Go eEvee
Speaking of turn-based RPG games, this list wouldn’t be complete without one of the many Pokemon games currently available! Released in 2018 for the Nintendo Switch, Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon: Let’s Go Eevee are considered remakes of Pokemon Yellow.
Both games are set in the Kanto region and feature all the original 151 Pokemon. Similar to the mobile game Pokemon Go, players have to manually throw Pokeballs (using the motion controls of the Joy-Con controller) to catch Pokemon. Beyond the unique method of capturing Pokemon, there’s nothing new that’s added to these games; after all, they’re essentially remakes.
Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee are wonderful trips down memory lane and, alongside the other games in the franchise and genre!
4. I Am Setsuna
Released in 2017 as a launch title for the Nintendo Switch, I Am Setsuna is a turn-based RPG following the story of a girl who is chosen to be sacrificed to a fiend in order to maintain peace for her people.
The gameplay is about what one might expect from a turn-based RPG. While the gameplay itself follows the usual formula of the turn-based genre, the story is what ends up standing out in I Am Setsuna. There are some criticisms surrounding the storyline, but as long as you can look past some of the “cheesy” aspects of the story, it’s quite enjoyable and compelling. Featuring decent characters, a pleasant soundtrack, and a well-written plot (though perhaps a tad cliché), I Am Setsuna is among the best RPGs out there for the Switch!
5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Selling over 3 million copies worldwide, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the best-selling game in the Fire Emblem franchise! The developers took a unique approach to the story, which is split into two phases: the school phase and the combat phase. The school phase is spent instructing playable characters on combat and other attributes, while the combat phase is, well, when the player gets to engage in combat. During the school phase, players can choose what their character cast will specialize in when it comes to weapons and class type, allowing more unique methods of battling enemies later in the game.
Some prominent changes in the combat include the ability for each class to use any type of weapon, as well as the use of battalions which can boost the player’s allies or weaken their enemies. Fire Emblem: Three Houses also features a new game plus mode, allowing players to start the game from the very beginning after completing the story while retaining some of their progression from their previous playthrough.
Considering the freedom to develop your characters to suit your personal playstyle, as well as the amount of story content and satisfying combat, Fire Emblem: Three Houses can most definitely be considered a powerhouse of a game in your hands!
6. Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Based on a popular graphic novel, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a turn-based RPG focusing on the player traveling to various dungeons while exploring the overworld and discovering its various secrets. Players can choose three separate characters (from a pool of six), each with their own skills and perks, allowing the players some flexibility to tailor their experiences to their own playstyles. For added flexibility, players can choose the difficulty of each dungeon prior to entering, where playing on higher difficulties will yield more experience points. During battles, players can obtain “overcharge” with each attack, which can be used in place of mana to use special abilities.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar sports a unique art style combined with high quality sound design, providing players with visually appealing gameplay and well-placed audio cues. “New game plus” offers an even more difficult and lucrative experience for those players seeking bigger challenges and higher rewards. Although the amount of “grinding” and the spikes in difficulty were controversial topics, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a fantastic adaption of a story and will be known for some time to come!
7. Grandia HD Collection
Featuring remasters of Grandia and Grandia II, the Grandia HD Collection landed on the Switch in 2019, much to the delight of fans of both the series and RPGs in general.
The first Grandia had a more light-hearted yet charming storyline which gives the player a true sense of adventure as they progressed through the game. Grandia II took a rather “mature” approach to the story, opting to focus on deeper character development. The gameplay itself offers the player easy-to-follow progression with their characters and parties. Skill points earned by winning battles can be used to learn new abilities for the player’s party. Players can also find “mana eggs” which are used to imbue new spells, all of which are elemental (fire, earth, wind, water).
Although there were some complaints surrounding the “HD” graphics appearing to be slightly blurry, the core gameplay and stories remained the same in the remastered versions of Grandia and Grandia II, and that’s what matters most in a story/combat driven game. The Grandia HD Collection gave longtime fans of the series a warm welcome back into the games, as well as new players the chance to dip their feet into a gripping adventure filled with exploration and satisfying combat.
8. Octopath Traveler
Square Enix, arguably the best studio when it comes to creating RPGs, released Octopath Traveler on the Nintendo Switch in 2018.
The game features 8 separate characters called “travelers”, each of whom have their own storyline. Battles themselves generally follow the same formula as other turn-based RPGs, with the player having up to 4 characters in their party to attack with in turns. Turns are largely determined by the speed of each character, and the player can opt to use “boosts” which empower whatever action the player takes for each round (such as basic attacks, improving odds on chance-based skills, etc.)
Visually, Octopath Traveler boasts simple yet beautiful graphics and set pieces coupled with flashy action sequences in battles. Just as with pretty much every other RPG, Octopath Traveler also features plenty of exploration during which players can find chests containing key items to aid them in their journey. Though Octopath Traveler doesn’t offer anything revolutionary to the genre, the game certainly offers compelling gameplay and story variety.
9. Monster Hunter Stories 2: Wings of Ruin
Featuring a deeply rich storyline and fluid combat, Monster Hunter Stories 2 released on the Nintendo Switch in the summer of 2021 in spectacular fashion.
The story begins as Rathalos disappears from the world, thrusting the player into an adventure filled to the brim with action and conspiracy! Battles are fast paced, hard hitting, and set against some truly beautiful backdrops. One notable battle feature is the ability to use “kinship skills”. Once the kinship meter is filled during battle, the player can ride their “monstie” and use kinship skills to deal massive amounts of damage to their opponents.
Alongside its thrilling and visually appealing gameplay, Monster Hunters Stories 2 also masterfully blends its gameplay with an intriguing storyline which players won’t want to miss out on! If you’re a fan of story-driven gameplay, then Monster Hunters Stories 2: Wings of Ruin is the game for you!
10. South Park: The Stick of Truth
No, this isn’t a joke! South Park: The Stick of Truth is a surprisingly decent video game adaptation of the popular TV show. You may have never thought you’d be reading a list of the best turn-based RPG Switch games that includes a South Park game, yet here we are!
The game features all the famous character cast from the show, but the player creates their own character to play as throughout the game. Naturally, the entire story is ridiculous, comedic fun (unsurprisingly, the game is rated “M”), though the gameplay itself is quite interesting (and hilarious). Players can summon other characters to help them in battle; you can literally summon Jesus, who comes down from heaven and shoots your enemies with a gun.
It’s quite obvious this is the kind of game in which you just sort of turn your brain off and have fun with it, so if you’re looking for a more serious game to play, please refer to all the other games featured in this list. South Park: The Stick of Truth stays true to the essence of the TV show and was popular among casual gamers. If you’ve made it this far, just know that we are most definitely going to have to name this game as one of the best turn-based RPGs for the Switch, if not just for the comedic value the game gives us!
A Turn for Every Game
The gaming industry is constantly evolving, always seeking to appeal to as many players as it possibly can, and the RPG genre is no exception! Despite the decline in true turn-based RPGs, there are still millions of gamers in the world that will always continue to play these games. Remasters and brand-new titles alike guarantee both old fans and new the unique experience that turn-based gameplay has to offer.
These games may not offer the same gratification as shooters or non-RPG action-adventure games do, but they do provide fantastic storytelling, memorable characters, and (perhaps most importantly) tons of player freedom in how the games can be played. As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, you may have heard that turn-based RPGs are a dying breed; the truth of the matter is that this statement has no bearing on those that have and still enjoy the genre, and you can rest assured that developers will continue to produce top-notch turn-based RPGs for our beloved Nintendo Switches!
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