So, I've been asked this question so many times it makes my head spin, and since I unleashed the fury of at least one FF7 fanatic, or maybe he was just curious, I initially thought I'd answer with a comment. When I thought about it, though, it's impossible to answer it quickly. What makes an RPG great? Hell, what makes any game great? What I'm going to do to answer the question is break down what I feel are the most important components of a role-playing game and assign each area a game I feel does a fantastic job in that respect. Shall we? Please click on the "continue reading" link -- I worked very hard on this.

Story:

  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Suikoden III
  • Vagrant Story
  • Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter
  • Final Fantasy XII
  • Xenogears
  • Grandia (for completely different reasons, but it was a fantastic light-hearted adventure story... every boy's dream)

Characters/Character Development:

  • Digital Devil Saga 1 & 2
  • Final Fantasy X
  • Xenogears & Xenosaga

Gameplay Mechanics:

  • Final Fantasy X-2 (fast, furious, fun, and lots to learn and customize)
  • Tales of Phantasia (only because it was the first to use the LMBS system -- that's Linear Motion Battle System)
  • Romancing SaGa (yes, the G is capitalized... and it's hard to learn the game's system, but it's damn near flawless and entirely customizable if you sit down and try to understand it)
  • Xenogears (sorry, Xenosaga fans, -gears had the best battle system... I mean, the Gears were actually useful here)
  • Skies of Arcadia (airship battles? Hell yeah)
  • Valkyrie Profile, 1 & 2
  • Grandia

Challenge:

  • Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne (hardest of the SMT lot, so it speaks for all)
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Dragon Quest VIII

Best/Most Memorable Ending:

  • Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium

RPGs I've replayed the most:

  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Vagrant Story
  • Grandia
  • Skies of Arcadia
  • Valkyrie Profile
  • Final Fantasy Tactics
  • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night


I know what you're thinking: okay, so that's a lot of RPG's. Which one is my favorite? Again, that's impossible to answer and quickly spouting out any one game as "the best" is ignorant, "at best". I'd gladly compile my top 5, though. They're in no particular order.

  1. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
  2. Lufia 2: Rise of the SInistrals
  3. Valkyrie Profile
  4. Vagrant Story
  5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Well, there you have it. I really hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed racking my brain to compile it. I don't have my video game library at my parent's house (where I'm currently trapped staying), so this was the best I could do. Leave a comment and tell me what you're thinking.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

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