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My Top 10 Favorite RPGs of All Time

Well, here we are again with another of my Top 10 Favorite *insert thing here* lists. I had fun doing the comic covers one, and had some time to kill today, so I thought I’d compile another one! I used to be a HUGE RPG gamer back in the day and wish I had the time to play more, but it just requires too much time out of my days to get through one. There are a few I’ll dabble in and many on the horizon that I know I’ll dedicate myself to upon their release (looking at you, Elder Scrolls V, Neverwinter, and Final Fantasy XIII-2), but for now I stick to titles I can jump into for an hour and enjoy. I do however still actively play Final Fantasy XIV online, and will continue to do so seeing as how they’ve fixed a TON of the issues with the game.

Anyway, I’ll stop rambling and get right down to the list. Hit the jump to see it!

I was insanely addicted to this when it came out, and it took me a little bit of time to figure out why. I think it was a combination of the casual-style gameplay, where you could hop on for an hour and knock out one location before calling it a day, and enjoying the experience. I also liked that it took more of a Zelda-styled approach to the actual gameplay, and the multiplayer was fun as well. Plus I sort of just like the idea of playing in a universe where you get to go on an adventure with your friends for a year and return, the caravan lifestyle. Many tend to cut this title down, and I don’t think it deserves such treatment.

Another Final Fantasy title that gets slammed by the player base, and again I don’t feel it deserves it. I decided just to pick one numbered installment from the Final Fantasy series, as I enjoy quite a few of them. Of all the numbered installments, however, I enjoy Final Fantasy XII the most for a multitude of reasons. I like that it went with a more mature, down-to-earth storyline of a group rebelling against an oppressive empire instead of the “you six must save the entire world from a god of all evil” approach. It gives it a bit more believability; you can easily believe that six people as part of a larger rebel force were able to change the government. And yes I understand that it’s a lot like Star Wars all around but hey, it works. Most importantly I like that the “hero” of the story isn’t actually the main character; the story focuses equally on all members of the party, making it about the group instead of a single man.

I know I’m probably going to catch a TON of shit for not putting Final Fantasy VII on this list, but screw that. Final Fantasy VII was pretty good, but it is not the god of all RPGs that most modern fans make it out to be. It has many flaws and I think a lot of people are letting nostalgia cloud their judgment on it, as for many it was their first RPG. Plus, I’m just so DONE with hearing about it, and I’m done with all the spinoffs, and I’m done with all the screams for it to be remade, so much so that it’s affected by ability to go back and enjoy it. I don’t know why I put a rant against Final Fantasy VII under the Final Fantasy XII entry but screw it, it’s my list and I’ll comment as I please. Moving on!

I rather enjoyed this title just because it was so different in terms of setting, gameplay, and to an extent story. There’s the traditional “boy must leave home to save world” formula, but it flips it by adding real-world locations to explore and focuses more on Will’s quest to find his parents rather than saving the world. I enjoyed that instead of party members, you could swap to different forms, and I liked exploring real-world locations for clues about how to save the planet. All in all, it’s just a very strong, very underrated and oft forgotten SNES entry.

Oh man, if you didn’t get to play this amazing RPG from Nintendo and Squaresoft back in the day then you were robbed of your childhood and I weep for you. When the creators of Mario/Zelda and Final Fantasy team-up, magic happens. There was so much potential for this to have been horrible, and there was a lot of skepticism back in the day because it had never been done before, but the end result is a wonderful tale, fantastic battle system, and amazing new take on the Mario franchise.

Often overlooked in favor of its companion, the beloved Secret of Mana, Evermore was actually a wonderful SNES release. Following a boy and his dog as they travel through an artificial fantasy world created by an eccentric inventor, it plays out like a parody of classic B-movies (seen most through the hero’s description of events, comparing them to parody B-movie titles) and is visually stunning for its time. I’m not entirely sure why I prefer this over Mana, but I just do. It’s one of those rare RPGs that I can still go back and play today and be just as engrossed in the story as I was back when I was a kid.

Come on, how can you have a Top RPG list without Chrono Trigger? I normally can’t stand it when everyone and their mom won’t shut up about how awesome something is, but in this case I have to agree. It’s just SO GOOD. The story, battle system, multiple endings, the music, everything was stellar and most of it was rather innovative for its time. I picked up the re-release when it came out on DS and got sucked right back in; it definitely stands the test of time and deserves that special place it holds in fans’ hearts.

Yes, I’m aware I said I was picking only one numbered entry from the Final Fantasy franchise, but this one is online so it doesn’t have to be included in that. It’s almost saddening for me to write this entry, as I finally retired from Final Fantasy XI six months ago after nearly eight years of playing. It would be nice to return to Vana’diel for one last triumphant outing but when it’s time to be done, you know. I’d done everything I’d ever wanted to do and though I miss the total feeling of immersion, the way the music and visuals and people all meshed together to truly created a virtual world, I think it’s best that I leave it be so I can keep my fond memories intact.

This ranks high on the list for the sheer amount of things you could do in it, because I’ve met a ton of cool people through it that I’m still in constant contact with and meet up with at conventions, and basically for the good times it bestowed. It’s not quite there yet, but I’m hoping Final Fantasy XIV will eventually be repaired and developed to the point that it delivers the same feeling as XI did.

The original Kingdom Hearts was phenomenal, a big surprise given how absurd the idea sounded. Disney mixed with Final Fantasy? There were a lot of people that thought it’d never work, but oh dear sweet Neptune did it ever. I had been excited for the original as a fan of both properties, and I was not disappointed. The original had a heartwarming, emotional, fun story and great gameplay along with some awesome cameos, and I didn’t think Square would ever be able to top it.

Then came Kingdom Hearts II. It was everything an RPG’s sequel should be: an even better story due to its ability to hit nostalgic and emotional feelings in the player, being able to develop the characters even further, expanding the gameplay, and delivering on all its promises. I was so happy that this sequel was as good as we had all hoped, and I cannot wait for Kingdom Hearts III to be announced.

Hands-down my favorite SNES title of all time. Most people know of Ness via Super Smash Brothers, but this is where myself and many other fans were introduced to the baseball bat-wielding psychic in the red cap. Upon its release, and still to this day, Earthbound is one of the most original RPGs in existence. Set in a normal earth-like setting rather than the fantasy locales of many other RPGs of its time, Earthbound was quirky, truly funny, and enjoyable. I still boot up this title on my netbook on a weekly basis for a short session, and have practically memorized the dialogue by now. If you’ve never played it, pick up a copy off eBay or find a rom of it and get playing.

Of course, I saved the best for last. Ogre Battle 64, what I consider to be the magnum opus of the Ogre Battle franchise, is the hidden gem of the Nintendo 64’s catalog of titles. I have no idea how many hours I’ve sunk into this title. The story is phenomenal, touching on philosophical examinations of war, idealism, cynicism, and theology through the prism of a lower class revolution. The game itself is massive and ripe with customization due to its class system boasting over 50 different jobs to choose from, the ability to form multiple units and build your battalion to overwhelming sizes, and by going against the standard tactics game approach. Instead of each character being moved and attacking in turn, a style we see in Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics, you instead send units of 5 characters all over a map liberating towns and capturing enemy strongholds. This approach allows you to think like a commander, having to change up your tactics constantly due to the changing position of enemy units and conditions of battle.

It’s not just the story and gameplay; I love the aesthetics of the title as well. The town and battle backgrounds are beautifully painted, and by utilizing a pseudo-3D sprite system the title is allowed to have characters more highly detailed than those utilizing 3D technology of the time. I could go on about this title for pages, but all I’ll say further is go find a copy of it now, as the roms available aren’t very good. It may even be on the Wii’s virtual console.

Well, those are my 10 picks. Agree, disagree? Discuss it in the comments.

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